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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

March 10, 2006 PERMALINK
A Bipartisan "Success" (Details TBA)
(posted March 10 1:30 AM ET)

After Dubai announced it would “transfer” the operations of the six US ports it had acquired to a yet-to-be-figured-out “US entity,” Democrats generally said the right things:

That everyone should wait until we see the fine print (advice the media is not taking), and that there’s much more that needs to be done to truly secure our ports.

But since Dems chose to stress bipartisanship throughout this battle, those messages are lacking partisan punch.

Instead of building outrage against congressional Republicans for failing to addressing port security, Dems have let the GOP come out of this looking alright.

While Dems were being bipartisan, GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter crowed Wednesday: “And once again, the Republicans, whose trademark is security, the congressional Republicans are coming through. We're going to kill this deal.”

And GOP Rep. Peter King is getting away with suddenly promising “comprehensive” port security out of his committee, as if he had been leading all along.

If the GOP had been hit harder the last few weeks, King would have looked desperate and reactive, instead of ahead of the curve.

Having said all that, if the bipartisan talk has amounted to a missed opportunity in terms of November, it could pay off in terms of the India nuke deal.

LiberalOasis noted earlier in the week that key Republicans (including Hunter) are skeptical of the nuke deal.

With Bush’s ratings in the dumps and his credibility on international business deals now in question, he is very vulnerable to another bipartisan effort.

But to make it hard for Bush to twist Republican arms, there needs to be more activity, more noise, more pressure – like there was for the port deal.

The port deal pushed a lot of other news off the front page. That presumably won’t be the case now.

So while we should be scrutinizing the Dubai details for any devils, Dems shouldn’t give Bush a breather.

Congressman Ed Markey shouldn’t be the only Dem talking about the India nuke deal. A coordinated effort from the party leadership is needed to make news and throw down the gauntlet.

March 9, 2006 PERMALINK
An Iran Strategy
(posted March 9 3 AM ET)
(minor edit March 9 10:15 AM ET)

In January, Liberal Oasis criticized Sen. Hilllary Clinton's approach on Iran’s nuclear program.

Clinton was seeking to outhawk the Bushies, accusing them of “outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines”.

That was dumb from the get-go.

It’s been patently clear for some time that the Bushies are running the same playbook on Iran as they did on Iraq – go through the motions of diplomacy, while simultaneously undermining diplomacy.

That way you can buy time (military action is hard with Iraq such a mess), and once you’re ready to strike, claim you really tried to solve the problem peacefully, and now there’s just no other choice.

And same as with Iraq, the specter of the “mushroom cloud” and lip service about “democracy” are the smokescreens to obscure the actual agenda of regime change and exerting unilateral control over the region.

So accusing them of not caring was bound to be rendered inoperative once the saber-rattling ramped up.

And here we are.

Dick Cheney launched his threat on Tuesday:

The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime.

That was not just a threat to Iran, but also to the UN.

Recall that in 2002, when the Bushies pressured the UN to pass a resolution to force Iraq to admit weapons inspectors, that resolution promised “serious consequences” if Iraq did not comply.

And the Bushies proceeded to insist that was tantamount to war.

Here’s an Ari Fleischer flashback from March ’03:

....what did the United Nations mean when they passed Resolution 1441 ... when they said ... if they don't comply, there will be serious consequences.

Was that window dressing? Was that an easy vote that had no meaning?

The words "serious consequences" have meaning in U.N.-speak.

It is known, it was known at the time that those words could lead to the authorization of force. It was a debatable point. It's been debated. Now the time has come to vote.

Of course, the UN Security Council did not vote to authorize war, which the Bushies used to imply the UN was worthless.

Today, they are setting up the same dynamic.

Connect Cheney’s comments with what Condi Rice’s deputy said, as reported by Reuters yesterday:

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told a congressional committee that the United States wanted a binding Security Council condemning Iran as well as sanctions if Tehran did not comply.

He also indicated that if action failed in the Security Council the United States would look elsewhere.

"It's going to be incumbent upon our allies around the world, and interested countries, to show that they are willing to act, should the words and resolutions of the United Nations not suffice," Burns said.

Like with Iraq, other countries on the Security Council have no interest advancing Bush's unilateralist agenda, so the resolutions will not “suffice” in the end.

The question for us is: how do we stand up to this latest campaign for war?

It may seem easier now than in 2002, because we know their playbook better, and their credibility is tarnished.

But attacking their credibility isn’t sufficient, because there are legit suspicions about the Iranian nuclear program raised by the IAEA.

And the Hillary way of outhawking the Bushies is both futile and dangerous.

The argument should be that the neocon strategy will fail the solve the problem and lead to unnecessary war. Not that they’re not hawkish enough.

Therefore, we must articulate how we would stop Iran from going nuclear, while also showing the reckless foolishness of the neocon approach and agenda.

We should make these four points:

1. We would take away Iran’s current incentive for going nuclear -- fear of regime change at gunpoint – by ending the Iraqi occupation and scrapping permanent bases.

Once it is clear that America has changed its foreign policy course, we can establish a strong multinational alliance, open direct dialogue and negotiate a way for Iran to obtain the energy it needs in exchange for nuclear inspections.

2. We would also take away Iran's incentive by junking the India nuke deal, which undermines the main anti-nuclear treaty and fuels a regional arms race.

3. While conservatives will argue that you can’t talk to Iran, the truth is Iran sought a nuclear agreement with us that would have also addressed it’s support for anti-Israel groups.

But, according to a former Bush aide, the Bushies snubbed Iran and refused to talk, again giving Iran incentive to go nuclear to protect themselves.

4. Why wouldn’t the Bushies negotiate a settlement?

Because, as they have said, they don’t expect to stop Iran from going nuclear. They want regime change before that happens.

Bottom line: unless we reject such a reckless foreign policy, the Iranian problem can’t be solved.

March 7, 2006 PERMALINK
South Dakota Freelances
(posted March 7 1:30 AM ET)

As others have noted, the enactment of South Dakota’s abortion ban has its upside.

The end of abortion is no longer an abstract concept. The threat to our reproductive freedom is far more real. The pro-choice majority may rise again.

But we should be careful not to set false expectations about what will happen next.

Remember that Roe still has five votes on the Supreme Court (Anthony Kennedy is a weak Roe supporter. He has backed significant restrictions, but has refused to overtun.)

And that the name of the conservative game is still to chip away at Roe (a strategy designed by now-Justice Sam Alito), gutting it gradually, because the Republican Party still fears the aforementioned backlash.

The right-wing in South Dakota is freelancing, most likely to the chagrin of national Republicans, especially those of the “straight talk” variety.)

So until there is another vacancy, there’s no chance that the Roberts Court would even take the case and allow the Roe precedent to be reaffirmed and strengthened, because that cuts against the chip-away strategy.

And since the lower courts will surely find the law unconstitutional, South Dakotan women are safe, for now. Go ahead and enjoy the Corn Palace and Wall Drug sans guilt.

If we leave the impression that there is a likelihood this law will be upheld in the near-term, and then it’s struck down instead, that could undermine our credibility, and make it harder to raise concerns about the gradual gutting.

The new, yet surely short-lived, abortion ban is a useful development in reminding people what will happen if Roe is gutted or overturned, and it’s also useful to be able to note that we’re not that far away from that possibility.

But it is farther away than tomorrow.

March 6, 2006 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted March 6 2:30 AM ET)

Best exchange of the day: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace and NBC’s Tim Russert:

RUSSERT: Knight-Ridder reported this week that U.S. intelligence [agencies] more than two years ago said that the insurgency “had deep local roots, was likely to worsen, and could lead to civil war.”

And that was just ignored by political and military leadership because they wanted to believe their own rosy scenario.

PACE: I do not believe it has deep roots. I do not believe that they’re on the verge of civil war.

Must ... resist ... obvious ... facts.

Speaking of facts, why should anyone else have 'em either?

More Pace and Russert:

RUSSERT: The American people were asked ... how things are going in Iraq.

And here’s how they responded: Well, 36; badly, 62.

Why do you think there’s such a disconnect from your view and that of the American people?

PACE: I don’t think we’re getting the goodness out to the American people the way we should.

Somehow we need to find a way to have balance in the amount of reporting that we’re able to get out.

Doesn’t the Pentagon already have a “get out the goodness” strategy?

Here’s Pace talking to Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: General Casey, your top commander in Iraq, says this week that he intends to continue the practice of paying for the placement of articles in the Iraqi media...

...has the Pentagon approved this, and do you see a contradiction between our efforts to build a free press in Iraq and the Pentagon putting out paid propaganda?

PACE: First of all, as I know the facts, General Casey has an ongoing investigation, and what he decided was that until he sees the final results of that investigation, he will continue to do what he was doing.

Wouldn't want to waste any fresh propaganda while we're "investigating."

Fortunately, the Sunday wire coverage put considerable emphasis on Rep. John Murtha’s comments from CBS’ Face The Nation, where he simply said of Pace, “Why would I believe him?” and that only Iran, Al Qaeda and China want us in Iraq because it’s depleting our resources.

QUICK HIT

GOPers Voice Skepticism on Bush-India Deal

Bush’s nuclear deal with India – exempting a third of the country’s nuclear reactors from international inspections, and undermining the international effort to stop nuclear proliferation – didn’t get much attention on the Sunday shows.

But it was mentioned on ABC’s This Week by two Republicans. And both signaled opposition to Bush.

Here’s conservative Rep. Duncan Hunter:

I think we need to really look at this one, and I’m inclined to think that ... this type of thing is not good for us.

Because the problem is that this nuclear development and weapons development is a function of equipment and it’s also a function of people.

And as we continue to develop a pool of technicians and scientists in India, who have the capability to work in the nuclear arena, those people can quickly move their talents from domestic energy production to weapons production.

So this thing has to be looked at very, very carefully. I’m skeptical.

And here’s moderate Sen. Susan Collins:

I need to look carefully at the deal.

We need to make sure there are sufficient safeguards.

In general, I am leery whenever we put any kind of nuclear capability off-limits to international inspections.

Clearly, Bush’s decision to leave his fellow Republicans in the dark about the deal until after it was done has hurt the deal’s prospects.

Granted, both Hunter and Collins left room to be bought off by the Bushies down the road, but with Bush’s political capital rapidly draining from the Dubai port deal, Bush doesn’t have much room for error.

And if the nuke deal story increases in negative intensity, like the Dubai story, Bush may have no way out.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

First Draft: "Here's the video I took yesterday of part of the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. What is impotant to understand is the scale of NOLA destruction. You can go in any direction and see this. It's in St. Bernard Parish, Gentily, Lakeview, New Orleans East. It goes on for miles and miles."

Tapped: "John Bolton [said] that India and Pakistan’s acquisition of their nuclear of nuclear weapons was 'legitimate,' precisely because they are not parties to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty ... by Bolton's logic, A.Q. Khan’s proliferation of nuclear technology to Iran and elsewhere can be considered legitimate as well"

Unclaimed Terrority: "There are many people who are eager to proclaim [the warrantless wiretap] scandal dead. But every week brings new revelations of impropriety, deceit, and most importantly, an ever-expanding scope of still-concealed eavesdropping activities on the American people."

The Left Coaster: "Yup, the Bush Administration is sure committed to mine safety. To Elaine Chao, the cost of a human life is about $60."

ACS Blog: The Battle over Judicial Nominations Back On?

Alternet's Anuradha Mittal and Bush Out (by Gandhi) react to Bush's visit to India

BTC News: "Congressional Republicans on ethics: 'Never mind …'"

Scrutiny Hooligans: "The Bush administration, through the offices of the United States Forest Service, is making a humble proposition: Sell over 300,000 acres of National Forest to shore up underfunded rural schools ... Rural schoolkids deserve a real commitment to education funding in this country, not stopgap measures that injure economies, environment, and quality of life for all Americans who enjoy and appreciate the National Parks."

Needlenose: "For awhile I've contended that the gravest threat to U.S. interests stemming from the Middle East would be if the terrorists gave up beheadings and IEDs in Iraq and started targeting the oh-so-vulnerable Saudi oil facilities ..."

Editor: Myself: "There is no clear line separating people from the government in Iran. This is a big conceptual mistake many make these days"

Demagogue: Things Just Got a Lot More Complicated in the Sudan

Carpetbagger Report: "...one of the Bush gang's favorite arguments is that troop morale is dependent on 'staying the course.' The men and women in uniform don't seem to agree."

Political Animal: "Good news! The medical malpractice 'crisis' is over."

Think Progress: Schumer Introduces Bipartisan Alternative To Sham Dubai Compromise

Unclaimed Territory and Balkinization dissect Specter's wiretap bill

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: "Sneaking links into this information is powerful: it means that if you find one blog, soon you know that there's a movement, whether or not the blog explicitly tells you so. Information in the same place is also good for encyclopedia-like power to search under topics -- that's what Google did for all the information on the Net, but also what Progressive Christians could do for Progressive Christian sermons and blogs."

Majikthise survives an hour with Fox's John Gibson

Salon's Joe Conason: "With its sole Middle East office headquartered in Dubai, Carlyle has managed to attract substantial funding from the UAE government ... the president surely understands that maintaining good relations with the Emirates will enhance the prospects of the family's favorite equity firm. But to deprive Dubai of its $6.8 billion ports acquisition might well have the opposite effect. For a company that trades on its political influence as well as its business acumen, such incidents can be pivotal."

Balkinization: "South Dakota's new abortion legislation has not yet been signed by the Governor. If it becomes law, it will not lead to a challenge to Roe v. Wade or Casey at the Supreme Court. Because the law bans almost all abortions, it will be immediately challenged in a declaratory judgment action, and a preliminary injunction will issue. That injunction will be upheld by the 8th Circuit, and the Supreme Court will deny certiorari. And that will be the end of the matter. Why am I so certain that something like this will happen? ..."

Baghdad Burning: "No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan[.] Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere. People are scared and watchful. We can only pray."

The Washington Note: "Ahmadinejad is clearly hell-bent on creating collisions -- first with Israel [then] with the West over Iran's nuclear activities to legitimate his revolutionary faction as the authentic national voice of Iran. But ... there are numerous forces inside Iran working overtime to impede Ahmadinejad ... while America and Europe are doing much to empower him ..."

Informed Comment: "I think the peace movement has a real opportunity here to make a push for much heavier United Nations involvement in Iraq."

DSCC: Republicans Opposing Dubai Deal Have Long Opposed Efforts To Secure America's Ports

Think Progress: Administration Failed To Conduct Legally Required Investigation Before Approving UAE Port Deal

MyDD: "... this port deal is a wake up call. Did most people know that the foreign powers could run the show at American ports? I'd doubt it."

The Nation's John Nichols: "Ports are essential pieces of the infrastructure of the United States, and they are best run by public authorities that are accountable to elected officials and the people those officials represent. While traditional port authorities still exist, they are increasing marginalized as privatization schemes have allowed corporations -- often with tough anti-union attitudes and even tougher bottom lines -- to take charge of more and more of the basic operations at the nation's ports."

Daou Report: "I called on rightwing bloggers to prove their assertions ... Back up your claims. With concrete examples of bias ... I waited for the inevitable tide of rightwing blog posts and emails proving me wrong and demonstrating, once and for all, that pervasive claims of liberal media bias are indeed true. No such luck."

Faith and Policy: "US Church Leaders ... apologized to the ecumenical community for failing to raise a prophetic voice to prevent [the Iraq war]."

Nathan Newman: Hotel Workers Rising: THE Labor Story of 2006

**************

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