Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's bad enough David Brooks' columns are wafer-thin, hastily-written exercises in superficial clap-trap, but for him to have to steal or borrow lame ideas for his lame column from other lame thinkers is inexcusable.

Read this (re a Michael Medved column) and then take a gander at Brooks' column yesterday. Pathetic.
It should be clear that Mukasey's silence on waterboarding dismisses him from further consideration for AG, with his mushy, no-comment stance inferring he does not wish to weigh in on something that is so obviously illegal.

So what's the gamble here, if he rightfully condemns waterboarding then he likely violates any prior agreements he made with Bush on the subject and he's out. Or he can say nothing about it, obfuscate, and assume wet-noodle Democrats will approve him anyway, believing he's at least better than Gonzo. (Yes, our top legal department has been decimated to where we're happy with the lesser of the two evils).

But come to think of it, good gamble, the Dems will cave.
The examples of just how bad this administration is never stop appearing. We've recently been treated to the fake FEMA press conference, and now we learn of the top official in Washington whose job is to protect the consumer has been imploring Congress to not pass legislation that would strengthen her agency.

Yes, Nancy Nord has more than once requested that Congress reject increasing funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- this despite the rapid rise in product recalls given issues with China. Wow, a government person rejecting increased funding to expand power -- how admirable.

I suppose it has nothing to do with her prior life at Eastman Kodak, where she looked out for that company legally. Yeah, she's not looking to protect the corporate backers of this administration. No, I believe what she says, that the additional money would "get in the way" of her agency's ability to do its job.

Exactly. More people, more enforcement, more fines, more protection for the consumer, i.e. all things she believes are not the job of the agency.

How many more days of this administration must we endure?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

With Halloween tomorrow, who knew that our colleges and universities were collectively regarded as one of the scariest, most dangerous things in America (as ranked by an outfit called Family Security Matters). Yes, our higher-learning institutions are apparently more of a looming concern to the country than even these well-known, knee-shaking threats: and the ACLU.

Be very, very afraid.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

For as long as I can remember, it's been a commonplace device for many pundits and talkingheads on the right. Rather than spend the bulk of their precious time discussing meaningful, nontrivial topics of the day, they frequently devote their attention to the mundane and almost absurd. Why wrestle with Iraq, health care, global warming, etc., when there's a teacher refusing to let a child pray in a classroom or a gay character in Harry Potter to fret over.

In this spirit, yesterday none other than that pillar of intellect, David Brooks, devoted his column to how he's fallen deeply in love with his car's GPS satellite system.
Like many men, I quickly established a romantic attachment to my G.P.S. I found comfort in her tranquil and slightly Anglophilic voice. I felt warm and safe following her thin blue line. More than once I experienced her mercy, for each of my transgressions would be greeted by nothing worse than a gentle, “Make a U-turn if possible.”

After a few weeks, it occurred to me that I could no longer get anywhere without her.
For how long has this guy been a shameful embarrassment to the NY Times? When does someone over there finally get rid of this cotton-head?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recently Jonah Goldberg conveyed some truths (no, really) about Ronald Reagan:
Reagan had numerous conservative critics, even in his first term. Richard Viguerie, the New Right’s direct-mail impresario, routinely denounced Reagan’s alleged betrayals of conservative principles. Conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet, one of my intellectual heroes, was bitterly disappointed by the Reagan presidency. By Reagan’s second term, critics on the right were everywhere. It’s not that conservatives stopped loving him, but few thought he walked on water at the time.
[I]f you listen to the crowd yearning for another Reagan today, you’d never guess that he’d signed a very liberal abortion bill as governor of California (he came to regret it). You’d be shocked to learn how many times he signed on to the Democratic Congress’ hikes on gas, payroll and other taxes during the 1980s.
Reagan also met with Soviet dictators, on the condition that they could live long enough to make it to a summit. Many conservatives worried at the time that Reagan wasn’t nearly hard-line enough on the commies.
Reagan signed an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Today, John McCain’s similar but tougher stance on immigration has all but disqualified him among people looking for another Reagan.
I've written here several times before about Reagan's "liberal" tendencies. Modern-day Republicans do not so much yearn for the days of Reagan's conservative ways -- in large part because the Gipper would be considered a moderate by today's standards -- as much as they long for his widespread appeal and popularity.

The fact is Reagan was the last Republican beloved by most of the country, something that clearly cannot be said about any prominent politician in the GOP over the last 10+ years.

Indeed, Reagan was not then the conservative of today. I wonder if he would actually want anything to do with the inept, corrupt clowns that now populate his party. Reagan didn't particularly like his own VP, so it's a stretch to believe he would approve of Bush II's embarrassment of a son.
So much for a $1 trillion price tag for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars:
The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade, or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled for release Wednesday.

A previous CBO estimate put the wars' costs at more than $1.6 trillion. This one adds $705 billion in interest, taking into account that the conflicts are being funded with borrowed money.
Yes folks, the original estimate on the cost of these wars has increased by almost 50% due to one thing: interest. The miracle of compound interest works both ways and this credit-card-seduced, consuming public should surely know the insidious nature of interest on debt. If not, our kids will surely know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paul Krugman comments on the lack of spine in the Democrats:
[T]hey have been burned badly on national security in the past...They’re afraid to take on Bush, even though this is a massively unpopular war, because they’re afraid that it will somehow, you know, backfire on them...Now they’re afraid. So, they’re basically trying to keep possession of the ball, and they’re afraid to do anything that might upset things...They’re afraid that, one last time, Bush will pull the national security thing on them.
The last time Bush (and Rove) pulled "the national security thing" and it succeeded was in 2004, or what will be four years ago. Given the state of things now vs. then, that's eons ago. The odds are greatly diminished it would succeed again in 2008, and the rock-bottom approval ratings of Congress -- due in large part to their refusal to take on Bush -- support this contention.

The fact is if the Dems don't start giving Bush a reason to use that tired national security threat, then it will hurt them, not help. Times have changed, greatly.
Bush is the biggest spending president in the modern era:
George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he's arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ.

“He’s a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.

The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group.

“He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.

That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch.
And recall that for the bulk of his reign Bush had a GOP-controlled Congress, so can't blame the Dems. Just goes to show all that blather about small government and tax-and-spend liberals is just BS. Republicans like to tag Dems with the big government label but notice Bill Clinton is not in the top-5:

Another $46 billion allocated to Iraq. We're nearing the $1 trillion mark. And yet we can't afford an extra $20 billion for children's healthcare (S-CHIP). And meanwhile so much inside our country is left unprotected from terrorist attack: chemical plants, our ports, nuclear power sites, etc.

Add one more on to this list of potential threats: insects. The Boston Globe had a truly frightening article on the possibilities for using the little critters to spread massive havoc.

Yes, scary stuff. But can we truly protect ourselves from every kind of threat? Shouldn't we make a prioritized list and allocate precious funds accordingly, remaining sensible and using logic? As opposed to the current administration which makes no list, uses not a wit of reason, instead opting for just tossing scary rhetoric at the public like spaghetti against a wall. Oh, and to send hundreds of billions of our dollars to continue a war overseas that is going nowhere, just money and lives down the drain.
Accidental escalation

With regards to Iran, "accidental escalation" is exactly what Bush/Cheney want. They'll first try very hard for the accidental -- raising rhetoric, inciting unrest, etc. -- all the while taking small, gradual steps towards war. It's all in the same direction -- no diplomacy, just threats, and then war.

In a recent LA Times editorial, the "madman theory" was discussed:
There is speculation that the Bush administration could be trying out its version of the madman gambit by advertising Vice President Dick Cheney's alleged desire to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and Revolutionary Guard targets, in hopes of scaring Tehran into submission. The problem with the madman act, however, is that it presumes that the Iranians will react sensibly. But who wants to stake U.S. foreign policy on the wisdom of Iran's mullahs and its titular head, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a paranoid who can beat us at the madman game any day of his choosing?
Just wonderful, we're now pitting madness vs. madness (Cheney vs. Mahmoud). Our geopolitical policy has now reached the point where we're playing a game of chicken as opposed to employing a tad more sophisticated methods or tacts, such as talks, summits, brokering deals, etc.

Dr. Strangelove anyone?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thomas Friedman's column focuses on a real mind-blowing concept: to effect change, start with your leaders (and this guy gets top-dollar for this stuff?). All of your environmental conservation efforts amount to a hill of beans when compared to the amount of damage a few non-green leaders can do with their legislative power-pens.

The real truth being you need to do both, what you can in your personal daily existence but then also to insure that the bigger, more macro problems are also tackled. First and foremost, bought-and-paid-for dunderheads like Bush must go, ASAP.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stark honesty

Peter Stark (D-CA) on the House floor:
First of all, I’m just amazed that they can’t figure out — the Republicans are worried that we can’t pay for insuring an additional ten million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you gonna get that money? You gonna tell us lies, like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war?
This bill would provide health care for ten million children and, unlike the President’s own kids, these children can’t see a doctor or receive necessary care. Six million are insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and they’ll do better in school, and in life. In California, the President’s veto will cause the legislature to draw up emergency regulations to cut some 800,000 children off the rolls in California and create a waiting list.

I hope my California Republican colleagues will understand that if they don’t vote to override this veto, they are destroying health care for many of our children in California.
They claim we can’t afford health care. They say the bill will socialize medicine. Tell that to Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley and Ted Stevens, those socialists on the other side of this capitol. The truth is: [The] CHIP program enables states to cover children primarily through private health care plans. But, President Bush’s statements about children’s health shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up… in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear such Stark honesty from other wet-noodle Democrats?

Meanwhile, a whopping 80% of Americans are in favor of expanding S-CHIP, or in other words completely opposite Bush's stance (what else is new?). In addition, "the poll finds that only about one in five Americans (22 percent) approve of the president’s handling of health care. That's lower even than his approval rating on Iraq (26 percent)."

Wow, first we heard worse than Nixon re Bush's popularity, now we have worse than Iraq (re healthcare) -- GW just keeps racking up the dubious honors on the new-low categories.

The bottom line is the Dems better use this S-CHIP issue and respective congressional voting record next year heading into November. If they don't, then they truly are patsies.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Markets can be incredibly accurate, and often, in discounting the future. The New Yorker's terrific financial writer, James Surowiecki, wrote a book about this phenomena.

With that in mind, the trading of Iraqi bonds does not offer good news about the surge. The bond prices have declined and Michael Greenstone of MIT says this decline signals a “40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default...This finding suggests that, to date, the Surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.”

But then this market is probably being driven by the Democrats, right?
Some questions:

Given how quick the Republicans were to condemn the ad about Gen. Petraeus (an ad that was accurate), can someone tell me why not one Republican has publicly condemned the despicable treatment of 12-year old Graeme Frost by Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin -- this after learning of all the lies involved? It's been deathly silent.

In his abruptly-called press conference, Bush said about Putin, "You know, nobody likes to be talked to in a way that may point up different flaws in their strategy." Uh, isn't Bush really talking about himself? A little bit of projection going on here me thinks.
Michael Medved looks at polls and claims Americans are confused when really it's just he who is confused.

In a USA Today piece, the sub-heading asserts, "America’s public gloom contradicts people’s enduring, if private, confidence," with Medved stating, "It's no wonder that Americans feel so deeply disconnected from their elected leaders when their contradictory opinions show them similarly out of touch with themselves."

He can't fathom how Americans can be both disenchanted with Bush and Congress and yet also be very satisfied with their own lives. Medved regards these seemingly befuddling outcomes as "laughably inconsistent." Not really, which I'll soon illustrate, but likely what's going on here is Medved approaches this entire exercise with a preconceived agenda, desperately wanting to prove a larger point (that Americans really don't dislike Bush and what he's done) and he does so by adopting a confined, black-and-white view that he's determined to prove holds true.

To shed some light, let me just answer some poll-like questions and see what we have.

Am I basically satisfied or even happy with my life? Yes.

Do I disapprove of Bush? Yes.

Do I disapprove of the way Congress is handling national affairs? Given this question typically refers to the Iraq war, and the Republicans continue to support Bush's misguided urgings and the Dems have not stood up to Bush (in large part the reason for their November election wins), then yes, I disapprove.

So where's the lie or "laughable inconsistency"? There's nothing incongruent in the above, with the answers to each question being perfectly reasonable when viewed collectively. I can be satisfied or happy in my personal life and yet not approve of the President, elected representatives, or the general state of the country. It's laughable to believe that people can't have the above opinions. To some extent, is this the right-wing once again making clear how they view people, that they must be two-dimensional, robot-like lemmings as opposed to complex, nuanced, and at the same time consistent?

I suppose when Bill Clinton was in office Medved was not pleased with this fact and was likely not pleased with the direction of the country, and thus must have been miserable in his personal life -- for eight years. Uh, okay.

Medved is just trying to spin negatives into positives. A tiny bit of me feels for him since Bush's job approval rating just hit a new low at 24% -- the same figure Nixon had when he left office. Ouch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We've seen the right stick with their Swiftboating ways in their abhorrent treatment of a 12-year old boy. Nothing is beneath them.

Well, get ready for the Swiftboating of Hillary. This will just be the first of many attempts to slime her. Hmm, I wonder if Mr. Rove has spent any of his idle time contributing to this effort? Such a noble, solid, upstanding American he is.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wow, Tucker Carlson is a real smarmy a-hole, one of those ex-bowtie wearing prep school, from-money snots who believes he knows more than every other schnook in the room, and worse yet believes he's fair and compassionate. He likes to imagine he's with the beyond-the-beltway crowd but who's he kidding? This guy wreaks of St. Elmo's Fire.

He was on Bill Maher's show this past Friday and concerning the right-wing bashing of 12-year-old Graeme Frost, Carlson said it was the fault of his parents for "injecting him" into a political debate. Come again? His parents hoisted Graeme into this sh*tstorm of depraved, inaccurate commentary?

It's funny but I don't recall Carlson making the same point regarding the ad and General Petraeus. You know, when Bush put Petraeus into the line of fire to make the case for the continued surge, i.e. making his General a part of the political theater and thus a target. But no, the ad was admonished as shameful, and yet Carlson makes no such similar condemnations of the attacks on Frost -- all of which were based on lies.

What's most hilarious is throughout Maher's show, Carlson kept uttering that he was not on one partisan side or the other, that he was just trying to be fair, to play the middle. What fool believes this crap? There's not a shot in hell this guy would ever credibly defend anything liberal, not a shot.
Apparently many of the high-up people in government had decided to leave this losing presidency early:
With only 15 months left in office, President Bush has left whole agencies of the executive branch to be run largely by acting or interim appointees — jobs that would normally be filled by people whose nominations would have been reviewed and confirmed by the Senate. In many cases, there is no obvious sign of movement at the White House to find permanent nominees, suggesting that many important jobs will not be filled by Senate-confirmed officials for the remainder of the Bush administration....While exact comparisons are difficult to come by, researchers say the vacancy rate for senior jobs in the executive branch is far higher at the end of the Bush administration than it was at the same point in the terms of Mr. Bush’s recent predecessors in the White House....“You’ve got more vacancies now than a hotel in hurricane season,” said Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University and one of the nation’s best-known specialists on the federal bureaucracy. “In my 25 years of studying these issues, I’ve never seen a vacancy rate like this.”
Grover Norquist once referred to shrinking the size of government as "starving the beast". I guess Bush has stumbled on one way of achieving this objective: be so incompetent and unpopular as president that no one in their right mind will want the jobs associated with you, thus crippling the effectiveness of government. However, given the horrid performance of prior top people in this administration (Gonzales, Rumsfeld, "Brownie"), these faceless, interim appointees will likely do splendidly in comparison. It simply can't get any worse (fingers crossed).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I've written here many times before about how this administration resembles the mafia. They apply pressure to gag those who may squeal or speak truths, expect complete allegiance to "the family" and nix or smear those who don't cooperate, work shady if not illegal dealings to benefit "the family" at the expense of others -- the list goes on.

The latest example of this Sopranos-like tendency is Chris Matthews' assertion that he was pressured to keep silent about a few things:
After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.

“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials — especially those from Vice President Cheney’s office — called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared.

“They’ve finally been caught in their criminality,” Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred.
It's a bit ironic that of all the media talking heads Cheney decides to lean on he picks Matthews, a lightweight blather-head who quite often has advanced this administration's agenda with his lack of rigorous reporting or inquiry. Matthews is by no means a Keith Olbermann.

What does it say about these thugs when they begin to target the moderately-compliant water carriers?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

From Kevin Drum:
It really captures what's most bizarre about the GOP field this year: its complete lack of seriousness. If you watch the debates (an exercise recommended only for seasoned professionals) you'll strain for hours trying to hear anything of actual substance. It's like watching a bunch of nervous teenagers reciting talking points they don't really understand, but which they're afraid to stray from because they think that's what their teacher wants them to say. Substitute "conservative interest groups" for "teacher" and you get the idea. It's a real spectacle.
As usual, Kevin is dead-on correct. These presidential debates are usually just plain boring, filled with CYA, of-little-substance replies to generally overly-sanitized questions. However, this GOP lot offers much amusement with their asinine, nonsensical answers, trying their best to say what they think their base wants to hear and yet not go too far so as to permanently offend the larger electorate. Given the ever-widening chasm between their base and the rest of America, they end up sounding like they do (pretzel logic).

But while we're on the topic of lack of seriousness, let's spend a minute reviewing the physical appearance of these GOP candidates. With this past debate, I looked upon the stage and saw two tall guys (Romney and Thompson) amidst a bunch of shorter ones. Many of us know, or should know, about the track record of the taller candidate; since the TV age, it's been near undefeated (it held up until Bush/Rove vs. Gore and Kerry). The likes of Perot, Tsongas, Dukakis, Nader, and Kucinich never have/had a chance for this reason. To that end, it favors Romney more so than Thompson because the former at least looks alive and energized as compared to the latter who appears lethargic and listless, with unsightly bags under his eyes.

Interestingly, it's Giuliani who loses big-time when it comes to appearance. He's not particularly tall and in fact he seems to have poor posture with a crouched-over, droopy presence. In addition, when was the last time a bald guy has done well running for the White House?

Yes, of course, all of this is superficial, but who said the voting public is above being superficial?
From the Financial Times:
The defence sector is now enjoying the ninth consecutive year of spending rises. The US defence budget, at $570bn in 2007, is larger than the military spending of the rest of the world put together.
American public opinion has not fully turned against rising military spending. A recent poll by Citigroup shows 32 per cent of the population still favours further increases. That is down from 80 per cent immediately after September 11 2001.
Let me guess, the 3 out of 10 people who still favor increasing the defense budget, despite the fact it already surpasses the combined military spending of the rest of the world, are the same 3 out of 10 people who approve of GW Bush. In other words, this 30 some odd percent crowd should be greatly discounted by the remaining 70 some odd percent saner majority.

Oh, and if they increased the size of our defense budget to where it more than doubled the rest of the world's spending on military, perhaps then we'll finally achieve some real progress on that Star Wars missile defense charade....

Friday, October 12, 2007

In this week's Republican presidential debate, Chris Matthews asked a pretty good question to all the candidates: "If you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities?"

Given the mess Bush has made of Iraq, it was interesting to observe the candidates dance all around this fairly strait-forward question. My two favorite responses were from the two leading candidates, Romney and Rudy. Romney uttered, "You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do...." Come again? In deciding whether or not to go to Congress about declaring war, Romney as president would first consult with not his closest foreign policy advisers, VP, Secretary of State, etc., but instead his lawyers?! What?!

And Rudy's reply was even more disturbing in my opinion: "It really depends on exigency of the circumstances and how legitimate it is...." What? The decision has been made to go to war and the question is whether you go to Congress first or instead skip them and just attack. Thus, you would think at that point it was already decided that the reasons for going to war were "legitimate" and didn't warrant any kind of further appraisal. Is Rudy implying he would go to war for anything other than legitimate reasons or circumstances? Is he implying that he's learned from the mistakes of this administration, who went to war based on cooked data and lies?

A larger point being are these the types of guys we want replacing an already disastrous presidency? It's one thing to dodge a question, it's quite another to give crazy, nonsensical answers like the above. Do we need four more years of this?
Dick Polman writes about the recent Republican presidential debate and the meaning of sacrifice when it comes to the Iraq war:
Seriously, are these candidates so committed to the war in Iraq that they would be prepared to ask the current generation of Americans to pay for it?

Politicians in both parties have long required that kind of sacrifice. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, imposed an estate tax on the rich in order to pay for his Union army. Another Republican, William McKinley, did the same to help pay for the Spanish-American war. His Republican successor, Theodore Roosevelt, kept it on the books in case of wartime emergency, saying that “the man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state because he derives special advantage from the mere existence of government. Democratic presidents raised taxes to pay for World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

George W. Bush has invoked FDR and World War II in order to inspire listeners about the stakes in Iraq, but he never quotes what FDR said five weeks after Pearl Harbor: “War costs money. So far, we have hardly begun to pay for it.” Nor does he quote what FDR said a year earlier, when he warned Americans that they would need to sacrifice in order to shore up the British in their fight against Hitler: “A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes.”

Instead, today’s Americans sacrifice by spending their Bush tax cuts at the mall. Basically – and this too might have been fertile turf at the Tuesday debate, which was supposed to be primarily about economics – the Bush team is paying for this war by putting the tab on the American credit card, by running up the national debt. And burgeoning nations such as China are gaining long-term economic leverage against us by buying up that debt.
Just imagine if taxes had been raised at the start of this war to help pay for it -- as we've done through history. Imagine how much more unpopular this war would be now! Already 60%-70% of the public is against it, but if the public had the additional burden (beyond just guilt and frustration) of higher taxes, you better believe this percentage would now be approaching 100% against. I have a feeling the neocons knew this all along.
Alberto Gonzales has hired a big-gun defense attorney.

Here's hoping I was wrong with my prior post and Sen. Leahy et al are going to pursue Gonzo's wrongdoings to the bitter end.
Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

I suppose small consolation for getting elected to be our president in 2000, but not serving.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

With Bush's disapproval number at around 65%, the man who once was the poster boy for the religious right in many ways now serves as a reminder to just how far the Dobsons of the world have fallen in the eyes of most Americans. Granted, the views of this far-right faction of the GOP were never held by a majority in this country, but even their own small world has become that much smaller over the last few years.

That said I had to chuckle when I read this headline, "67% - Divorce Better for Children than Living with Unhappily Married Parents." Yes, 2/3 of Americans believe divorce is the preferred alternative over a bad marriage.

The religious right just can't catch a break.
More space is needed for our dead soldiers:
A Kansas military cemetery has run out of space after the burial of another casualty of the Iraq war, officials said on Thursday.

"We are full," said Alison Kohler, spokeswoman for the Fort Riley U.S. Army post, home of the 1st Infantry Division.

U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both Kansas Republicans, on Thursday sent a letter to William Tuerk, the under secretary for memorial affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, urging for full funding for a new cemetery for Fort Riley.

"While a new cemetery would not be completed in time to alleviate this situation immediately, it is vitally important," Roberts and Brownback, a Republican presidential candidate, said in their letter.

"We truly owe our military members a debt of gratitude and the least we can do is provide them with an honorable burial ground," the senators wrote.
No further comment necessary.
Rush Limbaugh claims the "phony soldiers" are being given words to recite, that they're being force-fed propaganda to repeat. We'll leave aside the fact that this is a lie, with these smeared soldiers denying this accusation.

The real fact is Rush himself is given propaganda every day to recite over the air, talking points provided by the Republican Party. As is always the case with the right-wing chatter-heads, hypocrisy is neck deep.
Rasmussen Reports reports:
If Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination and a third party campaign is backed by Christian conservative leaders, 27% of Republican voters say they’d vote for the third party option rather than Giuliani. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that a three-way race with Hillary Clinton would end up with the former First Lady getting 46% of the vote, Giuliani with 30% and the third-party option picking up 14%.
A three-way race is a very real possibility. Religious right leaders just can't seem to settle on a GOP candidate, with those out in front having some liberal tendencies in their past (towards abortion or gays) and yet the most suitable candidates (read: intolerant) being too far out of the running. And make no mistake, Sam Brownback should be their man but he's so far out of the running that the religious right powers-that-be ignore him. They want to endorse a winner, not just someone who lines up with their views -- c'mon, this is really about politics and power, not religion or God.

I'm sure they've observed a dramatic decline in their numbers and therefore in their funding, with incoming $$ nosediving along with Bush's poll numbers. To that end, they can't support the likes of a Rudy or Romney and likely calculate that by siding with a third-party candidate, yes it's not likely such a person would win the election, but it would do wonders to excite their base and rejuvenate the monetary pipeline. (Exactly who they have in mind to play the role of this third-party candidate is beyond me).

Hilarious to hear about Sean Hannity feverishly trying to convince the religious right to just play ball. But even more humorous is to realize that Perot helped Clinton and Nader helped Bush -- who would've guessed the likes of Dobson may end up helping Hillary?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dennis Prager was complaining this week about the left attacking the right, with the likes of his buddies Medved and Limbaugh getting smeared. Prager even asserts that the mere mention of Giuliani's relationships (past marriages, adultery, closeness to kids) is beyond the pale.

Oh really? Hilarity. What the right never likes is when the same is done to them that they regularly do to others. The right makes their living attacking others that don't agree with their views. Recall what they did to the Clintons when it came to relationships (including Chelsea) as compared to the now off-limits Giuliani. Hell, recall the yucks the right had with Alec Baldwin's phone message to his daughter. Recall the recent slamming of (but the deafening silence by the right when The American Conservative magazine likewise blasts Petraeus, calling him a "political general of the worst kind" -- no problem there?). All of this kind of criticism from the right is just fine, just wholesome fair play, but gash darn it don't even think of going after one of their own with such veracity. Then it's deemed below the belt and shameful.

Cut to Hugh Hewitt who this week mentions a Mexican flag incident, where it was flying above the US flag (illegal), but instead of allowing the law to resolve this wrong, a man takes a knife and cuts it down himself. Hewitt applauds this act of vigilantism, calling it "glorious" and "fantastic" and assuring this man all Americans feel proud of what he did.

Instead of letting our legal system do what it was originally designed to do, many on the right instead condone the taking of the law into one's own hands. I realize our president has not been a good example in this regard, as he too has all too often ignored our legal system and run the country as only he sees fit, Constitution be damned. In this case, irony and hypocrisy once again rule the day as this man commits a potential crime (destroying private property) to resolve a potential crime. Does anyone recall Bernard Goetz?

So for the sake of patriotism and feeling good about America, the right is saying we should encourage Death Wish-type actions, where individuals take up arms and do what they want, and ignore our system of laws? Two wrongs do make a right? Well, it apparently makes it right-wing.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Yale law professor Jack Balkin writes:
The New York Times reports that even after the Justice Department disowned the 2002 Torture memo in 2004, it created a new secret memo in February 2005 under the direction of the new Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. This new memo, signed by the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven G. Bradbury, endorsed "the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency." According to the Times report, this memo-- what I will call Torture Memo 2.0-- "for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures."
The twisting of law by the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales is far worse than Gonzales' misleading testimony in front of Congress about the U.S. Attorney scandal. That scandal dominated the headlines for weeks. This one deserves far more searching press scrutiny. Despite the fact that Congress repeatedly passed legislation stating that it was illegal for U.S. personnel to engage in torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the Justice Department repeatedly redefined the terms of these prohibitions so that the CIA could keep doing exactly what the Justice Department had authorized to do before. Gonzales treated all of these laws as if they made no difference at all, as if they were just pieces of paper.
Let me understand, Gonzo quits and all the outrage, demands for documents, threat of subpoenas, promises to get to the bottom of wrongdoings -- all that came to an abrupt halt. What gives? Was it all political posturing by Sen. Leahy et al? Why the silence? Are they willing to just let the scoundrels slink away, scot free? Was it all about driving Gonzo from office and nothing more? I certainly hope not.
It's already a bit old, but in the recent Seymour Hersh article in The New Yorker, this quote:
The former intelligence official added, "There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, 'You can't do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we're only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.' But Cheney doesn't give a rat's ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President."
Isn't it about time the Republicans wake up to the fact that Bush/Cheney are crazy and they're not helping their party's cause, much less the rest of us in the U.S.?

Just look at what Bush is doing with SCHIP, opting to side against children and placing many in his party in a very difficult spot, and for what? Because it costs too much at $35 billion? Would $25 billion be better, or a haircut equaling one monthly bill for the Iraq war? And where was his veto when the GOP was in control and spending exploded? But I digress.
E. J. Dionne Jr. recently wrote:
Astonishingly, 26 Republican senators broke with President Bush's Iraq policy last week. But you may not have noticed this, and it's not your fault.

Sen. Joe Biden's resolution calling for a federal solution to the Iraq mess -- sometimes known as "soft partition" -- got almost no attention, even though it passed, 75 to 23.
The vote on Biden's proposal to devolve power to Iraq's regions and three major groups could turn out to be a milestone in the effort to end the war. It was also a reflection of how much Republican frustration there is with the Iraqi government and the direction of President Bush's policy.
A partition seems like a logical outcome given the fighting over there, but will Iraqis be for it? Reminder: Iraq does not have the lucrative oil fields neatly dispersed across the entire country, thus allowing for all three proposed regions to possess equivalent amounts of petro assets. Until this problem is resolved, the fighting will continue.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, concerning the question of whether or not Congress should approve all of the funds Bush is requesting for the war or instead reduce or cut the amount, guess what percentage are in favor of cutting funding? 40%? 55%? Try 67%, or exactly 2/3 of the country. I suppose most of the country is now left-wing crazy.

Remember this figure the next time the Republicans want to point the finger when it comes to supporting the troops.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Music to the ears of Democrats concerning 2008:
Which brings us to the present moment, an unhappy one for Dobson - and for all his religious right compatriots. They just can't seem to find an '08 Republican candidate who conforms to their ideals, and they are squabbling with each other about what to do. And this is potentially significant, because Christian conservatives comprise roughly one-third of the GOP electorate; it's rough for a Republican to win a general election if that much of the base is dissatisfied and therefore unmotivated to vote en masse.

Over the weekend, in Salt Lake City, the religious-right leaders conducted a private emergency meeting, in the hopes of sorting out the situation. Dobson reportedly flew in. The upshot: They're threatening to bolt the GOP, and urge their followers to do the same, if abortion-rights defender Rudy Giuliani wins the nomination next year. They signed onto a resolution stating that "if the Republican party nominates a pro-abortion candidate, we will consider running a third-party candidate."
Wow, this split in the GOP would have much bigger implications and repercussions than what went down when Perot or Nader ran as third-party candidates. Effectively, it would appear to guarantee a Dem rout.
If harshly criticizes a military general placed in a political position by his boss, then it's congressional resolution time. But if a conservative publication does the same, all you hear are crickets.

What has long defined the GOP, that being unfettered hypocrisy, continues to be their signature calling card.
To sum up, Blackwater is involved in the Mansour shootings, allegedly smuggling arms in Iraq, and supposedly having planned and carried out a jailbreak to free a minister convicted of corruption charges.

Blackwater, paid fill-ins who don't abide by military orders. This is apparently how Bush/Cheney decided to correct for Rumsfeld's inept plan of invading-on-the-cheap. I wonder to what extent these thousands of contractors have increased the level of chaos and mayhem beyond what it would've been with just the deployment of official U.S. military personnel in the country. Thanks to Bush et al, I guess we'll never know.
By the way, say what you will about the details at the time or the naivety involved, but need I remind that Hillary was on to the problems of our health care system long before the rest of the country. I mean we're talking close to nearly 15 years ago. Call it "visionary" (yeah, that "vision thing"), and frankly it would be nice to have a president who had some of that -- or at least one not suffering from a perma-state of delusions.
Just for the record, I am pro nuclear power, at least in the way it's described in this op-ed. Don't be afraid to give it a read, it could change your mind.

Time is running out on how we can meaningfully change the course of global warming. Nuclear energy offers very real alternatives with technology that is already here and is light years beyond what we had three decades ago with TMI.
Regarding the environment, this must be Bush's 18th attempt at snookering the public into believing he's finally gotten real on the issue, no more pussyfooting or saying one thing meaning another.

Snooze. Let's just say he's now 0-18, at least for those of us pretty adept at resisting getting snookered.

With these occasions, Bush tries to appeal to those who read only the headlines, hoping to have those folks recognize his name and the word "environment" in the same sentence -- a rarity, and folks will say, "Oh look at that, Bush is trying to help, finally." But in reality it's still the same BS, Bush looking to kick the can down the road, take no meaningful action, endorse lots of voluntary, pro-corporate measures, etc. Same old, same old.

Beneath the laughable headlines, his administration continues to work hard to destroy the environment. Nothing has changed on this front during his entire two-terms. Don't get snookered.