Archive for June, 2009

Revolution in Iran goes underground, but continues

From the Voice of America:

“A senior Iranian cleric has called on the government to punish the leaders of the country’s post-election protests cruelly and without mercy.

In a sermon at Tehran University on Friday, Ahmad Khatami described the demonstrators as rioters who wage war against God (”moharem”), a crime in Islamic law, punishable by death.

He also accused foreign journalists of instigating the protests.

Meanwhile, the relatives of citizens detained by authorities sent a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, and Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, expressing concern for the detainees’ well-being. The letter says they are concerned the detainees, who include prominent reformist politicians, are being pressured to confess to crimes. Iranian authorities have arrested hundreds of people since the election.

… Defeated presidential candidate and reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed on Thursday to resist pressure to end his challenge of the election …

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More carnage in Iraq as U.S. withdraws from cities

These are dangerous times in Iraq. From the AP, filed within the hour:

“BAGHDAD (AP) — A booby-trapped motorcycle loaded with nails and ball-bearings exploded in a crowded bazaar Friday in Baghdad, killing at least 15 people, Iraqi officials said. The attack struck just four days before the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from cities.

The wave of violence that has killed more than 200 people this week has raised fresh doubts about the ability of Iraqi forces to provide security as their American partners become less visible.

The explosion occurred just after 9 a.m. when the market was packed with young people buying or selling motorcycles in central Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials.

Ghaith Abdul-Allah, 35, was unloading motorcycles he planned to sell from his truck when the blast occurred.

“I saw a ball of fire and some motorbikes were lifted about 10 meters (yards) into the air,” he said. “When the smoke from the explosion vanished, I saw a …

Continue reading More carnage in Iraq as U.S. withdraws from cities »

OK, so that’s a funny one, I admit

“It does indicate that men who oppose federal spending at the local level are irresistible to women.”
— Grover Norquist (H/T to TPM)

On the other hand, I can’t bring myself to read the emails apparently leaked between Mark Sanford and his Argentinian lover, and I hope that she’s allowed to keep at least some modicum of anonymity. Let that stuff stay private; prying further into the personal side of this mess is voyeurism at this point.

And as I said yesterday, I do think that in his press conference Sanford handled himself with as much dignity, grace and candor as one could muster in such a situation. I thought his references to God’s law, etc., were heartfelt as well. He was wrestling with a very real sense of personal failure on many levels, and he expressed that.

Personally, I was relieved when members of his staff — I’m guessing that’s who they were — walked up to escort him away from the microphone and podium, saving him and us from further excruciation. He …

Continue reading OK, so that’s a funny one, I admit »

Supremes rule — correctly — on strip-search case

I had posted earlier about this case before the Supreme Court, on the issue of strip-searching a 13-year-old student.

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school’s strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.

Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills – the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.

“What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying …

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What Sotomayor has that Palin doesn’t … so far

I want to pick up a thread in one of the posts below, in which a commenter noted that among many on the left, “Palin isn’t a serious candidate because many feel she’s intellectually challenged, but those same critics support a Supreme Court Nominee who had to read children’s books in college.”

The reference was to Sonia Sotomayor, the appeals court judge of Puerto Rican heritage nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court. While at Princeton, she was apparently advised that her English-language skills were inadequate and that one way to improve those skills was to read books that she had missed being raised in a largely Spanish-speaking household.

Pat Buchanan and others on the right have used that to belittle Sotomayor, noting that “How do you graduate first in your class at Princeton if your summer reading consists of “Chicken Little” and “The Troll Under the Bridge”? As other commenters noted, that’s not exactly accurate. Sotomayor recalled in a 1996 speech that …

Continue reading What Sotomayor has that Palin doesn’t … so far »

Among GOP faithful, Palin’s the (wo)man

Well, John Ensign of Nevada is out. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is out. But Sarah Palin of Alaska seems to be very much in. According to the local media up there, most of her fellow Alaskans are convinced that she won’t be running for re-election as governor, leaving her time to seek the big enchilada.

According to a new poll by the folks at Pew, Palin is easily the most popular potential candidate for president among Republican voters. (Admittedly, some candidates weren’t included, but I doubt that anybody else — Jindal? Huckabee? — would threaten the Palin numbers).

But something interesting happened when Pew broadened the range of those polled to include Democrats and independents.
Suddenly, Mitt Romney pops up the list, while Palin’s high negatives outside the party faithful become more prominent. In fact, while Palin’s numbers have stayed pretty steady, Romney’s have been slowly but steadily improving. As Pew notes, “In February 2008, just 29% of independents had …

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It really wasn’t Mark Sanford’s fault

This is a copy of the Appalachian Trail map that my sources say was given to Gov. Sanford for his hike. So his confusion is perfectly understandable. I’m also told that the source of the faulty map was a South Carolina Capitol reporter, which of course makes this entire mess the media’s fault, as many have suggested.


Sanford just had his press conference, in which he confessed to cheating on his wife and apologized to all who had faith in him. He handled it about as well as could be expected, explaining a classless act in a pretty classy fashion.

Continue reading It really wasn’t Mark Sanford’s fault »

A setback in military/media relations

U.S. military officials in Mosul, Iraq, have banned a reporter for the Stars and Stripes newspaper from embedding with their unit. Their reasoning? He wasn’t positive enough in his reporting and wrote things they didn’t like.

“Officials said Stripes reporter Heath Druzin, who covered operations of the division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team in February and March, would not be permitted to rejoin the unit for another reporting tour because, among other things, he wrote in a March 8 story that many Iraqi residents of Mosul would like the American soldiers to leave and hand over security tasks to Iraqi forces.

“Despite the opportunity to visit areas of the city where Iraqi Army leaders, soldiers, national police and Iraqi police displayed commitment to partnership, Mr. Druzin refused to highlight any of this news,” Major Ramona Bellard, a public affairs officer, wrote in denying Druzin’s embed request.”

I can’t believe that decision will stand, and I suspect those who …

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The one decision that doomed Bush’s presidency

A friend and I were discussing the new biography of Donald Rumsfeld, which led to a discussion of just how things went so bad, so quickly in so many areas for the Bush administration.

It got me to thinking. For most of the Bush presidency, I believed that people who pointed the finger at Dick Cheney as the source of most of the presidents’ problems were exaggerating. Yeah, Cheney was a bit of a nut, but the idea that Bush would let himself be manipulated by his vice president to such a degree — I had a hard time believing it.

I don’t anymore.

In fact, I’d argue now that the most important decision of Bush’s presidency — the decision that determined the fate of his administration and to a degree of this country — occurred in July of 2000, when he chose Cheney to be his running mate. From that moment, the elements of tragedy were in place. I suspect history will reach that judgment as well.

If true, that’s of course as much Bush’s fault as Cheney’s. More so, since he was …

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Does Gov. Sanford know where he is?

Our friends over at are all abuzz at how badly the media have mistreated S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, the conservative Republican who disappeared mysteriously last week.

As chief honcho Erick Erickson put it:

“First, we need to be clear on the facts — not the media speculation:

* Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
* Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.
* His political enemies — Republicans at that — ginned up the media story.
* When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.
* Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanford’s staff and family knew where he was.”

All I can say is that Erickson and I must have different definitions of the word “fact.”

For instance, in Erickson’s world it’s a fact that Sanford did tell his staff and his family where he was going. In fact, they knew at all times.

Except for the fact that …

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