Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm only writing about it now but last month Thomas Friedman wrote a column about China's worsening pollution problem. (Pollution and saving the planet seems to be Friedman's preferred subjects of late, before he likely becomes bored and moves on to some other attention-grabbing topic).

In the column, Friedman states that "three big shifts will be needed" if China hopes to reverse this form of neglect that is literally choking the country. The first shift involves simply not just building hundreds of additional coal-fired plants, but rather to stress innovation and efficiency. By conserving power where possible, capacity is freed up and less polluting plants need to be built. Money is saved and there is no cost to or drag on the economy; in fact quite the opposite.

The next shift involves enforcement. It's not enough to just have well-meaning targets or regulations. There must be stiff repercussions that are stringently enforced. This area is very weak in China but needless to say, it's dropped off considerably in our country over the last six years.

The final shift involves awareness, implying the public needs to always be clued in on what's going on. Facts -- not propaganda -- based on sound science must be conveyed, widely. Education on the problems must exist and be encouraged to proliferate. Again, in the U.S. this area has taken several severe blows from this administration over the last few years.

Enough with the tired right-wing line that tackling pollution comes with too high a toll on the economy. It's bullcrap. In fact, China's mess costs the country over $200 billion (yes, billion) per year.

We're all in this together. China's pollution effects us and our neighboring countries, and vice versa with our pollution.

One day, China may be cleaner than us on a per capita basis, and that will be good for them but truly a sad statement about us.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Wise words from often-not-wise Richard Cohen:
As with Vietnam, the ending is inevitable. We will get out, and the only question that remains is whether we get out with 3,000 dead or 4,000 or 5,000. At some point the American people will not countenance, and Congress will not support, a war that cannot be won. Just how many lives will be wasted in what we all know is a wasted effort is about the only question still left on the table. Realism dictates as few as possible.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

(I started writing the below post prior to Christmas, but then got all caught up in festive activities and haven't had the chance to finish it until now. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!)

It should be no surprise that Bush has "decided" to ignore the advice of the ISG and instead "double down" on Iraq. The two key reasons for doing so: concern about his legacy and oil.

The former has been obvious for some time, with GW's presidency already ranking near the bottom of the presidential heap, with many believing he's the worst ever. There are multiple reasons for this "worst ever" title, but Iraq is the biggie and it appears very unlikely he's going to be able to reverse the situation there and thus manage to move ahead of at least Nixon and Harding.

The other reason for GW opting to "surge" rather than withdraw is due to the oil in Iraq. Given Saudi Arabia and the many oil interests in this administration's back pocket, you can bet he's receiving very direct, stern words of advice from some of the most powerful voices in the world. The short message: he cannot risk losing this region to civil war and insurgents.

The following depiction (from Simmons & Co.) shows perhaps the most valuable section of real estate on the planet.

This relatively small horseshoe-shaped area forms the epicenter of the current geopolitical struggle, with nations continuously plotting and strategizing in an attempt to secure this region for their side.

Yes, one reason GW initially invaded Iraq was to show-up his father, to attempt to finish the job that Bush 41 wisely left undone. Junior didn't appear to listen to anything his dad had to say about Iraq before invading the country, and if anything GW likely flouted anything he did manage to hear and went the other way (case and point, hiring the likes of Rumsfeld and the gang of neocons).

But make no mistake, the powerful global energy entities -- whether in the form of country or company -- made themselves heard loud and clear at the start of this mess and to this day continue to make themselves heard with high-impact. Latest example: Cheney's "curious" meeting with the Saudis.

So if you ever wonder why GW continues to be so stubborn and set in his ways regarding this nightmare, despite 70+% public opinion desiring a withdrawal and even many in his own party beginning to question the motives and gameplan (assuming there is one), the above offers at least a few items and suggestions to chew on.

Finally, Nicholas von Hoffman has a terrific column in the latest NY Observer, with the final two paragraphs making some very convincing points:
Baker-Hamilton could not look defeat in the face. The document is a fudge, a way of putting off conceding that we have lost. That last statement will enrage many a patriotic supporter of our armed forces, who will say that we haven’t lost a single engagement. They will be correct, though it means nothing. Military historians tell us that in a guerrilla conflict, the occupying power wins every battle and still loses the war. That is what happened in Vietnam. We never lost a battle, not one.

And if we do pull out? Will there be worse chaos, a full-scale civil war, a failed state that Al Qaeda can use as a base, more horrors for the Iraqi people, a battle pitting the Sunni powers against the Shia and Iran? Maybe and maybe not. At this juncture, there is nothing else for us to do but pull out, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kevin Drum recently wrote, "One way or another, conservatives are going to find a way to blame the Iraq disaster on liberals."

Yup, they're starting with the Iraqis, but it won't take long for them to work down to those dastardly, despicable liberals.

They'll employ the usual method: throw enough garbage to their rabid base and hope that something resonates and sticks. Never mind that it will undoubtedly be completely false, just pure manufactured tripe. Like a vampire in dire thirst for a blood feeding, the conservatives need to place blame ASAP.

Look for the putrid spaghetti hurling to commence with the start of the new year.
Hold on, hold on, wait just one minute. GW now says we're "not winning" in Iraq. But then what about the sh*t storm that erupted when Gates said the exact same thing about two weeks ago?! Tony Snow had to engage in pathetic word play. And just before the election GW stated we're "absolutely winning" in Iraq; from winning to not winning in a matter of weeks?!

As much as Iraq is a very serious situation, how can anyone take what Bush has to say about anything seriously? It appears as if he's simply making things up as he goes along, trying to just get through another day, another week.

Iraq is his quagmire and he hasn't a clue what to do about it. Unfortunately, he won't admit to that and instead will continue to hope, experiment, pray, flail in the dark, etc.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Does this administration have an entire staff on the payroll that spends all of its time searching for anyone or anything to censor? (For a recent example, click here to view video).

Hello Orwell's 1984.
As GW's legacy goes, so goes Tony Blair's.

And to think, Blair's star was rising when he clung to anything Bill Clinton did or endorsed. Funny how he couldn't seem to recognize that GW was quite a different sort, indeed.
During Robert Gates' senate confirmation hearing, did I miss something or did anyone hear one question put to Gates about his role in Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal? Weren't any of the distinguished senators the least bit interested?

To get a sense of his role, just type the words Robert Gates Iran Contra in Google. That will get you started....
Who is to blame for Iraq? As Peter Beinart writes, it's not the Iraqis fault.
It was Americans (not Iraqis) who bore the responsibility under international law to provide security after Americans (not Iraqis) overthrew Saddam. It was we who failed.
Colin Powell hit the nail on the head when he once uttered something along the lines of "if you break it, you own it." We invaded them and then did not provide adequate conditions for the country to reorganize, restructure, and eventually thrive.

What followed the "shock and awe" bombings? What plan was immediately initiated and put into action? Really none that anyone can recognize. Rumsfeld simply shrugged at the time and said shit happens during wartime.

Yes, we -- or more specifically Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld -- failed, not the Iraqis.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Surprise! Soon-to-be Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, has stated that he will oppose the efforts by Democrats to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and to repeal corporate welfare subsidies for oil companies.

Despite the election results last month, despite the current opinion polls, some things will never change -- like the GOP favoring big business over the average citizen.
Americans say they are willing to make it happen, but it's still astonishing to think that this country has never had a female President. Not the case for many other nations around the world.

Unfortunately, this fact will be a tremendous drag on Hillary's 2008 run as it's always the most difficult being the first at something.

Monday, December 11, 2006

With all of Bush's (likely) empty rhetoric about coming together with the opposition party for the good of the country, there still exists many troubling environmental items that need addressing.
EPA Air Pollution Decision Threatens Public Health. Disregarding and misrepresenting recommendations from their own scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized new air pollution standards that do not sufficiently protect public health. The new rules apply to fine particulate matter pollution, sources of which include agricultural activity, vehicle exhaust, and emissions from coal-fired power plants. Over 2,000 recent studies have linked particulate matter exposure to heart disease, respiratory ailments, and premature death.

Pollution 'putting millions of children at brain damage risk'. Millions of children throughout the world may have suffered brain damage as a result of industrial pollution, researchers say. Common pollutants may be causing a “silent pandemic” of neurodevelopmental disorders by impairing the brain development of foetuses and infants, scientists writing today in The Lancet medical journal say.

EPA scientists file mass petition for action on global warming. Majority of Entire EPA Workforce Calls for Regulation of Greenhouse Gases. In an unprecedented action, representatives for more than 10,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists are calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming, according to a petition released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The petition also calls for an end to censorship of agency scientists and other specialists on topics of climate change and the effects of air pollution.

Carbon emissions show sharp rise. The rise in humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide has accelerated sharply, according to a new analysis. The Global Carbon Project says that emissions were rising by less than 1% annually up to the year 2000, but are now rising at 2.5% per year. It says the acceleration comes mainly from a rise in charcoal consumption and a lack of new energy efficiency gains.
For more, click here.

An immediate step towards improvement comes from getting rid of crackpot Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) as head of the environmental committee. Barbara Boxer and the Dems plan on correcting all of the many wrongs perpetrated by this administration under the rubber-stamping of the Republicans. Boxer said environmental rollbacks from this administration "in the dead of the night" are history, "that's over. We are going to bring these things into the light."

And hopefully this item is a sign of things to come: "The Bush administration, looking at the prospect of stronger oversight from a Democratic-led Congress, is withdrawing a proposal to let big polluters report less often on what they spew from their smokestacks."

Just a year ago, this would've been one of those rollbacks, occurring in the still of the night, threatening our health and environment all for the sake of big business. Thankfully, there's a new sheriff in town, and already many of the bad guys are high-tailing it the hell out. Good riddance.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The ISQ report recommends at least four things that Bush has resisted in the past: 1) abandon open-ended commitment regarding troop deployment, 2) a suggested timetable for withdrawal, 3) the use of quantifiable benchmarks, and 4) actively employ diplomacy (talk to Iran and Syria). Bush stated he will look to work with the Democrats "to find common ground," but with the many leaks of this report over the past several weeks, when has GW given any indication that he will yield and work towards compromises?

An earlier version of the report even had the authors deciding that the war had already been lost, stating "there is even doubt that any level of resources could achieve the administration's stated goals."

Meanwhile, after the Gates hearing, Tony Snow continued to make an ass of himself, replying to a reporter who asked how Gates' statement that we're "not winning" in Iraq is consistent with the administration's position and Snow answered, "he also said we're not losing."

Yes folks, the grave situation in Iraq has devolved here into childish, irresponsible semantics. Pathetic word-play that mocks reality for the sheer sake of political gamesmanship.

This administration has slid beneath rock bottom.
Did Republican voters even realize that the GOP-controlled Congress was working only late Tuesday to early Thursday each week? That's OK with them?

I realize rubber-stamping with no oversight takes little time and effort, but you'd think they'd clock in just for appearance sake alone....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Joining Colin Powell and other experts in declaring civil war in Iraq, Kofi Annan has come out stating, "Given the level of violence, the level of killing and bitterness and the way that forces are arranged against each other, a few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war; this is much worse."

In response, GW said this to Brit Hume, "Some would argue that the fact that 90 percent of the country -- let me just say this -- most of the country outside of the Baghdad area, is relatively peaceful, doesn't indicate a civil war as far as they`re concerned."

Gads, where to start. First off, Iraq has a population of about 28 million people and about seven million, or 25% of the country's population, live in the city of Baghdad. Iraq is about the size of California and that would be like 25% of the population in the U.S., or about 75 million, living in say Los Angeles. So I would imagine if violence and insurgency were to occur in LA with 1/4 of the country's population, it would be quite significant to say the least.

Of course, Bush is being misleading on purpose (right?), for even he has to know that much of Iraq -- when he talks of "90% of the country" -- is desert, uninhabitable and yes, "relatively peaceful." As is much of Arizona and New Mexico; lots of land, not as many people. And odds would greatly favor that if insurgents were to pick an area to attack and cause mayhem and unrest, it would be an area with 25% of the population and not a place like Montana, Idaho or North Dakota. (Duh).

But as you would expect, Bush is wrong even about violence occurring just within Baghdad. I recently wrote about how Al-Qaeda has infiltrated Anbar and are basically running things there. Just yesterday, a suicide car bomb struck in the northern city of Mosul, described as "some 400 km north of Baghdad, has long been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi security forces." 400 km is pretty far away from Baghdad. And the insurgency exists in southern Iraq, with Basra over 500 km away from Baghdad. Go ahead, Google various parts of Iraq, you'll come up with violence in places far away from Baghdad.

Junior continues to be way out of touch with facts or he's just lying. It's no wonder his father has begun to show the stress in public. Daddy likely feels the weight, the shame and dread, but not smirking GW. He continues to have a dream.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

From Stephen Cohen, a scholar at the Israel Policy Forum:
What the Baker group appears to have done is try to change the direction of the political momentum on Iraq. They have made clear that there isn't a scenario for a democratic Iraq, at least for a very long time. They have called into question the logic of a lengthy U.S. presence. And once you've done that, what is the case for Americans dying in order to have this end slowly?
In other words, it appears as if Iraq has become that much more like Vietnam as the overall goal is lost and yet U.S. soldiers continue to perish in the name of false hope as decreed by a craven man in charge.

The question now is how many more soldiers must die for an unachievable cause -- that being to salvage GW's pitiful legacy? It's bad enough he's looking to raise half a billion dollars for his presidential library, which will no doubt dole out the money to any author willing to paint a pretty picture. But in the desperate attempt at looking better in history books, Bush continues to cling to the fantasy that Iraq can be turned around sooner rather than later.

It's self-absorbed delusion at its most fatal and tragically ruinous. Even Daddy Bush will soon give up on trying to remedy what he can, realizing his son is impossible and too much is just too far gone.

And America has and will continue to pay the dear price.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bush recently said, "This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all." GW posing as the authority on what defines "realism" -- just laughably surreal.

As if we need anymore proof, what does the following say about Bush as a "decider" of what comprises realism?
On November 15th, the President renominated four of his hardest-right candidates for the federal courts of appeals: a Defense Department lawyer who has been denounced by a score of retired generals and admirals for his role as an architect of the Administration’s infamous interrogation regime; a former Interior Department attorney and mining and ranching lobbyist who sees the Clean Water Act as “regulatory excess”; a district-court judge whose decisions have been reversed or vacated more than a hundred and fifty times, an astounding record that includes two reversals from the Supreme Court—one of them in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas—in voting-rights cases; and a former aide to Senator Trent Lott who is the first federal-appeals-court nominee in a quarter of a century to be unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
Do these four nominees appear to be the end result of prudent, rational decisions based on a realistically objective litmus test, as opposed to sheer partisan will? I think not. They are clearly not qualified and indefensible choices.

The madness of King George continues....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Study Shows GW Supporters = Psychotic

Finally some proof of what we always suspected:
A direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush....The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.
“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.
For his part, Lohse is a self-described “Reagan revolution fanatic” but said that W. is just “beyond the pale.”

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Colin Powell is seemingly popping up out of obscurity to make a statement on a key issue and then fading away until he suddenly reappears with something else to say.

In September, he came out on the side of the three senators (Warner, Graham, McCain) who at the time (before they caved) were at odds with Bush's detainee torture bill.

Recently Powell has stated that indeed Iraq is in a civil war, and it's high time people recognize this fact.

Meanwhile, a five-page secret report, written by Col. Peter Devlin, a senior and seasoned military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force, states that in Anbar "nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda."

Yes, Al-Qaeda is now running the show in parts of Iraq. Just incredible. And Sadr's Mahdi army has approximately 50,000 members, making it a larger, more unified force than the official Iraqi army.

But for Bush, the important thing is to battle the war of words and labeling.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

After a much-needed holiday hiatus, I'm back.

How bad does it need to get in Iraq before it's finally labeled a "civil war"? I realize this administration will always opt for taking what is real and then try its darndest to frame it in a fictional way for public consumption.

Just the day after Thanksgiving, car bombings killed over 200 people. I thought Cheney et al said the pre-Nov. 7th violence was purposefully orchestrated to influence our elections, of course implying the mayhem would subside once Election Day passed....? Hmm, go figure.

Many experts have stated that Iraq has been in a civil war (click here, here, here). However, Tony Snow disagrees, stating it's not a civil war since "it's not clear that they are operating as a unified force. You don't have a clearly identifiable leader."

What, like our North vs. South? So if there's no General Lee, then no civil war? These guys are truly nuts.

Meanwhile, Dan Froomkin noticed that Robin Wright wrote in the Washington Post, ""In the history of U.S. foreign policy, there's been nothing like it: a panel outside government trying to bail the United States out of a prolonged and messy war."

Doesn't this "revelation" regarding the Iraq Study Group in and of itself signify Bush's war is a failure? It is indeed Daddy shoving Junior aside, looking to once again bail him out of trouble. Only this time the mess GW made is resulting in thousands upon thousands of deaths not to mention the spending of hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer money.

I've written several times here before about how it should never be forgotten how we got into this war to begin with, the lies, the Downing Street memos, the WMD and "yellow cake", etc. etc.

Mark Danner has an excellent take on this:
As the war's presumed ending—constructed from carefully crafted images of triumph, of dictators' statues cast down and presidents striding forcefully across aircraft carrier decks—has flickered and vanished, receding into the just-out-of-grasp future ("a decision for the next president," the pre-election President Bush had said), the war's beginning has likewise melted away, the original rationale obscured in a darkening welter of shifting intelligence, ideological controversy, and conflicting claims, all of it hemmed in now on all sides by the mounting dead.
The result is that the wave of change the President and his officials were so determined to set in course by unleashing American military power may well turn out to be precisely the wave of Islamic radicalism that they had hoped to prevent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

As GW continues to remain very unpopular to say the least, I continue to come across the occasional "reformed" far right-winger who has harshly condemned Bush for not being a true conservative, one more like Ronald Reagan.

Can we stop this already. I've written here before about how it's somewhat of a distortion to have Reagan stand for all things ultimately conservative. While yes, he was not exactly a moderate, but in comparison to Bush he was, and with regards to GW and conservative values, Bush is much closer to being a true conservative than Reagan ever was.

It's about a month old, but Peter Beinart wrote about this subject in TNR. Regarding this growing consensus that GW has strayed far from the ways of Reagan, Beinart writes:
Rarely has so widespread a view been so wrong. In fact, Bush is not merely conservative; he is more conservative than Ronald Reagan, the man whose ideological legacy he has supposedly betrayed....To listen to Bush's critics, you would think that discretionary, nonsecurity-related spending has exploded on his watch. But it hasn't. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown, when you take account of inflation and population growth, it grew a mere 2 percent between 2001 and 2006. And, as a percentage of GDP, it actually fell. What has exploded -- rising 32 percent after inflation and population growth -- is spending on defense, homeland security, and international affairs. And the people most responsible for those increases are conservatives themselves, who demanded an expansive war on terrorism.
Compare all this with Reagan. For starters, domestic, nondefense discretionary spending was higher, on average, under the Gipper. Reagan made no effort to privatize Social Security, even though its 1983 fiscal crisis offered him a golden opportunity. Instead, he raised the retirement age and raised taxes. In fact, while Bush followed his initial 2001 tax cut with three more, Reagan followed his large 1981 cut with tax hikes in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Today, conservatives remember Reagan as an anti-government crusader. But, at the time, many called him a coward.
Bush has now appointed two Supreme Court justices whom the Christian right adores. By contrast, Reagan stuck by his 1981 nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor even after Jerry Falwell said that every good Christian should oppose her. Viguerie himself attacked Reagan for siding with the liberal establishment, and his fears proved well-founded. Not only did O'Connor support abortion rights, but Reagan's third Supreme Court appointee, Anthony Kennedy, also voted to uphold Roe v.Wade.
The latest [issue] is immigration, where Bush has been widely scorned for supposedly backing amnesty for illegal immigrants. Where on earth could he have gotten that idea? From Reagan, of course, who, in 1986, signed a bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Then there is foreign policy....As National Review's Romesh Ponnuru noted in June 2003, when Bush launched the Iraq war almost everyone who considers himself a conservative did support it. In fact, Bush's foreign policy has proved more faithful to conservative principles than did Reagan's. When terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, Bush responded by invading two countries. When terrorists killed 241 American servicemen in Lebanon in October 1983, by contrast, Reagan promptly cut and ran. (The month before, when the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner, killing 269 civilians, Reagan responded just as weakly: He did nothing.) And what about evil regimes? Bush shuns them. Reagan, by contrast, sold arms for hostages with Iran. And he placed so much faith in Mikhail Gorbachev that prominent conservative intellectuals called him a dupe. "Reagan," declared [George] Will, "has accelerated the moral disarmament of the West by elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy."
Conservatives aren't turning on Bush because his policies aren't conservative. They are turning on him because his policies, from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina, have dramatically failed -- and failed policies, by definition, cannot be conservative.
And so with this past election, failed conservative policies were rejected. What voters chose was not some better form of conservatism (?) but rather a more moderate and reasonable of political ideology.

With Bush, you're staring at raw, naked conservatism in all its glory -- and the problem is many conservatives don't like to look in the mirror. Their solution? Morph history and facts to fit their Walter Mitty reality, attempting to have us believe that Reagan was a 100% pure conservative. It's simply not true.
Fox News is planning on debuting a rip-off of Comedy Central's "Daily Show." I know, I too thought Fox News was already a comedic version of the news, but alas they plan to offer a right-wing satirical program.

This venture will certainly fail. Why? Due to lack of material.

Jon Stewart actually has a fairly easy job. Those on the far right provide his writers with ample comedic nuggets from which to work, in most cases the laughs come by just showing the video tape or repeating a quote. The punch lines are not so much written by Stewart or his staff as they are simply inserted as tag-on one-liners or intro set-ups for the main features: true-to-life, idiotic items from the right.

Good luck to Fox in depending on the left to provide on a daily basis such a steady flow of moronic occurrences. The supply will be scant and thus the writers will have to work that much harder in drumming up hilarity. And anyone knows that the harder one must work to make people laugh, the more likely one will bomb.
Rummy's failures have prompted the need for revisions in an Army manual:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be leaving under a cloud of criticism over his handling of the Iraq war, but his invasion plan -- emphasizing speed over massive troop numbers -- has consistently been held up by the administration as a resounding success.

With Iraq near chaos 3 1/2 years later, a key Army manual now is being rewritten in a way that rejects the Rumsfeld doctrine and counsels against using it again.
Oh, and this item will likely come as a huge blow to the neocons:
Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.

Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq's regional neighbors -- including Iran --— if progress is to be made in the region.
Wow, even Kissinger is advising against "stay the course" stubbornness. Telling.
Keep going John, contort your long-held positions until they're so convoluted they'll be laughably meaningless. You've gone from so-called "straight talk" to blurred vision -- unable to see the dramatic change in political direction -- all in less than a year. Those high-priced advisors on staff are apparently taking you down the road to ruin -- again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Does anyone truly take WaPo columnist Charles Krauthammer seriously? His Friday column ("Why Iraq Is Crumbling") is so filled with holes, questionable logic, and convenient exclusions that it borders on the absurd.

With regards to what went wrong with Iraq, he states, "I have my own theories. In retrospect, I think we made several serious mistakes -- not shooting looters, not installing an Iraqi exile government right away, and not taking out Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in its infancy in 2004."

So Iraq would be much better off now if 1) we gunned down looters (because we know they're an enormous reason for so many of Iraq's troubles), 2) shoot everyone in the Mahdi Army (as if that would've put a complete and final end to any new insurgency efforts), and 3) quickly throw together an "exile" government ("exile" meaning like in Greece??).

Oh yeah, these proposed shoulda-coulda fixes would've gone a long way to solving everything.

He then states, "Our objectives in Iraq were twofold and always simple: Depose Saddam Hussein and replace his murderous regime with a self-sustaining, democratic government."

That's just bullsh*t. He's of course leaving out the biggest reason for going to war at the time and is the sole reason which frightened the American public into backing the war: WMD. Remember Charles, that little item of Saddam/Iraq possessing WMD? That we needed to invade before it was too late...?? No, can't recall can you? Well, as Brendan Nyhan (along with Andrew Sullivan) point out, Krauthammer spent the better part of 2002-2003 writing about the supposed WMD in Iraq.

Ahh, but that's past history, right Charles? Best to just exclude such a small proved-wrong issue and shift the argument or debate. Good old selective memory and framing. It's what neocons and the far right do.

He then writes, "Are the Arabs intrinsically incapable of democracy, as the 'realists' imply?....The problem here is Iraq's particular political culture, raped and ruined by 30 years of Hussein's totalitarianism. What was left in its wake was a social desert, a dearth of the trust and good will and sheer human capital required for democratic governance. All that was left for the individual Iraqi to attach himself to was the mosque or clan or militia."

Let's just assume that what he says is true, then what hope was there to begin with Iraq? All of what he says did not have to be learned after the fact, with 20/20 hindsight, but that's exactly what this cheerleader for the war is doing. Now that his experiment has not worked out as desired, Krauthammer is going to characterize the Iraqi people as incapable of ever embracing democracy due to the damage inflicted by Saddam (similar to battered wife syndrome). And in effect, Krauthammer attempts to absolve himself and the neocons of any blame and instead throw all things Iraqi under the bus.

Give me a &*%$# break! Will these guys ever except any blame for any of the Iraq mess? Or will they continue to just revise the past in hopes that people forget how things were then, what was being said and written? Get ready, in due time they'll shift the blame to the Dems, criticizing them for not coming up with the right solutions to the problems that originated under the thorough ineptness of the former majority party.

Oh, and whatever happened to Colin Powell's uttered truism, "you break it, you bought it"? And does Krauthammer consider an exit strategy as one simply comprised of booting Saddam and "installing an Iraqi exile government"? If so, he simply makes the case that in fact there was no exit strategy and for that reason among many others the fault lies with them (GW, Cheney, Rumsfeld, neocons, GOP, etc.) and not the Iraqi people.

Friday, November 17, 2006

From the very wise Richard Russell:
The verdict is in. The majority of the American people by their vote have said "enough" to Bush and the neo-cons. The House went to the Democrats and as I write the Senate is in doubt. Was it Iraq, was it the economy, was it the lies, was it the sleaze, was it the incompetence? It was probably all of these. The vote has rendered President Bush a "lame duck." The nation now faces gridlock. But Iraq will continue, and the deficits will continue.

Much power has now been transferred to the Democrats. They don't deserve it. They went along passively, cowardly, and cluelessly with the Bush caravan. Their real claim to power is not courage or intelligence, their real claim to their new power is simply that they are not Bushies or neo-cons. In all, it's a sad story. But it's a story, less sad than it was a day ago.

Effectively, the reign of Bush and the neo-cons is over. Today there is one less neo-con, Rumsfeld is gone. What turned the tide? Actually, it was the belated back-stiffening of the press. The newspapers, early on, were cowed by the Bush crowd. Later, Iraq, lies, and the administration's arrogance was too much for the press. The press regained its courage. With the recovery of courage by the press, the truth emerged, and the Bush people were doomed.
Yes, not much has been written about the MSM's regained courage as reason for the election outcome. The reasons are many (Iraq, corruption, incompetence, Katrina, Foley, etc.) but the fact the media got some spine back and began to let the people know about truth, facts, and "real life" helped in a very big way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Ahhh, c'mon Dad!! I can do it, trust me...."

Presidential redux: the last six years were (unfortunately) Bush 43, the next two will be more of Bush 41. Yes, daddy to the rescue -- again!

How many times must George Sr. rush in to get Junior out of another mess? Only this time the screw-up is not some private business deal but rather the direction of our country.

Does this mean will see the return of "read my lips" tax hikes and "voodoo economics" sanity?
From Newsweek:
President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to just 31 percent, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll....Worst of all, most Americans are writing off the rest of Bush’s presidency; two thirds (66 percent) believe he will be unable to get much done....There’s massive support for much of the Democratic Congress’s presumed agenda. For instance, 75 percent of Americans say allowing the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for seniors should be a “top priority”....Increasing the minimum wage comes next (68 percent) on the public’s list, followed by investigating government contracts in Iraq (60 percent).
With just two years before the next presidential election, the Republicans have some rebuilding to do. Today 48 percent of registered voters would generally like to see a Democrat elected in ’08...compared to 28 percent who want a Republican.
If Bush decides to repel and stonewall bipartisan compromise, something he's done for the last six years, then his party will suffer the brunt of the damage come 2008. Junior may be quite childishly stubborn, but as these next two years dwindle away, look for the GOP party leaders to really make it crystal clear how the president is to act. No more Mr. Not-Nice Guy.
I'm sure the Dems will not stoop to the Republicans' level of forcing them to have meetings in basements, but wouldn't it be sweet justice to see a little bit of come-uppance?

From Steve Benen:
The way in which the Republican majority would operate the mechanics of government was truly embarrassing. It’s not that they’d mistreat the minority party; it’s that they decided that the minority party was literally irrelevant. Dems were, in the eyes of the GOP, annoying children to be ignored.

Legislation was written without Dem input; bills were passed without letting Dems read it; Dems’ bills were denied hearings and votes; Dems weren’t allowed to offer amendments to legislation; Dems weren’t even allowed to use hearing rooms. If Dems managed to win a key vote on the floor, Republicans would simply keep the vote open — literally for hours, if necessary — until enough arms could be twisted and/or lawmakers bribed. Being a congressional Democrat in recent years was frequently nothing short of humiliating.

Now, of course, Republicans are the minority party on the Hill. The question is obvious: does the Democratic majority treat the Republican minority the way they were treated?
A few days ago, Bush alluded to the fact that he considered calling off or postponing the elections due to the war.

Oh c'mon! If he cancelled the elections due to this deemed "time of war," the public would've went ballistic, finally seeing GW for what he truly wants to be: a fully-empowered ruling king.

If this "time of war" potentially jeopardized our elections -- signifying enormous sacrifice, than how does Bush square this with cutting taxes during wartime, a first in history?
Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group won't have much to offer:
There are few, if any, good options left facing the country. Many of the ideas reportedly being considered...have either been tried or have limited chances of success, in the view of many experts on Iraq.
Just wonderful. Thanks to GW/Rummy's "stay the course" idiocy, we now have much fewer options to choose from in trying to reverse the runaway train which is Iraq.
From Dan Froomkin:
How did Karl Rove get everything so wrong? And shouldn't we take anything he says from this point forward with a big grain of salt?

Rove's divide-and-conquer political strategy, his insistence that Republican candidates embrace the war in Iraq as a campaign issue, his supremely self-assured predictions of victory -- all were proven deeply, even delusionally wrong last week.

His prediction that Republicans would retain both houses of Congress, in particular, is hardly explicable by "bad math" and Mark Foley.

Either Rove lied or he's clueless. Or both.
I would assume he lied -- just like his boss lied about Rummy staying. Pathological lying runs deep in this administration but one can't discount a good amount of cluelessness also circulating in and around the White House. Look for Daddy Bush's people to begin to change much of this....

Monday, November 13, 2006

Many conservative outlets have been saying that last Tuesday's election results really said nothing about the conservative movement, that the base was still rock solid and their "values" were intact and invigorated.

I say yes, encourage them on! Plod onward with your delusions oh clueless ones, as more Americans wake up and fewer choose to live on Walter Mitty island.

The fact is GW/Rove cost the GOP in moderate blood, with many centrist Republicans losing last Tuesday. Voters realized that to change power in Washington they had to change as many letters from "R" to "D", thus sacrificing the likes of Jim Leach and Lincoln Chafee. So be it, there was no other way.

But in effect, the existing smaller group of Republicans in power is that much more extreme to the right. Thankfully, they now have much less power and yet it will make reasonable compromise that much more difficult.

However, if the GOP wants to remain extreme heading into 2008 despite what this election meant (to most of us anyway), I say go for it!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Uh, isn't this story HUGE?! Can we expect more such suits in the near future?
Apparently Robert Gates played a substantial role in the Iran-contra mess.

Big deal, so did current Bush administration figures Hayden and Negroponte. Next up, Ollie North for a top post!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In his post-election press conference, Bush said, "I thought when all was said and done that the people would understand the importance of taxes, and the importance of security."

In other words, Bush/Rove thought they could go to the well one more time and win another squeaker by appealing to the wealthy via greed and the rest of the public via fear. Didn't work this time.

It's amazing (not) how Bush equates taxes and security. For most people in this country the tax cuts amounted to very little, and yet for all people security is the difference between life and death. Quite a difference (!). But then I suppose to GW life is all about money....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Many on the right are convincing themselves that the Dems elected are actually conservative -- not true if you look at their positions.

The country is not conservative or liberal, but rather moderate/centrist. Look at the polls, they were much against Schiavo intervention, much against Social Security tampering, much against cutting services for them, much for pro-environment laws and issues, they're for raising the minimum wage, they're for stem cell research, they're against interfering with a woman's right to choose -- the list goes on and on and which party is on the same side of those issues? It ain't GW/Rove's GOP.

It will come to be historical fact that the past few years were an aberration due to 9/11 & terror paralysis, voting for the president you have (vs. an unknown) in part based on fear and the primal need for certainty. But that's over and if heaven forbid we're ever attacked again, the public has already been through this once so any lasting such effect will be less from here on in for future presidents. Of course, I would hope that no future president ever attempts to manipulate the masses the way this one has.... But the point being with any luck we're back to normal in the USA and this brief time made fertile for extremism is now over, for good.
Uh oh, there goes the GOP base.... And assuming those Dems are really going to take every last cent from the rich in tax hikes (gads), then what does it say about the severity of the Bush blowback for the wealthy to vote in favor of getting financially screwed?!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Noam Scheiber at The Plank makes the case that if Bush apparently is edging away from his strident "stay the course" path and will look to hear the advice of Gates and Baker, where does that leave McCain? Will he be forced to accuse Bush of getting weak in the knees? With Rummy gone, Cheney assumed knocked down a notch, and enter "realists" Gates and Baker, does this mean Bush is finally seeing more clearly now (the rain is gone), leaving McCain as the sole survivor on Walter Mitty island?
Make no mistake, now begins a time to suggest and implement alternative solutions for the Iraq mess. But never forget that it will always be Bush's debacle. Various ideas will be tried with varying degrees of success, however all will be for the sole purpose of cleaning up what Bush/Cheney have wrought.

Always, always remember this fact when the GOP will undoubtedly look to blame any future Iraq problems on the attempted solutions by the Democrats. Don't let them get away with it, don't let them forget which man and which party is ultimately responsible for invading Iraq and making it a tragic example of incompetence, cronyism, and brutish pride repeatedly chosen over sane prudence.
With Allen caving fairly quickly, conceding to Webb and declining demands for a recount, one wonders to what extent, if any, this terrific insight had anything to do with his decision?
Some quick thoughts:

  • The Tenn. race offered proof that sadly sleaze still works.
  • South Dakota's ballot measure that reversed the enacted abortion law offered proof that populism works.
  • With Dems now holding a majority of the governorships, they gain the upper hand for the most fruitful breeding ground for future presidential candidates.
  • The exit polls showed the Democrats (vs. 2004) gained voters across all incomes ranges, proving tax cuts were not enough to bribe the rich.
  • Lincoln Chafee lost; despite being a reasonable moderate, this election was about rejecting all things "R" in an effort to change control.
  • Get ready to see the GOP slime machine do to Nancy Pelosi what they did to Bill Clinton for eight years.
  • As I've mentioned here a few times in past weeks, the independents made the difference yesterday.
  • Another very good outcome from the election: ended presidential aspirations for many far-right GOP contenders (Frist, Allen, ...Lieberman), as well as any remaining motives for John Kerry (good guy, good senator, honorable soldier -- but it's over).

    But wait minute, I thought Karl Rove had super-duper, secret poll numbers that said quite the opposite would happen....??

    UPDATE: Webb wins in VA, Dems now control Congress.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    The terrific web site projects the new House to be 239 Democrats to 196 Republicans and projects the new Senate to be 50 Democrats to 49 Republicans with one senate seat (Virginia) too close to call.

    However, the latest poll today for Virginia has Democrat Jim Webb surging ahead, leading Allen by a 52%-44% margin. It's key to obtain the 51-49 Senate majority to avoid the need for Darth Cheney's tie-break vote.

    Lastly, EVERYONE VOTE TOMORROW! No change will come if we don't get out and make sure it happens.
    Paul Krugman has a fitting pre-Election Day column (note: TimesSelect has free access all this week):
    President Bush isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But this election is, nonetheless, all about him. The question is whether voters will pry his fingers loose from at least some of the levers of power, thereby limiting the damage he can inflict in his two remaining years in office.
    At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job....In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11....The results have been predictably disastrous.
    The public, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 and was still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt two years ago, seems to have figured most of this out. It’s too late to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but most Americans seem prepared to punish Mr. Bush’s party for his personal failings.
    The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.

    Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.

    But here’s the thing: no matter how hard the Bush administration may try to ignore the constitutional division of power, Mr. Bush’s ability to make deadly mistakes has rested in part on G.O.P. control of Congress. That’s why many Americans, myself included, will breathe a lot easier if one-party rule ends tomorrow.
    Kevin Drum writes about the despicable (and most likely illegal) GOP tactic of robo-calling:
    So here's a good question: is the mainstream media even going to bother reporting on the saturation robo-calling currently being funded and coordinated by the National Republican Congressional Committee? As you may recall, the tactic here is to call people multiple times, at odd hours, whether or not they're on the Do Not Call registry, with messages that sound like they're from the local Democrat. The purpose is to get people annoyed with the Democratic candidate, even though the annoyance is really coming from the Republican side.

    This kind of tactic is only going to get more common unless the media trumpets it loud and clear and the Republican Party pays a price for it on Tuesday. Conversely, if it flies under the radar and helps produce a few GOP wins, they'll do it again. And again. And again.

    I don't care if reporters are jaded by this kind of thing. It's a revolting practice and ought to be the lead story on tonight's network news programs. Instead, what do you want to bet that it barely gets mentioned?
    Thankfully, Keith Olbermann did a feature story on it, but he'll likely be the lone outfit. I guess it's not as newsworthy as Kerry flubbing a joke.
    Even the military have had enough: published in the latest issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times, the editorial ‘Rumsfeld must go’.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Wonderful but completely unsurprising news: Saddam has been convicted and will hang.

    Yeah, the same guy Donald Rumsfeld appeared quite friendly with at one point....

    The Republicans specifically, not the Democrats, are terminating the services of Stuart Bowen and the federal agency that oversees the rooting out of waste and corruption in Iraq:
    Tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen'’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

    The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.
    The only accountability surfacing from the Iraq debacle is in the form of punishing those who are exposing it for the inept and corrupt boondoggle it has become.

    The bolded part above is exactly why a power change is needed in government. The GOP has for too long protected Bush, shielding him from answering for anything or to anyone, standing in the way of truth for the American public. Enough, and hopefully by Wednesday morning this will all change.
    It doesn't say much for credibility to see a columnist go from being so wrong to so right (and often back again), but that aside here's some of the latest from Thomas Friedman:
    George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

    They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

    Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.
    What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men....What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment....What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there....This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.
    Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

    And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

    Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.
    A classic move of the right-wing: for those issues they're against to spread false-based fear. Examples: environmental regulations reduce or hamper economic growth, cheaper pharma drugs reduces R&D research, and a hike in the minimum wage reduces employment.

    On Friday, the Wall Street Journal had this article:
    If Democrats succeed in retaking one or both houses of Congress next week, a top priority will be increasing the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. That raises a persistent question: Does lifting the minimum wage destroy so many jobs that it hurts more than it helps?

    In 2002, voters here [Oregon] raised the state's minimum wage -- and mandated automatic annual increases to keep up with inflation. Oregon's 100,000 or so minimum-wage workers are paid at least $7.50 an hour, a rate that will increase to $7.80 in January, well above the federal $5.15 minimum....During the 2002 debate in Oregon, foes of a minimum-wage increase argued that it would chase away business and cripple an economy that traditionally had higher unemployment than the national average.
    Oregon's experience suggests the most strident doomsayers were wrong. Private, nonfarm payrolls are up 8% over the past four years, nearly twice the national increase. Wages are up, too. Job growth is strong in industries employing many minimum-wage workers, such as restaurants and hotels. Oregon's estimated 5.4% unemployment rate for 2006, though higher than the national average, is down from 7.6% in 2002, when the state was emerging from a recession.
    I recently wrote, "Hey, has anyone ever asked him [Bush] what if 'when' becomes 20 years from now? Or 100 years? What should the U.S. do then, what are his (gulp) ideas on the matter, or are those just problems for future generations to resolve -- all thanks to him? You talk about faith-based, this is nothing more than faith-based military policy."

    In related fashion, Dan Froomkin wrote:
    President Bush's foremost political liability going into the mid-term elections is that the American people aren't happy he took the nation to war in Iraq and don't believe he has a way out.

    In other words, they think Bush made a mess and has no idea how to clean it up.

    Now, in what may be the ultimate show of Karl Rovian chutzpah, Bush is righteously attacking Democrats for not having a plan to clean up the mess he himself made.

    It's a classic Rove technique to attack his opponents' strengths from a position of weakness -- no matter how deficient his own candidate's position may be.
    Bush makes an enormous mess, has no clue/plan how to clean it up, yet blames everyone else for not having a fix to the mess he made.

    Remind me again why this guy has even a 34% approval number?

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    A recent Bush statement: "The good thing about Vice President Cheney's advice is, you don't read about it in the newspaper after he gives it."

    What the hell is he talking about? Cheney's advice is good because he's an ultra-secretive guy and doesn't leak his advice? That's the litmus test?? And which past VPs in history failed this exceedingly low bar?

    How could Kerry have flubbed it, this guy is grade-A dumb.
    Click here to watch some great video of conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan with staunch Iraq war supporter Christopher Hitchens. It's great viewing. Sullivan categorically states that Bush has "lost his mind" and this Tuesday is "not an election anymore, it's an intervention."

    Pro-Bush Hitchens defends Kerry stating, "I don't remember anything being as shamelessly distorted as Kerry's hapless attempt to tell a feeble joke about Bush's I.Q. But it seems to be quite Nixonian what the White House and the Republican Party's been doing. It's self-evident that Kerry wouldn't have tried to equate stupidity with military service, and it's an attempt to change the subject in the crummiest way....It's almost degrading to have to discuss it."

    Well, self-evident to the non-stupid.
    The inane Kerry slip-up continues to get coverage, of course at the expense of truly important matters such as more discovered voting machine problems. Just how accurate will Tuesday's election be?
    Dan Froomkin aptly sums up the current state of things:
    There is a war going on -- and I don't mean the fake one between the White House and John Kerry. I mean the real one, in Iraq.

    And each and every day, there's more evidence that President Bush's strategy for winning that war isn't working.

    Bush's plan calls for American troops to remain in the country as long as it takes for a democratic central government to take hold. But there's little sign that the government has been able to exercise any authority whatsoever outside the fortified Green Zone. The rest of Baghdad is in the throes of civil war. The Kurdish north is essentially independent, the south is ruled by Shiite militias and the Sunni center is in a state of anarchy.
    On June 28, 2005 , Bush proudly announced: "Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

    He repeated it over and over again, at least 40 times , until the phrase was retired almost exactly a year later. His last unprompted use of the phrase was on June 26, 2006 : "And as you well know, our standards are, as Iraqis stand up, the coalition will be able to stand down."

    At his September 15 press conference , about 10 weeks after he had mentioned it last, Bush was asked if the strategy was still operative. He said it was.

    But he put it this way: "We all want the troops to come home as quickly as possible. But they'll be coming home when our commanders say the Iraqi government is capable of defending itself and sustaining itself and is governing itself."
    The policy (or outcome) isn't changing, just the words. Hey, has anyone ever asked him what if "when" becomes 20 years from now? Or 100 years? What should the U.S. do then, what are his (gulp) ideas on the matter, or are those just problems for future generations to resolve -- all thanks to him?

    You talk about faith-based, this is nothing more than faith-based military policy.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Yes, of late Keith Olbermann has had many must-see "Special Comment" segments, but tonight's was an absolute gem, truly his best yet. Click here to view.

    Some choice bits from the transcript:
    There is tonight no political division in this country that he [Bush] and his party will not exploit, nor have not exploited; no anxiety that he and his party will not inflame.

    There is no line this President has not crossed — nor will not cross — to keep one political party, in power.

    He has spread any and every fear among us, in a desperate effort to avoid that which he most fears — some check, some balance against what has become not an imperial, but a unilateral presidency.
    Senator Kerry, as you well know, spoke at a college in Southern California. With bitter humor, he told the students that he had been in Texas the day before, that President Bush used to live in that state, but that now he lives in the state of denial.

    He said the trip had reminded him about the value of education — that quote "if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you can get stuck in Iraq."

    The Senator, in essence, called Mr. Bush stupid.

    The context was unmistakable: Texas;the state of denial;stuck in Iraq. No interpretation required.

    And Mr. Bush and his minions responded, by appearing to be too stupid to realize that they had been called stupid.

    They demanded Kerry apologize — to the troops in Iraq.

    And so he now has.
    A brief reminder, Mr. Bush: You are not the United States of America.

    You are merely a politician whose entire legacy will have been a willingness to make anything political — to have, in this case, refused to acknowledge that the insult wasn't about the troops, and that the insult was not even truly about you either — that the insult, in fact, is you.

    So now John Kerry has apologized to the troops; apologized for the Republicans' deliberate distortions.

    Thus the President will now begin the apologies he owes our troops, right?

    This President must apologize to the troops — for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, quote "look like just a comma."

    This President must apologize to the troops — because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence, at a banquet, while our troops were in harm's way.

    This President must apologize to the troops — because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.

    This President must apologize to the troops — because his administration ran out of "plan" after barely two months.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for getting 2,815 of them killed.

    This President must apologize to the troops — for getting this country into a war without a clue.

    And Mr. Bush owes us an apology… for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.

    We will not receive them, of course.

    This President never apologizes.

    Not to the troops.

    Not to the people.
    And in leaving him out of the equation, Senator Kerry gave an unwarranted pass to his old friend Senator McCain, who should be ashamed of himself tonight.

    He rolled over and pretended Kerry had said what he obviously had not.
    He was speaking of how often he had been to Walter Reed Hospital to see the wounded Iraq veterans, of how, quote "many of the have lost limbs." He said all this while demanding that the voters of Illinois reject a candidate who is not only a wounded Iraq veteran, but who lost two limbs there: Tammy Duckworth.

    Support some of the wounded veterans. But bad-mouth the Democratic one.

    And exploit all the veterans, and all the still-serving personnel, in a cheap and tawdry political trick, to try to bury the truth: that John Kerry said the President had been stupid.

    And to continue this slander as late as this morning — as biased, or gullible, or lazy newscasters, nodded in sleep-walking assent.

    Senator McCain became a front man in a collective lie to break sticks over the heads of Democrats — one of them his friend; another his fellow veteran, leg-less, for whom he should weep and applaud, or at minimum about whom, he should stay quiet.

    That was beneath the Senator from Arizona.

    And it was all because of an imaginary insult to the troops that his party cynically manufactured — out of a desperation, and a futility.
    There, we have chaos: joint U.S./Iraqi checkpoints at Sadr City, the base of the radical Shiite militias — and the Americans have been ordered out by the Prime Minister of Iraq… and our Secretary of Defense doesn't even know about it!

    And here — we have deliberate, systematic, institutionalized lying and smearing and terrorizing — a code of deceit, that somehow permits a President to say, quote, "If you listen carefully for a Democrat plan for success, they don't have one."

    Permits him to say this while his plan in Iraq has amounted to a twisted version of the advice once offered to Lyndon Johnson about his Iraq, called Vietnam.

    Instead of "declare victory — and get out"… we now have "declare victory — and stay, indefinitely."
    Oh, the incompetence:
    The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded....The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands. Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad.
    Just incredible.

    Meanwhile, we're not likely to "stand down" anytime soon (!):
    On Sept. 20, Iraqi and U.S. officials held a ceremony in the main square here to mark the transfer of authority from American troops to U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi police....Fifteen days later, on Oct. 5, U.S. troops had to return to Saba al-Bor to restore order. Most of the town's police had fled, Sunni and Shiite residents were at war with each other, and sectarian death squads roamed the town. The progress built over months had evaporated.
    “We simply overestimated the capacity of the Iraqi people to defend their democracy,” Thompson said [Loren Thompson is a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank based in Arlington, Va.]. “If Iraqi security forces can't be counted on, we have no strategy for winning.” Miscalculations have been costly. The 7th Squadron lost eight soldiers in two days this month as Saba al-Bor lapsed into chaos.
    Despite the fact it's all empty rhetoric, as has been documented by David Kuo's book, Bush is looking to throw more red meat to the religious right in hopes of insuring they vote Republican next Tuesday.

    The government will now target adults, not just teens, as part of its abstinence-only programs, funded by taxpayer money. Never mind the fact that 90% in the group they're targeting (ages 20-29) has already had sex -- talk about a waste of taxpayer money.

    Steve Benen writes:
    Remember, this isn't just about the federal government believing it should help shape families, it's also about giving tax dollars to groups that share the administration's worldview.

    "They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."

    Go ahead, libertarians, keep voting GOP.
    That last sentence is a good point. I've always felt most of those who regard themselves as "libertarian" are really just Republicans in disguise. Perhaps they're ashamed of being Republican and want a more a more snazzy name in which to disassociate (though ultimately voting GOP come Election Day). Regardless of the reason, how is it even logically possible for true libertarians to be for Bush's version of the Republican Party?! They are supposed to be about getting the government out of our lives, out of our bedrooms, out of our schools, etc. They want limited government involvement in nearly everything and yet over the last six years, Bush has done quite the opposite. In order to win over the religious vote, it's been constant overstepping with regards to hoisting the government upon us. Recall Terri Schiavo? Gay marriage bans? Abortion rhetoric?

    It makes no sense. Ryan Sager has written a book about just how this relationship is unraveling, but I ask how could it ever have existed given the core tenet beliefs of libertarians? They simply cannot side with the religious right given the latter's call to get the government overly-involved in our lives.

    The only way it makes any sense is if both libertarians and the religious right are really just other words for Republicans, that in truth it's all about politics and not core beliefs. It's a charade.

    Oh wait, I think I might be on to something....

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    In the latest TIME magazine:
    When it comes to deploying its Executive power, which is dear to Bush's understanding of the presidency, the President's team has been planning for what one strategist describes as "a cataclysmic fight to the death" over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is "going to assert that power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation."
    If the Dems do well on November 7th, then over the next two years we will witness King George exercise his absolute authority in all its emperor-like glory, pulling out every stop to protect his power -- the country, the people, the Constitution be damned! It's George first and America a far, far distant second.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Dan Froomkin wrote today:
    The one question an unusually dogged White House press corps on Friday demanded that Vice President Cheney address remains unanswered: If he wasn't talking about waterboarding, what did he mean by a "dunk in the water"?

    Cheney last week agreed with a radio interviewer's assertion that "a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives." That sure sounded like an endorsement of waterboarding, a brutal interrogation technique widely viewed as torture.

    On Friday, White House press secretary Tony Snow and then Cheney himself insisted that he wasn't talking about waterboarding at all.

    But is there any other plausible explanation? We have yet to hear it.
    Of course Cheney meant water-boarding. These guys have spent six years telling us it's sunny outside when in fact it's raining buckets. Should we be surprised anymore at the level of brazenness in their bald-faced lies?

    Here's an exchange between a reporter and Tony Snow:
    "Q: What could 'dunk in the water' refer to if not water boarding?

    "MR. SNOW: I'm just telling you -- I'm telling you the vice president's position. I will let you draw your own conclusions, because you clearly have. He says he wasn't talking --

    "Q: I haven't drawn any conclusions. I'm asking for an explanation about what 'dunk in the water' could mean.

    "MR. SNOW: How about a dunk in the water?

    "Q: So, wait a minute, so 'dunk in the water' means what, we have a pool now at Guantanamo, and they go swimming?
    Folks, it's absurd. It's like trying to have a rational discussion with a psychopathic liar. It's impossible, so why bother? The more disturbing reality is that people with seemingly such a serious disorder are calling the shots for our country.

    November 7th is our chance to reign in this madness.

    Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker agrees:
    The "“dunk in water"” they were talking about is waterboarding. It has been used by the Gestapo, the North Koreans, and the Khmer Rouge. After the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was sentenced to twenty-five years'’ hard labor for using it on American prisoners. It is torture, and torture is not a no-brainer. It is a no-souler. The no-brainer is the choice on Election Day.
    In his Friday column, Paul Krugman cited a Rand Corp. study that I wrote about on May 11, 2004. I wrote then:
    The RAND Corp. conducted a study that attempted to derive what ratio of troops to population made for the most successful country occupations. Apparently, the British have set the standard for how best to occupy another country, and the study found that the optimal ratio was 20 troops per thousand citizens. Given that Iraq's population is approximately 25 million, the current total number of troops occupying the country is short by about 70%! The optimal number would come to half a million troops.

    More proof that this administration has carried out this operation on the cheap and in doing so has jeopardized the success of the entire effort, has endangered the lives of all soldiers over there (shorting the presence of soldiers increases the likelihood of violent outbreaks and unrest), and does allow for another valid comparison to Vietnam (where similarly deployment of troops was initially hesitant).
    Krugman writes, "we need to get out of Iraq, not because we want to cut and run, but because our continuing presence is doing nothing but wasting American lives. And if we do free up our forces (and those of our British allies), we might still be able to save Afghanistan."

    Krugman then goes on to cite the study, written in 1995 by Rand Corp. analyst James T. Quinlivan. Krugman agrees with my math stating that "stabilizing Iraq would require a force of at least 20 troops per 1,000 Iraqis — that is, 500,000 soldiers and marines."

    However, he asserts that the "combined strength of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps is less than 700,000," meaning we didn't have the manpower to begin with to properly secure Iraq. Worse yet, Rumsfeld & Co. likely knew this fact and yet chose to gamble human lives on the cheap to achieve their ends. To admit to the need for hundreds of thousands of troops would have made any chance for invading Iraq a non-starter.

    Thus, instead do what this administration has been doing since their first day in office: lie, distort, withold the truth -- do whatever it takes to hoodwink Congress and the American public to get what you desire. It's what they do.
    The Iraq war is also greatly affecting residents of Puerto Rico, who can die for the United States but have not the right to vote for the U.S. president:
    Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but they lack some of the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote for president. Yet they have served, and died, in the military for generations. Since 2003, dozens of Puerto Ricans have been killed in Iraq.
    Puerto Rican soldiers have been fighting in the U.S. armed forces since at least World War I, when the island became a U.S. territory and its residents became citizens.

    Altogether, more than 150,000 Puerto Ricans served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. But as Maria Munoz notes, they're from a territory, not a state, and they can't send a voting member to Congress or vote for commander-in-chief.

    "It's ironic," she says. "We can't decide who will be president, but the U.S. offers for us to go to war. They see soldiers as just workers, like when we're shipped off to pick tomatoes. It's the same."
    Although the approximately four million citizens in Puerto Rico cannot vote in our upcoming election, the nearly four million Puerto Rican U.S. citizens spread across this country can certainly vote. Here's hoping they read this story and get even more fed up and incensed.

    It's one thing to die in Iraq and yet have the right to vote on the president, it's quite another to die over there and have zero say on who is the commander in chief.

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    On the environmental front (which gets even less attention these days due to Iraq and the upcoming election), Sir Nicholas Stern has released The Stern Review and guess which corporate entities have become big-time global warming believers? The insurance industry. And make no mistake, while the energy lobby may have deep pockets, don't think the insurance industry is not throwing around some sizeable chunks of change on K-Street.
    Sounds like Obama has made enough "gutsy" statements in the past for the GOP to hang him Swift-Boat style. If he runs, look for distortion tactics and deceptive sound-bite ads try mightily to crucify him as his road to 2008 will be all uphill with loads of potholes.
    What does it take to get a poor grade?!

    That peon of virtue and all things Christian, James Dobson, has apparently seen it in his heart to forgive admitted adulterer Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA), also an accused physical abuser of his mistress, as Dobson's group Family Research Council and Focus on the Family recently gave Sherwood an "85%" rating (100% is tops).

    But wait, these same folks despised Clinton for blowjobs, and yet.... Hmmm, I'm confused.... Guess I'm missing something....
    In a recent Wolf Blitzer/Michael Ware exchange:
    BLITZER: The president flatly said today the United States is winning. We're winning, he said, in this war in Iraq. From your point of view, does it look like the U.S. is winning right now?

    MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president's remarks are absolutely striking, Wolf.

    I mean I would very much like to ask President Bush how he defines winning, because on the ground here, it looks like anything but.

    Given the state of chaos, given the near civil war, given the rising tempo of the Sunni insurgency, given the increasing influence, as Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad pointed out, of Iran and, to a lesser degree, Syria, I would like to know how the president defines victory.

    So far in this war, what we have seen with the way things have developed is that two of America's greatest enemies are the only beneficiaries of this conflict -- al Qaeda, which 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say has become stronger, not weaker, as a result of this war. So the very thing the president says he came here to prevent, he has fostered.

    And the other one is Iran. Iran's sphere of influence once stopped at Saddam's border. Now, they have great sway not only in southern Iraq, but within the central government, arguably, more sway than the United States.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    From Balloon Juice:
    Very shortly the German periodical Stern will have more on those European secret prisons which don’t exist. In a nutshell, German security personnel visited the American facilities as early as 2001 and were shocked at the abuses that they witnessed there. Several immediately reported their experiences to superiors and prosecutors in Germany.

    Until now the German government has denied any knowledge of secret prisons so this counts as one hell of a gotcha piece in Stern’s home market, as well as a timely reminder over here of what it means when a country with America’s resources decides to institutionalize abuse.
    But I thought Bush has repeatedly said we don't torture?

    Robert Dreyfuss recently wrote about the widespread anti-Americanism in the world:
    There’s no denying that the war in Iraq has had a catastrophic effect on American interests. It has opened a festering wound at the heart of the Middle East, a vortex of violence that threatens to fragment the nation of Iraq and spill over Iraq’s borders into all six of its neighbors. The war has inflamed Arab and Muslim public opinion against the United States. It has alienated America’s allies, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. It has cheered or emboldened America’s adversaries and rivals, including China and Russia. And it has fueled the sort of anti-Americanism articulated by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
    Given the anti-U.S. climate that Iraq has managed to generate, in addition to the seemingly endless new revelations of U.S. torture, all of it will result in several significant problems we'll have to face and resolve over the next several years. Countries falling under the category of anti-U.S. will be less inclined to work with us on issues involving geopolitical threats confronting us. We'll obtain less truthful, credible intel from potential informants who in a prior time may have been willing to choose to side with the U.S., a country that has stood for good and fairness -- a notion widely accepted not too long ago.

    Thanks to this administration, America is less safe not just due to the creation of more terrorists (see NIE report) but perhaps even more so due to the increase in resentment towards the U.S. Now more than ever we are going it alone, increasingly so because we have to. It's no wonder Bush/Cheney have been adamant about using torture to gain info; it's now the only option we have left.

    Cheney has spent a lifetime bullying and "torturing" members of congress to get what he wants, but apparently he's too naive and stubborn to realize such school-yard tactics don't work in the international arena. Worse yet, they're gravely counter-productive.
    C'mon Karl, you're slipping. This is Psych 101.

    From professor George Lakoff in the NY Times:
    The first rule of using negatives is that negating a frame activates the frame. If you tell someone not to think of an elephant, he’ll think of an elephant. When Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook” during Watergate, the nation thought of him as a crook.

    “Listen, we’ve never been stay the course, George,” President Bush told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News a day earlier. Saying that just reminds us of all the times he said “stay the course.”
    Also, recall how flexibility was regarded by the administration as wavering and appeasing. Suddenly they hope to get away with using it -- but thankfully it's not working.
    “Stay the course” was for years a trap for those who disagreed with the president’s policies in Iraq. To disagree was weak and immoral. It meant abandoning the fight against evil. But now the president himself is caught in that trap. To keep staying the course, given obvious reality, is to get deeper into disaster in Iraq, while not staying the course is to abandon one’s moral authority as a conservative. Either way, the president loses.
    And of course he deserves it. Not we the American public, not our military, our soldiers, not the Iraqis, not the rest of the world involved. Just him alone.
    Can Bush & Co. manage to get any more off message as they have in the past several days? Is this some kind of new Rovian tactic to confuse the hell out of the voting public in an effort to somehow win them over? Perhaps playing the feel-sorry-for-us card?

    First they attempt to claim they've never endorsed "stay the course" as the operative phrase when it came to Iraq, only to justifiably be pummeled by the MSM and internet with numerous examples of the phrase being uttered by Bush, Cheney and other administration officials, repeatedly for years.

    And now we have Cheney admitting that "water boarding" is a "no-brainer" -- this despite Bush reassuring us that the U.S. does not permit torture.

    Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch said, "If Iran or Syria detained an American, Cheney is saying that it would be perfectly fine for them to hold that American's head under water until he nearly drowns, if that's what they think they need to do to save Iranian or Syrian lives."

    This possibility is a central danger in the recently passed torture act. Apart from it being unconstitutional, the act puts our soldiers or any American captured abroad at risk. Why should other countries abide by international agreements or accords concerning torture if we do not?