Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Decider decides the preznit can do no wrong - ever

In the must read of the day The Boston Globe posts a stunning review of the extent of the presidential hubris. Shorter version: Bush, via the imperial signing statement, has declared himself above the law over 750 times, holding himself as the final arbiter of constitutionality. He's decided that one out of ten bills that reached his desk didn't pass muster and wrongfully usurped his executive power. This is why he hasn't bothered to veto anything. He just signs it and ignores it, especially the parts that were offered by himself as compromises in order to get the bills passed in the first place.

Patriot Act safeguards? Forget it. Those were just for the public ceremony. He had his fingers crossed the whole time so they don't count. Military surveillance of civilians? He'll sign the ban for the cameras but don't expect it to stop. As a matter of fact, any provision that calls for explanation, documentation, or oversight of any kind over his decisions are really going too far. It's all too surreal. Is this my country or did I wake up in a Fellini movie?

I urge you to read the whole piece. There's a very interesting connection to these signing letters and Alito. I also have a post up at DetNews with more thoughts and as always Glenn Greewald has an excellent analysis on the greater meaning of this breathtaking grab for unlimited executive power.
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Colbert delivers hearty fare at White House dinner

The big buzz of the day is the White House Correspondent's dinner. I'm sorry I missed this on CSPAN. I've heard they're going to rerun it but I couldn't find it on the schedule which is too bad because I'd like to see the whole thing. However, the ever dependable Crooks and Liars has 15 minutes worth of video that's worth waiting for the download to watch.

And as always, Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has a comprehensive roundup of reaction around Blogtopia. The reviews as you can imagine are mixed with the lefties praising Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert's skewering of the president and the righties declaring the routine a dud because everyone was afraid to laugh.

Personally I don't know how they held back. I thought the video bit at the end with Helen Thomas was a little weak but the standup stuff had me roaring on this side of the computer screen and I already knew the punchlines from reading the press coverage. Colbert's delivery was impeccable and I think it takes a special kind of brass balls to mock a sitting Supreme Court justice while he's sitting only feet from you. The Scalia bit was priceless.

As many, including Editor and Publisher note, the president and Mrs Bush were not amused. Looking at some of the one-liners you can see why.
He advised the crowd, "if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail."

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of the White House limo on the way home from this gig. I have a feeling whoever booked Colbert is going to have some heavy 'splaining to do.

And this bit was a lot funnier in person although the press didn't laugh. But then those prima donnas never could take a joke.
Addressing the reporters, he said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."
If anybody figures out when this is being re-aired, I would greatly appreciate if you would leave the times or a link in comments. I thought it was it so good that I really want to see it all. In fact for the first time since it's become available, I'm sorry I don't have TIVO. I would have liked to save this one for future generations.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006

FDAs Useful Fool under Investigation

Lester Crawford, the former head of FDA who was responsible for killing the Plan B pill, is under criminal investigation. This paragon of Republican virtue apparently did a little insider trading on his position during his brief but checkered tenure.
Dr. Crawford resigned in September, fewer than three months after the Senate confirmed him. He said then that it was time for someone else to lead the agency.

The next month, financial disclosure forms released by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that in 2004 either Dr. Crawford or his wife, Catherine, had sold shares in companies regulated by the agency when he was its deputy commissioner and acting commissioner. He has since joined a Washington lobbying firm, Policy Directions Inc.
Ah that revolving door from inside Capitol Hill directly to K Street. Crawford did his job for the White House. The base didn't want Plan B and he made sure they didn't get it. Then he hops over to the other side of the street and will make a ton of money exploiting the favors he earned while doing the administration's dirty work.

It's well past time to nail that door shut. Two year waiting periods are not enough. Ten years might prove more of a deterrent to the corrruption that has become so commonplace inside the beltway today.
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About those Mohammed cartoons

I was very cranky about my internet problems yesterday and spoke a bit too harshly about those bloggers who chose to post the stupid cartoons. As a commenter at Last One Speaks reminded me, some bloggers I like and otherwise respect posted them too, so perhaps I should qualify those statements. When I called them lamebrained idiots, I was speaking about the situation over the cartoons and not their intellect in general. FUB has this to say in comments:
But it's just plain silly, if not defeatist, to tiptoe around afraid to insult an enemy who has sworn to kill you if you insult their so-called religion.

The people doing the DOS aren't poor misunderstood peaceful religious adherents. They are scum who have hijacked a religion to carry out a war to the death on everyone who doesn't bow down to them.

You're not afraid to insult the scum who make and enforce totalitarian drug policy. Why be so nice to scum who want to kill you and every other person on the planet who won't worship the way they think people should?
Well, here's the thing. Number one, the cartoons sucked. They had no artistic value. They didn't make any kind of political statement. I found them to be the equivalent of a school yard bully taunting the smart kid (who showed him up in class) with something brilliant like -- yeah your mother is ugly.

Second, the cartoons offend all Muslims, not just the ones who were threatening to kill people. How would you feel if someone who was pissed at your neighbor started posting naked pictures of your mother on the net because , what the hey -- you must think like he does because you look like him and you live next door. Sorry, but if you want to take the fight to extremist scum, get out your gun and go find out who they are and start shooting. Please don't be drawing lines in the sand here and daring them to retaliate.

I don't think this is the same as insulting the prohibs or the administration because when I criticize, I try very hard to keep it specific to the perpetrators of the policies and not paint every person who disagrees with me with the same broad brush.

So sorry if I offended those of you on the other side of the fence on this with a poor choice of words in a fit of pique, but I simply think posting the cartoons is counterproductive and I also think that kind of mockery is not bravery but is instead uncivilized foolishness. Aren't we supposed to behave better than them? Not to mention when you deliberately incite the extremists, you put not only yourself in danger but also those of us who didn't participate. As the saying goes, discretion is the greater part of valor.

Update: The conversation continues. Since I crossposted this one, I have a discussion going at both blogs. I have another long comment here.
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Friday, April 28, 2006

Computer issues

I had a couple of hours off this afternoon and intended to blog more but my connection wasn't working worth shit. I have to say that it crosses my mind that this has been happening with unusual frequency ever since I started blogging about internet neutrality. Although I suppose that's a coincidence, it does underline what's at stake here. I also hear the idiots who posted the Mohammed cartoons were hacked today but that of course wouldn't affect me specifically since I didn't post them or condone those who did.

In any event, if I disappear in the next 24 hours it will be because I can't get into Blogger although it seems to be back up now. Of course I have to go back to work in half an hour anyway. It's going to a late night for me so I don't know how much more posting I'll do today in general.
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Sex sells

I don't know what to think about the rumors flying around regarding the possiblity that Porter Goss was involved in a free prostitution service for favored Congresscreatures that was paid for by defense contractors. It just goes to show how far we've fallen that one can consider this a true story. I'm going to sit it out until more facts emerge, but Billmon has a hysterical post on the subject, if you want to get up to speed on the gossip.
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Hey, they let them bring bagels too

You gotta love those wacky Republicans. I mean did they wake up one morning and say to their spouse, "Honey, I know just how to bring accountablility back to the government. We're going to have an investigation, a long investigation during which no witnesses are allowed to be called." This isn't even irony, it's slapstick comedy.
Senate Intelligence Committee Staff Director Bill Duhnke, top aide to Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), said there was no need to interview Powell's former aides, saying the intelligence behind Powell's speech was already known.


"Throughout the oversight process Senator Rockefeller and other Democrat members have requested and received certain accommodations that are too numerous to list," he added. "Any characterization otherwise is simply not accurate."
These guys should be in vaudeville. How about they just list the top three? Like what exactly did they accomodate? Did they agree to let them bring fair market coffee into the meetings?
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They got Drudge -- they don't need no stinkin' facts

I didn't follow the posts on this but from what I saw, I thought it was rather unseemly, if not downright tacky, for the Bush bloggers to be gleefully celebrating the claimed poor reception for Kos and Armstrong's book. The Bushie blogswarm was very busy crowing about its dismal sales while patting themselves on the back for consorting with real winners like Glenn Reynolds and Hugh Hewitt whose books sales were allegedly doing so much better.

As Glenn Greenwald discovers their premise was not only delusional, it was easy to do some actual research to prove their claims were patently false. Kos' book is already outselling both and has been on the market for a much shorter time. And these are people that are going to supplant the MSM? And one might note although Glenn modestly fails to mention it, his own book went to number one on Amazon overnight.

Read the post. It's not as wordy as usual and Glenn has some keen insights, as always, on the cult of Bush believers. He's right. It's not so much a political movement as a religious faith that can't be shaken by mere facts. Kind of the political version of creationism.
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Thursday, April 27, 2006

GOP plans to fake it on ethics reform

Having returned from their two week recess and having heard little on the ethics scandal since their constituents were more concerned at the moment with gas prices and immigration, (gee what a surprise), the GOP decided all those promises on ethics reform they made in the wake of Jack Abramoff's indictment could just be forgotten. They're going to suspend lavish lobbyist funded trips until the holiday season. That will expire after the election, in December, without debate. Guess they figure they're going to trick their way back into office and once they get there, they have couple of years of unmitigated graft and corruption before they have to answer at the ballot box again.

They also won't restrict other lavish gifts, won't require transparency of lobbyist operations and do almost nothing to stop the spin of the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street. Nor is there any provision for enforcement. The measure does call for disclosure on spending earmarks but notably excludes disclosing the earmarks added to tax and authorization bills. Anybody want to venture a guess where all the earmarks will be hidden if the measure passes?

Think Progress has the full breakdown on this disgraceful insult to the intelligence of the voters.
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My Motown

I've been doing my best work at the DetNews for the last couple of days. If you don't read me there, you missed my posts on the ridiculous $100 gas tax rebate, the dismal nearly nonexistent state of upward mobility, and two more posts on net neutrality.

I'm feeling a little less panicked about the last now that we're already gained some ground at the committee level. At least they won't be able to slip this through unremarked. If you click nothing else, at least read this link to the right wing's Rick Moran, whose opinion I respect more and more, the more I read him. Which is not to be confused with agreeing with every position he takes but he's a very thoughtful and reasonable blogger.
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Senate declares FEMA defunct

It's difficult to deny that the biggest disaster of Katrina, after the loss of life, was the response of our Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mis-management would be more apt a label. However, it's difficult to see how this will help. With the November elections bearing down like a freight train on the GOP's hopes of maintaining control of the House and Senate, a Senate panel has declared the agency DOA and declares the only fix is to dismantle it entirely and start from scratch. Chertoff, being a little put off by the infringement on his territory, claims it's a lame plan and he has his own fix in the works. Both schemes call for throwing more money and personnel at the problem.

How is it these Beltway brainiacs don't remember that the agency was working pretty well before the Bush administration "reorganized" it into its present chaotic state and absorbed it into the Homeland Security department? How about simply reverting to the old system that was already in place? The sticking point, as always, is that it would require a GOP controlled Senate to admit that a program created under a Democratic administration had been working well enough. I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect our legislators to form a plan that put the safety of the people over saving face for the party.

The only sensible suggestion put forward is that the head of the agency in whatever incarnation, report directly to the President. Of course, that assumes that the President would actually be actively engaged in the operations and not on an uninterruptable vacation. Nonetheless it would be a good fix for future administrations, if our nation manages to survive this one.
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Sneak preview - Let's impeach the president

I've been waiting for someone to preview the lyrics for Neil Young's new song, Impeach the President. Who would have thought Fox News would have been the ones to do it, with a surprisingly unsnarky piece. In fact for Fox, this could be considered a positive review. Here's the lyrics.
Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s racking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean

Thank God
The album is due to start streaming on the Neil Young website on Friday. I can't wait myself. I think this one will end up being his biggest album since the 60s.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The screw turns

I've been so sick today that I've used my reading time to nap and need to go back to bed again. I'm just not up to dealing with the news although I must admit, discovering that Rove testified before the grand jury again tempts me to read on. You can't help but think it explains the sudden demotion last week. I thought right along that something was brewing with the investigation or else Bush wouldn't have stood for having him moved out of his quarters in the White House.

But I have no energy to speculate. I really need to assume a horizontal position so I'll be back tomorrow, if I live through the night.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Speed reading

First day back at work and I have to get up and do it again at the crack of dawn tomorrow so here's the quick links to what I didn't get to today.

It appears that the recent spate of bad weather in the red states has changed a few minds.Republicans, including some Christian fundies are becoming concerned about climate disruption and are calling for action.

This one made me laugh out loud. Bush claimed at a press conference that he tried to "avoid to the max" having to invade Iraq.

And it's looking more and more like the White House rampage against unauthorized leakers is really an ideological purge of the CIA. Mary McCarthy denies leaking the secret CIA prison story and as the Bush bloggers so kindly pointed out, she's a Democratic sympathizer.
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Save internet neutrality

This is the biggest issue of the week, perhaps of the century and it concerns absolutely everybody who uses the internets. The internet is the only true democracy on the planet. For all these years, anyone with an good idea, the ambition and the tech knowledge could become a cyberspace success. The internet is a worldwide town meeting hall, an international marketplace and a planetary storehouse of knowledge and information. Our Congress and the major access providers want to end all that. The House Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a measure that would hand control of your access over to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

What this means is that your access would be limited to only those sites willing and able to pay the price to the providers. How this could very well play out in practical terms is downright frightening. Your favorite search engine could either be slowed down to an unuseable crawl or blocked altogether. Major corporate websites would be the only ones accessible at the current speed. The pay for purchase features on small websites could be slowed in order to steer you to higher priced vendors that could afford high speed loading. Vendors such as iTunes could download a snail's pace while higher priced more expensive corporate vendors would load at the current speeds. Activist websites could be disabled. Disfavored charities and non-profit groups could be destroyed by slow loading donation pages. The possibilities are endless and the bottom line is that internet users would not only lose their free choice of content but would also pay the increased costs for the fees the companies pay to the providers.

Both Democrats and Republicans are supporting this move. The time to act is now. Watch this short video. Sign the petition and contact your Congressmen immediately and tell them to keep the choice of internet content in hands of the people, not under the control of corporate interests. If we don't stop them, the corporations say that they will create premium lanes on the Internet for higher fees, and give preferential access to their own services and those who can afford extra charges. The rest of us will be left to use an inferior version of the Internet.

This issue is so vital and time is so short I'm crossposting to all my blogs and asking everyone to please spread the word.

[hat tip FireDogLake]
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The 23rd Sigh

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.

He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests. He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.

He restoreth my fears. He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.

Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.

Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.

Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.

My health insurance runneth out.

Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,

And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

[hat tip Kat]
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Monday, April 24, 2006

1000 American nights

Time magazine has a profile up on the new White House wunderkind, Josh Bolten. Now that Bolten has reassigned the seating, he's looking forward to the bigger challenge of restoring Bush's respectability in the public's eye. Good luck with that, but he does have a five point plan to make it happen. Shorter version:

1. GUNS AND BADGES: Pander to the raging hate-based thugs in the base who want to shoot illegals on sight and put more government patrols on the Mexican border. Bolten envisions some fine photo-ops with our prez surrounded by ATVs and uniformed types waving their weapons.

2. MAKE WALL STREET HAPPY: More tax breaks for the wealthy and seed the talking head shows with fat happy investors singing the praises of our robust economy.

3. BRAG MORE: Gotta quote here. "With gas prices a heavy drain on Bush's popularity, his aides want to trumpet the lofty stock market and stable inflation and interest rates. They also plan to highlight any glimmer of success in Iraq..." Yep, that ought to encourage all the folks that are pawning their family heirlooms to fill their gas tanks. Surely they'll be immensely cheered by the news that investors are making a killing in a market they can't afford to join.

4. RECLAIM SECURITY CREDIBILITY: This is the scary one. They think rattling their sabers against Iran will somehow breed amnesia in the public about Iraq. Who knows, maybe they're right. Folks have forgotten about Afghanistan and we're still fighting there. Nonetheless it's a risky strategy since a recent poll found, "54% of respondents did not trust Bush to 'make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran.'" But that's just the political risk to Bush. The geopolitical risk to the American people and the world at large will keep me reaching for the Ativan for the next 1000 days.

5. COURT THE PRESS: This one feels like a bit of pipe dream to me. The gaggle is too jaded from five years of evasion to be bought with flowery phrases -- I hope. Unless the White House intends to woo the media by being more forthcoming about its practices and policies I don't see what changing the face on the pinanta is going to accomplish.

The good news is I think yesterday was the 1000 day mark so we only have to survive another 999 at worst. Hey if Scheherazade could do it, so can we.
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Listen to the wind blow...

This is why I have no hope that even the most honest and high minded elected representatives inside the beltway can retain their integrity after more than two terms in office. The wind farm proposed to be built offshore in the Massachusetts bay should be, as they say, a no-brainer. It's ecologically sound, it could produce clean energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Just about everybody agrees it's a good project. Everybody that is, but most of the legislators in MA, current Gov. Romney and the top 1% tier of wealthy folks who can afford to maintain gracious summer estates on the Vineyard.

The latter opposes it because it will ruin their pristine long distance views. The former oppose it because the latter are the ones who donate the big bucks to campaign coffers. The manner in which the interested parties are attempting to kill this project is a textbook lesson in backscratching politics posing as public policy.

Two Alaskans inserted an amendment into the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that would give final say over the project's fate to Gov. Romney. Romney has made no secret of the fact that he intends to veto the project. No public debate would have been held on the amendment had not two Senators come forward who vow to attempt to strip it out of the final bill. As the NYT notes:
Apart from its negative implications for the country's energy future, the amendment would create a terrible precedent by giving a single governor absolute veto power over energy projects in federal waters. And the fact that a few members of Congress can emerge from nowhere at the last minute to kill a project on which millions of dollars and countless hours have already been spent is almost certain to discourage entrepreneurs and investors from pursuing similar projects in the future.
It just goes to show that when it gets down to the down and dirty on energy policy, even the so-called liberals put monied interests ahead of the common good. I suppose it should have been expected that when wealth became the only avenue to office, only the wealthy would be served. It makes a good case for public financing of campaigns.
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A time for heresy

Bill Moyers has a speech transcript posted at Tom Paine. It's long winded, as Moyers' speeches tend to be, but also as always, every word counts. Here's a couple of choice quotes.
We need such courage today. This is a time for heresy. American democracy is threatened by perversions of money, power, and religion. Money has bought our elections right out from under us. Power has turned government “of, by, and for the people” into the patron of privilege. And Christianity and Islam have been hijacked by fundamentalists who have made religion the language of power, the excuse for violence, and the alibi for empire. We must answer the principalities and powers that would force on America a stifling conformity. Either we make the heretical choices that will inspire us to renew our commitment to America’s deepest values and ideals, or the day will come when we will no longer recognize the country we love.

...The number of lobbyists registered to do business in Washington has more than doubled in the last five years. That’s 16,342 lobbyists in 2000 to 34,785 last year. Sixty-five lobbyists for every member of Congress. The total spent per month by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is now nearly $200 million. Per month.

...This is the heresy of our time -- to wrestle with the gods who guard the boundaries of this great nation’s promise, and to confront the medicine men in the woods, twirling their bullroarers to keep us in fear and trembling. For the greatest heretic of all is Jesus of Nazareth, who drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem as we must now drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunny afternoon

The weather here changes as much as it does in New England. It was raining earlier in the afternoon but it blew through without even getting anything wet and then the sun was just gorgeous at the end of the day so I went for a walk in the neighborhood. I love this yard. They have lots of birdhouses and when you walk by the birds fly back and forth across the road, really low, like little divebombers.

There's a lot of well kept yards with nice landscaping. It still amazes me how early the flowers come out here. The picture doesn't really do these iris justice. I also saw some really nice salmon pink ones but I couldn't get a good shot. My camera is rather limited in its versatility.

My yard is not nearly as nice but I have shots of my place here.
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If they build it, we will stay

For all his talk about standing down when the Iraqis stand up and the hints and promises of troop drawdowns by the end of the year, I think we now know what Bush meant when he said Iraq was going to be the next administration's problem. Newsweek covers an underreported story, namely the building of permanent military bases in Iraq.
If you want an image of what America's long-term plans for Iraq look like, it's right here at Balad. Tucked away in a rural no man's land 43 miles north of Baghdad, this 15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots is one of four "superbases" where the Pentagon plans to consolidate U.S. forces, taking them gradually from the front lines of the Iraq war. (Two other bases are slated for the British and Iraqi military.) The shift is part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan to draw down U.S. ground forces in Iraq significantly by the end of 2006. Pentagon planners hope that this partial withdrawal will, in turn, help take the edge off rising opposition to the war at home—long enough to secure Iraq's nascent democracy.
So in other words, they'll send a few thousand troops home to placate the public and hide the rest on the superbases.
But the vast base being built up at Balad is also hard evidence that, despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout, the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time—at least a decade or so, according to military strategists.
Add to that fact that "the Bush administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion for new military construction in Iraq" and a picture of permanent occupancy emerges. The Iraqis in charge of security want us to stay there. Why wouldn't they? We're doing the heavy lifting. And the construction of an American embassy the size of Vatican City complete with its own power and water plants, would certainly suggest we're going to accept the invitation and are making ourselves at home for the long haul.

This isn't an air war but the Balad base has been flying a large number of unmanned drones. These things really creep me out.
The American airman who is piloting these drones, however, is not in Iraq. He is 7,000 miles away, in Las Vegas. ... Morgan, who still marvels at the idea, says: "Some guy in Vegas gets to knock off at 7, go out to the casino or lay out by the pool, and he's just flown a combat mission in Iraq." And the new Predators to be deployed at Balad over the next couple of years are going to be bigger and better, carrying more Hellfires, and some larger JDAM bombs as well. Huge new ramps and runway aprons are also under construction. ...
War as a video game? Killing real humans beings becomes as impersonal as a round of Space Invaders at the bar? It makes my blood run cold.

The manned fighting planes in Iraq are being used mostly for surveillance but also as a means of intimidation.
F-16 squadron commander Pete (Guns) Gersten, "When I show up at a firefight, it stops," he says. "We're the big brother."
It sounds trite to say it, but how much more Orwellian can you get?
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Can Neil Young resurrect the Woodstock Nation?

I haven't posted on this yet but I was cruising around the message board at my buddies, The Drunk Stuntmen's website and someone posted this great interview with Neil Young about his soon to released album and more particularly the sure to be controversial song on the album, Let's Impeach the President. (Well Neil is great, the interview chick is snarky and irritating.) I hope the link works. I haven't figured out this youtube thing yet but it seems like everybody is uploading the videos these days. I'll have to figure out how to do that.

I'm a big fan anyway but I'm really looking forward to this album. It will be really interesting to see how it's received. I'm wondering whether it will be another Dixie Chicks moment or whether, given the current dissatisfaction with Bush, whether it will feel more like a return to Woodstock.
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Speed reading

Juan Cole plays the leaks are all right, some more all right than others.

Via Abi from the comment section at Stone Soup points us to an especially good gallery of political cartoons.
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Poem of the day

For Once, Then, Something

Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Robert Frost
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mary McCarthy is a Patriot and a Hero

I want to slap Dean Esmay for calling her a traitor, but I'm not going to link to him or even read the post actually, since you can't comment without registering and his registration is closed. Besides he's so predictable. You already know what he's going to say. I saw the headline at Memeorandum. That was irritating enough.

I posted on the Mary McCarthy and Condi Leaks at the DetNews. I also have a post up about the sex offender registry. It may surprise you. Or maybe not.

And I just added a quote of the week post with a Biblical twist about the Bush The Decider.
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Blog hopping

Motherlode has a nice remix of the Summertime Blues. Go on over and sing along.

Neil Shakespeare has the best account of Hu's luncheon with Bush that I've seen. Actually while you're there, just start at the top and keep scrolling. Lots o' good stuff.

No Blood for Hubris finds the quote of the day.
"Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."
Wonder what The Christian Legal Society's yellow page slogan is? Fighting for your right to hate since 1998?
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Dear Red States....

Left of Center posts a piece I've seen before around the 04 elections I think but it's just as fresh and as good a read as it ever was.
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Media bytes

It's a dreary day but still warm enough to leave the doors open and listen to the birdies sing. I've been in reading mode this morning but I'm getting ready to start posting, so here's a cute little parody to get you started, He is the Decider, koo koo ka choo.

And when you're done with that short piece, try this one. Bet you can't watch just one.
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Friday, April 21, 2006

Guilty of intimidation by raised voice?

This puts a new complexion on the Hu press conference disruption. I guess instead of White House plant, I should have said classic Rovian set-up. I wasn't aware that the Falun Gong movement was spiritually based and so widely discriminated against in China, so the publication alone should have alerted the administration when they were giving out the press passes. If not the name Wenyi Wang certainly should have.

They let her in, fully knowing (or at least they should have known) her history of speaking out. I mean, her having had breached security and literally gotten into the last Chinese president's face should have tripped a little red flag, don't you think? It's tantamont to putting Cindy Sheehan on the guest list for a staged Bush town meeting. And now they're talking about charging her under some obsure federal statute that apparently has never been prosecuted. Atty. Tood has the details.
Last night, officials with the Secret Service, which eventually dragged Wang away and arrested her -- literally seconds after Bush called on China to permit more free speech -- said they are seriously considering charging Wang with an obscure federal offense, intimidating a foreign official.

According to our research, Wang -- a permanent U.S. resident who reportedly practices pathology at Mt. Sinai Hospital -- could face a fine and federal prison time of up to six months.
It's a twofer. Bush gets to embarrass Hu without being held responsible for it and he gets to intimidate any other American who might be thinking of spontaneously shouting out something about his presidency by throwing Wang in prison as an object lesson for dissenters.

Diabolically clever. It sends a chill through the First Amendment that makes me shiver too.
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For what it's worth

I don't know for sure who Wayne Madsen is but I think he's the same guy who was pushing a story about the White House being indicted last year, so take it with a big grain of salt.
April 20, 2006 -- Beating Bush's NSA e-mail surveillance simple. According to NSA sources, there is a simple method to avoid having one's e-mail captured by NSA Internet filters that have been installed within major Internet exchanges, such as the AT&T facility in San Francisco, which is the subject of a class action suit against AT&T. By typing "Viagra" or "Cialis" in the message text, the filters will automatically identify the e-mail as spam and ignore it. The e-mail could contain the words "Al Qaeda" or "Bin Laden," but as long as Viagra or Cialis are also contained in the text, the e-mail will pass through the filters without being intercepted.
Kathy checked Snopes and it hasn't made the urban myths yet but one wonders if the mail would make it past the recipient's spam filter and as Exile pointed out in an earlier comment, it seems hard to believe the government's filters would be that easily duped.

If anyone trys it, I'd be interested to know if the mail actually made it past the spam filters.
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Think a little harder Johnny. You had your shot and you blew it. Please don't screw us up again.
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The wonder of diplomatic blunder

I think I called this one right on the money. Dana Millbank gives some creedence to my theory that the White House set up the screaming dissident "reporter" scenario.

If only the White House hadn't given press credentials to a Falun Gong activist who five years ago heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta. Sure enough, 90 seconds into Hu's speech on the South Lawn, the woman started shrieking, "President Hu, your days are numbered!" and "President Bush, stop him from killing!"

Bush and Hu looked up, stunned. It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse. The rattled Chinese president haltingly attempted to continue his speech and television coverage went to split screen.
And that wasn't the sole extent of the hamfisted diplomatic "blunders" commited by the White House.

...The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the "national anthem of the Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.

Then there were the intentional slights. China wanted a formal state visit such as Jiang got, but the administration refused, calling it instead an "official" visit. Bush acquiesced to the 21-gun salute but insisted on a luncheon instead of a formal dinner, in the East Room instead of the State Dining Room. Even the visiting country's flags were missing from the lampposts near the White House.


The meeting in the Oval Office brought more of the same. In front of the cameras, Bush thanked Hu for his "frankness" -- diplomatic code for disagreement -- and Hu stood expressionless. The two unexpectedly agreed to take questions from reporters, but Bush grew impatient as Hu gave a long answer about trade, made all the longer by the translation. Bush at one point tapped his foot on the ground. "It was a very comprehensive answer," he observed when Hu finished.
Damn those world leaders who give comprehensive answers. Don't they know the Prez can only sit still through 30 second sound bites? I'm no fan of Hu. He's an evil man but it seems to me it's exceedingly impolitic and in fact dangerous to piss off a world leader whose standing army is larger than the entire population of the US* with the world's largest standing army.

* With thanks for the link -- for Exile, that stickler for accuracy, who points out in comments that I may have exaggerated a little on that point.
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hu heckler a White House embed?

I'm sure you've heard that Chinese President Hu was heckled today during a White House press conference. Call me cynical, but when I read the cameraman's account of the incident, it screamed of a set up. I mean we keep hearing about how everything changed after 9/11 and certainly the security is so tight that no one that the White House doesn't want there, gets on to the grounds. So how is it this Chinese woman manages to slip past security, hangs around for a long time and then launches into a full scale tirade in Chinese? Very Jeff Gannon-esque in my mind.

The Secret Service shows up eventually to remove her, but not until she's had time to berate Hu. How very convenient for the Leaker in Chief. If she was a sniper they'd be dead, but instead she embarrasses a guy he's pissed at and provides the perfect foil for Mr. Leaker to launch into a speech about how free we are in America to dissent. Ironic in that if she was wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt, she wouldn't have lasted ten seconds and dissenters at his scheduled stops are herded in cages far out of hearing range.
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Big brother really is watching

One of the things I really miss about living in lovely downtown Noho is panels like these. They don't do that stuff around here. Interestingly I know everyone on the panel personally from my work at the law firm. I found Chris Pyle's remarks particularly telling.
Christopher Pyle, a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College and a former intelligence officer, told the audience that NBC brought him 400 pages of classified documents last year for review prior to a story the network planned to do. The documents described Army surveillance of civilian activities, Pyle said.

"The only ones that were classified as genuine threats were military protesters," Pyle said. "The contents of the reports were garbage. There was no reason for the military to spend money for this kind of operation."

Pyle said that in comparison to the current intelligence network, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was "bush league."

"The difference is computers," he said. "The government has spent $1.2 billion intercepting our e-mail."
It really makes you wonder how anyone can believe they're not targeting ordinary Americans with this datamining.
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Who's driving this thing?

Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher has tossed the ball to our media asking them to begin addressing the crisis presented by 33 more months of a Bush presidency, noting well that he can do a lot of damage in that time frame and it's the media's responsibility to raise the alarm. The money quote is from Tom Friedman's NYT column.
Friedman, who still supports the Iraq war, opens by declaring that given a choice between a nuclear Iran and an attack on that country engineered by the White House, he would choose the former. That’s how little he trusts the diplomatic and military chops of Bush, Rumsfeld, Condi and Co. He cites “the level of incompetence that the Bush team has displayed in Iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them.”

But then he goes on: “I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now -- or take a taxi. ... You will not be driving alone. Not with my car.”

Of course the problem is Georgie has the keys to the car and he doesn't care about playing by the rules. Unfortunately, no one has a solution to this crisis. For myself, I'm thinking more and more that we don't have time to dick around with censure and impeachment. I think what's needed is a mass outcry asking Bush to resign for the good of the country.
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Too good to be true?

I don't want to get my hopes up but Jason Leopold, who has been a pretty reliable reporter throughout, notes that Rove's fat looks about due to be thrown on the fire.
Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.
Most significant is that Luskin is backing off from his proclamation that Rove won't be indicted and he confirms that Rove remains a target of the investigation. [Via]
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shaking all over


I look at this photo and it speaks volumes. Is me or is Scottie beaming like a June bride at being set free? As if just at this moment it's dawning on him, that he won't have to get up every morning and do a job he's come to hate. Meanwhile, George looks skulky, like a errant schoolboy who knows he's going to get a good talking to and Rove has that "wait until I get you home smile" pasted on his face. It almost looks like he's hauling Bush along by his belt loops, doesnt' it?
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Pajamas Media the new Ambien

I delinked Glenn Reynolds shortly after the pajamadeen launched their assault on the blogosphere, vowing to cow the MSM. I thought he was losing his edge then. I never check the site anymore unless someone links to it. Memorandum did today so I took a peek. It wasn't pretty. I was bored comatose.

It used to be I'd check in daily, not because I liked him -- he's been pompous and rude in our scant email exchanges -- but because he linked to interesting items I wouldn't have found myself. Sadly that's no longer the case. I scrolled through two weeks of archives as long as I was there and he had nothin'. Snooze city. The couple of links I was tempted into clicking via his customary use of cryptic descriptions, were boring. Porkbuster posts, that he seems to clinging to like a life raft have become tedious. Not that they're not doing good work but they do have their own site for the folks who can't get enough of corruption inside the beltway and there's bigger problems within our government than earmarks.

Most telling is he completely ignored Malkin's death squad. This is an issue that goes beyond mere blogger gossip into the realm of journalistic ethics. Seems to me a guy who wants to replace the MSM might want to weigh in on that. But no. There's probably a PJM rule that says thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow pajamadeen, no matter how far over the line of basic human decency they go. Rather a pity that the PJ Media motif would become so apt because the content has become synonymous with somnolescence.
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April is Poetry Month

The Heretik has been posting a lot of poems in honor of the occassion and inspired me to join in with one of my favorite poets.

The Dictators

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence

Pablo Neruda
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Say good night Scottie

Via mikevotes comes the word, the gaggle will have somebody new to kick around since
Scottie McClellan has resigned
. Of equal interest, Karl Rove has been demoted. They taking him off policy management and putting him full time politics, which is the code for browbeating the remaining faithful into pumping some big bucks into the GOP's war chest.

Looks they're going to need it. Via Stone Soup, it appears the Repub's are even losing their base in the investor class. If this keeps up, all the GOP will have left is the billionaires and the seriously deluded. Since our legislators have done zip about verified voting, one hopes this will prevent the Diebolds from fudging the results again. It will be hard to spin a close vote when fully 60% or more of the country wants to see these thugs removed from office.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Living in limbo

Digby has a long post on a case I want to learn more about. It appears we have a live matter still pending in the judical system that raises the same issues as the Padilla case. "Ali Al-Marri, a legal US immigrant has been held in the same limbo as Jose Padilla for years." From his lawyer:
Jonathan Hafetz: Certainly, the issue is very much live, and presents a danger to us all insofar as the government is asserting the right to strip any one of us of all due process rights and constitutional protections. So yes, that is definitely still the case– Al-Marri's immigration status as opposed to citizenship doesn't change that.
Digby's somewhat depressing post starts off with two Chinese Muslims who have been wrongfully held in Gitmo, whose appeal was just denied hearing at SCOTUS. Talk about limbo. They're not charged with anything but the US doesn't want them released unless someone will take them. They can't send them back home because they'd be tortured and worse. The US won't let them into our country and no one else wants them. So they rot in Cuba without due process or any recourse whatsoever.

Not unlike the no-fly fiasco, once named an enemy combatant, you're on that list for life. Guilt or innocence and rule of law do not apply, for these are the edicts of our Leaker in Chief. All hail the Great and All Powerful Decider.
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Simple words are best

I ran across this fascinating article on Cheney and his inner circle, but this is the other quote of the week from the piece.
Says one insider deeply involved in U.S. policy toward North Korea: “The president is given only the most basic notions about the Korea issue. They tell him, ‘Above South Korea is a country called North Korea. It is an evil regime.’ … So that translates into a presidential decision: Why enter into any agreement with an evil regime?”
Scary to think they probably have to show him where it is on a map. I've been thinking it's not so different from the Reagan presidency. Neither one of them was or is president in the sense of actually running the country -- they just play one on TV. Ronnie was the better actor, but the truly frightening part is, the same thugs that were running things behind Ronnie's back during Iran-Contra are now pulling the strings again.
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Malkin musters personal death squad

The big buzz of Blogtopia today is the Mistress of Venom's irresponsible posting of some protesting college kids' personal contact information. If you haven't been following it, read my post at DetNews for the background.

The main point of the controversy is that Malkin declared a fatwah and unleashed her rabid fans on these kids who proceeded to flood them with actual death threats. I mean these were,"We are trained assassins and we are going to blow your head off" kind of threats. Malkin's response to the kid's pleas for her to remove their contact info was to mock them and repost it. Again and again. Unsurprisingly, but still astonishing, many of her cohorts are defending her self-abosrbed and unethical opportunism, but thankfully, not all.

Don Surber and TexasFred restore my faith in humanity and have not only criticized her but also ritually delinked her blog. Meanwhile, My DD offers some timely advice to the WaPo, suggesting that when they replace their former disaster of conservative blogger, the litmus test should be that no blogger who has deliberately attempted to incite violence against their political opponents be considered.

I sent her an email to

Dear Ms. Malkin: It's irresponsible blogging such as your thoroughly inappropriate fatwah against the young people at SAW that has turned Blogtopia into a cesspool rather than the forum for civilized debate it was meant to be. You should be ashamed of yourself.

How would you feel if those were your children being threatened? Act like an adult and call off your attack dogs please, before someone gets hurt.
How far the mighty right noise machine has fallen since they took down Dan Rather. It says a lot about the paucity of their position now, that they're reduced to getting temp workers at minimum wage jobs fired and threatening college kids.

Ezra Klein feels sorry for Malkin. Me, I feel sorry for the guy who funded Pajama Media. I have to think their potential advertisers might just frown on hate mongering at this level. That guy is never going to see a cent returned on his 7 mil investment.
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This is clearly the quote of the day from our Dear Leaker.
"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
Most people who hear voices get Thorazine. How the hell did this guy get the Oval Office instead?

UPDATE: The Moderate Voice weighs in with a rather snarky post for Joe, on our Great Decider. I'm thinking Bush made such an arrogant statement in the hope to displace the Leaker in Chief meme. The Great Decider is decidedly less damaging a label.
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Monday, April 17, 2006

Spring cleaning in the White House

New White House chief of staff Josh Bolten pretty much called for volunteers to walk the plank. He's coming out of the gate clamoring for a substantial shakeup but it looks largely cosmetic.

There's much speculation that Scottie will go. Snow we've expected for a while already. Congressional liason Candida Wolff will likely move on. If I were Bolten, I'd get rid of Chertoff too. That guy really creeps me out. But the chief thugs aren't going anywhere.

Rove may have mastered the art of invisibility lately but he's not losing his office address. Rummy is still in like Flynn, Bartlett and Hadley will still have the president's ear and Cheney no doubt will be quietly snarling in those shadowy places where the undead lurk while they're waiting for the dark to fall.
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Fifteen seconds of fame

That's about how long I figure it will take to read this post that the NYT linked to today -- with a quote. How fun is it to see my little blog right under the PowerSlimers and in the honorable company of Americablog and The Democratic Daily?

I wish I knew how to take a screenshot because it's a first and I'd like to keep it like a tear sheet. The link will rot because I'm not a subscriber and it feels kind of cool to be, however briefly, hanging around with the big guys. So please don't think me vain, because I feel pretty silly getting excited by this, but I'm just pasting and copying the code so I remember the moment.

Related Blogs

  • Power Line
    April 17, 7:21 AM

    "The New York Times accuses the Bush adminstration of being the most secretive in American history. The evidence on proffered on this point is nil. Nevertheless, I believe the Bush administration is far less secretive than the New York Times. ..."

  • The Impolitic
    April 16, 14:00 PM AM

    "That makes sense. If he identified them, they'd be disbarred and then who would validate the White House's pre-conceived notions? ..."

  • The Democratic Daily Blog
    April 16, 0:58 AM

    "The New York Times wins the battle of describing the leak. The Washington Post displayed their turn to the right in a recent editorial entitled A Good Leak. ..."

  • AMERICAblog
    April 15, 23:50 PM AM

    "'s clear that the editorial is just as much a swipe at the Washington Post as it is the Bush adminstration. ..."

I hope the code doesn't expire without a subscription. Lot of java stuff in there. I'm saving the text just in case.
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Throw all the bums out

As you know I'm not much of a believer in polls but it's worth remarking about these numbers.
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 47 percent of voters "strongly" disapprove of Bush's job performance, vs. 20 percent who said they "strongly approve."
You can add in all the varibles and spin it to look a little better, (and they will) but it's rather incredible that only 20 percent strongly approve of the preznit's performance. It's equally astounding that those 20 percent still haven't figured out they've been had. Or maybe those are all people who work for Halliburton and the other major corporate players of the military industrial complex. From their perspective I guess life is pretty good.

Of course the downside of these numbers is that our lazy milquetoast Democrats will want to rest on their laurels and just wait for the Republican party to implode.
"In a midterm election, motivation is the biggest factor," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), head of his party's House campaign efforts this year.
They're banking on demotivated Republicans to stay home and pissed off Democrats to show up to the polls. The Democratic party would do well to consider that if they don't fight the next blitz of base-placating legislation the GOP is about to launch, and fight hard, they could demotivate their own party loyals. The Dems ignore the general anti-incumbent sentiment among the moderate electorate at their own peril.

Glenn Reynolds himself has lately joined me in predicting a third party opportunity in 08, but I'm going on record right now to say the third party showings in 06 will greatly exceed the conventional expectations.
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Libertarians and me

I don't really have a party affliation anymore. I suppose I could call myself an Independent but somehow that sounds too non-commital and swingy. It just conjures up coy voters who want to wooed by both sides of the Uni-party we used to call Democrats and Republicans.

I find myself morphing towards sort of a quasi-libertarinism but none of the current definitions fit me. You have your big L's, your little l's, your conservative libertarians but all them hold some fatal flaw in my reckoning. I've been trying to define my thoughts on this for a while. Today thehim posted a definition of a liberal libertarian that defined it for me.

He calls it liberal libertarian, I kind of prefer Libbytarian myself, but thehim nails what the Libertarians of any stripe need to get straight about. The personal responsiblity thing is right on but the blind trust in a free market just doesn't work. It's unacheivable, a mythical beast, and has no connection to the realities of human nature. The Libertarians' reliance on economic models that don't take the sociological aspects into consideration are what prevents the party from gaining the credibilty and the converts it could otherwise enjoy.
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So many links, so litte time

At Reload thehim has a couple of items you might have missed. This is the most frightening footage I've seen in a long time. It certainly sheds some light on how the White House gets away with its blatant misrepresentations.

And then there's this little bit of high-def idiocy. Hope you feel safer in Manhattan after reading this one.

The rest of the links are via Avedon, who always makes me wonder why I bother to blog when she has the world so well covered, Maru notices the new US embassy in Iraq is slated to be the size of Vatican City.

Recovering Liberal assembles a really long list of value-based perverts. Here's just one.
Republican anti-gay activist Earl “Butch” Kimmerling of Anderson, Indiana was sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her.

...Their major similarity is that they are Republican Conservative Christian activists who have made their mark by preaching family values while performing unspeakable acts of perversion, many with minors.
Think Progress tells us the political climate is changing and with a strong pushback right now, the estate tax repeal can be beat.

The King of Zembla looks down from his royal seat and declares -- screw the tax regs.

In case you missed this, the NSA had a good little helper in ATT for their domestic surveillance of law-abiding citizens.

I kind of lost track of this because I was working a lot of hours at the time so a belated congratulations to all the Koufax Winners. A fine bunch of bloggers received the awards and don't miss Roxy's post that won best of humor I think. A treat for Malkin fans.

And for the aging hippies, this one is priceless. A video of a Rice Krispies ad done by Rolling Stones in 1964.
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Sheer Madness

I got up feeling crummy this morning so I'm getting a late start and a big old thunderstorm just blew in. It will be a miracle if I don't lose power at some point. So while I put together some posts here, let me remind you to check in with Mad Kane who has some fabulous new limericks up -- sure to cheer up at least my leftie readers with a moment of levity.
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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Is Baghdad the new Fallujah?

The London Sunday Times gives us a glimpse of the new resconstruction program Bush alluded to, scheduled for this summer. The plan is for the "Second Liberation of Baghdad." The first one didn't take so well.

This time the Iraqi security forces are supposed to take the lead but they will be backed up with US troops and air power. The idea is to take back the city, neighborhood by neighborhood and leave behind troops to rebuild the mess as they go.

The Sunnis are expected to be targeted first because nobody wants to deal with the Shite militias that are embedded in the new government. This strategy is apparently expected to reveal the true nature of the Shia involvement in the intercine violence. According to one official, "The battle could be a key test for Iraqi forces. 'Ultimately we have to see whether the Iraqi army is a national army or a sectarian army,' Goure added."

One might think they would want to determine that before the wholesale genocide of the Sunni population explodes in their face. Besides, who doesn't think they will discover it's the latter based on what we've already seen?

And we're supposed to trust these people to "save" from Iran? It's so pathetic it would be funny if so many innocents weren't likely to die.
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Leak logic

Fred Hiatt, or whoever wrote that dismal op-ed A Good Leak, will be paying the price for that piece of pap for a while. It will, I think, become the code word for bad editorial writing forever. The NYT gets their licks in this week with an opposing editorial called A Bad Leak, effectively leaving Fred looking like an idiot.

It's the expected debunk but one line jumped out at me.
Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret.
That makes sense. If he identified them, they'd be disbarred and then who would validate the White House's pre-conceived notions?
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Blair won't back bombs this time

If Bush continues on his hell-bent course to pre-emptively bomb Iran, this time he'll be completely alone. Blair has made it known in no uncertain terms, that Britain will not be on board for any military strikes.

Meanwhile, Richard Clarke and Steven Simon in the NYT, warn of the possible outcomes should Bush persist in what obviously is a done deal in what's left of his mind. It's not a pretty picture.
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The left is angry, the right is simply hateful

I've been ignoring the hit piece some schumck at the WaPo did on My Left Wing and the so called "angry left." It was just too stupid to even comment on and I was sure someone else would jump in and compile a long list of vicious vitriol from the right.

Sure enough, Glen Greewald has a measured response to this inane broad brush mischaracterization of liberals. Interesting post if you feel like reviewing the history of the hatefilled right wing.
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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Small world and shrinking fast

My sister sent me this link that I haven't seen a long while. It's a good reminder in these days of heated rhetoric over immigration and religion that well fed white Christians are not the majority of the world's population, even though they often claim to be. And why world politics matter, because this PNAC crowd, seriously want to take over the world.

They're getting ready to bomb Iran and Latin America is ready to blow. Here's how the economic hit men work there. Doctors in Guatemala can't get raises because President Bolanos has commitments with the IMF. Meaning they have the final word since they loaned them money or whatever.

Meanwhile Guatemala is falling apart. There were 40 murders during the five opening days of Holy Week. The country is seething with discontent. Police are threatening to crack down on farmer demonstrations being planned for shortly after the Easter holiday after the government failed to address their nine point demand.
Solution to some 100 land conflicts, cancellation of the debt for thousands of farmer families, cease of violent evictions, access to development programs, and the end of mining concessions to foreign entities are among those demands.
As I said on LOS earlier today, the convential wisdom is to blame Chavez and Castro for fomenting an anti-US climate in the Latin Americas but the truth is the US and its multinational corporate cronies are doing a fine job of sowing discontent with their own policies. These people are poor, not stupid. They know when they're being exploited.
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GOP getting back to base-sicks

Our country is going to hell in a handbasket and what are the GOP planning to do? Push legislation on flag burning, abortion and same sex marriage in order to kiss up to their "hate value based voters." Those would be their favorite fundie nutcases who just happen to contribute millions to political candidates willing to toe their line.

God forbid they worry about 46 million Americans without health insurance, a deficit that won't be paid off in our lifetime or a war machine that won't stop churning out new wars. Sticking their holier-than-thou noses into people's bedrooms is the first commandment in their version of the Bible. Must be the King George version.
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Iran war already underway?

This is rather mindblowing. Digby has been watching the talking heads on TV and posts some excerpts from a CNN interview with retired Colonel Sam Gardiner. The colonel, who had earlier uncovered at least 50 instances of false stories planted in the media by the White House about Iraq drops this bombshell on Iran. He says, "I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way."

According to the colonel, he has it on good authority that ground troops are already active within the country and that the air strikes are inevitable. Of course, none of this has been revealed to the Congress. Astounding.
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I'm trying to build some steam to work on my templates this weekend. I'm way remiss in linking to some of my favorite bloggers. For instance I was horrified last night to realize I had never put the inimitable Neil Shakespeare on my blogroll. That's been recitified and you should go check out his latest posts. He's got some great graphics right now, along with his brilliant prose. He didn't call himself Shakespeare for nothing, unless that's his real name.

For the rest of you that have kindly linked to the Impolitic and are missing from the roll, please either email of leave comments with your URLs. Otherwise you'll have to depend on my finding your link again in one of the 27 places I save these things. I really have to organize my archived info some day. Thanks for reading and for the help.
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Friday, April 14, 2006

Is there a space for undecided?

This is sure to add fuel to the fire on speculation about Ann Coulter's true gender.
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I will never trust any of them again

Christopher H. Sheppard is a former Marine captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer. He writes a column in the Seattle Times expressing his regrets for having believed in the Bush administration's lies.
I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq — painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.
It's short -- Read it all for yourself.
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No corruption goes unrewarded in the White House

You can't make this stuff up folks. Put your drink down before reading this. Now that a lifetime of corruption and deceit prevent him from being a Congressman anymore, Tom DeLay, is on the short list to be tapped to head the Office of Management and Budget. Yes you heard that right, Mr. There's No Fat to be Cut in the Budget just might be in charge of fiscal management for the White House.

Can a medal of freedom be far behind?
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Don't get mad about gas prices -- get even

My sister sent this to me. It's seems like a rather effective plan of action for a consumer protest.
Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers.
I'm in. Please pass it on.

UPDATE: I'm told that Snopes debunked this theory and it won't work. Too bad. I like the idea of dissing Mobil-Exxon.
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Lest we forget

I'm no big fan of Michael Kinsley but he pens a rather good op-ed in the WaPo today. He assembles the historical record of our "interventions" noting all too many times we are for dictators and tyrants before we are against them. He reminds us how we armed Saddam, how we enabled the Taliban to gain power and how we toppled a democracy in Iran and allowed the Islamic extremists to gain power. And let's not forget the Iran-Contra scandal where it was revealed that the much revered Ronald Regan was selling arms to Iran. And by the way, our esteemed "Intelligence Czar" Negroponte, among other current highly placed White House cronies, found himself in legal hot water over that one.

What's that old saying, the more things change.....
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The latest leak from inside 1600 Penn Ave?

Thanks to the the fabulous Jules Siegel for this link to an insider's view of the White House. It's probably complete bullshit but it's a great read. I couldn't put it down so to speak. Real or imagined this one bit struck me as entirely sensible.
Given your insider experience, what woudl you say are the most critical things that need to be done to fix the government? Also, I've always figured that a military officer would make a good president. What's your take on that?

(A) Democrats win clear majority in either House or Senate and initiate investigations.
B) Massive campaign finance reform,
C) supreme court's money = free speech ruling overturned,
D) corporations no longer given the rights of people.

Edit: While I'm at it

E) End all tax subsidies. Fuck, reform the entire tax code.
F) Bring back the estate tax and sharply tax estates worth over 50 million.
G) Switch back to a college grant system instead of a loan system
H) Pass a law making it an ethics violation to appoint anyone who has helped with your campaign to any judicial or administrative positions.
Makes sense to me. I may adopt it for The Libbytarian platform. It's a really long piece but well worth reading in full.
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US claims yet another AQ kingpin

We've killed yet another "high ranking" al-Qaeda man. Don't they claim this once a week? You think by now the AQ would be done for, if they were all really such all important leaders?
A high-ranking member of the al-Qaida terrorist network was killed in an airstrike on a remote village in western Pakistan, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News on Thursday.

Mohsin Musa Matawalli Atwah was among as many as 14 suspected militants who were killed in the attack in the North Waziristan tribal region village of Anghar Kalai, near the Afghan border, the officials told NBC News.
Does any one else see the irony in that a country that is supposed to be spreading freedom and democracy is always killing suspected terrorists? No one ever considers the idea of innocent until proven guilty, particularly with our track record of failed intelligence. But here's the money quote.
At least two children were among those killed in the raid, Pakistani security officials told The Associated Press. The bodies of the militants were buried quickly, the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Think the kids were suspected terrorists too? The White House surely will not mention them when they tout their latest "victory" against terrorism. And you have to wonder what the quick burial was all about. Perhaps to hide the identities of the poor villagers who are being passed off as major players?
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Blog hopping

I've been way remiss lately in reading the blogs but since I'm on vacation and can't go anywhere, at least I have time to take the cyber tour. Lot of good blogging going on out there.

Stone Soup points us to an interview with David Cay Johnston in Mother Jones where he speaks about the CEO culture and our tax system. This is an interesting factoid.
"Sixty-one percent of large corporations paid no federal income taxes for the five-year period from 1996 to 2000," according to Johnston.
And he nails my basic premise on taxing the rich here.
The important issues are the principles they figured out in [ancient] Athens - that the greater the economic gain that you derive from living in a society, the greater the burden of the taxes you should bear. Because if not for that society you could not become wealthy.
Kathy also has a great post on how WalMart compromises national security in the name of profits. They lobby against everything from secure cargo containers to better oversight of shipping practices.

ExPat Brian posts a link to an interesting site that tracks earthquake activity. Fascinating how they cluster along certain lines. I assume it's the teutonic plates.

Mikevotes delivers as usual with a lot of stuff including Fred Kaplan at Slate on Rummy's unpopularity within the high circles of the Pentagon. This is the money quote.
It is startling to hear, in private conversations, how widely and deeply the U.S. officer corps despises this secretary of defense. The joke in some Pentagon circles is that if Rumsfeld were meeting with the service chiefs and commanders and a group of terrorists barged into the room and kidnapped him, not a single general would lift a finger to help him.
Could a little internal coup do us some good? Fred seems to think so. I tend to agree.

Mike also links to Condi's hypocritical freedom and democracy rhetoric.
Yesterday, Condi Rice stood next to Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo -- a man who has made Parade’s “Annual List of the World’s 10 Worst Dictators” four years running -- and called him “a good friend.”

Then, with Obiang at her side, she proceed to threaten Iran, calling on the U.N. Security Council to take “strong steps” against it.

...Obiang took power in this tiny West African nation by overthrowing his uncle more than 25 years ago. According to a United Nations inspector, torture “is the normal means of investigation” in Equatorial Guinea. There is no freedom of speech, and there are no bookstores or newsstands. The one private radio station is owned by Obiang’s son. Since major oil reserves were discovered in Equatorial Guinea in 1995, Obiang has deposited more than $700 million into special accounts in U.S. banks. Meanwhile, most of his people live on less than $1 a day.
Unsurprising the White House would consider the tyrant a friend but wouldn't you think they could have chosen a better venue for Condi's empty proclamations? It's so callous. Don't these people have any human impulses?
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Links on liars

I always have more links than time or energy. Here's some news from last night's links that I won't get around to blogging.

Evidence emerges from that little phone jamming incident in New Hampshire last election revealing a flurry of phone calls between the perp and the White House and the RNC at the time of the crime. Quite a coincidence, no?

Colin Powell publicly states serious mistakes were made in Iraq. Wonder how long it will take Rummy to go on the counterattack this time?

You remember the incomprehensible reclassification of documents that have been in the public domain for decades being conducted by the White House and the National Archive? It turns out it's part of yet another secret White House program designed to rewrite history. Worse yet the National Archives signed an agreement to conduct the purge as secretly as possible in order to forestall complaints from the research community. These people are getting ready to rewrite history.

Dan Fromkin has a good post on Iran.

John Nichols at the Nation has a on good question for the Dems.

I loved this one. Some DeLay donors, having found out the Bugman took their campaign money and transferred it to his defense fund, are pissed off and want their money back.

This one really pisses me off. Diebold's manipulation of Ohio's votes is proving to be wider than was initially apparent. Somebody big should go down for this but it's Ohio. Probably nothing will happen. It just keeps getting dirtier. The hell of it is, by they time they prove the election was a fraud, the term will be over and the damage is already done. Feh.
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Bumper to bumper

Thanks to Marc Catone for sending me these sayings from bumper stickers. Here's a few I hadn't heard before.











1999 - $19 BARREL
2006 - $70 BARREL


And finally, I've been muttering this to myself a lot lately.

IS IT 2008 YET?
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Iran bombing pool

Mikevotes has got one. Get on over there and pick your date before all the good ones have been taken. Exact winner gets a prize of undetermined value.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cheney covering up lost nukes?

If this is true, it's rather explosive. In 1991 when he was Secretary of Defense, Cheney violated international law by not reporting two lost nuclear warheads that were somehow taken from a B-52. And these little rascals, apparently small enough to be transported in a SUV, are said to be somewhere in Iran.

I'm not clear on how this is relevant enough to the Scooter Libby trial that he could enter it as evidence but Greg Szymanski's sources have it worked out as part of an elaborate international arms dealing scandal involving money laundering and parties both in the US and Britain, most notably our VP and his unremarked lost nukes. They see it as a strong motivation for the White House to want to stir up trouble in the area in order to be able to search for the lost bombs and a compelling reason to want to plant the yellowcake fiction in the public's mind.

When you look at it in retrospect, it could explain why the White House was so confident about the WMDs. They've been harping on Iran from the git-go but since the nukes are so portable they may have thought to find them Iraq. If not it's a good staging ground to get into Iran and how convenient if they found them. Since they were never reported as missing, they could blame Iran, or Saddam, for building them.

Of course the really frightening part is this means there are two nuclear warheads rolling around and nobody knows where they are or who really has them. Oy vey.
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Take me out to the ballgame

One more reason to love baseball season. Dick Cheney was greeted with much booing and loud catcalls when he threw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals opening game today. Think Progress reports that it appears the White House's unofficial cabana boys, Fox News tried to soften the embarassment for the VP by muting the crowd's reaction on the video.

Like that's going to help his popularity index. They can hide but they can't run from public opinion anymore.
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Reality bites

Patrick Cockburn is my favorite correspondent on Iraq. He knows the country well and he gives a straightforward commentary without pretending to the niceities of "balancing" coverage by giving time to dissemblers. His latest take is rather depressing but sums up the situation brilliantly. Here's the money quote.
The formation of a national unity government in Iraq is now being presented as an antidote to the violence. "Terrorists love a vacuum," said British Defense Secretary John Reid, citing his experience in Northern Ireland. But one Iraqi official remarked that the three main communities -- Sunni, Shiite and Kurds -- do not hate one another because they do not have a government, but rather they do not have a government because they already hate one another.
When I predicted this would happen back in January, I got a lot of flack from my critics in Detroit about being so pessimistic. I wish I had been wrong but unfortunately, when the situation sucks I guess it's just hard for some people to tell the difference between pessimism and realism.
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Bush gets almost verbose

Here's the quote of the day. Our Leaker in Chief in answer to a question about the NIE leak.
"Yes, no, I, this is, there's an ongoing legal proceeding which precludes me from talking a lot about the case," the president finally managed to say. All he could answer, Bush said, was that he declassified a National Intelligence Estimate because "it made sense for people to see the truth."
Doesn't it just make you want to spit? This White House lies even when it doesn't have to, just to stay in practice.
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