Choosing Your Opponent

Time for a much-needed break from the disturbing news world (now what — Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive for medicating his ailing hip during the race)? Correspondent-at-large D Heimpel files from the ring in Iceland.

I’m in the ring and the borders of my vision rattle. Here I am, fighting a guy who is bigger, stronger, faster — the heavyweight champion of Iceland. I have no chance so I decide to attack. If I had been smarter I would have never chosen this fight.

boxing collectibles

My high school was fraught with racial tension. Funny in Berkeley, where hippies from all over rolled out west to fight the man and were stoked by ideals of racial unity. But that wasn’t the case with their mostly white progeny, the first generation Filipinos, the second generation Mexicans or the blacks who hung out on Berkeley High’s “slopes” with a huge map of Africa painted on the ground.

There had been a white party in black South Berkeley, and there had been fights. I was there. I saw white kids dragged out into the night to get stomped. My girlfriend, Janna, had stayed late to ice the eye of a black kid who was missing an eyelid. Because she was helping, I thought I was safe.

We left late and a group of black kids who had been waiting for me fanned out into the dimly lit street. Somebody yelled, “This is for my cousin!” from behind. I felt a thud and woke up back in the house where the party had come and gone. Janna told me I fell flat on my face and was humming on the asphalt.
Continue reading “Choosing Your Opponent”

Constipated Condi & Rhetorician Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld by Alexandr Zudin, St. Petersburg, Russia
The guy really needs a refrigerator box full of dictionaries dumped on his head. This snippet from Rumsfeld speech Tuesday at the Pentagon was spotted by Andrew Sullivan:

Q: Is the country closer to a civil war?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different…. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I’m not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.

Meanwhile, also in the Middle East (at least they’ve concentrated this war on terror on a smaller-than-China central theater), lots of calls for Syrian interaction. Thomas Friedman (and big high five to David Sirota for breaking down the big-talking faux-know-it-all in this must-read column yesterday) says talks with Syria are better sooner rather than later. Faisal al-Yafai notes that while Syrian foreign minister Faisal al-Meqdad said he was ready to talk to the U.S. it was only because of the U.S.’s insistence that Syria not be invited to the EU / UN / U.S. / France meeting in Rome. This, inherently makes America a big part of the problem. Jonathan Freedland takes the blame even further, stating that Bush’s blind support of Israel combined with the numerous “lethal mistakes” in his diplomatic foreign policy “efforts” is to blame.

Finally, the constipated one, who remains so stubborn and adamant about a practically non-existent foreign policy masked by completely irrational if not impossible (and invisible) diplomacy got taken down big time by the right in the conservative Insight Magazine’s “Dump Condi” article: “…[S]he is incompetent and has reversed the administration?s national security and foreign policy agenda.” Remember when they wanted her to be the next president?!?

Back in the reality-based world, PostGlobal asked a panel of experts how they’d advice Condi. Interesting array of answers have been posted here, capped by David Ignatius’s op-ed.

The multilateral panel that met in Rome is now qualified to call their respective consituents screaming “America is mad” after the U.S. (Sec. Rice & her “birth pangs“) became the primary obstacle in brokering any sort of cease-fire. As Marc Lynch noticed — with one eye on Arabic TV at all times — the Arab world is already more or less convinced that this Israeli offensive is only part of “the American project for a new Middle East.”

So, what now?

Specter Looking Forward? Review & Sue

About a month ago, before Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) suddenly fell under the administration’s spell last week — essentially agreeing to turn the Senate Judiciary’s cheek to Bush’s unconstitutional signing statements (all 800 of them) — he talked big about suing the boss-man.

Now he’s back on the attack — or as he insists, he’s had the ABA on this for a while — but what good is it to “sue” the president for the sole purposes of labeling his actions illegal when essentially it implicates Congress and even the Judiciary as Constitutional abusers and ignorameese.

WH Speaker Tony Snow pretty much summed up the president’s deep concern about the issue at yesterday’s briefing: “The President does not have the luxury of practicing civil disobedience.”

That’s right, Tony — nor does he have the “luxury” of being threatened with imprisonment. Besides, what Bush worry when higher powers have undoubtedly assured him of history’s future positive judgment of his presidency during his most recent Texas trout-fishing epiphany.

Elsewhere, Georgetown Law Professor David Cole examines the significance of the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision.

Also, an Arab-American group sued Rumsfeld and Rice yesterday over the evacuation of Americans stuck in Lebanon.

The Not-So-Secret Bush Regime

I failed to mention this week the shocking revelation made by Mr “I can make my own decisions” Alberto Gonzales, our country’s attorney general under the second half of the Bush administration’s reign.

Six weeks ago it was unclear who to point the finger at for foiling the Justice Department’s investigation into the NSA’s secret eavesdropping program, which for years was known only to members of the Bush Administration and a select few members of Congress.

But that all changed this week, when Gonzales, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales admitted to let slip that the president himself shut down the investigation. (video here). The Department of Justice had ordered its over 30-year-old Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to investigate NSA eavesdropping program but as Gonzales explained, The White House denied the OPR access to the materials needed for their investigation — a move that OPR director H. Marshall Jarrett descibed as unprecedented.

Its amazing that Bush and his cronies can rule so ridiculously above the law. But, I guess its easilyi done for a president with a simple enough (selfish) mind to demonstrate this basic rule:

there is no law to lawlessness. another beautiful day to go and mow the law.

Bonus: CIA Blogger Fired for Discussing Geneva Conventions

Christine Axsmith, was canned from her position at the CIA’s software-development shop where, as Dana Priest reported in the Post online today, she conducted “performance and stress testing” on computer programs. After writing a blog entry titled “somthing like ‘Waterboarding is Torture and Torture is Wrong,’ Axsmith lost her top-secret security clearance, her job, and who knows what else.

Needless to say, if the CIA really thinks it can keep anything secret that it leaves unencrypted online, one only need to recall the massive security upgrade that they ordered up years ago (or was it the FBI) and have since scrapped plans as they are so hopelessly behind. Axsmith should sue. She was employed by BAE Systems — a little background Here.

Another lesson: just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. Not to mention, the flipside of that statement.