Saturday, June 30, 2007

Reality bites Fred Thompson

By Libby
Updated below

I've been predicting for a while now that once Fred was forced to actually start campaigning he would start losing his mystery appeal and from all indications his first appearance in New Hampshire is proving me correct. The Granite Staters were decidedly underwhelmed.
The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to invoke platitudes about freedom and strength.

He left more than a few Republicans disappointed.

The ever pragmatic Yankees know a snow job when they see one and one suspects they didn't feel like they got their money's worth at $50 a head for nine minutes of substanceless feel good sloganery.

It's not a stretch to surmise that Thompson is short shrifting New Hampshire in favor of giving the benefit of his limited attention span to Iowa, reinforcing the building meme that Thompson is a lazy campaigner. Something else that is unlikely to sit well with a state that is already a little cranky about being manuvered out of the spotlight by calendar rigging within the states and runs counter to the strong work ethic common among the cranky Yankees that run the political machine of the Northeast.
``I plan on seeing a whole lot more of you,'' Thompson told the New Hampshire Republicans.
If he expects to establish any nationwide appeal outside of his good ole boy safety zone of the South, he's going to have to expend a whole lot more effort to connect with issues-oriented voters before they plan on seeing a lot more of him.

Update: I think Capt. Ed is a pretty acute judge of politics but he doesn't know jack about cranky Yankees. The answer to his question is no, that doesn't more substantive than the report I linked to suggested it was. Fred came in like a big movie star, rubbed elbows with the important players and gave the rank and file nine minutes of his "precious" time. That may rock the house in Nashville, but it's not going to play in Nashua.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

The Long War Continues

Sorry to not be posting much and helping Libby out, but the end of the month is the busy time in my world of accounting. Michelle Malkin posted her usual claptrap about the terrorist's attempted bombing in London.
One of the great delusions of our time is that once Blair, in the UK case, and Bush, in the American one, stepped down from office the terrorist threat would disappear. The news that a car bomb attack was foiled in London last night illustrates just how wrong this belief was. Although, the fact that the vast bulk of planning for the 9/11 attacks was done during the Clinton presidency should have shown people how wrong-headed this idea was in the first place.
This is a really stupid supposition, the kind you only hear on hate radio or right-wing blogs, that the terrorists would stop if Bush or Blair left office and then the required comment about Clinton. No one thinks that Bush caused 9-11, neither did Clinton, but the two of them and every other president can accept some blame for 60 years of oil policy that propped up untold despots and dictators just to fight the Soviets and help the oil companies. Let us not forget that it was just that policy that supported and sustained Saddam Hussein in the grand illusion of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

If you're looking for a good reason for the attack in the absence of any proof, I think the terrorists are afraid. They're afraid that Bush and his poodle are losing their power and influence. This foiled bombing is just an attempt to get Blair's replacement going in the right direction vis-a-vis the failed war in Iraq and the failing war on terrorists. They want us to rally around George Bush and once again support his failed policies.

The insurgents and civil warriors and their minor helpmates in Iraq, al Qaeda, have had no bigger benefactors than George Bush and Tony Blair. Those two have done more for world terrorism than Osama ever did. Their combined incompetence in Iraq and all over the Middle East has been impressive to watch. If all the experts in the world had written a book on how not to deal with the Arab-Israeli problem or a war in an Arab country they couldn't have planned a fictional one better than the one George Bush and Company actually carried out.

Oh no, the terrorists don't want Bush going anywhere until he's finished the job he started.

We are going to be attacked, not because of stupid comments like, "They hate us because we love freedom," but because of our policies and the work of our country around the world. The security interests of the U.S. will always create enemies and that's fine. It's the idiotic policies of Bush in Iraq and the Middle East that are creating huge numbers of terrorists and a desire to perhaps attack us at home.

It will not be the attacks that cause us much damage, but our reactions to the attacks. The terrorists are hoping that when they attack us again we react the same as 9-11 and boohoo and cry for security and allow Bush and his government to lead us down the road to disaster for the sake of a security that does not exist.

When they attack we must carry on and maintain our character and strength as Americans that do not need the hollow promises of little men like Bush and Cheney. These men will be in the history books but their descendants will take no comfort from that which will be written.

Jim Martin

Thanks to State of the Day for the link.

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Newsflash - bombs in London don't explode

By Libby

Well, everybody and their brother is blogging about the two car bombs in London today. Judging from the headliners, the remaining Bush supporters have worked themselves into a frothing panic over this latest terrorist threat, but as always, for news like this, I turn to my man in England, Cernig, who has a more sober analysis. He's the must read post on this one.

Looking beyond the alarmist headlines about potentially viable bombs, one discovers buried in the articles that the no one was able to actually get them to explode, not even the cops and as Cernig points out, even if they did explode, the canisters are manufactured in a way, by UK mandate, to minimize the explosion so the construction of the bombs alone indicates amateurs, not professional terrorists. He has much more and has been updating as news comes in.

For all the hype, I'm predicting that this will turn out to be much less serious a threat that didn't really require all this hyperventilating. It's most likely to be random nutcases who formed their own little homegrown wannabe insurgency. However it turns out though, we could take a lesson from the British.

They aren't in a panic driven frenzy begging their government to save them from this horrible terrorist threat by bombing the bejebus out of the Middle East. They simply shrug and carry on with their lives.

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Democrats courting disaster

By Libby

The Democratic party clearly just doesn't get it. Pelosi, in a conference call with some progressive bloggers indicated the party has no interest in impeaching Bush or Cheney.
Pelosi’s argument against impeachment was, simply, that it wouldn’t be worth expending the political capital and effort to push the process forward.

The Speaker seems to think pretending to exercise oversight is sufficient. She "specifically mentioned the subpoena power" as if that's going to be any more effective than starting impeachment proceedings. Arlen Specter is already backing down from a hard line on that, muttering something about taking what we can get from the White House. That would be bupkus. And the White House has already indicated they intend to ignore any subpoena on the grounds of executive privlege. Maybe the Dems will be able to hold them in contempt of Congress, but considering their bigger game plan, I'm not holding my breath.
Essentially, Pelosi argued that we need to push forward and get a Dem in the White House in 2008 to really start enacting serious change, noting that even with majorities in both Houses, the Dems’ power could not overcome the 60 Senate votes needed to beat a Bush veto, and that the courts would be particularly unfriendly to Democratic moves for criminal investigations unless they substantially “built the cases” for each move. “Let the process play out,” she said. “Oversight isn’t political, it’s patriotic.”

Unfortunately that's only true if oversight is exercised in good faith. It loses its impact if every move is weighed for political advantage over the good of the country. Under those circumstances, it politicizes a patriotic gesture and accomplishes nothing. That is not going to win the White House in 08 and it could damn well lose them their majority in Congress.

The Dems shouldn't get overly cheery about polls like this showing they have finally gained some cred on the terrorism issue. While people are trusting them more than the GOP, that's not saying much at this point. If nothing of substance gets accomplished in the next 18 months, the people are going to be looking for new parties. Particularly when the frontrunners like Obama are hewing to the party line that impeachment is not an option.

This administration can still do a lot of damage in its remaining months and there would be no more effective way of putting the brakes on our reckless leaders than the threat of impeachment. It would at least keep them busy. If the Dems can't see that, a group like Unity08 could take off.

My pal Michael van der Galien is already giving them a serious look. If the Dems continue to put politics over governance, I have a feeling he won't be the only one.

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Time delay

By Libby

I've been trying to post since 6:00am, but it's just not going to happen today. It's just a crazy work day so look for fresh content this evening.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Edwards step up to the plate

By Libby

John Edwards stepped forward today and turned up the heat on the GOP's vile poster girl. The cold-blooded Coulter melts down like the wicked witch of Oz in this audio at TPM. No one has ever called her out directly before and she doesn't know how to handle it. Come to think of it, this may be the first time any of the professional hatemongers has been called out directly by a targert of their smears.

Calculated for fundraising or not, as it unfolds, it appears to have been a brilliant move and John Edwards backed up Elizabeth with just the right statement. The high points were these two.
And what they hope is that we won‘t say anything, we‘ll just let them continue this hateful dialogue. And we‘ll try and hope that the country will hear us talk about important things, issues that affect the lives of Americans every single day.

But we have to fight back, Chris. We have to be strong. We have to speak up. That‘s what Elizabeth did yesterday, and I‘m proud of her for it.
I'm proud of her too and grateful that she did it. It's way overdue. As I said in comments to the earlier post, those that excuse Coulter's remarks, implicitly condone the hateful conduct and those who remain silent enable it. But this remark was truly brilliant, I think.
MATTHEWS: Do you think people should buy Ann Coulter‘s books?
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘ll be right back. That‘s a good answer.
A straightforward honest reply, probably untested by any focus group. Now that's a change and I give Edwards big creds for recognizing that this is what the ordinary Jake is hungry for -- straight answers delivered with conviction. And he's right. No one should buy the book. Get the hard copy from the library or a used bookstore instead so she doesn't profit from her vile spewings.

I also liked the subtext that Elizabeth doesn't need John's permission to act for herself. That shows a respect for his wife that plays well with me. I would think it would also play with others.

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Robin Williams Is Not Joking

Today Robin Williams declined to apologize over statements he made concerning Catholic priests and pedophiles. Good for Mr. Williams, this is nothing to apologize for.

He made the jokes earlier in the week on the The Tonight Show.
Williams pretended to be playing a shell game with a cup, and provided the running commentary: “Here we go. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Here you go right now. Move ‘em around, move ‘em around. Oh, you found the pedophile.”
Meredith Vieira of The Today Show asked him if he ever worried about offending people.
“All the time,” he said. “But it’s my job as a comic sometimes to keep going. It you read it, it’s not like it didn’t exist,” he said of the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic church.

Williams had riffed on priests abusing children. “Their defense was that 40 percent of the victims were under 14 years of age,” he said. “Oh, thank you. That makes it OK, then. Because I was using the word ‘children’ — 14 and under — and the rest were certainly illegal, but that’s OK.”

And he's right, the Catholic Church has no room to squawk about this, their track record on dealing with pedophile priests has not been very good.

Of course when anything about Catholics is said you hear right away from world renown bigot Bill Donahue of the Catholic League. If this asshole is against something then I'm for it. Here is his typically stupid comment.
Leading the response to Williams’s remark was Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who said, “Isaiah Washington lashes out at one gay person in private, and he is banished from ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Robin Williams lashes out against all priests in public, and he suffers no consequence.”
That's true isn't it? But Isaiah Washington shouldn't have been fired and Robin Williams makes his living commenting on the obvious and ridiculous.

If the Catholics don't like being painted with a wide brush then they should stop providing the brush and the paint.

Keep talking Robin, you must be hitting a nerve.

Jim Martin

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Impeach Cheney

By Libby

I'm off to work and don't have time to blog these articles fully, so read these for yourself. Bruce Fein at Slate runs down the list of Cheney's inappropriate power grabs. Sidney Blumenthal at Salon fleshes out the details on how thoroughly Cheney has circumvented and perverted the system of checks and balances that was supposed to protect us from this kind of tyranny and Scott Horton at Harper's define tyranny and dissects the fraud of state secrets that Cheney has wielded so effectively to cover his malfeasance.

Meanwhile, in light of the Congressional response to Cheney's latest assertion of "fourth branch" powers, his office has backed down on allowing some accountability but continues to assert that his justification for avoiding accountability is up for debate.

Interesting constitutional question, my prodigious ass. More like blatant attempt to destroy constitutional protections. If our founding fathers had intended to make the Veep a second president, they would have spelled out that kind of power. The Veep was clearly intended to be a placeholder to assure continunity of leadership by the crafters of our constitution, in the event, which wasn't so unlikely 200 years ago, that the president would die prematurely. He was in effect to be the presidential understudy, not an interchangable star performer.

Just as an understudy on Broadway, doesn't get to dictate how the star interprets the leading role, nor does he get to rewrite the dialogue to please his own sensibilities, Cheney has no legal right to have stolen so much executive power as he has. In fact, his actions are impeachable and should also be indictable.

I'd suggest the Congress do more than simply threaten to defund him. It's well past time to dethrone him before he completely destroys our republic and that for which it stands.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wouldn't treat a dog like that

By Libby

What would you say if I told you I knew someone who was going to put their family dog in a cage, strap it to the top of their car and drive 700 miles on the freeway with the poor hound quaking on top? If you're like me, you would say let the dog drive and make the heartless SOB with that cold-blooded plan sit in the cage. See if he doesn't soil his pants like the poor pup did and then we could hose him down through the bars and keep on trucking down the road, while he's huddling, shivering wet and miserable in his cage.

Now what if I told you that person is running for president? This was the lead vignette in a profile piece done on Mitt Romney that also details his authoritarian rules on bathroom stops and his disdain for the morale of his employees.

Clearly, Romney belongs in a dog house himself, not the White House.

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When the lights, go out, in the city...

By Libby

Our humble correspondent Allahpundit at the incredibly aptly named Hot Air -- did they realize when they named it the phrase means "full of sh*t -- posts
a long whine
about ConEd's power grid problems and blames the Democrats for the power failure in Manhattan. Did he forget it was the GOP who deregulated the industry in 96 with the express promise that the "free market" was going to bring us superior service at reduced prices?

All that money to be made via dereg was supposed to go to improving the grid and lowering consumer costs. Instead the profits have been kept in the corporate pockets and the grids have gone to hell because they only provide bare maintainence and the consumer costs have sharply risen because they want to charge the consumer for what should properly be their operating costs before profits.

I'm not saying the Dems are blameless, but they're certainly not the root cause of the problem. Not that the Hot Air aficionados will ever make the connection. They'll just believe their Allah. I find that so very sad.

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Sally Quinn, Arbiter of Political Hyprocrisy

Yesterday Sally Quinn, one of the arbiters of society and mainstream opinion in Washington, D.C., had a column at the Washington Post about dumping Dick Cheney. In it she showed just how out of touch she is with what is going on.

This is what she thinks Bush should do if he had the time and Fred Thompson was his vice-president.
Bush would be left in better shape on the war and be able to concentrate on AIDS and the environment in hopes of salvaging his legacy.
To just put into perspective her keen insights about the Bush Administration,s legacy concerning the environment, this is in the Post today.
In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.

Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.

First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.

Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.

Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.

This indeed backs up her, and everyone else's, contention that Cheney needs to go, but she should go further and insist that Bush needs to go as well.

Bush has no legacy concerning the environment except for a legacy of weakening environmental laws to the benefit of the short term gains of big business and big donating developers.

Quinn was not bashful about bashing the Clintons at every opportunity. This is her writing on the Lewinsky matter that offended her so greatly.
With some exceptions, the Washington Establishment is outraged by the president's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The polls show that a majority of Americans do not share that outrage. Around the nation, people are disgusted but want to move on; in Washington, despite Clinton's gains with the budget and the Mideast peace talks, people want some formal acknowledgment that the president's behavior has been unacceptable. They want this, they say, not just for the sake of the community, but for the sake of the country and the presidency as well.
Yes, that's it, the boys in power want their pound of flesh and the social arbiter, nose in the air, just thinks the Clinton's were uncouth.

In the same article she quotes the journalistically bi-polar Chris Matthews.
"This is a contractual city," says Chris Matthews, who once was a top aide to the late Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill. "There are no factories here. What we make are deals. It's a city based on bonds made and kept." The president, he went on, "has broken and shattered contracts publicly and shamefully. He violates the trust at the highest level of politics. Matthews, now a Washington columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and host of CNBC's "Hardball," also says, "There has to be a functional trust by reporters of the person they're covering. Clinton lies knowing that you know he's lying. It's brutal and it subjugates the person who's being lied to. I resent deeply being constantly lied to."
Clinton lies about sex, Bush and Cheney have lied about everything, but all Quinn can do is gush about Fred Thompson. Read her entire article here and witness the total hypocrisy of those people living and thriving inside the beltway.

Ms. Quinn should go and spend some more time in her labyrinth and reflect on being confused about morality and try to find some way to speak out from her newfound religion on something other than Fred Thompson's opportunity to save George Bush's legacy.

Jim Martin

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards crushes Coulter

I'm telling you, it's stuff like this that makes you wish Elizabeth was running for president. This is a woman candidate I could get behind. She calls Coulter out on Chris Matthews freak show interview with the GOP's favorite sewermouth who apparently has been let out of her cage to promote a book.

Elizabeth called in response to an earlier broadcast where the slattern of slime said from now on she was going to wish John Edwards had been killed in a terrorist attack.

Confronted with Elizabeth's class, Coulter never looked more crass.

[Thanks to Gun Toting Liberal, Jon Swift, Democratic Daily and The Populist for the links. All of them have significantly more to say.]

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Fred Thompson For Vice-President

There's a Sally Quinn column out about a plan to oust Cheney and her plan is to replace him with good ol' Fred Thompson. Yes, that's right, Sally gets all warm and glowy just thinking about Fred.
That leaves Fred Thompson. Everybody loves Fred. He has the healing qualities of Gerald Ford and the movie-star appeal of Ronald Reagan. He is relatively moderate on social issues. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and a compromiser. And he has a good sense of humor.

He could be just the partner to bring out Bush's better nature -- or at least be a sensible voice of reason. I could easily imagine him telling the president, "For God's sake, do not push that button!" -- a command I have a hard time hearing Cheney give.
I think Sally has the hots for good ol' Fred. She seems to be all gushy and giggly doesn't she? Where does Bush keep his better side? He has it hidden better than Saddam's WMDs.
Not only that, Thompson would give the Republicans a platform for running for the presidency -- and the president a way out of Iraq without looking like he's backing down. Bush would be left in better shape on the war and be able to concentrate on AIDS and the environment in hopes of salvaging his legacy.
I'm not sure how tossing Big Dick out and replacing him with good ol' Fred would help the situation in Iraq and as for Bush's legacy, I don't think you want to mention George W. Bush and the environment. His environmental legacy will be about how bad he screwed it up and caved to every energy company in the country. I suppose good ol' Fred being around would help him raise a few bucks to decorate the basement where his presidential library will be. When your legacy and reputation is being the worst president in U.S. history, you need all the help you can get.
Cheney is scheduled this summer for surgery to replace his pacemaker, which needs new batteries. So if the president is willing, and Republicans are able, they have a convenient reason to replace him: doctor's orders. And I'm sure the the vice president would also like to spend more time with his ever-expanding family.
Do you get the impression that Ms. Quinn doesn't like Big Dick? What's with that sorta snide reference about his new grandchild?

I've asked this question before, but why does Cheney need a new pacemaker? Don't you need a heart to attach it to?

Jim Martin
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First, purge all the liberals...

By Libby

I blogged about MSNBC's "investigative" report on so-called liberal bias at the Detroit News, but I assume you saw the hit piece on the alleged "proof" that the media really is liberal, based on a tiny sample of political donations by reporters who largely don't even cover politics. It also failed to emphasize that the handful of GOP donors far outspent the sum total of the so-called liberal donors.

I'm wondering now, having seen in the aftermath of the piece that three donors to Democratic candidates have been fired, whether the whole purpose of the report wasn't really to manufacture an excuse to purge anyone who privately holds liberal views from the media's ranks. I see nothing in the article to suggest the deep pocket GOP donors, who hold media positions of far greater influence, are going to suffer similar retribution.

As I said at the DetNews, reporter's donations don't amount to spit in the ocean if you want to gauge media bias. It's the owners who hold the power to slant coverage and all six or seven of them are the deepest pocket supporters of the neo-conservatives. This is beginning to look like a owner's plot to turn the entire major media into one big wingnut mouthpiece.

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Big Brother is watching...

By Libby

The latest corporate welfare program, a boondoggle estimated to ultimately cost at least $7.6 billion, is a "virtual fence" at the Mexican border.
It comes in the form of nine nearly 100-foot-tall towers with radar, high-definition cameras and other equipment rising from the mesquite and lava fields around this tiny town.

...If successful, hundreds of such towers could dot the 6,000 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders.
It's off to a less than auspicious start, since Boeing has already squandered $20 million out of $67 million on the prototypes that don't work particularly well, but that's not the really troubling part. Of more concern is this.
The cameras, set off by radar, are to beam high-quality images of targets miles away to field commanders and agents, making it possible to determine almost instantly whether they are watching a family outing or a group of illegal immigrants.

The information is to flow over a high-speed wireless network into laptops in dozens of Border Patrol vehicles that, in theory, would respond quicker and more efficiently to breaches than they do now.

The towers are ringed with a six-foot-tall chain-link fence, and the Border Patrol can warn people away through a loudspeaker. Private guards are at the towers now.
Just who are these private guards do you think? My money's on Bush's private army, Blackwater and do you want to have to justify your family picnic to some overzealous paid goon? Even more concerning is the location of the towers.
Residents near the towers have raised concerns, questioning why most towers are miles from the border and whether they will allow unscrupulous agents to peer into their bedrooms.

“We don’t live in clusters,” said Roger Beal, who runs a grocery store in the isolated town of Arivaca, the site of a tower and about 10 miles from the border. “The homes here are not 10 feet apart. People value their privacy here, and we are just not used to being observed. Do it at the border. This isn’t it.”

Mr. Aguilar, the Border Patrol chief, said: “We are members of the community. We recognize their sensitivity. But we feel confident our officers are going to follow policy and common sense. Can I guarantee you nothing is going to happen? No, we are all human.”
So in other words, lock up the women and get blackout curtains for your bedrooms because we can't guarantee that some bored border guard won't be watching your teenager getting dressed or checking out what you and the missus are doing in the kitchen.

Mr. Aguilar said after the system is fully functioning, “the net will be very, very tight.” The question is are they going to use it to keep illegals out, or to keep us in? Any fence, works both ways.

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New SCOTUS shows its true colors

By Libby

I figuratively yelled myself hoarse on the blogs, begging people not to vote for Bush because he was going to load SCOTUS with ideologues. When he nominated Alito and Roberts, I was on my knees pleading with the Democrats and the voters to fight these nominations. I said this court would destroy the gains we've made over the last 50 years anyway, and I take no comfort in being right.

Of course, being a long time drug policy reformer, I was vitally interested in Bong Hits for Jesus. Unsurprisingly, the court ruled against free speech for students. They framed the ruling in the context of "protecting" students from illegal drug use, as if a banner was going to a cause young people to run out en masse to find their nearest pot dealer, but the message that the students will be getting from this is once again, what they think doesn't matter. It's bad enough we subject kids to random pee tests and send armed storm troopers with dogs into their schools on random searches, now they're not even allowed to talk about drugs - even if they're not on school property, which I think is the most troubling aspect of the decision. Way to promote informed debate SCOTUS. Small wonder that teenagers have no respect for authority when they're shown none themselves by those who hold it.

The only good thing about the decision was the dissent, and I thought it rather remarkable that this language, via HuffPo, was included in it.
But just as prohibition in the 1920's and early 1930's was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies, today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs. Surely our national experience with alcohol should make us wary of dampening speech suggesting -- however inarticulately -- that it would be better to tax and regulate marijuana than to persevere in a futile effort to ban its use entirely.

It's the one bright spot in the whole sorry debacle that the court would finally articulate the senselessness of the WOsD. Meanwhile, that's not the only bad decision coming from Bush's appointees. The court also ruled that Bush's personal welfare program for religious charities couldn't be challenged by ordinary citizens because it's funded by executive order and not the Congress.

Steve Benen points out this is not quite as odious as it appears at first blush, since it's also narrowly tailored but I still think it's a very dangerous and wrong-headed ruling. It shouldn't matter where the money comes from. As long as it's our tax dollars being passed out, any citizen should have the right to petition for redress. Besides, the court's contention that nothing horrible came to pass from the over $2 billion that has been handed out to religious groups, is simply false. There are numerous instances of the charities mis-using the funds in ways that promote a specific religion.

Michael Stickings has more thoughts, and a good collection of links to the best analysis but I think he puts it best. The court just pissed on the people in this round. But what's truly depressing is that Roberts and Alito are young men and they'll continue to do so for the rest of our lives and the next generation's too.

One can only hope that in 08 people will remember that this is what happens when you elect Republicans.


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Monday, June 25, 2007

For the President Every Day Is Christmas

President Bush and the First Lady just finished filming a gala holiday show at Ford's Theatre. A little early for the Fourth Of July, right? Well, maybe so, but this was a Christmas show filmed this past Sunday.
Country singer Wynonna opened the show by performing "Winter Wonderland" on a stage decorated with white lights, Christmas trees and a sleigh. She asked Bush if he had done his Christmas shopping yet.
Can you just imagine the panic that created for Mr. Bush.
"Do you know what you're planning on getting your beautiful wife?" Wynonna asked. "Whatever she wants, right?" The president's response was inaudible.
If it was like all of his other responses it was also unintelligible.

The annual benefit is held at the landmark theater where Lincoln was fatally shot in 1865.

"President Lincoln had a great appreciation for the performing arts," Bush said. "They offered relief amid the agonies of war, and he would likely be pleased that Ford's Theatre continues to bring together talented performers from across our country, including those with us tonight."

Mr. Bush has the distinction of being the second brain dead President attending a show at Ford's Theatre.

Other than that Mrs. Bush, how was the show?

Jim Martin

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Global Warming Is Al Gore's Fault

Updated below.

In the Washington Post today Emily Yoffe has a column about global warming that redefines the term "insipid". It's not that she writes a bad column, it's just that her thought processes seem to run toward the inane when she is writing about something, well, serious. She just does not seem to be serious, yet I don't read this as a column written for wit or irony. The thrust of the column is that the weather has been so nice, why are people being alarmist.
I, however, refuse to see the apocalypse in every balmy day. And I think it's wrong to let our children believe they'll be swept away before they get a chance to fret about college admissions. An article in The Post this spring described children anxious, sleepless and tearful about the end; one 9-year-old said she worried about global warming "because I don't want to die."
You can't hide bad news from children either, but it's up to the parents to provide some explanation and to mitigate the fears that the children may have. I think Ms. Yoffe's column pretty much comes down to this:
Since I hate the heat, even I was alarmed by the recent headline: "NASA Warns of 110-Degrees for Atlanta, Chicago, DC in Summer." But I regained my cool when I realized the forecast was for close to the end of the century. Thanks to all the heat-mongering, it's supposed to be a sign I'm in denial because I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).
As long as it doesn't affect her wardrobe or her plans for the weekend, then everything is cool.

I think Ms. Yoffe should just take the attitude that most people will take and just say that global warming is bad, but there is really nothing she can do about it. I'm sure not going to write a column to show just how ignorant I am but at least I know the difference between the weather and the climate.

You can see how she lines up politically as this is just another article written with the intent of criticizing Al Gore.
In his new book, "The Assault on Reason," Gore denounces what he sees as today's politics of fear. Yet his own campaign of mass persuasion -- any such campaign -- is not amenable to contradiction and uncertainty. It's about fright and absolutes. But just because something can be plotted on an X and Y axis does not make it the whole truth.
Al Gore seems to be an easy target for the intellectually lazy, but Al Gore is not one of the hundreds of scientists that have compiled and are continuing to compile the data on climate change. Gore is an easy target for many who oppose his politics the same as George Bush is any easy target for everything going wrong in this country.

Of course going back to the insipid, I'm not sure what a Cartesian coordinate system has to do with anything she is discussing here. I can't plot any of her thought processes using an x and y equation. If you could visualize her thoughts it seems that it would look like a maze that ran from one ear to the other with no clear way of getting through.

Jim Martin


Kevin Drum
has issued a challenge about Ms. Yoffe's column, but I missed it. Besides, I am more mocked than mocking.

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A plea to the punditry

By Libby

Is it too much to ask that our "serious pundits" discuss something remotely resembling serious issues? I mean I took a tremendous amount of flack for suggesting Thompson's young wife might be a factor in the race, but when our poli-pundits constantly obsess about gender and hair, I don't see how that wasn't a legitimate question. Take these choice cuts from recent Chris Matthews roundtables gossipy giggle fests .
MATTHEWS: OK, let's put the gender thing in here. I love gender politics, guys.

MATTHEWS: OK, well let's talk about that. I am stunned at these last supper scenes, where the Last Supper in history was all men, every scene you see with Hillary is a lunch, and it's all women. She is advertising her sisterhood. Is that something she can use to help sell herself as a future strong person defending this country, or does it get in the way?

PARKER: It makes a case with a certain demographic, and I noticed the picture on the front of The Washington Post the other day showed her with all these women and her crew, and did you notice, there was only one blonde out of about 15 women, so it sort of -- I thought that was very telling.
Of course Kathleen is not telling what that tells and Matthews slides over it without remark and by the way, what does the Last Supper have to do with politics? But they make the big bucks for this sorry excuse for political analysis? Would it kill them to discuss policy instead of peroxide or is that just too much like real work?

Little wonder our campaigns are decided on trivial issues when our paid punditry refuses to focus on anything else.

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Love makes a marriage

By Libby

Marking the first time San Francisco's 30 year old Gay Pride event has ever been favored by the presence of a major presidential candidate or spouse, Elizabeth Edwards was warmly received by the group. Unsurprising when she made such common sense remarks as these.
"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me,'' she said. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage.''

...She said that she has come to the conclusion that the marriage of another couple "makes no difference to me,'' just as it would make no difference in her views of a neighbor if he painted his house a different color.

"If he's pleasant to me on the street, if his children don't throw things in my yard, then I'm happy,'' she said. "It seems to me we're making issues of things that honestly... don't matter.''
I'm more impressed with her all the time. As Creature points out, it kind of makes you wish that she was running for president. It would be nice to have a politician willing to take a straightforward stand without checking the polling first.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Media Bytes

By Libby

It's Sunday and I'm cleaning out the saved links for the month so I have a fruit to nuts assortment of multimedia for your viewing pleasure.

Starting with the nuts, Blue Gal bravely goes where few dare to tread and discovers What Not to Wear at Your Daughter's Bat Mitzvah. That's Pam of Atlas Shrugs by the way and apparently that's what she really wore. Words. Fail.

Moving on, even Bill Kristol couldn't muster up much of a defense for Cheney's latest assault on the constitution.

Presumably done in response to the Obama video, more GOP man-love, I've Got a Crush on Fred Thompson's -- Politics. No homoerotic subtext here. Move along folks.

Mort Kondrake is bitching about left wing bloggers, but he cusses out Rush radio at the same time. It's the closest Mort's ever come to being fair and balanced. Twenty seconds you shouldn't miss.

Now I thought this one was a riot, but it didn't raise any reaction at Newshoggers so maybe it's just my odd sense of humor. Newt Gingrich is having a contest called something like the YouTube, Back to the Future, Goose that Laid the Golden Egg contest. When he got to the prize after a long pitch talking about geese and golden eggs, I was primed to hear about the golden egg award. I was wrong. I thought the real prize was hilarious. But judge for yourself.

If you're following Fred Thompson, I ran across this series of video of Fred speaking in England in front of a bunch of important businessmen. I thought he sucked. He kept looking at his script like a guy reading for a part. Or like Bush with better diction. He didn't give the impression of someone in command of the information.

Still reaching into the nut section, for Nancy Grace fans, a magnificent catch of a podcast gone awry. Her crew commits mutinity and she is not amused. I was.

Finally getting to the unexpected fruits of websurfing, you can find out what was number one on the Billboard chart on day you were born or for any date. It's a really easy to use interactive list and more importantly, it goes way back to people even much older than me. My song was "Cry" by Johnnie Ray & the Four Lads. Never heard of them.

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John Warner Will Not Side With the Democrats On Iraq

Wow, what a great weekend. Went to Smith Mountain Lake and we just got back. I looked around and couldn't find anything that would get my dander up on the internets. Then I saw that Talk Left has a post up about Virginia's own Sen. John Warner not being the guy that saves the democrat's bacon concerning Iraq. Big Tent Democrat has it right. John Warner is not going to do anything. He keeps talking and he keeps sounding so reasonable and moderate. There are no moderates in the republican party, we have all come to that understanding.

Like everyone else in this country the dems just can't believe that there are no reasonable republicans. Remember in the run-up to the election in 2004 when all the liberals were just gushing about the possibility that John McCain would actually jump parties and become a democrat? After the way he has acted over the last three years can you even imagine this right-wing wacko as a moderate democrat? God, democrats and beltway pundits are such idiots.

John Warner is a Virginian and a republican. He can no more stop being a republican that he can stop being a Virginian. He will not undercut Bush and he won't side with the democrats. Mr. Warner is an old man and he probably won't stand for re-election next year. He will not retire and be remembered for making one of his last acts what in Virginia would be considered a betrayal of the military and a betrayal of conservatives.

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Malkin's malcontent on Iran

By Libby

I woke up a little nauseous this morning, so I haven't been able to force myself to actually read the post, but I see that Michelle Malkin has got her shreik on over the latest atrocity in Iran. Apparently, the government is conducting its annual street sweep of dirty fucking hippies and doing all kinds of ugly things to the young Iranians who dare to flout the dress code.

Malkin is demanding "Rosie O'Donnell and her ilk" answer for this outrage. Well, not being a television watcher, I barely know who Rosie is, much less why she should be anointed spokesmouth of the left, but on the off chance that I'm one of her ilk, let me state for the record that I'm against oppression, torture and general malfaesance no matter which government is perpetrating the atrocities. And that includes my own, which our little concern troll Ms. Malkin always seems to conveniently ignore herself.

I'm with Joe Gandleman, where I saw it first, and with Cernig who adds the wonkish context. He's forgotten more about Iran than I've ever known. If you follow those links you can get to the photos, which I just don't have the stomach for today. I'm against this sort of thing.

But the point is, we know that Iran's president is a nutcake. We know the Islamic extremists who run the government are dangerous. But so is Malkin's transparent attempt to single out this incident in order to lay the groundwork for public acceptance of a future airstrike against Tehran. No matter how you spin it, Iran is not the biggest boogeyman on the block. If we're going to get all screechy about human rights and the dangers of nuclear proliferation, we should be looking at Pakistan, where they're building nuclear reactors faster than we can track them and are also harboring al-Qaeda and where Musharaf is shamelessly oppressing his people.

In any event, what's happening in Tehran today is really awful and I condemn it soundly. That doesn't mean I'm ever going to support killing Iranians in addle-brained air strikes or taking any other dunderheaded military action in order to "liberate" them from their insane government. It didn't work in Iraq and it's not ever going to work, anywhere.

If Malkin wants to work herself up into a froth over oppressive government practices, I'd suggest to keep her perky little nose out of the Middle East and start sniffing around DC. There's plenty to be outraged about right here in America without going abroad to look for trouble.

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Forget September, look to December

By Libby

Rozius reaches behind the paywall to give us poor folks a look at Frank Rich's latest op-ed. Rich looks into the future and sees what most of us do. You don't need a crystal ball to figure out there won't be any real report on progress from Petraeus in September. He'll proclaim it's too early to assess the success of the surge, but that we're making baby steps towards progress and if we just give it one more Friedman unit, this time for sure things will get better.

Rich further predicts the administration will use the anniversary of 9/11 to make the bad news more palatable to the public. He's right about that I'm sure, but I think he's misplaced his hope in the GOP's John Warner to rescue us from this endless Catch-22 of promises. I have to agree with Big Tent Democrat on this one. We might as well be waiting for Godot.

As Rich well notes, "The best way to honor the sixth anniversary of 9/11 will be to at last disarm a president who continues to squander countless lives in the names of those voiceless American dead." I wouldn't hold my breath on that though. Personally, my hopes are pinned on the Iraq parliament.

If they go through with blocking "the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December," all other arguments will become moot. The occupation will become illegal under international law. Maybe the Iraqis will give us what our own alleged representatives can't manage to deliver. A graceful exit out of this hellish mess.

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The secret life of Cheney

By Libby

The big buzz this morning is about a new four part series on Cheney at the WaPo. Part One is pretty damn breathtaking and leaves you wanting more. Everybody is talking about it and all note, there's so many quotable grafs it's nearly impossible to pick just one. Nonetheless, here's my pick.
Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools. Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI." Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to "sensitive compartmented information," the most closely guarded category of government secrets. By adding the words "treated as," they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security."
You can see when you read the rest the article that disclosure of his work product would certainly gravely damage Cheney. It reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Espionage, intrigue, back-stabbing and lots of dirty little secrets.

If you weren't afraid of the man before you read this, you will be after you do. And really you must, because this isn't fiction. This is your Vice President, whose main vice appears to be an insatiable appetite for power.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

American Troops Continue To Die For Nothing

Today it was reported that 7 more American troops were killed by bombs in Iraq. No one seems to know why these troops were killed. No one seems to know why these troops are still in Iraq years after the war was won. It seems that the only reason they are killing these young troops is because the troops are over there.

George Bush says we must fight terrorists over there so that we don't have to fight them over here. Is that true? I don't see how. There is nothing beyond the usual keeping these people from coming over here and blowing things up. The fact that our troop are over there doesn't prohibit them from coming over here. If these insurgents over there were terrorists wouldn't they rather come over here and create terror than stay over there and get shot up by our military?

Are these troops protecting our freedoms by fighting over there? I don't see how. These insurgents are no threat to the republic. So some of them come over and blow a few things up, we would carry on wouldn't we. We are Americans, we aren't going to cower in the face of a few backwards, illiterate Arabs, are we? If they came over here and broke the law we would either kill them or lock them up. We would then put them on trial to show the world that the U.S. is a country of laws, right? George Bush has stated that he would bring terrorists to justice or take justice to them. He's a man of his word, right? He respects the law doesn't he? He has sworn to uphold the Constitution. He has certainly done that, hasn't he?

We must promote democracy but do we do it with the point of a gun? Is it possible to free people who don't want to be free? It will take Iraqi patriots to create a free and democratic Iraq. American troops cannot be Iraqi patriots.

What if these Iraqis that we call insurgents or al Qaeda or the boogey man consider themselves patriots because they are trying to free their country from us. What a revolting concept when all we have to do is leave and let them create whatever kind of country they want. Outside of their oil, what is over there that we want? Or need?

Is there anyone who knows why these young Americans are dying? Please tell me.

Jim Martin

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Bush invents rule of implied intent

By Libby
Updated below

Now that Keith Olbermann exposed the White House's latest lie on the executive order regarding oversight on classified information that Cheney refuses to comply with, Bush has been forced to do a Texas two-step to explain it all away. Judging from the contradictory explanations though, it appears the White House could use some dancing lessons.
WASHINGTON — The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

Bush amended the oversight directive in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to help ensure that national secrets would not be mishandled, made public or improperly declassified.

The reporter apparently doesn't find it odd that the order "in response to 9/11" wasn't issued until two years later, around the time the first evidence that they had misused classified intelligence for political reasons in the Plame leak and mischaracterized intelligence to sell their war, began to surface. Me, I find that a rather damning coincidence. And I love this part:
"Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government," the executive order said.
It's obvious to me this order was amended solely to facilitate their own investigations into who was leaking information that was damaging their carefully constructed facade of lies. Since they were convinced at this point that Rove's 100 year majority plan was going to work, it never occurred to them that it would force them to undergo scrutiny themselves, as spokesmouth Fratto makes clear.
"We don't dispute that the ISOO has a different opinion. But let's be very clear: This executive order was issued by the president, and he knows what his intentions were," Fratto said. "He is in compliance with his executive order."

Sure the order doesn't specifically exempt either Cheney or Bush, but Bush says he intended it to, so that's all that matters. We shouldn't be troubled by that pesky rule of law thing. After all, what are laws or the constitution but, as Bush himself put it, just a god-damned piece of paper. No oversight needed here. As the old joke on the sitcoms used to go -- Trust me. Have I ever lied to you?

Meanwhile, as we wait and wait and wait for Congress to take some meaningful action to shut down this criminal cabal, Rahm Emanuel offers the best response so far to Cheney's contention that he is his own branch of government.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) said he plans to propose next week, as part of a spending bill for executive operations, a measure to place a hold on funds for Cheney's office and official home until he clarifies to which branch of the government he belongs. Emanuel acknowledged that the proposal is just a stunt, but he said that if Cheney is not part of the executive branch, he should not receive its funds. "As we say in Chicago, follow the money," he said.

How is that a stunt? I think it's a practical response. If Cheney doesn't belong to any branch of government, why the hell should we be footing his bills with tax dollars? Let him run his shadow government on his own dime. With all the money he's bled out of the treasury for his corrupt cronies, he can afford it.

Update:Ron Beasley at Gun Toting Liberal, who kindly links, Sully and Cernig all have something good to add to the discussion and I liked this, from Joe Cannon at Brad Blog a lot.
More than that. Dick Cheney has claimed "executive privilege" a number of times, most notably when asked to disclose his energy policy meetings. Legislators have no such privilege. May we see the documents now?

More than that. Do you know the technical grounds for the impeachment charges brought against Richard Nixon? Subpoenas. Nixon ignored them, and so he had to go. Any congressional committee may now subpoena anything it wants from Cheney's office. Not a single document in the joint is protected by executive privilege. Not a single person working under Cheney may claim executive privilege. Dick Cheney has made very clear that he is not part of the executive branch of government.

If Cheney does not comply, he becomes instantly and impeccably impeachable.
Meanwhile, Avedon provides historical background on how Nixon was impeached and some advice to Democrats and anyone who wants to save our country from this lying pair of thugs.

[Photo shameslessly stolen from Ron Beasley's own blog Middle Earth Journal.]

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Sex and drugs and self-reported behavior

By Libby

Like my man, Cernig who put me on to this article, I have my doubts about surveys that require self-reporting on drug use and sex. As my new favorite TV character, House, is fond of pointing out -- everybody lies. Especially about sex and drugs and probably about how often they really floss their teeth.

Anyway, here's a couple of key findings of the study which sampled a little over 6,000 people.
A new nationwide survey, using high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use, finds that 29 percent of American men report having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only 9 percent of women report having sex with 15 or more men.

Non-Hispanic whites had a higher percentage of ever using cocaine or street drugs (23.5 percent) than blacks (18 percent) or Mexican-Americans (16 percent).

I suspect the men inflated their number of sex partners while women under-reported their own and everybody way under-reported their drug use but still the findings are meaningful in that they show us what we know to be true. You can pass all the laws you want but people are going to have sex and get high because it feels good and nothing is going to stop that.

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We are all Qaeda now

By Libby

If you're paying attention to the rhetoric spun by our military brass in Iraq, it appears al-Qaeda has had a huge recruiting success in the country. As Glenn Greewald documents today, suddenly they're not fighting insurgents anymore. It's all Qaeda, all the time now. Nevermind that even Bush himself admitted not so long ago that the actual numbers of al-Qaeda forces were only a tiny percentage of the insurgency.

As for this latest offensive is working out, no matter how you define the enemy, well, it's not going all that great.
“Frankly, I think they knew an operation was coming in Baquba,” General Odierno said. ...“They watched the news. ..So they knew we were going to come sooner or later.”

Still, he implied American commanders may have played a part by flagging the offensive in advance. “I think they were tipped off by us talking about the surge, the fact that we have a problem in Diyala Province,” he said.
Yeah, that's what happens when you plan your tactics according to their political benefit to the president rather than the military advantage on the ground. To quote my favorite pundit, Yogi Berra -- it's deja vu all over again.
Addressing the problems facing American troops in Baquba, General Odierno played down the significance of the Qaeda leaders fleeing ahead of the offensive, saying American forces would hunt them down. “I guarantee you, we’re going to track down those leaders,” he said. “And we’re in the process of doing that. We know who they are, and we’re coming after them, and we’re going to work that extremely hard.”
Is anybody keeping track of how often we've heard those same words? It feels like hundreds of times in the last four years to me. And let's hear it for the same old signs of success.
“So far, within Baquba,” General Odierno said, “there have been many successes: four weapons caches have been found and cleared; three truck and car bombs have been captured and destroyed; over 25 deep-buried I.E.D.’s have been found and cleared, many of them pointed out by the local populace; and 10 house-bound I.E.D.’s have been destroyed — those are 10 houses that have been rigged with thousands of pounds of explosives to try and kill us as we enter.”
How encouraging. It only took 30,000 soldiers and huge air strikes to capture 10 empty houses. They found 4 caches with an undetermined quantity of weaponry, and 38 limited range bombs. Meanwhile all the head honchos of the newly renamed insurgency got away. I wonder how much it cost us in tax dollars for this "decisive" victory? I'm guessing close to a billion and frankly, I don't think we're getting our money's worth out of the deal.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

SICKO a bipartisan headache

By Libby

You have to love how the conventional wise men are spinning Moore's new movie as a problem for the Democratic party. And then there's the experts who soberly advise us why our health care problem can't really be fixed.
"To presume that the private sector is going to sit idly by to see the destruction of private coverage I think is a misreading of reality," said Ron Pollack of the advocacy group Families USA. "I think the presidential candidates understand that if healthcare reform is going to have a chance of success, it will require bipartisanship and a balance of public and private coverage. It cannot be the triumph of one ideology over the other."

What the hell does ideology have to do with it? It's about money. It always has been and the only threat from the private sector is that the deep pockets of the health care industry lobbyists would be emptied and all that lovely campaign funding would dry up. As ABC reports:
In the first quarter, the Center for Responsive Politics found that the leading '08 candidates are relying mostly on those donors giving the maximum $2,300 contribution, not the smaller contributions.
"We've tracked the sources of the funds and it's largely the same as in past cycles," Krumholtz said. "You're going to see a lot of money coming from the finance, insurance and real estate sectors."

The corporate lobbyists don't have any ideology and their loyalty is to power, not either party. They'll back the perceived winner and hedge their bets by throwing a few crumbs to the losers, just in case. But back to the LAT's expert advice.
Whatever mix of private and public sources will increase the number of people with coverage, the insurance companies would like it to be managed by them," UC Berkeley health economist James Robinson said in a recent interview. "They can work with Medicare, they can work with Medicaid, they can work with employers, they can work with whomever."

I guess that depends on what your definition of work is, but he's right about the insurers wanting to keep their grubby paws on the administrative profits. I guess we're just supposed to ignore that it's the insurance companies' mismanagement that caused this mess in the first place. God knows, that what you can expect our politicians to do.

It's absurd to suggest health care reform is "political poison with the larger electorate." Americans are tired of paying outrageously high policy premiums that deliver the bare minimum of coverage. The politicians won't lose votes for cutting the insurers out of the picture, they'll just lose the industry's payola.

I haven't seen the movie, but from what I've read, Moore's premise is right on. Our health care system is mortally ill and we can't trust the spin doctors inside the beltway to heal it. This is a case where the voters are going to have to prescribe the right medicine themselves and force our politicians to swallow it.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Pro-choice is the real pro-life position

By Libby

What strikes me the most about the so called pro-life movement is how they spin their anti-choice mania as a benefit to unborn children. Their argument completely ignore the thousands of women who died before Roe v. Wade from botched illegal abortions.

Take for instance, Melinda Henneberger who posts an incomprehensible op-ed today. I see she also wrote a book called "What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear." Based on her op-ed I think somebody should tell her that having tea with Phyllis Schafly doesn't qualify her to speak for women voters. She sure as hell isn't telling the Democrats what I, or the majority of women, want to say. Forget the conventional wisdom she's convinced is wrong, try checking the polling. In 2004, 55% of Americans thought it should remain legal.

But here's the real irony in their position. If the anti-choicers get their way, and criminalize a woman's choice, it would simply create a black market for illegal abortions. I was a teenager when Roe was decided. Growing up just outside of New York, I remember regularly reading accounts of the latest death of some young desperate woman in the back alleys of Manhattan, who for whatever reason felt she couldn't go through with the pregnancy. If Roe is overturned, we'll be reading those stories again. No thanks.

Nobody is pro-abortion and I don't know a single pro-choicer who wants to keep it legal because they think it's such a great thing. We're pro-choice because we want to protect the mother, most of whom go on to have other children, if they don't already have them. For the so called pro-lifers, apparently the only fitting punishment for a woman making a bad choice to have unprotected sexual intercourse, is to risk infection and probably death. How is that not compounding the problem? Either way the baby still dies.

Meanwhile, Shamanic at Newshoggers points out a better way to stop abortions in the first place.
And here's the larger point: The numbers of abortions in America have been declining for nearly three decades, and declined dramatically under Bill Clinton's economic stewardship (graph). In other words, Democratic economic policies, which keep more wealth in more hands, reduces the incidence of abortion.

The Democratic Party must support safe and legal abortion, period. But that doesn't mean it can't support a reduction in abortion rates and work to build a society where abortion is less necessary for women. Where there is economic security, unplanned pregnancies are less frightening. Where there is job security, unplanned pregnancies can be brought to term. These are the policies Democrats implement in office, and this how Democrats should communicate their support for safe and legal abortion that is necessary less often.

Exactly right. If anti-choicers want to prevent unwanted pregnancies they should drop their abstinence-only sex ed folly and teach kids how to use condoms. And if they want to eliminate abortions, they should be out there agitating for economic equality instead of trying to slap their nanny laws on our bodies.

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Like any fungus, Cheney prefers teh dark

By Libby
Updated below

In the world according to Dick Cheney, the rule of law stops just outside his door. Now back in the days when Veeps did little but attend state funerals and kiss babies at fundraisers while the president was busy governing this wouldn't have been as great a matter of concern. However, as investigations reveal Cheney as a chief architect of all of our Clueless Leader's disastrous policies of imperialism and remains a prime instigator for permanent mayhem in the Middle East, to the point where he is apparently coniviving behind the scenes to force Bush into an insane military confrontation with Iran, his shameless pissing on the constitution cannot safely be ignored.

His latest dodge of oversight underscores the danger.
Since 2003, the vice president's staff has not cooperated with an office at the National Archives and Records Administration charged with making sure the executive branch protects classified information. Cheney aides have not filed reports on their possession of classified data and at one point blocked an inspection of their office. After the Archives office pressed the matter, the documents say, Cheney's staff this year proposed eliminating it.

According to the twisted logic of Dick's il-legal team, the VP is not accountable to anyone. Not to the people, not to the Congress, not the judiciary and not even to the unitary executive. Their argument seems to be that since the office belongs to everyone, it really belongs to noone but the person holding the office.

But this is just his latest assault on the people. How much does Cheney hate us? Let us count the ways. Jesse Lee at the Gavel provides a link to oversight committee's letter to teh big Dick and kindly provides the list of pertinent bullet points for the pdf adverse.
He doesn't want us to know how he handles classified information.

We're not allowed to find out who advises him on policy planning.

He doesn't want to tell who pays for his secret jaunts.

Who works for him in an official government capacity is none of our business. Nevermind that we pay their salaries.

Who he meets with on official business is too much to ask.

And thanks to an order signed by Bush, providing a sort of pre-emptive pardon for his criminality, he can carry his black secrets to the grave. He never has to tell us a bloody thing.

Meanwhile, the LAT connects the dots on the timing of when Cheney decided not to co-operate with a long-standing policy.
According to documents released Thursday by a House committee, Cheney's staff has blocked efforts by the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office to enforce a key component of the presidential order: a mandatory on-site inspection of the vice president's office. At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time — when Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and other aides were under criminal investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

That's a key point. He fully co-operated for the first two years of the Bush reign, but once he figured out how to co-opt the system to his own benefit, he's started singing, "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do." It also explains a lot about why he's so keen on maintaining a state of permanent chaos in the Middle East. As long as he can keep the "necessity" of secrecy in a time of war fiction alive, he can protect his prodigious butt and he clearly doesn't care how many have to die for his lies in order to keep his sorry ass out of the slammer.

Another good reason to get out Iraq now I'd say. The toxic mold of the neo-cons' grand plans thrives under the fog of war. Exposing them to the broad sunlight of peaceful co-existence might destroy the slime that destroyed our former tranquility, once and for all.

Update:Steve Benen catches the White House presser and finds Bush is unwilling to claim Dick as part of the executive branch. The White House finds this an "interesting" constitutional question and open to debate. Spokesmouth Perino thinks Waxman is a bad boy for making a fuss over it.

As Steve so adroitly puts it, "So, the problem here is that Waxman believes the Bush administration should enforce its own rules?"

Think Progress catches another choice clip from the presser.
[Perino] repeatedly said that Cheney exempt from a mere “small portion” or “small section” of the executive order, and that President Bush never intended for the executive order to apply to Cheney any differently than it applies to the president’s own office.

Perino later contradicted herself: first, she stated definitively that Cheney’s office is “complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.” But when questioned how she could be sure, Perino said it was a “good question” and admitted she isn’t “positive” that his office is in compliance.

The White House thinks the VP holding himself above the law is "a little bit of a non-issue." I guess that's no so surprising considering the Bush administration built it's unitary power based on ignoring any and every "small section" of the laws they find incovenient.

The only remaining question here really is, how many little sections of the law do they get to ignore before they're held to account? We don't need to impeach these bums. We need to indict them before they do any more damage.

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No Mo Gitmo?

The U.S. is building a new torture facility in Afghanistan and Bush hopes to close his gulag in Guantanamo. Although Bush denies that the new prison is being built to replace Guantanamo it would be politically expedient for him to do so.

The administration is looking to resolve the issue swiftly, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Friday, although she said there's no deadline set.

"Everybody is working towards the goal to meet what the president has asked them to do, which is to do it as soon as possible," she said of shuttering the facility.

The United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave, has been torturing prisoners in Guantanamo for the past five years. Under George Bush the U.S. is now on the same level as North Korea and other countries who use government sanctioned extreme methods of coercion. It is hard for the U.S. to decry the human rights abuses of other countries when we act no better. It should be pointed out that the behavior of Bush, Cheney and those of that ilk are in no way a reflection on the vast majority of Americans. If you support the use of torture, you know who you are and the rest of us know what you are.
"America does not have any intention of being the world's jailer," Perino said. She noted that the United States has announced plans to release about 80 of some 375 detainees, and hopes to transfer several dozen Afghans back to Afghanistan in the near future.
This quote is from Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary. When Tony Snow is unavailable to lie for Bush, Dana is ready to step in.
Perino said Bush has directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to work with her counterparts around the world to try to repatriate detainees to their home countries, make sure they are held safely and treated humanely and that they are not allowed to perpetrate acts of terrorism.
I think this is a good job for Condie, she hasn't actually done anything for years as the sad state of American foreign policy should attest. Sean McCormack of the State Dept. chimed in:
"I think that's the goal of everybody in the administration and probably most Americans — that we would rather not have to have a place like Guantanamo," he said. "But the fact remains that there are dangerous people out there that are being picked up on the battlefield that have vowed to return to the fight if released and individuals that have committed war crimes and should be held accountable for their actions."
I would think that Mr. McCormack should be careful about the term "war crimes" as that term probably applies to quite a few high ranking members of his own government. If a fighter is "picked up" on the battlefield wouldn't they be prisoners of war? Shouldn't we treat them as such? I know that we are dealing with inhuman monsters who kill our soldiers when they are captured, but do we have to sink to their level to defeat them?

Close the Guantanamo gulag. If you have no evidence against any prisoner, send him home. If they are dangerous prisoners put them on trial. What, you can't because we tortured them? Well, send them home anyway and let their own governments incarcerate them. After all, we aren't the world's jailer.

Jim Martin

Thanks to Newshoggers for the link.

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Well Deserved Poll Numbers

Taylor Marsh has a great post up about the horrendous approval rating for congress and the dems and she blames it on the democrats for not keeping the faith on Iraq.
Voters put Democrats in office for many reasons in 2006, but the primary reason was to bring about a change of course on Iraq. That means every vote must go to that end. When it doesn't it breaks faith with what the voters put you in office to do. Again, that doesn't mean Democrats will win the day at first, because, again, we don't have the numbers. But at least our leaders can stand up and say Democrats all voted against the supplemental, keeping the promise of the 2006 election. Anything less is not good enough and the American people sense it and are disgusted.
This is just about right. For Jack Murtha and Harry Reid and Jim Webb to talk big and then vote for the supplemental to continue this atrocity is just too much.

The argument that we must support the troops just doesn't hold up. If they really wanted to support the troops they would get them the hell out of there. Sen Carl Levin's bogus claim that that Feingold-Reid would cut troop funding was a case in point of why Americans are fed up with the democrats.

This is from Sen. Russ Feingold:

"I'm pleased that Senator Levin and Senator Jack Reed have finally come to the conclusion that a timetable for redeployment with a hard deadline is what we need to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq," Feingold said."But I'm disappointed that Senator Levin chose to announce his shift by disingenuously suggesting that the Feingold-Reid plan would somehow cut funding for troops in harm's way. Senator Levin knows full well that the plan I introduced with Majority Leader Harry Reid, and which was supported by a majority of Senate Democrats, would end funding for the war in Iraq only after our brave troops have been safely redeployed out of Iraq. It is time for Senator Levin and Senator Jack Reed to drop their opposition to the Feingold-Reid plan to safely redeploy our troops by March 31, 2008, and then end funding for the mistake in Iraq."

The low approval ratings for the democrats is well deserved since they show themselves to be afraid to stand for what the people want and what they were elected to do.

"Supporting the troops" is the phrase the democrats are afraid of, but I don't know why. The republicans lay claim to great patriotic devotion to and caring for our military when just the opposite is true. They have used and abused them before, during and after their service in Iraq. Low pay, cutting benefits, extended open ended tours of duty, and then substandard care of seriously wounded veterans and endless red tape when they finally get back to this country.

Keep up the good work democrats, you're certainly continuing the republican's record of supporting the troops.

Jim Martin

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Learning to love Andrew Sullivan

By Libby

Sometimes it's hard to believe how much I loathed Andrew Sullivan before he left the dark side. Of all the conservatives who disavowed the Bush Doctrine, he often strikes me now as the most sincere and not just because he was a early deserter. It's the quality of his discourse.

He gets quote of the day from this post reviewing Glenn Greenwald's latest book.
America has exchanged some if its basic freedoms for the patina of phony security - and so easily. The Republican party, to its historic shame, has been the main vehicle for the replacement of doubt, empiricism and calm judgment with certainty, fundamentalism and raw force. We have terrible enemies abroad, seeking to destroy our way of life. But this truth should never blind us to the danger within as well. Al Qaeda can only give us death. It is up to us to surrender the liberty they despise. In so many ways, we already have.

It's not it hasn't been said before in many ways, by many people including myself, it's that he says it so well.

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American By Birth, Southern Because My Mom Was Stupid Enough To Marry My Father

James Joyner, Outside The Beltway, has a post up "American By Birth, Southern By The Grace Of God", that goes on to extol the virtues southerners and the southern way of life.
Despite the fact that I’ve never skinned a buck or run a trout line (nor chewed Beechnut, let alone had any desire to spit it in some dude’s eyes) there’s an undeniable appeal to the pride and raw emotion of the sentiments. And while it’s undeniably exclusionary — one can’t have an Us without a Them, after all– it’s decidedly not geographical but cultural.
Kevin Drum hit on the theme that southerners have a victim complex and will only vote for other southerners.
I can't begin to tell you how tired I am of the South's victim complex. Five of our last seven presidents have been from the South and the other two have been from the Southwest — and the reason, as near as I can tell, is that most Southerners just flatly refuse to vote for anyone who comes from north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And yet, somehow, it's the rest of us who are supposedly intolerant of Southern culture. Feh.
Joyner goes on further that it's about culture and a sharing of common values.
It’s not that Southerners will only vote for a guy who sounds like them. Reagan, Bush 41, and Nixon didn’t. It’s about values. As the bumper sticker puts it, God, Guts, and Guns. Northerners who can talk to people in those terms have a good shot at getting Southern and rural votes.
Well, speaking as a southerner who has caught and cleaned fish and killed and skinned a buck it doesn't endow you with any special American-ness. Southerners have no more sense of values than anyone else. We have no more values than anyone else. Southerners still think that car racing is a sport, and that the civil war was fought over states rights. Those two things should tell you something. They can be just as rude, uncouth and stupid as anyone else. To say that a group of people or for a group of people to claim that they are more special because of where they live is to believe the lies told by the media and to accept the republican's southern strategy. It's all bullshit.

Kevin Drum got it right, kind of. So did James Joyner, kind of. Southerners think they're special because people keep telling them they are. They sure didn't do anything to deserve it.

As to the title, my mom met my dad at a naval hospital in Connecticut where she was stationed as a nurse during WWII. I'm southern born, but only half southern bred.

Jim Martin

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It's Time To End Oil Subsidies

Today senate republicans blocked a proposal that would have funneled $29 billion to subsidize companies making windmills, hybrid technology, and other renewable energy sources. The cost of this would be paid for by taxes on oil companies.
But many Republicans said it was too harsh on the oil industry and could lead to less production and higher gasoline prices.

The struggle over the tax provision signaled that Democrats may have a hard time pushing through the broader energy bill, which tilts heavily toward promoting energy conservation and renewable fuels and away from support for traditional fossil fuels.

The part about less production and higher gasoline prices is nonsense, but I'm not sure taxing one group to finance another is the way to go either.

The democrats should be working on eliminating oil subsidies and advantageous tax law as it applies to the oil companies. The republican argument that the oil companies need incentives to explore for new oil is ridiculous on it's face. There is simply not enough unexploited oil in this country for any subsidy to make a difference in the cost of crude oil.

The bottom line is this, we are buying too much oil from the Middle East and to lower our consumption we need to raise the price. Raise the tax on gasoline to finance research and subsidize the work on renewable resources, but with strict controls. The market must determine the success of any new technology. Further, use the taxes to repair our infrastructure.

It is time to end all corporate welfare and to deal with our addiction to oil. We are subsidizing our enemies everyday at the gas pump. It's time to recognize this and deal with it.

Jim Martin

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Running the numbers on Congressional disapproval

By Libby
Updated below

Contrary to the hopeful imaginings of GOP apologists, the lastest Gallup poll is not an indictment of the Democratic party. It's a reflection of the public's digust with politics as usual on both sides of the fence. In fact, one suspects if the GOP was still in control, their numbers would be below zero.

That's not to say the people aren't dissatisfied with the Democrat's performance so far. The Democrats were elected largely because they promised to change the status quo. Granted, they don't have a large enough majority to make it easy but they aren't fooling anybody with lip service to high minded ideals at the podium while plying the same political trickery behind the scenes.

Nonetheless, the Republicans shouldn't break out their champagne bottles just yet. As I've been saying for well over two years now, when the voters express their buyer's remorse at the ballot box, it won't be the GOP who makes the sale. It will be third party candidates who will reap the rewards of the electorate's discontent. However, word up to Ralph Nader -- that doesn't mean you.

Update: Tapscott agrees with me.

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Dear Ralph - your 15 minutes are up

By Libby

Nader apparently doesn't know when to quit. Allowing his ego to overcome common sense, he's once again flirting with a third party run that he knows he can't win, but he proffers all sorts of high-minded reasons he's considering throwing his hat into the ring for his fourth try at failure anyway.
If Nader runs, he would emphasize the "ever-increasing corporate power in our society" and "the expanding disconnect between the growth of the economy and the distribution to people who work hard but don't get the fruits of it."

Nader also believes the United States should withdraw from Iraq over a six-month period, have the United Nations sponsor new elections and leave no U.S. forces behind.
I believe John Edwards at least, is on that already so why isn't Ralph throwing his support to a declared candidate?
"What third parties can do is bring young people in, set standards on how to run a presidential election and keep the progressive agenda in front of the people," he said. "And maybe tweak a candidate here and there in the major parties."

Apparently Nader's never heard of the blogosphere? We're on it Ralph and frankly, we don't think you're going to be much help in that.

There was a time when Nader was an inspiring activist who changed the face of politics. Now he's just looking like an sad old man still singing the same old tune but who can't bear to step out of the limelight to make way for fresh talent. It's time for Ralph to retire while he's still able to preserve some dignity. A fourth run will only succeed in rendering him a permanent political joke.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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More Hot Air About the Climate

It certainly is fun to watch the right-wing blogosphere get all giddy with excitement when a report comes out stating that the danger this century from climate change is not warming but cooling. This is from the National Post of Canada by Timothy Patterson.
In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle." The strength of these cycles is seen to vary over time, fading in and out over the millennia. The variation in the sun's brightness over these longer cycles may be many times greater in magnitude than that measured over the short Schwabe cycle and so are seen to impact marine productivity even more significantly.

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.
Now this is all interesting and you need to read the whole article. At one point this scientist gets into quite a bit speculation and does not take into account the CO2 levels and volcano activity, but I don't really care to do scientific speculation when I don't know enough about it.

What's really interesting is that to the right-wing it's about politics and not about the climate. These wingnuts just love to jump on Al Gore. They get all smug and even one prominent blogger is already saying "I toldja so".

The weather and the climate are two different things.

The preponderance of deep thought on the right is, "My feet are cold, Al Gore is stupid."

It must be great to be so smug in the face of so much contradictory evidence.

Jim Martin

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