Specter Defies Bush Regime, Talks to Syria

One of the cornerstones of the DOA report from the Iraq Study Group was to engage Iran and Syria in any discussions of future actions in Iraq. It makes sense – if not from a diplomatic standpoint, at least from a pragmatic perspective. Both countries have a vested interest in a stable Iraq, [...]

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One of the cornerstones of the DOA report from the Iraq Study Group was to engage Iran and Syria in any discussions of future actions in Iraq. It makes sense – if not from a diplomatic standpoint, at least from a pragmatic perspective. Both countries have a vested interest in a stable Iraq, although the argument could be made that Iran’™s interest might be more closely aligned with a desire to see Iraq as a satellite state.

Prior to Christmas, Senator Arlen Specter decided that he wanted to get up close and personal with Syria’™s leadership to get a feel for the political dynamic. Certainly, an argument could be made that Specter’™s desire to engage in dialog with Syrian President Bashar Assad owes more to his quest to be a peace broker for Israel. However, to the extent that a diplomatic channel could be opened in terms of discussing the situation in Iraq (which also plays into Israel’™s security situation), any outreach by a high-ranking member of the Senate would seem to be beneficial.

Except to the Bush regime.

When Condi Rice got wind of Specter’™s trip, she dialed him up and asked him not to go. His response?

‘œI deferred to them a year ago, and I deferred to them last August,’ Specter told the Associated Press. ‘œIf there were any signs the administration policy [in the Middle East] was working, I’™d defer to them again.’

Whoa. Is Senator Specter taking another one of his semi-frequent trips off the GOP reservation? Or is he, in fact, acting as a diplomatic backchannel for the Bush regime, and the ‘œbluster’ is just that – an act to throw the media off of the scent?

Regardless, here’™s an elder statesman at work (and note that I’™m not a huge Specter fan’¦):

‘œI disagree with the policy of not dealing with Iran,’ he said.

‘œWhen he [Ahmadinejad] says he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, I’™d like to tell him how unacceptable that is,’ Specter said, explaining what he would tell Ahmadinejad.

‘œWhen he says there was no Holocaust, I’™d like to tell him about the Holocaust survivors I’™ve talked to, and about how much evidence there is about the Holocaust. Yes I’™d like to see the president of Iran, he could use some information,’ he said’¦

‘œI do not see anyway out except through dialogue,’ he said. ‘œI do not think there are any assurances that dialogue will succeed, but I think there are assurances that without dialogue there will be failure.’

Bingo – and that’™s the concept that the cowboy Bush regime has been missing since McFlightsuit first came into power. The art of diplomacy is the art of talk. The art of diplomacy requires – nay, demands – that the country being required to ‘œbend’ be allowed to also save face.

Empathy has never been a key attribute of the Bush regime’™s foreign policy.

Sunday, December 31st, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: General

Rummy is MIA

From AmericaBlog’™s Ford Funeral blogging last night:

The event has created some interesting political dynamics for the Vice President. The honorary pall bearers include Cheney, Brent Scowcroft and Paul O’™Neill. Scowcroft has trashed the Bush/Cheney administration. O’™Neill, who Cheney fired as Secretary of the Treasury, trashed the administration. And, of course, we all know now that [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

From AmericaBlog’™s Ford Funeral blogging last night:

The event has created some interesting political dynamics for the Vice President. The honorary pall bearers include Cheney, Brent Scowcroft and Paul O’™Neill. Scowcroft has trashed the Bush/Cheney administration. O’™Neill, who Cheney fired as Secretary of the Treasury, trashed the administration. And, of course, we all know now that Ford himself trashed the decision by Bush and Cheney to go to war in Iraq.

Rummy is supposed to be an honorary pall bearer but Wolf Blitzer keeps noting the he’™s no where to be seen.

I suppose all those freepers who were upset at Harry Reid for not showing up will now get upset at Rumsfeld, and maybe even upset at the brush-cutting deciderer. Yup, Dubya didn’™t show either, as reported by the Liberal Progressive. And, as for the freepers, they think it is fine for Rumsfeld to cut out on being honorary pallbearer for Ford, the man who brought Rummy to prominence, and just peachy that the deciderer is cutting up the brush in TX. According to them, Pelosi and Reid are rude for not showing up, though.

Sunday, December 31st, 2006 by Richard Blair |

On Saddam…

As would be expected, the blogosphere is awash with tributes and condemnations of Saddam. Heck, some of the tributes are via the condemnation route. There’™s quite a panoply of opinion out there, so I’™ve tried to capture some of the best. Some are really, really, good. And some totally miss the [...]

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As would be expected, the blogosphere is awash with tributes and condemnations of Saddam. Heck, some of the tributes are via the condemnation route. There’™s quite a panoply of opinion out there, so I’™ve tried to capture some of the best. Some are really, really, good. And some totally miss the point.

By way of background, let’™s start with an entry from BushFlash. All I can say is, ‘œthanks for the memories’. BushFlash wraps up my whole problem with the Bush regime’™s handling of Saddam (and the situation in Iraq in general) in one sweet video retrospective. Don’™t miss it.

Josh Marshall goes off on a rant – it’™s been awhile since we’™ve read an extended editorial from Talking Points Memo – and here’™s an excerpt:

‘¦Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade ‘œprissy and finicky.’ Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we’™re reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there’™s nothing else this president can get right’¦

David Caputo writes at OpEdNews:

‘¦It’™s twisted when you think of it. We’™ve gone in and FUBAR’™ed the place so bad that Saddam Freakin’™ Hussein looks like a Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning. Between false flag covert ops and kick-in-the-door raids and the strafing and bombing of civilian targets and the raiding of hospitals we’™ve completely destroyed any possible credibility we might have had in prosecuting Saddam for the many crimes of unspeakable cruelty he undoubtedly committed’¦

Chris Floyd takes a bit of a different approach in dissecting today’™s hanging of Saddam. He goes to the meat of the matter – the U.S.’™s own blemished history in dealing with Saddam, and how the New York Times, in its eulogy to a tyrant, basically gives the Bush cabal a pass in this chapter of global history:

‘¦There is simply no way to understand the reign of Saddam Hussein, nor the past few decades of Iraq’™s history, without including the very real and important role that the United States has played in shaping these realities. The reason that tens of thousands of American soldiers have been killed and maimed ‘” and that hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been slaughtered, and millions more plunged into hellish suffering ‘” is because this history has been buried, perverted, ignored or forgotten. And one of the main engines of this deliberately induced national amnesia is the New York Times and its fellow media mandarins.

The singular attribute of all the above remarks? No one is making excuses for or shedding crocodile tears for Saddam. While we may have differing opinions on capital punishment, I don’™t think there’™s anyone who’™s arguing that Saddam wasn’™t a bad guy, and at least worthy of a good hangin’™. An overarching viewpoint, though, is that the media is totally ignoring the decades long complicity of the Bush regime (in all of its present and past lives) in the crimes for which Saddam was convicted and punished.

At some point, Americans have to wake up to the fact that we’™re not the benevolent liberaters in this whole middle eastern passion play, and we never have been. We have one interest and one interest only: oil and the economic interests that flow from beneath the sand. Crude oil is the only middle eastern commodity that ever interested the U.S. oiligarchy. Democratization of the arabic world has never truly been on the agenda (except to the extent that it served the purposes of the barons).

We have to discover the truth ourselves, because we’™ll never be told the truth by our government – and yes, I’™m including both major political parties under this particular umbrella statement. The hands that control the Democratic Party are almost as bloody as those of the GOP.

One can only hope that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have some industrial strength blood remover in their congressional bag of cleaning tools. Either that, or the guts to publicly take the investigation wherever it leads, even if the path ends at the front door of both parties.

Saturday, December 30th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Susie, Susie, Susie…

One of our favorite Philly bloggers, Susie Madrak @ Suburban Guerrilla, is getting ready to take a break from blogging. Seems she’™s become a hired gun for Philadelphia mayoral candidate Tom Knox. That’™s certainly a good thing for Susie, but a loss for the Philly progressive blogging community. History has shown that [...]

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One of our favorite Philly bloggers, Susie Madrak @ Suburban Guerrilla, is getting ready to take a break from blogging. Seems she’™s become a hired gun for Philadelphia mayoral candidate Tom Knox. That’™s certainly a good thing for Susie, but a loss for the Philly progressive blogging community. History has shown that when the better bloggers on the left get hired away by political campaigns, they rarely return (at least in their previous blog personas), so we at ASZ wish the best to Susie.

Suburban Guerrilla isn’™t going away – it’™s being turned over, at least temporarily, to a couple of Susie’™s compatriots.

Susie also writes via email that her normal site is down today, for a variety of technical reasons, and that the temporary home for SG can be found here. Never mind -it’™s fixed now’¦

Anyway, salud, Susie!

We also (sadly) note the apparent passing of Whiskey Bar, one of the blogs that originally inspired me to start All Spin Zone. Discussion of Billmon’™s decision to pull the plug can be found at Firedoglake and Moon of Alabama.

I could never (and wouldn’™t even try to) match Billmon’™s unique writing style, his research ability, or depth of knowledge on a stunningly wide variety of topics. When comments were still allowed on Whiskey Bar, I was a frequently posting member of the community. One of ASZ’™s original contributors, Kate Storm, came to ASZ via Whiskey Bar as well. Billmon’™s voice and perspective will be missed. I sincerely hope that he’™ll return in some future online incarnation.

Saturday, December 30th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Bush’s Approvals at 35%

Sure, that doesn’™t seem that low, but this isn’™t a poll of the entire US population. This is a poll of active duty military. Only 35% approve of Bush’™s Iraq policies. Here’™s the article in Army Times, and you can get to the nitty gritty about the poll from there.

Yes, [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Sure, that doesn’™t seem that low, but this isn’™t a poll of the entire US population. This is a poll of active duty military. Only 35% approve of Bush’™s Iraq policies. Here’™s the article in Army Times, and you can get to the nitty gritty about the poll from there.

Yes, Bush is losing another key constituency, folks who serve in the military. It should be noted that he’™s bound to lose their support if he continues to lead them to death and maiming for no reasonable purpose.

Saturday, December 30th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Death of a Poet

And a writer of romance novels. Yes, the rumors have it that this famous author, Saddam Hussein, is going to be executed this weekend. Yeah, I figure they are just rumors, but the world will likely lose the services of poet and romance novelist Saddam later in the New Year, that’™s for sure. [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

And a writer of romance novels. Yes, the rumors have it that this famous author, Saddam Hussein, is going to be executed this weekend. Yeah, I figure they are just rumors, but the world will likely lose the services of poet and romance novelist Saddam later in the New Year, that’™s for sure.

As speculation rose that the execution is near, the condemned former president met at Camp Cropper with his half brothers Sabawi and Watban Ibrahim Hassan, both of whom are also in U.S. custody, said one of his attorneys, Bushra Khalil.

‘œHe met with them and he gave them some things. I’™m not sure what,’ said Khalil, speaking by phone from Amman, Jordan, where she plans to meet today with Hussein’™s eldest daughter, Raghad.

Hussein’™s lawyers said they had not been notified of the execution date.

Hussein, 69, seemed in high spirits Thursday as he shared untitled poems he wrote recently and well wishes for the Iraqi people with his visitors over lunch, said attorney Wadood Fawzi, one of those who met with Hussein.

The Nobel Committee is watching closely.

Richard’™s Update, 12:28PM: Just in from the AP, Saddam will ‘œbe executed by Saturday’. Apparently, the Bush regime has transferred custody of Saddam to the Iraq government, and his execution could be imminent.

I want to stress again: no one believes that Saddam is a good guy. But he was George H.W. Bush’™s man in the middle east for a long time – and there is a long list of U.S. government entanglements with Saddam. While no one will mourn his death, you have to wonder, what’™s the ‘œrush to execution’ all about? He was in U.S. custody. There was no apparent reason to rush to hand him over for hanging to the Bush regime’™s puppets in Iraq.

I think I understand the gambit – the Bush regime is hopeful that Saddam’™s execution will either (ultimately) quell the violence, or give them a reason to escalate the conflict. It’™s hard to say, but perhaps they want to see how it works out before the new congress is sworn in.

Still, there are serious questions about both Saddam’™s trial, the involvement of the U.S. government, and Bush’™s reason for going after him in the first place. The bottom line is that dead men tell no tales.

Friday, December 29th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Nostrils of Satan

That’™s one national landmark I’™ve always wanted to see. Maybe in a few years we’™ll pack up the car and take the kids to see them. What do you think? Have you been there? Was it worth it?

Oh, here’™s a link about the National Park Service that might explain [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

That’™s one national landmark I’™ve always wanted to see. Maybe in a few years we’™ll pack up the car and take the kids to see them. What do you think? Have you been there? Was it worth it?

Oh, here’™s a link about the National Park Service that might explain just what the ‘œnostrils of satan’ are.

Friday, December 29th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Judicial Watch, a Conservative Group, Lists Their Most Corrupt Politicians

Most of them are Republicans, and the Democrats they include are somewhat bogus. Here’™s the link to the Judicial Watch site. RawStory does a good job of delineating that story. As RawStory notes, Judicial Watch is a highly partisan Republican site. As they also noticed, Judicial Watch included Barack Obama, and [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Most of them are Republicans, and the Democrats they include are somewhat bogus. Here’™s the link to the Judicial Watch site. RawStory does a good job of delineating that story. As RawStory notes, Judicial Watch is a highly partisan Republican site. As they also noticed, Judicial Watch included Barack Obama, and also mispelled his name. Look closely and you’™ll notice that Judicial Watch corrected the spelling.

Hey, this isn’™t big news. Judicial Watch could not pretend to be legitimate if they didn’™t name Ney and Hastert and DeLay, etc. But they included some Democrats in that bogus strategy that’™s all over the MSM to keep things ‘œfair.’ (What a crock.) What’™s interesting is that the group went back and corrected the spelling of Barack Obama’™s name after RawStory posted the misspelling. What does that mean? This very Republican site is watching very closely the Democratic Blogzome and the reactions there, and they are reacting quickly.

We’™ve got more power than we think.

Thursday, December 28th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: General

Michael O’Hanlon’s Escalation to Hell

This semantics bullshit is really getting on my nerves. The mouthpieces of the Bush regime (including a sycophantic U.S. media) continue to describe the regime’™s plans to escalate the conflict in Iraq as ‘œsurge’.

No.

You don’™t ‘œsurge’ a conflict. You don’™t ‘œsurge’ a commitment of manpower and money. Plain and [...]

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This semantics bullshit is really getting on my nerves. The mouthpieces of the Bush regime (including a sycophantic U.S. media) continue to describe the regime’™s plans to escalate the conflict in Iraq as ‘œsurge’.

No.

You don’™t ‘œsurge’ a conflict. You don’™t ‘œsurge’ a commitment of manpower and money. Plain and simple, it’™s ratcheting up the stakes; it’™s an escalation of the conflict and an escalation of U.S. commitment to the occupation.

On a day when another 5 GI’™s were killed in Iraq (‘œsurging’ the death toll for December to over 100), George Bush is meeting with the architects of his failed Iraq enterprise to plan the escalation of hostilities in Iraq. How can they continue to get away with this stuff, and not a single media talking head is more than mildly critical? How can the media continue to ignore the escalation of mayhem in Iraq and by extension the escalation of the expenditure of American lives and treasury?

How can reasonable and educated foreign policy experts like Michael O’™Hanlon of the Brookings Institute continue to publicly waffle and make excuses for (and expect a different outcome of) the miserable failure that Iraq’™s become ‘” especially when the planners are the EXACT SAME PACK OF ASSHATS that got us into this shit in the first place?

How can someone like O’™Hanlon spout drivel that’™s as patently vapid as ‘œwe never had enough troops in Iraq’, yet continue to support the regime’™s plans to escalate the conflict near four years after it started?? His response to that question is a classic:

‘œWe have no choice but to support him. He’™s the only Commander-in-Chief we’™ve got.’

Fuck.

To steal a thought from Atrios, analysts like Michael O’™Hanlon seem to define the left flank of acceptable opinion on Iraq in the media. And because of thoughtful people like O’™Hanlon, who can not call a spade a spade no matter how bad things might be (and who, oh by the way, looks to be well within the acceptable demographic for military enlistment in support of the escalation)’¦

We are so screwed.

Thursday, December 28th, 2006 by Richard Blair |

Barry Bonds is in Trouble?

Evidently Federal Prosecutors have gotten a win in their investigations. Let’™s see if they turn up anything. . .

With Barry Bonds still in their sights, federal investigators probing steroids in sports can now use the names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Evidently Federal Prosecutors have gotten a win in their investigations. Let’™s see if they turn up anything. . .

With Barry Bonds still in their sights, federal investigators probing steroids in sports can now use the names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, following a ruling Wednesday from a federal appeals court.

The 2-1 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned three lower court decisions and could help authorities pinpoint the source of steroids in baseball. It could also bolster the perjury case against the star outfielder, who is under investigation for telling a grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

Investigators seized computer files containing the test results in 2004 during raids of labs involved in MLB’™s testing program. The samples were collected at baseball’™s direction the previous year as part of a survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. Players and owners agreed in their labor contract that the results would be confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name.

. . .

Armed with data from both labs, government officials now can match the positive test samples with the players’™ names. Those players then could be called before a grand jury and asked how they obtained their steroids. If enough testify that they got the drugs from Bonds’™ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, it could undermine Bonds’™ claim that he didn’™t know Anderson was supplying him with illegal substances.

Now if they can only indict him before he gets the record and taints baseball further.

Thursday, December 28th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: General
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