Nukes for all my friends….but not for you

In their last minute flurry before the final bell, the Do-Even-Less-Than-The-Do-Nothing-Congress-Of-1948 managed to sneak a few interesting things through the hopper. I haven’t had a chance to review everything that they tried to send under the radar yet, but one thing caught my eye this afternoon.

The House and Senate each approved a bill that reverses three decades of American anti-nuclear-proliferation policy by allowing the U.S. to send nuclear fuel for civilian use to India. Existing U.S. law apparently forbids the U.S. to carry out nuclear trade with countries that have not submitted to full international inspections. This deal carves out an exception and says that, well, if you open up 14 of your 22 plants to inspection and declare them to be “civilian”, that’s good enough for us.

So why is it that we will carry out nuclear trade with one country that is a non-signator to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (India), while declaring another non-signator nation to be a pariah (North Korea)? Why will we supply uranium to India for “civilian energy use”, freeing up that country’s own uranium to be devoted more exclusively to weapons production when at the same time we deny another nation’s right to develop nuclear technology for “civilian energy use” (Iran)?

Iran is a signator nation to the NNPT and has rights under that treaty to enrich uranium as a step towards a civilian nuclear energy program. Now I’m not saying that I trust Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as far as I can throw him (and I’m not that strong a guy), but Iran has been playing by the rules of the NNPT and has remained open to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. India, on the other hand, has not signed the NNPT, has developed nuclear weapons and currently has a stockpile estimated at 150 warheads, and will still keep IAEA inspectors out of over 1/3 of their nuclear plants.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the part where India is in kind of a nuclear-standoff-kind-of-thing with their neighbor Pakistan? A country (Pakistan) that we trust when it suits our needs in terms of going after Afghanistan, but one that we don’t trust enough to make the same kind of nuclear trade deal with.

Now I fully understand the desire and need to keep strong ties with India and its “democracy in Asia” thing, but I’m not quite sure just what’s in this deal for the U.S. If we’re really going to be consistently on board with this NNPT thing, like we say we are, then we need to be on board with it even when it’s our friends that are asking for help.

Why wouldn’t we insist on all 22 sites being open? Why is it that congressional negotiators also watered down provisions for annual certifications and alternate inspections? Why do we not insist on India’s full participation in confronting further nuclear proliferation as a condition for our assistance in their development of a civilian nuclear energy program?

I’m just saying that I think this is all a little bit inconsistent.

Not that I’m surprised about that or anything.

The Errington Thompson Show 12/02/06

I feel weird back from a day off.  Crazy.  I’m doing the show without headphones so I feel naked.  No, not really not clothes naked because it is 20 degrees outside!!

Sean Bell and his 2 friends are shot and killed by the NY police department.  50 bullets are shot at their car.  No weapon.  Yuck.  I can’t remember a white man being shot like this outside of Bonnie and Clyde.

Although Bush says he is open to new ideas and change it sure seems like he is saying, “Stay the Course.”  At the same time Cheney tip-toes into Saudi Arabia.

The first Democrat is officially out of the gate – Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa.

My first guest is Congressman Elect Keith Ellison.  He is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress but he is more than that.  He will work for the common good.  This is an excellent interview but because I have any interviewing skill but because Congressman Elect Ellison is a very thoughtful man.  He will be great.

My second guest is Jim Stratton a reporter from the Orlando Sentinal.  He is following the missing 18,000 votes in Florida.  He will give us an update.

There’s much more.

Remember I’m on iTunes and several other podcasting services.


House ethics investigation? What a joke.

Sorry, my bad. Jokes are funny. This was just pathetic.

The House Ethics Committee released its report today, and spent 91 pages (and who knows how many dollars and hours) parsing towards its conclusion that nobody broke any rules and that nobody should be punished, sanctioned, or even publicly singled out for reprimand.

They did confirm that then-House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and RCCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) were each aware of the problem long before it came to the surface and that then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was also aware, if not to the same degree.

But they didn’t break any rules.

Because apparently, we need there to be a rule, one that says that if one of your colleagues is a sexual predator, making inappropriate advances upon minors, then you need to take action to stop him from doing that.

They confirm that John Shimkus (R-IL), the chair of the House Page Committee, was aware of the problem and that he didn’t tell Dale Kildee (D-MI), the only Democrat on the three-person board about the instant messaging because “Dale’s a nice guy, but he’s a Democrat, and I was afraid it would be blown out of proportion.” And to ensure that it was swept under the carpet instead, he didn’t even tell his fellow Republican on the board, Shelly Moore Capito, of West Virginia.

But he didn’t break any rules.

Because apparently we need there to be another rule, one that says that if there is a problem with a program that you are responsible for overseeing, then you have to discuss it with the other people who are also responsible for overseeing that program. And for good measure, maybe a rule that says that you should actually do something about it.

They wring their hands about the fact that they have no jurisdiction over Mark Foley, because he is no longer a member of the House. But they have no problems, apparently, with the fact that he will continue to receive his pension. Because currently, you get to keep your pension unless you are convicted of crimes related to treason or espionage. Mightn’t this have been a good opportunity to throw in with the people who are advocating for the revocation of pensions of any Congress members who are convicted of felonies either during or after Congressional service?

Hey, that would be a good rule.

And retired Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who also seems to have known about this long before the public? Well maybe his statement to a former page of his who had also received “special attention” from Foley sums up the whole attitude of this investigation best. When the scandal was unfolding, Kolbe’s former page contacted him to ask him what he should do about the fact that he, too, had received an inappropriate IM from Foley back in 2001. Kolbe told him that, “it is best that you don’t even bring this up with anybody….(T)here is no good that can come from it if you actually talk about this. The man has resigned anyway.”


And then to foist upon us the following “justification” for the whole lack of investigation thing: “Some may have been concerned that raising the issue too aggressively might have risked exposing Rep. Foley’s homosexuality, which could have affected him both personally and politically.” Yup, the number one possible factor listed by the Investigation Subcommittee was that the GOP was too gay-friendly. Never mind the fact that nobody being investigated had actually had the balls to try to use that excuse for themselves. Never mind the fact that this had nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with pedophilia. Could we dismiss a lack of investigation into a hypothetical murder committed by a Congressman by saying that we would be afraid that exposing him as, well, a murderer, might affect him “both personally and politically”?

Excuse me while I puke.

Here are the phone numbers of the two Representatives responsible for this steaming load: Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) (202) 225-4695, and Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA) (202) 225-5816.