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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Topic: Breaking News

France Stops, America Helps

Last weekend, in his regular "Our Man in Paris" column for Just Above Sunset, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, covered a very odd labor dispute in France. See Sailing Off with a Whole Ship, and the Question of Corsica - and yes, the disgruntled workers took the ship, and the authorities took it back, and Corsica is a dangerous place, even with native-son Napoleon long gone from the scene.

At the end of the column there was a link to a news item that there was to be a nationwide strike in France, Tuesday, October 4, to demand public sector pay-rises and to protest new labor laws.

There was, and Ric was on the scene with a brief note and these exclusive photos -
As of 18:30, today's anti-government demonstration parade is still marching through Paris to the Place de la Nation. I caught up with it before it reached Bastille, after its launch from République.

Radio news is saying Paris is seriously scrambled - east Paris at least - and is mentioning 'hundreds of thousands.' Other strikes were held today throughout France, with a big turnout mentioned for Marseille.

Will get the 'score' from tonight's TV-news. If they have one.
Photo One: The Leaders





















Photo Two: The Parade





















Photos Three and Four: Flares and Smoke








































Photo Five: International Participation - British Air





















Photo Six: International Participation - Local 9423 of the Communications Workers of America ("The Union for the Information Age"), from way out here in California - from San Jose, actually. Read their resolution again the war in Iraq here.






















Photo Seven: Those with no papers being harassed -


Posted by Alan at 16:59 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005 17:15 PDT home

Monday, 3 October 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

The Call It Stormy Monday - For Good Reason

Monday, October 3 - both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan began at sundown, and it was "Labour Day" in Australia and in Germany the "Day of German Unity" (ironically enough). Gore Vidal turned 80, Chubby Checker turned 64, Tommy Lee turned 43, and Ashlee Simpson turned 21. Quite a day.

In the political world it was just more strangeness, of an almost subatomic kind. The four properties of the quark - one level below the proton, neutron and electron as you recall - are "up-ness, down-ness, strangeness and charm." Theoretical physicists call these "flavors." And it was that kind of day, with the emphasis on strangeness.

As for "down-ness," in Texas, the House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, who had been forced to resign after being indicted for some sort of criminal conspiracy by a grand jury there, was indicted by a new grand jury on a new charge of money laundering. And it was the first day this new grand jury met. Ah well, the new charge is essentially the same - conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through various front organizations. You can read about it here and here, but what's the point? A felony indictment is a felony indictment.

Yawn. A bad week for the Republicans stretches into a second bad week.

On the bright side (up-ness), for the Republican folks, it was the famous "first Monday in October" and the Supreme Court began its new session, with John Roberts assuming his seat at Chief Justice. He was sworn in and the legal arguments proceeded. Dahlia Lithwick, one of the clearest writers on such matters, said he did just fine, in The New Kid: John Roberts' First Day at School, as he announces oral argument in IBP Inc v. Alvarez and Tum v. Barber Foods Inc where the issue is a number of consolidated appeals about whether the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees (in this case in the meat-processing industry) be compensated for the time they spend doffing and donning protective clothing and walking to their workstations. Whatever. "So, how does Roberts look in the chief justice's chair? As though he were born to it, quite frankly." Poor guy.

Of course the big news was the other vacancy on the court, and Bush nominated Harriet, but not Harriet my cat. This would be White House counsel Harriet Miers, a sixty-year-old little-known Bush aide - Bush's personal lawyer when he was in Texas not the White House, once a city councilwoman, once head of the Texas state lottery, and back in 1968 the woman in charge of making sure all those charges about Bush ducking service in the Texas Air National Guard didn't get out of hand. She started at the White House as his secretary, screening his papers, and seems to have fallen upwards. She seems to have been a pretty good lawyer, but she was never a judge, so there's no "paper trail" where you can look at her decisions and see how she'd perform in the big game. She's never been in the game at all. This qualifies as "strangeness."

Harry Reid, leader of the senate Democrats, apparently recommended her to Bush. Reid says nice things about her. Heck, there are records of her contributing to Democratic politicians, like Al Gore. Oh my!

On the right, the "social conservatives" (ban abortions, get the gays off the streets, prepare for the return of Jesus), were ticked off. They felt betrayed. She has no anti-abortion record at all! Oops. She has no pro-life record at all!

Conservatives in general were ticked off. This was supposed to be the big deal - the swing seat on the court where Bush repaid them all for their support. Roberts was bad enough - all intellectual and almost overqualified and so very careful and thoughtful. They didn't want thoughtfulness. This time they wanted action.

They got a cipher.

Basics:

Bush Nominates Harriet Miers to High Court (ABC News)
Critics question Miers' experience - (MSNBC - Brian Williams)
Conservatives decry nomination, saying Miers' views are unknown (San Jose Mercury News)
Opinions Spreading Like Wild On Miers (CBS News)

That last one is interesting, as it surveys a lot.

Everyone is citing super-neoconservative center-of-everything William Kristol saying this in the flagship Weekly Standard:
I'm disappointed, depressed and demoralized.

... What does this say about the next three years of the Bush administration - leaving aside for a moment the future of the Court? Surely this is a pick from weakness. Is the administration more broadly so weak? What are the prospects for a strong Bush second term? What are the prospects for holding solid GOP majorities in Congress in 2006 if conservatives are demoralized? And what elected officials will step forward to begin to lay the groundwork for conservative leadership after Bush?
In the historically conservative National Review, founded by no less than William F. Buckley, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, the man who thought up the phrase "Axis of Evil," says this:
The Supreme Court is exactly the place where the president should draw the line. The Court will be this president's great lasting conservative domestic legacy. He has chosen to put that legacy at risk by using what may well be his last Supreme Court choice to reward a loyal counselor. But this president, any president, has larger loyalties.

And those to whom he owed those loyalties have reason today to be disappointed and alarmed.
Even the "lock up any and all Muslims in America" Michelle Malkin is unhappy:
It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony "diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste. If this is President Bush's bright idea to buck up his sagging popularity--among conservatives as well as the nation at large - one wonders whom he would have picked in rosier times. Shudder.
Yipes! There's more at the link.

Another collection here noting these conservatives:

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters with this: "Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn't even look like the best female candidate for the job."

Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy with this: "As far as I can tell, she has no particular experience or expertise in any areas of law that the Supreme Court is likely to consider in the next twenty years; she has no history of having thought deeply about the role of judges in a constitutional democracy; and she is a complete unknown among the parts of the DC legal community that will now be considering her candidacy for the Supreme Court."

At the liberal Washington Monthly, Amy Sullivan says this: "It's possible that with a six-week bar review course, any of us would be more qualified than Harriet Miers to sit on the Supreme Court. Bush chose hackery."

Does no one like this pick?

Well, Hugh Hewitt says we just have to trust the president on this, and John Dickerson here sees some support:
Already there are signs that the social conservatives may be more enthusiastic than the reaction of professional inside-the-Beltway conservatives would lead you to expect. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, has already moved to support Miers, a faster nod than he gave to Roberts. The evangelical community murmurs that Dobson based his endorsement on those who have known Miers for 25 years at the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. Her fellow parishioners bore witness to her evangelical faith. Marvin Olasky, a key influence in shaping Bush's faith-based initiatives, reported a similar review of her personal devotion on his blog. The emerging message seems to be: She's one of us and she's with us on abortion. Now if she can just avoid saying that to the Senate and speak in complete sentences, she will be on the court in no time.
Not if Pat Buchanan can help it. He's says he's a real conservative, not one of those neoconservative nut cases calling for war here and war there on the ideological theory of the week, nor is he a "rapture" Christian.

His take? Try this:
Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day - to name his personal lawyer.

In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him, Bush may have tossed away his and our last chance to roll back the social revolution imposed upon us by our judicial dictatorship since the days of Earl Warren.

This is not to disparage Harriet Miers. From all accounts, she is a gracious lady who has spent decades in the law and served ably as Bush's lawyer in Texas and, for a year, as White House counsel.

But her qualifications for the Supreme Court are non-existent. She is not a brilliant jurist, indeed, has never been a judge. She is not a scholar of the law. Researchers are hard-pressed to dig up an opinion. She has not had a brilliant career in politics, the academy, the corporate world or public forum. Were she not a friend of Bush, and female, she would never have even been considered.

What commended her to the White House, in the phrase of the hour, is that she "has no paper trail." So far as one can see, this is Harriet Miers' principal qualification for the U.S. Supreme Court.
He says this appointment says a lot about Bush. He "capitulated to the diversity-mongers, used a critical Supreme Court seat to reward a crony, and revealed that he lacks the desire to engage the Senate in fierce combat to carry out his now-suspect commitment to remake the court in the image of Scalia and Thomas. In picking her, Bush ran from a fight."

He pretty much calls Bush a coward, and says the conservative movement "has been had - and not for the first time by a president by the name of Bush."

From Kevin Drum's collection at Political Animal, two of the many he cites, and these two are from the conservative National Review:
John Podhoretz: I think this was a pick made out of droit de seigneur - an "I am the president and this is what I want" arrogance.

Peter Robinson: What people see in this is the Bush of the first debate, the Bad Bush, the peevish rich boy who expects to get his way because it's his way.
Oh man. This is not going well.

But note this:
... here's one negative analysis from a lawyer who is a conservative Christian and worked with Harriet Miers in Texas (I agreed to go off-the-record with this lawyer, a credible person whose practice could be seriously hurt by this criticism of Miers): "Harriet could have become a conservative in Washington, but unless she did, she doesn't have any particular judicial philosophy? I never heard her take a position on anything? We'll have another Sandra Day O'Connor? Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's known. She's a pretty good lawyer?. This president can be bamboozled by anyone he feels close to. If a person fawns on him enough, is loyal, works 25 hours a day and says you're the smartest man I ever met, all of a sudden you're right for the Supreme Court."
Fawning works. "Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's known." She doesn't get around much, does she? Well, I'm sure my cat Harriet feels the same way about me, but Harriet-the-Cat has a very small brain.

Well, Harriet-the-Supreme-Court-Nominee does have her moments. From the LAW.COM profile -

- She is immensely, perhaps irrationally, into birthdays: "She always remembers everybody's birthday, and has a present for them. She'll be finding a present for somebody in the middle of the night.... 'Can't it wait until next week?' 'No,' she'd say, 'It has to be done now.'"

- She has dated Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht "over the years."

- She's nit-picky micromanager who failed upwards at the White House: "She failed in Card's office for two reasons," the [former White House] official says. "First, because she can't make a decision, and second, because she can't delegate, she can't let anything go. And having failed for those two reasons, they move her to be the counsel for the president, which requires exactly those two talents."

- Not even the president can think of much interesting to say about her: In 1996, at an Anti-Defamation League Jurisprudence Award ceremony, Bush introduced Miers as a "pit bull in Size 6 shoes," a tag line that has persisted through the years, in part because colorful anecdotes or descriptions about Miers are notoriously difficult to find.

Yes, the DC gossip blog Wonkette is on the case: "We're not even that excited about the possibility of her being gay." But she is obsessive-compulsive, and dull.

Perhaps the Rove team will bring all these unhappy folks on the right back into line. Rove can be mean. You don't mess with him. But, so far, the natives are restless. And Rove has been busy with other matters.

Well, it's a strange world, only made stranger by this from Reuters, Monday, October 3 - "Irish rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono are among the bookmakers' tips to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, alongside more orthodox candidates like campaigners against nuclear arms or a peace broker for Indonesia."

Wait - file that under "charm." That covers all four flavors.

Posted by Alan at 21:36 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 21:43 PDT home


Topic: Bush

Assuming a Role: Bush on the Couch

There are three things to note here, and maybe a fourth.

First, a psychiatrist is an MD who has, after his or her general medical training, specialized in matters pertaining to disorders that result in dysfunctional behavior of all sorts, like severe schizophrenia, clinical depression and that sort of thing - and is attuned to the idea that much of this may be the result of chemical imbalances in one's neurochemistry, as well as the idea that some disorders may have some origin in the emotional and social environment of the patient, or in the patient having, for some reason, adopted dysfunctional notions of the best way to behave in any given situation. But the model, as far as etiology goes, is more often than not one of "organic brain damage." As an MD, a psychiatrist can, and likely will, prescribe medication as part of treatment, or even treat severe problems with such things as electrical or chemical shock to alter the operation of the brain itself for a time.

On the other hand, a psychotherapist is not an MD but rather licensed by the state to provide "therapy" to change dysfunctional behaviors or to increase one's ability to deal with debilitating circumstances - thus we have licensed "marriage and family counselors," grief therapists and all the rest. Here etiology doesn't matter very much. This issue is what to do, right now, to get back to something like normal, whatever that is. This is the realm of "talk therapy" and working on cognitive patterns, as how you frame what is happening around you determines your response, your mood, your paranoia and so forth. A psychotherapist cannot prescribe medication, or any kind of medical treatment. When a patient is not responding then it's time to call in the psychiatrist, with his or her arsenal of psychopharmaceutical goodies and physical interventions.

The third leg of the stool, so to speak, is the psychoanalyst. Cue up Freud and Jung - Woody Allen is in the waiting room. Here etiology is everything. This is the realm of hour-long sessions up to five days a week, often over many years, on the couch, delving into past conflicts and one's childhood and sorting out id impulse from ego and super-ego and all that. The idea is that knowledge of how you got to where you are will fix things in the here and now. (Some doubt the logic there.) And of course you do all the work - the psychoanalyst will nudge you along, now and then, as you discover the root of what seems to be the problem, if there even is one. And of the three, the psychoanalyst probably has the most rigorous and lengthy training - he or she goes through deep analysis as part of that training. Needless to say, this treatment, at hundreds of dollars a session, is really expensive. Woody Allen needed to keep making all those films.

All three do agree on what constitutes a condition to be treated, as opposed to the person just being a jerk. There's a book of such things, the DSM-IV - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. It might be handy to have copy the next time you're in a political argument about the current Republican leadership, or the feckless Democrats. You can then do name-calling with a certain flair.

There is a fourth category of professionals - those who state, on the net, that they are one of the three above, as does one "artebella" here with a post late Sunday evening, October 2, with the title "Danger - Bush Could React Violently To Fitzgerald's Action - How We Can Protect Ourselves."

This is a speculation how Bush would react if he or any close to him in the White House were indicted. The possibility has come up - see Peculiar News on a Slow News Day on the guesswork that this "get Joe Wilson's wife" investigation may lead to criminal conspiracy charges against Vice President Cheney and Bush himself.

But the writer just doesn't sound like a psychoanalyst.
I'm a shrink - a psychoanalyst - and think we can keep this real simple. We have no right to diagnose from afar but we can surely describe Bush in old-fashioned everyday language based on his public behavior.

He's a mean SOB, unable and unwilling to care about others - uninterested in any reality other than the one that comforts him. He clearly needs to be comforted, applauded and admired all the time. (It's no accident that press conferences and election appearances were so controlled). He is amazingly immature though canny and, as a sadistic SOB, he will destroy or have destroyed anyone who opposes him. His characteristics, if seen in a child, are considered ominous. Hence the story of his childhood practice of putting firecrackers inside frogs and lighting them would have sent any thoughtful parents straight to a child psychiatrist screaming for help for their disturbed child. Clearly that didn't happen.
This just doesn't sound professional, in spite of the writer claiming no right to do this "diagnosis from afar." The writer does just that.

Note this on defense mechanisms:
Maybe his "charm" (joke telling, life of the party, etc) protected him while things were going well. But now, when the chickens are coming home to his roost, he's scared - and watch out. He will get mean and meaner. The more deprived of comfort (high poll numbers) the more frantic he will be. Nuking Iran or North Korea are an easy out - just as turning up the terror alerts when things got bad (sliding poll numbers) worked here at home. He got his jollies by scaring the rest of the country so he wouldn't feel so alone in his fear.

Deprived children tend to feel the world owes them something - a lot - to pay back for all that early pain. And they feel totally justified in their anger and the expression of it. I do unto you as was done unto me. So there!! Btw, they usually don't know about this particular dynamic unless they've been in therapy. Clearly that hasn't happened either. Alcohol or any substance he may have used was probably his attempt to self medicate.
As a descriptor of dysfunctional behavior, "he got his jollies," while vivid, probably isn't in the manual.

The there's this:
He's not dumb so on some level at some times he knows something about himself he'd rather not know. Constant movement - bicycling, etc, rigid routines, prayer sessions, surrounding himself with sycophants and fellow sadists will keep further self knowledge at bay.

And let's not forget his belief in the apocalypse. It's a sadist's perfect plan. Total destruction. Yikes.
I had a friend in psychoanalysis for a time, and I cannot imagine her therapist saying "Yikes!" But I wasn't there.

Okay, assume the writer really is a psychoanalyst just adopting a "voice" here, to make the crushingly Freudian stuff accessible to an audience that wouldn't tolerate professional jargon. That's a stretch, but note this:
I've wondered why Bush was "successful" for so long. He did get to be POTUS twice. It can't be all Karl Rove and Diebold. So, it finally dawned on me that he is gifted. He has a special gift for destruction. Think about it - he has destroyed America's reputation in the world, he is well on the way to destroying the economy, civil liberties, the environment, my peace of mind, democracy, the treaties and behavior that kept nations away from the idea of using nuclear weapons, respect for the rule of law, the compact with Americans that the president will do all he can to protect you, the Geneva conventions ...

The point is that when it comes to building and growing anything - this man does not have the psychological ability to handle it. It's not stupidity; I don't even think it's just greed and incompetence - though he and his buddies have plenty of both. It's a knack to be consistent at destroying things. It's related to meanness of spirit - you know the opposite of generosity. The Bush crime family has given nothing to this country. Some robber barons of the past at least left libraries and foundations behind. What has the Bush family ever built (for the benefit or use of others)?
Yes, this is nine parts political rant, one part simplistic idea. This is no professional. But we get anecdotes mixed in, as in this:
I have worked with some sadistic patients. They feel empty inside and/or full of rage. They are certain they have been deprived of love and do not carry a fund of memories of being cared for inside them. They find ways to be with others - charm, but they often haven't a clue as to why people don't really like or trust them.

Oh yes, they know how to exert power over people and keep them in their place. That is the essence of sadism - I am the master - you are the slave. Bush and Rove clearly deserve each other.
This sounds like someone who took one semester of Abnormal Psych years ago and pulled out the old textbook to assume a role here. Well, there's a tradition of such things in political writing and satire. One thinks of Swift's Modest Proposal (1729) - "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public." That's Bill Bennett sort of thing - roast 'em and eat 'em - and effective for its reasoned, sane tone.

Here, on the other hand, we get this bogus "psychoanalyst" putting on the tin-foil hat:
Why this matters now is the possible reaction of Bush to Fitzgerald's next serious move. My fear is that the inner emptiness in Bush will respond with absolute panic to the potential loss of Rove and his other pals. Panic in a sadist who believes in the apocalypse is something serious about which we all should be worried.

He could set off a nuclear holocaust. He could merely nuke Iran or North Korea (the latter is less likely for the moment). He will be drawn to do something to make him feel powerful and less humiliated. What can we do about it?

I am writing this diary because I think there is something we can and should be doing now before he is "compelled" to react to the worst news of his life.

We should be predicting his irrational destructive reaction to everyone. With any luck it will get back to him and his courtiers and could slow him down. Or at least some of his marginally sane advisors could slow him down.

BTW, I was worried about his creating a "terrorist attack" just before the election for the obvious reasons and was reassured to learn that the democratic leadership and Kerry campaign were well aware of that possibility and the repugs knew that he was being watched for any such dirty trick which reduced the likelihood of it happening.

In the same spirit, I think we should make sure that as many people as possible should be aware that a man with such a hair-trigger response to humiliation and who has his finger too close to the wrong buttons will be watched and prevented by saner minds from doing his best (which is unfortunately everybody else's worst.)
Well, that may be a reasonable warning. Anyone in a position of enormous power should be watched. That's just common sense.

But it's too bad about the hyperbolic delivery of this amateur psychoanalysis, some of which may be spot on.

Of course, what the writer does not address is the extent to which much of the adult population in the United States these days identifies or even bonds with someone who is spiteful, mean-spirited, and slyly vindictive - and feels unloved and unappreciated, and is a tad paranoid that everyone is against him, and really wants to strike out at others. America and the world, no? That's been our national character for the last five years. More than half of the voters last time around decided that was is just the way it is in this sorry world.

Who we choose to lead us is who we are. We should all be on the couch.

Posted by Alan at 17:37 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 17:39 PDT home

Sunday, 2 October 2005


Catching Up: Peculiar News on a Slow News Day

Sunday is a day to ignore the news. The new issue of Just Above Sunset was finally posted just after midnight, with its items from Hollywood, London, Paris, and Tel-Aviv (and the French village of Fuissé) - and what could happen on Sunday? The thirteen-year-old microwave oven had died late Saturday in its effort to warm up something or other, so it was off to the local Target - now part of a mega-complex at La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard that in an all-American swallow-your-history move swallowed whole the famed Formosa Café. Get a new microwave oven. No problem. Is this the only part of the country where you have to pay to park at the local shopping mall?

Okay. The new microwave is fine, gleaming, powerful and efficient, and Just Above Sunset was republished late in the day to correct the errors on the home page, the plants were watered, and then, when it was time to scan the news in the evening, there was some very odd stuff there.

What with, last week, the head of the office of federal procurement resigning just before he was arrested, and the majority leader of the house, Tom DeLay, resigning after he was indicted for some sort of criminal conspiracy, and the majority leader of the senate, Bill Frist, being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for pump-and-dump insider trading, well, the administration, the House of Bush, having had a bad week, could always point Iraq - no matter how badly things were going on the ground the mid-October vote was going to give them a new constitution. Yeah, the Sunni folks were making a fuss, being effectively excluded - and they used to run the place - but heck, the Shiite and Kurd folks would at least have their new government, and we could worry about the Sunnis later. Progress. Yep, something of which to be proud.

Except for this:

Iraq's President Calls for PM to Step Down
Yahya Barzanji - Associated Press - Sunday, October 2, 2005, 8:38 PM ET

What? The President calls for the Prime Minister to take a hike? Seems so:
Iraq's Kurdish president called on the country's Shiite prime minister to step down, the spokesman for the president's party said Sunday, escalating a political split between the two factions that make up the government.

Sunni Arab leaders, meanwhile, were angered after the Shiite-dominated parliament passed a new ruling on the key Oct. 15 constitutional referendum making it more difficult for Sunnis to defeat the draft constitution that they oppose.

The political wrangling deepened the splits between Iraq's three main communities amid a constitutional process that was aimed at bringing them together to build a democratic nation. Kurds complained that Shiites were monopolizing the government, while Sunnis - who have made up the backbone of the violent insurgency - accused Shiites of stacking the deck against them in the political process.

The Kurdish-Shiite split hits the core of the coalition that has made up the transitional government. President Jalal Talabani has made veiled threats to pull the Kurds out of the coalition if their demands are not met, a step that could bring the government's collapse. ...
Okay, they changed the rules to make sure the constitution passes in this referendum - further neutering the Sunnis - but now the Kurds are saying this is all crap? Well, if you read the item you'll see the prime minister can be removed only by a vote of "no-confidence, requiring a simple majority vote in parliament - but the Shiites hold some 150 of the 275 seats. It's not going to happen.

The AP item has much more detail - everyone is angry - but what it comes down to is the idea that they'll soon have this fine, new constitution and have some sort of working government shortly after that and then we can reduce our presence there as we well have accomplished out mission (seventh version) - isn't actually a workable idea. It seems now, more than ever, like a "wouldn't it be nice" flight of fancy. We were told conventional thinking, and history, and what the French and all the others were saying, may be "reality" - but we could boldly change that. Oh well.

What about the Sunday talk shows? Never watch. Rather read the four-pound Sunday paper as best I can, sipping black coffee, with the cat periodically plopping herself down on whatever page I'm reading. Sunday morning in the Los Angeles Times? Did you know Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Steven Holl, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Santiago Calatrava, Rafael Moneo, Glenn Murcutt, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster are among the "acclaimed architects" who have been commissioned to build new wineries or visitors' centers in California, Canada and Australia, as well as in the traditional wine-growing centers of Italy, Austria and Spain? That's here with cool pictures. Many pages of Just Above Sunset are devoted to architecture photos. Good stuff.

So I didn't watch ABC's "This Week" where the host, former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, at end the roundtable discussion brought up Judy Miller getting out of jail and the CIA Plame scandal and causally dropped this bomb:
Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it's a manageable one for the White House especially if we don't know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.
What? A criminal conspiracy in the White House? Haven't had one of those since Nixon and Watergate. As you recall Bush did spend an hour answering question from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. All this to get back at a guy who showed them up by outing his wife at the CIA, thus discouraging anyone for saying reality didn't match what was being said? These guys go after your family, even if it means destroying a CIA operation and breaking the law. Heck, it's a pretty good warning to anyone who has these whistleblower yearnings.

This new "scoop" could change things. To whom was Stephanopoulos speaking, and was he being fed lies or wishful thinking? And why is he saying this sort of thing on national television?

Speculation here:
The public defense of both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the CIA leak scandal have focused on the specific claim they didn't know Valerie Plame's name. Even if that's true, it doesn't mean anyone is off the hook.

If Patrick Fitzgerald is unable to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Rove, Libby and others could still be charged with perjury if they lied to investigators.
And that leads to this in the Washington Post:
But a new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.
Odd. You can sense the walls closing in, and the implication is that Bush and Cheney - much like Nixon setting up hush-money payoffs and ordering a few goons to break into a psychiatrist's office to dig up on the fellow who shopped the Pentagon Papers to the press - these two were approving ways to get Joe Wilson for what he similarly did, by ruining his wife's career. One suspects, however, there on no tapes this time around.

And what is the New York Times doing saying that Vice President Cheney may be directly involved in planning how to get back at Wilson?

Note:
A lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account said the administration efforts to limit the damage from Mr. Wilson's criticism extended as high as Mr. Cheney. This lawyer and others who spoke about the case asked that they not be identified because of grand jury secrecy rules.

On July 12, 2003, four days after his initial conversation with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby consulted with Mr. Cheney about how to handle inquiries from journalists about the vice president's role in sending Mr. Wilson to Africa in early 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq was trying acquire nuclear material there for its weapons program, the person said.
Too many leaks here. Someone is setting up the mainstream media to make them look foolish when Fitzgerald reveals what he found - it all turns out to have been planned by that that Lynndie England lass when she wasn't abusing and humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

No more. Just note this in the Sunday Mirror (UK) - 3 October 2005 -
A document linking Margaret Thatcher to a US corruption probe is so explosive civil servants have been asked to ensure it remains "sealed".

The 79-year-old former Premier is said to have met Congressman Tom DeLay in Britain while he was on a suspected favours-for-freebies scam.

In return for his free holiday, DeLay - who resigned as Republican leader of Congress last week after being accused of laundering political funds - allegedly backed legislation favourable to lobby groups.

Disclosing that US authorities were seeking aid from UK counterparts, a secret Home Office briefing says: "One visit to the UK involved a meeting with Mrs Margaret Thatcher.

"Evidence is sought from her about that meeting and her involvement in the alleged deception and violation of US criminal laws."

Police will "sensitively" investigate the meeting, which took place in May 2000.
Maggie and Tom? A very odd couple, that. What a world.

But you have to love this:
In the dossier headed "Secret... wider circulation strictly forbidden", civil servants then warn ministers: "There would be considerable press interest in this case if it were to become public knowledge.

"We have been asked by the US to keep this request 'sealed', which we take to mean as confidential as possible. This has been relayed to the Crown Office and Metropolitan Police.

... The document, leaked to the Mirror, informs ministers there has been an official request for "mutual legal assistance" from the US Department of Justice in Washington.

It said the request was part of a deception investigation "involving high-profile American and UK-based individuals, including a leading Congressman and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher". At the centre of the probe is high-profile lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is already under investigation in the US.
This is very odd. As Holmes would say, "The game is afoot." It seems members of the Scottish Parliament will be questioned concerning any contacts they may have had with Abramoff, or DeLay, or any other US Republicans. Scottish police will collect hotel record, bills, invoices, and statements.

This is getting juicy. It may all come to nothing - but many said that back in the early seventies when the news story of that minor break-in at the Watergate complex hit the wires.

One never knows.

Posted by Alan at 22:46 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 2 October 2005 23:01 PDT home


Topic: Announcements

Redirection: Hollywood, London, Paris, Tel-Aviv and the village of Fuissé

The new issue of Just Above Sunset - Volume 3, Number 40 for the week of Sunday, October 2, 2005 - is now on line. This is the weekly "magazine" that is the parent of this web log. Some of what is there first appeared here and has been expanded and enhanced, but most of it is fresh material - pages of high-resolution photographs and exclusive columns from three foreign capitals.

This week's review of how things are going covers a lot of ground, from scandals involving what we're becoming, to the Republican follies - almost too many to mention so a midweek scorecard is provided - to an eruption of racial name-calling, to our efforts to sell "Brand America" to the rest of the world. But don't worry - we have a new Chief Justice at the Supreme Court. Everything will be better.

Our international correspondents weigh in on any number of issues. Mike McCahill, from London, gives us the truth about national healthcare in Britain, Ric Erickson from Paris provides a three-part series on some real unrest there, and provides a page of photos of this year's Nuit Blanche, while Sylvain Ubersfeld sends two columns from Tel-Aviv, both with exclusive photographs, one on the famous security measures you'll find there, and one on the one day each week everything simply stops.

Bob Patterson this week tackles the logic of the political right, such as it is, as he sees it, and runs down some amazing books on automobiles. (Yes, that's a pun.)

Photography? After a week off "Our Eye on Paris," Don Smith, is back with two pages of extraordinary photos. Pouilly and Fuissé are two distinct villages in the Mâconnais, down in Burgundy. Pour yourself a glass of Pouilly Fuissé and check out the harvest in the village of Fuissé, or stay in Paris and check out the details there.

The local photography is really local. This block in Hollywood is a feast for the eyes, and the sunsets here, just above Sunset, this week in particular, were amazing.

The "correction" gives you all you need to know about a really local winery, and if Alain Ducasse serves this in Paris, it's rather good plonk. And the weekly quotes are here as usual, more snide than usual - on character, honesty, and motive and all that sort of thing.

Direct links to specific pages -

Current Events _________________________

What We're Doing: A Hard Look at the Psychopathic Side of the American Spirit
What Matters: Getting to the Core
Midweek Scandals: Handy Scorecard
Apocalypse: Local Version
Race: Moralists Say the Oddest Things
Marketing: New Problems with Brand America

The International Desk _________________________

Our Man in London: The Nation's Health
Our Man in Paris: Sailing Off with a Whole Ship, and the Question of Corsica
Our Man Sleepless in Paris: Another Nuit Blanche
Our Man in Tel-Aviv: Safe or Sorry?
Our Man in Tel-Aviv (2): The Seventh Day

Bob Patterson _________________________

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World's Laziest Journalist - "There you go again, thinking logically..."
Book Wrangler: The Formula One Sunday Formula

Our Eye on Paris _________________________

Harvest in Fuissé
Paris - City Details

Local Photography _________________________

Fire Sky
Neighborhood Architecture (Hollywood)
Botanicals

Of Interest _________________________

Correction: Good Stuff, Actually For Sale (Hollywood Wine)
Quotes for the week of October 2, 2005 - Character, Honesty, and Motive (and all that)

One of the photos - down the block, the local union hall -



Posted by Alan at 13:09 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 2 October 2005 13:11 PDT home

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