How Could I Have Missed the Joke?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

For those of a certain age.
Republicans’ comments may hurt at polls, AP
“One Republican senator [Burns, MT], described his house painter as a ‘little Guatemalan man.’ Another [Allen, VA], called an Indian man a ‘macaca,’ a type of monkey.”
“[T]he comments by Burns and Allen have garnered heavy attention as their party is trying to improve its showing among minorities.”
Burns and Allen! Now I understand. Theyve been doing a Burns and Allen impression!

Two Red Herrings

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

My Google news alerts have whispered to me that two Red Herrings are diverting the focus of media coverage these days. Since I seem to have been programmed from youth to pass on what I think I’ve learned, here’s my guesswork:
Iran Sanctions. The solidity of the six-nation alliance confronting Iran is thought to rest on the question of sanctions. Indeed, sanctions apparently won’t pass the Security Council, as Russia has already publicly parted company with the US on this. But the key point is not sanctions; it is the refusal to negotiate.
It is not so easy for six nations to refuse to negotiate. It only takes one, in this case Russia, to pursue discussions with Iran, which they have emphatically promised to do. If they come back with something interesting, the other five nations will have to listen. They’re not refusing to negotiate with Russia.
France and Germany have reaffirmed that without a complete nuclear suspension, there will be no talks. At the same time, they have sounded awfully soft on this question. For example, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, “…Iran must understand that we cannot sit at the negotiating table if new centrifuges are built every day”–indicating that they just might sit at the table if the number of centrifuges does not grow.
This potentially puts the Bush administration’s core credibility at risk. It is one thing to have Russia and China split off on sanctions. But if France and Germany should split off on the refusal to talk, that is a diplomatic humiliation and a complete failure of policy. That leaves the US isolated–and on a very sore-headed point of policy too.
Disarming Hezbollah. Hezbollah will not be making use of its arms in the area where UN forces are present anyway, and they are not likely to shoot missiles over the heads of the UN forces, from further north. The key issue here is re-armament by sea and across the Syrian border. The UN forces will not disarm Hezbollah, but they will block the border, if the Lebanese government asks them to, and it will be extremely awkward for them not to ask. The Rules of Engagement do call for the use of force to enforce this provision of the cease-fire.
The non-disarmament of Hezbollah will look like a victory for them, but non-rearmament eventually puts them out of business.
If only the White House had access to Google!

The Office of The Suspector

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

There has been speculation* that somewhere in the national security establishment there is an official known as The Suspector. When someone wants to wiretap conversations with an individual, they bring that person’s name to The Suspector, and ask, “Do you suspect this person of having terrorist connections?” The Suspector says, “Yes.” (After all, you are bringing this person’s name to me.) This establishes that the person is suspected of terrorist connections.
Only after this procedural safeguard has been satisfied can phone calls with the Person Suspected of Terrorist Connections be wiretapped without a warrant.
*Full Disclosure. I am one of those people known as The Speculators. After I speculate about something, one can say, “There has been speculation.”

Two Countries Need to Be Put on the Spot

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

“With hard-liners riding high in Tehran, there’s little chance of changing minds there. But the White House should still try, offering security guarantees in exchange for Iran’s giving up technology that could feed a nuclear weapons program.”
NYT Editorial, “Still Spinning,” 8/14/06
Well, will the White House “still try, offering security guarantees”? Is the White housing willing to try that, i.e., willing to give up its “regime change” program, or is the dream of overthrowing the Iranian government so important that they would rather watch the nuclear enrichment grow than give it up.
And what about Iran? Would they give up on the nuclear enrichment program in exchange for normal relations and security, or is the program too important for them to give it up?
Their public message at least suggests they are prepared to make that trade. Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, was asked, “What kind of ambiguities are you referring to [in the current six-power proposal]”
His answer: “For instance…we want to find out what they mean by long-term cooperation. Does long-term cooperation mean a relationship in all fields with Iran or only in nuclear activities? Depending on the answer, our interpretation of the package will be different. For instance, one of the provisions of this package mentions talking to Iran about regional security arrangements.”
IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency), New Delhi, “For the US, Iranian nuclear issue is just an excuse, Larijani,” 8/9/06
Is Iran willing? Is the US willing? There are two countries that need to be put on the spot next week, when Iran’s response to the six-power package comes out. So far, we have only been hearing about one of them.
[Note: Also in question will be whether Iran keeps a small number of centrifuges spinning, possibly with no Uranium gas being fed in. The US says none, but it is not a deal-breaker for at least Germany, Russia, and China.]
[High School chemistry joke: The Iranians reject a suspension of the nuclear program, but they may be willing to emulsify it.]

Are the Republicans Tough Anymore?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

In the aftermath of the foiled terror plot in the UK, it seems as if the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have suddenly lost their bearings. For a few months this year, they were relentlessly focused on the keys to a safe America, but now they are all over the map. Americans want to know which party has the toughness to face down terrorism. Republicans need to get back to Republican priorities.
–They are talking about beefed up security at US airports! Have they so quickly forgotten that Iraq is the “central front in the War on Terrorism”? This is a crisis! There are children here! The entire corps of US Air Marshals must be immediately redeployed to Baghdad, where they can strike at the heart of the enemy.
–The Republicans used to care about flag burning. Can anyone doubt that the short attention span of congress in The War on Flag-Burning has emboldened our enemies? Congress must immediately take tougher action in this crisis. The ATF must be must be broadened to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Flag Burning. Laugh that off, Mr. Terrorist!
–For a time, terrorists around the world were stunned, intimidated, and immobilized by the Republicans’ steely resolve in the crisis of same sex marriage. “Who wants to take on those guys? They’re tough!” But when it came to naught, you could just hear the terrorists laughing, “And they call themselves Imperialists? Come on! Who’s afraid of them?”
The Democrats? I don’t think bin Laden is worried about people who can’t even stand by an American minimum wage that has served as a symbol of fairness for years.