Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another Debate

Another presidential debate--another snoozefest? Not quite. But these debates are already coming across as reruns. And we're still eight months away from the voting.

This time it was the Republicans' turn, with the GOPers gathering in South Carolina, an important early-primary state. There were a few zingers. Senator John McCain replying to a jab from ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, said, "I've taken and kept a consistent position on campaign finance reform. I have kept a consistent position on right to life. And I haven't changed my position on even number years and haven't changed my position based on what offices I may be running for." Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed Representative Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican opposed to the Iraq war, after Paul suggested 9/11 was the result of US bombing raids in Iraq in previous years. But these candidates-crowded debates are not all that useful in sorting out the contenders. Too many wannabes are on the stage. There's little back and forth--and not much depth to the answers. It's a cavalcade of soundbites and talking points. It would be better to have a few candidates gather for separate face-offs. That would give them each the chance to explain the superficial responses that fill the short time allotted for answers.

Which brings me to some of the more superficial--or silly--remarks of the night.

* McCain noted that the United States cannot fail in Iraq because if "we fail in Iraq we will see Iraq become a center for al Qaeda, chaos, genocide in the region and they will follow us home." But what if the Iraqi parliament votes for the recently introduced bill calling for a withdrawal of US troops? A majority of the Iraqi parliament has signed on to the legislation. Should such a bill pass, would a President McCain keep US troops in Iraq to get the "terrorists" before they "follow us home"? How would that work? Iraq is more than a front in the us-versus-them battle.

* Romney depicted the global jihadist threat by noting that "they've come together"--Sunni, Shia, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood--to undermine moderate Arab governments, establish a fundamentalist caliphate throughout the Middle East, and destroy the West, especially the United States. With this observation, he made it seem as if Sunnis and Shiites are terrorist outfits.

* Former New York City Rudy Giuliani excoriated Senator Hillary Clinton for having said "we must take taxes to give them to the common good." But isn't that the whole point of taxes? Money is expropriated from citizens to pay for communal services: the police, the fire department, the military, environmental protections, parks, food and drug safety, roads, education, and so on. Does Giuliani believe local and national governments should not "take" taxes from the people?

* Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson said there are "enough [stem cells] lines now" to support a robust research effort and there is no need to lift the Bush administration's ban on federal funding of research using new lines of stem cells. Thompson was defending a policy imposed by George W. Bush in 2001 when he was Secretary of Health and Human Services. But most biotech experts say--as they did in 2001--that there's not a sufficient number of decent-quality lines available for federally funded research.

* Representative Tom Tancredo went back in time. He claimed that for every scientist who says that human-induced global warming is under way, there's another scientist who says that's not so. He must not have looked at a newspaper....since 1989.

Who won? It doesn't matter at this point. There are many more debates to come. And former Senator Fred Thompson is still practicing his lines in the wings. If he jumps in, he will--in a flash--change whatever dynamic has been created by the debates and other events. But if pressed to pick a winner, I would have to go with Giuliani. Why? He had a few strong responses, but he wins because he was the first of the candidates to be interviewed after the debate by Hannity and Colmes on Fox News, which aired the debate. He was able to reinforce his performance before Fox viewers headed to the fridge or turned to another channel.

If the Fox audience stuck around to see McCain, they saw the former POW defend his response to a question about how to handle terrorists who might possess information about an imminent attack on the United States. McCain noted during the debate that he opposed the use of waterboarding and regarded the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation techniques" as torture. As a former victim of torture, he explained that torture doesn't often work and discredits and diminishes those who use it. My hunch: this is not what GOP voters who watch Fox News (and perhaps 24) want to hear. During the debate, Giuliani said in such a situation he would order the use of "every method" the interrogators "can think of." That's a much better line for diehard GOP voters. Now on to the next debate.

Posted by David Corn at May 16, 2007 12:13 AM


micki said...

Comey's testimony is where the attention needs to be focused.

Fergittabout the candidates for now!

If Comey is telling the truth, Articles of Impeachment are in order.

micki said...

From Comey's testimony:

COMEY: "I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself, but I don't know that for sure. It came from the White House."

So, Mrs. Ashcroft had blocked ALL calls to her husband's hospital room because he was critically ill -- but this one got through. This call precipitated the meeting in the hospital room, with Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales strong-arming (my word) a sick man to sign papers for what appears to be authorization for the continuation of illegal activities.

Call your congressperson! It is time for Articles of Impeachment.

capt said...

Brazil Demonstrating That Reducing Tropical Deforestation Is Key Win-win Global Warming Solution

Tropical deforestation is the source of nearly a fifth of annual, human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Recent studies by Woods Hole Research Center scientists demonstrate that during years of severe drought, tropical rainforest fires can double emissions from tropical forests. Now, an international team of forest and climate researchers has found that halving deforestation rates by mid-century would account for 12 percent of total emissions reductions needed to keep concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere at safe levels. This work is profiled in a recent issue of Science.

A policy mechanism is needed that rewards those tropical nations that succeed in lowering their emissions of heat-trapping gases from deforestation and forest degradation. This is a particularly urgent need since most of these emissions are associated with only modest economic gains, but provoke high losses of biodiversity. Such a policy mechanism is now under discussion in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Compensated Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from tropical forests (CR) would provide payments to those tropical nations that succeed in lowering their emissions from deforestation and tropical degradation, beginning during the second compensation period of the UNFCCC (beginning 2013).

This proposal has now been endorsed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which currently represents 29 tropical countries who support the CR proposal, and which formally advanced the CR proposal during the Conference of the Parties in Montreal, 2005, and will be voted on by the UNFCCC delegation in Bali Conference of the Parties in December.

"More than any other country, Brazil has demonstrated that it is feasible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tropical deforestation", says co-author Daniel Nepstad, Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. He, along with colleague Marina Campos, showed that since the beginning of 2004, Brazil has created more than 20 million hectares of parks, extractive reserve, and national forests in the Amazon region, and many of these protected areas are located in the agricultural frontier. These protected areas, if fully enforced, will prevent one billion tons of carbon from being transferred to the atmosphere through deforestation by the year 2015. Brazil's deforestation rates have been cut nearly in half in recent years through a combination of government intervention and economic trends.

"We are encouraging the Brazilian government to fully endorse the Compensated Reduction proposal", states Paulo Moutinho, Scientist and Coordinator of the Climate Change Program of the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), a non-governmental research institute in Brazil. CR would help Brazil offset the costs of slowing deforestation rates. In Brazil, the cost of reducing deforestation emissions by half will be less than $5 per ton of carbon dioxide, as estimated in an unpublished study of IPAM and the Woods Hole Research Center.

The CR proposal may be far more urgent than the Science paper would suggest, since tropical deforestation rates will probably increase in the coming years as worldwide demand for biofuel and grain pushes agriculture deeper into tropical forests.

"Slowing tropical deforestation won't, by itself, solve the climate problem," said Dr. Peter Frumhoff, co-author and organizer of the study and Director of Science and Policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "But for many developing countries, it is their largest source of emissions. Climate policymakers have a historic opportunity to help developing countries find economically viable alternatives to deforestation and participate in the global effort to address climate change."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Woods Hole Research Center.


*****end of clip*****

I guess cutting down on deforestation is better than the steady increase over the past few years. Global warming or not saving the rainforests is a good idea.


capt said...

White House pressed Ashcroft to recertify NSA surveillance program: ex-deputy AG

[JURIST] Former US Deputy Attorney General James Comey [official profile] testified [transcript] before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that in March 2004, in response to Comey's reservations about reauthorizing the controversial warrantless domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card [official profiles] attempted to pressure the hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile; JURIST news archive] to reauthorized the program. Comey, who was acting attorney general during Ashcroft's hospitalization, has not previously discussed the incident in public, which was first reported in early-2006 by the New York Times.

In February of last year, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], under Gonzales, sent a letter to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) seeking to dissuade the committee [JURIST report] from calling Ashcroft and Comey to testify before the panel, saying that their testimony would provide no new information on the NSA warrantless surveillance program. AP has more.


*****end of clip*****

It will be a good day if something FINALLY sticks to these criminals.


capt said...

Buck Up, Wolfie: There’s Always eHarmony

In yet another setback for the embattled World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz’s girlfriend, Shaha Riza, announced today that she was resigning as Mr. Wolfowitz’s girlfriend, "effective immediately."

While Ms. Riza’s role in the conflict-of-interest scandal involving Mr. Wolfowitz and the World Bank had placed her in the eye of the media storm, few had expected her to relinquish her girlfriend post without a fight.

But according to a source close to Ms. Riza, the increasing pressure on the high-profile couple in recent days had convinced her that she "could no longer function effectively as Paul Wolfowitz’s girlfriend."

A joint communiqué released by the couple indicated that the decision to leave her girlfriend post was entirely Ms. Riza’s, but sources close to Mr. Wolfowitz suggest that the idea had originated not with her but with the World Bank president himself.

According to one source, "Paul had dinner with Shaha last night and told her they should start seeing other banks."

News of Ms. Riza’s departure sparked speculation that Mr. Wolfowitz’s might have difficulty acquiring a new girlfriend, but according to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has served as Mr. Wolfowitz’s unofficial "wingman" for years, nothing could be further from the truth.

"The fact that the World Bank found Paul guilty of wrongdoing gives him an air of danger," Mr. Cheney said. "The ladies dig that."

Elsewhere, after a welcoming speech in which he suggested that Queen Elizabeth II was over 230 years old, President Bush attempted to mend his verbal slip, saying "the old girl doesn’t look a day over 130."


Robert S said...

Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, Ending the Empire


Comey's testimony is but one thread that needs to be pursued. Remember that a Federal Judge has already ruled this program unconstitutional, as well.

There are so many avenues of corruption and illegal activity, from election fraud to war crimes to cronyism, profiteering and beyond.

Articles of Impeachment have been in order for a long time; some are just slower to recognize the fact. David Corn, for instance...

micki said...

Yes, but now it should be apparent even to Repugs that Articles of Impeachment are in order.

Wouldn't it be a shining day on the hill if John Ashcroft pushed Repugs in the House to get off their butts?

...then I woke up.

micki said...

If Republicans mounted the effort for impeachment, they might save their party.

Robert S said...

World's Biggest U.S. Embassy May Not Be Quite Big Enough
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 16, 2007; Page A13

For all those who keep whining about how the government can't do anything right, we're happy to report that the massive New Embassy Compound in Baghdad, the biggest U.S. embassy on earth, is going to be completed pretty much as scheduled in August.

The bad news is that it appears it's not going to have enough housing for all the employees who'll be moving to the 27-building complex on a 104-acre tract of land -- about the size of the Vatican, two-thirds the size of the Mall -- within the Green Zone.

In fact, our new man in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, is said to be concerned that, while there are more than 600 blast-resistant apartments in the NEC, there's a need for several hundred more apartments.

Problem seems to be that the original plans didn't account for hundreds of staff working in reconstruction, development, the inspector general's office and other security programs, who, though considered temporary, will need, at least for a few years, somewhere to live. There are 1,000 Americans working at the embassy, and Crocker is looking to downsize, but we hear he's having trouble finding even 100 to toss overboard.

Also, there are about 200 non-U.S. workers brought in from around the region who are replacing Iraqi staff because it is too dangerous for the Iraqis, who live outside the fortified Green Zone, to work for Americans.



And never forget, even the plans being proposed by the Democrats allow for American Troops to stay to protect this Green Zone, from the Iraqis, who love us so much that we cannot allow them to work with us in their own country.

micki said...

Now is the time for the hero of some, Ron Paul, to show that he honors the Constitution and truly supports the rule of law.

If you want to set yourself apart, call for impeachment, Ron!

Robert S said...

Of Actions and Consequences, Torture and Troops
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Tuesday 15 May 2007

The most painful thing for the inmates there were the cries of the people being tortured. One day, they brought sheets to cover the cell in order for no one to see anything. They began torturing one of them, and we could hear what was happening. We listened as his soul cracked.
- Former inmate of Abu Ghraib

There was an ambush outside Baghdad a few days ago, yet another accent in Iraq's ceaseless symphony of carnage. Little about it was distinctive at first, until word got out that three American soldiers attached to the attacked convoy were missing. The Islamic State of Iraq, described in American media reports as an "al Qaeda front group," subsequently claimed to be holding these missing soldiers as hostages. Pentagon officials confirmed their claim, and some 4,000 troops have since fanned out to search for the abducted troops.

Recall, for context, our national debate over torture, renditions, and the rights of prisoners captured in the "War on Terror." Recall the secret memos, endorsed by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, that slapped aside Geneva Convention prohibitions against the torture of prisoners. Recall Abu Ghraib, and the shameful photos documenting the absence of those prohibitions in living, bleeding color.

It was theoretical at the time, that debate, an exercise in nationalist rhetoric and sound-bite showmanship. Those who voiced warnings, who tried to remind us that actions have consequences, hardly made a dent. Abu Ghraib was exposed, and we were outraged, and then we forgot. The mangled morality of state-sanctioned brutality continued as mere fodder for this theoretical argument, and the horrors within those faraway prison walls simply got folded into the main.

It isn't theoretical anymore. Three American soldiers are hostages today, and God help them if their captors decide to play by our rules.



The Long Shadow of CIA Torture Research

capt said...

Spread the word:

Use the Tell-A-Friend feature and encourage others to take action to support access to emergency contraception for women serving in the US military overseas.

Visit the NCJW Action Center at to speak out on other issues of concern to women, children, and families.

capt said...

Thank you for urging your Representative to support the
Markey-Platts bill.

We can build more support if more people ask their
Representative to support this critical legislation. Please take
a moment to ask your friends and family to send a letter to
their representative by clicking here:

Thanks again for your support.

League of Conservation Voters

capt said...

Nearly a month has passed since President Bush gave Sudan another "last chance" to cooperate with international efforts to end the genocide. Unfortunately, the Sudanese government has once again failed to end the violence in Darfur.

Time is up! The Bush Administration must move ahead with a strong multi-tiered and multi-lateral plan of tough sanctions and effective measures to press Sudan to cooperate with the international community.

Click the link below to tell President Bush to act immediately to implement "Plan B" without further delays.

The people of Darfur simply cannot afford any more "last chances" for the government sponsoring the violence against them. "Plan B" (which was originally supposed to launch in January) has been delayed long enough.

This month, the United States holds the presidency of the U.N. Security Council -- a perfect time to lead the world by introducing a tough resolution to make it clear that the world is united in opposition to the ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur.

President Bush and world leaders must use all measures available to force Sudan to keep its commitments to the international community.

Tell the White House to stick to its deadline and finally implement - and enforce - tough U.S. sanctions against Sudan, and to introduce a tough Security Council resolution at the UN.

Click the link below to send the White House a clear message that the people of Darfur need action immediately.

Once you've sent your message, please help us spread the word by forwarding this message to your friends and family.

Thanks for your help.

Donate to Help Save Darfur
Help build the political pressure needed to end the crisis in Darfur by supporting the Save Darfur Coalition's crucial awareness and advocacy programs. Click here now to make a secure, tax-deductible online donation:
The Save Darfur Coalition is an alliance of over 180 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations whose mission is to raise public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and to mobilize a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of more than two million people in the Darfur region. To learn more, please visit

capt said...

Dems are bringing sexy back


For David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, the nexus of dating and power doesn’t have much an impact on his life — he’s married — but the change in power does lead to more Democrats on Capitol Hill.

"If single Democrats are looking for more single Democrats, there are more pickings on the Hill," Corn said.

He also remarked that the Speaker is looking good: "I think Nancy Pelosi’s hot. What can I say?"

Corn, a well-known liberal, also noted the sartorial differences between Republican and Democratic women. "Republican dresser — more Ann Taylor-ish. A Democratic dresser — a little more eclectic, a touch more of Banana Republic."

Corn said that the change in power has had ramifications on the quality of food around the District.

"I’ll tell you, being in Washington for 20 years, when Democrats took over the White House, there were better restaurants in Washington. Better socializing. I have high hopes for 2009."


*****end of clip*****

Pelosi? DC must be infatuated by the power . . .



Gerald said...

Military Families Speak Out

O'Reilly said...

I'm with you on this one Micki.

The Washington Post calls it this morning "an account of Bush administration lawlessness so shocking it would have been unbelievable coming from a less reputable source."

Questions raised by Comey's testimony yesterday to the SJC need to be pursued with all deliberate speed.

Did you see it? Watch it here.

Comey's Testimony - YouTube

capt said...

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