Monday Mashup (10/13/14)

October 13, 2014
  • In the latest TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! news, I give you the following from Joshua Katz here

    America’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, revealed the name last week of a top secret, very small Al Qaeda cell operating inside Syria called the Khorasan Group. The revelation by Clapper was the latest in a series of seemingly authorized disclosures of highly sensitive national security information by the Executive Branch.

    Khorasan Group isn’t a name that trips off the tongue. It isn’t sexy. It wasn’t appearing in newspapers and on websites every day. It wasn’t being talked about in Washington — until now. That’s because its name and organization were classified information. The fact that you had, in all likelihood, never heard of Al Qaeda’s Khorasan Group demonstrates the importance of the security placed around any information about this group and confusion in the White House about Al Qaeda.

    As a former Operations Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and an Army Ranger, I have risked my own life to provide this level of secure intelligence to our president and other policy makers.

    Katz deserves our thanks and gratitude for his service, but if he’s going to criticize anyone for revealing what a supposedly secret bunch this outfit is (I know there’s nothing funny about terrorism, but the name of this gang sounds like a bunch of people making slipcovers), maybe he ought to blame some of his fellow wingnut media loudmouths too for saying that the group was made up (here); maybe if they’d kept their mouths shut, Clapper wound not have had to say anything (though, based on this, I wonder if this is a smokescreen too).

    Here’s my point to Katz and anyone else who blames Number 44 over this; make up your minds on what the narrative is supposed to be as far as you’re concerned. Either blame the Obama Administration for hyping a new terror threat that wasn’t there OR blame them for revealing sensitive information about these life forms. You can’t do both.

  • Next, I give you the following from WaPo conservative quota hire Jennifer Rubin (here), on Teahadist U.S. Senate embarrassment Mike Lee of Utah…

    (Lee) extolled Abraham Lincoln as the first great anti-poverty president. (“[I]n America’s original war on poverty, government did not give the poor other people’s money. It gave them access to other people. In Lincoln’s era that meant dredging rivers, building canals, and cutting roads. It meant the Homestead Act and land-grant universities. These public goods weren’t designed to make poverty more tolerable – but to make it more temporary. They reduced the time it took to get products to market, increased access to banks and land, and increased the speed at which knowledge could be developed and shared.”

    What Rubin describes above sounds an awful lot to me like spending on infrastructure, and as noted here, Lee introduced a bill to pretty much eliminate federal transportation funding (it even has an acronym that spells TEA – blow that dog whistle a little louder, why dontcha?).

    Lee is also leading a repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act (a perennial target for the Teahadists), the federal law that requires government contractors to pay workers the local prevailing wage (the Act is named for two Republicans, it should be noted, and it was signed into law by Herbert Hoover, a Republican president; I guess that’s typical for a guy who once said that child labor laws were “unconstitutional” here).

    Turning back to the “values” political red meat that the Teahadists love, Lee had no problem with the Supremes as “unelected, politically unaccountable judges” when they decided Hobby Lobby, but that’s what he thinks of them now that they’ve decided to allow rulings on marriage equality to stand (here).

    Oh, and speaking of our 16th president, he also said the following (noted here, tied to labor and the economy in general)…

    “While we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    And as a commenter here noted (again, quoting Lincoln)…

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.
    Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
    Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    So what do Lee and the Teahadists have to say about that?

    Cue the sound of crickets (and I don’t think we should need any motivation to vote for Dems in November, but in case we do, Rubin provides it here).

  • Further, someone from The Daily Tucker is (of course) in favor of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs for short) in our food, as noted here (more background is here)…

    I have to admit that I don’t have a ready comeback in response to the data presented in the Daily Tucker post, but I would only present the anti-GMO point of view here, including data on the money spent by food companies to lobby against GMO labeling in California and Washington state, where much of our food is manufactured and/or processed (additional data on the problems already being caused by genetically modified foods is presented here – and if GMOs are supposed to be so damn safe, then please explain this).

    (By the way, to their credit, ice cream makers Ben and Jerry decided to leave GMOs behind, as noted here).

    Another thing…as noted here, there is a correlation between the pro-GMO forces and the climate change deniers and the “anti-vaxers,” which I found to be a bit interesting.

    To conclude on this topic, I give you the following from this Jerry Rogers person at The Daily Tucker…

    Over four dozen pieces of legislation have been introduced in nearly 30 states to require GMO labeling. Three states actually have labeling requirements on the books. These states and the others that will follow suit will end up disrupting the nation’s entire food chain, from farming to supply to retail. Americans will suffer with higher food prices and fewer choices, but for other parts of the world stuck in poverty, the impact will be a devastating loss of human life. The stakes are high.

    Proof? Anywhere in sight??

    The politics of GMOs need to catch up with the science. There is legislation that may be a good first step in doing just that. Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), the bill would preempt state laws and create national standards for food labeling under the sole authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Putting the issue of labeling under FDA authority will take it out of the hands of the anti-GMO activists. This simple act could reset the national debate over GMOs.

    I’m not totally surprised to read that when you consider this. However, how ridiculous is it that the pro-GMO people want to see federal regulation as opposed to a “patchwork” of state laws, when they favor the states over the feds on practically everything else?

  • Continuing, it looks like someone from The Daily Tucker is back to screech about the ACA (here)…

    Republican attorneys general have been administering the right medicine against this law since it was enacted. Just this week, a federal judge in Oklahoma agreed with Attorney General Scott Pruitt and declared unlawful certain regulations written by the IRS to implement the bloated statute.

    I don’t know what the difference between a “bloated” and a “non-bloated” statute is, and I don’t think this Jessica Medeiros-Garrison person does either. What I do know is that Pruitt and other wing nut AGs for their respective states are basing their opposition to the ACA on some bogus claim that subsidies for Medicaid expansion can only be used for states with state-established health care exchanges, not federal ones, which Media Matters called “a counter intuitive claim that has been widely discredited” here.

    Oh, and it should be noted that the federal judge who ruled in Pruitt’s favor, Ronald A. White, was appointed by George W. Bush (big surprise, I know – here). And as noted here, “to date, nine federal judges have considered this question of whether much of the law should be defunded. Only three — all of whom are Republicans — have agreed that it should be.”

    While doing some assorted Googling for this item, I came across the following on Jessica Medeiros-Garrison here (a lawyer based in Alabama for the record), and it turns out that she was in the middle of a messy divorce from her husband Lee Garrison a year ago; neither one of these individuals embody what I would call exemplary moral character (I merely present a link to the details here; it’s up to you, dear reader, to do the rest if you so choose).

  • Moving on, I give you some of the lowest of the low-hanging fruit here from someone named Michael Schaus who concocted something called “10 Things Liberals Believe That Government Does Well” (he added his categories with snarky little comments, so I think it’s only fair that I should be allowed to reply):

    1. Protecting our freedom

    So who do you think is going to train, feed, house, and maintain all other responsibility for the world’s largest (and most expensive) military (here) – the state of Alabama?

    2. Giving away land to common people

    As noted from here

    The federal government owns 655 million acres of land in the U.S., 29% of the total 2.3 billion acres. It administers its public lands through four agencies: the National Park Service (NPS), which runs the National Park System; the Forest Service (FS), which manages the National Forests; theBureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages public lands; and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which administers the National Wildlife Refuge System. National Monuments are assigned a managing agency at the time of their designation by the President. The Forest Service operates out of the Department of Agriculture, while the other three agencies are in the Department of the Interior.

    So yeah, I would say that the Feds do a good job in this area too.

    3. Educating everyone

    This provides a list of U.S. Department of Education funding as of August 25th of this year (if anyone out there is inclined to sift through all of these numbers and other data, have at it). And despite the Repugs’ war on public education in this country, students from overseas still flock to our universities, so I think the federal government does deserve at least a partial amount of credit for that, seeing as how the federal government subsidizes student loans and all.

    4. Helping us retiring (sic) with dignity

    As noted from here (under “Highlights”)…

    At the end of 2013, the (Operations of the Old Age Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance programs) were providing benefit payments to about 58 million people: 41 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 11 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. During the year, an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Total expenditures in 2013 were $823 billion. Total income was $855 billion, which consisted of $752 billion in non-interest income and $103 billion in interest earnings. Asset reserves held in special issue U.S. Treasury securities grew from $2,732 billion at the beginning of the year to $2,764 billion at the end of the year.

    Not too shabby as far as I’m concerned…

    5. Improving public health

    As noted from here

    New York, NY, June 16, 2014—Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The other countries included in the study were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand Norway, Sweden Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance—the U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care in 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked first overall.

    The United States’ ranking is dragged down substantially by deficiencies in access to primary care and inequities and inefficiencies in our health care system according to Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2014 Update, by Karen Davis, of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Kristof Stremikis, of the Pacific Business Group on Health, and Commonwealth Fund researchers Cathy Schoen and David Squires. However, provisions in the Affordable Care Act that have already extended coverage to millions of people in the United States can improve the country’s standing in some areas—particularly access to affordable and timely primary care.

    To hear this Michael Schaus guy, though, “Obamacare” is the reason for our health care ills in this country, not our supposedly glorious private sector (and I think it needs to be pointed out once again that, notwithstanding Medicare/Medicaid and the VA, there is no government-sponsored alternative).

    6. Building our transportation network

    Oh yeah, what is that supposedly awful federal government supposed to do about that?

    Try this for starters (as well as the fact that the best the U.S. House Repugs could do is come up with some lame stopgap measure to keep the Federal Highway Trust Fund solvent, as noted here). So, that supposedly awful Kenyan Muslim socialist responded with this.

    7. Investing in communications

    This Schaus guy has a bit of a point here, but read this McClatchy article to learn about how Motorola pulled all kinds of tricks to try and establish dominance in the broadband market (once again, our glorious private sector at work – and I’m pretty sure Motorola has a lot of corporate “person” company here). So maybe our government would spend these funds more efficiently if it weren’t for the fact that the fund recipients are busy trying to gouge their customers and/or competitors.

    8. Building our energy supply

    Why is that supposed to be the job of the federal government when we give out all kinds of tax breaks to the oil biz, as noted here (though we should be doing the same thing for renewables, but of course we’re not, as noted here.)

    9. Inventing the future (NASA)

    Actually, I think we’ve done OK in NASA funding, all things considered (and fortunately, they still have the resources to do ground-breaking research such as this, which of course should be a “hair on fire” moment for anyone in a political capacity who cares about the future of this planet).

    10. Defeating totalitarianism

    See #1.

    Of course, what else can we expect from Schaus, who (as noted here) used developments in so-called “smart” gun technology to baselessly claim that it was a confiscation scheme on the part of former Obama AG Eric Holder?

  • I also wanted to comment on this story

    Republican Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday (10/6) he supports a bill designed to prevent offenders from causing their victims “mental anguish,” a proposal launched after a Vermont college chose as its commencement speaker a man convicted of killing a police officer.

    Corbett spoke at a Capitol event a day after Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a recorded address to about 20 graduates at Goddard College in Plainfield.

    “Nobody has the right to continually taunt the victims of their violent crimes in the public square,” Corbett said.

    He called the college’s choice of Abu-Jamal “unconscionable.”

    The bill that advanced out of a House committee on Monday would allow a victim to go to court for an injunction against “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of the crime on the victim.”

    OK, to begin with, I think allowing Abu-Jamal to give a recorded address to the Goddard graduates was a dumb idea. I don’t care if he’s a graduate of the school or not; someone should have stepped in and disallowed it. As far as I’m concerned, a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and I think doing so right at the feet of a convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer is a pretty darn good place (kind of makes me wonder what’s going on with that school anyway, since apparently they don’t give out grades…yeah, that will REALLY prepare graduates for the workforce).

    However, this legislation is equally stupid, if not more so. How exactly does the author of this bill propose to establish the cause of “mental anguish”? Survivor flashbacks to the occurrence of the crime? An inadvertent mention of the crime from a passer-by in the form of an offhand remark? Having to watch an hour of Brian Kilmeade on Fox TV?

    (OK, I’ll stop.)

    Also, what exactly constitutes “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of crime on the victim”? By that standard, a candlelight vigil could prompt painful remembrances and thus be subject to penalty under this bill.

    As I said, I’ll definitely grant the point that allowing Abu-Jamal yet another platform for his thoroughly undeserved celebrity is stupid. But concocting some bill that doesn’t pass the legal smell test falls under the heading of two wrongs trying to make a right.

  • Finally, as noted here, it turns out Mikey the Beloved in PA-08 has spent about $200 grand on “franking” for campaign ads telling us how wonderful he supposedly is (including online at Twitter and Google), which apparently is not illegal in any way; as the article tells us, there is a franking limit for Senate campaigns, but not U.S. House ones (and why exactly is that, I wonder?).

    However, even though he’s running online ads, he still doesn’t advertise his Town Hall meetings (has he even had any during this campaign?). And it also doesn’t take into consideration his recent refusal to accept an invitation to a candidate’s forum hosted by the Lin-Park Civic Association and the Bucks County NAACP, even though he was notified about the forum five different times in August and September (his Dem opponent Kevin Strouse had no problem saying Yes).

    With that in mind, I give you the following from the Strouse campaign…

    Bristol, PA – Congressman Fitzpatrick, who missed 35% of his House Financial Services Committee hearings, is misleading his constituents with counter-terrorism theater and grandstanding on issues of national security. Fitzpatrick continues to mislead his constituents despite the fact that the Congressman’s Isolate ISIS Act is a duplicative effort that does nothing to further target ISIS’s financing.

    Executive Order 13324, signed by President Bush in 2001, provides the necessary framework for the Treasury department to sanction terrorist funding. Perhaps if the Congressman showed up to his committee hearings he would understand the mechanisms that have been in place for over 13 years to target terrorist network financing and levy sanctions against complicit groups and individuals.

    Strouse commented, “It’s extremely disappointing that Congressman Fitzpatrick would politicize national security problems that he clearly doesn’t understand. I fought terrorism as an Army Ranger in Iraq and as a CIA officer, so it’s time to set the record straight for the 8th District: Treasury already has the necessary authority to target ISIS’s funding, and has been doing so for quite some time. The issue that we ought to be addressing is that training the Syrian rebels will take much longer than Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues have indicated.”

    The Congressional authorization to train Syrian rebels expires in December. Strouse has previously pointed out how short-sighted this short term authorization is, and has emphasized on multiple occasions that adequately training an army takes longer than 90 days.

    As early as 2008, Treasury was targeting the predecessor to ISIS. In February 2008, pursuant to Executive Order 13324, treasury took action against al Qaida in Iraq (AQI), which is the predecessor to ISIS. Instead of grandstanding on issues that are already addressed under current law, Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues should be addressing the soon to expire authorization to train moderate rebel troops.

    Time is short until the election, so if you are able to help the Kevin Strouse campaign in any capacity at all, please click here.

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    Wednesday Mashup (4/24/13)

    April 24, 2013
  • Trying to sneak in some items I couldn’t quite get to yesterday – this tells us the following:

    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus blasted the Democratic National Committee for a new website that collects personal information as part of a “thank you note” to the first responders of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing.

    In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Priebus charges that Democrats are using the note to gather names and contact information for future fundraising asks (sic).

    Can you smell the desperation from their side yet, people? They’ve been attacking Obama ever since January 21, 2009 in an effort to find ANYTHING that looks remotely like the legitimate scandal they would eternally cherish…and they’re coming up absolutely empty (or something that could be associated with him somehow, however tangentially in this case).

    And accusing the Dems of trying to make money off of terrorism is particularly pathetic coming from the Repugs, seeing as how they have exploited TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! for fundraising purposes in Montana (here) and Minnesota (here)…they’ve probably done it all over this country, but those are the only specific locations I can find at the moment. And as noted here (from a Boston Herald story), a “GOP fundraising insider” was accused of transferring a not-insignificant amount of dough to a “terrorist camp” over six years ago…the story was met with a collective yawn by our bought-and-paid-for corporate media.

    Actually, given the Repugs and their hatred of public sector employees (you know, people with “dumb” jobs like police, firefighters and teachers) and the fact that some of them acted in typically heroic fashion after the Boston Marathon attack, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the Obama folks are trying to set up a job bank for them in the event that some of them end up losing their jobs due to the “sequester” (in which Man Tan Boehner infamously claimed that he got 98 percent of what he wanted, let’s not forget).

  • Next, I give you the following from former Bushie Michael Gerson of the WaPo here (keeping with the bombing a bit)…

    Over the past several decades, traditional forms of Islam have been challenged by radical variants, which often latch onto ethnic and tribal resentments. Disaffected, angry young men can be particularly receptive, causing turmoil in families, mosques, regions and countries.

    In our country, such radicalism is rare — a tribute to America’s special superpower of assimilation…

    It’s probably a “tribute,” once again, to the courageous men and women of law enforcement in this country (harking back a bit to the prior item).

    I don’t draw a differentiation between radical Islamists and home-grown terrorists; they’re both, at heart, cowards who primarily want to frighten us into giving up our liberties. And unfortunately, they’ve been more successful than they should have been (and that comment is aimed at both of our major political parties, as well as the rest of us).

    Gerson is waaay too cagey to admit this, but the plain fact is that, going back over the last 20 years at least, right-wing extremism has flourished while a Democrat has resided in An Oval Office as opposed to a Republican, as Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center points out here with statistics to back up that claim (the wretched economy isn’t helping one bit…and yes, I know there’s another reason why Obama is detested by organizations largely composed of racists – I don’t need to spell that out, do I?),

    As Potok points out…

    There were 149 of these (“Patriot” militia) groups in 2008, by our count. That number as of 2012 was 1,360. That’s 813% growth in four years.

    The way to combat this is through calm vigilance, determination, and adherence to the rule of law (also, the next time one of these numbskulls claims that “Obama wants to take our guns,” we could try to patiently explain that, assuming that were even possible and he had a wish to do it, don’t you think he would have done it by now?). Besides, it’s not as if incidents of terror and bombings are exactly new to this country, as noted here (Rachel Maddow talked about this last night).

    We’ll leave any notions of a “superpower of assimilation” (sounds like something out of DC/Action Comics) to Gerson and the equally clueless horde of Beltway bloviators (and on the subject of the Boston bombings, I thought this was interesting…also, the next time anyone is quick to blame Muslim extremism, it might be a good idea to read this).

  • Finally, I should note the departure of a true hero, and that would be Bob Edgar; this reminds us that he was a former U.S. House Representative, head of Common Cause, and a United Methodist minister.

    It should also be pointed out that he definitely wasn’t a Democratic Party ideologue under any stretch of the imagination; as noted here, he once drew comparisons to the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and he was arrested here when he, along with a group of peaceful protestors, knelt and prayed in the Capitol Rotunda for increased social services funding (We can’t have that in the “age of austerity,” now can we? And more’s the pity that there wasn’t more of a religious presence from other denominations.).

    As former head of Common Cause, Edgar once called out conservative lawyer James Bopp, Jr. for channeling millions of dollars into the 2010 midterm elections here (and we know how that turned out – last bullet). Also, here is a link to some of Edgar’s prior appearances on the Democracy Now! program.

    When I think of people who have helped to inform my political opinion over the course of my life, I immediately think of individuals like Molly Ivins, David Sirota, Gene Lyons, Mark Shields, and precious few politicians, particularly of the present era. Bob Edgar is the utterly rare exception.

    I can’t recall an individual whose convictions in his public and private life remained as steadfast as those of Bob Edgar. We as a nation and a people are better for his service; the challenge is now left up to us to fill the sizeable void created by his passing through our own selfless acts on behalf of the ever-growing numbers of our countrymen in need.


  • Nail. Hammer. Head. Take That, Deadeye Dick!

    December 30, 2009

    In response to this, here is the official statement from the Obama Administration.

    Update 12/30/09: And why does this not surprise me?


    Sweeping More “Turd Blossom” BS Under The “Afghan Rug”

    October 22, 2009

    rove“Bush’s Brain” opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday…

    In an interview with CNN’s John King on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama is now asking tough questions about Afghanistan “that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side.” It was a not so subtle dig at Mr. Obama’s predecessor and was meant to distract from the White House’s mishandling of the war.

    The Bush administration did in fact conduct a top-to-bottom strategic review of Afghanistan in 2008. That review was provoked by two developments.

    The first was that Pakistan’s government wobbled starting in 2006. It cut deals with tribes that created safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda and then became distracted from fighting terrorism as President Pervez Musharraf was pressured to leave office and replaced by a new democratic government. The second was al Qaeda’s decision to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan after having been driven from Iraq.

    In response, I’d like to provide this link that tells us that, while the threat of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was quite real, to say nothing of the suicide attacks, “Pentagon documents leaked to the Washington Post (around April 2006) regarding Zarqawi have revealed that Al Qaeda in Iraq is fabricated.” And just to refresh our memories, this McClatchy story tells us the pains the Bushco regime went through to try and fabricate a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

    And as far as the Obama White House’s supposed “mishandling of the war,” Cenk Uygur “keeps his eye on the ball,” so to speak, by telling us the following (here)…

    Right now, there is a debate as to what President Obama should do in Afghanistan. As there should be. Should he send in more troops? Does it make sense to escalate the war without a viable partner in the Afghan government? Will this be his Vietnam? Woh, woh, woh whose Vietnam?

    What is not being talked about enough is the disastrous situation George Bush left for Obama in Afghanistan (as he did in just about every aspect of government). What the hell did Bush do in Afghanistan for over seven years? Apparently, not a damn thing.

    Do you know how many troops Bush had in Afghanistan in early 2008? He had an unbelievably small contingent of 26,000 troops in the whole country. At the same time, he had 160,000 troops in Iraq. I don’t know if you know this, but Iraq did not attack us. The people who did attack us on 9/11 lived in … Afghanistan.

    So Bush had 26K troops in Afghanistan, and we’re debating about whether or not we should have almost four times that amount now.

    And before any of this occurred, Afghanistan had been our radar, as it were, since the Soviets were driven out of the country, mainly for the following reason (as noted here)…

    The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian Basin contains up to $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.

    The Alternet article discusses in length how the American company Unocal (aided by an Arabian company, Delta Oil) fought Bridas, an Argentine energy company, who had leases to drill for oil in the region…

    …and by November of 1996 (Bridas) had signed an agreement with General Dostum of the Northern Alliance and with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.

    Unocal wanted exclusive control of the trans-Afghan pipeline and hired a number of consultants in its conflict with Bridas: Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration), Zalmay Khalilzad (a signer of the PNAC letter to President Clinton) and Hamid Karzai.

    Unocal wooed Taliban leaders at its headquarters in Texas, and hosted them in meetings with federal officials in Washington, D.C.

    Unocal and the Clinton Administration hoped to have the Taliban cancel the Bridas contract, but were getting nowhere. Finally, Mr. John J. Maresca, a Unocal Vice President, testified to a House Committee of International Relations on February 12, 1998, asking politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted. His discomfort was well placed.

    Six months later terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and two weeks after that President Clinton launched a cruise missile attack into Afghanistan. Clinton issued an executive order on July 4, 1999, freezing the Taliban’s U.S.-held assets and prohibiting further trade transactions with the Taliban.

    Mr. Maresca could count that as progress. More would follow.

    Immediately upon taking office, the new Bush Administration actively took up negotiating with the Taliban once more, seeking still to have the Bridas contract vacated, in exchange for a tidy package of foreign aid. The parties met three times, in Washington, Berlin, and Islamablad, but the Taliban wouldn’t budge.

    Behind the negotiations, however, planning was underway to take military action if necessary. In the spring of 2001 the State Department sought and gained concurrence from both India and Pakistan to do so, and in July of 2001, American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence agents to inform them of planned military strikes against Afghanistan the following October. A British newspaper told of the U.S. threatening both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden — two months before 9/11 — with military strikes.

    According to an article in the UK Guardian, State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban at their last pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, “Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”

    And Think Progress tells us of the following from here, as the Iraq war and the neglected Afghanistan war dragged on…

    JANUARY 24, 2006: Army has become “thin green line”
    Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. [AP, 1/24/06]

    OCTOBER 4, 2006: Iraq and Afghanistan war vets say military is overstretched, underequipped. 63 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended. 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans believe their forces are overextended. [VoteVets Action Fund, 10/4/2006]

    OCTOBER 19, 2006: Staff on the House Veterans Affairs Committee report that the “number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doubled — from nearly 4,500 to more than 9,000 — from October 2005 through June 2006.” [McClatchy, 10/18/2006]

    And Bush’s “boy genius” tells us more…

    There is also the heavy whiff of politics in the administration’s war deliberations. The president’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, apparently attends war cabinet meetings—something I did not do as President Bush’s senior political adviser.

    For Rove to imply that he separated the wars from politics is laughable in the extreme; here is another reminder…

    Implying that Democratic Party liberals were little better than traitors, Rove continued, “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said: we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said: we must understand our enemies. Conservatives see the United States as a great nation engaged in a noble cause; liberals see the United States and they see … Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia.”

    Yep, I would call that an example of the “heavy whiff” of something, but not politics (certainly befitting of Rove’s nickname, though).

    “Decisive support” of a new Afghan strategy is certainly required, though (one to help remedy the failures of the old strategy, or what passed for one, by Rove and the rest of the disreputable Bushco bunch).

    Update 10/25/09: I guess it shouldn’t at this point any more, but it continually astonishes me how much our lapdog press seems to crave pro-Bushco BS like this (a “secret plan,” huh?).

    Update 10/27/09: And silly me for thinking that Rove was telling the truth about supposedly not participating in “war cabinet meetings”; maybe he didn’t, but he’s a liar for saying that he never participated in high-level national security meetings, as noted here.


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