February 15, 2008

The Man Who Would Be King
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In April 2005, when President Bush decided to transfer Zalmay Khalilzad from Afghanistan to Iraq, Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained. The Afghan-born Khalilzad had been serving as U.S. ambassador to his native country, and his relationship with Karzai--which dated back to the late 1990s, when both men advised the U.S. oil company Unocal on the construction of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline--was strong.

Immunity: Not About Telecoms
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Kevin Drum has a great post up explaining why he sympathizes a bit with the telecom companies who facilitated the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program: Who's being asked to take the fall? The president? The Department of Justice? Congress? Of course not. It's the telecom companies who are being sued. ... [I]t doesn't seem right that the least culpable party is the one getting taken to court, while the most culpable parties--the president, the DOJ, and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress--get off scot free. This makes a lot of sense. I sympathize with the telecoms too.

The Strong Arm Of Jesse Junior
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Here's an interesting AP report that adds to my story on Obama and the Jesse Jacksons and Noam's piece on black pols who endorsed Clinton and today's NYT article on John Lewis announcing his intention to cast his superdelegate vote for Obama: Jesse Jackson Junior is playing a major behind-the-scenes role in bringing black pols who've endorsed Hillary over to Obama. And he's doing it by playing hardball: One black supporter of Clinton, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, said he remains committed to her.

February 14, 2008

In These 'Times'
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What is The New York Times’ problem with abortion? The editorial page consistently supports sex education, birth control, and the right to legally end unwanted pregnancy. The rest of the Times, however, often seems uncomfortable with concrete applications of these principles. Not a season goes by that a news item or magazine feature doesn’t imply that women who get abortions are acting with egotism, unhealthiness, and cruelty. The most recent instance of this is Annie Murphy Paul’s “The First Ache,” in last Sunday’s Magazine. “When does the experience of pain begin?” the subtitle asks.

George Milhous Bush
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Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.

Trial by Fire
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At long last, one way or another we’re about to learn a great deal about military commissions. The charges prosecutors filed Monday against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other alleged September 11 conspirators cannot proceed credibly to trial in anything less than a viable court system. The evidentiary questions they pose are too tricky, the charges are too severe, the interrogation tactics are too ugly, and with 3,000 people dead and the government seeking death, the stakes are too high.

House Democrats Are On A Roll
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Not only are Pelosi and company holding firm on FISA, they also voted this afternoon to find Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt for refusing to testify before Congress in conjunction with the U.S. attorney firing scandal (boy, does that seem like ages ago). House Republicans are predictably opposed, but their stated rationale is, in a word, pathetic: Republicans argued that Congress should not seek a showdown with the White House on the issue, claiming that losing the case would hurt the legislative branch in the long run. Rep.

Bush's Waterboarding Stance Is Hurting Mccain
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As you probably heard, the Senate voted 51-45 yesterday to ban any government agency from any using interrogation tactic not authorized by the Army Field Manual (including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme cold, etc.).

February 13, 2008

Race Against History
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“Sloppy drunk” is not a term that warms the hearts of advance men, the people responsible for making politicians' events run smoothly. It is, however, a fairly apt description of at least a quarter of the audience at the Will/Grundy County Annual AFL-CIO Dinner on this Friday night in late April, just before State Senator Barack Obama arrives to make a pitch for his U.S. Senate campaign.

12:00 AM

Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, who died on Monday, has been mourned by politicians on both sides of the aisle. With almost 27 years to the day of service behind him, Lantos was a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Washington, D.C. veteran of rare standing--one of the only members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to have a friendly relationship with many conservative Republicans. The stately Holocaust survivor was a glad-hander with a bold tongue.