Monday, September 24, 2007

Daily Headliners--UAW strike against GM, Obama has "intellectual laziness," Condi Rice dropped from Sunday talk shows, U.S snipers luring insurgents

Here are today's Daily Headliners.

UAW Members Strike Against GM: This is the big story taking place today, as the Washington Post reports that the United Auto Workers have called a national strike against General Motors, with thousands of workers walking off their jobs today as both sides continue to negotiate a new contract. According to the WaPost, "The talks have been hung up on a path-breaking deal to allow GM to shed more than $50 billion in future health-care obligations for retirees." It all goes back to health care, and the rising costs that employers are trying to shove down their employee's throats. GM wants to reduce their health care costs so that they can compete against the Japanese automakers. Currently, the only way for GM to reduce those health care costs is to shift them to their employees and retirees, which the employees and retirees are now refusing to concede now. And there is no government-sponsored universal health care program for all Americans. Kos and Digby have more on the UAW strike and universal Health care.

Bush administration accuses Obama of "intellectual laziness:" I've seen this story popping up on Mahablog, Carpetbagger Report, and Shakesville. The original source stories are both The San Francisco Examiner, and

This just in from the Irony-Free Department: A "senior official" in the White House of George W. Bush tells journalist Bill Sammon why Barack Obama won't be the next president of the United States: Obama is intellectually "capable" of the job, the official says, but he relies too much on easy charm. "It's sort of like, 'That's all I need to get by,' which bespeaks sort of a condescending attitude towards the voters ... and a laziness, an intellectual laziness."

The only comment I would have to this insanely stupid quote is this:

Hat tip to Dependable Renegade for the image.

Rice turned down for CBS and NBC Sunday talk shows: I found this story through ThinkProgress, which sources The Washington Post:

The secretary of state has always been considered a prize catch for the Sunday talk shows. But when the White House offered Condoleezza Rice for appearances eight days ago, after a week focused on Iraq, two programs took the unusual step of turning her down.

Executives at CBS and NBC say Rice no longer seems to be a key player on the war and that her cautious style makes her a frustrating guest.

"I expected we'd just get a repetition of the administration's talking points, which had already been well circulated," says Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face the Nation," who questioned two senators instead. "We'd had a whole week of that with General Petraeus and President Bush. I thought it was more important to get a sense of where the Senate Republicans were."


None of the five shows turned down Hillary Clinton yesterday, although there was grumbling about the lack of exclusivity.

I guess the Sunday talk shows are getting tired of airing the same, regurgitated crap this Bush White House has been trying to shove down our throats. ThinkProgress has even more interesting details of Rice's wanning influence in the Bush White House. A few months ago, Rice wrote an op-ed story about how public/private partnerships could be used to help rebuild Lebanon after last summer's war. But every single newspaper turned down the article. Price Floyd, who recently was the State Department's director of media affairs, told that Rice's opinion piece was "littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership," and that it read "like a campaign document." And there may be other signs of Rice's wanning influence in the Bush White House. According to this June 7, 2007 Newsweek article, Rice's Iran strategy has been challenged by Vice President Dick Cheney's national-security team in the recent months. Cheney's national-security team "have been openly dismissive of the nuclear negotiations in think-tank meetings with Middle East analysts in Washington," and seemed "eager to build a case that Iran is targeting Americans not just in Iraq but along the border of its other neighbor, Afghanistan." It seems to me that the Cheney hard-liners are trying to marginalize Rice so they could increase their own influence to convince Bush to launch a military strike against Iran. Condi Rice's dropping off the Sunday talk shows could strengthen Cheney's influence on Bush, if she continues to be marginalized from public or media appearances to present not just the Bush talking points, but also her own perspective on these points. I wonder if we're going to see an even more hard-lined Bush administration stance on Iran, even to the point of issuing ultimatums against Iran that will be backed up by military force.

U.S. snipers luring insurgents with "bait:" This Washington Post story is just sickening:

A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed.

"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."

In documents obtained by The Washington Post from family members of the accused soldiers, Didier said members of the U.S. military's Asymmetric Warfare Group visited his unit in January and later passed along ammunition boxes filled with the "drop items" to be used "to disrupt the AIF [Anti-Iraq Forces] attempts at harming Coalition Forces and give us the upper hand in a fight."

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program should be examined "quite meticulously" because it raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items.

"In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war, if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back," Fidell said.

I have a question for the Pentagon here--how can the snipers be certain that an Iraqi who picks up these "baited" items are actually insurgents? You can't. All you know is that someone has picked up your "baited" military equipment in a country that is awash in military equipment. It doesn't mean that the particular individual is an insurgent, and will use that "baited" military equipment specifically against the U.S. military. It is indiscriminate murder, committed by U.S. soldiers, and sanctified by the Pentagon.


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