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Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch


Photo courtesy of Kathleen Jo Ryan.

Three stories have dominated the news in the last couple of weeks – the Libby trial, the Walter Reed scandal, and now the firings of US Attorneys by the Justice Department. FDL, with its Plame House crew and incredible cast of commenters, has owned the Libby trial coverage, Dana Priest and Ann Hull at the Washington Post are in the lead on the Walter Reed story, and Josh Marshall's team at Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckracker are all over the US Attorney firing scandal.

But other things have been going on too, and maybe now's a chance to catch up on the rest of the news. We've tried to continue to keep abreast of other things here, but posting on non-Libby news has been kind of tough lately. My post on a report from Human Rights Watch slamming the Bush Administration for its ghost prisoners and  extraordinary renditions got caught up in the Libby cycle, even disappearing for a time from the front page with breaking Libby news and then returning a bit later (thus the comments about the twilight zone). Other posts, like Tula Connell's on threats against union organizers, and another on the Employee Free Choice Act (which ended up passing the House!), deserve more attention, and I hope you check them out.

The real unsung trooper at FDL, though, has to be Eli, who had the misfortune to be scheduled to post yesterday afternoon . . . and then the verdict came in yesterday morning. He asked a great question — Who Wants to Be a Candidate? — and wrote about candidate recruitment and campaign funding in the second installment of his "What's Wrong with our Democracy?" series. Eli was as happy as anyone around here about the Libby verdict, but since everyone was still riding the post-verdict high, his post didn't get nearly the attention it deserves. As I told him in the comments yesterday, "My fear with my post [on Monday] was that this would have happened to me . . . Thanks for taking one for the team." Go check it out, and show Eli some love — he's earned it. (And I think the comments may still be open on that thread, if you want to give Eli some longer replies there.)

On to other news, covered by other folks . . .

The war in Iraq continues, as Today in Iraq makes abundantly clear. On her own blog, Riverbend came back for a bit, to share her outrage over the rape of Sabrine by Iraqi security forces and the reaction by Al-Maliki. From Riverbend's point of view, the end result of the fighting in Iraq is a done deal as far as the US is concerned:

And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.

King Abdullah of Jordan gave a speech this morning to a joint House/Senate session on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. (Here's a transcript, and check C-SPAN for online video, and possible re-airings) Abdullah is probably one of the best leaders in the Middle East in terms of understanding both his own culture and the West, and bears listening to whenever he speaks. He quotes from FDR's "four freedoms" speech, given from the same podium, and takes FDR from DC to the Middle East:

Today, the people of the Middle East are searching for these four freedoms. Today, the people of the Middle East are searching for new hope, hope for a future of prosperity and peace. We have seen the danger and destruction of violence, hatred, and injustice. But we have also seen what people can achieve when they are empowered, when they break down walls, when they commit to the future. And we know that Middle East peace can be a global beginning, creating new possibilities for our region and the entire world.

We look to you to play an historic role. Eleven American presidents and thirty American congresses have already faced this ongoing crisis. For not the future generation, but the generation alive today, let us say together: No more! Let us say together: Let’s solve this! Let us say together: Yes, we will achieve this!

No Palestinian father should be helpless to feed his family and build a future for his sons and daughters. No Israeli mother should fear when her child boards a bus. Not one more generation should grow up thinking that violence and conflict are the norm.

As Roosevelt also said, “the justice of morality must and will win in the end.” But he knew that it was up to responsible nations to stand up for justice when injustice threatens.

This is our challenge as well. And we must not leave it to another generation to meet this challenge.

Thirteen years ago, my father was here to talk about his hopes for peace [with Yitzhak Rabin, mentioned eariler in the speech]. Today, we are talking about a promise that is within our reach.

We can wait no longer and that is why I am here before you. We must work together to restore Palestine, a nation in despair and without hope. We must work together to restore peace, hope and opportunity to the Palestinian people. And in so doing, we will begin a process of building peace, not only throughout the region, but throughout the world. How much more bloodshed and how many more lives will it cost for this grave situation to be resolved?

I say: No more bloodshed and no more lives pointlessly taken!

The US stock markets have been acting strangely over the last week, dropping around 500 points on the DJI and similarly falling on the NASDAQ, following the lead of markets in China and elsewhere in the world. Skittishness abounds. Check your favorite financial site for the latest quotes and news.

Remember the Denver Three? They're the folks who got tossed from a presidential social security forum in 2005 by someone posing as a Secret Service agent. The story is moving ahead, this time fueled by depositions of several White House advance team people who appear to be responsible for bouncing them. Denver Post columnist Jim Spencer starts his rundown of the latest in this case like this:

Liar. Liar. Pants on fire.

Time for the presidential prevaricators to stop, drop and roll.

And then there's the personal kind of news, like Steve Gilliard's hospitalization for heart problems. At first, it looked like he would need a second valve replacement, but yesterday's update said that now the medical people are talking about repair, not replacement. Also, says Jen, "It sounds like he Finally Got the Memo RE taking better care of his health, and it sounds like he's ready for major change." Surgery is scheduled for the early afternoon, and Jen hopes to have an update on how it went this evening. (And, I will note, a lot of us probably have a version of that same memo bouncing around unread in our in-boxes . . . ahem . . .)

Finally, here's a tidbit of news from around here in the Bay Area.

Regular readers of Firedoglake are familiar with Christy's background as a prosecutor. One of the ways in which this shows itself is the lack of tolerance for any comments that include threats of violence, especially toward public figures and most especially toward federal officals. When such comments are posted, the moderators quickly edit these threats out and include a "we don't tolerate that kind of stuff here" remark in its place. Repeat offenders find themselves banned. If Christy sees a comment like this, or a trend toward such comments, she explains why this policy is in place, like this:

[The rest of this is edited to protect your behind from the people that I like to call the Secret Service. Folks, please be careful of what you say on a public board. There is a very, very good reason that we don’t even allow joking about any sort of thing that includes even a hint of violence to it. It’s not just to protect your own butts, but ours as well. And I would very much appreciate it if everyone would kindly think about that before they post a comment. You may not care what if anything may or may not come of your comment as an individual, but it also reflects on the little community we’re worked our asses off to build up here at FDL and I, for one, would really appreciate it if everyone would think about that before posting some vague and ambiguous language about this or that horible catastrophe that might befall a member of the current Administration, or former member, as the case may be. Thanks.]

or this:

Morning all. This ought to go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway: no threats of violence, no discussions of hangings or other violents acts, no comments relating to anything you might like to see or do or what-have-you to Dick Cheney or any other member of the Administration. Period. You can discuss ideas, concepts, politics, and whatever else is pissing you off — but no threats. There is this little group that I like to call the Secret Service, and they tend to frown on that sort of thing — and I would prefer that we don’t have to deal with them on a daily basis. Plus, frankly, it’s just bad form. If you have questions about this, please feel free to e-mail me at ReddHedd AT firedoglake DOT com. But as I have made this clear numerous times in the past, you can expect that I will be enforcing a no tolerance policy on this sort of thing — consider yourselves forewarned. Thanks.

Lest you think this is hyperbole, consider the case of Michael McDonald, an artist in the little East Bay town of Alameda CA. Alameda is an island that sits just off the coast of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay. For many years, Alameda was home to the Alameda Naval Air Station (which closed in the mid-1990s) and still has a fairly healthy military heritage. It also has a healthy liberal bent socially — not as strong as Berkeley or SF, but still progressive in its own ways. In short, it's just the place for a Navy-vet-turned-artist like McDonald.

McDonald has a studio in his home, and often displays his artwork on the driveway and in his front yard. He lives on one of the most heavily-travelled cross-island streets, so it gets a lot of visibility. His last display, though, included a knife stuck into a cutout of George Bush, which got him (as he described it) an "extremely professional" visit from the Secret Service. "I admire (the Secret Service) an awful lot," he said. "They've got a very difficult job. They've got to protect an idiot."

They've got a difficult job indeed, and they do it thoroughly, which is yet another reason to heed Christy's warnings.

That's the news from my neighborhood — what's been going on in yours? Got any news or links that seem to have slipped under the radar in the midst of the Libby Trial?

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.