Tuesday, May 31, 2005

See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. -- GW Bush, 5/24/05
Yep, this imbecile is our president.

As Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. This was quite a gaffe. Check the link again in a day or two to see if they eventually expunge this statement -- it's what they do.

(Thanks David Corn).

Robin Cook, prolific author of 25 medical thrillers, had this to say about the politics of science in Sunday's Boston Globe magazine:
"I don't think the governor [Romney] is really anti-stem cell research. When I talk to Bill Frist, I can tell he's not against it, either. That stance is the popular position of the far right.... It's a facade."
Disturbing. Frist must be quite the actor. He preaches about morals and values, as if he himself truly believes in everything he votes for, and yet here we have a "shocking" revelation by an apparent friend. Whether Frist's heart is there or not, it's implied he votes for his political skin -- that which is controlled by the religious right.

Still doubt the influence and spreading of Christian theocratic rule? Than read this and this.
These days, you'll find your typical right-wingnut's obsession is Hillary Clinton in 2008. Why? Some likely reasons: 1) because they're fixated on hating Clintons (The Hate continues....), 2) she is both very much liked and disliked (wingnuts thrive on divide and strident partisanship; they despise a warm-and-fuzzy middle -- see reaction to filibuster compromise), and 3) the big reason: GW is doing horribly, so best to focus on anything else.

As for me, I haven't yet and I won't comment on any matter having to do with the presidential race in 2008. Why? BECAUSE IT'S TOO EARLY. Duh! So much can happen in the next few years, what's the point? Why don't we attempt to guess who will win the Super Bowl in 2008 -- exactly, it's stupid.

In the meantime, there's lots going on in the here and now.

I will at least state that unlike the right wingnuts, I can be for someone no matter the political party. Example: John McCain. The New Yorker recently had a lengthy article on him. If it weren't for the religious right, he would most certainly have been the GOP presidential contender in 2000 (read the article). He's not a bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece for special interests like Bush/Cheney, and he believes global warming is real and requires immediate government action.

Enough of that for at least the next year or two.

Monday, May 30, 2005

$600 billion

$600 billion. Sound big? (To help put that number in perspective, the federal deficit is $400+ billion). What does this number relate to? Try the estimated cost of the Iraq situation by the time 2010 comes rolling around (which is just five years away, for those not counting).

Yet this number is just a rough approximation. After all, recall the promises that the war would pay for itself in Iraqi petro dollars. So I think it's fair to say the Iraq situation could cost between $600 bil. and $1 trillion by 2010. If the right-wingers argue this point, they don't have a leg to stand on.

Which comes to my main point (below). I'll likely get some lame response from wingnut-ville along the lines of "aren't free Iraqis worth every penny?" Look, I'm tired of hearing this crap from the same folks who truly don't give a rat's ass about the misfortune of many people in the world, much less to have to pay for the cure(s) with their tax dollars. The incredible hypocrisy here is simply outrageous.

The depths of partisan idiocy at play is mind-boggling. An easy test: just imagine if Clinton were still in office, running the show (I know, I know, impossible for him to govern this badly, I said use your imagination) -- oh yeah, I'm sure the right wingnuts would be making the same lame supportive excuses for this occupation. Hah! They'd be absolutely ballistic!! To think they'd be offering their proud support for President Clinton as he rang the federal cash register, demanding $600 bil. to $1 trillion from the American public to fund the war he pushed through based on dubious and fudged intelligence. You have to be smoking some mighty fine drugs to believe that horsesh*t!

Quite the contrary, if they were demanding impeachment for lies about a BJ, what in the hell would they be demanding now? $600 billion, nearly 1700 dead U.S. soldiers, and tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians -- compared to cheating with a young intern.

Also, imagine if any president proposed to the American people that he/she planned to spend $600+ billion of their money to pay for anything over the next five years. You can be damn certain there would be an outcry for iron-clad intel to prove the case for this immense dollar outlay. As it is this (USA) country's infrastructure is falling apart, getting a "D" and requiring over $1 trillion in upgrades. I betcha the right-wingers would be crowing about this fact -- among many others -- if it weren't for one of their own responsible for and caught up in this horrible debacle.

Even if Iraq were to become the greatest democracy on the planet in the next five years, it doesn't change the above. The final outcome is not the point. We could throw $600+ bil. at many problems in the world and with that kind of money, we'd likely score a few huge victories (uh, like fix a good many of our roads and bridges, for one). Again, not the point. Instead, we live in such a stridently partisan time that most of us don't even notice how much things have changed since those days of spurious impeachment hearings (televised, no less).

Again, just imagine everything about Iraq -- the cost, the lead-up, the intel, the screw-ups -- everything, and then imagine a Bill Clinton in the White House. What would DeLay, Frist, and the rest of the GOP have done during this time? How about the "liberal" media, they would've "behaved" like they did with Whitewater, correct? What about the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and O'Reillys? Oh yeah, they would've fully supported their national leader and applauded the $600+ billion "investment."

As I've said many times before, this country needs to wake up, and soon. We've become a nation of brainwashed zombies, seeming to lack any ability to truly think or to process what's really going on and to then muster appropriate reactions.

Only two publications seem to matter these days: the Bible and the TV Guide. It's exactly the way the Republicans want it.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys." -- Major Mark Lister, a senior Marine air officer.
With each new day comes reports of more insurgent attacks and X number of more dead as a result. And it's becoming more frequent to read quotes and statements -- often by military personnel -- about a lack of troops.

It's widely known that recruitment goals have fallen far short and many soldiers are being kept on long after their agreed-upon time served. However, the fact remains that Rumsfeld's original assessment on the number of troops needed to properly handle Iraq has been a tragic screw-up of enormous magnitude. The lack of soldiers is killing soldiers, making those stationed in that country that much more vulnerable due to a lack of supportive and reinforcing manpower. Recall, as I wrote last year, that the respected Rand Corp. estimated that Iraq would need about 500,000 soldiers to properly stabilize the country -- far more than the 130,000 sent there.

Have you ever seen police shows where they need to get through a locked door and they often have what looks like many more officers than necessary as they ram through the entrance and quickly scatter throughout the inside rooms? Most often no one is harmed as they overrun the place with an overwhelming personnel presence.

Among others, this same truism is what's behind the Rand study. To attempt to secure any place "on the cheap" most often doesn't work, and worse yet results in more fatalities than would've occurred with a great show of force in personnel (NOT bombs).

In the next several years, there will be tons critically written about this war (hopefully, a fair share focusing on matters like the Downing Street Memo), and my guess is this matter of troop deployment (via Rummy) will become a common target for blame, and rightly so. And if one ignorantly asserts, "well, we could never dedicate a half million troops to the effort!" which may be very true, but the point is one then must reconsider the entire operation and associated thought process. The fact that we have a finite number of troops is a big reason why the neocon hawks are curtailed in their global ambitions (i.e. limitation can be good).

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. I wrote the above entry early yesterday morning only to discover this morning that Paul Krugman chose the same topic for his column. As usual, he makes several good points.

Friday, May 27, 2005

In the May 30th The New Republic:
Christian groups are preparing to battle a new scourge: Vaccines that could prevent more than 200,000 women from dying of cervical cancer each year (including 5,000 here in the United States). [The vaccines] immunize against infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a common STD that is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer cases.
Abstinence groups don’t want a vaccine to eliminate this fear factor. “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex,” says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a Christian lobby that plans to fight a Merck campaign to make HPV vaccination mandatory for all girls by the time they enter junior high. Of course, absolutely no evidence supports Maher’s claim. But there’s plenty of evidence that an HPV vaccine will prevent thousands of needless deaths. Now what was that about a culture of life?
Yes, it's as crass as it sounds: the vaccine is bad for their business (built on fear).

And from the same TNR issue:
As political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue in their forthcoming book, Off Center: George W. Bush, Tax Cuts, and the Erosion of Democracy, recent changes have made Congress an unreliable representative of majority will. Now that incumbents, thanks to partisan gerrymandering, are virtually assured reelection, politicians have a strong incentive to pander to their most reliable supporters—including partisan activists and high-stakes donors—in order to avoid the primary challenges that now decide elections. This means that representatives and senators can increasingly ignore the preferences of the moderate majority without suffering electoral consequences.
In the Schiavo case, which has, more than any single event, rallied right-wing opposition to the judiciary, two-thirds of the public opposed Congress’s intervention in an ongoing judicial proceeding. But that doesn’t seem to matter to congressional Republicans, who are in the thrall of their base: interest groups on the extreme right who care intensely about judicial nominations because their socially conservative views are not shared by a majority of Americans. Having ostensibly played an important role in Bush’s reelection, these groups feel entitled to political payback.
Fortunately, the canniness of the courts in following public opinion suggests that Republican attacks on judicial independence are unlikely to succeed. Political scientist Gerald N. Rosenberg has examined nine periods in U.S. history when judicial decisions led to meaningful congressional opposition, as measured by the number of bills introduced in the House and Senate attempting to curb the Supreme Court’s power.
This history suggests that the Court tended to retreat in the face of congressional opposition only when it was genuinely out of step with public opinion. That is not the case today. If the historical pattern holds, the courts are unlikely to wilt before congressional proposals to strip them of jurisdiction over controversial cases. Nor are they likely to be intimidated by DeLay’s recent attacks.
As long as judges are confident that a majority of the country is behind them, they will remain steadfast in the face of congressional bullying. But we are in a dangerous situation when the people’s will is better represented by the Supreme Court than Congress. For most of U.S. history, the Court looked to Capitol Hill as the most reliable representative of the people’s constitutional views; if Congress no longer accurately represents the constitutional views of the majority, the Court will have alarmingly little evidence of what those views are, aside from fickle public opinion polls, which are hardly an appropriate basis for judicial decisions. Moreover, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will not serve forever, and, when he retires, his successor will be chosen by a president who seems more interested, at the moment, in catering to his social conservative base than in representing the country as a whole. Over the long run, however, majorities in the United States always have their way; and, if they find their political leaders subverting their wishes, they are likely to demand new ones. -- Jeffrey Rosen

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Under Bush, the GOP’s chief political tactic has been to identify norms that can be trampled without consequence and then to promptly trample them. So, for example, Republicans routinely pass legislation in the House and Senate only to significantly change it in a conference committee. Or they unveil complicated legislation just hours before it must be voted on, giving Democrats almost no opportunity to read it. Or, to take an example with which [Sen. George] Voinovich is intimately familiar, they announce a reasonable-sounding official price tag for legislation that bears no relationship to its actual cost. -- Noam Scheiber, The New Republic, 5/30/05
It's called not acting in good faith (how ironic, from the faith-based party). And yet they worry about the Dems double-crossing them, not living up to their end of the bargain in this filibuster compromise. How laughable. Look for Republicans to be the first to not act in good faith, and look for this to happen sooner rather than later.

When will the Dems learn that those who lay down with dogs wake up with fleas.
Bravo to "Nightline." Given what we've seen of this administration, with the attack-dog bullying and relentless pressuring, much credit should be given to ABC for resisting what could've been an easy decision -- to just pass. That's exactly the aim of this gang of thugs, to create a climate of fear and intimidation so much so that those in the media will think twice about airing anything deemed controversial.

As the U.S. death toll approaches 1700 with no end in sight, and with nary a photo or word printed about the dead, this tribute is a sober reminder of the war's true cost.

In today's paper:

Religious right vows payback for brokers of filibuster pact

As I wrote yesterday, "These characters who like to believe they're Christ-like (hah!) indeed look back in anger all the time. Just look at the quotes of bitter resentment and payback that came out after the Schiavo showcase and this recent filibuster compromise."

They're just so predictable!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Great Sunday piece by Frank Rich:
That's how absurdly over-the-top the assault on Newsweek has been. The administration has been so successful at bullying the news media in order to cover up its own fictions and failings in Iraq that it now believes it can get away with pinning some 17 deaths on an errant single sentence in a 10-sentence Periscope item that few noticed until days after its publication. Coming just as the latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll finds that only 41 percent of Americans think the war in Iraq is "worth fighting" and only 42 percent think it's going well, this smells like desperation. In its war on the press, this hubristic administration may finally have crossed a bridge too far.
About the Newsweek matter Donald Rumsfeld had a moral to bequeath the land. "People need to be careful what they say," he said, channeling Ari Fleischer, and added, "just as people need to be careful what they do." How true. If one of his right-hand men, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, hadn't been barnstorming American churches making internationally publicized pronouncements that his own Christian God is "a real god" and Islam's god is "an idol," maybe anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, at record highs even before the Newsweek incident, would have been a shade less lethal. If higher-ups had been called to account for the abuses of Abu Ghraib, maybe Newsweek might have had as little traction in the Arab world as The Onion.
It wasn't long ago that the magazine and the co-author of the Periscope item, Michael Isikoff, were being cheered by the same crowd for their pursuit of Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey.
[In] the judgment of Gen. Carl Eichenberry, our top commander in Afghanistan, who, according to Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the riots were "not at all tied to the article in the magazine."
It's also because of incompetent Pentagon planning that other troops may now be victims of weapons looted from Saddam's munitions depots after the fall of Baghdad. Yet when The New York Times reported one such looting incident, in Al Qaqaa, before the election, the administration and many in the blogosphere reflexively branded the story fraudulent. But the story was true.
If something good can come out of something bad, the administration's overkill of Newsweek may focus greater public attention on just how much it is using press-bashing to deflect attention from the fictions spun by its own propaganda machine.
Excellent, told with assertive bravado that would make Galloway proud.
An Open Letter to U.S. Democratic Elected Officials. Dear Democratic Elected Officials, George Galloway did that for which you have proven incapable; he spoke as an opposition. Since there seems to be a great dark space in the middle of your heads where the notion of opposition should be -- a void filled by parliamentary molasses and the pusillanimous inabilty to tell simple truths -- I suggest you all review the recordings of Galloway's confrontation with Republican Senator Norm "Twit" Coleman to see exactly how effortless it is to stand up to these cheap political bullies."
If you haven't watched this video yet, please click here. The Dems could learn much by watching it over and over and over....
David Broder wrote about the man who -- if not Gore -- should've been President the last five years:
The Monday night agreement to avert a showdown vote over judicial filibusters not only spared the Senate from a potentially ruinous clash, but also certified John McCain as the real leader of that body.
He did that knowing he would incur the wrath of the conservative activists who want no barriers placed before their favorites for possible vacancies on the Supreme Court. But contrary to myth, the heroes of the far right rarely win presidential nominations -- as witness the fate of Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson, among others.
Twenty years ago McCain accepted apologies from an activist named David Ifshin when they met at a Washington forum. They formed a friendship. Ifshin, who had gone to Hanoi in 1970 and made an antiwar radio broadcast that was piped into McCain's prison, later became a close friend of and campaign counsel to President Bill Clinton.

When Ifshin died of cancer in 1996, McCain delivered a eulogy at the funeral, saying of Ifshin, "He always felt passionate about his country. He always tried to do justice to others. . . . I learned about courage from David, learned to look for virtue and I learned the futility of looking back in anger."
That last paragraph is amazing. Here's a man who spent 5+ years in a box as a war prisoner and yet he was able to build a friendship with an antiwar protester and then give a heartfelt eulogy at his funeral. How truly noble -- in fact, Christ-like!

Yet, as Broder alludes to, McCain has never been a diligent water-carrier for the religious right (which is a main reason he's not president; they helped to savage him). How ironic. These characters who like to believe they're Christ-like (hah!) indeed look back in anger all the time. Just look at the quotes of bitter resentment and payback that came out after the Schiavo showcase and this recent filibuster compromise.
The latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll is very interesting. Some choice results:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? 50% "Disapprove," compared to 49% a year ago, 30% two years ago, and just 17% three years ago. Pretty bad trend.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the economy? 58% "Disapprove," compared to 56% a year ago, 44% two years ago, and 29% three years ago. Funny, you'd think those numbers would be switched around for such a "popular" second-term leader....?

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq? 56% "Disapprove," compared to 21% just two years ago. I guess the Wall Street Journal needs to better publicize their "Good News from Iraq" column. Also, the Downing Street Memo "revelations" can't help.

Do you think the country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress, or if the Democrats controlled Congress? 36% said Republican vs. 47% saying Dems. Looks very similar to when Newt lost control.

And this one's huge: Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with George W. Bush on the issues that matter most to you. 40% Agree and a whopping 57% Disagree. Wow. And two years ago this was 53/46 in his favor.

It shows you how over-the-cliff extreme the GOP has strayed. They can't help it, it's what they do best. That party has been hijacked by zealots and moderation (and reason) has become like kryptonite to them. When I've predicted implosion, the assumption is always that there exists at least a few stray non-crazed ones left to stir up much-needed push-back, but that's a big assumption. Frankly, for the Dems sake, they may wish to root-on and enable the Frists, DeLays and Santorums in that party.

Meanwhile, although the House voted for a more lenient stem-cell bill, notice that GW has quickly given signs of caving regarding any threatened veto (as reported by the Wall Street Journal). But I thought he was going to make a moral stand, putting his fist down for what he believes in? Hah! Remember: he endorsed pro-choice Specter over pro-life Toomey. It's really all about politics with him (only the fools believe otherwise) and could the reason for his urging to compromise be that poll numbers actually favor stem-cell research?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What is Joe Lieberman doing submitting an op-ed to that renowned rightwing rag, The NY Post. Are you kidding me? You can't take this paper seriously and it's so far to the right it's comical. I'm sure Lieberman could have had his piece printed in any of the more respectable newspapers in the country -- why did he choose the NY Post? Right-wingers, you can have him.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's been quite a long time since I've mentioned Mike Malloy's radio show up here. He can be heard on Air America and also at White Rose Society.

Mike is perhaps the best liberal -- or as he calls it, truth-seeking -- radio personality in the country. He consistently keeps things interesting, pulls no punches, while still making sure his content is accurate, nearly always citing sources for all items mentioned. Compare that to Rush, who has given rise to web sites that are dedicated to correcting his many lies and distortions spoken on a daily basis. And unlike Rush, Mike often speaks at length about one topic, going over it thoroughly, as opposed to Rush's chop-shop smears and snarky one-liners before off to tons of commercials.

As an example, one of Mike's recent shows had him open with the reminder that it's been 19 days since the publication (in the UK) of the Downing Street Memo. Never heard of it? Exactly his point as he rightly states that it should've been the front-page story in every major newspaper in this country (esp. since they're all liberal-biased, right?). But no, no calls for resignations, no calls for investigations, not a peep (recall Clinton's Watergate bullsh*t would make the front pages often).

He then moves on to state that Norm Coleman's committee has scrubbed, or deleted, any sign of testimony from George Galloway, as if it didn't happen (oh, but it certainly did). That's it Norm, lie to the American public, deceive, do whatever it takes to save face. Pathetic worm.

That's all in the first five minutes of his show. Terrific stuff.

Another thing I haven't touched on in quite a long time, this graphic:

Note in the lower left corner, "Mission Accomplished" 5/1/03.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

You just have to wonder about our steeped-in-principles president. Bush wouldn't know how to use his veto power if Cheney explained it to him real slow, and yet he's chosen to exercise it for once and for what? To nix a stem cell bill that has plenty of GOP support.

GW is so indebted to and in bed with the religious right that he's apparently willing to cause fissures within his own party to please them. If you think he went too far with the Schiavo posturing, think again. He's one-upped himself.

This bill would still ban federal funding for creating embryos for research, but would allow research using discarded embryos from fertility clinics. In other words, these discarded embryos would most likely never be used within the clinics and thus destroyed. So rather than use them to further research and perhaps save lives in the future, no, notta, it's better (more moral) to toss them in the garbage -- for the sake of the "culture of life." Are you kidding me? Where does reason ever enter the picture with this guy?

One other question: I always thought the religious right stressed that life started at conception. If the South Koreans have developed a method to clone human embryos (and then extract stem cells), I would think that these embryos were not conceived per say (via sperm/egg), and therefore what happens to the definition? What, the original cells came from a conceived human and therefore that counts -- huh?

As we progress as humans, it becomes that much more difficult for those who wish to stand in the way of advancement to keep their stories straight. I'm not knocking religion but rather pointing out what should be obvious: technology is here to stay and new discoveries will continue to come at a faster clip. That said, to forcefully make the case against certain breakthroughs, it's going to become that much more difficult to do so consistently and convincingly.

REMINDER: For those who will respond with the usual Bush-voting-for-life-(period) as an explanation here, my usual response to this - which should end all discussion - is: FOR THE '04 RACE IN PENNSYLVANIA, BUSH ENDORSED PRO-CHOICE SPECTER OVER PRO-LIFE TOOMEY. Again, this fact should tell you all you need to know about the "sanctity of life" for GW (the "culture" or "sanctity" begins and ends with politics -- forget religion, morals, principles, etc.).

One of the many cartoon characters in the rightwing scream asylum:
Rush Limbaugh:

LIMBAUGH: If there's a party that's out there slowly and surely becoming racist and bigoted, it's the Democrats, and you can see it simply and very concisely in their treatment of this nominee, Justice Brown.

Rush Limbaugh:

"Take that bone out of your nose and call me again,"

"Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

(thanks TBogg)
Sadly, so many take this witless oaf seriously. And for that reason, he must be taken seriously, sadly.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bush demands an investigation into the Saddam-in-underwear controversy. Does anyone recall his ire and demand for other more-deserved investigations? For starters, how about that missing $8.8 bil. in Iraq? Or what about the many unresolved scandals with Halliburton? What a joke.

Meanwhile, as Korea (of all places) makes strides regarding stem cell research, Bush and the GOP are determined to keep the U.S. in the dark ages. Watch as this research continues to gravitate out of this country and into others. You can't stop progress....

Also, Krugman writes today about the subject I've been writing about recently, U.S./China trade problem/deficit.

Bush is doing more of his choreographed, staged propaganda nonsense, this time with Social Security. And the chosen target as props? Under-30-year-olds. I guess they can remember their lines better.

As Wall Street veteran Steve Leuthold recently wrote, when it comes to the public picking and choosing where to allocate their private accounts, "President Bush maintains the average person will make 'reasonable choices.' My past experience indicates they won't." He continues, "the public typically boatloads at market peaks (when everything looks great) and bails out at the lows (when all news is bad)." I have 15+ years experience in this game and I agree with my colleague Steve. Year after year, if you were to follow the public's investment choices you'd be very unhappy with the returns.

I'm not saying people don't have a right to follow their own instincts and make their own decisions. That's all fine and dandy. It's just that history shows the public has a fairly abysmal record when it comes to this task and worse yet, when many of these folks have little to show for their efforts years down the road, do you think the government will just stand idly by and let them suffer? If you say "yes" than you're naive. Instead, to avoid nasty headlines of hunger and people out on the street, the government will have to step in and bail out these millions (?) of individuals. And who will pay? Yup, the taxpayer.

So keep dreaming people. A very wise saying, "Watch what you wish for, you just may get it."

It'd be one thing if a right-wing blogger made this statement, but for a U.S. Senator?! Astounding.

You would think that Santorum would've learned by now - given that his prior actions and statements have made him a walking embarassment - that when he gets the urge to speak, or communicate in any way, to wait a few seconds and let it pass. It's no wonder he trails his Dem challenger. November '06 can't come fast enough.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lots of news items today.

The filibuster runaway train continues on. Frist blares, "Nominees deserve an up-or-down vote on this floor." Funny how that didn't seem to matter with the 60+ they held up on Clinton. To further illustrate what they're trying to pull: it would be like George Steinbrenner wanting to change the height and/or depth of the right and left field stadium walls on a year-to-year basis, depending on how many lefty or righty sluggers he had on the Yankee roster.

The House passes bill to curb terrorism color codes. What a crock of horsesh*t. Recall how frequent these alerts changed leading up to the November election last year, and Ridge recently came out saying as much that these changes were highly curious or suspect. Notice we haven't heard boo about alert changes since last November? Oh, but it was never politically driven....

The Iraq invasion and occupation could cost $600 bil. by 2010. And this figure is not being counted in the current $400+ bil. federal deficit.

Another incident of bullying by Bolton against those who disagreed with him. If Dems allow this guy to get through it will be a huge blow for them, one that will perhaps cripple them for months if not the rest of GW's term. Many of the Republicans know Bolton sucks and if they somehow win this one, they'll be laughing behind closed doors, with chests reinflated.

Graduates for the class of 2005 fear debt and unemployment more than terrorism. GW/Rove better return to getting those terror alerts cranked up!

The Senate Energy Committee nixed a Democratic plan to require SUVs and minivans to become more fuel efficient and achieve the same gasoline mileage as passenger cars -- over six years no less. The technology currently exists to make this happen without added pain and suffering. Anything else you hear is lobbyist-ridden BS.

Meanwhile, Vietnam builds its first wind powered generator. Hardly as advanced a country as the U.S., but apparently much more forward-thinking. Makes us look like head-in-the-sand idiots.

Finally, more states have filed suit against the EPA and federal government over pollution control standards. Hmm, what could those eleven, count them, eleven, states see that's so bad with the Orwellian-titled "Clean Air Mercury Rule" I wonder....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Boy, you're gonna carry that weight, Carry that weight a long time" -- The Beatles

Ruy Teixeira:
The new Pew Research Center poll gives Bush his worst approval rating ever in that poll: just 43 percent, with 50 percent disapproval. And the new Time/SRBI poll has his rating at 46 percent approval/47 percent disapproval, also a low in that poll.

The Time poll has Bush's economic approval rating at 38/56, also a new low; his Iraq approval rating at 41/55, tied for his lowest ever; his Social Security rating at an abysmal 31/59; and even his rating on the war on terrorism at an unimpressive 53/42. The SRBI report on the poll points out that Bush is losing substantial ground among constituencies key to his narrow victory last November.
The poll also shows a 59-28 margin against Republican efforts in the Senate to eliminate the use of the filibuster against Bush's judicial nominees. And, by 53-37, the public says that other states should follow California's lead in funding all types of stem cell research.
Continuing with discussion about U.S./China game of chicken, the credit derivatives market has recently been showing signs of cracking. Part of what's been going on for years is that with Greenspan trying his hardest to keep things from getting too bad, keeping rates too low for too long has created one of the great carry trades in history. With the fed funds rate below the inflation rate, thus a negative real rate, institutions have been able to leverage billions off the short yield to chase longer, higher yields. Also, this low real rate has greatly fueled the housing bubble.

The lack of salary growth over the last few years has prompted consumers to turn to the easy money obtained by extracting equity from their inflated home values -- to the tune of $700+ billion since 2000. The result: household debt is at a record 90% of GDP. When (if) things finally do break, it will be the American consumer that gets KO'd on the chin.

Bush/Cheney have strongly endorsed and communicated not just an ownership mentality but more so a spend and consume mindset, one that is completely free from notions of conserving and some self-sacrifice. Yes, the ownership mantra is a wink-wink to keep the daisy-chain of housing excesses in full motion, but tax breaks during war, the bloated spending, the no-mention of conserving (instead, snide poking fun from Cheney) -- they all send a consistent message to the naive and vulnerable public. Bigger houses, bigger autos, bigger meals, etc., and at any cost, even if it requires borrowing.

Anything to live like the well-to-do....because we're all above average, right?
As I wrote on Monday, the U.S./China game of chicken continues to race towards a potentially scary final outcome:

U.S. warns China to free up its yuan or else

Oh, and look, GW might actually veto something!! And on what grounds? Because a $295 bil. spending bill is a whopping $11 bil. over his decreed maximum. Way to put your foot down George -- I guess at least it's a start. (It will chip away at the $400+ bil. deficit).

My guess is they end up chopping off $11 bil. in environmental provisions.

UPDATE: I was right.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You want to see a guy with real moral clarity (unlike the sniveling, spineless GW), watch George Galloway kick some GOP ass.
WASHINGTONThe State Department, moving to react to damage it says was caused by a Newsweek magazine article alleging U.S. desecration of the Koran, is ordering its embassies to spread the word abroad that America respects all religious faiths.

This task is that much more of a tall-order given you have an administration that's in bed with the religious right. Another problem that comes with a president who so overtly endorses one religion. Anyone willing to link Muslim unrest to this fact?
I smell something - and it ain’t a copy of the Qu’ran sopping wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the ink drying on Scott McClellan’s resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.
-- Keith Olbermann
Read Keith's entire entry, it's great.

Once again, the GOP is overreaching, and once again, let's hope they pay for it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A very good article by Morgan Stanley's chief economist, Stephen Roach, appears in TIME Asia. He discusses how Congress (on both sides of the aisle) appears to be readying to launch a trade war with China. The demand? That China revalue its currency -- something that is not likely to happen.

It's a no-brainer for politicians as many of them are not trained in economics (otherwise they'd realize the folly of their ways) and yet what they do fully comprehend is that this economic recovery has been the weakest on record when it comes to hiring and providing growing wages. Millions of Americans are not participating in this near-ghost-like recovery so what better than for politicians to feed off of this misery and hoist up a boogeyman.

The problem is China is not the problem. If anything, we should be thanking them. If it weren't for China, we'd have much less access to low-cost, high-quality products (thank you Walmart!), inflation would therefore be much higher, and also they buy our debt, helping to fund our whopping deficit. In addition, as Roach points out, the corporations in China are not Chinese per say but rather multinational corporations. It's like the scene in the classic movie, "Network," when Ned Beatty explains that there are no countries, but instead just huge multinational firms.

Sorry to say but we have met the enemy and we are they. The Fed's low rates after the internet bubble collapse has fueled and lengthened the American appetite for consumption. Greenspan has simply delayed the pain (Volcker has recently stated such publicly). Also, as Roach states, if the federal budget deficit were not as huge, our trade deficit would be lower, thus the politicians are also to blame.

I'll write more about this tomorrow, but make no mistake, this topic is a big one and it shows some disconcerting signs of becoming a game of U.S./China chicken.
Kevin Drum:
Anyway, let's get some things straight:

  • Newsweek's source blew it. But it was a source they had used before and they had no reason not to trust him.

  • Hundreds of items similar to Newsweek's story have been published in the past year, all of them true. The torture at Abu Ghraib was far worse than this, and other reports of Koran desecration have been published in the past year as well. They inspired no riots, and there was no special reason for Newsweek to think their report would inspire any riots either.

  • The Taliban stages a resurgence every spring, anti-Americanism has been on the rise for some time, and the rioters in Afghanistan are responsible for the riots in Afghanistan. The Newsweek story is clearly just a pretext, and another story would have done just as well given their obvious animosity toward America.

  • Under any other circumstances, conservatives would heartily agree. The phony outrage over this is just a cynical excuse for the usual press bashing. Newsweek should buck up.

    As near as I can tell, the Pentagon has demonstrated more genuine outrage over this incident than they did over months and months of disclosures of similar (and worse) actions at Abu Ghraib. It's revolting.
  • Part of me can't help but appreciate the irony of a White House which took the country to war on shaky (and later discredited) evidence going to war against a news organization that published a short article on shaky evidence.

    But set that aside.

    I haven't followed every particular about the case of this blow-up over the article in Newsweek. But I do see a clear pattern -- a White House trying to decapitate another news organization. -- Josh Marshall
    As I wrote, "I find it curious that the White House is bashing Newsweek before receiving more facts on the matter." Josh offers up a hint.

    Oh, and as more proof that the GOP treats the public like a bunch of ignorant morons, Josh reports that the Republicans have circulated a memo stating, among other things, to refer to the "nuclear option" as instead the "constitutional option." That's it, somewhere they tested (polled) a bunch of words on some people people off the street to see what was deemed offensive and what wasn't. If you believe otherwise, you're a fool. The GOP has mastered advertising tactics better than many on Madison Ave. -- it's one of Rove's sinister gifts.
    Get ready for another CBS-"Rathergate" firestorm from the right wingnut blogosphere, this time directed at Newsweek.

    First, if the information was based on a dubious or tenuous source(s), Newsweek should absolutely apologize, issue a retraction, and above all, investigate until they get to the bottom of what went wrong.

    That said, let's take a breath and think. Given what happened to CBS, are we to believe Newsweek is stupid enough to repeat? (All together now wingnuts: "Yes!"). If anything, many were concerned that the CBS debacle would make an already toothless news media that much less vigilant.

    The initial reports on this today appear to be that government officials serving as sources for the story are frantically back-pedaling. Newsweek intends to thoroughly investigate and I lobby they do so with voracious determination, as Wendy's did concerning the found severed finger. If they find they were at fault, then they deserve the harsh criticism (again, esp. on the heels of the CBS incident). HOWEVER, they may just find out that good sources conveyed good info and yet these sources have been pressured to recant. Note that there's evidence what Newsweek reported is not new news, but rather recycled from prior reports.

    Also, was Newsweek expected to know ahead of time that their story would cause such an international uproar? I thought everything was on the improve in the Arab world, particularly as it relates to the U.S.? (Every two weeks, the Wall Street Journal has a column that conveys all the cheery, lesser-known items). What do these intense demonstrations say about the state of affairs when it comes to how the U.S. is perceived by the Muslim community?

    Finally, I find it curious that the White House is bashing Newsweek before receiving more facts on the matter. And didn't Rumsfeld once say that such ugly and tragic things happen when building a democracy (i.e. shit happens)? But apparently that all changes when the shoe is on someone else's foot.

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    A few others have written about LA Times columnist David Gelernter. Let's just say he makes David Brooks appear to be blessed with lucid reason. Gelernter is the poster boy for the right-wing lunatic fringe. With his column last week, Michael Kinsley (his boss) must've really been chuckling.

    He starts out bemoaning the many troubles with public schools (despite other studies saying quite the opposite), and yet we finally arrive at the core truth that irks him so: public schools are liberal bastions. Of course! It was just a matter of time until I got to the oft-mentioned wingnut gripe about higher education in general: they're all pinko, commie, leftie, socialist breeding grounds. Sigh.

    Better to send your kids to those academic stalwarts Liberty U. or Bob Jones U., two schools that oddly enough never appear on any "Best of" lists. Oh, right, that's because the people behind such lists are leftist, commie, pinko....

    Isn't bad enough that we have a president that rules by fear, do we really
    need a Pope that does the same?

    I couldn't agree more Bruce and Michael:
    WHERE WAS James Dobson when 60 of President Bill Clinton's judicial nominees were on hold in the 1990s? Did they, too, deserve an up or down vote? Or is that a privilege reserved solely for Republican nominees?

    Dobson is wrong in many ways. He claims that the nominees aren't extreme. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales accused Priscilla Owen of trying to implement "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" when they were both justices on the Texas Supreme Court. Her work on the bench was deemed poor by 47 percent of the Houston Bar Association.

    Judge Janice Rogers Brown of California has referred to a Supreme Court ruling in favor of minimum wage laws as ''the triumph of our own socialist revolution." When nominated to the California Supreme Court, Brown was rated unqualified by three-fourths of the California State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominees.

    Dobson claims that ''never in the history of the Senate has a federal judge nominee with obvious majority support in the Senate been held hostage to a filibuster." What of Judge Richard A. Paez, whom Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, voted to filibuster?

    Dobson is right about one thing. The Republicans' nuclear option isn't really about Senate rules, traditions, or the reputations of the nominees. It's all about the Republicans getting and keeping power.

    Chestnut Hill

    I APPRECIATED seeing James C. Dobson's May 11 op-ed article opposite your editorial, ''A plot against the Senate." This highlighted both the Republicans' hypocrisy on the issue and their willingness to tell untruths while not strictly lying.

    President Bush has gotten a higher percentage of judges approved than any president in recent history -- and in a timely fashion. Word-parsing Republicans like Dobson claim that court nominees have never been held up in committee by the filibuster. They ignore the scores of Clinton nominees, mostly non-controversial moderates, whom the Republicans denied up-or-down votes by preventing them from even coming up in committee. Where was Dobson's indignation then?


    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Regarding Bolton, Voinovich said he's "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be. What message are we sending to the world [by appointing] an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally and of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"

    Tough words indeed, but let's wait and see how he votes. If he votes for Bolton, it would be like an employer saying "this person is simply awful for the job -- you're hired!"

    Fred Kaplan summarizes:
    It takes enormous self-deception to believe that John Bolton is truly qualified-much less the "best man"-for this job. He has long held the United Nations in contempt. He has disparaged the legitimacy of international law (the basis for enforcing U.N. resolutions). As an undersecretary of state in Bush's first term, he repeatedly sought the removal of intelligence analysts who dared to disagree with him. He was such a loose cannon that Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, forbade him to say anything in public without prior approval. A half-dozen officials, most of them Republicans who served in this administration, say that Bolton would make-in the words of Colin Powell's chief of staff-"an abysmal ambassador."

    Voinovich said today that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured him that Bolton would be firmly supervised in his new job. Voinovich wondered, "Why in the world would you want to send somebody up to the U.N. that has to be supervised?"
    Meanwhile, a Chinese diplomat has said that Bush's tough language directed at North Korea, referring to Kim Jong Il as a "tyrant" in late April, has "destroyed the atmosphere" for negotiations.

    Here's a perfect example of what could go wrong with a swaggering, speak-before-thinking Bolton as our UN face. Just look what his possible-boss did for diplomatic relations by mouthing off.

    The world is already in an extremely dangerous and delicate state right now; do we really need to throw an 800 lb. brutish clod into the global china shop?

    On another matter, use the Clinton rule ("if Clinton were president....") on this one. Imagine the outcry, it would be investigation galore.

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Does anyone still believe that the Republicans stand for smaller government? If you do, first what are you smoking, and second take a good hard look at the following charts.

    Source: NTU.org

    The yellow bars represent spending cut bills and the orange bars represent spending increase bills, with the green line representing the net difference between spending increase bills to spending cut bills. The 103rd through 106th Congress = Clinton and the 107th through 108th = GW.

    Hmm, very interesting. As I tilt my glasses to make sure I'm seeing things correctly, gosh darn if I don't observe that the orange bars are at new highs under GW (higher spending) and the yellow bars at new lows (less spending cuts) when compared to Clinton. This trend is made evident with the green line at its highest level.

    And this expression of determined fiscal discipline occurred during the time of a GOP-ruled White House, Senate, and House of Reps. Without one veto from I-make-tough-choices Bush. Is it any wonder our federal deficit is over $400 bil. (not incl. Iraq)?!

    The entire GOP is a sham.

    From the "You've Got To Be Joking" file:

    Conservatives to honor DeLay with gala

    From today's LA Times editorial, about the recent energy bill:
    If Congress truly wanted to reduce fossil fuel emissions and U.S. reliance on foreign oil — in other words, make rational energy policy — it could easily accomplish the task by raising fuel-efficiency standards for cars and gasoline taxes. As an MIT survey in 2000 showed, manufacturers could push the average fuel economy of American cars from today's 27.5 miles per gallon to 46 miles per gallon merely by taking advantage of existing technologies. That would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a third and reduce U.S. reliance on Mideast oil by three-fourths.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    What a friggin moron!
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger does not want to destroy the moon.

    A U.S. political commentator has admitted he failed to check his facts when he erroneously reported on the MSNBC cable news network last month that Schwarzenegger had jokingly advocated doing away with the moon.

    In one of the stranger mea culpas from a major U.S. news outlet in recent years, the commentator, Joe Scarborough, a former congressman, acknowledged on Friday that the governor's purported lunar outburst on the nationally syndicated radio show of Howard Stern was actually a spoof.
    I'd like to emphasize "failed to check his facts." Not surprising.
    Another $80 bil. approved for the Iraq invasion, with the total now well over $200 bil. And more will be needed by October.

    Why is it these Iraq spending numbers are excluded when deriving our federal budget deficit (approximately $400 billion)? Including them would have the deficit immediately balloon by another 50%. Unlike Social Security (also excluded), which is a trust fund that's been running for 50+ years and involves no discretion from one administration to the next, going to war is by choice and one that we as taxpayers fund, so why not count it? It will eventually have to be paid off along with everything else, no? That's probably why in prior times when we've gone to war, tax cuts have never been passed, i.e. fiscal discipline and prudence rules it out.

    But then we don't really have a responsible leader, do we?

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    After applying controls to insure apples to apples comparison, public schools are found to outperform private schools. Interesting.

    Oh, and recall that after much blabbering about capturing 75% of Al-Qaeda's leaders, when Condi Rice was asked what this meant exactly, she had no clue. On national TV, she (and the administration) was caught in a truly embarrassing moment.

    Whelp, we now hear that the Al-Qaeda terrorist caught recently is NOT their third-ranking figure (as GW proclaimed) but rather a chump within the organization, a two-bit nobody “among the flotsam and jetsam.”

    Another pronouncement in err. Par for the course. Look for someone to get promoted.
    In today's NY Times, George Mitchell offers a voice of reason to what has become a wildly overblown issue. Of course I'm referring to this filibuster nonsense. As always, I recommend the use of the Clinton rule: if Clinton were president, do you think this 60 vs. 51 majority crap would be getting anywhere with the wingnuts? They'd be ballistic. After all, Clinton's confirmation "hit rate" is nearly 10 percentage points less than GW's number. Given the wingers are complaining about 96.6% not being 100%, or about a 3% difference, then Clinton's approx. 10% gap (vs. GW) is huge!

    Well heck, why didn't Mitchell and the rest of the Dems propose ending the filibuster back then? Because as Mitchell correctly states:
    During my six years as majority leader of the Senate, Republicans, then in the minority, often used filibusters to achieve their goals. I didn't like the results, but I accepted them because Republicans were acting within the rules; and we were able to work together on many other issues. There were 55 Democratic senators then. We had the power to take the drastic action now being proposed, but we refrained from exercising that power because it was as wrong then as it is now.

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Here are some interesting figures from the heavily-Bush-favoring American Enterprise Institute:

    Judicial Nominations
    Percent of nominees confirmed

    Carter: 93.1%
    Reagan: 96.1%
    Bush I: 78.1%
    Clinton: 87.9%
    Bush II: 96.6%

    Study these numbers and remember them the next time a GOP wingnut rattles off that tripe about GW getting the shaft from the Dems when it comes to his judicial choices. Bullshit. His father got it much worse (!), with Clinton coming in 2nd worse.

    It's just more lies and deception being spun to the fact-deprived public. Also, the GOP is so far over the edge drunk with power that because GW's number is not 100% (but rather just short of 97%) it's enough for them to bitch and complain.

    Serenity now!
    Jonathan Chait in this week's TNR:
    “Big-government conservatism” may sound like an oxymoron, but Bush has proved that it is not.
    How, though, can a conservative preside over a larger and more intrusive government?
    Conservatives haven’t explained why a moderate liberal like Clinton had an easier time than Bush in resisting popular demand to spend.
    Big government conservatism consists of initiatives that benefit economic elites without using free-market mechanisms.
    Just about all of Bush’s big-government conservative agenda works the same way. Whereas Clinton signed a law phasing out federal crop payments, Bush lavished $180 billion in subsidies for agribusiness. His energy plan, roundly condemned by free-market economists, would have done the same for the energy industry, which after all, wrote much of it.
    By steering government largesse toward their own donors, Republicans could create a self-perpetuating money machine. Industries whose profitability relies on government largesse-and especially those that depend on favors that only Republicans support—will naturally invest some of those profits back into the political party that provides them.
    The distinct contribution of big-government conservatism has been to cement an alliance between the two, to the point where the line between party and private interest has all but disappeared.
    Whatever rules or laws DeLay may have broken were premised on the assumption that there is a distinction between the interests of elected officials and the interests of corporations and their lobbyists. It’s no surprise that he lost sight of that distinction. In his world, it had long ago ceased to exist.

    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Recall that in response to DeLay's trips paid for by lobbyists (illegal), the wingnuts in a state of panic came out in full force to smear any high-ranking Dem (as opposed to defending their man Tom). Target: Nancy Pelosi. The New Republic writes this week:
    "Everybody does it." That’s the emerging line among conservatives striving to make House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s career-threatening junkets seem like no big deal.
    Take the conservatives’ attempt to draw equivalence between DeLay’s overseas junkets and a 2001 trip House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to Puerto Rico.
    Pelosi, according to a spokesperson, took a 48-hour trip to tour the U.S. Navy’s bombing range on the island of Vieques. No lobbyist paid for it.
    Not that DeLay’s apologists have let this deter them. American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene told NPR on Monday that “Nancy Pelosi took a trip to Puerto Rico, which was also paid by a lobbyist.” Well, no.
    DeLay’s travels with Abramoff are indicative of the majority leader’s intimate friendship with one of the most corrupt corporate lobbyists Washington has seen in decades; no Democrat was so close to Abramoff.
    GW vs. Ahnold

    Arnold pledges to save trees;
    Governor says California's roadless areas will be safe from Bush policy
    Regarding the legal fallout over the Plame outing, Hendrik Hertzberg asks some good questions:
    Then, there is the role of Robert Novak. It was Novak who outed the agent, but it is not Novak who is in trouble. Was he subpoenaed? If not, why not? If he was, and he refused to name his source, why isn’t he in the same jail-bound boat as they are? If he did name names, why the relentless pursuit of Cooper and Miller? No one knows—except Novak and the prosecutors.
    But as Wolf Blitzer recently proclaimed, Bob's at least a good Catholic!
    The New Yorker has a terrific three-part series on our changing climate (part one and two). The author, Elizabeth Kolbert, was interviewed and she had this to say among other things:
    There is a very broad consensus in the scientific community that global warming is under way. To the extent that there are conflicting views, they are usually over how exactly the process will play out. This is understandable. The climate affects just about every natural system on earth, and these systems in turn affect the climate. So making predictions is very complicated. Meanwhile, we have only one planet, so it’s impossible to run a controlled experiment. To focus on the degree of disagreement, rather than on the degree of consensus, is, I think, fundamentally misguided. If ten people told you your house was on fire, you would call the fire department. You wouldn’t really care whether some of them thought that the place would be incinerated in an hour and some of them thought it would take a whole day.
    I think there is a surprisingly large—you might even say frighteningly large—gap between the scientific community and the lay community’s opinions on global warming. As you point out, I spoke to many very sober-minded, coolly analytical scientists who, in essence, warned of the end of the world as we know it. I think there are a few reasons why their message hasn’t really got out. One is that scientists tend, as a group, to interact more with each other than with the general public. Another is that there has been a very well-financed disinformation campaign designed to convince people that there is still scientific disagreement about the problem, when, as I mentioned before, there really is quite broad agreement. And third, the climate operates on its own timetable. It will take several decades for the warming that is already inevitable to be felt. People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global warming is something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes.
    Recall that the public didn't truly wake up to how badly our water was polluted until the bay in Cleveland caught fire and Boston's bay was publicly ridiculed. These are immediate and alarming TV images that the public can quickly absorb and appreciate. Not so with gradual global warming....

    Finally, this excellent answer to an oft-heard question:
    Some opponents of the Kyoto accord argue that it is unfair to America, because it asks us to limit emissions but does not ask the same of the developing world—China, for instance, which is poised to become a major producer of greenhouse gases. There’s a certain logic to this argument, isn’t there?

    There definitely is a logic to this argument. However, there is also a very strong argument to be made that the U.S., which is by far the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has an obligation to lead the world on this issue. If we curb our emissions, perhaps we can persuade the Chinese, who are in the process of ramping up their CO2 production, to take similar steps. If we continue to increase our emissions, then why should the Chinese, who still have a much lower standard of living than we do, bother to curb theirs? When Kyoto was drafted, it was always understood to be just a first step. We have been unwilling to take that first step, and until we do so it’s hard to see how progress can be made.
    Exactly. It's bad enough that Bush flip-flopped on his 2000 compaign pledge and withdrew from Kyoto; what's worse is he's never come back to the issue to try to make things better. It's been a complete termination, with no delegates sent to negotiate, no reach out to other nations to discuss the issue, etc. Nothing. Just head in the sand crap that we've come to expect from Bush/Cheney. Meanwhile, our planet slowly burns. What a leader!

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    The beat goes on:
    The Bush administration, in one of its biggest decisions on environmental issues, moved Thursday to open up nearly a third of all remote national forest lands to road building, logging and other commercial ventures.
    As promised below, global warming links: here and here and here and here.
    Taranto is at it again. Read today's WSJ editorial. Wow, what tripe. On the surface, his stuff sounds so assertive and damning, but when you really read what he's saying, a good deal of it falls apart or is not supported by anything in reality.

    In the first paragraph, he attempts to describe himself as MOR -- huh? I've read many of his long pieces on "Best of the Web" and for him to believe that he's moderate about any issue is simply a farce, and delusional.

    In the next paragraph, he feels sorry for the religious right due to "a series of court decisions that, based on constitutional reasoning ranging from plausible to ludicrous, declared the preferred policies of the secular left the law of the land." Where's the evidence? Offer examples. Oh, I'll give one: his man GW was installed by a court (Supreme) based on what has been considered by many legal scholars to be the most baseless and "ludicrous" of constitutional reasoning.

    Next paragraph, he states, "'conservative' judges are not about to impose conservative policies." I see. So "liberal" (or "activist") judges impose liberal policies, but conservative ones won't. So says Jim.

    In the next paragraph, he implies that because Congress is GOP-dominated, that the Dems should heed to this majority. In other words, make the majority 100% -- now that's democracy! Forget that each senator and representative is supposed to represent his/her constituency. He next asserts that the filibuster itself is "subverting the democratic process." Um, I thought it was the opposite, that the filibuster was a safeguard to insure that minority party could be heard (checks and balances)?

    A few paragraphs down, he finger-wags at a columnist who used the terms "right-wing crackpots" and "knuckle-dragging judges." What hypocrisy. For those familiar with Taranto's column, he frequently name-calls or uses disparaging language to describe individuals.

    Next paragraph, he criticizes Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for an editorial where Taranto mischaracterizes what Feingold wrote (Taranto does this frequently in his column). Here is a large segment of what Feingold actually wrote:

    And in this Greenville, the one in Alabama, I connected again to an American experience that isnt dictated by whether you live in a red state or a blue state. The people of Alabama appear to be among the most generous and most unsung philanthropists in this country. What they give is unimaginable to many others and they give it time and again. They regularly give their turn at the American dream to someone else. And they give it simply because theyre asked. So many people in Greenville dont seem to have basic health care coverage or promising job opportunities. Meanwhile, their children volunteer to risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can only be humbled by their sacrifice. But because I am a lawmaker and a student of history, I also know who has been asking them to give so much. And I can only wonder how many more generations of central Alabamians will say yes when the increasingly powerful Republican Party asks them to be concerned about homosexuality but not about the security of their own health, about abortion but not about the economic futures of their own children. As my wife and I drove through Greenville that night, I thought how fundamentally unfair this all is in order to support an increasingly radical conservative movement. Now some may think that Alabama and Wisconsin are the polar opposites of American politics. But in both states I've found that (along with sharing a sincere appreciation of a good turkey dinner) too many hardworking people are losing their battles for decent paying jobs and adequate health care. I'm tired of seeing the power-hungry persuade the hard-working people of this country that the only way to preserve important values is to vote against their own families basic interests. I believe that the working people of both states have sacrificed for other peoples agendas for too long. And I believe that any political party or political movement or political candidate who would consistently say this would be heard throughout America. We need to go to the Greenvilles of every state, red and blue, and say, Thank you. Youve sacrificed long enough. Now its your turn at the American dream.
    Yeah, just awful. Shame on you Russ.

    You can read the rest of what Jim wrote, but let me give another example of what this guy is all about. Here's something Taranto wrote not too long ago:
    Here's a Reuters dispatch that exemplifies why "global warming" is impossible to take seriously:

    Even if people stopped pumping out carbon dioxide and other pollutants tomorrow, global warming would still get worse, two teams of researchers reported on Thursday. . . .

    Virtually no one disagrees human activity is fueling global warming, and a global treaty signed in Kyoto, Japan, aims to reduce polluting emissions. But the world's biggest polluter, the United States, has withdrawn from the 1997 treaty, saying its provisions would hurt the U.S. economy.
    Actually, lots of people disagree that "human activity is fueling global warming," but Reuters seems to view them as nonpersons. (By contrast, if you think Osama bin Laden is a "freedom fighter," you can count on Reuters' respect.)

    In any case, the first paragraph quoted above refutes the second one. If there's nothing we can do to stop "global warming," how can we be causing it to begin with
    I will soon post an entry that includes several links showing that what Taranto calls "lots of people" are actually folks on corporate payrolls (the big one being Exxon). The unanimous consensus in the peer-reviewed scientific community concurs that human activity is contributing to global warming.

    Note Taranto then takes a snide swipe at Reuters, saying that the news outfit would condone a complimentary Osama comment. Oh, how nice. And yet today he wrote it's the liberal side that attacks and rudely slams the right.

    But my favorite is his final bit of reasoning. Can someone explain to me his logic? So for proof that we are causing something, we must first be able to stop whatever that is? What? Reuters' first paragraph simply points out that with the amount of pollutants and CO2 that has already been released into the air by humans, that the resulting effects will be felt for decades even if we stopped releasing anything today. The next paragraph addresses the U.S. flip-flop on Kyoto thanks to Bush. How does the latter refute the former?

    Alas Jim, it's you who can't be taken seriously.
    The crazy and partisan Pat Robertson has blessed us with more of his Bible-based, oh-so-Christian wisdom.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    A big difference between Dems and Republicans is this characteristic of toughness or SOB-like demeanor. Just look at the two sides: Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, Daschle, Pelosi, Reid, Sandy Berger, Robert Rubin, Robert Reich, Schumer, Al Franken, Ruth Ginsberg, etc. And then look at the GOP: Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Bolton, Rice, Rumsfeld, Santorum, Wolfowitz, Frist, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Scalia, Ann Coulter, etc. You get the point.

    Where is it written that toughness or a strident, brash, SOB-like demeanor = competence? The fact is it's more about appearances over reality. Rather than substance, they go with what comes off as effective. It's small-minded and shallow, and the country deserves better.
    Follow up to this post:

    N. Korea may be preparing nuke test; Iran steps up pressure

    And a reminder that our top person in charge of nuclear proliferation matters under GW was Mr. Bolton. In this regard, he was as competent as Condi Rice (i.e. not very). Many pieces have been written documenting his failings, yet notice the wingnuts don't defend him with examples of where he was effective, but rather simply voice support because he's GW's choice, period (strictly partisan).

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Iraq, Afghan conflicts strain U.S. fighting power.

    Note the number of troops in Iraq are nearly 8 times the number in Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, the nonpartisan GAO has concluded "that bureaucratic delays within the Army had delayed release of funds to buy several items, including vehicle armor." Recall that $9 billion remains unaccounted for in Iraq; just imagine how much vehicle armor $9 bil. could've purchased.
    Here's at least someone who finally woke up:

    Tweeti Blancett, a rancher from Aztec, New Mexico, spoke about how current policies promote reckless energy development that threatens livelihoods and the quality of life in the American West.

    "Northwest New Mexico has been sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and political buy-offs, and what has happened to us is happening across the West," said Blancett, a sixth-generation rancher who ran the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign in her part of New Mexico.
    What's the matter with Kansas? How about this:

    TOPEKA, Kansas (Reuters) -- Evolution is going on trial in Kansas.

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    You say "confused," I say "hypocritical."
    Conservatism isn’t over. But it has rarely been as confused. Today’s conservatives support limited government. But they believe the federal government can intervene in a state court’s decisions in a single family’s struggle over life and death. They believe in restraining government spending. But they have increased such spending by a mind-boggling 33 percent in a mere four years. They believe in self-reliance. But they have just passed the most expensive new entitlement since the heyday of Great Society liberalism: the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. They believe that foreign policy is about the pursuit of national interest and that the military should be used only to fight and win wars. Yet they have embarked on an extraordinarily ambitious program of military-led nation-building in the Middle East. They believe in states’ rights, but they want to amend the Constitution to forbid any state from allowing civil marriage or equivalent civil unions for gay couples. They believe in free trade. But they have imposed tariffs on a number of industries, most famously steel.They believe in balanced budgets. But they have abandoned fiscal discipline and added a cool trillion dollars to the national debt in one presidential term. -- Andrew Sullivan
    Sullivan appears to agree with my implosion expectation:
    The more closely you look, however, the deeper the division has become in the last few years, intensifying dramatically since last fall’s election.Which is why, this time, the balancing act may finally be coming undone.
    Let's revisit the GOP's obsessive use of selective fear-mongering to achieve their goals. They currently are instilling fear concerning "activist judges." Add this to the growing list: terror alerts and threats = you must vote for Bush; Social Security = crisis; we're running out of oil = ANWR drilling; Iraq has WMD = invade the country; gay marriage = jeopardizes the institution and violates Bible; environmental regulations and protection = economy will tank, etc.

    Notice what's absent, what's apparently not to be feared: the federal deficit, North Korea, global warming, perc and MTBE in drinking water, our infrastructure, unethical politicians, corporate fraud, etc.

    Many are being played. As they say in poker, if you don't know who the sucker is at the table, it's you. A good portion of the general public is being manipulated and taken -- unbeknownst to them. In a way, it's ironic that poker has become so popular in this country.
    And still more evidence of that liberal media bias:
    Wolf Blitzer, introduced the two men [Robert Novak and Paul Begala] as “both good Catholics,” before adding, “I’m sure Bob is a good Catholic, I’m not sure about Paul Begala.” That didn’t sit well with Begala.... -- TNR, 4/25/05
    Bob Novak, a good Catholic? A good person??
    The Democrats are leaderless and reeling, seemingly bereft of inspiring ideas. -- Howard Fineman, Newsweek
    Oh, and supposedly Laura Bush killed'em at the Correspondents' dinner. Her best (and most revealing) quip, "George's answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chainsaw — which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well." Squirm, shift, wince.

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Some house cleaning, I came across Gregg Easterbrook's op-ed in the NY Times ("Clear Skies, No Lies"). I had clipped it and was going to comment at length, but something came up and.... Anyway, it's important to "clear the air" of his distortions. For that, go here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

    Natasha Hunter nails Easterbrook with, "he admits that the Clear Skies initiative would slow pollution reduction under the Clean Air Act. But, he says, because the Clean Air Act has never been enforced on schedule we should instead enact a law that's easier for industry to obey. One might similarly claim that because hard-to-catch criminals still evade the police we should legalize more of what they do." Exactly, he endorses doing as Bush Inc. desire: give in or cave to their demands. And yet these same folks always cry we don't need new gun laws, but rather just enforce the existing laws. Apparently, for the environment, it's different.

    Hunter also summarizes a key point, one I often hear from wingnuts almost gloating about how things have improved over the last few decades, "Most environmental indicators that have improved over the past 30 years have done so as a result of prolonged battles between environmentalists and polluters, in which the government was reluctantly strong-armed into doing the right thing." The wingnuts behave as if all of the good things that have occurred have done so without a fight -- a joke.

    It's been a fight all along the way, and yet over the past 4+ years much has been reversed and it appears as if the public simply has no idea what's going on. By the time the public wakes up and smells the noxious fumes, it will be too late. It's embarassing as much of the rest of the world gets it and there's many reports of even China investing lots of $$$ in pro-environment solutions, and many multi-national corporations are reforming to comply with non-USA Kyoto provisions. We're the world leader on so many fronts, yet thanks to dunder-head GW, we're fast becoming the singular global laggard on this enormously-important topic.
    Great article in today's Boston Globe. It points out how GW and the GOP speak out of both sides of their mouths, depending upon the issue at hand. We're so accustomed to associating the GOP with shrinking the influence of the federal government, and yet the reality is that notion only holds true when it serves their interests. A must-read.
    Has anyone noticed how Frist's Justice Sunday (JS) appearance -- reminder, not too long ago -- just came and went, with not much hoopla carry-over. Yes, there was lots of noise and buzz before the event, but notice how it's all just faded away.

    Some will say this is due to many Republicans, including Bush, have distanced and even criticized JS. I disagree because as I've been writing, the GOP has been working this nonsense for some time now, conducting something truly extreme to appease a far-right voting bloc, and then later attempt to apologize it away, with wishy-washy statements.

    No, I believe much more of this resulting silence has to do with Frist's clear lack of presence and charisma. If you ever have insomnia, watch his appearance, it will do the trick. To think he actually has designs on the highest office in 2008 is near laughable. He makes Kerry look like the comedian Gallagher. Completely humorless, stolid, and frankly, scary in his willingness to pander to the most extreme fringes of his party. And speaking of laughable, need I remind that the Dems will have ready and loaded Frist's video tape diagnosis shenanigans he performed on Schiavo -- something no politician, much less M.D., should live down.

    By the way, get a load of this complete flip-flop by the Family Research Council, a sponsor of JS. This group strongly supported the filibuster when it came to holding up a gay Clinton nominee.

    Always have been, always will be, a bunch of blatant hypocrites. Worse yet, it's the morons in the general public who back and support this group that are truly to blame. If memory serves, Jesus spoke out MUCH against hypocrisy....