Saturday, December 31, 2005

"...Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye..."

Happy New Year! May this coming year be one of correcting for the last five.

Monday, December 26, 2005

It's been several days since I last posted anything here. Normally I try to remain very diligent about making blog entries. I've never been a big fan of other bloggers who post something once in a blue moon.

So what gives? It's not that I've suddenly run dry of any informed opinions -- ha, ha, quite the contrary. I suppose the true reason for the prolonged absence has been the timing of this holiday season arriving just as we learn of GW/Cheney hitting new all-time lows with the secret eavesdropping controversy. Yes, this administration, incredibly, reached an even lower low. Even some (not many) hardened wingnuts had to suck it up, swallow hard, and condemn this latest bit of abhorrent news.

It would've been difficult enough learning of this wholly un-American, Nixonian act during any other time of the year, but to learn of it around the holiday season was just too much to take. After spending the entire year observing this administration and Republican-controlled congress do one thing after another to embarrass this country and further shift us from a democracy to a corporate-backed, neo-fascist state, I simply could no longer stomach venting my frustration up here while at the same time trying to get into the holiday spirit. Enough is enough and I wasn't going to let this despicable cretin in office do to me at this time of year what he's been doing to this country for the last five years. I needed a break -- and I'm sure many of you did too.

I must admit I do feel somewhat recharged and I'll be hard at it again in a few days, posting what I hope many of you find to be fresh, clearly stated opinions that ring true and don't pander to or insult your intelligence. Yes, these clowns are down, but make no mistake, they'll do all that is necessary to try to rebound -- whatever it takes. Have you ever seen rats cornered? Get ready for a flood of lies, deception, and ruthless behavior, continuing like a train off the rails until it all finally comes to an ugly boil.

Last year around this time, I predicted the GOP would implode. Well, if you ask me, for much of 2005, that's what we witnessed. It was not a full-blown, clear-the-decks implosion, but given the butt-cheek-clenched tightness in which this party has been run, what happened this year was in a relative sense a very bad implosion.

The scandals are all in full motion, proceeding forward, the party has begun to fracture, with McCain in particular lining up (shrewdly) as the opposing alternative. Many of the rats are seeking cover (recall Santorum placing blame for his poor polling numbers on GW). Look for this fracturing to continue in 2006. If these scandals result in some blockbuster outcomes, look for massive changes to occur in all levels of government.

That said, with what little time I have spent online recently, it's been to find year-end "best of" lists in newspapers and magazines. Best movies, best music, best books -- whatever. I usually put off the buying of such leisure items until I can peruse these year-end lists. It's not just because I'm able to gather a sort of master consensus from top critics around the country, but also because I have found these same critics are overly generous during the year and now with a year's worth of product to consider, they're able to review their reviews and reconsider where they may have been off the mark. An example: a few years ago, Rolling Stone magazine gave Mick Jagger's solo album its highest-rating, 5*; by year-end, you couldn't find the release anywhere on most best-of lists.

The following are some links. Let me know if you want me to continue to post such links as I find them:

Washington Post best-of

LA Times best-of music

LA Times best-of movies

SF Gate best-of music

Newsday best-of music

Newsday worst-of

UPDATE: Some new 2005 year-end best-of links: Boston Phoenix best-of movies (also, while there, go ahead and read their terrific editorial), Baltimore Sun best movies and music, Seattle Times best movies, Rolling Stone best movies and music, more to come....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Paul Krugman, 12/19/05:
Now, I never had any illusions about intellectual integrity in the world of right-wing think tanks. It has been clear for a long time that so-called analysts at many of these think tanks are, in effect, paid to support selected policies and politicians. But it never occurred to me that the pay-for-play schemes were so blatant.

In fact, most deals between lobbyists and conservative intellectuals probably aren't that blatant. For the most part, people employed by right-wing think tanks don't have to be specifically paid to support certain positions, because they understand that supporting those positions comes with the job. Senior fellows at Cato don't decide, after reconsidering the issue, that Social Security shouldn't be privatized. Policy analysts at the Heritage Foundation don't take another look at the data and realize that farmers and small-business owners have nothing to gain from estate tax repeal.

But it turns out that implicit deals between think tanks and the interests that finance them are sometimes, perhaps often, supplemented with explicit payments for punditry. In return for Abramoff checks, Mr. Bandow and Mr. Ferrara wrote op-ed articles about such unlikely subjects as the entrepreneurial spirit of the Mississippi Choctaws and the free-market glories of the Northern Mariana Islands.
There will be the temptation to ignore the backstory - to treat Mr. Abramoff as a rogue, unrepresentative actor. In fact, before his indictment, Mr. Abramoff wasn't off on his own. He wasn't even a lobbyist in the traditional sense; he's better described as a bag man, running a slush fund for Tom DeLay and other Republican leaders. The point is that there really isn't much difference between Mr. Abramoff's paying Mr. Ferrara to praise the sweatshops of the Marianas and the Department of Education's paying Armstrong Williams to praise No Child Left Behind. In both cases, the ultimate paymaster was the Republican political machine.

And inquiring minds want to know: Who else is on the take? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?
Hilzoy, 12/18/05:
Since the President apparently feels that he doesn't need to concern himself with what's legal, why can't we "afford to be without this law for a single moment"? How on earth could not having it "endanger the lives of our citizens"?

As far as I can tell, Bush and his crack legal team think that it wouldn't matter if the law said that he could order wiretaps only at midnight on Hallowe'en while dangling from a chandelier wearing a gold lamé evening gown and stiletto heels. He can do whatever he wants.

So why on earth does the fate of the PATRIOT Act matter to him?
The role of the Legislature is to write the laws and to impose taxes. The role of the Executive is to carry out those laws.... When one branch takes it upon itself to usurp the powers of the others, the separation of powers is threatened, and our liberty is at risk.
What George Bush has done, by signing his Presidential Order, is to produce exactly that accumulation of powers that Madison and the other framers of the Constitution were determined to prevent. He has decided to circumvent the courts' power to decide whether the government has enough evidence to place someone under surveillance, thereby removing a crucial check on executive power, and arrogating one of the powers of the judiciary to himself.
In addition, in deciding that he has the right to disregard clear statutes, President Bush is arrogating to himself the power of the legislature as well. The Legislature has the power to make laws; the Executive carries out the laws the Legislature has written. Had George W. Bush wanted to, he could have gone to Congress and asked it to change the laws. Instead, he decided to simply ignore them: to act as though he had the powers that the Constitution reserves to the legislative branch.

He is, essentially, claiming that he has the right not just to execute the laws, but to write them himself, and then to judge their application. Moreover, he claims the right to do this in secret. Were he to announce openly that he had decided to concentrate all the powers of government in his own hands, we could at least argue about whether or not we thought that was a good idea. But by acting in secret, he is, essentially, asserting the right to amend the Constitution unilaterally and without having the decency to let us know.
Shakespeare's Sister, 12/18/05:
The question each American, irrespective of political leanings, has to ask her- or himself is whether the circumvention of checks and balances, the evasion of official oversight, the subversion of civil liberties—including, possibly, your own—is, in the end, a bigger threat to freedom than the threats (of terrorism? of peaceful demonstration?) used to justify an abandonment of the rule of law in the first place.
Shakespeare's Sister, 12/17/05:
I always find it particularly curious when a self-identified born-again Christian seems so patently incapable of admitting being wrong, as forgiveness is such a significant part of Christian doctrine. When a Messiah has died for your sins, surely it indicates an expectation that you’ll commit some.

Back in July, Mannion penned (so to speak) a brilliant post on why (certain) conservatives feel free to cast the first stone, which included one of my favorite lines of all time:
[I]f Jesus were around today and a woman taken in adultery ran to him for protection and he said to the crowd, Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone, forty-six Republican adulterers would bean her with rocks.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Are you fed up yet?

Today, Bob Herbert described the "outing" of Bush's eavesdropping without court-approved warrants as "encouraging." Really? Perhaps, but it won't be encouraging enough until most of America gets mad, and I mean blood-boiling mad. Sure, we've seen GW's poll numbers head south, but what gives with those remaining 35-40% who approve? And these low numbers could potentially reverse with enough of the usual applied snake oil and scary -- but apparently effective -- deception.

What I'm talking about is the degree of fed-up disgust and outrage to where there's no going back, when it's finally realized in earnest, to the core, just how bad this administration has been and will be for this country. I mean for crying out loud, he's been approving illegal spying / eavesdropping -- yes, illegal. Even far-to-the-right Bob Barr is stating this fact!

Another president was impeached for acts based on sexual infidelity (not illegal), yet this current stooge admits to such un-American acts and nothing happens! Where's the public outcry? What other politicians have to say about it is meaningless unless the public follows suit with vocal demands for change -- now!

This guy just goes from bad to worse, from hardly appearing before average citizens, ever, to publicly stating DeLay is innocent -- yet continued no comment on another figure under investigation (Rove), to supporting torture until he reluctantly caved to McCain, to this recent admission of violating the law. Where does it end? Using taxpayer $$ to finance propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, extending tax cut deadlines despite deficits and choosing instead to cut programs for children, the poor, and the elderly.

How f*cking clueless are the average citizens in this country? What the hell are they watching / reading / listening to? If they're religious, do they really think this is the guy Jesus would've chosen? Is Fox News, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, Hannity and the rest of that cabal really that powerful?

As a country, we are f*cking doomed if the public stays in its collective coma while a fascist state continues to replace what little we have left of anything resembling a democracy. How insanely ironic that this crazed madman keeps talking about wanting to spread democracy around the world while he's hard at work destroying the greatest democratic state in history.

It's the most massive and damaging bait-and-switch ever orchestrated, and at this point this witless general citizenry deserves to get fleeced.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

  • McCain wins, GW/Cheney lose. Get used to it, it's the future.

  • "It is true that much of the [prewar] intelligence turned out to be wrong." -- GW, 12/14/05. However, Bush went on to say that despite this failure, the invasion was "still the right decision." Well then I ask: why have intel at all? If it's wrong and yet decisions based on the incorrect intel are right, why bother spending all that taxpayer money on collecting the stuff?? Let's not forget that this president was put into power with God's backing, so I guess he doesn't really need to see or know of the mortal-generated intel anyway, since he's getting his info from a much higher source....

  • Great stuff going on at while Kevin is away. This entry from Hilzoy would be beyond belief if it was about any other government official other than our president. The cited press exchange involving Scott McClellan is simply incredible, a classic example of sheer Orwellian double-speak -- it's enough to make your skin crawl. McClellan's non-response is the kind of thing you'd expect from a no-name spokesperson for a two-bit, raving lunatic dictator. Ahh, my bad, that's about right.
  • Joan Vennochi writes about the idiotic bullying that has become a truly unfortunate trademark of the right and GOP:
    Charles Knight of the Commonwealth Institute, a public policy research center in Cambridge, has spent time analyzing what he calls the ''toughness discourse" in American politics, especially after 9/11. When it comes to national security, he says, ''tough" means ''using violence as a priority tool for international relations."

    Backed into a corner by conservatives who equate ''liberal" with unmanly and weak, Democrats are buying into their opponents' definition. Accepting it means agreeing that a punch is the answer to every insult, that violence solves every dispute.

    It is believing brawn always beats brains, a conclusion that defies logic, reason, and reality.

    Toughness defined in a strictly physical way does not always achieve victory. Might does not make right, nor does it always make everything right. And it is not unmanly to say that.

    Might makes right is the credo of the warrior. But there is simple power in right as might.

    It is the power of great leaders in religion and politics, from Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King. Throughout history, brave men and women have taken the high moral ground.

    Only in America today do we dare call them wimps.

    Friday, December 16, 2005

  • The DeLay orchestrated redistricting in Texas resulted in a net +8 seats for the Republicans -- a HUGE pickup in seats. And yet we learn the Justice Department had ruled this brazen act violated the law but was overruled by political hacks. The same kind of chicanery plays out repeatedly in the EPA as well as other agencies. Uh, hello David Brooks, can you see why the public is skeptical about our government?!

  • If the Iraq war lasts another five years, it will have cost us $1.4 trillion. Remember this item the next time you hear a wingnut bitching about their money being wasted on government spending. Boston's "Big Dig" will be a pittance compared to this enormous boondoggle (and at least we know how much has been spent on the Big Dig -- compared to the many billions unaccounted for in Iraq).

  • Al Sharpton is a jerk, a charlatan, and a disgrace to/for the Democrats. There. Now let's see those on the right offer up such condemnation for their expansive lot of a-hole cretins and louts. (Doesn't happen).

  • Conservative columnist, John Tierney, in the NY Times recently wrote that Wal-Mart "has been one of the most successful antipoverty programs in America." Paul Krugman then later wrote in a column, "there's every reason to believe that as Wal-Mart expands, it destroys at least as many jobs as it creates, and drives down workers' wages in the process." In fact, Krugman cites a study showing that retail employment fell when Wal-Mart opened in a county, and average wages fell. Once again, the conservative has it wrong.

  • The House and Senate recently agreed to increase the budget of the NIH by far less than was originally budgeted ($253 mil. vs. $1.05 bil.). This amounts to the smallest increase in 36 years. It's another sign of this Republican-led Congress thumbing its nose at science. The NIH will not be able to fund as much research, and it will limit the number of scientists coming from our schools (limited grant money). Instead, they will head abroad. Wonderful.

  • Please go and read Elizabeth Kolbert's latest piece on global warming in The New Yorker. Here's a segment:
    The Administration’s chief climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, has been touting the efficacy of the voluntary approach, pointing out that between 2000 and 2003 the United States’ carbon-dioxide emissions dropped by .8 per cent. Conveniently left out is the fact that since 2003 they have shot back up again. According to the latest government figures, the country’s CO2 emissions are now three per cent higher than they were three years ago. (The brief dip, it should be noted, had nothing to do with government policy; it was entirely a function of the downturn in the economy.)
    When it comes to science and facts, they can't deceive enough, can they....
  • That pillar of wide-eyed intelligence, David Brooks, recently put out another gem of a column, titled "The Age of Skepticism."

    He writes, "There has been a sharp drop in Americans' faith in their institutions. Trust in government has fallen back to about half of where it was in 2001." Hmm, do you think GW's lies, Karl Rove, DeLay, Abramoff, Frist, etc. have anything to do with this drop in faith? You'd never know it from Brooks' column.

    Another quote, "the Democrats may win elections in 2006 or 2008, but that doesn't mean they will have the public's confidence or a mandate for change." You just can't make this stuff up. This moron did write this -- amazing. So let me understand, GW "wins" in 2000 and barely wins in 2004 but of course there existed mandate for change and political capital to be spent in both instances -- but if the Dems were to finally win one, it means notta with regards to mandate change. Oh, I see.

    Look, not once does Brooks nail the recent trial & tribulations & failures of the GOP for 51% or more of the blame for this "cycle of skepticism... tinged with cynicism." He chooses instead to lump both parties together and lamely finger-wag at both -- shame on you all.

    As if the Dems have any power whatsoever to direct this country (hah!). They are and have been as powerless an opposition party as any in recent memory. By definition, more of the blame must be attributed to this version of the GOP, a bereft bunch of special interest pleasing whores that don't really lead as much as they seek to blame others for their own incompetence.

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    Bob Herbert has been producing many excellent columns of late concerning GW and Iraq.

    In his December 1st column, he lays out how Bush is attempting to sound very Churchill-like ("We will never back down.... We will never give in") -- quite laughable when you think about it -- but Herbert also states "Members of Mr. Bush's own party are nervously eyeing next year's Congressional elections. They would abandon Iraq in a heartbeat if it meant the difference between getting re-elected or having to hunt for a real job."

    Exactly, which is why GW/Cheney are (reluctantly) agreeing to bring home some troops. BUT, as I've repeatedly posted here, they do have the blame factor set-up to nail the Dems if Iraq got worse after such withdrawals. If we stay, the GOP will take all the credit for any good news from Iraq and none of the blame for the bad news; if we leave, they'll dump all bad news on the Dems for "forcing" them to withdraw troops before the "mission" was completed.

    Herbert goes on to write, "This war (which has already cost the lives of more than 2,100 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis) was cynically launched (it was never about Sept. 11) and incompetently fought (we have never sent enough troops or sufficient equipment), and will be brought to a close by people obsessed not with the security of the United States and the welfare of the troops, but with the political calendar."

    The Dems need to point out, loudly, that pressure to withdraw is also coming from within the GOP. It's not simply Dem-centric. The problem is many such Republicans, who indeed are lobbying for this reduced presence in Iraq to make their respective political races in 2006 that much more to the people's liking, are doing such lobbying very quietly. GW/Cheney is hearing their cries loud and clear, just not through media channels, with the party very likely urging them to, wink-wink, keep it quiet, or you'll ruin our plan to blame the Dems for any adverse outcomes in Iraq post-troop withdrawal.
    James Surowiecki in The New Yorker helps put to rest some of the right-wing complaints about Sarbanes-Oxley. Yes SarbOx can be a pain in the ass for companies, and costly for smaller ones, yet Surowiecki discusses the social costs of corporate fraud. Read it and discover how "faulty accounting" has cost us hundreds of billions of dollars in real money. And he also points out it wasn't just a matter of a few companies (Enron, Worldcom) doing it, with a thousand earnings restatements reported between 1997-2002.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Kevin Drum recently cited a Henry Kissinger quote about the expected withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Frankly, not that I could give a hoot what Kissinger has to say about anything these days, but his quote brings up a point I've been pounding home.

    He said the key is "whether, in the end, withdrawal will be perceived as a forced retreat or as an aspect of a prudent and carefully planned move on behalf of international security." As I've been writing, GW/Cheney favor public perception of the former, leaving open the blame factor, i.e. to hoist responsibility for any Iraqi meltdown onto the Dems ("they pressured us into a hasty retreat"). By doing so, they'd attempt to forever leave open the question of how Iraq could've turned out if only we stayed.

    Yes Kevin, benchmarks and a carefully laid out withdrawal would do much to nix the above -- all the more reason we'll never see it.

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Several days ago, I wrote about how the GOP has decided on a new group to target and raise the ire of their love-to-hate base: illegal immigrants. Last night, "60 Minutes" had a segment on the growing problem of hundreds upon hundreds of illegals being found dead attempting to cross the border, and meanwhile the influx is as bad as it's ever been.

    Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is featured and he plays up the GOP stance, stating MUCH more needs to be done. He believes the federal government should fund the construction of a wall sealing off the entire Mexican-U.S. border. "If you only put the fence for this five miles of border, people will go around it, naturally. You have to secure your borders!" says Rep. Tancredo. When asked how much should the deficit-strapped government pay, he replies "Whatever it takes. Billions more. Billions more. ...It is our job. It is what the federal government should be doing!"

    Note that Tancredo mentions only the Mexican border -- not that other one, the Canadian border. How does this look that he wishes to completely seal off the Mexican border but not the other? Forget the fact that many, many more illegal immigrants come from Mexico as opposed to Canada, that's not the point here. As a government policy and to maintain consistency in relations between both neighboring countries, I don't see how we can send the overt signal to one by spending the many billions to build a 2,000 mile wall and yet leave the other more/less completely open. So we'll tolerate any illegals that happen to come through from the north (Canada) but no way are we going to accept one more person that sneaks through from the south (Mexico)....

    Oh, and what about the red-herring the GOP trumps up about potential terrorists coming through our unsecured borders? University of California’s Wayne Cornelius, a national authority on immigration, is quoted on the program saying, "They [terrorists] don’t need to come in that way. They can purchase the best forged documents in the world. The real danger is that they will come through our legal ports of entry with valid visas, just like the 9/11 terrorists did."

    Even still, if the GOP wanted to make a more credible case for blocking entry of terrorists at our borders, they should endorse the wall-building for both borders. If a wall is built on the Mexican border and yet not the Canadian, why wouldn't terrorists simply then opt to enter the U.S. via the Canadian border? By emphasizing closure of the Mexican border strictly, it reveals their true aim and target. It's not potential terrorists or even just any illegal immigrants but more specifically those dang illegal Mexicans.

    The program points out some obvious truisms about the entire illegal immigrant problem, a biggie being that by far the number one reason Mexicans risk their lives to cross the border is simply to get a job. If employment didn't await them in the U.S. then they'd have little incentive to come here. So why don't we blame the companies who hire them and punish these entities?

    For one, it's easier and smarter politically to punish and target those who are Mexican and than that which is American. But also the fact is can we afford to clamp down on these companies? The dirty secret is these companies hire illegal immigrants because all too often they can't find Americans who want such jobs. And most often these jobs are anything but glamorous, and yet they're crucial to the lifeblood of this country -- whether it be providing for cheap and plentiful produce, or cooking fast food, cleaning up restaurants and hotel rooms, toiling at residential construction, meat-packing work, etc. They provide the willing supply for jobs that would otherwise go unfilled, thus keeping wages down and in turn the cost of goods to the U.S. consumer low.

    But go ahead oh wise GOP, continue to target these folks. No one ever accused you of thinking things through, so why start now. And besides, your whole motivation is to simply stoke emotional flames to win over votes -- not to legislate from an area of expertise and reason that will actually solve problems.

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Just a few days ago, WSJ's James Taranto bemoaned that in his experience, the right-wing has been name-called and bullied by the left -- the so-called "you're an idiot!" contingent. Yup, Robert Reich and Al Franken are the snarky acid-tongue bomb throwers, not Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh.

    Well let's see, just yesterday and the day before, the editorial page of the right-wing newspaper NY Post used the following terms to describe Howard Dean: "Defeatist," "surrender monkey," "who now is working overtime for a terrorist victory in Iraq," "devoid of anything approaching vision," "le Weasel," and "an old loud-mouth." Yeah James, I see your point. This language is really high-minded, persuasive stuff, esp. compared to the potty-mouth talk on the left.

    The above wouldn't be complete if we didn't offer at least one reference proving the paper-thin case against Dean, the content mainly being personal attacks, is as usual wrong. In The New Republic, John Judis provides a list of points showing Dean's track record has been pretty darn good on Iraq -- far better than most in the GOP.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    In today's column, Bob Herbert asks, "If it is true, as President Bush and many others have argued, that horrific consequences will result if American forces are pulled from Iraq in the near future, then how is it that we are even considering a significant drawdown of troops in advance of next fall's Congressional elections?"

    Bush/Cheney will eventually withdraw troops -- but not before making it clear to the public that they're doing so begrudgingly, in part due to pressure from Dems. They will play both sides of the coin: setting up the "I told you so" for when Iraq inevitably does slip into chaos, but rest assured they'll bring home some troops to appease the GOP candidates running for reelection. So get ready, when Iraq falls into complete disarray we'll hear "we really wanted to stay, we told you we needed to remain and finish the job."

    Just look at the quote Herbert offers from Cheney:
    Vice President Dick Cheney told troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., on Tuesday that in the event of a swift withdrawal of American troops, Iraq "would return to the rule of tyrants, become a massive source of instability in the Middle East and be a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations."
    See, he's setting up the blame, ultimately looking to dump the entire Iraq fiasco and legacy on to Dems for it to be their albatross for years to come.

    So instead we should stay, and eventually spend over $1 trillion, suffer thousands of US soldier deaths, all in the name of nation building (which is truly what's going on over there, make no mistake). With the complete mismanagement of this invasion and occupation, the damage has long been done and the ultimate blame will always reside with this administration. For that to change means the American public is gullible (and ignorant) to a point beyond belief and that Democrats are truly neutered and without a clue when it comes to responding to these cretins. Sad -- very sad.
    Once again, I delve into the deluded world of James Taranto -- I just can't help it. I guess I find it irresistably amusing to keep up with the current thinking of those Walter Mitty-types on the right. As much as it's often frustrating and perplexing, the reward is frequent laughs and moments of howling disbelief.

    The below is a recent item from the great Taranto:
    Why Conservatives Are Smarter
    Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Rosenblum of Jewish Media Resources ponders the careers of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice-designate Sam Alito, and in the process makes an excellent point about Ivy League conservatives and liberals:
    Because of their minority status it is far more difficult for conservative students to entertain the illusion that all smart people think like them. They are exposed to many obviously bright young men and women whose opinions on almost every issue vary radically from their own. . . .

    Being forced to recognize that there are different points of view helps make bright young conservatives such good debaters. They learn early on the limited persuasiveness of shouting at someone with whom they disagree, "You're an idiot." Of necessity they have to develop the ability to cast their arguments in ways that appeal to those starting from very different premises. . . .

    Liberals can be wonderful people, and boon companions, but they often have a hard time dealing with people of opposing views--especially when they cannot dismiss them out of hand as idiots. Too often they have spent their entire adult lives surrounded almost entirely by those who think just like them, and it comes naturally to dismiss those of other views as intellectually or morally challenged.
    This is true beyond the Ivy League, as we noted just after the 2004 election. With liberalism the dominant ideology in the news and entertainment media, it is virtually inescapable to any American who doesn't go to great lengths to insulate himself from it. Big-city liberals, by contrast, can easily filter out conservative ideas, and thus need contend only with their own prejudices. Thus conservatives are smarter than liberals--not necessarily in terms of native intelligence, but of understanding the world around them.
    The above is absolute horse crap written by a complete idiot! But seriously, even before my days in college right up to the current day, it's my experience that the "you're an idiot!" crowd is MUCH more populated by right-wingnuts than liberals. In fact, if anything, I often find fellow liberals trying too hard to swallow or make sense of right-wing arguments that clearly fall apart on their face.

    Just look at right-wing talk radio and FOX news -- who's doing the yelling and dismissive name-calling here? (And as part of their wonderful debate training, to adeptly persuade the opposition they simply create "facts" from thin air -- that'll work! Who bothers to look anything up these days, right?) Compare that to the more sober -- and quiet -- NPR, Air America, and even Ralph Nader.

    "Big-city liberals, by contrast, can easily filter out conservative ideas." Oh really? Last time I looked such urban papers as the NY Times and LA Times had several right-wing columnists. (Might I mention that the WSJ and NY Post nary have a one.... Talk about filtering out!).

    The fact is those on the right are far more close-minded and intolerant of how others think than are those on the left. Just recall VP Cheney telling Sen. Pat Leahy to go f*ck himself -- a gesture that spoke symbolic volumes. Need I say more?

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

  • Amazingly, failed FEMA head Michael Brown has launched his own disaster consulting firm, Michael D. Brown LLC. If anything, this is more proof of just how much cronyism rules Washington. How is it possible this guy will be able to attract even one client? Whelp, odds are he already has many potential clients lined up. Once a friend of GW, always a friend -- and Brown's soon-to-be clients understand this fact full well.

  • Yes, in time GW will be regarded as the worst President ever.

  • Have you noticed that when Bush does speak before a group, it's either military personnel or at a fundraiser. He avoids regular folk -- you know, the people who supposedly voted for him -- like the plague. Another reminder of GW as King George, as most emperors met only with those of influence (fundraisers) or with his knights (military). The "peasants" be damned!
  • What the War on Terror could've been about under another U.S. president and vice-president (vs. the sideshow diversion in Iraq they chose to get us into).
    From Harper's:
    Projected cost of disability payments to Iraq War veterans by 2050, based on rates for Gulf War veterans: $285,000,000,000

    Number of “veterans of the global war on terrorism” that the VA budget assumed for 2005: 23,553

    Estimated number today: 103,000
    So if I understand this correctly, the estimated number is actually five times larger than first assumed, which would equal 5 X $285 bil. = nearly $1.5 trillion by 2050....? What?!

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    A few days ago, Kevin Drum wrote about some of the reasons we're not so good at battling insurgents:
    The U.S. military likes big wars against big enemies, not messy little pissant wars, and this keeps the contractors happy and makes counterinsurgency a career killer for ambitious military professionals.

    But I think there's at least one other critical point to all this: nobody ever thinks these wars are going to last very long. The very act of fighting a counterinsurgency is an admission that you're going to be around for years, because that's how long insurgencies last. If your war planning — driven by neocon ideologues — is so wildly divorced from reality that you don't plan to be around for more than a few months, what's the point of even thinking about counterinsurgency?
    Perhaps it's ignorant, wishful thinking on the neocons part, but also it very well could just be calculating politics since they know full well if they present the possibility of a long stay (due to insurgents) then they'd never gain the backing of the Amercian people -- and therefore Congress. It's all a knowing cover, a dance of sick manipulation.

    The end result: Iraq (and Vietnam).

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    In today's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby makes the point that strictly on political grounds if Roe were to be overturned it may turn out to benefit the Democrats:
    An overruling of Roe would be a boon to the Democrats. Abortion would return to the state legislatures, where Democrats, free at last of the Roe albatross, would no longer be compelled to stake out the most extreme prochoice positions. Instead it is Republicans who would be squirming, prodded by their prolife base to make abortion illegal, but knowing that any such attempt would be politically catastrophic.
    On this topic, I wrote something similar a month ago, stating:
    How about this, regarding Roe, I say let them overturn it. Yeah, it will be a disaster, but the blood (literally) will then be on the GOP's hands. The Dems will be able to make a direct connection back to the GOP folks who put in the judges to get this to happen, and they should be able to eventually cite news stories on a daily basis regarding coat hangars, deaths due to botched back-alley procedures, teen suicides due to unwanted pregnancies, etc. That combined with the public favoring choice all along (all polls show this fact) will have the public awaken to the nightmare and rightfully blame the GOP.
    It's the same with the nuclear option re the filibuster. Go ahead, let them do it. In fact, a good number of the GOP positions actually would be very unpopular if they were allowed to run their due course for all citizens to witness and digest.
    Tom DeLay will likely be removed permanently as House leader. The stench is even too much for many Republicans to withstand -- and that's saying something!

    Ever-so revealing:
    Even if DeLay is never implicated, his return to the majority leader's post would create political "havoc," said one Republican House member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The lawmaker pointed to DeLay's decision in October to fly to Texas ahead of his first courtroom appearance aboard a corporate jet owned by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

    "The fact that he flew down on a corporate jet for his mug shot, and not just any corporate jet but Big Tobacco's corporate jet, that's a double whammy," the lawmaker said. "A number of my colleagues say he just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand how this plays."
    It's called power-drunk, Megalomania, delusional, and sociopath.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    So it was illegal after all, overruled by GOP cronies and then buried via gag order. Figures. But the damage is done, right?
    Kevin Drum writes about the possibility that Abramoff may soon be singing to save at least part of his hide. If he does, look for many roaches to be scurrying from the light.

    This time (finally) the NY Post's John Podhoretz may be correct about a subject. He recently wrote, "Disgust is a powerful force in politics, and the Abramoff case is one that seems to be churning the stomachs of those Republicans and Democrats alike who know about it. If the whole country comes to know about it, watch out, GOP."
    These days, when you read something critical about flawed, lazy right-wing thinking, the targeted subject seems to almost always be David Brooks.

    A fairly recent example was in The New Republic. Franklin Foer cites a Brooks' column where he claims the Dems had access to the same intel leading up to Iraq as did GW. Foer responds,
    When the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a definitive study of the administration’s presentation of the WMD intelligence last year, it found that “officials systematically misrepresented the threat.” While Democrats may have believed that Saddam posed a long-term threat, they didn’t exaggerate evidence and stifle government experts to justify an imminent invasion. As Kenneth Pollack—one of the Democrats cited by Brooks—wrote last year in the Atlantic, “Only the Administration has access to all the information available to various agencies of the US government--and withholding or downplaying some of that information for its own purposes is a betrayal of that responsibility.”
    Hmm, it appears Brooks got it wrong -- again. Gads, and he's supposed to be one of the few less-blowhardy spouting heads from the right.

    Want another example? Click here.

    Ah well, at least Brooks might be aware of his shortcomings, with him quoted as saying, "I've been exemplifying our ignorance on a daily basis ever since."

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    From The Guardian:
    There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them".

    To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know.

    He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers.
    Noting that some two-thirds of Americans believe the war was a mistake, van Creveld says in his article that the US should forget about saving face and pull its troops out: "What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon - and at what cost."

    Welcome as a pullout might be to many Americans, it would be a hugely complex operation. Van Creveld says it would probably take several months and result in sizeable casualties. More significantly, though, it would not end the conflict.

    "As the pullout proceeds," he warns, "Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge - if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not."
    As with the Afghan war in the 1980s that spawned al-Qaida, there is every reason to suppose that the Iraq war will create a new generation of terrorists with expertise that can be used to plague other parts of the world for decades to come. The recent hotel bombings in Jordan are one indication of the way it's heading.

    Contrary to American intentions, the war has also greatly increased the influence of Iran - a founder-member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" - and opened up long-suppressed rivalries between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

    The impact of this cannot be confined to Iraq and will eventually be felt in the oil-rich Sunni Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia) that have sizeable but marginalised Shia communities.

    Kurdish aspirations have been awakened too - which has implications for Turkey, Syria and Iran, especially if Iraq is eventually dismembered.
    No one can claim that any of this was unexpected. The dangers had been foreseen by numerous analysts and commentators long before the war started but they were ignored in Washington, mainly for ideological reasons.
    The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them.
    I'm willing to wager that behind closed doors all GW Inc. cares about is removing from the news cycle the daily killing of US soldiers. They want to halt the running tally of deaths (over 2,100) before the 2006 elections. If Iraq succumbs to chaos and civil war, so be it, they'll simply drum up some ludicrous spin in attempt to get off the hook. It would go something like "we did all we could to spread democracy in the region, but sadly it failed."

    Trust me, they ain't spending a whole lot of brain cells on what they plan to do with a violence-free, democratic Iraq in the near future -- no siree. They are discussing how best to exit this nightmare and to do so with the least political damage to themselves, period.
    This administration is at it again, paying (with taxpayer $$) to have propaganda printed. The case this time: offering money to have Iraqi newspapers publish optimistic stories. Big Brother anyone?
    Josh Marshall offers the following quote from a story in the NY Times, "Republicans, because they control the White House and Congress, are being held to a higher standard."

    Marshall replies:

    That's a new one.

    Being held to a higher standard because they control the White House and Congress. Isn't it just that by every conceivable measure they have more people being investigated and on the way to the slammer? Does the Times buy into this mumbojumbo?

    As I wrote earlier, one might argue that the reason for the imbalance -- with virtually all the corruption cases focusing on Republicans -- is that they have the White House and Congress. They have all the power and access; so they're the only ones in a position to sell it. I think that's a pretty generous read of the situation for the GOP; but one could so argue.

    But this isn't a matter of holding anyone to a higher standard, something the Times must know. It's simply that the vast majority of the public corruption in Washington is being done by Republicans. Full stop. End of story.

    Exactly. Go with what is and what's known over weak suppositions by party talking heads.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Why do I get sucked back into reading the tripe of James Taranto? It's a bit like insisting on smelling the sour milk, or watching a car crash.

    Today, Taranto in his infinite wisdom provides some samples of polls showing that "the Dems are all wet." Yes, Americans are very hopeful about Iraq; they're very hopeful about most things. But Taranto selectively parses and picks segments of a poll to make broader points -- that ain't gonna fly.

    How about the many polls showing the general public believes this administration went to war on lies and faulty intel? Now that we're there, the public obviously would like to see good come from it, but change the subject to events leading up to the war itself, and you get quite a different answer(s).

    I love the way Taranto and other wingnuts only focus on the supposed aim of our presence in Iraq currently, given how the WMD et al -- you know, the original impetus for invading -- was a big bust.

    Nahh, let's just forget all about the hot air regarding the aluminum tubes, the yellow cake, the link to 9-11, etc. Instead, let's focus on freeing the people and spreading democracy -- exactly what GW campaigned against in 2000 (recall his non-nation-building rhetoric?). But like most Republicans, it's the end, not the means, that matters most (anyone remember Iran-Contra?).
  • The Roulette Wheel of Hate. Given the sad state of affairs for the GOP, they need to find a new group to hate. And the chosen target? Illegal immigrants. Remember this the next time you have your yard landscaped, or see a house being built, or eat an apple or a piece of lettuce.

    As Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association, explains why:
    "There are just some jobs people don't want to do," Nassif said. "It's the most developed nation in the world using a foreign workforce, and people need to recognize that. We need to make them legal."

    Jack Vessey [who runs a vegetable farm near El Centro] said he listed openings for 300 laborers at the state office of employment last week to prepare the lettuce fields for harvest. "We got one person," he said. "He showed up and said, 'I'm not going to do that.'"
    As Kevin Drum puts it,
    What we need isn't a bunch of yahoos dotting the border with their lawn chairs and cell phones. Instead, we need to recognize that — like it or not — Americans very clearly want and rely on immigrant labor. The key, then, is not to eliminate it, but to figure out a rational way of limiting illegal immigration without simultaneously demonizing immigrants themselves. This might include programs that make it harder to cross the border illegally, but only if we also provide legal status to many more immigrants than we do now.

    This combination — easier legal immigration paired with tougher illegal immigration — would provide immigrants with a greater incentive to try the legal route instead of the all-too-deadly "season of death" route. It would also provide us with the pool of immigrant labor we obviously want, increase immigrant wages, and cut down on the abuse they suffer from employers who know how easily they can be blackmailed.
  • The Abramoff scandal is growing. Just look at the names recently mentioned coming out of the investigation: Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), his former chief of staff, former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), and Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.). Boy, look at all those R's. If it were D's it would be just as bad, but isn't it most telling the sound of crickets coming from the wingnuts concerning this web of filth?

  • The willful manipulation and cooking of intel by this administration regarding Iraq has made us less safe due to reluctance of international agencies to cooperate and provide us intel in the future.

    Way to go Bush/Cheney! Thanks!

  • LA Times: "An ice core about two miles long — the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica — shows that at no time in the last 650,000 years have levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane been as high as they are today."
    "The work provides more evidence that human activity since the Industrial Revolution has significantly altered the planet's climate system, scientists said. "This is saying, 'Yeah, we had it right.' We can pound on the table harder and say, 'This is real,' " said Richard Alley, a Penn State University geophysicist and expert on ice cores who was not involved with the analysis."
  • Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Video of Richard Clarke being interviewed (on The Daily Show). The guy is great. I am most thankful for people like him.
    Paul Krugman's recent column ("Time to Leave") is one of his best in quite some time -- and that's saying something. He eloquently makes the case for why we should leave Iraq, doing so without lots of emotional huffing and puffing but as is usual for him employing rational thought. It's unfortunate the column is now shielded via TimeSelect; it's a must-read for all.

    To paraphrase some of it, he makes the point that only now with the public doubting nearly every word coming from GW/Cheney can we finally participate in "serious discussions about where we are and where we're going." Krugman states that Murtha rightly "argued that our presence in Iraq is making things worse, not better" and that "torture at Abu Ghraib helped fuel the insurgency."

    Krugman asks "When, exactly, would be a good time to leave Iraq?" Hell, even Cheney and Rummy have publicly stated wildly differing opinions on this matter. Krugman concludes, "The fact is that we're not going to stay in Iraq until we achieve victory, whatever that means in this context. At most, we'll stay until the American military can take no more."

    Finally, he cites a Marine officer who is quoted as saying, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose." I ask, where is David Brooks to paint one of his rosey scenarios based on gooey hopes and dreams (draped in the U.S. flag) -- noticeably lacking substantive facts or realities to support his concocted canvas?

    The fact is GW/Cheney do not want to take the chance that things will be better off without us there; they're frightened as all heck. A civil war will destroy for good any chance of an upside to their legacy, it will destroy the illusion that an eventual win will come, but most of all turmoil and collapse will doom, or at least heavily complicate, access to the oil. Recall that oil was the point of the invasion.

    So again, the good of the country (our's) takes a back seat to more insular and political concerns.

    If you truly hate and detest this administration and want it to be forever etched in history as clear-cut abysmal, then you'll want to root for us staying in Iraq.
    Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report:
    In the latest sign that Antonin Scalia has completely given up on the reality-based community, the Supreme Court justice suggested yesterday that the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.

    Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."

    But he said the court had to take the case.

    "The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"
    There was no indication that Scalia was kidding.

    It's Gore's fault the Bush campaign asked the Supreme Court to override a state court on a state ballot issue? The Supreme Court had to take the case? Is Scalia serious?

    For that matter, Scalia added his belief that studies showed that Bush still would have won a Florida recount. It's a tangent from Scalia's point — that it's Gore's fault the Supreme Court heard the case — but the most thorough analysis of the election showed Gore would have won Florida had there been a statewide recount.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

  • Peter Daou: 10 Pro-War Fallacies

  • The verdict is in on GW's Asia trip: it was a waste of time. Foreign leaders are treating Bush as he's being treated at home, like a lame-duck loser. Get used to it folks, nothing much will get done in terms of foreign policy while he remains in office. And who pays for it? We do.

  • The 403-3 charade the GOP attempted to pull recently was nothing more than a flat-out, bald-faced politicial stunt in every sense of the word. Believing otherwise simply displays massive ignorance and furthermore endorses the willful partisan wedging that GW and Cheney have been so vociferously arguing against. It's the old say one thing, do another....

  • Eleanor Clift:
    Democrats gave Murtha a standing ovation behind closed doors, but most kept their distance in public. “It’s a trap,” explained a Democratic strategist. “If the party comes out for a unilateral six-month withdrawal, that would become the issue for ’06, and they [Republicans] would kill us again.”
    Can someone tell me the last time a so-called Democratic strategist was correct about anything?

  • Bull Moose: "The President has lost the confidence of the American people and the once well-oiled GOP Congressional machine is becoming unglued. President Bush is approaching the LBJ-range where the American people do not trust his each and every word. It does not matter what he says - they are turning him off. While in purely partisan terms that is good news for the Democrats, it is ominous for the nation."

  • GW's latest pathetic attempt to save face over the Iraq debacle is to claim he may have screwed up -- but so did the Dems since they saw the same intel.

    If this were in fact true (which it's not), shouldn't the president of our country then be doing something(s) about it, as opposed to just pointing out supposed truisms and letting them fade into the air (for political purposes)? Isn't his job to remedy wrongs for the good of the country, or is it just about one-upping the opposition party??

  • Great post by Max Blumenthal, clearing the air on the guy who called Murtha a coward. Turns out he's "a low-level right-wing operative who has spent more time in the past ten years engaged in symbolic Christian right crusades." Anyone surprised?
  • Sunday, November 20, 2005

    On the front page of today's NY Times, this story:
    DENVER, Nov. 19 - Private companies and individuals would be able to buy large tracts of federal land, from sagebrush basins to high-peak hiking trails around the West, under the terms of the spending bill passed Friday by a two-vote margin in the House of Representatives.
    Looks like another case where energy interests successfully had GOP representatives slip a seemingly mundane provision into a larger spending bill with the hopes of it either going unnoticed or that politicians would simply ignore it to pass the larger bill.

    Of course, jurisdiction for this matter falls under the Interior Dept., and who is the head of that important arm of the government but none other than Gail Norton, a former industry lobbyist herself. More so, Norton's name has come up repeatedly during recent Abramoff proceedings. To me it appears as if she was holding out for a higher sum of $$ paid to the right-wing organization she helped found before a face-to-face meeting was granted. Again, in my opinion, she's skating by here with little media attention paid to this aspect of the widespread Abramoff scandal. Bloggers, please help take up the cause of exposing what appears to be highly questionable behavior.

    It's a problem. With all of the current on-going scandals, it's easy to lose track of the many names of those who could be implicated and yet are hovering quietly under the radar, with us instead focusing on just the bigger names hurled into the limelight by the MSM. There's a ton of bat-sh*t stink to go around and the noxious fumes are enough to make anyone turn and flee. However, we must don the gas masks and get to the bottom of every last scandal, for the good of the country.

    I'm willing to wager that our soldiers in Iraq will be back on U.S. soil before the last GW administration scandal has been put to rest. Way back in 2000, GW once uttered on the campaign trail, "ask not only what is legal but what is right, not what the lawyers allow but what the public deserves." What a joke. If that were the case, Rove would've been fired by now.

    GW has managed to lower the ethical state of affairs in Washington to a point that barely flutters above the Watergate era. When you throw in the lies, distortions, and manipulations concerning everything from Iraq, to the passage of bills, to defending their own incompetence, it's much worse than Nixon's lowest point (as John Dean has already stated in book-length).

    Like with anything else he's touched in his life, GW has managed to f*ck this up big-time. He's the quintessential anti-Midas of our time.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

  • Yesterday that infamous right-wing rag, NY Post, criticized Bill Clinton in an editorial for speaking out against the Iraq debacle. The Post stated that "it has long been accepted that former presidents do not publicly criticize their successors."

    Boy, the right-wingers spend most of their time running around condemning the MANY folks of all stripes and colors who are increasingly voicing harsh words against the Iraq situation. They simply can't keep up with the slamming of labels like "unpatriotic" and "helping the enemy."

    Look, regarding Clinton, I for one say it's the least he can do after prostituting himself for the Bush clan, joining up with Bush Sr. -- allowing Sr. to appear less cold-blooded -- when in fact Bill could've went it alone with the charity work ala Jimmy Carter. That said, yes, normally a code of silence would apply in most situations as the Post infers. HOWEVER, given the magnitude of failure with this debacle and the many signs of manipulation and underhandedness resulting in its successful marketing, no, Iraq is not a normal situation.

    The lead-up and the execution of this occupation has been an unprecedented monstrosity that if anything, DEMANDS that prior presidents speak out, strongly pointing out the wrongs that have occurred. It's their patriotic duty at this point.

    Is it any wonder that former president Bush Sr. is reportedly not speaking to his son?!

  • Kevin Drum and I are in agreement on this:
    My prediction: we've already started to see this, but I think Republicans are about to crumble. Pressure is going to mount on the White House to use the December elections as an excuse to declare victory and go home, fueled by equal parts disgust over Dick Cheney's lobbying for the right to torture; unease even among Republicans that the president wasn't honest during the marketing of the war; lack of progress on the ground in Iraq; Congress reasserting its independence of the executive; a genuine belief that the American presence has become counterproductive; and raw electoral fear, what with midterm elections looming in less than a year.

    I also think the Rove/Cheney/Bush counterattack is going to backfire. Congressional Republicans are looking for cover right now, and I don't think they believe that a ferocious partisan attack from the White House is what they need right now. The public is looking for answers, not administration attack dogs on the evening news every day, but this particular White House doesn't know any other way. It's going to cost them.
    Yup, as I've repeatedly written, the GOP is imploding with the rats scrambling for their political lives at this point. With GW's poll numbers in the 30s and Cheney's in the 20s, and last Tuesday's election results speaking volumes, we see the fracturing picking up speed.

    Also, as Kevin points out, Rove knows only one mode of operation and that's attack, distort, and polarize. He's once again trying to do that now with GW and Cheney lashing out (with lies and distortions) but it won't work. Times have changed and the public has seemingly smartened up. That slash-and-burn BS is likely to just sink their numbers even lower, and again, you can see that other Republicans are not joining on board with the harsh words (except McCain?!) but rather staying clear, or if anything joining the Dems with harsh words about Iraq.

    An active, scheming Rove is now a useful pawn for the Dems. Like a tragic Greek play, the person who delivered GW to the top will have a heavy hand in what ultimately takes him down.
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2005

  • A precinct in Ohio is reportedly very pleased with their new voting machines. The only small problem is an inability to receive a ballot receipt:
    Jessie said the only problem she encountered was some people who were confused as to whether or not they received a receipt.

    “After you press to cast your vote it will make a loud noise like it’s running paper through to print you a receipt, but all it’s doing is submitting your vote,” Jessie said.

    She added that you could see your final selections through a glass screen to the right of the machine, but once you cast your ballot they disappeared.
    Cast your vote and it disappears with no receipt delivered, i.e. no paper trail. But other than that, the machines performed wonderfully!

  • The Republicans in both houses have seen the handwriting on the wall with last Tuesday's election results and GW's ever-plummeting poll numbers. So their apparent gameplan? Appear to give in to and adopt some Dem ideas and initiatives, only first gut any meat in such initiatives. Example:
    The GOP-controlled Senate rejected a Democratic call Tuesday for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq but urged President Bush to outline his plan for "the successful completion of the mission" in a bill reflecting a growing bipartisan unease with his Iraq policies.
    On the surface, the Republicans will have you believe they voted for some kind of new accountability reform that will force the president to be more forthcoming on progress in Iraq. Hilarious. At least the Dems attempted to call for true accountability in the form of a proposed timetable -- a measure that was stripped by the GOP members.

    Frist had the gall to call the Dem action as a "cut-and-run strategy," which of course is a lie. It's been how many years now since we've been in Iraq, how many lives lost, how many billions spent, and yet to simply request a timetable for eventual withdrawal is deemed cut-and-run? The GOP, truly the party for idiots.

    Oh, I almost forgot, "The measure faces a veto threat from the administration over a provision that imposes a blanket prohibition on the use of 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' treatment of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody." GW hasn't vetoed a damn thing in his five years in office but he'll threaten to use it for the first time to insure that we can torture people -- just like a compassionate conservative!

  • "I was against abortion before I was for it...."

  • And why didn't Condi, among others, have the honor to do this?

  • In his typical lucid prose and thorough reasoning, Kevin Drum has recently written about the question of whether GW & Co. manipulated intel regarding Iraq or were just sincerely wrong. He makes a very strong case for manipulated. Must read stuff here and here.

  • David A. Rosenberg, North American Economist at Merrill Lynch, is not someone I would describe as liberal. He recently had the following to say:
    "We said two weeks ago that the November 8th gubernatorial elections were going to be a litmus test as to what may possibly happen in Nov/06 - we can no longer take for granted that the GOP will sweep the midterm elections, with grave implications for the longevity of the 2001 and 2002 Bush tax cuts, notably the shelf life of the 15% dividend tax rate, which expires in 2008. First, in New Jersey, the surprise wasn't John Corzine's victory, but the magnitude (53% to 44% for GOP candidate Forrester). And the win by Kaine over Kilgore in Virginia (a state painted in blue) by 52-46 is a real eye-opener. Not to mention the huge defeat of Arnold in the Golden State on all four of his propositions ... widely considered a referendum on his governorship. As we saw in the '94 backlash against the DEMS, the tide may be turning against the GOP. Note that in the 1993 governorships, the Republicans won both NJ and Virginia and that proved to be an early litmus test (Christine Todd Whitman won NJ and George Allen took Virginia). And also take note that, at 40%, President Bush's approval rating is right where Bill Clinton's was at this juncture in 1993 - again, this foreshadowed what was about to unfold in the coming year at the Nov/94 midterm elections as the Democrats got swept out of the House and the Senate."
    Yes, let's hope the pattern repeats.
  • When the topic of Iraq comes up, don't let the wingnuts shift the focus to how well things are going over there (don't look at me! their claim), with their bitching about how the MSM is not reporting the smiley-face news about a new sewer finally being built or a day going by with no civilian deaths. Never forget that the reason we're there in the first place -- resulting in over 2000 U.S. dead soldiers and counting -- is because Iraq was deemed a nuclear WMD threat to the United States (by cherry-picked, fit-to-the-policy intel) AND was linked to 9-11 (via Cheney). Period.

    GW/Cheney/Rummy were NOT bloviating back then about how they wanted to reshape Iraq into a beautiful democracy. Of course, they wouldn't have been saying such things because they knew if it just came down to freeing the Iraqi people of Saddam, the American public would not have gone along with the invasion. No, the only way to win over the U.S. public was to play up fear via the yellow cake bullsh*t and to stoke their anger via the 9/11 linkage lie.

    The reasons for the invasion have shifted as the "mission" has evolved through one disasterous stage after another. They were stuck with rebuilding Iraq as a democracy for some time, but with the recent explosions in Jordan you can see GW pathetically trying to refocus the aim to "we have to kill them over there" and "war on terror" is everywhere.

    Daily Kos had something to say on this subject:

    Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus have a pretty thorough critique of the Bu$hCo bullshit offensive we've seen for the past couple of days. How sad is it when a (P)resident is reduced to lying about lying? It's certainly a must read for anyone in the reality based community.
    Sorry, Junior, but that Silberman-Robb dog won't hunt and I'm glad that some in the MSM are starting to point that out. That is a blatant and intentional misrepresentation, a lie, if you will.
    "We all looked at the same intelligence". Once again, this is complete and utter bullshit and it's intentionally misleading. A lie, in other words. In fact, given that lies of omission are still lies and the NIE shared with congress was full of omissions, you could say that this lying about a whole package of lies. It's quite literally bullshit upon bullshit.
    This is the lie that is been most chapping my ass lately. Look, Junior, no one voted to "remove Saddam Hussein from power". You may have thought that they did because that's what you wanted and were planning to do all along. But, they didn't. They (quite stupidly IMHO) voted to give the (P)resident the authority to get tough and to defend "against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." You'll notice there's no mention of removing dictators or bringing democracy to Iraq or freedom marching or any other such nonsense. That's because you sold this war to America based on fear and LIES.

    You may have had some grand vision of rebuilding the Middle East, but you didn't tell the American people that. You and and your entire coterie of lying neocon fuckwits told us that we needed to go to war right fucking now because if we didn't, a major American city would disappear beneath an Iraqi mushroom cloud or that Iraqi drones were gonna spray us with god knows what awful stuff.

    It was bullshit then and lying about it today, on fucking Veteran's Day no less, isn't making it smell any better, Jackass
    Bill Kristol recently wrote that if the American public came to believe that "Bush lied us into war, his presidency will be over." In large part, the results of last Tuesday's elections confirms that the public has come to believe just that, in four words, "Bush is a liar."

    But it goes beyond just Iraq. As with any liar when caught with their pants down, it's then natural to suspect and doubt anything they've said in the past -- much less anything they will say in the future.

    GW is toast when it comes to credibility. Once that's lost it's near impossible to recover; the genie has left the bottle.

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

  • With all of the flak he's justifiably receiving concerning his $200+ mil. taxpayer-funded "pork" bridge to nowhere, Alaska's GOP Sen. Ted Stevens has attempted to shift the focus by throwing red meat to his base by making noise about regulating cable and satellite radio. Ah yes, if oneself is in trouble, look to bash and censure Howard Stern. Don't you just love the way the righties lambaste the government for overreaching and being too large on some things, and yet when it comes to matters like the airwaves or the Patriot Act or privacy concerning abortion, then they want a government as big and huge as possible.

  • Pat Robertson, in his usual infinite wisdom, has helped to uncover the big lie within the ID debate. With his harsh scolding of Dover, PA, Robertson made clear that the ID supporters are all about God -- despite many such ID folks proclaiming their side is not God-centric. What they want is to appear as if they're not violating the separation of church and state precedent, yet to do so exactly in a wink-wink fashion. For more, click here to read a piece by the rightwing Ayn Rand Institute.

  • The following is a day late (Veterans Day) but I wanted to post anyway:
    Dems Who Served
    Richard Gephart
    Tom Daschle
    Al Gore
    Bob Kerrey- Medal of Honor, Vietnam
    Daniel Inouye- Medal of Honor, WWII
    John Kerry- Silver Star, Bronze Star, Vietnam
    Charles Rangel- Bronze Star, Korea
    Max Cleland- Silver Star, Bronze Star
    Ted Kennedy- US Army 1951-53 (France)
    Tom Harkin
    Jack Reed- Army (Ranger) 1971-79
    Gray Davis- Bronze Star, Vietnam
    Pete Stark
    George McGovern- Silver Star, WWII
    Jimmy Carter
    Walter Mondale
    Tom Lantos- Hungarian Underground WWII

    John McCain, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Vietnam

    GOP Served
    Chuck Hagel, Vietnam
    Tom Ridge, Vietnam
    Darrel Issa, W. Germany

    GOP Did Not Serve
    Dick Cheney
    Denny Hastert
    Tom Delay
    Roy Blunt
    Bill Frist
    Mitch McConnell
    Rick Santorum
    Trent Lott
    Jeb Bush
    Karl Rove
    Saxby Chambiss
    Paul Wolfowitz
    Richard Perle
    Douglas Feith
    Eliot Abrams
    John Kyl
    Christopher Cox
    Dana Rohrbacher
    Rudy Giuliani
    Don Rumsfeld- Flight Instructor, US Navy

    DID NOT SERVE- Wingnuts
    Sean Hannity
    Rush Limbaugh
    Bill O’Reilly
    Michael Savage
    George Will
    Chris Matthews
    Paul Gigot
    Bil Kristol
    Ken Starr
    Ralph Reed

    POTUS Did Not Serve, Did Not Inhale
    Bill Clinton

    POTUS, Did Serve (?), Did Inhale
    George W. Bush
  • Keith Olbermann cited the following from the most recent NBC-WSJ poll:
    "The pollsters did not call it the $64,000 question, but they might as well have. Do you think that President Bush gave the country the most accurate information he had before going to war with Iraq, or do you think that President Bush deliberately misled people to make the case for war with Iraq? Fifty-seven percent now saying the president deliberately misled this country. Thirty-five percent say he gave the accurate info."
    So nearly 60% of the country believes the president committed a treasonous act, worthy of impeachment. Well then, let's get on with it already....

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    If this were a stock, would you buy it? Ticker "GW" is a loser.

    Frank Rich recently wrote about Cheney, how he said on "Meet The Press" that:
    "It's been pretty well confirmed" that there was a direct pre-9/11 link between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence. When the Atta-Saddam link was disproved later, Gloria Borger, interviewing the vice president on CNBC, confronted him about his earlier claim, and Mr. Cheney told her three times that he had never said it had been "pretty well confirmed." When a man thinks he can get away with denying his own words even though there are millions of witnesses and a video record, he clearly believes he can get away with murder.
    He's not the only one who is psycho enough to believe that he can deny saying something that was clearly caught on tape. He joins the ranks of other nut cases like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Pat Robertson -- all of which have attempted this incredible act of lunatic fringe denial. And yet in this case we're talking about the #2 guy in charge of the nation! Astoundingly frightening.

    Rich continues:
    Watergate's dirty tricks were mainly prompted by the ruthless desire to crush the political competition at any cost. That's a powerful element in the Bush scandals, too, but this administration has upped the ante by playing dirty tricks with war.
    Playing tricks to the tune of 2000+ dead U.S. soldiers.

    There should be a bumper sticker, No One Died Due To The "Third-Rate Burglary"

    UPDATE: The real question is can there be a politician more evil than Cheney?
    With the dropping of ANWR from this latest bill, it's another sign of the diminishing power of Cheney/Rove/(gw). Drilling in the Alaska refuge has been a top administration priority. GW's poll numbers continue to plummet, this one from the right-wing WSJ. And a FOX News poll too.

    I've mentioned repeatedly (since January) the implosion of the GOP, and it appears as if it definitely has been occurring over the last few months. Josh Marshall recently described it:
    What we're seeing today are the cascading effects of the breakdown of Republican party discipline, beginning with the collapse of the president's popularity (especially the rather sudden recognition of that fact within Washington) and echoing out from there.

    Moderate Republicans have toed the Bush line because they've believed he could protect them, as indeed he has. They don't believe that now. So a lot of them don't want to go into the election next year with ANWR drilling hanging over them.

    They balk on the left and then in response the 'wingers on the other right refuse the compromises they've agreed to. Suddenly the whole thing starts to pull apart since there's no centripetal force, no organizing power to hold things together -- sort of like Hobbesian state creation run in reverse.

    The recognition has sunk in: The president is unpopular and weak. And it's every Republican for him or herself.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

  • Ouch, rough day for Bush yesterday. He shows up to campaign for Kilgore in Virginia and poof, Kilgore loses. In a state that has one of the best batting averages for picking the eventual U.S. president, New Jersey went for Corzine over the Republican. Ahnold went 0-4 in California. And in PA, "All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy." [NY Times] With any luck, the times are a changin.

  • The wingnuts are screaming about how Clinton pointed out Saddam's threat regarding WMD, but did Clinton take such intel and twist it like a pretzel to then hoist on Congress and the American people in an effort to persuade that war is the way to go? Did Clinton pull crap like this? (if so, show any proof)

  • I wrote this on Saturday and I give kudos to Reid for holding a press conference to among other things, make this demand. Now he needs to repeat it over and over and over....

  • "The White House, in negotiations led by Mr. Cheney, is insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempted from the proposed ban [against torture]." -- NY Times, 11/4/05. A few days later, Scott McClellan is performing his tap dance of lies:
    Q I'd like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President says we don't do torture, but Cheney --

    MR. McCLELLAN: That's about as straight as it can be.

    Q Yes, but Cheney has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption on --

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he's asked for an exemption on torture? No, that's --

    Q He did not ask for that?

    MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is inaccurate.
  • Apparently it didn't begin and end with O'Reilly: "Fox News Is Accused in Bias Suit"

  • Look at that, the Vatican injects some reason into the out-of-control ID debate.

  • For those who correctly scratch their heads and try to figure out who are the 30-35% who remain in favor of Bush, just remember President Nixon's approval was at 25% by the time of his resignation. You're always going to have a group of people who simply reside well beyond rational explanation.
  • Monday, November 07, 2005

    Click here to view something that's both hilarious and chock full of truthful insights.
    Jacob Weisberg recently wrote one of the best pieces of journalism I've read in years.

    He discusses the role Rove has played in GW's time in office and how the base they've worked so hard to woo and lock-up has become a double-edged sword.
    Many things have gone wrong for Bush, but the underlying problem is his relationship to the constituency that elected him. Bush's debt to his big donors and to religious conservatives has boxed him in and pitted him against the national consensus on various issues.
    The Harriet Miers nomination was an attempt to satisfy both the militant conservative base and the eternally moderate American electorate. With the Alito nomination, Bush has acknowledged that splitting this difference is impossible.
    GW is a hostage and has Rove to blame. Weisberg continues:
    The genius of Reagan's method, which was to placate the religious right without giving in where it mattered.
    Bill Clinton managed to keep liberal interest groups onboard without advancing their politically untenable wish list.
    Bush seems able to appease his base only by surrendering to its wishes.
    Rove is not such a genius after all. He simply delivers to the rapid base what they want -- as opposed to employing any kind of political finesse to appease a wider audience, and therefore more Americans. Instead, Rove operates via cold, hard calculations, taking care of those that matter to secure power: those with the money (for obvious reasons) and those who will vote no matter the weather (religious right).

    Weisberg reminds us that GW/Rove are repeating the mistakes Gingrich made:
    Gingrich thought he'd won a mandate for radical change and enshrined a new governing majority. He forgot about the country's nonideological majority, which likes Medicare, Social Security, national parks, and student loans. Republicans have retained control of Congress since Gingrich's downfall, but only by reversing his austerity program and spending like a bunch of drunks.
    The GOP-controlled Congress has bought votes more cravenly and irresponsibly than any "tax & spend" version of Congress in recent memory. The hypocrisy never ends.

    The author ends by offering a strong hint that the antidote to GW is John McCain, who just happens to "loathe" Karl Rove. For the sake of the country, 2008 couldn't come fast enough.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    I just viewed the recent Bill Maher show that had on Tony Snow as the resident right-wing pillar of reason. When the subject of Libby/Plame came up, Snow -- coming off as a smug prick -- simply wondered aloud what's the big deal, a guy's in trouble over speaking to reporters. Yes, Snow's Kool-Aid reality of the situation is really just a matter of stories getting confused over the telling of things to reporters. Based on his comments, the fact that a CIA agent was outed is no biggie, and also the fact that those things being said to reporters resulted in a treasonous act, and that what was being conveyed to the grand jury ended up being potential perjury (why else the indictments?). Nope, none of this meant squat to Snow, who chose to just belittle the whole affair as if it will blow over tomorrow. (Recall that Frank Rich recently reminded us that Watergate went on for many years -- not blowing over either; wake up Snow).

    Maher rightfully brought back the Clinton perjury sh*t as a point of reference, with Maher going ballistic over how the right-wing nuts spent $60 million on Clinton's "crimes" involving a plump intern, as opposed to the Plame stuff which truly involves national security, the country going to war on false pretense, White House officials covering up wrongful acts, etc. But of course, Snow just glibly sidestepped these points. The fact is if you want truth, you're not going to get it from the likes of Tony Snow, another GOP mouthpiece that will look you in the eye and tell you lies without flinching.

    Maher also briefly had on Richard Clarke. If you haven't seen Clarke on these types of shows before you're missing a display of bracingly succinct and direct truth-telling. The contrast between Clarke's answers to Maher's questions and Snow's couched, mealy-mouthed replies were quite telling. Clarke is that rare expert who isn't afraid to speak out, choosing to tell it like it is as opposed to mincing words and protecting buddies. You can tell that Clarke truly cares about conveying the truth, and if he doesn't have a fact-based answer to a question, he defers stating he doesn't have the knowledge to reply.

    Wow, an expert who doesn't always profess to be an expert on everything -- how refreshing (vs. O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.).

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    There's much speculation that even if Libby is found guilty, GW will likely pardon him at some point -- like his father did for all of the Iran-contra guilty parties. E.J. Dionne recently wrote,
    If Libby, through nods and winks, knows that at the end of Bush's term, the president will issue an unconditional pardon, he will have no interest in helping Fitzgerald, and every interest in shutting up. If Bush truly wants the public to know all the facts in the leak case, as he has claimed in the past, he will announce now that he will not pardon Libby. That would let Fitzgerald finish his work unimpeded, and we would all have a chance, at last, to learn how and why this sad affair came to pass.
    Dems should press for Bush to make this pledge publicly. Of course, GW will refuse, but again the Dems should demand it repeatedly, making it an echo chorus on the airwaves the same way the Republican mouthpieces recited the "criminalization of politics" phrase.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

  • How about this, regarding Roe, I say let them overturn it. Yeah, it will be a disaster, but the blood (literally) will then be on the GOP's hands. The Dems will be able to make a direct connection back to the GOP folks who put in the judges to get this to happen, and they should be able to eventually cite news stories on a daily basis regarding coat hangars, deaths due to botched back-alley procedures, teen suicides due to unwanted pregnancies, etc. That combined with the public favoring choice all along (all polls show this fact) will have the public awaken to the nightmare and rightfully blame the GOP.

    Somewhat similar to the above suggestion is the recent rejection of TABOR in Colorado. Citizens thought this anti-tax legislation was a good idea, they believed the right-wing nonsense / rhetoric, but they've since realized it's been a disaster.

    Go ahead, let the right-wing have its way. They win in the short-run but almost always lose in the long-run. They set their own noose.

  • Can anyone tell me why Libby is hobbling around on crutches? Is this due to a recent accident (riding bikes with GW?), or is it a ploy to gain sympathy?

  • Please read this story and ask yourself: shouldn't Gale Norton be under the microscope?

  • The Dems should go after these thugs and go after them hard. The closed session "stunt" should just be the beginning of many gloves-off acts of gumption and downright political maneuverings. Hilarious that the Republicans cry foul -- they cry foul when the opposing party finally wakes up and goes toe-to-toe with the kind of tactics they themselves have been using for the last five years. However, the Dems aren't resorting to Swift Boat baloney but rather exposing what is reality and truth, exactly what the GOP leadership has been keeping in the dark for so long.

    The Dems finally smell blood in the water and they're attacking. With these ruthless bullies in office, one must kick them when their down and keep kicking them. Don't give them a chance to regroup, brew a new batch of lies and talking points, and before you know it GW is making another flak-jacket or megaphone appearance to win the hearts and minds of the stupid.

  • Kristof recently wrote:
    Mr. Rove escaped indictment, but he has been tarred. He apparently passed information about Valerie Wilson to reporters and then conveniently forgot about one of those conversations. He also may have misled the president, and the White House ended up giving false information to the public. It's fine for Mr. Rove to work as a Republican political adviser, but not as White House deputy chief of staff.
    No one is naive enough to believe that if Rove were to (justifiably) resign that he would then have nil impact or influence on GW. He'd likely have just as much access and power to direct things as he did as chief of staff.

    However, what GW & Co. are trying to avoid is the explicit showing of weakness that comes with a resignation. It would be just another example for the Dems to run against in '06 and '08, another item for the campaign ads. As always for GW, politics comes first, doing what's right is a far, far distant priority.

  • Richard Cohen recently wrote, "One could almost forgive President Bush for waging war under false or mistaken pretenses had a better, more democratic Middle East come out of it."

    Come again? It's OK for the President of the United States to lie if the eventual outcome of whatever it is he/she lied about is deemed virtuous? Huh? Is Cohen drinking 100-proof Kool-Aid?

    Even if Iraq becomes the greatest democracy on Earth, it STILL does not let GW off the hook for going to war based on lies and falsehoods. Period.

    It's similar to if after the 2000 election Bush would've become one of the greatest of U.S. presidents, it STILL would not have changed the fact that Gore received more votes and that the Supreme Court installed him in office via a ruling that confounds most legal scholars to this day.