Sunday, March 18, 2007

WMDs in use in Iraq (sort of)

The chemical weapons used by terrorists in Iraq are, specifically, chlorine gas bombs. Granted, these chlorine gas bombs are made from chlorine brought by USUK occupation forces to purify the water, because there's so little potable water in Iraq these days, on account of our having blown up the infrastructure when we attacked Iraq. But please pardon my misleading title: chlorine gas bombs, while awful, aren't "weapons of mass destruction." Weapons, yes, but on a massive scale? Hardly.

According to the BBC, three chlorine gas bombs have killed eight and injured hundreds, including six U.S. troops. Al Qaeda it ain't, but whoever's doing it wouldn't be doing it if we hadn't invaded and occupied the country in the first place. Mission accomplished.

And as if you couldn't have seen this coming: this morning on Meet the Press, disgraced ex-Representative Tom DeLay cited the chlorine gas bombs as "evidence" that we're in a "war" on terrorism in Iraq. These scumbags never give up, do they?

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Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan: tool of fraud.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is merely the tip of the iceberg where the ongoing Republican purge of Democrats is concerned. Eight U.S. Attorneys were fired for following an insufficiently partisan pattern of prosecutions—specifically, they were called out for refusing to investigate Democrats while leaving Republicans alone. More scandalous, however, are the 84 U.S. Attorneys who weren't fired. One of them is the U.S. Attorney for western Pennsylvania, Mary Beth Buchanan.

KDKA News in Pittsburgh reports that Buchanan refused to investigate former Republican Senator Rick Santorum when he was accused of sending his children to private school in Virginia while getting a tuition refund from the state of Pennsylvania. At the time of Santorum's corruption coming to light, though, Buchanan did decide to start investigating Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht.

Wecht was indicted on 84 counts of mail fraud in January 2006, around the same time Senator Santorum's reëlection campaign was starting up. Wecht's defense team included former Attorney General and former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Dick Thornburgh.

Thornburgh is a decent man, a relic from the days when non-corrupt Republicans were much more common. His vouching for Wecht is a good sign that there's not much substance to these charges. Mary Beth Buchanan needs much more scrutiny, as do all the other U.S. Attorneys who weren't fired during the Bush administration's recent purge. The fact that these attorneys were viewed by the Bush administration to be doing a good enough job is fishy as hell. That doesn't automatically make them all guilty, of course, but it does call for plenty of scrutiny right now.

It's sad and disturbing to realize that we can't trust the U.S. Attorneys' offices around the country at least until they're replaced, and that all investigations, legitimate or otherwise, are gummed up by this need for scrutiny for the duration of Bush's term in office. Yes, it's sad to think of the long list of careers that have been damaged or destroyed by this purge, but it's sadder still to think about the irreparable damage done to the credibility of U.S. Attorneys and the entire Judicial branch of our government. Even when President 44 gets elected, and even if that president is honest and a Democrat, the stain that Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove and George W. Bush have left won't be scoured. Hopefully time will heal this scar, but for now, we don't have a credible Judicial branch, since it was sacrificed for the Republican Party's political gain. It will take more than just another presidential election cycle to regain some of that lost trust, and worse, it'll take years before we realize just how much damage was done by these crimes. This is quite a legacy for George W. Bush, whose administration will be remembered for being more corrupt than Grant's or Harding's or Nixon's, or of any other administration that came before his. As someone who has opposed Bush since well before he took the White House, I take no joy in any of this, because while this scandal will at least diminish Bush's stature (if not take him down altogether,) it damages my country and its system of justice, and there's no good side to that.

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2008: Is Al Gore running or not?

EleanorClift over at Newsweek seems to think he is, but me, I'm not so sure. As evidence, Clift states that Gore has been playing it coy, not directly answering questions about whether he's ruled out running or not. While this could mean that Gore wants to keep the door open, it could also mean that he's been asked this question so many times over the past six years that he's probably trying to keep his life interesting by coming up with new ways to answer it. Clift also points out that Gore has lost some weight, so clearly he's running. Either that or he's maybe following doctor's orders? Is seeking office the only reason anyone loses weight? Notify the marketers at Slim Fast! They've clearly been targeting the wrong customers!

Prognosticating Gore's political future, if any, isn't especially easy right now. The problem is that there's still plenty of time for a Democrat to move forward from the pack between now and this November, which is the deadline for filing for a presidential run. If that happens, then I think Gore will forego running. On the other hand, if a single Democrat doesn't emerge from the pack and the candidates start to pound the crap out of each other, it could be said that they'd all be weakened and thus damaged goods, and when the Democratic Party starts looking around for a white knight to come riding up to save it... enter Albert Arnold Gore.

Al Gore is wisely keeping his powder dry, just in case he has to use it. If there's a primary battlefield full of Democratic casualties, then Al Gore is just the man to clean it up.

That said, none of the would-be Democratic candidates would be attractive as a Gore running mate. I doubt General Wes Clark would make Gore's short list, particularly in light of all the talk of how we're on the brink of having someone who's not a white male on the presidential ticket this time around. With Gore filling the white male spot, he'd be pressured to choose a woman or a minority. My money would be on Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who's often been mentioned as a possible running mate for whoever the candidate is in 2008. A second possibility would be Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. I might recommend one of my favorite politicians in America right now, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, but she's still pretty new to the scene, and promises to have one hell of a senator, but considering she was just elected this past November, she'll probably want to wait a while before thinking about any grander aspirations (particularly with a Republican governor in Minnesota.)

Of course, Gore's would-be running mate is not really worth speculating on until we find out the future of Gore's would-be campaign. For now, it's probably safest to assume that he's not running, and we ought to keep our focus on those Democrats whom we know are running. But if we Democrats need a white knight to come along, we know where to find one...

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