2009/01/22

Department of unsurprising news

Item number one - The warrantless wiretapping program that was the cause of about 30 top Justice Department officials (Pretty much the entire upper level of the Justice Department) very nearly resigning in protest and then first revealed to the country at large by the NY Times (An NY Times reporter was about to publish a book on the matter, so the Times had to hurry and beat him to the punch) and was then defended as a very limited program:

[President Bush] "We use FISA still. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect." Then later "There is a difference between detecting, so we can prevent, and monitoring. And it's important to note the distinction between the two."

and:

[CIA-director nominee Gen. Michael V. ] HAYDEN [video clip]: "This is not about intercepting conversations between people in the United States. This is hot pursuit of communications entering or leaving America, involving someone we believe is associated with Al Qaeda."

Well, it turns out that no such distinctions were actually being made. It was a data-mining program where massive amounts of phone calls, emails, faxes and other communications were swept up in huge dragnets and then analyzed using computer software that was looking for keywords and then broken down and analyzed further. Government officials were busy lying to, not just the American people at large, but to any Congresspeople, Senators or any other government personnel who "threatened" to discover just what was going on.

Item number two: The war on the people of Gaza did indeed kill "223 Hamas guerrillas," but also:

the World Health Organization released a report estimating that 1,300 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, including 410 children and 104 women. About 5,300 Palestinians were injured, half of them women and children, the report said.

and some 50,000 Palestinians are now homeless, 400,000 have no access to running water and 21,000 buildings were destroyed.

And what was the world reaction to this?

In addition to allegations of indiscriminate violence, critics accuse Israel of violating international law restricting the use of phosphorus weapons, which can inflict horrific burns. Phosphorus artillery shells and similar weapons are not illegal, but the law bars their use in densely populated areas such as Gaza City, one of the most crowded urban areas in the world.
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Chanting "war criminal," hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated against [Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni's visit in Brussels.

and:

European attorneys have reportedly petitioned a Belgian court to arrest Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni upon her arrival in Brussels later Wednesday, according to the Jawalan.com Web Site.

Three were killed and eight wounded in a car bomb attack in Baghdad. There is absolutely no question that this attack constituted collateral damage from the war in Gaza.

And for what?


Uniformed Hamas security teams emerged on Gaza City's streets Monday as leaders of the Islamic militant group vowed to restore order...

No, Hamas has not suffered any sort of knock-out blow. Hamas is weakened physically, but that can be fixed quickly and easily. Hamas is now more popular and more legitimate than it was and that won't be fixed anytime soon, if ever.

Item number three: Well, actually, this wasn't obvious at all. It's just clear in retrospect that our new President Obama is an extremely smart fellow. What Obama did in his inaugural address was to copy the strategy of Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondent's Association dinner. He started off, with Bush sitting right there, sounding as though he agreed with Bush, then it slowly dawned on Bush that "Hey, I'm being dissed!" Obama made it absolutely positively clear beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that he was on the "other side of the aisle" and made a speech that only a Democrat could possibly have made.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.
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Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

And yes, President Obama did keep his promise to start reversing some of the most repugnant Bush policies right away.

Item number four: Rush Limbaugh couldn't care less about his fellow Americans. He wants President Obama to "fail." The fact that that means he wants Americans to live in misery and poverty, hated by the world, is of no consequence to him. Thankfully though, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not "turn up as a talking head on television."

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