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."