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    18 December 2005

    More on Bush's Fumbles | The war on Xmas goes International

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    - All of the recent revelations about torture and domestic spying a growing bi-partisian group of congressmen and women are moving for more oversight of presidential activities.

    On Friday bush so much as admitted that he doesn't get it and is lost in some parallel neocon world dreamed up by the likes of Orwell
    "Decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people"

    Classic Rove, turn it around. Speaking of Rove, while most lawmakers understand the problems Bush and friends have brought into our country, several operatives remain and they clearly care not for the public but for power and maintaining it at any costs.
    A Republican senator on Saturday accused The New York Times of endangering American security to sell a book by waiting until the day of the terror-fighting Patriot Act reauthorization to report that the government has eavesdropped on people without court-approved warrants.

    "At least two senators that I heard with my own ears cited this as a reason why they decided to vote to not allow a bipartisan majority to reauthorize the Patriot Act" said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

    Well Cornyn, that won't work anymore and the PATRIOT ACT would have been blocked NYT story or not. We had the votes, you didn't. Now why don't you and your anti-constitutional cronies get back to work and settle on a new PATRIOT ACT that both protects us while preserving our rights.

    A reader posted this in the comments:
    I've got a report I did a few years ago
    regarding the NSA spying on us domestically.

    It includes a treatment of how they perform Internet email monitoring, by way of my describing how I monitored the emails of more than 7000 employees on Wall Street.


    - Cheney visited Iraq today and there he was praised by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
    Talabani, his finger still stained purple as proof that he had voted three days earlier, thanked Cheney profusely for coming and called him a "hero of liberating Iraq." Cheney said even though final results are not in, he is encouraged by preliminary figures showing a jump in turnout in areas such as Al-Anbar province with large populations of Sunni Muslims, who have been the backbone of the insurgency.

    Since Cheney is so popular to the ruling elite in Iraq, I move that they keep him. America doesn't want him.
    "The terrorists know that as freedom take hold the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal," Cheney told the troops.

    OK, so you've supposedly neutralized the terrorists. They are a small part of the problem, what about the insurgency?

    Juan Cole reminds us what the real situation in the Sunni heartland
    Since Bush is going to say Sunday that the Sunni Arab participation in the elections suggests a near end of major guerrilla violence, let me just repeat what I said Thursday: the history of guerrilla insurgencies is replete with groups that simulaneously fought on both the political and paramilitary fronts. Listen to how angry the Sunni politicians are, as they speak out in the wake of the elections, both at Bush and at the Shiites, and you get a sense of how detached the Bush administration remains from reality.

    A major Sunni leader whose list (the National Dialogue Council) seems to be doing well, Salih Mutlak, just came on Arabic satellite television and gave a strident anti-American speech. He addressed Bush, warning him not to believe that a fair election had just occurred in Iraq, and denounced the continued US military occupation of his country. He also lashed out at Shiite politicians. Mutlak is a secular Arab nationalist who still praises the Baath Party. Mutlak's emergence as a likely power broker in the Iraqi parliament is good news for Bush?

    In reality, bigger problems are ahead in Iraq, this article points out the trivial problems. There are more though.

    As said, the attacks have resumed in Iraq.

    - Bill O'Reilly's war on Xmas opened a new front in New Zealand
    A gang of drunken "Santas" caused merry hell across central Auckland yesterday, robbing stores, tagging buildings and assaulting security guards.

    Three men were arrested on a variety of drunk and disorderly charges, and two security guards had to be treated for cuts after being hit with beer bottles.

    The group of 40 men - mostly in their mid-20s and dressed in ill-fitting Santa costumes - began their "Santarchy" shortly after 2pm. First stop was the Victoria St motorway overbridge where they smashed beer bottles and urinated.

    - Powell says
    Mr Powell said the recently highlighted practice of moving people to places where they are not covered by US law was neither "new or unknown" to Europe.

    he adds
    "Well, most of our European friends cannot be shocked that this kind of thing takes place... The fact that we have, over the years, had procedures in place that would deal with people who are responsible for terrorist activities, or suspected of terrorist activities, and so the thing that is called rendition is not something that is new or unknown to my European friends."

    It sounds like he's all for extraordinary rendition.

    - Think progress caught Alberto Gonzales in a lie. In a response to Sen. Russ Feingold
    MR. GONZALES: Senator, this president is not — I — it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.

    Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, lie, L i a r!

    - Democracy in action in the Middle East. However if we don't like the results then we (the West) ignore it.
    The European Union's foreign policy chief warned Sunday that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians if the militant Hamas group wins next month's Palestinian elections and fails to renounce violence.

    The threat by Javier Solana reflected growing international concern that Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and remains committed to
    Israel's destruction, could win the Jan. 25 parliamentary vote.

    The EU warning came after the House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday stating that American support for the
    Palestinian Authority would be at risk by any Hamas participation in government.

    - The new Iraqi government will have final say on US and Coalition (which doesn't exist anymore, like it ever really did) troop levels.

    - more from Cole
    By the way, the assertion Bush keeps making that the political developments in Iraq will influence the rest of the Middle East is ridiculous to anyone who actually talks to anyone from the region. Arabs mostly believe that Iraq is laboring under an oppressive foreign military occupation. You can't bring up Iraq without them saying, "The Americans are doing such horrible things there." They think of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, and of the Ministry of Interior's secret torture cells, not of parliamentary debates. Few think the Iraqi elections are aboveboard, and few are very interested in them. In Beirut, the newspapers have been putting a short article on the elections below the fold every day since Wednesday, and that is about it. It isn't even really positioned as important news; the New York Times puts it higher on the page than most Arab newspapers.

    An American living in Egypt who was teaching out in the provinces in a major city told me about recently witnessing a student demonstration that included a skit. Thousands of students had come out, and some grade schoolers were there in the front row. On the steps of an academic hall, Islamist students enacted a play about an Iraqi suicide bomber blowing up US troops, to enormous glee and applause. That's what most Arabs think about Iraq, on the outside. They don't want to emulate an American-occupied country. Bush's naive conviction that his project is exemplary reminds me of the way the Communists in Russia initially thought that all the factory workers in the West would want immediately to imitate their worker's paradise. Of course, few wanted to give up their unions and consumer lifestyle so as to become the wards of a one-party state. Likewise, American Imperial "democracy" strikes most Arabs as paternalistic and hypocritical, masking a police state of a sort they are all too familiar with.

    Posted by Geoff

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