I had a bit of trouble with Internet-related matters this week. My laptop was in the shop, and when I got it back I was delighted to learn that it was in many ways more broken than when I gave it to them! So I didn't have the opportunity to scan the sphere de blog as much as normally. Still, there's plenty that I missed:
• I know it wouldn't be exactly legal to put a moratorium on these Republican legal defense funds
, but they're so nauseating that something ought to be done. Alberto Gonzales expects to be indicted. So he's getting rich friends and movement conservatives to pay his legal bills to keep him out of jail. Something's wrong here. And it's not just Gonzales, obviously; off the top of my head I can think of Bernie Kerik, Scooter Libby, John Doolittle, Tom DeLay. In fact, legal defense funds are the only growth fundraising industry for Republicans.
• This Cookie and Buzzy show is really interesting. So Cookie Krongard, the State Department's Inspector General, has a brother, Buzzy, who was recently hired as part of Blackwater's advisory board (Buzzy later resigned
). Cookie testified to the House Oversight Committee that he didn't know anything about it. Except Buzzy admitted that he told Cookie
about it a couple weeks ago. Cookie even concealed this revelation from his own deputy. Cookie since recused himself from all Blackwater inquiries as well as the US Embassy scandal
. So what is the Inspector General left to be allowed to inspect?
• That post mainly was done for the opportunity to repeatedly use the words "Cookie" and "Buzzy."
• In addition to telecom immunity probably coming back on the floor of the US Senate, the bill that got reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is apparently worse than I thought
, as it still allows for warrantless surveillance in foreign-to-domestic communications, without a role for the FISA court. The Attorney General still gets the power to authorize that. What's most frustrating is that all is needed here is a fix to the foreign communications that come through a domestic switcher. Other than that, the FISA law works just fine. There's no need to give the farm away along with it.
• Bush's veto on the labor, health and education bill was upheld
. It would be a lot easier to take the President's newfound interest in fiscal responsibility if he wasn't stuffing budget bills
with money for his wife's librarian program. Incidentally, porkbarrel spending is down 33%
this year, I wish someone would send that message out to the campaign trail, where "porkbarrel spending" is such a punching bag.
• Bottom line, Ronald Reagan pursued policies
that openly played to bigots. It doesn't matter whether or not he was personally a racist. What politicians advocate and what they say matters.
• I think I've reported that Dennis Hastert will resign this year
maybe four times, but this time it appears to be for real, triggering a special election. The Polish sausage industry back in his hometown applauded the move, while DC's kielbasa makers hung their heads in lament. (This is a seat Democrats can win, by the way.)
• In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto
has rejected the caretaker government of loyalists sworn in by Musharraf, while Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf deposed in 1999, lambastes the dictator
in the Washington Post.
These are the wages of dictatorship. Democracy holds the key to resolving Pakistan's problems. Musharraf hopes that other nations will prefer his despotism to the anarchy he claims would erupt were he to leave office. This is a lie that America and other Western nations should not accept. Tyranny is never a substitute for freedom, and there is no substitute for democracy.
There's an opening for a new reform era in Pakistan based on Democratic principles. The man standing in the way is named Busharraf
is disgusting, and really forces us to take a look at who are friends are. The traditional media characterized Bill Richardson as naive for saying in this week's debate that human rights can trump national security, but his point was that the two are complementary. When women are being jailed after they are gang-raped for being alone in a car with a man, there is a sense that this oppression breeds desperation, and eventually violent revolt. It's not an accident that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.
• I still say that, in the event of a nuclear attack, the only creatures left will be cockroaches and Ahmad Chalabi
• And finally, a quick recommend for the Romanian film 12:08 East of Bucharest
. Very amusing. Basically the Romanian version of Wayne's World as a public affairs show.
Labels: rest of the week in review