Friday, June 30, 2006

  • Let's call it what it is: this is a long overdue, back-of-the-hand bitch slap from the Supreme Court to Bush/Cheney.

  • Glad to see religious folks are beginning to see the light (truth).

  • Excellent point by Bruce Reed in Slate: "The great irony of the explosion in earmarks is that House members are working so much harder to secure pork for their districts at the same time that redistricting has made it nearly impossible for those members to lose, whether or not they deliver the goods."

  • Could this be the reason in the last few years more people have needlessly died from pharma drug incidents....?

  • Regarding the Supreme Court agreeing to rule on carbon dioxide (pollutant or not?), a reminder that in 1999 Bush called CO2 "one of four main pollutants" (of course, he'll deny saying it today) and the EPA's web site describes CO2 as "Industrial Air Pollution". The case looks pretty solid.

  • Conservative pollster Frank Luntz (finally) converts regarding global warming. Soon the denial side will be left with just Bush, Cheney, Michael Crichton, and several paid-for-by-energy-interests fringe scientists.

  • Great, true stuff from Alan Wolfe:
    Conservatives fail because those who hate government cannot run it very well – the theme of my recent article in the July/August issue of The Washington Monthly. But then there is also what can be called conservative management theory. Conservatives have strong ideas about how organizations ought to be run – and those ideas invariably make them run badly.
    <..>
    Finally, conservatives view organizations in exactly the opposite way they treat markets. The economy, they insist, works most efficiently when spontaneous decisions emerge from the uncoordinated actions of millions of anonymous consumers. But when they run organizations, they insist on formal organization charts, aim to leave nothing to chance, and treat all decisions as authoritative. Their theory of the private sector is borrowed from Adam Smith. Their approach to the public sector owes far too much to state socialism.
  • Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    An extremely disturbing story from yesterday:
    Most of the electronic voting machines widely adopted since the disputed 2000 presidential election "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections," a report out Tuesday concludes.

    There are more than 120 security threats to the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems, the study by the Brennan Center for Justice says. For what it calls the most comprehensive review of its kind, the New York City-based non-partisan think tank convened a task force of election officials, computer scientists and security experts to study e-voting vulnerabilities.

    The study, which took more than a year to complete, examined optical scanners and touch-screen machines with and without paper trails. Together, the three systems account for 80% of the voting machines that will be used in this November's election.
    I urge you to read the entire story.

    Given that unlike in 2000 and 2004, the Dems are expected to do very well this November, it will be interesting to see to what extent voting shenanigans occur this time around.

    That said, the fact remains that every true American that cares about our fleeting democracy, that believes in a fair fight, and that believes the sanctity of our voting system is the core essence on which this great nation was founded should be greatly angered by this news and should strongly denounce the use of these machines. To remain quiet, or worse give in and willfully dismiss this despicable sham as simply too unbelievable to be true, is to participate in an unpatriotic act of the worst kind. (And make no mistake, Bush/Cheney have gotten away with an incredible amount of heinous wrongs due to the public just not believing it was possible or that any president/VP could do such a thing -- guess again!).

    Meanwhile, it's flag burning (once again) that has Congress all in a tizzy. While Rome burns....

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

  • Al Gore's movie has received rave reviews from movie critics, but now also gets five stars from top climate scientists.

  • Money will continue to buy elections, and therefore likewise our governments.

  • The madness of King George (ruling as only he sees fit).

  • General Casey, is this good progress ("Whole city blocks here look like a scene from some post-apocalyptic world," "Many neighborhoods are out of the control of either the American or Iraqi government forces; insurgents hold sway"), i.e. the planned September withdrawal still looks A-OK?

  • The Dems continue to be cowed regarding anything related to terrorism ("the banking surveillance has not triggered broad outrage among congressional Democrats"). Pathetic.

  • $2 billion worth of scams has been committed from Katrina and Rita aid -- or about four times the normal amount of fraud in a disaster relief situation. Sounds about right given it's "I will clean up Washington" GW running things (BTW, anyone find that missing $8+ bil. in Iraq yet?).

  • Surprise! (not) Homosexuality is biological, not environmental (i.e. gay parents won't "turn" a child gay, so all you crazed religious kooks can relax).
  • In his column yesterday, Bob Herbert points out how the Republicans (namely Karl Rove) are trying to have it both ways: slam the Democrats for any talk of an Iraq withdrawal, but then to offer up such a plan of their own (see Sunday NY Times story) -- just in time for November elections. Let's see if the public is dumb enough to fall for this....

    According to General George Casey's plan, the first set of troops to come home would occur in September. Note the timing: if it were to happen now, that would be too early offering little flow-over effect into November, and obviously they don't want it to occur post-elections, so September is perfect timing campaign-wise.

    As Bob Herbert writes, "I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd. From the Bush-Rove perspective, General Casey's plan is not a serious strategic proposal. It's a straw in the political wind."

    Agreed, it's all about politics. There's no coincidence here. And make no mistake, despite General Casey stating the withdrawal plan is contingent on the perceived progress in Iraq, the first withdrawal will occur in September, come hell or high water. It will not be postponed even if U.S. soldiers were dying at an escalated rate by then.

    As for making a judgment call on the progress in Iraq, who or what will be used to officially grade the level of progress when September rolls around? This administration has consistently criticized the MSM for not showing all the good news in Iraq, so apparently there's a disconnect and not a consensus on how things are going over there.

    Again, it won't matter. This withdrawal is needed politically for the GOP and they will get it -- regardless of the fact, as Herbert writes, "there are real lives at stake."

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Isn't it ironic that an intolerant, judgmental, hateful religious bigot like Rick Santorum represents a state that was founded by a man who "was a tireless advocate for religious liberty and tolerance."
    Kevin Drum recently wrote:
    On the other hand, Jonah [Goldberg]'s contention that "the 'problems' of the human condition are permanent" — and therefore, presumably, barely worth trying to improve in any deep rooted way — is quite another thing. It's why I'm not a conservative, and it's why, in the end, conservatives rarely have any long term positive impact on politics. After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?
    In fact, conservatives do not only not address the failings or "problems" of the human condition, they instead embrace and celebrate them!

    For example, I cite above on my blog masthead a quote by the recently deceased John Kenneth Galbraith, which asserts that conservatives attempt to dignify it with flowery language, but when it gets right down to it, they're simply giving in to base selfishness.

    Selfishness, greed, intolerance, excessive individualism -- these are all bedrock tenets of the conservative handbook. Thank you Ms. Rand!
    Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report has written an article that's rightfully received a fair amount of attention. Benen points out that three GOP candidates for president (McCain, Giuliani, Gingrich) just so happen to share some commonalities, namely they've had at least one affair and divorce.

    Given the ire and rage exhibited by this party towards Clinton regarding Monica, AND given how much the GOP has since aligned with the evangelical / puritanical faction of the party, one would think that these three candidates would have no chance of getting the nod in 2008. That said, Jimmy Swaggert has been back preaching, seemingly suffering no ill-effects from his sexual shenanigans, and Giuliani wasn't exactly rebuffed by Ralph Reed when he recently stumped for him.

    As 2008 gets closer, the Dems should not be afraid to broach this subject (like they have with Iraq). It's not beneath them and apparently many voters find this transgression to be valid and meaningful. After all, unlike the Swift Boat lies, it's factual. Hell, as James Dobson's spokesperson recently said, "If you have a politician, an elected official, and they can't be trusted in their own marriage, how can I trust them with the budget? How can I trust them with national security?"

    2008 will certainly be about cleaning up the government (recall 2000) and restoring honor and trust to our highest office. It all fits nicely (and last time I looked, Al Gore had a pretty darn good marriage).

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    An email to a friend / skeptic:
    Oh boy. I can’t tell if this is a joke, but let’s just assume (gulp) that you actually do believe CO2 dissipates into outer space.

    The latest data, as of March 2006, shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) -- 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.

    Look at this chart:



    Do you see that line heading down at all? Over the last 40+ years, it’s been a steady upward climb, up almost 20%. But I thought CO2 was supposed to disappear into outer space? Looks like it’s instead just staying here and building up -– go figure!

    Oh, and the right likes to say volcanic activity is responsible for all of this –- hogwash! Volcanic releases amount to just 1% of that which is released by human activities.

    Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased by approximately 110 ┬ÁL/L or about 40%, most of it released since 1945.

    Finally, given the last 400,000 years (which includes the Ice Age), the denial folks like to say this current upswing is just part of a natural cycle as the past shows fluctuations in CO2 concentrations. HOWEVER, over those 400K years, CO2 has fluctuated between 200 and 300 parts per million --- never getting above 300. We’re now at 380 (again, see above chart). This time it is different!!

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Peter Beinart helps to set the record straight regarding Bill Clinton, with some much needed perspective as a reminder:
    Measured in electoral votes (which often factor out third-party candidates because they don’t win a plurality in any state), Clinton’s victories look impressive. He won 370 electoral votes in 1992 and 379 in 1996—more than Wilson in 1916,Truman in 1948, John F.Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1976, or George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004.

    ....By December 1998, after the Monica Lewinsky scandal hit, a majority of Americans disliked Clinton personally, but over 70 percent liked what he was doing for the country. Today’s activists blame Clintonism for leaving grassroots Democrats demoralized. But the demoralization began after Clinton left office. According to the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of Democrats said their party was doing a good job standing up for its core beliefs in 2000—compared with only 33 percent by the end of 2004.

    ....Even more importantly, public perceptions of government, which had also been in freefall since the mid-’80s, began to improve—which is logical, given that government policies were markedly improving the lives of average Americans, particularly the poor.

    ....The Democratic Party’s prospects once again look bright....Americans are turning to the Democratic Party because, under Bush, they have seen government fail, and they remember a time when it worked—under Bill Clinton.
    Dems should use Clinton nostalgia as Republicans do with Reagan; it works!
    What's the point of alerting anyone's attention to just another study showing that 1) the planet is getting much warmer, and 2) humans have much to do with it? Those who are concerned and will believe it are already convinced, concerned and aware, and then there's the denial folks who won't believe a thing until -- well, I don't know when.

    Besides, what exactly will it take to convince the skeptics? They say more scientific proof is needed but will there ever be a definitive breakthrough discovery that will instantly convert them? Me thinks not. The same way I don't think there will ever be a defining moment that signifies the "War on Terror" is over….

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Digby writes about the insatiable chubby Joe Klein has for GW. (Could Klein's descriptive narrative get anymore erotic? "In fact, George W. Bush’s body language—let’s call it the full jaunty—was reminiscent of his last, infamous cockpit trip....").

    Meanwhile, Greg Sargent sent some questions to Klein, hoping for some answers. Klein did respond (and it's a long one). Here's a nugget that stuck in my craw:
    I don't believe simply calling for a phased withdrawal is enough. I want details. Haven't heard any.
    Klein is not too pleased about the Dems hatched proposal yesterday regarding how best to deal with Iraq.

    This relates to a prior post here where I stated the Dems should respond to the Republican spin by reminding the public this is their mess, orchestrated by members of their party (manipulated intel, lies, Downing Street memo(s), etc.) and they should be held accountable for it, period (similar to arsonist and forest fire).

    The primary onus should not be that the Dems must now come up with the definitive recipe for fixing this ill-conceived and incompetently executed debacle. Oh, and Mr. Klein, why no mention of likewise demands for a GOP solution with details? Or have you heard any (that escaped the rest of us)??

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Is Rove really in the clear? And does Cheney have to wipe some sweat from his brow?
    More bad news for Bush-loving Lieberman:
    Senator Joe Lieberman (D) might be better off skipping the Democratic Primary and running as an Independent this November. The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of the Primary Election shows Lieberman leading challenger Ned Lamont by just six percentage points, 46% to 40%. The survey was conducted Monday night, June 12.

    These results should be viewed as a clear sign that Lamont is gaining traction. Our last survey found Lamont at the 31% level of support (that itself was a stunning figure at the time).
    Media Matters recently challenged the WSJ's James Taranto to provide proof of a liberal bias in the media, responding to his much-stated accusation. He has yet to respond.

    In the meantime, he continues to offer up the red herring in his columns. This in today's:
    Here's a nice, clear-cut case of liberal bias, from an Associated Press report about a speech by Vice President Cheney:

    Cheney defended the NSA's domestic eavesdropping program, which the administration calls its "terrorist surveillance program" as important in the war on terror, while conceding it was controversial.

    Why not say:

    Cheney defended the NSA's terrorist surveillance program, which the administration's opponents call its "domestic eavesdropping program," as important in the war on terror, while conceding it was controversial.

    Given that no one has seriously claimed the NSA is eavesdropping on domestic as opposed to international calls, this would be more accurate.
    Just more proof that Taranto is out of touch with reality. USA Today recently reported a pretty huge story that stated: "Domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private. Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans."

    Of course, we can't get to the bottom of this scandal because the administration (esp. Cheney) is standing in the way of fact-finding investigations. But that won't stop Taranto from printing untrue, mindless drivel.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

  • If Chavez decides to block our access to Venezuelan oil, it could cause the price of crude to rise by $11. And despite prices at the pump steadily rising all year, demand for oil has remained robust, offering proof that $3 a gallon is still not high enough to change our habits. Several economists believe the magic number is closer to $4 per gallon. (Note that during both 1973 and 1980 -- the last two times this country experienced gas disruptions -- year-over-year demand plummeted).

  • Given polls can be biased depending on the outlet, a better way to measure reality is to compare the change in a given poll. As an example, after the death of Zarqawi, the CNN poll rose by 1% from its prior poll and the CBS poll dropped by 2% vs. its prior poll. I quickly did this for about 10 polls and came up with Bush picking up 1-2%, that's it. And already this bump-up is subsiding. Back to the drawing board for Rove....

  • Note that Bush's 37% approval rating is still 11% below Clinton's in 1994, leading up to the huge surprise victory by Newt & Co. The rating for Congress is 23% -- or 4% below what it was just before elections in '94. Also, whereas the GOP needed to capture 40 seats in '94 to take the house, this year the Dems need just 15. Is it any wonder corporations are beginning to fund the Democrats?

  • The Washington Post reports that Bush Inc. never had any interest in fining corporations about illegal immigrants -- not at least until Karl Rove chose the topic as the next "gay marriage" election-year issue to wedge the country. In 1999 (Clinton), the government moved to fine 417 companies; in 2004, that number dropped to three! Just like Bush could give a rats arse about abortion, the same holds for immigration. But when Rove needs a fake, hot-button issue to stoke his hot-blooded, zombie sect of voters, he went with this one....

  • Really Mr. President, things are looking up in Iraq?? Oh, and I'll tell you what, you can at least get close to declaring Iraq a success when the day comes that you can travel over to that country without having to resort to top-secret shenanigans to the point where even the Iraqi prime minister is in the dark.
  • An interview with Robert Kennedy Jr. reveals that he will likely bring several lawsuits against players in the 2004 Ohio election rip-off. Click here to read the interview.

    Simply put, it's about time someone did something about this travesty as it very well may happen again this November (any guesses for which state it will be this time? My bet is both FLA and Ohio).
    North Korea has finished fueling a missile that reportedly could reach the U.S. It was one thing for Bush to manipulate intel to attack a nuke-less Iraq, it's quite another for the big bully and his neocon wackos to pick a fight with a well-known nuke possessor. As Kevin Drum writes:
    So: would we be justified in launching an attack on the North Korean test site? What does a neocon like Bill Kristol think? An old-fashioned super-hawk like Dick Cheney? A reformed liberal hawk like Peter Beinart? An unreformed liberal hawk like Hillary Clinton? Or would they all say the same thing and demonstrate that behind the rhetoric there's not really much difference between them?

    Or how about this suggestion from James Robbins?
    Sounds like a great opportunity to test our missile-defense technology. North Korea has no right to test weapons over other countries, so they won't have a leg to stand on legally. And it would be a great statement of our resolve to stand up to their aggressive behavior. Finally, it would be a high-profile way to demonstrate the effectiveness of our missile-defense systems. For example the Airborne Laser system is up for a flight test this year. Why not make it count?
    Hell, I could almost sign up for that. After 20 years, it's time for the missile defense guys to put their money where their mouths are. Of course, Boeing doesn't even pretend that ABL is operational yet, so that particular suggestion is probably out. But how about GMD? Anyone up for finding out if it really works?

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Lieberman gets down and dirty -- all the more reason he should just switch parties. (as per Crooksandliars.com)
    An email I sent to Guy James:
    Guy, I also very much agreed with your rant about Hillary's condoning speech re Bush's Iraq War. She's obviously attempting to contort and triangulate to win votes here, then contort and win votes there -- the woman of a thousand faces. Doubt it will work. She'll likely win some clueless folks, but end up alienating many more intelligent voters who see right through it, resulting in a net loss of votes. A shame.

    McCain is attempting to do the same, but as I've written, he has more of an excuse to do this than Hillary given the dysfunctional demands of the GOP. But he (and Giuliani, who is likewise twisting and contorting) will end up alienating many more as "collateral" damage.

    I've often wondered what Bill Clinton would be advising Dem candidates to do in this environment given the upcoming elections. Isn't it safe to assume that Hillary is perhaps listening to his advice? After all, he's a genius when it comes to campaign strategy. If so, can we truly believe that Bill is behind this rightward shift from Hillary? Or are we to assume that she has decided to go a different route, perhaps ignoring Bill's urgings and instead choosing to listen to the dreaded consultants (who did so wonderfully for Gore and Kerry!)?

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Both Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum discuss the need for the Dems to come together and decide on a plan for Iraq.

    Yes, I believe the Dems need to craft a unified message and proposed resolution re Iraq. However, they need not take the same crap again from the GOP! A memo was recently leaked revealing that the Republicans plan to go to the well again and use the tactics that worked for them in '04: paint the Dems as weak on terrorism, not supportive of the troops, and quitters when it comes to Iraq. In other words, Swift Boat them on Iraq. Karl Rove is obviously still alive and well within the party machine.

    In response, what the Dems need to do is forcefully and convincingly illustrate that Iraq is a mess and a complicated quagmire. But even more so, they need to state in brutally explicit terms that it's a Republican debacle, made possible by a Republican administration that lied and distorted intel to get the votes needed in Congress to invade Iraq. (If you still don't realize that the intel shown to Congress was not the same as that which the administration possessed, click here). There has been ample proof showing the administration twisted intel to fit the desired policy (Downing Street memos, Richard Clarke, Colin Powell quotes, to name a few).

    Voters should hold the guilty party accountable by tossing them out. Yes, again, Iraq must be dealt with and like the federal budget, the environment, international relations, and so many other things that are currently broken and need fixing, the Dems will have to eventually be the party of repair. Like a huge forest fire set by an arson, the fire eventually is extinguished but the arson must pay dearly and be brought to justice. The Republican apparatus set this fire we know as Iraq and they did so purposefully via the use of manipulative, deceptive, and treasonous tactics.

    The Dems need to assert this message clearly and strongly. An appeal must be made to the voters' sense of justice, and what is fundamentally right and wrong. To elect or re-elect Republicans is to reward their misdeeds. America has a long tradition of punishing those who commit wrongful acts and the truly patriotic thing to do is to kick these bums out who are members of a group (party) that would perpetrate and silently support (and not investigate) such heinous acts.

    Dems should've done better in '04, but if they do poorly this time around, they're lost.
    Hilarious.
    From the Guardian:
    George Bush's six years in office have so damaged the image of the US that people worldwide see Washington as a bigger threat to world peace than Tehran, according to a global poll.

    The Washington-based Pew Research Centre, in a poll of 17,000 people in 15 countries between March and May, found more people concerned about the US presence in Iraq than about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.

    The Pew Centre said: "Despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the US presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran - and in many countries much more often - as a danger to world peace."
    And yet whereas Iraq is a mess and has cost us much in international goodwill (see above), human lives and suffering, creating a breeding ground for new terrorists, and costing we taxpayers hundreds of billions, I ask what is this neocon-crazed administration planning to do about Chavez in Venezuela? (Buying Russian arms? Can shut-off from us a major source of oil?)
    From the NY Times: "China's pollution problems cost the country more than $200 billion a year, a top official said Monday."

    How about that! Environmental problems costing an economy big money. We're so accustomed to hearing the wingnuts trot out that tired red herring that environmental regulations and guidelines serve as a huge cost on the economy, crippling it. (Just more unsubstantiated fear-mongering).

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    John Dickerson states that Bush could very well be readying a pre-November announcement that the troops will be coming home, consequently boosting GOP poll numbers just in time for elections.

    However, if that occurs, Dems should remember this Bush quote from two days ago: "My message to the enemy is, don't count on us leaving before we succeed."

    If he does declare pre-November that troops will be heading home, Dems should repeat this quote and look for credible evidence that we have indeed succeeded in Iraq. Failing that, then Bush is cutting and running -- and lying to the public once again.
    Funny how the global warming skeptics love to cite figures from 800 million years ago regarding CO2 levels and earth's temperature, and yet it's typically this same side (right-wing, conservative) that fights to have "ID" (i.e. about 2,000 years ago, God created Earth and all life in six days, resting on the seventh) taught in our classrooms.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Speaking of Rove, the LA Times had a story yesterday on Karl's possible (likely) involvement in having the EPA change a rule to please the oil industry. It's worth reading the whole piece, but three quick points:

    1) Although it's naive to think Rove didn't act as a catalyst for action re this matter, it does appear as if it's the heinous energy bill that is ultimately to blame. We'll be paying for that debacle for many years to come.

    2) Notice it's mentioned that states can elect to regulate this newly-created problem. Yes, the oft observed new federalism trend -- only in this instance, a government official explicitly stated it. Apparently, this administration just wants to make sure corporations are happy at the federal level.

    3) Funny how the spokesperson for the White House budget office emphasizes this action is to "ensure that agencies issue regulations that follow the law." So Bush uses that excuse when convenient, but we know he has decided to ignore altogether more than 750 existing laws on the books. Just more hypocrisy from these a-holes.
    With Rove somehow, someway escaping the noose, Dan Froomkin writes:
    By all rights, that latter job should now fall to the press.

    The White House has long maintained -- spuriously, I might add -- that the ongoing criminal investigation precluded them from answering any questions even vaguely related to Rove's conduct.

    Now, without charges against Rove in the offing, the media should demand answers to a slew of questions. The overriding issue: Just because Rove wasn't charged with a crime doesn't mean his conduct meets the standards the public expects from its White House.

    If Rove was irresponsibly lax with classified information, if he intentionally misled the press, the press secretary and the president, if he conspired with fellow White House aides to punish someone who spoke out against the president -- all of which appears to be the case -- what is he still doing serving as the president's most trusted aide?
    Raise your hand if you have faith in the MSM picking up the ball on this matter.... Yeah, right, just as I thought. (Also, I wonder, did Bush surprise-leave the country because he wanted to avoid questions coming from a likely Rove indictment? i.e. did even he guess wrong but better to be safe than sorry??)

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Tim Grieve interviewed Sen. Harry Reid in Salon and Reid made the following statement:
    GRIEVE: "Nancy Pelosi has apparently taken impeachment off the table, even if the Democrats win in November."

    REID: "But see, I've cooled that impeachment [talk] from the beginning. You know why? Who would be the president if the president were impeached? Why would I want Cheney president?"
    Gads, big mistake, and here are a few reasons why:

    1) With Clinton, the GOP lowered the bar -- by ALOT -- for grounds for impeachment. Bush's transgressions are far, far worse than lying about blowjobs.

    2) We, and more importantly the less-informed general public, would learn many need-to-know things (that we have not been able to learn otherwise) via the impeachment proceedings.

    3) How could Cheney as president be any worse than Bush?! As it is, Cheney is basically the shadow president, only now he has most of the associated power with less of the explicit accountability. He would most likely not want the promotion!
  • Steve Benen:
    I've always been curious what it takes for a conservative to reach genuine pariah status in the political world. Last fall, Bill O'Reilly suggested that it'd be fine with him if al Queda attacked a major American city. There were no apparent adverse consequences. In 2001, just 48 hours after 9/11, Jerry Falwell said liberal Americans were to blame for the attacks and said the nation "deserved" to be hit by terrorists. Five years later, he's hanging out with John McCain as if he were a credible figure in Republican politics, which he unfortunately is. It's easy to pull equally disturbing comments from Limbaugh, Robertson, Dobson, etc. Not one lost his status as a leading conservative voice.

    Coulter is a best-selling pariah this week, but she'll be back on the air soon enough.
  • With Tom DeLay finally gone, let's spend some time reviewing his many pearls of wisdom -- and realize just how much better off this country will be with him gone.

  • Notice how quiet Dick Cheney has been about the gay marriage issue.... If Bush likewise had a gay daughter, you think he'd be just as silent? (Probably not. Votes are thicker than blood.)

  • Andrew Sullivan:
    I do not believe that this president has ever acknowledged his own responsibility for the atrocities committed by Americans on his watch and under his command. He simply cannot process the fact that his own hand provided the signature that allowed torture to spread like a cancer through the military and CIA.

    He cannot acknowledge that his own war policy — of just enough troops to lose — has created a war of attrition in Iraq in which soldiers are often overwhelmed and demoralised and stretched to the limit, and so more than usually vulnerable to the psychic snaps that sometimes lead to atrocities.

    His obdurate refusal to change course, to provide sufficient troops, to fire his defence secretary, to embrace, rather than evade, the McCain amendment has robbed him of any excuse, any evasion of responsibility.

    And yet he still evades it. Last week he spoke of Abu Ghraib as something that had somehow happened to him and to his country, almost as if he were not the commander-in-chief or president of the country that had committed such abuse. When the evidence is presented to him, he displaces it. He puts it to one side. In his mind America is a force for good. And so it cannot commit evil. And if he says that often enough it will somehow become true. In this way his powers of denial kick in like a forcefield against reality.
  • From Steve Leuthold:
    The absurd political proposals making the rounds in Congress for dealing with illegal immigration continue. How in the hell could we even consider deporting what has become a critical work force of 12 million people? Not only are the logistical problems impossible, the economic impact in many regions of the U.S. would be devastating, particularly when labor shortages already exist in many parts of the country.

    Then, we have the giant wall plan. The cost would be astronomical and who would we find to build the thing? How many Anglos would work in the searing desert heat? Anyway, how will a wall keep climbers, crashers, and tunnellers out of the U.S.? To be as effective as the Berlin Wall, the wall would need armed guards with orders to shoot trespassers.

    Most illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes. But, neither do U.S. citizens participating in the underground economy. Or, citizens reporting earnings of less than $30,000 per year (Earned Income Tax Credit). Illegal immigrants do pay state sales taxes and state excise and federal taxes on things like gasoline and liquor. Also, illegals with fictitious Social Security cards will often pay into the system and never receive any of the benefits.
    How true. Just another example of emotion eclipsing intelligence and reason -- welcome to the modern-day GOP!
  • Greg Sargent describes the media's treatment of Clinton's presidency, as compared to Bush's:
    For literally years the press struggled mightly through sheer force of will and imagination to turn a fantasy-scandal (Whitewater) into a real live one. That effort failed, but no matter. Throughout it all, the press still happily conferred legitimacy on a hyper-partisan dragnet investigation whose real purpose was to find something, anything at all, that might destroy the Clinton Presidency. In exchange for that stamp of approval, Ken Starr's office fed the media a never-ending banquet of leaks that allowed reporters to spend months on end peddling frivolous tales of White House sexual misbehavor.

    Meanwhile, the most powerful and respected journalistic institution in the land (The Times) wrote a series of relentless anti-Clinton editorials which legitimized the GOP's impeachment charade. And as a kind of good-riddance coup de grace, the media was relentlessly unfair to Clinton's would-be successor (Al Gore), costing him the 2000 Presidential election and giving us the Bush era.

    Is there anyone who really thinks any sustained press coverage of Bush has been comparable to that performance? If so, he or she should read this dissection of the differences between coverage of the two eras, which shows that the big news orgs devoted way more journalistic resources to covering Whitewater than to far more consequential Bush scandals.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    I wrote on May 24th:
    It should be fairly obvious to everyone that 1) Gingrich would like to run for president in 2008, and 2) unlike McCain & Giuliani, Newt is taking a different route, not sucking up to Bush Inc. but rather offering some harsh words of criticism.
    In today's Boston Globe: "Gingrich opens door to 2008 run"

    While I'm at it, regarding NYC Mayor Bloomberg, I wrote on June 2nd, "the GOP could do far worse than have this guy run for prez in '08." In the latest issue of The NY Observer: "Bloomberg in ’08? Never Say Never!"
    Oh, the sad irony. On the front page of today's Boston Globe, you see this picture:



    Civil War soldiers found in the 1990's finally getting proper burial. Again, a front page photo.

    Turn to page A12 of the paper, at the very bottom of page, you'll find the names -- not pictures -- of nine U.S. soldiers recently killed in Iraq (bringing the total to 2,489 dead). Again, no pictures.

    I suppose in 100+ years we'll finally see the front-page photos of our fallen soldiers in Iraq....

    Friday, June 09, 2006

  • I thought this was very odd, Tom DeLay stating he received a supportive visit from Dennis Kucinich??

  • In the NY Times:
    Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, said it was a mistake for the president and Senate leaders to focus attention on a marriage ban now, in what could look like a panicked reaction to shrinking public support...."If anything, he is reminding people of what they don't like about the Republican Party."
  • In David Brooks' recent column:
    One of the paradoxes of this war is that when U.S. forces commit atrocities, we regard it as a defeat for us because we have betrayed our ideals. When insurgents commit atrocities, it is also a defeat for us because of our ineffectiveness in the face of the enemy. Either way, morale suffers and the fighting spirit withers away.
    What an idiot. Not a paradox but rather just a sad state of affairs. When U.S. forces commit atrocities, are we supposed to applaud? Or excuse it and look the other way? Brooks represents one of the right's bright bulbs??

  • Greg Sargent notices even the right-wing are capable of some level-headed reasoning -- before quickly lapsing back into vicious, hypocritical hate-speak. Oh, and LGF, is this bit of news not troubling? Was it decided better politically to have this very bad man around (as poster boy to incite fear)? And Guy James makes some good points: if we knew where he was, why not take him alive (like we did Saddam)? Couldn't he have offered valuable info? And if his house was hit with two 500 pound bombs (as reported), that entire area would've been completely blown to bits -- and yet the picture of his dead body shows not much physical damage?? [You may snicker, but Jay Leno joked about this oddity, and frankly, given the staggering number of lies coming from BushCo, this kind of skepticism should be expected]
  • Why does anyone respond to the ignorant tripe that regularly comes forth from the Coulters, O'Reillys, and Limbaughs of the right-wing loonosphere? Such inane, inaccurate, and hurtful words spoken by more credible figures, yes, by all means, absolutely respond. But these characters are pathological clowns looking to hawk books and ratings. They're not remotely serious or credible. Yes, it's sad and troubling that many Americans do in fact find them quite credible, but responding simply helps to achieve their aims. Besides, your explanations or clarifications are not going to convince any of the legions of Dittoheads and CoulterCreeps, so stop already and let them shrivel on the vine.

    (That said, I do agree with those who respond by criticizing the media outlets that give these peddlers of slime a soapbox. Example: I will now only watch NBC when new episodes of "The Office" appear (best show on TV)).
    An email reply to a right-wing friend (regarding the recent flurry of congressional bills):
    It's all red meat (pathetically and desperately) being thrown at the religious right -- nothing more or less. It's what happens when you get in bed with crazed zealots: they eventually control everything, threatening with blackmail in the form of boycotts, organized rage, etc. The religious right (your side, whether you like it or not) are pissed and are fed up. They finally have awoken from their zombie state and realize they've been played for fools by Karl Rove. This administration has coddled them, stroked them, and kept them in line with fear and sympathetic rhetoric, but have ultimately delivered them zilch. Apparently, they're not going to take it anymore and judging by the quotes from their leaders, they realize these latest chunks of tossed meat (gay marriage ban, upping FCC indecency fines, flag burning) are all just more of the same: meaningless, red-herring maneuvers that have little chance of passing.

    As with most talking points coming from BushCo, it's insulting, manipulative and insincere. Best of all, how ironic to see the religious right get just as irate and fired-up as those on the left. Yeah, it's not as if the religious right will vote for Hillary or even McCain, but the GOP's biggest fear is they just won't vote at all. One can only hope.

    P.S. With regards to my questions, "What happens to the man-made air pollutants? Do they just float into outer space?", I watched an hour-long documentary on HBO re global warming and a scientist (PhD) stated that CO2 released in the air today stays with us for about 100 years (no mention of outer space, Jupiter, Pluto), i.e. all CO2 released around 1906 is just now about gone....

    P.S.S. Oh, and that's just CO2, the toxins (mercury, acids, etc.) have no chance of floating into outer space because they're heavier than our air, thus always staying down here near mother Earth (pathetic I have to even explain this)....

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

  • One more example of federalism spreading, i.e. do regionally what Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress have failed to do nationally. That's one way to return power to the states: install a completely inept president and out-of-touch congress.

  • I recently wrote that the GOP could do far worse than have NYC Mayor Bloomberg run for prez in '08. It won't happen since he's FAR too reasonable, forward-thinking and moderate. Example: of the the new taxi medallions to be auctioned, most will require the taxis to use alternative fuels or hybrid technology. He gets it.

  • It's not that surprising to learn that Jeb Bush used official State of Florida stationary to pen a letter thanking the Swift Boat group for smearing John Kerry. What's more amazing is the apparent lack of outrage by the citizens of FLA -- are these folks in a coma?

    To this day, Kerry continues to fight the baseless charges from the Swift Boat henchmen. Greg Sargent recently wrote:
    To the extent that the Swift Boat Liars were effective -- and that's in dispute -- it wasn't just because of their spending on ads. It was because the media amplified those charges for days and days, if not weeks, without examining them critically. When the press did get around to debunking the charges whatever damage there was had already been done. The media tried to shift blame for this to Kerry by arguing that he'd failed to respond aggressively. But here's the point: The press shouldn't have had to wait for Kerry to start hitting back before it started to report critically on what the Swift Boat Liars were saying. The simple fact that the media was amplifying the charges should alone have obligated them to take a critical look at them -- immediately.

    One of the key themes of this blog will be that a big problem with political reporting today is that its practitioners simply refuse to acknowledge their own role in shaping public perceptions. Thus it is that this Times piece can blithely observe that "the charges stuck" as if this happened by magic, when in fact the real reason this happened is that the media simply failed to be skeptical and aggressive at an absolutely critical moment. That failure, of course, is one of the reasons that Kerry is still a Senator -- and is still battling the Swifties today.
  • Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Although a repeat, tonight's 60 Minutes story on illegal immigrants was worth reshowing. The following crystallizes the idiocy of the far right on this issue, looking to demonize people who are a crucial component in our national economy:
    The government says crossing the border through the desert is breaking the law, but Cornelius says the U.S. is sending a very mixed message.

    "The message that we’re sending them is if you can get past the obstacle course at the border, you’re essentially home free. You have pretty much unrestricted access to our labor market and there are employers out there eager for your labor," he says.

    About six million illegal migrants are now working in the U.S. The meatpacking industry is one of the many that rely on illegal immigrant labor. Seven years ago, the Immigration Service cracked down on illegal migrants in plants in Nebraska and Iowa.

    Mark Reed was in charge of the operation.

    "What we did is we pulled together the meatpacking industry in the states of Nebraska and Iowa and brought them into Washington and told them that we were not going to allow them to hire any more unauthorized workers. Within 30 days over 3,500 people fled the meatpacking industry in Nebraska," says Reed.

    "We proved that the government without doubt had the capacity to deny employment to unauthorized workers," says Reed.

    What happened next?

    "We were invited to leave Nebraska by the same delegation that invited us in. The bottom line issue was, please leave our state before you ruin our economy," says Reed.

    "The reason is that by putting that factory out of business, not only do we put the unauthorized workers out of business, but we’ve put United States citizens out of business and we destroy, we have the potential to destroy, an entire community," says Reed.

    Reed says that this illegal work force is "essential" to our economy.

    So what are taxpayers getting for the billions of dollars spent on border security?

    "Getting a good story," says Reed. But not a secure border.
  • Click here to witness Keith Olbermann give O'Reilly another in a series of painful verbal whip lashings.

  • So one of John "Sweatshops Help People" Stossel's best buds is apparently O'Reilly. Kiss any remaining last shrivel of credibility down the toilet, John.

  • Newsflash: Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'. What would've been a national outrage reaching meltdown status under Clinton instead simply passes as more-of-the-same slime from this band of inept thugs. Not mentioned anywhere in the news. Incredible.

  • The Heritage Foundation finally turns out a study that many conservatives find misleading at best. It wouldn't be the first time the staunchly right-wing group produced a report filled with holes and by many accounts suffering from significant flaws. However, what's rare is to see the right-wing take notice of this fact when for once such a report doesn't quite rubber-stamp their position(s). Hilarious.

  • Must-read essay by Jamison Foser. The opening:
    The defining issue of our time is not the Iraq war. It is not the "global war on terror." It is not our inability (or unwillingness) to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. Nor is it immigration, outsourcing, or growing income inequity. It is not education, it is not global warming, and it is not Social Security.

    The defining issue of our time is the media.

    The dominant political force of our time is not Karl Rove or the Christian Right or Bill Clinton. It is not the ruthlessness or the tactical and strategic superiority of the Republicans, and it is not your favorite theory about what is wrong with the Democrats.

    The dominant political force of our time is the media.

    Time after time, the news media have covered progressives and conservatives in wildly different ways -- and, time after time, they do so to the benefit of conservatives.
    Liberal media bias, my ass.
  • Saturday, June 03, 2006

    Although it's old news, we now have both McCain and Giuliani (appearing with Ralph Reed) sucking up to the religious right with each doing what's apparently necessary to secure the GOP slot for president. Although many (including myself) were initially puzzled with McCain's odd overtures and his willingness to forgive and forget with ease, it appears as if he's simply trying to navigate through a near-impossible obstacle course.

    Given this modern-day version of the Republican Party, McCain (and Giuliani) likely deduced that one must first shift hard to the right to lock-up the strident, zombie sect of the party. Once accomplishing that feat, and after securing the party nomination, one must then abruptly shift back hard to the middle. For McCain, he must then reestablish his reputation as a maverick, the daring outside-the-box pragmatist who desires change. (Whether any of that's true or not is not the point; it's this crafted image that made him popular on a national level). However, he'll then have to contend with the moderates who have come to seriously question his positions given the courting of Falwell et al, and as he lurches back to the middle, he'll then alienate many of the religious folks he tried to win over from the start.

    Good luck with all of that! You can see why it's a near-impossible assignment for anyone. This is the GOP created by Rove and it will be one of many BushCo legacy items that those in the party will have to undo and fix.

    Yet, despite all of the above, I believe both McCain and Giuliani are making a big mistake. It may be evidence of blindly following the advice of their handlers (recall what that did for Gore and Kerry), after learning some hard lessons in the 2000 and 2004 elections about voter participation rates within the party.

    As most everybody knows, today's GOP has become a hostage to the religious faction of the party. Yes, hardcore Bible thumpers make for wonderfully motivated and compliant voters (with Rove operating the hand-held controls). However, in certain key respects, the situation is a bit different this time around.

    For one, when GW ran in 2000, he was already a born-again convert who had a record when it came to issues the religious right regarded as high-importance. McCain and Giuliani do not have this pedigree, with neither a born-again or known for any kind of religious zealotry. In fact, both have held fairly liberal social positions in the past. It will be difficult sledding for either of these two men when it comes to convincing these church-going folks that they're one of them.

    The other obstacle in this effort to persuade has been made that much more difficult by BushCo. Over the last six years, the religious right has grown increasingly disgruntled and pissed off, feeling betrayed by this administration. As part of the agreement, they diligently voted for Bush in exchange for promises of hard-fought action for their causes (abortion, gay marriage, etc.). Every now and again Bush has tossed them a symbolic bone, but the bottom line is Rove has used them like a tool. Keep them in line, stoke their passions when convenient (around election time), play on their fears -- do all that's necessary to make sure they get out and vote, but in the end ultimately do very little of substance for them. There's growing evidence that the religious right has picked up on this scheme and they're not likely to let it happen again. So, the litmus test will be that much greater in '06 and '08 when it comes to judging a GOP candidate as someone who will truly try to stir it up and get things done, for real, as opposed to the past six years of smoke-and-mirrors manipulation.

    To that end, McCain and Giuliani may be making a futile and big mistake. By spending time courting a segment of voters they have much lower odds of seducing (vs. '00 and '04), they will effectively alienate a larger group of voters (moderates plus anti-GW party converts), making for a lose-lose strategy.

    Friday, June 02, 2006

  • So the newly chosen Karl Rove (Zinsmeister) is caught doctoring up his own quotes in prior-written articles and interviews. It's just classic. He's already showing signs of fitting in with this bunch. Once again, the BushCo vetting process comes up way short -- or is the willing "talent" pool that shallow? (Who would want to work for these lame-duck proven idiots?)

  • Gregg Easterbrook claims Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is boring and of all things too detailed (heaven forbid). Hey Gregg, it's a documentary, not another Die Hard installment. But at least he concedes that he was wrong regarding global warming ("As someone who has come to the view that greenhouse-effect science is now persuasive...."). Gregg should spend less time as Roger Ebert and more time retracting or clarifying many of his previously written babble on the subject.

  • With the recent deaths and serious injuries of CBS reporters in Iraq, in Maureen Dowd's most recent column, she writes about the obvious dangers faced by those trying to report the "good" news in Iraq, and the reprehensible criticism coming from the right:
    The administration and some right-wing commentators have blamed the press for not reporting positive news in Iraq. The radio host Laura Ingraham has suggested that the press is "invested in America's defeat" and has mocked TV journalists for "reporting from hotel balconies about the latest I.E.D.'s going off."

    Conservative chatterers have parroted President Bush's complaint that "people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an I.E.D. explosion."

    But now two network personalities — Ms. Dozier and Bob Woodruff — have been severely injured by roadside bombs while embedded with the military, trying to do the sort of stories the administration wants.

    "One thing I don't want to hear anymore," Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told The Times's Bill Carter, "is people like Laura Ingraham spewing about us not leaving our balconies in the Green Zone to cover what's really happening in Iraq."

    Even with constricted coverage, the tally of journalists killed in Iraq is now 71, more than the number killed in Vietnam or World War II.
    <..>
    There is a tragic anonymity about this war. Kids die but we don't know who they are, other than their names, which turn up in small print. They do not touch everyone's lives because, without a draft, they are not drawn from every part of American society. The administration tries to play down any sense of individual loss; the president has not attended a single funeral, and the government banned pictures of their returning coffins.
  • Kevin Drum writes that BushCo and the entire Republican leadership just don't care (and therefore it's no wonder we see one policy distaster after another):
    I could go on, but I'll spare you. The obvious conclusion is that they didn't think Iraq was the central front on the war on terror back in 2002. They don't think nuclear terrorism is really that big a deal. They aren't worried about long term finances. And they don't really care very much about democracy promotion. They just say these things because they're convenient.

    It's this simple: these guys say a lot of stuff they don't believe. Their words are largely meaningless.
    Exactly. But given this fairly obvious observation, I often wonder: why bother blogging on such meaningless tripe? To comment on their peddled, half-wit garbage only dignifies the garbage.

  • NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg (technically a Republican but has always leaned towards Democratic views) had some choice (and correct) words to say about this sudden immigration calamity and the proposed congressional bills to resolve it:
    [Bloomberg] declared a House proposal to deport 11 million illegal immigrants "pure fantasy" and called parts of a Senate plan "no less ridiculous."

    "You have to wonder what world Congress is living in," the New York City mayor said in an interview on CNN. "Talk to any mayor who has to enforce the law and you'll find that none of these things are remotely possible."

    ...."I'm a mayor, I have to deal with the real world," Mr. Bloomberg said. "I'm a businessman, I have to deal with the real world. I don't have the luxury of talking about the ideological wordsmithing of how you call it. The truth of the matter is we have people, they are here because we have wink-winked and let them come in. They are part of our economy. We need them. We need more."

    ....Mr. Bloomberg said that the American economy would be "devastated" by the deportation of large numbers of illegal immigrants...."Although they broke the law by illegally crossing our borders or overstaying their visas, our economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported. The same holds true for the nation."

    Mr. Bloomberg said that the current situation was the result of two decades in which the federal government was "pressured to look the other way while workers were exploited."

    "As a business owner, I know the absurdity of our existing immigration regulations all too well," he wrote. He said that the "crucial step" in reducing illegal immigration was holding businesses accountable for hiring legal workers only."
    The GOP could do far worse than have this guy run for prez in '08.

  • USA Today had a story about drug studies and guess what? Studies funded by pharma companies had positive results 80% of the time, vs. 50% for studies not funded by the industry itself. What a shocker! You mean the studies appear to be rigged, with the pharma companies basically stacking the deck in their favor when it comes to getting the results they desire regarding hopeful drugs? No, couldn't be....

  • By the way, for the 4-week period ending May 19th, U.S. oil demand grew by approx. 3.3% from the prior year period. Glad to see those high prices at the pump are curbing our addiction! The fact is prices have not hit a high enough level to significantly alter demand / consumption. In fact, inflation-adjusted oil prices have remained ridiculously low for 20+ years.