Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What's "déjà vu" in Dari?
Saudi-backed Afghan warlord calls for revolt

MSNBC is reporting that Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, once the darling of the Saudis and a leader of the U.S.-supported mujahadeen forces that defeated the Soviets, has issued a videotaped threat, which NBC says it obtained as an exclusive, calling on Afghans to revolt against the U.S. occupation. Specifically targeted is U.S. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, according to the MSNBC Web site. Although the video is posted here, it has not yet been translated from Dari, the Afghan Persian dialect in which Hekmatyar, a Pashtun, made his appeal.

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Body blows
New treasury chief packing cement shoes?

For those perplexed by the shuffle of the loyal John Snow out of the post of Treasury Secretary to make way for Hank Paulson, Glenn Kellis of Ob:Blog explains all:

A friend will help you move... but a real friend will help you move a body . That's the message that today's booting of Treasury Secretary John Snow revealed....Bush needs to move a body... It's a big, fat body and it will take the biggest guns of Wall street and a piano case to disguise it from the public until after the midterm elections.
This is a good one, mes cheris; check it out.

Whatever the outcome, it's a relief to finally have Snow's demise complete. It's been a George Raft death scene.

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Mum's the word
Supreme Court gags public employees

Honestly, mes amis, some mornings your blogstress just does not know what impels her to meet the light of day to examine the nation's news on behalf of her devotees. In the end, it may actually come from some overdeveloped sense of moral obligation. (Yes, bad girls can have morals.)

This morning the papers tell us of the first truly onerous decision to come out of the court of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a 5 to 4 verdict against whistleblower protections for public employees. If the Bush administration hadn't succeeded well enough in chilling speech in the government workplace, this decision should finish the deal. Thank you, Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, Alito and Scalito.

From the indefatigable Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times:

Although several employee groups raised immediate alarms, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority opinion in fact contained the counterintuitive implication that employees might fare better by speaking out as "citizens" and taking their complaints to the public rather than keeping them within the official chain of command.
Well, that would depend on what one means by "fare better." With union protections under assault in the federal government, the employee will most likely be left to "fare better" as an unemployed citizen.

At the Washington Post, Charles Lane explains:
By a vote of 5 to 4, the court ruled that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office did not violate prosecutor Richard Ceballos's freedom of speech by allegedly demoting him after he wrote to supervisors charging that a sheriff's deputy had lied to get a search warrant.
During her four years on the payroll of a public employee union, your Webwench witnessed a rash of retaliatory measures taken against federal employees who dared to rectify situations that either put the public at risk, or swindled their tax dollars. And, indeed, when two union members who are also federal workers took their concerns to the radio waves in an ad scripted by your écrivaine, they were investigated by the White House Office of Special Counsel -- which is officially charged with protecting the whistleblower rights of U.S. government employees.

(This is the same agency that, under Bush appointee Scott Bloch, purged itself of those who supported workplace protections for gays and lesbians, and began recruiting most of its interns from the ultra-right-wing Catholic law school of the Ave Maria College. Oh, yeah, and they involuntarily transferred -- to locations hundreds of miles from their homes -- a handful of career appointees who raised objections to some of Bloch's policies.)

New personnel systems in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have been designed to disempower unions' ability to protect those who bring concerns through their agency's chain of command, while employees of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) have been virtually forbidden to organize at all. The Department of Homeland Security even attempted to require a secrecy pledge from all of its employees -- a Soviet-style measure that the unions were able to derail in the court of public opinion.

The more opaque our government becomes, the closer our nation veers to a dictatorship enforced by the political appointees who head the federal agencies. Sonnez les matines! Wake up!

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