Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marcotte moves into the mainstream

Congrats to Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon who has joined the John Edwards campaign as the new blogmaster on his website. She's off to a great start with a strong post and a huge welcome from the regulars.

I have to admit I don't know that much about Amanda. I don't follow the feminist blogs much because I don't blog the issues since they already cover that ground so well. But I do read her often enough to know Edwards is lucky to get her on board and to also be creeped out by the way Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom is stalking her. Jeff's long time obsession with her has always struck me as bizarre, but his comments in her welcome thread today verged on deranged. I think he needs to change his meds.
Bookmark and Share

Rest in peace Molly

Liberals just lost a great voice. Molly Ivins finally succumbed to breast cancer today. But boy did she go down fighting. These were some of her last published words.
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
An impeccable warrior to the end. I think we're going to miss her for a long, long time.
Bookmark and Share

Moon dance

This is so sad. NASA has some high quality video tapes of the first walk on the moon that only a handful of people have seen. Unfortunately, they lost them. Apparently they were taken in a format that couldn't be easily aired at the time so the public only saw a low grade version. Of course, nobody cared because the whole event was so exciting.

Now they have the technology to make the footage available to the public but the tapes are nowhere to be found. NASA spokesman Dolly Perkins gives us the understatement of the week on this tragedy.
"Maybe somebody didn't have the wisdom to realize that the original tapes might be valuable sometime in the future," she said. "Certainly, we can look back now and wonder why we didn't have better foresight about this."
Really. You would think that people who had the sort of vision that put a man on the moon in the first place would have realized that eventually technological advances would allow the tapes to reformatted.
Bookmark and Share

Biden trips on his tongue

Joe Biden officially enters the nomination race and immediately draws blood. Unfortunately for the Senator it's his own. His careless remark on Obama's cleanliness was immediately pounced on by both the media and both sides of Blogtopia, creating a feeding frenzy of speculation and analysis on how his words were intended to be taken. Whatever he meant, and Biden insists the remark was benign, the focus on his poor choice of words has undercut any opening message he hoped to put forward.

I won't shed any tears over it myself. I'm not a Biden fan. He's always struck me as more of an opportunist than a man of any firm conviction but it does raise the specter of a Democratic Party entering the 08 campaign already bloodied by their own side. Of course, as Steve Benen points out, this will also likely be true for the Repubicans as well so maybe they'll cancel each other out. Who knows at this point? A lot can happen in the all too many months that loom ahead.

The incident does make this much clear. It's going to be a very long silly season.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Depends on who your definition of President is...

Glenn Greenwald has an instructive post on how the Not Democratic Party, a/k/a Repubilcans, felt about the president's mandate to take military action without the permission of Congress when it was Not Bush, a/k/a Clinton, who held the office. And that totally false legend the wrongwingnuts invented and spread around the uninformed that it's Clinton's fault we left Somalia the first time? Glenn knocks that down like a kewpie doll at the carnival.

There's so many delicious quotes, it's hard to choose. Circa 1993.
John McCain: What is the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we do not do that and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured because we stay too long--longer than necessary--then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible. . . .

Jesse Helms - As a matter of fact, while we are at it, it is high time we reviewed the War Powers Act, which, in the judgment of this Senator, should never have been passed in the first place. The sole constitutional authority to declare war rests, according to our Founding Fathers, right here in the Congress of the United States, and not on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Alan Simpson : What I cannot continue to support is the continuing endangerment of Americans in the service of a policy that remains absolutely mysterious and totally muddled.
I thought they were right about that at the time. No president should be allowed to wage war without consent of the people. I didn't want us in Somalia. I didn't want us in Bosnia. I wasn't too keen on Reagan invading Grenada either, but at least he picked an easy symbolic target in response to the terrorist attack on his watch.

All I can say is the GOPers picked a hell of bad time to cancel their convictions on Congressional authority in order to play the royal pages to a virtual monarchy theory.
Bookmark and Share

Condi caught by Webb

Forget Obama. I'm telling you, Jim Webb is the one to watch for 08 and I'm not even sure I like him. To tell you the truth he so confrontational he makes me a little nervous. It implies an inherent strictness that I'm entirely comfortable with but you have to love that he's following through with this line of inquiry.

He asked Condi Rice at a recent hearing if she thought President Bush had the power to take military action against Iran without permission from Congress. Condi demurred at the time suggesting she issue a written answer. Webb sent her letter asking for the answer.
This is, basically, a “yes” or “no” question regarding an urgent matter affecting our nation’s foreign policy. Remarks made by members of this administration strongly suggest that the administration wrongly believes that the 2002 joint resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq can be applied in other instances, such as in the case of Iran. I, as well as the American people, would benefit by fully understanding the administration’s unequivocal response.
That's the kind of talk the people voted for in the midterms. Mark my words, Webb is a potential contender as a late entry into the nomination race.
Bookmark and Share

GOP jive talking

If you had any doubts left that Co-dependent Joe Lieberman is has joined the White House team, which seems unlikely what with all the warm and approving mentions by Bush and Cheney lately, the latest (leaked) GOP talking points memo should convince you. The steno sheet urges the party faithful to pimp Joe's recent remarks to the WSJ as proof positive of how nice and bi-partisan they've become since they got their asses whupped in the mid-terms. The GOPers love this line.
The people in Congress, and the public, were quite right in saying the president's got to come up with a different approach. And he did. It's better than any other plan I've seen because it holds the hope of success. Most of the other plans are effectively just giving up and walking away."
And Steve Hadley reinforces the meme in a WaPo op-ed.
"Ultimately, a strategy for success must present a realistic plan for bringing security to the people of Baghdad. This is a precondition to advancing other goals. President Bush's strategy offers such a plan -- and it is the only strategy that does."
And what is this miracle strategy again, that has this extraordinarily high hope of success? Throwing a pitiful 20 or 30 thousand soldiers into a snake pit of over 6 million people? We did that last summer and it completely failed so WTF is new about it?

New would be rolling in with thousands of troops and tanks and helicopters and air strikes and leveling the city to bring order. Oh wait -- we did that when invaded and broke the social order in the first place. Come to think of it, we did that in Fallujah too. That city is still not secure either. And forgive me if I mention that the latest bloody 24 hour battle with some mysterious new Shia cult took place 100 miles south of Baghdad. The insurgents, whoever they are, are violent, not stupid. They're not going to wait around Baghdad while we muster our troops. They've already left the city and are spreading out.

To use the words realistic and great potential for success in the same sentence as Bush's new plan would be laughable, if only he wasn't so deadly serious about going forward with a strategy that seems doomed to set us back again.
Bookmark and Share

Muddled meddling

Richard Lugar appears to searching for some middle ground in the muddle of the occupation. I don't know enough about football to understand his analogy but he makes some sensible points. We do have to look outside of Baghdad and consider our strategy on a regional level. But whatever team our troops are supposed to be playing for right now, and I don't think that's at all clear, there's no mistaking whose side Lugar is taking.
At the center of this realignment is Iran, which is perceived to have emerged from our Iraq intervention as the big winner. We paved the way for a Shiite government in Iraq that is much friendlier to Iran than was Saddam Hussein. Bolstered by high oil revenue, Iran has meddled in Iraq, rigidly pursued a nuclear capability, and funded Hezbollah and Hamas.
Iran is perceived to be the winner? They are the winner because as Lugar rightly points out we installed a government that has strong ties to Tehran. Ahmadinejad would never have become such an obnoxious blowhard if he didn't perceive the strength of his position. And as to the White House talking point that he is meddling in Iran, I think Lugar should consult a dictionary. If anyone is meddling, I'm afraid it's us. We arrived without an invitation and made the regime change. Ahmadinejad has been invited in by the new Iraqi government we helped install.

Lugar's language is really loaded in that last sentence. He simultaneously bolsters Bush's case to get tough on Tehran while subtly chiding the European nations for not imposing stiffer economic sanctions. The trouble is, it's not that simple. The Europeans are resisting U.S. pressure to up the ante because it's their economies that are riding on the kitty. Easy for Bush to demand they play the game by his rules, but he's not the one who will face the consequences. He seems to forget that most leaders feel the need to answer to their people.

In any event, considering our current position, one can hardly blame the leaders of the free world for feeling a little skittish about allowing our Great Decider to be making decisions for them.
Bookmark and Share

Oh Obama

It appears I'm not the only one who is a bit bemused by the Obama fever that been's sweeping the media. Frankly, I haven't paid attention to all the hoopla. I think it's a really bad sign for him. It's all too much, too soon. The one thing I've learned in decades of poliwatching is you gotta get the Big Mo' to win the race, but the trick is not to build it too soon or it burns itself out before you get to the finish line. When all the attention is focused on you, something bad is bound to happen to screw it up.

Think of what happened to Dean. I predicted early on he wouldn't make it for the same reason and sure enough, he was toppled by the stupid scream meme. Yes, I know that was an invented controversy but it matters little whether it's real or invented. It hit at just the wrong time, or the right time depending on your outlook, and knocked him out of contention.

If I was Obama, I'd be laying low for a while.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 29, 2007

How many marched?

I've been trying to find some crowd shots of the peace rally last weekend. The wrongwingnuts were making light of the turnout and the press, although they turned out to cover it, were playing it cautious with the numbers, so I went to the people for some perspective. I took the two shots here from resistance media who was on the ground. And I took a quick cruise through flickr and found a pretty good gallery of shots.

The street theater and the clever signs get all the attention, but it's clear there were lots of ordinary Americans there. So many that the line stalled. My guess is "tens of thousands" understated the tally. I understand the crowd stretched all the way back to the Memorial. It looks like at least close to a hundred thousand to me.

Of course we'll never know for sure, but it occurred to me that with satellite imagery, the White House probably has a pretty good count.
Bookmark and Share

"Not every adversary is an apocalyptic threat"

I've been saying this for a while now but David A. Bell in an op-ed at the LAT puts it more eloquently. We've allowed this White House to throw the entire country into a state of panic over terrorism that is hugely overblown relative to the actual danger terrorists present to "our freedoms." There are simply not enough terrorists in the entire world, even if they could put aside their own sectarian differences and all band together, to invade our country and take over our government.

The Bush administration and their hand wringing wrongwingnuts would have you believe these vile evil-doers are massing on every border and hatching plots in every mosque to take us over and force our women into burquas and compel us to pray to Mecca six times a day. If it was just a random guy on a street corner plying this fantasy, he'd been in Bellevue by now under psychiatric care for paranoia.

Yes, the terrorists hate us. But they don't stand a prayer of "winning." Hell they're barely even in the game. They're mostly just sitting on the bench watching our troops do the work of fostering turmoil for them. Our troops have killed at a minimum, if you take the lowest estimates, over 100,000 people. How many has bin Laden taken credit for lately?

Hell, bin Laden has a lower disapproval rate than Bush since our president declared his war on terror. More people die in car accidents than from terrorism every single day. We should think about that before we willing cede any more of our freedoms to a unitary executive in order to "protect" ourselves from phantom threats.
Bookmark and Share

Google breaks the link

I hadn't thought about it for a long time although I helped make it happen, but I'm a little sad to see Google allegedly tweaked their algorithm and the words "miserable failure" no longer return Bush's home page as the number one result. It's not that I care about the old joke. It's outlived its humor value, but as Noam Cohen points out in this op-ed, some google bombs like "French Military Victories" are still working so it suggests some specifically targeted human intervention in the process.

Considering Google caved on China's censorship program, I think this might be a matter of concern to all who value the internet's neutrality. I would hate to think Google is suseptible to government interference here.
Bookmark and Share

Pre-surge violence begins in earnest

Here's what we know for sure. A major Muslim holiday, Ashura, is being celebrated in Iraq. There was a huge battle outside the center of the festivities in Najaf. A lot of people are dead now and a whole lot of people are talking about it but nobody seems to be quite sure who was fighting who. The only clear fact that has emerged so far is that at least one US BlackHawk helicopter went down in the fighting and this event is likely to cause some major reprecussions in the days to come.

Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls. I think we're going to hit some turbulence on the way up to the escalation.

UPDATE: Midwestern Progressive checks into comments with this link reporting Bush is already spinning this attack as a signal of Iraqi security forces readiness. However, as the details emerge, the only thing this little sortie made clear is that superior air power can make short work of exposed ground troops -- but we knew that already. Unfortunately, the Iraqis don't have an Air Force to speak of, nor any form of viable aircraft. That might suggest to more sober observers that the Iraqis are far from self-sufficiency.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Is Joe looking to leap to GOP?

Here's the unsurprise of the week. Co-dependent Joe Lieberman told Fox News today he's considering voting Republican in 08. My bet is he would jump parties altogether if they offered him a good slot. In any event he owes the GOP big time for getting him elected.

Meanwhile, clueless Joe blames his sudden disaffection with his old party on the single issue of Iraq. He's got both feet firmly planted on the Bush bandwagon and he just can't believe the Democratic Party isn't going to just let the White House have everything it wants. All in the spirit of bi-partisanship of course. Maybe he hasn't noticed the GOPers are jumping ship too.

He probably should have held on to that party he created to run against LaMont. At the rate things are going, he's may find neither party is going to want to claim him.
Bookmark and Share

Cons hold their own Rally

The wrongwingnuts are holding their own little confab this week and thrilling each other with feel good rhetoric on how to regain their former glory. Jeb Bush really wowed the crowd. Bet they're sorry they propped up his boy blunder of a brother now. If they had got rid of George in 04, not only would we not be in this mess now, they would have stood a chance to run the bro they like the best in 08. Now they're stuck with Newt.

But this is the money graf in the coverage.
At a Friday night panel on the state of conservatism, commentator Laura Ingraham argued that Republicans -- if they are to have any chance of winning in 2008 -- must wake up to the fact that Democrats are embracing politicians such as Sen. James Webb (Va.), a gruff military veteran who delivered his party's response to the State of the Union on Tuesday by attacking President Bush's Iraq plan while offering a populist economic message.

"We have to be careful with conservatives not to remain in an echo chamber," Ingraham said. "The party that comes off as the party that represents the American worker best is the party that wins in 2008."
Note the choice of words. Not the party that best represents the working class, but rather the party that best appears to be on the working man's side. They're not looking for better policy, just better propaganda.
Bookmark and Share

Taking it to the streets - Part Two

While the usual suspects who weren't even there are busy trying to minimize the peace rally yesterday, an eyewitness account from Liberty Street who was on the ground, puts a clearer perspective on the numbers.
The rally filled the mall as far back as the eye could see (and we were at the front of the rally, at the Capitol end, near the speakers); when the time came to start marching, the crush was so enormous that the part of the crowd where Maggie and I were standing could not even move a step for about 15 or 20 minutes.
And in the coverage I've seen so far, these remarks by Tim Robbins encapsulate what's wrong with the so-called surge.
He told the crowd that on the train going down to D.C., he had struck up a conversation with a young woman whose brother is one of the troops who are going to Iraq as part of the troop surge. His unit was already slated to go to Iraq, but not that soon; the schedule was moved up when Bush escalated the war. This young man's sister told Robbins that, because of the surge, her brother's unit was being deployed to Iraq so fast that their training period -- normally 12 weeks -- had been cut to two weeks. I will say that again. Pres. Bush is sending this soldier, and many others of course, to Iraq with only two weeks of training to fight the war.
When Bush was talking about sacrifice who knew he meant sending in troops like sacrificial lambs? What kind cold-blooded horror is that? I'm racked with disbelief and disgust. Words fail.
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Taking it to the streets

I've been looking for coverage of the peace rally all day and although it got more mainstream attention than usual, I wasn't able to find much so far. I assume some YouTube videos will surface in the next day or so and I understand CSPAN covered it but I see nothing on their website about it at the moment. Even the usual Rightotopians weren't posting any snarky photos of the odd characters these events always draw.

And of course we don't have an accurate count of the attendance because the White House is afraid to get one and doesn't allow the Park Service to take it anymore. The few photos I've seen have been hard to read but I'd bet the AP's estimate of tens of thousands understates the numbers.

DownWithTyranny has a post with a good collection of links. I thought this quote from the wife of a soldier summed up the current mood in America the best.
"My husband deployed last June to Iraq," she said. "He is an Army infantry officer currently patrolling the streets of Baghdad. And I just have to say I'm sick of attending the funerals of my friends. I have seen the weeping majors. I have seen the weeping colonels. I am sick of the death."
I'm sick of it too. I'm sick of the death and the deceit and the damage done to our constitutional rights on a daily basis all in the name of a sham war.

I wish I could have been at the rally but I marched in spirit with the heartier souls who were able to brave the cold and appreciate them for manifesting my personal discontent on the physical plane. I only wish they would get more credit for putting their boots on the ground for what they believe in.
Bookmark and Share

So tired, tired of waiting...

Over half the country, 58 percent, say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over. Added to a 30% approval rating after the SOTU and it's no wonder his Dad is feeling sorry for his boy blunder.

You hear it on the street. You can see it in the faces of the working class, even here in the GOP zone. The people are tired. Even the least politically aware have finally noticed the stink of bullshit coming from this administration and they're sick of the stench.

Creature is depressed. Me, I'm nervous. I have my countdown calendar and my countdown keychain where the seconds tick by quickly, but the days move way too slow. Bush could still do much damage in the days left in his term and I'm not entirely convinced he wouldn't declare martial law and suspend the 08 elections if he can manage to taunt somebody into attacking us.

Meanwhile, the Joe Friday of Blogtopia, Joe Gandelmann, sticks to the facts and reminds the Congress that the people are looking to them for leadership. A hefty 64 percent of Americans think they're not being assertive enough. You can add me into that statistic. I'm getting rather tired of waiting for our alleged representatives to present a serious challenge to the madness of King George.
Bookmark and Share

We love you Molly

Molly Ivins has been hospitalized in her ongoing battle with breast cancer. No matter how you feel about her politics, send a healing thought to a fellow American in Texas tonight.
Bookmark and Share

Elder Bush to press - Leave my Georgie alone

Daddy Bush is a bit disgruntled with the adversarial press. "I won't get too personal here -- but this antipathy got worse after the 43rd president took office," the former president said.

I'm tempted to dash off a snarky response but I understand where he's coming from and besides, I'm feeling charitable this afternoon.
Dear Mr. Bush:

As a parent I feel for you. I know how difficult it is to see your child fail. Our offspring's pain is our pain, magnified tenfold by concern for their well-being and even a sense of our own failure to protect them from their own mistakes. We desire to see them succeed and wonder if it's our own shortcomings as parents that led them to make bad choices. Unfortunately, in your case, and with due respect sir, I'm afraid it's true.

You protected your son too much. You shielded him from suffering the consequences of his own actions and fostered in him a sense of entitlement far beyond his ability to live up to it. At every turn, you led him by the hand into opportunities that he recklessly squandered without regret. Knowing Daddy will always be there to fix it, your son feels no urgency to succeed. By over-enforcing his sense of security, you allowed his sense of responsibility to wither. It's basic human nature to care more about that which we work for to obtain ourselves. All of us tend to be somewhat careless about that which is handed to us for free.

There's no nice way to put this Mr. Bush. Your son is a miserable failure as a President and will be remembered in the history books as possibly the most arrogant and dismally incompetent leader this country has ever suffered, yet he enjoyed a long grace period of positive press. Longer than most presidents, thanks to this ill-fated "war" he unilaterally declared. You can't blame the media now for pointing out what the people already can see for themselves -- your son deceived and betrayed us. His war is a farce and our foreign policy is in shambles. This time 43's negligent stewardship has created a problem too big for you to simply solve for him.

Now you can only sit by and watch white-knuckled with the rest of us, hoping as we count down the days until the end of his term, that we will be able to salvage enough out of the ruins he will leave behind to rebuild our country to its former status and glory.
For a much less polite response, read Jill's brilliant post. She offers up a comprehensive and compelling list of reasons on why 41 should just stop whining.
Bookmark and Share

The President is a public servant

Garry Wills in an op-ed at the NYT explores how our President has erroneously come to be referred to as Commander-in-Chief. In fact, he is not our Commander-in-Chief. He has no command over the civilian population. He is only CiC of the military. Otherwise he is a public servant of the people and as such should be expected to treat us ordinary Americans with at least the barest modicum of respect as his employer. We don't automatically owe him unquestioning allegiance by virtue of his office. If he wants our support and respect, the onus is on him to earn it, just as any other employee must.

Glenn Greenwald expands on this theme, noting other more worthy and combat experienced Presidents who preceded Bush eschewed the grandiose pretensions that our current president wraps around himself like a mantle of nobility. Gen. Eisenhower never expected to be saluted as President, rightly recognizing the distinction between his military leadership and his civilian office. That affection of current presidents started with Reagan, who also never saw a battlefield outside of the movies. And Teddy Roosevelt, who served our country with great honor, also rightly perceived the POTUS is "merely the most important among a large number of public servants." Glenn encapsulates the concept well in his book.
With regard to Americans generally, the president is not our "commander" but instead our elected public servant, subject to the mandates of the law like every other citizen and subordinate to the will of the people.
To be fair, this is not solely a quirk of the President. Historically, all our government employees were routinely referred to as public servants. But today, from the POTUS, through the legislatures right down to the lowliest clerk at the DMV, our public employees have embraced an air of entitlement that suggests they are our superiors. It's time we reminded all of them that they work for us, not the other way around.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 26, 2007

Memo to Hugh Hewitt - Take off the blinders

Hewitt continues to push his Pledge. He posts a dire warning to Republican legislators that won't heed the advise of his army of "tipping point" bloggers. He tells the Beltway boys to take off their earmuffs. I might respectfully suggest he take out his own earplugs and while he's at it, he might want to take off the blinders too.

He's got a list of bloggers that takes longer to scroll down than I have patience for, many of whom get well over 50,000+ hits a day and he's only managed to get 18,000 signators in two days. Hugh might want to stop and listen to the anti-war voices. Less than a year ago, Code Pink got 103,000 signatures on a generic anti-war petition. Before the invasion even happened, an international petition garnered I million in five days. And a recent CBS poll revealed only 23% of the country approves of Bush's handling of the war.

Time to face the music Hugh and you might want to tell your friends too. You're in the minority now.
Bookmark and Share

The Decider Speaks

This is one for the archives. Bush tells America, I'm the decision-maker. "I’ve picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed," he said.

Considering he's been picking the plans he decided were most likely to succeed right along, forgive me if I'm not comforted by that assurance. And he goes on.
“I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it’s even had a chance to work,” the president said. “They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work.”
Well which is it Mr. President? You're either the Great Decider or you're waiting for the Democratic Party to come up with a plan to save your arrogant butt. You can't have it both ways. And if you listen closely, I believe the Democrats and a fair number of Republicans have outlined a plan. To put it in simple words, admit you made a colossal mistake and redeploy the troops out of Baghdad instead of sending more in now, when it's too late to make a difference.

Think Progress has the video of the complete quote.
One of the things I found in Congress is that most people recognize that failure would be a disaster for the United States, and — I’m the decision-maker. I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster.
Preclude disaster? As opposed to the bed of roses we're enjoying there now? It's so sad to watch, I almost feel sorry for the man. He looks like nothing so much as a little boy lost who's wondering if he's too big now to start crying for his mommy.
Bookmark and Share

Bush plays "Blue Game Matrix"

This can't be good. Bush decided, last fall, to issue shoot to kill orders against Iranian operatives in Iraq. There's a couple of problems with this order. First, since the order is supposed to exclude civilians and diplomats, who determines whether an Iranian citizen is an operative? Considering the recent raids on Iranian diplomatic facilities I'd say there's some amount of confusion on that score already.

Second, Iran is a Shia friendly country. Why would they be arming the Sunni insurgents against their own people? Iran has been training and equipping the Shia militias, who are closely associated with the government we installed ourselves in Iraq, who continue to make overtures to Tehran in order to foster a close and cooperative relationship.

I'd say more on this but Chris Floyd sums it up perfectly in an excellent post that should be read in full.
So again, let's be clear. If Iran is not arming their bloodsworn enemies, the Sunni insurgents, and if any Shiite group they are assisting is an integral part of the "sovereign" Iraqi government backed by the Bush Administration, then what on earth can be the purpose of a direct presidential order to the troops to kill Iranians in Iraq? The answer is simple: the purpose of the order is to provoke Iran into some action that can be trumpeted as a casus belli for the Bush Faction's long-planned war against Iran.

What Bush has done with this order is to turn the American military into his own private death squad. It is an act of breathtaking dishonor, of unspeakable moral filth. That this pathetic little man and the jumped-up thugs around him – especially the hulking, smirking, lying coward Dick Cheney – are allowed to show their faces among civilized people, much less exercise power over a mighty nation, remains an unfathomable mystery...and a source of deep shame for all Americans.
Indeed. How is possible to feel anything but pure disgust over such self-serving thuggery being perpetrated in our name?
Bookmark and Share

White House contorts rule of law to protect its secrets

Now it becomes clear why Gonzales made such a big show of submitting the illegal domestic eavesdropping program to overview by the FISA court. In a typical ploy, such as they used in the Padilla case, when it looks like they're about to lose in court, they suddenly decide to comply with the law and move for dismissal on the premise that the grounds of the complaint are moot. This is the argument they make for dismissing the current appeal of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling that the TSP is unconstitutional. One hopes the court won't fall for it. As the plaintiffs argue, absent a ruling, there is nothing to preclude the government from reinstituting the program at any time they feel the public's attention has been sufficiently diverted by some other White House designed crisis.

Of course, this is only one of many cases filed relative to the illegal surveillance and even more disturbing are the administration's tactics in a related case filed last year in Oregon. At the root of this is a document mistakenly provided to the plaintiffs.
In August 2004, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which was investigating an Oregon charity, al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, inadvertently provided a copy of a classified document to a foundation lawyer, Lynne Bernabei.

That document indicated, according to court filings, that the government monitored communications between officers of the charity and two of its lawyers without a warrant in spring 2004.
The government ordered all copies, which had circulated rather widely here and abroad, to be returned and went as far as to seize an opposing counsel's computer in order to scrub the document. They kept the computer, that no doubt contained privileged attorney-client work product, for weeks. Furthermore, they requested the doc be struck from the record and the plaintiffs not be allowed to even think about it, much less mention it. The judge thankfully didn't go that far.

However, the circumvention of normal court processes remain deeply troublesome. The government files secret briefs that no one can see except the judge and the judge can only view them in a secret room at Justice by appointment. The judge is not allowed to keep a copy and the documents are not filed with the court, even under seal. Essentially, the government files the paper with itself but assures us the chain of custody is secure and the records can not be altered. If you believe that I have a piece of oceanfront property in Arizona I'm still trying to sell.

Furthermore, the judges are instructed to compose their decisions on government provided computers. I leave it to your imagination as to why they would insist on that. The government also asserts the right to seize exhibits already filed from the courts. It all forms a distressing pattern of White House attempts to redefine the rule of law.
“These are the basics that we take for granted in our court system,” Professor Marder, a litigation secrecy expert, said. “You have two parties. You exchange documents. The documents you’ve seen don’t disappear.”
But not to worry. The White House is thinking about that issue.
Mr. Boyd of the Justice Department said the government “continues to explore with counsel ways in which the classified information may be properly protected without any intrusion on the attorney-client privilege.”
But if in the meantime they manage to completely destroy our judicial system -- well -- it's just another quaint vestige of democracy anyway. Who needs it when you have a "war empowered president" making unilateral decisions for you?
Bookmark and Share

Libby Trial opener - Witness sings on spinning leaks

As I've said before, I don't plan to post a lot about this case. If you want perspective on the legal issues of the Scooter Libby trial, go to Fire Dog Lake who built their blog on this matter and if you still can't get enough of the legalese, stop by Talk Left. But yesterday's revelations from Cathie Martin, former Cheney communications director are too delicious to leave unmentioned. Ms. Martin sheds some much needed light on just how the White House spin machine works.

Just as we suspected, Tim Russert's Meet the Press is a fav of the administration because they can count on softball questions to "control the message" or as we like to call it, pushing the propaganda. Cathie notes it "was a tactic we often used." She goes on to reveal the administration's copious and deliberate use of the Friday news dump. In a moment of unmitigated candor she told the court that bad news is dumped before the weekend for the sole purpose of burying it.

She described at length how she and Steve Hadley worked long hours with George Tenet helping him draft his political suicide note in which he faked responsibility for the erroneous mention of yellowcake uranium in the President's SOTU speech that year. And she confirmed "the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators."

But probably her most damaging testimony, backed up with written notes, clearly indicates that the "no leak" White House routinely used leaks to White House friendly reporters in order to advance their false story lines.

Even if nothing else happens in this trial and Scooter gets off, these revelations proving the odious duplicity of the White House are worth every penny we're spending on it.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pledging fealty to folly

You know the 101st Fighting Keyboardists are in real trouble when their most important project seems more suited to satire than serious punditry. Even for such shameless Bush supporters, this is a new depth of absurdity. I read Hugh Hewitt's latest brain child -- The Pledge -- and looked to see if the link was to the Onion. I was instantly reminded of The He-man Woman-haters club. I could imagine the idea germinated in pretty much the same manner.
Spanky: Let’s start a club right now. The He-man Woman-haters. I'll be president.
Alfalfa: And I'll be second president, and you can be third president.
Buckwheat: Thanks.
I mean really. The Pledge? Short version: We the He-Man Democrat-Haters Club promise not to fall for this dissent business because questioning the competency of the president is the bunk.

Seriously though, it's somewhat frightening to see intelligent people become so immersed in their partisan interests that they're not only demanding a pledge of absolute and blind loyalty to their liege lord, but also calling for the heads of anyone who would dare suggest the Emperor has no clothes. Perhaps they should have gone all the way and also demanded that hereinafter Bush shall be referred to only as "Your Highness." The whole concept is not only nonsenical, it's unAmerican.

Maybe they forgot this country was founded by men who dared to disagree with a king who claimed to be the infallible overlord over our land. Funny, his name was George too.
Bookmark and Share

Senility happens

I'm of an age myself where the spector of one's mortality looms a little larger and the fear of senility lurks like a bogieman in a dark corner. Thus I found this piece timely and pertinent to our current crisis of governance. Some of our most important leaders are well past the customary age of retirement. They've held office since before color television and the internets are little more than a mysterious collection of tubes that operate outside the realm of their experience and understanding.

They've been entrenched in the system for so long, all they know is politics as usual and are ill-equipped to deal with the changes that have arrived in this age of instant information. They continue to get re-elected based on the political patronage they can deliver, not on their competency at addressing the best interests of the nation as a whole.

One has to ask whether in these troubled times we can afford to simply ignore the age factor out of respect for our veteran legislators. Can we afford to put the most important matters of our lifetimes in the hands of aging men like Strom Thurmond, who proved his virility by marrying a 22 year old at the age of sixty-six but spent the last year of his tenure mostly in a hospital bed? Can we assume he was competent to govern at that point? I think not.

We test ordinary senior citizens for competency in order to maintain their driver's licenses. Shouldn't we also do the same for legislators beyond a certain age who are engaged in making critical and often earth shaking decisions for our nation before they are allowed to run for reelection? Perhaps that sounds disrespectful, but if they want unquestioned respect, they should take up a different line of work.

Competent governance requires a keen mind and clear sight. And to be fair, many elder statesmen keep both well into their golden years. But we can no longer afford to simply entrust our future to aging politicians without some kind of performance evaluation. A 70 or 80 year old man couldn't get a job in a grocery store without one. Why should we allow them to run our country without meeting the same requirement?
Bookmark and Share

Silence is treason

Cheney is still singing everything's coming up roses, while the formerly safe Green Zone explodes under rocket ordinance and people are dying by the score at the hand of sucide bombers in neighborhoods outside of the Zone. Nonetheless, Cheney, joined by the about to be anointed Gen. Petraeus and their faithful codependent Lieberman, insist that any criticism of their "new" plan for "victory" is tantamount to treason.

As usual, Glenn Greewald slices their overt slurs against patriotic Americans who dare question their "wisdom" into ribbons. Glenn reaches into the historical record to find the founding principles of patriotic dissent.
Finding a way to impose checks on the President's war-making abilities was a key objective of the Founders. In Federalist 4, John Jay identified as a principal threat to the Republic the fact that insufficiently restrained leaders "will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and objects merely personal, such as a thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people."
But the most compelling argument in favor of questioning the authority of the powers that be comes from one of our more effective Commanders-in-Chief, Theodore Roosevelt.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
Indeed, our entire rule of law is based on swearing to testify to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Compelled silence would render the three co-equal branches of our system of government into little more than a pile of useless scrap wood. You can't build a free and democratic republic out of that.
Bookmark and Share

Rude awakening

Robert Novak is appalled that "the self-confident Democratic leadership" wants to "function as a coordinate branch of government, not as friendly colleagues in the spirit of bipartisanship." He tuts tuts about the Democratic rebuff of Bush's call for a "new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror."

Here's a newsflash Mr. President. Your party had four years to demonstrate the spirit of bipartisanship and they chose to shut out the Democratic Party completely. They regulated them to broom closets, scoffing up all the prime office space for themselves and used every procedural trick in the book to keep them out of the debate. And if they didn't work, they invented new rules to prevent the opposition's voice from being heard.

As my first husband was fond of saying, "Payback's a bitch." The White House and its loyal rubberstampers made the bed thinking they would never have to lie in it themselves. Pardon me, if I'm not crying now that they find the lumps in it not to their liking. If that's impolite -- well -- let's hear a round of applause for rude and realistic Democrats. It beats the hell out of hiding under the covers.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blackwater security - lost in the fog of war

Blackwater. A fitting name for the dirty little secret that nobody talks about. Bush, in the great "wisdom" of his war powers privatized our army. The last estimate I saw, we had about 100,000 private contractors working in Iraq. A large percentage of those are Blackwater security, which we used to call mercenary soldiers. Guns for hire.

You don't hear about them much. They fly under the radar unless they die in some spectular manner like the four who were hung at Fallujah or the unfortunate Blackwater soldiers who were executed in Baghdad this week. Wildly conflicting reports on that incident indicate from one to three helicopters were involved. The US military claims none were shot down while Sunni groups claim credit for doing so. One thing is clear. The men are dead and their ID is currently displayed on a Sunni website.

And many more Blackwater soldiers die than we never hear about. I saw a tally that put it in the 600s and those are not counted in the military figures yet they are our soldiers. Our tax dollars are paying their hefty salaries. They make much more than our enlisted men do. A big chunk of the billions a month it costs to run the occupation goes to that company.

Unsurprisingly Blackwater is Bush friendly firm. It has direct ties to Dick DeVos, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Michigan on the Republican ticket using his own money and is a big contributor to both Bush and the GOP. I believe this is what Ike was talking about when he warned against the military-industrial complex.
Bookmark and Share

Them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose...

Taking a minute here for a late lunch and a quick scan of the news I see, Kerry has finally seen the light and announced he wouldn't be running for the nomination. Good choice. The field is already too crowded and he already had his shot and he blew it.

Hagel continues to impress with his tough talk, telling his colleagues in the Senate to take a prinicipled and forthright position on Iraq or get out of politics and start selling shoes for a living. I liked this quote.
...Like always, the American people are far ahead of us sitting here, far ahead of us. Because we’re concerned about politics. We’re concerned about our position. We’re concerned about our next election.
Hagel clearly gets it.

Meanwhile, Lieberman the self-appointed boot licker for the White House continues to astound and appall with his clueless propagandizing for Bush. He clearly doesn't get it.

Maybe he thinks Cheney is really on his way out on account of the revelations of the VP's malfaesance emerging from the Libby trial and that he has a shot at replacing him since he apparently has taken over the job of virtually accusing administration critics of treason. Worse yet he weaseled Petraeus into agreeing with him at the hearing. Senator John Warner in turn warns Petraeus to beware of becoming associated with the toxic sentiments of hapless dirty tricksters like Lieberman.

By the way, am I the only one that struggles not to start calling Slow Joe, LIEberman. Somehow it's so fitting his very name starts out with a lie that I find I often make that typo and I'm loath to correct it.
Bookmark and Share

What's the matter with health care

Bear with me kind readers. My schedule is heavy through tomorrow aftenoon but then it appears I'll have six days off so posting will resume at the usual pace. Meanwhile, I'm late in posting this but congratulations to Michael van der Galien at the Moderate Voice for scoring a guest op-ed from the Governator's spokeperson on Arnold's new health plan for California.

And of course our preznit also had some things to say about health care last night during the SOTU that I'd like to address but it will have to wait until probably tomorrow. I have a lot to say to about health care coverage and not enough time at the moment to say it all. For now all I'll say in general is the focus on shared blame for what's broken in the system is a fraud. The root cause of our health care crisis is the insurers, who have enjoyed record breaking profits for far too long while raising premiums, shortchanging reimbursements to medical care providers and denying coverage to those who most need it. It irritates me no end to see the onus placed on doctors and patients who are the victims of corporate greed.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cheatin' Cheney implicated in Scooter Libby trial

I don't intend to blog much about the Scooter Libby trial since it's being so well covered by so many bloggers with a better grasp of the issues than me, but this is too huge to go unremarked. The prosecution opens with the contention that Cheney is heavily implicated in the dirty deeds. The big three allegations are Cheney is the one who told Scooter about Plame, he gave Scooter an handwritten note directing him to leak the info to the press and Scooter destroyed the note in order to protect the VP. I bet he's sorry he didn't save it now.

Meanwhile, Digby reports the vultures are already circling the VP's office with Norah O'Donnell asking Andy Card and Leon Panetta if the president is going to have to ask Dick Cheney to resign as a result of what's being alleged at the Libby Trial.

Personally, I think Bush would be more likely to give Cheney a medal of freedom but I think Digby is right that we can expect a major smear campaign against Fitzgerald to commence almost immediately. The White House is certainly not going to want the public to be thinking about the facts in this case.
Bookmark and Share

How low can Bush go?

I'm working today and have no time to post but I can't let this pass without a quick wow! CBS News is reporting Bush's approval rating is at 28% on the cusp of the SOTU. It seems certain he would almost have to get a bump from the speech tonight. I can't imagine he could get any lower numbers considering the number of die hard loyalists that would support him even if they found out he really did eat live kittens for breakfast.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 22, 2007

Newsflash - al-Qaeda is plotting an attack

Oh sorry. That news that is 20 years old. Call me cynical, but Bush's approval rating is tanking. The SOTU is tomorrow. Nearly everybody hates his unitary escalation decision so today we're hearing about six month old intel regarding a 9/11 style plot -- and here's the good part -- being hatched by AQ in Iraq. Am I supposed to be terrified enough to support the escalation now? Because I'm not. There's still a greater chance I'll be killed in car accident on the highway than there is of dying in a terrorist attack.

Hot-headed young people are always dreaming up violent anti-establishment plots. A few succeed but most don't. We survived the Weathermen and the Black Panthers and the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 60s and we'll survive AQ if we stop providing them with their best recruiting tool - the flypaper theory. The trouble is, the flypaper didn't kill them, it gave them a breeding ground. As Richard Clarke pointed out, "Anyone willing to go to Iraq to fight American troops is probably willing to try to come to the United States."

And as long as we continue to occupy the country as a military force, they're going to keep coming to the terrorist training ground formerly known as the country of Iraq.
Bookmark and Share

You say you want a resolution....

...Well you know,
We all want to change the world

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan

Don't get me wrong. I know there's many reasons to be cheered by John Warner introducing his own resolution opposing the escalation, but for the love of Pete, what the hell good does it do in the end? The Senate is beginning to feel like Walmart on Black Friday with everyone rushing the door to be the first in to get the good deal on electronics. There's so many resolutions floating around right now you need a scorecard. And the hell of it is, they're all non-binding.

It's all political theater. While everybody is busy weighing the potential impact on public perception all the competing resolutions might have, the Great Decider is stomping around 1600 Penn Ave issuing orders to deploy the troops and God knows what else. The escalation pales in importance compared to the damage Bush will cause if he attacks Iran. Making him look like an intractable idiot is dangerous. It's only makes it more likely he'll do something really crazy out of stubborn pride -- to prove he's in charge.

The only person I've seen today who seems to be keeping his focus on the greater issues here, Glenn Greenwald, notes that a simple google search will bring up scads of Orwellian rhetoric in support of the war in 03 from the same players, including Sen. Warner, that are now battling to be the first in line to condemn the escalation. Why are we pinning our hopes on these same people just because they switched their political posturing to reflect the current mood of the public? The whole point is that neither the public, nor the Congressional branch, nor the Judiciary, nor even the military are the ones who can pull the trigger. We've got to disarm the guy who's got the gun in his hand, not just piss him off.

I'm going to keep saying this until somebody listens. The Senate needs to revoke the resolution they passed to allow Bush to use force. He's obviously incapable of using it wisely. And while they're at it, they should rescind the Patriot Act which continues to undermine the rule of law and our system of checks and balances as its little noticed provisions continue to crop up to this day, enabling Bush to circumvent the customary checks on the executive branch.

It's a simple solution that granted would be difficult to pass but it's the only pratical avenue I see to effectively put the brakes on a President who is careening out of control and is about to take us all over the cliff with him.
Bookmark and Share

White House avoiding truth and consequences

The Senate has been waiting for a new National Intelligence Estimate for well over six months. The White House has been avoiding urgently needed delivery of the document for all this time for the usual political reasons. Negroponte refused to deliver one before the midterm election because its assessment is expected to be so bleak that it would embarrass the President. That's fine for Bush, but since when has avoiding accountability become a criteria for national security? Call me crazy but I had this silly idea that keeping the country,(or at the very least the Senate), informed on the consequences of his great decisions should take priority over whether the results are discomfiting to him.

In any event, the NIE is still being withheld from the Senate Armed Services Committee, who expected to recieve it at a recent closed door hearing. The National Intelligence Council's excuses for the continued delay were about on par with "the dog ate my homework," claiming some agencies haven't delivered their portions of the report because they're so busy preparing for the "new stragegy" for the redux of last summer's failed sweep in Baghdad and thus they haven't been able to complete the assessment.

One certainly hopes that's a lie and they really have it in their possession, but it's just so bad they don't want to release it. I would hate to think our military planners are undertaking the new escalation operations in Iraq without the benefit of the latest intelligence or even worse that our President made this momentous decision, against nearly universal criticism, without availing himself of the same.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hagel responds to Cheney's slur

If anyone had told me a year ago I would be more excited by the Republican candidates than the Demcratic ones in 08, I would have said they were crazy. Yet I find myself unenthusiastic about the Democratic field and find another reason to like Chuck Hagel.
Last weekend on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed congressional opposition to the administration’s escalation plan undermines the troops.

Today, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said it “is complete nonsense to say we’re undercutting the support of the troops.” Hagel added: “What are we about? We’re Article 1 of the Constitution. We are co-equal branch of government. Are we not to participate? Are we not to say anything? Are we not to register our sense of where we’re going in this country on foreign policy?”
We need much more of that kind of response from the Congress. It's not that I think all these resolutions and tough talk is going to stop Bush from doing what he wants anyway. I continue to think the only practical means of stopping him is to revoke the use of force resolution that he's basing his unilateral powers on, but at least it's better than just silently standing by and allowing our President to race towards ruin unremarked.
Bookmark and Share

Bush claims unilateral authority over the universe

This item illustrates just how delusional our President has become. Apparently Bush believes his unilateral authority extends even into Iraq itself.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had a surprise for President Bush when they sat down with their aides in the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman, Jordan. Firing up a PowerPoint presentation, Maliki and his national security adviser proposed that U.S. troops withdraw to the outskirts of Baghdad and let Iraqis take over security in the strife-torn capital. Maliki said he did not want any more U.S. troops at all, just more authority.
One has to ask why the democratically elected leader of a sovereign country should have to ask our President for authority to lead his own country out of its current civil strife. Didn't Bush himself make a huge show out of transferring sovereignty years ago? Clearly that was just more meaningless rhetoric and political posturing designed to win an election here. If you doubt that, then consider this.
...At a meeting in the White House's Roosevelt Room, the president flatly told his advisers that the Maliki plan was not going to work. He had concluded that the Iraqis were not up to the task and that Baghdad would collapse into chaos, making a bad situation worse. And so the Americans would have to help them.
So in other words, Maliki asked Bush to back off and let him handle it and Bush basically said, screw you. He decided they need help and they're going to get the help dammit and they had better like it. Bush has now rejected several opportunities to exit Iraq with some measure of dignity. Yet he continues to insist on ignoring expert advice, public sentiment and a direct plea from the Iraqis to stand down, in order to follow only his own counsel.

So does this sound like someone who is trying to help the Iraqis stand up or someone who is trying to keep them down for his own reasons?
Bookmark and Share

Al Gonzales - take your habe and shove it

Mark Kleiman brings up these remarks by USAG Gonzales that I've been meaning to address.
“There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away,” Gonzales said.

...Gonzales continued, “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended” except in cases of rebellion or invasion.
And with that narrow reading, Al "Mr. Torture" Gonzales stomps the last breath out of the body of the single most important legal precept that holds our form of government together. Under that logic, the president has the sole authority to determine any individual's right to due process. As Kleiman rightfully points out:
Let's call a spade a spade: the power the Attorney General claims on behalf of the President is nothing less than tyrannical power. If no one is safe from arbitrary arrest, detention, and maltreatment, then each of us enjoys his liberty only at the President's sufferance.
I guess on the plus side, if the President's contention that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms is true, we don't have anything to worry about anymore since that pretty much destroys any freedoms we had left since this administration started systematically shredding our Bill of Rights.
Bookmark and Share

Kristol to war critics - just shut up

Bill Kristol is feeling the heat from the multitude of critics holding his feet to the fire over his ill-advised escalation cheerleading. He whines on Fox News this morning that the critics of his scholarly thought are "irresponsible," which perhaps is destined to become his new catch word now that his usual slur of "unserious" has been flogged to near death.
This morning on Fox News, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol said that opponents of escalation in Congress are “leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate.” Kristol said, “It’s just unbelievable. … It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months,” adding, “You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that.”
I would go on a long rant about how nearly everyone with a large forum has been quietly, or loudly, supporting the occupation for the last four years and only the most deluded, or those with the most face to lose over being completely wrong, are unwilling to admit things aren't going as well as promised. And not even the strongest critics have ever expressed a wish that we would lose in Iraq. Critics of the policy have merely been asking, for a very long time, for a reasonable definition of what would be considered winning. However, Mr. Williams has kindly put Mr. Kristol in his place for us.
NPR’s Juan Williams told Kristol his analysis was “totally ahistorical,” and pointed out that yesterday was the deadliest day for U.S forces in Iraq in two years. “There’s something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the politics of, ‘If you don’t support this president, you don’t really want us to win.’”
Indeed, that bogus and unfair claim has been repeated endlessly these many, many months to deflect the very serious questions from the critics about the failed policies that Kristol and his ilk have tirelessly promoted. Why bother to answer the questions when you can smear the critic and simply move on to the next meaningless platitude about freedom on the march and a turning point just around the next corner?

Kristol was wrong from the beginning and he continues to compound his errors by refusing to admit the flaws in his theories. If it was only Kristol's reputation on the line, perhaps one wouldn't bother to even respond but this man has the president's ear and his words don't only affect his paycheck, they put the lives of thousands of troops in danger. If anyone is being irresponsible, it's Kristol for putting his own self-interest above the greater good for our troops and our nation.

But what more can one expect of a man who has been coddled since birth and shielded from the consequences of his actions. As Glenn Greenwald points out in an illuminating post, Kristol and others in his cabal like Fred Kagan, have been led by the hand throughout their entire lives by their parents.

They've never had to make it on their own merits, nor worry about their future or whether they'll have enough money in the bank to pay their bills this month. Like any child, they grew up wanting to be exactly like Daddy (or Mommy). In a five year old, that's really cute. For grown men to become mirror images of their parents, it not only implies a lack of imagination and initiative, it's a little creepy.

But as long as men like Kristol are given credibility and a forum by our MSM on account of their parents connections, they will continue to "lead" our policy and that's just plain frightening.
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kristol and Kagan seriously nuts

Glenn Greenwald continues his ongoing series on the AEI tag team of Kristol and Kagan. As Glenn points out these two have singlehandedly made "serious" the new code word for completely crazy. If we're to believe the Evel Kneivel twins of video game style warfare, we should take the responsibility for the mythical war on terror out of the hands of our White House nutcase and place our trust solely on a man who was offered a big promotion in order to agree with the President's last ditch effort to bail out Baghdad by sacrificing yet more American soldiers to politically driven strategies.

Patraeus gets a shiny new star on his uniform whether it works or not and Bill and Fred have secured their place on the invitation list to the White House tea parties. Pass the nutcakes and pay no mind to the anguished crying in the distance. That's just the sound of that annoying and trivial collateral damage. Just believe them -- it's nothing serious.

UPDATE: Joe from Cadillac Tight defends Gen. Patraeus' credentials in comments. To clarify, I mean no disrespect to the General's ability to command. I'm sure he's an intelligent and competent commander, but I find it difficult to believe he would have received the promotion if he didn't agree to support the escalation. You have to admit it's a powerful incentive to come up with a plan that goes against the opinion of the majority of his equally qualified peers.
Bookmark and Share

Why I love Jesus

Jesus General that is. If it wasn't for him I might never laugh at politics. Just trust me and go read his priceless exchange with Dinesh D'Souza. As Drudge might say, developing.... so be sure to check back for updates.
Bookmark and Share

And the big surprise announcement is.....

Oh sorry, there isn't any surprise here. Hillary formally announced her candidacy as the heir apparent of the Democratic Party for 08. Color me unenthusiatic but you can sure Republican operatives across the land are cheering loudly. A Clinton ticket is their best hope of keeping the White House.

Hilzoy does a great job of listing the reasons why Hillary spells doom for Democrats and sums it up with this quote,
The real problem is that she'd be a disaster for the Democrats if she were nominated, and, I suspect, not that great a President in the unlikely event that she won. ...[T]his is a campaign that calls for hemlock stakes, garlic, and silver bullets.
I'm with Hilzoy on this. I've been screaming NO!!! since the day they first floated her name. Her time is long past and she's demonstrated time and time again that she's a just a gear in the big machine politics that the people rejected in 06.

I'll say it again. If the Dems want to win, they should dump the whole primary fight and be grooming Webb-Tester by consensus. I think that's a ticket that could cross over and win big in 08. It's a new age and it calls for a new approach and fresh faces as yet untainted by the stink of Beltway insider trading.
Bookmark and Share

Sssh... don't tell the troops - it's a secret?

The war supporters are forever laying the demise of troop morale on the doorstep of us anti-war/liberals/progressives/dirty fucking hippies (take your pick). So I suppose this bone-headed inattention to detail just cheered our guys up immensely.
A day after Mr. Bush announced the troop increase in a televised speech, the National Guard in New Jersey told family members that their relatives would have to stay on. The news quickly made it back to the troops in Iraq through anguished phone calls and e-mail.

Not until Sunday — four days after Mr. Bush’s speech — were the troops notified by their Army commanders, after Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey made two phone calls to Army officials.
The Pentagon's response? Oops -- sorry -- just another “breakdown in the chain of command on the ground in Iraq.” What a sorry excuse for military "command." I certainly hope they do a better job of informing our troops on where to deploy in order to enact the "new grand plan" than they have in keeping them informed on the length of their deployments.
Bookmark and Share

The rise and fall of Hugo Chavez

Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction looks at Hugo Chavez this morning and doesn't like what he sees. The money quote:
...In this case, the rule of "revolutionary" law -- in effect, the arbitrary rule of a single unchecked man -- is nothing but tyranny, authoritarianism, the oppression of the people. Arbitrary rule always is. Which is why the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of man, is so central to democracy. And which is why, in our advanced democracies, we must safeguard the rule of law vigilantly and diligently, protecting it from the trespasses of those who would weaken it, scrap it, in the name of executive authority.
I have to say I was a big supporter of Chavez five years ago but he's lost me now. In fact he lost me some time ago, along about when he decided to crack down on the "opposition press." Still, I worry when I see him vilified.

I believe he still has the support of the majority of his people and I would hate to see the US find a reason to meddle in Venzuela's affairs. The failed coup in 02 that was covertly sponsored by the US was what solidified his power in the first place. Let that be a lesson to us. Trying to fix a sovereign country's problems usually makes it worse.

Meanwhile, Michael's words serve as a good reminder why we need to fight the excesses of our own unitary executive. Allowing one man to have unfettered power over governance always leads to tyranny and oppression.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hewitt loses it

I'll be happy to answer Hugh Hewitts questions when he explains what the hell the poll question is supposed to mean in the first place and when he aks the Republican leaders to explain the same about the 22% of the Repblicans that answered in the negative as well.

Dumb question, absurd post.
Bookmark and Share

Hairtrigger politics on Iran

This item isn't any better than the one below. It can't be good when a bipartisan panel recommends diplomacy and it encounters bipartisan rejection on the floor. I would blog about this but Paul Silver at the Moderate Voice already has it covered with the perfect juxtaposition. Go read his post.
Bookmark and Share

Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?

It's been a long day and I'm just getting around to reading the news. As usual, it's not that great.

This on its face would seem to be good news. Reid sternly warned the President that he could not attack Iran without Congressional approval. The problem is it's just so much political posturing. As if that would stop Bush from launching missiles if he decided to do it?

If Reid wants me to believe he's serious, then he has to gather the party together and immediately rescind the "war powers" and the Patriot Act. It probably wouldn't stop Bush either, but it might slow him down to have to consider he was suddenly much more culpable for crimes against the state if he no longer could wrap himself in the mantle of "War President" to justify his unilateral decisions.

It's time to rewrite the script. The truth is Bush isn't a war president; he's presiding over an occupation of a sovereign country with democratically elected leaders. We've fulfilled every one of dozen justifications from destroying non-existent WMDS to regime change to execution of the brutal tyrant Saddam. Forget about the escalation for a moment, and someone just tell me exactly what the mission is now and why we should commit greater resources to it.

And we can't allow any president to claim war powers under an undeclared war against a non-state player. The truth is we're not in a war on terror. We're in a battle against terrorism that has been going on since the beginning of time. It's a battle that will never end as long as the desire for vengence or empire beats in the hearts of cruel and hot-headed extremists. It's a fight against an idea, not a place or a decipherable demographic, and no one man should be allowed to decide its course without the consent of the people in any country that calls itself a democracy.

Meanwhile, if you don't think Bush has an itchy finger on the nuclear trigger, I do and I'm not all comforted by this assurance from our new Defense Secretary.
This week, the administration sent another aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf _ the second to deploy in the region. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the buildup was intended to impress on Iran that the four-year war in Iraq has not made America vulnerable. The U.S. is also deploying anti-missile Patriot missiles in the region.
Cool. We can scare Iran. So what are we going to do to impress China? Because frankly, this scared the bejebus out of me. China didn't decide to successfully test a ground to satellite missile at just this moment for no reason. And I'm sure you remember that we haven't had a successful test of the same technology since Reagan started our own Star Wars Defense system.

Perhaps it's time to start building bomb shelters in our backyards again.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Materialistic Conservatives

Bob Burnett has a good post up at the HuffPo on the President's materialistic conservatism. I like that phrase. It really sums up what I find wrong with what passes for conservative ideology these days. I'll give you the money graf.
President Bush and conservatives, in general, don't like to talk about real sacrifice. They prefer to pretend that Americans can have it all: wage an expensive "war" on terror and continue to run a deficit economy fueled by tax cuts; enjoy artificially priced gasoline and ignore global climate change. They are materialists who prefer to focus on the present: argue that tomorrow is another day, and until then, personal sacrifice is unnecessary.
I think that sums it up really well. As I just said the other day, if I wanted Scarlett O'Hara to run the country, I would have voted for her.
Bookmark and Share

Starting gun sounds for 08

Actually I think they really popped the starting pistol in 05 for this campaign but the season is now officially open with the early declarations of candidacy. Steve Clemons likes Hagel for 08 and at the least wants to keep him in the Senate. I like Hagel lately myself, but I don't know much about his overall record and I'm rooting for Ron Paul right now in the GOP presidential sweepstakes mayself.

I was thinking today if I got my wish and the GOP ran Ron Paul and the Democratic Party ran Webb-Tester, it would like the Mets-Red Sox matchup in the World Series all over again. I wouldn't know who to root for because I'm a fan of both teams. Then again, either outcome in an election would make me feel like a winner.
Bookmark and Share

Shining a light into the back rooms inside the Beltway

This is what I'm talking about when I say the Democrats should put aside the machine politics and groom Webb-Tester for 08 if they're serious about winning. Jon Tester posted his schedule on line.

This is a guy who understands that what the people want is accountability. Every single legislator should be doing the same. And every bill should be posted on the internets in its final form, in an easy to access format, before it's voted on so the voters can weigh in.

Our government has operated in the dark for far too long. There's no excuse in the internet age not to be posting their work. We pay for it. We should get to see what they're doing.
Bookmark and Share

Got a new gig and other linky love

While I still seem to have a few moments of free time, I'm thrilled to report thatMichael J.W. Stickings at the Reaction has kindly asked me to move from guest blogging into becoming a regular co-blogger at his place. I'm happy and honored to be joining the team there. I've already made friends with Capt. Fogg, another co-blogger whom I adore already and I recommend his personal blog.

I've also made friends with Michael van der Galien through the Michael Stickings association with The Moderate Voice. Michael V and I often disagree but I've become a big fan of his lately and have added him to the blogroll as well. I put him into "leans to the right" but I'm thinking he may be misclassified and I should move him to "swingers."

And speaking of swingers, Average Tobacco Chewing Joe at Cadillac Tight is back at the keyboard. He's another blogger whom I rarely agree with but love dearly and really value his views. I think maybe I should move him to "leans to the right" though. He's seems to have become more conservative during his haitus.

In any event, blog roll juggling will have to wait until the weekend which I'm relatively sure I will have off. In the meantime, check out all these fine blogs.
Bookmark and Share

Quick takes

I have no idea what time I'll get out of here today but here's some links to a couple of videos I've been meaning to post.

Minor Ripper has three very short pieces here that made me want to vomit. I'm sure they're not indicative of the behavior of the majority of our troops, but nonetheless I'm equally certain they are not the only ones who engage in such needless cruelty and these soldiers' conduct does have an effect on how the rest of the troops are perceived. They're not gory, but I found them more disturbing than many much more graphic videos I've seen. Watch at your own risk.

This second link is to a long documentary hosted at Information Clearing House, a BBC production called the Power of Nightmares. I've only managed to watch the first 15 minutes or so but I could hardly bear to click it off once I started. I intend to find the time to view the whole series and would recommend it based just on that short preview. It appears it will trace the roots of the politics of fear from both the Muslim and the neo-con perspective, beginning in the late 40s and continuing to the present day. I have a feeling it's required viewing for anyone who wants to understand how we got into this mess.

Leave a review if you've already seen it. Otherwise, I hope to be back later this evening after I've caught up with today's news cycle.
Bookmark and Share

Maliki slaps back at Bush

I'm trying to sneak in a quick post while I have a moment to myself today and this caught my eye. Maliki says we could get the heck out Baghdad if only we would give his security forces more guns and money - the implication being Bush has reneged on promised amounts. Kind of a tough sell there, with thousands of US arms paid for with US tax dollars that are currently unaccounted for, and have presumably gone out on the black market and are widely thought to be in the hands of the Shia militias who play a big part in the sectarian violence that is currently tearing Iraq asunder while propping Maliki's government up.

More interesting I thought, is Maliki's remarks were apparently made in response to the criticism coming from the White House about his inability to effectively govern and put an end to the sectarian warfare. How delicious is the irony that while Bush and his posse have been accusing anti-war Americans of undermining the "war on terror" and emboldening terrorists, that now Maliki has used the exact same rhetoric to accuse Bush and his White House of undermining his government and emboldening terrorists?

It looks like the all too fragile veneer of civility between the two "leaders" (and how appropriate that they're both so equally incompetent) is shattering before our eyes. It's difficult to know what to make of it at this point, but one doubts anything good will come of this thinly veiling trading of insults. The only thing I'm certain about is that I don't want to give more guns and money to either one of them.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Our own Jane D'Arc

Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake is undergoing her third surgery for breast cancer. She's a courageous woman. Go over and wish her well. Send a good thought. The comment section was so overwhelmed they had to shut it down.
Bookmark and Share

Conservatives and Al Qaeda find common ground

I'm not sure it's fair to paint extremists like Dinesh D’Souza, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as representative of the conservatives, any more so that it is to claim Ward Churchill is representative of the progressives, but it is refreshing in a way to see one of these nutcases actually admit that there is too such a thing as the American Taliban and they're it. Via The Carpetbagger, an excerpt from D’Souza's new book:
[I]f the political left and the Islamic fundamentalists are in the same foreign policy camp [because they both hate American imperialism], then by the same token the political right and the Islamic fundamentalists are on the same wavelength on social issues. The left is allied with some radical Muslims in opposition to American foreign policy, and the right is allied with an even larger group of Muslims [which includes radical Muslims] in their opposition to American social and cultural depravity. This is the essential new framework I propose for understanding American foreign policy and American social issues.
As Timothy Noah put it, “Dinesh D’Souza has found common cause with Osama Bin Laden,” and is “forging a values-based alliance” with terrorists against other Americans.
Meanwhile, Crooks and Liars has the video where Colbert gets D’Souza to admit it on the air. I would have more to say about this but I'm afraid if I think about it for even one more minute, my head will surely explode from irony overload.
Bookmark and Share

Gonzales to judical branch - screw you

Perhaps to justify the recent spate of White House purges within the federal judiciary, Gonzales tells the judiciary they are irrelevant in the system of checks and balances. He trots out the tired canard about "activist judges" and tells them "they undermine the rule of law that strengthens our democracy" by insisting the administration comply with it.

In describing the criteria the White House uses in its nominations to the bench, he has this to say.
“We want to determine whether he understands the inherent limits that make an unelected judiciary inferior to Congress or the president in making policy judgments,” Gonzales says in the prepared speech. “That, for example, a judge will never be in the best position to know what is in the national security interests of our country.”
In other words, only compliant toadies like myself need apply. Of course what more could one expect from a guy who wrote the briefs condoning torture, considers the Geneva conventions quaint and whose job it is to curry favor from a boss who has stated the Constitution is just a god-damned piece of paper.
Bookmark and Share

FISA - that was then and this is now

In abrupt about face, after arguing for well over a year that their warrantless wiretapping was not only justified but entirely legal, the White House announced that they would be willing to submit to overview from a FISA court after all. Which may be a moot point since Bush's personal stooge, AG Gonzales also announced the administration would be dropping this program - which they consistently claimed was integral to the never ending war on terrorism - once the current authorization expires, "in favor of a new approach." I don't want to think about what new civil liberty busting scheme they have up their sleeve now.

In the meantime, all this flip flopping is enough to make one break out the dramamine. As Glenn Greenwald points out this leaves Bush supporters who bought the White House's arguments in favor of the illegal eavesdropping with some major egg on their face. Enough to make an omelet big enough to solve world hunger. How are they to now reconcile supporting the president's right to break the law when he suddenly decided to comply with it?

Furthermore, what is one to make of the fact that the White House's main argument in favor of ignoring the law in the first place was that it carried too stringent a standard by insisting the government show the centuries old requirement of probable cause rather than the low standard of "reasonable suspicion" the administration claimed was necessary in order to act rapidly against alleged terrorist threats?

It's difficult not to read this as a response to the turnover in the Congress since under a Democratic majority the White House was now facing real investigation of the illegal practice. Perhaps the White House is hoping to avoid the hearings by now agreeing to play by the rules. One hopes the Democrats won't so easily dissuaded from pursuing the investigations anyway, in order to exact some accountability for the administration's previous actions over the last five years.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Scott Ritter was right

Glenn Greenwald is putting the finishing touches on his book but he reminds us of Scott Ritter's words back in 2002.
The truth of the matter is that Iraq is not a sponsor of the kind of terror perpetrated against the United States on 11 September, and in fact is active in suppressing the sort of fundamentalist extremism that characterises those who attacked the United States on that horrible day.
Scott, who is an experienced authority on WMDs was belittled, smeared and made irrelevant by the same smug psuedo-pundits on the White House payolaroll that are still allowed to pontificate on the airways today. Charles Krauthammer, Peter Beinert and Lucianne's little boy Jonah Goldberg among others.

It's criminally negligent that our MSM continues to put up these deceitful talking deadheads while Scott Ritter and others of his ilk that called the cards correctly from the beginning are regulated to the fringes of the debate.
Bookmark and Share

Don't eradicate, regulate Afghan poppies

Anne Applebaum at Slate takes a look at the poppy problem in Afghanistan and sees the same solution as the Senlis Council and myself and many others have been promoting for a long time.
Why not add Afghanistan to this list? The only good arguments against doing so—as opposed to the silly, politically correct, "just say no" arguments—are technical: that the weak or nonexistent bureaucracy will be no better at licensing poppy fields than at destroying them, or that some of the raw material will still fall into the hands of the drug cartels. Yet some of these problems can be solved by building processing factories at the local level and working within local power structures. And even if the program only succeeds in stopping half the drug trade, then a huge chunk of Afghanistan's economy will still emerge from the gray market, the power of the drug barons will be reduced, and, most of all, Western money will have been visibly spent helping Afghan farmers survive instead of destroying their livelihoods.
I've addressed this often at my other blog, Last One Speaks. Afghanistan cannot afford to eliminate poppy production. Fully one third to one half of the country's GDP depends on it. The US enforced eradication programs are doing more harm than good and only serve to drive the poverty stricken peasants straight into the arms of the Taliban.

There's a worldwide shortage of morphine. Aghanistan could relive the shortage if they legalized the production. As Anne points out, it worked in Turkey and continues to work to this day with US support. It's the only sane answer to solving the current problem of black market funds going straight into the Taliban's pockets.
Bookmark and Share

A good man is hard to find

Well this may be the first time the stats hit the majority but the trend of single women has been building for decades. I bet it was 20 years ago that I read somewhere there are 3 single women to every single man in America. I think it was couched in terms of having a better chance of being hit by a meteorite than getting remarried once you hit 38 back then. The only difference now is that fewer women remained single by choice.

At my age the odds of finding the perfect companion are pretty much astromonical so I'm single by choice and circumstance I guess. I'm such an odd duck that it would a very rare bird to mesh into my life at this point and I figure the world some old maids anyway. Kind of nice to know I have so much company.
Bookmark and Share

Dems out of the gate early in 08 race

I'm just getting to the news tonight because I spent the entire day in the ER. Not as the patient at least but still an exhausting experience, so short takes tonight.

I see Obama is stepping into the race. So where does that put us? Edwards is officially in. Hillary is pretty much a given. We have Vlisack, Dodd and Kucinich. So six declared and Kerry and Biden, biding their time. Crowded race already and it's so early. Personally I think the Dems have got it all wrong. I'm still liking Webb and Tester but I guess they could still emerge as consensus candidates if the rest of the lot cancel each other out.

Oddly, I'm actually the most excited about Ron Paul. He has a fabulous record on the drug war and that alone tempts me to support him. I have to check his overall voting tally before I decide, which I'm surprisingly reluctant to do. If I like it too much, for the first time in my life, I may find myself supporting a Republican for national office. That would be too weird.
Bookmark and Share