Open Thread

The Big Trifecta

In geopolitical terms – the big trifecta is Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (that’s the yellow, dark-yellow, and the grey band just to the right of Iran).

While the occasional geopolitical manoeuvres in the dark make for a great Bond movie, we have an obligation to dig a little deeper. First step on our adventure is to zoom in on the Afghan/Pakistan border where that orange band in the middle (see illustration below) is Taliban territory.

Things get more interesting when we throw in details of the ethnic, cultural, family, history, loyalty thing – and in the following map we should be cognisant of the fact that geopolitical boundaries don’t take centre stage (after all – the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was nothing more than an arbitrary 19th century British colonial construct).

Just for reference – that big brown blob in the previous illustration is the Pashtun ethnic population. The following map drills down and identifies the principal regions at ground zero.

But lets zoom out again and factor into this equation that discussion about the relationship (and/or conflict) between Afghanistan and Pakistan that is of direct interest to their neighbour Iran (the big bugger over on the left). After all, Iran has many of the same tribal problems that face the fledgling Afghanistan administration (and an outbreak of secular testosterone in Afghanistan is a potential problem in the making for Iran). Let’s also take into account that big chunks of Afghanistan could be argued to be more properly part and parcel of Pakistan (which would go a long way towards explaining some of the accusations of Pakistan/Taliban loyalty). Equally, when we talk about Pakistan and India (the big bugger over on the right) there is the inevitable engagement of China (the really big bugger over on the far far right) as a player with more than a passing interest. And let’s not even get into the parallel universe of the Kashmir equation.

Thing is, a failed Afghanistan state creates stress for Pakistan and stress for Pakistan creates opportunity for India, an India/Pakistan conflict plays into the hands of China, and at the end of the day a bunch of nation states (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia) just aren’t ready for that reality just yet. But what ties this all together is that none of the players want to see a united secular solution.

And for better or worse – what if this conflict may be our best hope for peace in our time? Why? Simply because an alignment of common interests between the principal players in this equation. That the simple thing of an alignment just may be a greater good than the atrocities that have and will be committed in the sustainment of this transient moment.

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Recommended Reading

Agonizing over Afghanistan
David Shribman, 31 October, 2009

Pakistan is swiftly drifting towards an all out civil war
Abdus Sattar Ghazali, 28 October, 2009

613 replies on “The Big Trifecta”

The presenters of the sexual education program were Focus on the Family.

I am absolutely stunned.

David at 202
Sounds like it could be based on the ‘No Apologies’ program – here are some details from the Focus on the Family website …

NO APOLOGIES is a character-based sexual health curriculum.

No Apologies was created to help young people safely navigate the most critical decade of their lives—those years between the ages of 12 and 22. It is during these years that adolescents are confronted with choices that can sabotage their future. Young people need information and skills to guide them in their decision-making to avoid the consequences of high-risk behavior.

This curriculum is designed to educate and empower teenagers to make good choices and to develop positive character traits in the sexual domain. These traits include respect, responsibility, integrity, courage, self-control and honesty.

The No Apologies program includes effective, age-appropriate and culturally relevant activities tested in classrooms, youth groups and health departments all over the world.

Young people, after attending the 12-hour course,* are asked to consider how they want to manage their sex life today and in the decades to come. They are invited to make a decision to protect themselves and their future by choosing to abstain from all sexual activity outside of marriage. Each young person is offered a pledge card to sign and date as a reminder of their decision.

I never thought that fundamentalist hatemongers like these would actually enter my life. I was always fighting them from a distance through Christian and atheist forums. I do not believe that I have ever been more angry.

David, be happy to support any steps you take to shelve the fundy bastards and bucket their bigotry right back in their faces. I’ll bet hard-liners have been conspiring to mount their campaign for years! Arn’t they the Honourable Senator Stephen Fielding’s benefactors?

I would bet Fielding is in their pocket.

I am looking at taking this to the Canberra Times – it is convenient that I work at parliament, so I can just pop up to the press gallery.

A formal complaint is being written by me also. And I think that I have scared the principal into getting this program at the least more closely examined by the ACT Department of Education. And I want an apology to the students and them given the actual facts regarding sex. Not sure what else. James Dobson’s head on a platter?

I didn’t catch all the detail of the discussion but there was a question asked of the PM in QT today about the Governments winding up of some Chaplain programs in schools.

The Lib questioner was obviously concerned about this.

Unlike the combative tone throughout the rest of QT, Rudd piously thanked the member for the Q and seemed to intimate that he agreed with the current program and would look into it.

I’m not sure if this relates to David’s subject but he may be interested.

All i can say is, again, this kind of teaching is not representitave of the electorate, as a whole, in any way.

I sense, and share, Davids anger.


I have to say that I suspect that the school’s councillor, who is a chaplain from that program, is involved in this somewhere, given that she approved the program for the school. So there could well be a direct link.

My blood pressure has certainly taken a pounding today.

Thanks for the support, people. 🙂

Katielou, thanks for the heads-up on Pastafarianism. For many years my conscience has been plagued with doubts about certain core beliefs of the Atheistic Jedi religion which I have now, Praise Canneloni, spurned and embraced Big Carbohydrate.

May the Sauce be with you.

Paddy, when was the last time you took the younsters up to have a perve at Wilson’s promentary? 🙂 (yes mother, no mother :mrgreen: absolutely priceless, but better not mention it to Rupe, mate)

David Gould at 208
Let me know any stuff we can do – collectively, all of us here, yes we can.

James Dobson’s head on a platter?

Works for me.

I am not sure what I may need at this point. It is going to depend on the response that I get from the principal and the department.

From Wikipedia:

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, [Focus on the Family] shifted from support of Mike Huckabee to not supporting any candidate, to finally accepting the Republican ticket once Sarah Palin was added to the ticket. Prior to the election, a television and letter campaign was launched predicting terrorist attacks in four U.S. cities and equating the U.S. with Nazi Germany. This publicity was condemned by the Anti Defamation League.

And I thought that they were a bunch of right-wing fundamentalist hatemongering loonies …

Here is the appropriate section of the Australian Capital Territory Discrimination Act:

Unlawful vilification—race, sexuality etc
(1) It is unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of people on the ground of any of the following characteristics of the person or members of the group:

(a) race;

(b) sexuality;

(c) transsexuality;

(d) HIV/AIDS status.

(2) This section does not make unlawful—

(a) a fair report of an act mentioned in subsection (1); or

(b) a communication or the distribution or dissemination of any matter consisting of a publication that is subject to a defence of absolute privilege in a proceeding for defamation; or

(c) a public act, done reasonably and honestly, for academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes or for other purposes in the public interest, including discussion or debate about and presentations of any matter. ”

I am hoping that (c) does not constitute a defence. But it may well do so, unfortunately. 🙁

David Gould at 216

I am hoping that (c) does not constitute a defence. But it may well do so, unfortunately.

The test is if was done reasonably and honestly. From what you have described, it sounds neither reasonable nor honest (and you only need to prove one).

Ah Rachael….I must have read about a million words about all these different plans….and there you go and explain it all clearly with a sign, a few stickers and a few flags.


McChrystal needs this like a hole in the head:

Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting.

When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.
A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.
But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end…….

…….. many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there — a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war.”

Finally, a fairly well reasoned article in HuffPo on Afghanistan, and no, it’s not a cheer leader for McChrystal per se:

…by my casual reckoning it’s running about 5:1 against the war, but even this piece is not “pro-war”, just a run through the options and some reasoning behind a change in strategy. It’s not openly against like ALL the previous articles I’ve read.

The “Bromwich thesis” is, ahem, more applicable to the HuffPo for the other side of the debate.


The article quotes Hoh:

“I’m not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love,” Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the “second-best job I’ve ever had,” his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.

“There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed,” he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. “I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys.”

But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there — a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war.

…he concedes there’s some nasty forces there, thinks it morally right to ‘take them out’ (even enjoyed doing so, so he says) but his problem is he cannot see it as America’s concern.

Hoh’s argument is, basically, “it’s their war”.

But notice, in the final paragraph, his is quoted:

If the United States is to remain in Afghanistan, Hoh said, he would advise a reduction in combat forces.

He also would suggest providing more support for Pakistan, better U.S. communication and propaganda skills to match those of al-Qaeda, and more pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to clean up government corruption — all options being discussed in White House deliberations.

“We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath,” Hoh said. “But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve.”

….which is an acknowledgment that there could easily be a bloodbath, but he wants to say it’s “their problem” while in the same breath admits “we have some obligation”.

He’s obviously a competent person, and if you read the whole article, you can’t help admire him, feel sympathy for his descent into depression and alcoholism after failing to save a comrade, the ‘survivor guilt’ and years no doubt of being under considerable stress.

His decision is personal: it’s no longer his war. Whether it should still be America’s war is his opinion. He wants to save others from dying in Afghanistan, not save Afghanistan from the fascists.

Obama’s decision will be to trade off the awful choice of continuing with the goal of stabilising the country without it descending into a ‘bloodbath’ or leaving, with all the regional ramifications that will entail.

Obama just can’t walk away, Hoh can.

reading back from the beginning of the post I am no clearer about what TF I would do in Obama’s shoes.
It seemed to me at the time that to go after BinLaden after 9/11 made sense – unlike the invasion of Iraq.
But once there the Dogs of War are unleashed and the internal political situation with all it’s attendant social and moral horrors (I would not want my daughters to grow up there) complicate things to the point of impossible.
Should we never have gone – possibly in hindsight.
Should we just leave? No idea. It is an unholy mess either way, but perhaps given our initial involvement it would be wrong to up and leave without some further attempt at stabilising the place- or is that simply impossible and a futile waste of more lives??
If any of you are so sure then for God’s sake let him know – sounds to me like he is stumped. Not surprisingly.

Underlying much of the criticism of the Afghan war is the often heard argument that the US presence is somehow the ’cause’ ie there would be no insurgency if the Yanks weren’t there in their faces.

Hoh’s argument:

But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there — a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected.

…but, if we look at the article in HuffPo today, Black argues:

The other assertion, one that is particularly infuriating, is about whether insurgents will be “emboldened” if we take certain actions. If they are fighting us, is their baseline level of boldness not already pretty high? The argument that the motivations of your average rank-and-file religious fanatic are strongly dependent on U.S. policy is ludicrous. The idea that a deliberative policy process emboldens insurgents is similarly bizarre (again, see the Rohde tales for a glimpse into the mindset of a Taliban foot soldier). NATO and U.S. forces are continuing to fight as changes are debated – a policy review does not turn Afghanistan into the Islamic extremist version of Spring Break Cancun. And, as Walt points out, clarifying that U.S. support is not unconditional can have positive effects.

…in other words, the effect of foreign troops is not the causal agent for militant Islam, they are already there, and already hostile to any notion that does not comply with their version of “Islamic” fascism. (I use quotes because it’s NOT Islam, that’s just a disguise. It is straight fascism hiding behind the religion.)

Do some Afghans take the Taliban’s money and fight the US without ideological compliance to the Caliphate? Yes, some do. But more Afghans do not, let’s remember, so it’s pretty disingenuous not to mention the majority whilst using the minority as an argument for walking away.

The goal is to turn this around, secure major towns, provide high levels of local security, improve governance, train a national army and all of those ‘nation building’ things that Americans do so incredibly badly. They cannot do it alone.

Can they turn it around?

I pray they do, because we will all be back in five or ten years after they leave if they fail.

I have spoken to the Canberra Times. They are very interested and are looking to run the story on Monday, where it will have the biggest circulation.

I am looking to speak with some local ACT representatives in the Legislative Assembly, Labor and Green, on this. I am wondering how best to approach that, though.

Well done DG, remind us all (ie Australia!) to read it.

I’m still as outraged as I was yesterday! This crud is insidious and needs stomping on.

Oh, and my step-daughter provided me with more information. Apparantly, if a couple have sex, it is the boy’s fault. But girls should not incite boys by, for example, wearing makeup or putting their hair up. And the presenter wished that they were back in medieval times, because back then you had to court a girl for three years before you were allowed to touch her.

Jen:”If any of you are so sure then for God’s sake let him know – sounds to me like he is stumped. Not surprisingly.”

No one is ‘sure’, there are no guarantees, only weighed up assumptions about the pro and cons, and some pretty grim and ugly forecasts of what is likely to come if they leave.

I don’t think Obama is stalling because he’s stumped, but he does have to put pressure on Karzai, and he does have to make a VERY hard decision.

[Last sentence in comment removed under editorial discretion – see EP #151 for details]

Jen @ 224
I agree with you – I had the same reaction at the start of the war, and the same uncertainty about what is best now.
A while back I posted a link to some comments by Seymour Hersh to the effect that Obama is at war with senior people in defence – that they see him as green and weak. I do worry that the neocons in defence would like to undermine Obama, just like they tried it on with another young democratic president in the 60’s. I am suspicious of McChrystal’s motives.


I think everyone is in agreeance that Joe Lieberman is slimy filth.

But i doubt very much he will filibuster this bill.

I read a piece where he will leverage right up to the death until he can squeeze something like an extra military contract for his district over another district in order for his voting for cloture on the public option health bill.

Lieberman hasn’t got the balls to filibuster it.


David i hope you can succeed in bringing attention to this stuff.

Good luck with your endeavours.

Best wishes for your battle with the forces of darkness David.
I was so angry when I read your posts about the focus on family sneaking their way into schools, I didn’t trust myself to touch the keyboard. 🙁

Hope the Canberra Times does a good job in exposing the whole sorry tale.
Cheers Paddy
(Still frothing at the mouth.)

DG @ 226
Have you thought about getting in touch with the Teacher’s Union? They would be useful allies, I would think.

David, sounds like you’re getting a great response already and it’s just over a day since you sat stunned, before righteous rage catalysed your action and thorny claws unsheathed. I think it’s a good idea to button-hole Brown on this issue. Can you imagine the sort of near perpetual pizzling he endured (because of his sexuality) on the Hill in his first years there? He’s got the courage of his convictions. Will never forget the phalanx of COALition “praetorian guard” who “flying-wedged” Bobby Brown when he tried to deliver a written protest in a joint sitting after El Rodente and Bomber Beasley publicly fawned over The Imbecile during a parliamentary grovelfest.

While all and sundry sucked-up, Bob had the guts to very publicly dissent.

G’day, Jen. Yep, in the rush to war the planners of the invasion and occupation failed comprehensively. Eight years on, Gates and McChrystal have got diamond cutters for a surge, the funding for which would be far better off being spent on the watered-down (thank you, Rachel, for the flags and stickers) Public Option that Lieberman is trying to kybosh. Like throwing good money after bad, it’s a bit like bailing out failed banks where the suppliers of services(merchant banks) or in this war goods and goodies, (Lockheed, Haliburton and assorted MICsters) always get their money.

Families of U.S. dead get this:

And Vets, no longer of use, get wiped like a dirty arse.

Harry, taking a line through Joey’s form I reckon he’ll attempt the filibuster.

Thanks for the support, people. The principal is trying to fight back with insinuations that my daughter is making it up or ‘misinterpreting’. I think that it would be a weird coincidence is she had made up things that happened to exactly match the ideology and rhetoric of the organisation on these particular topic, but hey. And the fact that no-one else has complained must make it all okay …

Talking to the union is a good idea. However, in agreement with the journalist, I am holding fire a little. When the story comes out, then I can go for broke.

David Gould

The principal needs some ‘public exposure’ too IMO.

A little sunshine is a good disinfectant.

What a bloody hide to turn it around on you like that!

In any case, I trust my step-daughter. And all I needed to hear to completely confirm things were the words ‘Focus on the Family’.

I am asking for the school to immediately inform all parents of the talk, who gave it and what it contained. While I have informed the school of my intention to go to the media, I have not told them that the fuse has already been lit – although no doubt they will soon become aware when the journalist starts talking to them …


re Joey the Rat, i tend to agree with this comment i read:

“Poor Lieberman is buffeted between his two prime directives: being a coward and being a whore. I think Coward will win in the end when he faces the prospect of standing alone to block a healthcare reform vote. All his concern trolling about the deficit, etc. is just his way of extorting a bigger tip on the nightstand.”

Will be watching with interest. The nuts and bolts of this Senate vote seem to be that Reid has 60 Dems (obviously) to avoid the filibuster.

Jay Rockerfellar and Russ Feingold have apparantly said to Reid that the Bill goes to the floor as is,without further weakening, or it goes down in flames…Pretty powerful guys those two.

On the other hand , Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Joey the Rat are wavering. So far only Joey has said he may filibuster.

I think the Centrists are going down on this and Joey the Rat is just posturing.

We shall see though.

Indeed, Harry, that Joey’s a piece of work orright. This Health Bill is sure building up a head of steam ahead of Showtime. As Rachel Maddow suggested, it will be Public Option extra-lite yet audaciously, one hopes otherwise.

Could you imagine what the Poms’d do if their guvnahs tried to tamper wif da Bwitish public ‘elf system?
I do believe the proletariat would riot right alongside vem wots got a quid. Be bleedin’ anarchy, mate!!

Troops In Afghanistan Outnumber Taliban 12-1

“The U.S. and its allies already have ample numbers and firepower to annihilate the Taliban, if only the Taliban would cooperate by standing still and allowing us to bomb them to smithereens,” said Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University, and one-time platoon leader in Vietnam.

“But the insurgents are conducting the war in ways that do not play to (allied) strengths.”

The Taliban rebels are estimated to number no more than 25,000. Ljubomir Stojadinovic, a military analyst and guerrilla warfare expert from Serbia, said that although McChrystal’s reinforcements would lift the ratio to 20-1 or more, they would prove counterproductive.

“It’s impossible to regain the initiative by introducing more foreign forces, which will only breed more resentment and more recruits for the enemy,” he said. “The Soviets tried the exact same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s with disastrous results.”
Story continues below

McChrystal’s defenders say the U.S. has learned from Soviets’ mistakes. At his instruction, NATO troops are increasingly abandoning heavy-handed tactics.

“In the end this (conflict) cannot be solved by military means alone, and in that sense a precise figure of Taliban fighters is not the point,” said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.

I like the Julie Bishop one. 🙂

Oh, and the story is likely to run Friday now, although he does not know for absolute sure.

And another parent is thinking of complaining. So all of a sudden things are looking a little shaky for the principal …

I’ll agree with this bit HSW:

“McChrystal’s defenders say the U.S. has learned from Soviets’ mistakes. At his instruction, NATO troops are increasingly abandoning heavy-handed tactics.

“In the end this (conflict) cannot be solved by military means alone, and in that sense a precise figure of Taliban fighters is not the point,” said NATO spokesman James Appathurai. ”

…so it sounds like there’s a major strategic re-assessment going on.

As for ‘more troops’, well that may depend on whether they want to try and actually ‘stay and hold’ some of those areas that they’ve only been ‘sweeping’ and leaving. If the idea is to stay and build up security, then maybe more troops are required.

That’s good to hear David.
Glad that things are beginning to bubble along.
I still have trouble accepting that this sort of claptrap is allowed to be “preached” in any sort of *real* school.
Hope it all works out.

Yeah, the principal looks like the ‘sleeper agent’ in this DG, and the passive/aggressive response of blaming a child for ‘making up’ something no 9 yr old could possibly ‘invent’ is more than a little suspicious.

Apply the blowtorch, and we’ll all bring the marshmellows! LOL

The interesting thing is that we have an education minister in the ACT who is gay. I think that there will be some fire when it hits that level. And it is going to …

My official complaint has gone in to the department, although the person responsible is away until Friday. And a copy of that official complaint is going to the principal also.

How the Buch an hell are you? Yes I have been to the Buchan Caves. Now I am on the 3rd floor balcony of a motel in Lakes Entrance sipping chardonnay and thinking, “I wonder what the pheasants are doing today”. Me thinks the pheasants a are being plucked buy the guys from that Buchan place.

I will add my support in anyway David. Good luck. I’ve got a couple more days down here before I get back to the real world. Battery low on laptop. Gotta go.

There’s that right-wing bastion the New York Times giving Obama a push with this shocker headline:

Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll

…oh, dear, it’s not a very ‘good look’ for a rag that’s supposed to be pursuing a rampant hawkish agenda to be airing dirty laundry about the CIA!

Bromwich’s ‘thesis’ gets more rank with each passing day!

And now, drum roll, a nice long piece by Thom Friedman on why the US should wind down, not build up, in Afghanistan!


Poor old Bromwich must be hiding under his doona by now! LOL

But there you go. Two days ago Bromwich was being quoted as “proof” that the NY Times was part of the right-wing hawk lobby movement! A representative of BIG OIL and the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! (GASP!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Someone, please, ring the editor of the NYT’s and tell him!

For anyone wanting a well informed outline of what the US administration is planning in Afghanistan, this piece in the NY Times outlines what is happening:

…but is quite neutral ie is NOT an ‘opinion’ piece, nor a cheer leading article. It covers, in some detail, what the strategy is in deploying more troops.

I’d seriously doubt it would fit Bromwich’s criteria, but let’s give him one, eh? I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for him being so utterly and demonstrably wrong! LOL

[Last paragraph in comment removed under editorial discretion (applying the no need to get bitchy policy), EP#151]

Oct 28: for The Surgeon of Crowthorne
Non Sequitur

Oct 27:

Lieberman Twists the Knife

Is there a more hypocritical figure in American politics than Joe Lieberman? The Connecticut senator declared Tuesday that he would support a filibuster of any health care reform bill that has a public option—even the version with the “trigger” compromise accepted by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe—because it might cost money.
“I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free,” said Lieberman, one of the Senate’s big spenders, in a suddenly frugal mood. “It’s not. It’s going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn’t, it’s going to add terribly to our national debt.”

(whereas waging quagmires doesn’t add terribly to national debt at all. It simply “internationalises” or Globo-Docs the Health Problem to shocked and awed Afghani families. Comes with the “god’s gift of democracy” package)
Oct 27:
Oct 28:



Lieberman Twists the Knife

Is there a more hypocritical figure in American politics than Joe Lieberman?

Holy Joe?…a hypocrite??….never.

Lieberman lying on October 23, 2006, while campaigning against Ned Lamont:

I’ve been working on health insurance reform for more than a dozen years. … I have offered a comprehensive program. Small business health insurance reform, plus something I call MediKids to cover all the children in America on a sliding fee basis up until the age of 25.
MediChoice to allow anybody in our country to buy into a national insurance pool like the health insurance pool that we federal employees and Members of Congress have. Medical malpractice reform.

It will cover 95% of those who are not covered now, and it will reduce the pressure on rising costs for all the millions of others.

Our time is brief. No matter how smart you are or pretty, the demand for you is limited. This is the hard lesson of adult life. Vancouver wants you to come and perform your work and you say yes and hundreds of e-mails fly back and forth — What beverage would Mr. Keillor wish us to place in the back seat of the limo? Fermented persimmon juice? Not a problem. Should the flower petals that young maidens strew in his path be rose or narcissus? — and then, two days before the big day, you are struck by a sore throat and propulsive sneezing. So you call Vancouver and tell them you can’t come. They take the news calmly. They don’t shriek, “No! No! Not this! Our lives will be shattered if you cancel, esteemed one.” Your non-appearance is No Problemo.
And this is how you find out the hard truth. The world can get along without you pretty well.


Great scoop, Harry, hope it’s not too late to apply the blowtorch. C’mon Obi, FFS, do your stuff! Call the schmuck out on Primetime. Show us the audacity. Show us the hope.
Enough with the sotto voce already, we wanna see the Big Stick!

Failing that, some leadership would do just fine, Mr. President.

HarryH at 261

Lieberman is playing policy. What he has said is the he *may* not support the bill in its current form, but what he didn’t mention is that there are two points at which a filibuster can occur – one is on the introduction of amendments to the Senate bill and another is on the adoption of a modified bill. Clearly, a modified bill is something Lieberman could potentially live with – so in terms of process – Lieberman is offering no new challenges.

This is simply a media moment.

The Republican Brand in Ruins: 75% of Americans Dislike Republicans; Over 70% Think Palin’s Not Qualified to be President.

While impressions of Obama’s professional performance are mixed, the same can’t be said of the Republican Party at large. Put simply, the GOP’s brand is still a mess. According to the poll, just 25% have a positive opinion of the party (compared with 42% for the Dem Party), which ties the GOP’s low-water mark in the survey and which is a worse score than it ever had during the Bush presidency.

continued on Firedoglake

Democrats Unlikely to Lose Control

With some analysts raising the prospect of Democrats losing control of the Congress next year, Democracy Corps looked at the top battleground races to determine whether a loss of 41 seats was possible based on current polling.

Their new survey across the 75 most competitive congressional districts suggests potential losses for the Democrats within the normal historical range — about 20 seats. However, their losses will be offset by some further Republican losses and are unlikely to approach what it would take for Republicans to regain congressional control.

I am having my photo taken for the Canberra Times story. (Whether they publish it is of course another matter: they might not want to drive down their sales too much ;)). So, you may soon be able see what the neoconservative zionist right winger 😉 you clash – but in a good way 🙂 – with here looks like.

Focus on the Family at this stage are refusing to make any comment about the homosexuality/bestiality link, although they have denied that they would teach one of the other points (the one regarding catching AIDS and dying if you have sex.)

Go get em and you have my full support.

Just a small piece of advice and you probably already figured it.
As a kind of whistleblower make sure you do not use any instrument belonging to your work or use your work time to attack.
Any opportunity to change the attack to you will not be brushed aside .


Good advice. I am flexing off this afternoon briefly to get my photo taken, but that should not be a problem.

No probs David – given that you are one of the few intelligent commentators here it is an absolute honour 😎

David -just accept with good grace 😆
(I’ve been reading the editorial page)
Looking forward to see your efforts rewarded and the Fundies’ cover blown.
I take it your daughter has been adequately deprogrammed… and bathed in dettol 😉

Great stuff, David. Kudos to you for converting your rage into direct action. Compulsory inverted pink-triangle arm-bands and their ideological ilk have no place in our great southern land.
As a cultural imperative, Australia’s inaugural Bill of Rights must declare vast swathes of our great southern land “Wowser Free Zones”. National (enlightenment) Parks of the mind where citizens can love and let love, live and let live without being pestered by people obsessed with the living arrangements and gender preferences of others.

Reservations could be allocated to hard-core fundamentalist bigots in the way that nude beaches are set aside for Starkers. 🙂

“So, you may soon be able see what the neoconservative zionist right winger you clash – but in a good way – with here looks like.”

And yet….. others will see a libertarian, Green voting, maths-lover :mrgreen:


There is no way that they could program her, so no deprogramming required. 🙂 But the dettol, yes …

Bahrain MPs press for Israel ban

Bahrain’s parliament has approved a bill banning its citizens from having relations with Israel.

The elected lower house passed the bill but it needs to be ratified before becoming law by the upper house, whose members are chosen by the king.

Having spent some time in Bahrain (sitting on a deck-chair, overlooking the gulf, sipping a tropical surprise as the sun slips over the horizon) – I found the place and the people reasonable, moderate, etc. – as such, I’m a little surprised about this turn of events.


Having spent some time in Bahrain (sitting on a deck-chair, overlooking the gulf, sipping a tropical surprise as the sun slips over the horizon)

Clearly Cat, you need a bit of Wahabist discipline from the religious police and a damn good flogging in the city square.
Next stop Riyadh for you……..My fine feathered gelnail technician. 👿 :mrgreen:

Jen says


Wasn’t it just. 🙁
I had an experience with skippy recently, that left me feeling similarly whacked.

Good luck with the fresh elections mr Khazai.

America’s Drug Crisis: Brought to You by the CIA;

Kudos to the New York Times, and to reporters Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, for their lead article today reporting that Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s stunningly corrupt President Hamid Karzai, a leading drug lord in the world’s major opium-producing nation, has for eight years been on the CIA payroll.
Okay, the article was lacking much historical perspective (more on that later), and the dead hand of top editors was evident in the overly cautious tone (I loved the third paragraph, which stated that “The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raises significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.” Well, duh! It should be raising questions about why we are even in Afghanistan, about who should be going to jail at the CIA, and about how can the government explain this to the over 1000 soldiers and Marines who have died supposedly helping to build a new Afghanistan). But that said, the newspaper that helped cheerlead us into the pointless and criminal Iraq invasion in 2003, and that prevented journalist Risen from running his exposé of the Bush/Cheney administration’s massive warrantless National Security Agency electronic spying operation until after the 2004 presidential election, this time gave a critically important story full timely play, and even, appropriately, included a teaser in the same front-page story about October being the most deadly month yet for the US in Afghanistan.

What the article didn’t mention at all is that there is a clear historical pattern here. During the Vietnam War, the CIA, and its Air America airline front-company, were neck deep in the Southeast Asian heroin trade. At the time, it was Southeast Asia, not Afghanistan, that was the leading producer and exporter of opium, mostly to the US, where there was a resulting heroin epidemic.

With yesterdays suicide bombing in Pakistan it shows that things are really messed up in that area.

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Pakistan is swiftly drifting towards an all out civil war

The Waziristan offensive is the latest chapter in the history of mercenary relations between the US and Pakistani governments. Since 2001, Islamabad has been prepared to wage a civil war against the ethnic Pashtun tribal people along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The army is widening the war against its own independent-minded Pashtun tribes – wrongly called “Taliban.” [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Movement of Pakistani Taliban, came into being probably in December 2007 with a huge stock of weapons that clearly had come from across the border since some of them were of US origin.] The Pakistan government’s motive is to ensure that US political, military and financial aid continues to flow to the country’s corrupt ruling elite. The US has pledged to provide Pakistan some 7.5 billion dollars during the next five years under capitulating conditions which a US-client government in Islamabad has gladly accepted.

An excellent read,Cat.
Obi shows a cool head, lucid thinking.
Find it reassuring re his judgement in other matters -he is an actor, not reactor.

Good to see you all,Ticsters. Have been overseas on and off these recent months with my laptop at it’s erratic best , and while internet cafes are great for a quick lurk, they’re not conducive to writing.
Nice to be back.

The Health care bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially unveiled the House health care reform bill that is headed to the House floor. The ceremony, held on the West steps of the Capitol, marks the greatest progress toward the Democratic Party’s top domestic priority goal in more than half a century.

The bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act — H.R. 3962 — includes a public health insurance option that would be required to negotiate with providers — the top choice of centrist and conservative Democrats.

Coming in at just under $900 billion over ten years, the plan would cover 36 million uninsured Americans.

House Democrats have posted the bill online. A summary can be read here and the full version is here.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus had pushed hard for a “robust” public option that would have reimbursed providers using Medicare rates. Blue Dog Democrats beat back that effort, costing taxpayers $85 billion over ten years — money that will go to hospitals, doctors and drug makers, increasing the cost of health care.

The bill also prevents insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, caps the financial responsibility that insured individuals will face when medical emergencies strike, bans insurers for dropping folks because they get sick, and proposes a host of other insurance industry reforms.

Read more at:

Prominent Republicans like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin are bucking the GOP to back a conservative candidate for a House seat in New York, opting to defend what they see as pure party ideology even if it means helping a Democrat win.

Pawlenty, Palin, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, former Sen. Fred Thompson and others are supporting conservative nominee Doug Hoffman, not Republican nominee Dierdre Scozzafava, in Tuesday’s special election in the rural, heavily Republican 23rd Congressional District in upstate New York.

Republicans haven’t lost here in more than a century, but the schism is opening the way for Democratic nominee Bill Owens. An Oct. 15 survey by Siena College, taken before all the high-profile endorsements, showed Owens with 33 percent, Scozzafava with 29 percent and Hoffman with 23 percent. The poll of 617 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

We’re on the road to destruction.

Read more at:

The 2010 election is getting easier and easier to win. Obama brings the economy back from the brink of disaster! U.S. economy recovering!
Health care and more. With the wingnuts standing in the wings its Obama’s to lose!

Disgraceful: In 8 Years, George W. Bush Never Greeted Fallen Troops.

This is what a president does.
US President Barack Obama has paid his respects to 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan, the first time he has honoured the fallen in this way.

continued on Firedoglake

Halfway There: Donate for Organizers in Arkansas to Primary Blanche Lincoln.
Yesterday, Jane followed up on her televised dare to Blanche Lincoln to filibuster the public option, when she warned that if Blanche filibustered, “she’d draw a primary challenger so fast it’d make your head spin.” Jane wrote here:

Wow David!! That’s a gem of an article.
It seems to have got the balance right.
Clearly stating the facts, but also conveying the sense of outrage, that sane people feel about these wackaloons being allowed into the public school system.
BTW Is there a pdf of page 2?


Unfortunately, the Canberra Times only publishes the front page of its paper on the web site. It publishes the rest a day or so later. However, to summarise, the rest of the article is a very short description of the Focus on the Family (US) activities/positions, plus the Focus on the Family guy being unapologetic, rather like Kevin Rudd.

Ah well David, it’s still a bloody good piece of writing. (considering they have to cater to “the middle”)
So at least it fires a shot across the bows of the lunatic god squaddies.
It will also make the school principal think more carefully, about how often he wants his school plastered across the front page of the local paper.
Well done mate! 🙂

Top stuff Gouldie.

i THINK you have done the right thing and i THINK it will grow from that story.

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