Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bush believes our occupation in Iraq could equate to that of South Korea. He alone had to come up with this doozy of an analogy (though judging from his cadre of dunderheads, I could be wrong).

Hmm, for starters I believe South Korea was never comprised of multiple sects of people, i.e. the country has always been populated by just Koreans. That's a huge difference right there. Also, it was not at one time held together by a brutal dictator, creating an artificial unified nation. Oh, and it never had an insurgent element insuring mayhem was the natural state. Finally, our forces in South Korea were to maintain existing order and prevent an invasion from North Korea. Our troops in Iraq have been trying to achieve order for years and I don't believe they are there to prevent any sort of invasion (although Al Qaeda has made nice inroads).
From this past Sunday's New York Times, a quote from Salim Abdullah, the spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni Arab group in the Parliament: “People in the street say the United States is part of the chaos here and they could have made it better and safer. Still, we need America to make the country more stable and not leave Iraq in the trouble, which they, themselves, have caused.”

Yes, when will we "make the country more stable" -- the $64K question. By September? Next year? 2017?

That's the point, no one knows. There's no sign of meaningful progress, our soldiers continue to die, the war funding tab continues to climb -- when do we say enough already?

Wars are a finite concept, not infinite! The far right preaches this about federal spending, but apparently not wars, esp. ones that have ever-changing objectives and end-goals.
This story is absolutely jaw-dropping amazing -- even for Bush's low standards.
Both parties are being bought by the coal industry. With evidence of global warming undeniable to most sane people, and the greening of America becoming a force to be reckoned with, coal interests are having to scramble to stay relevant.

And yet this latest idea of coal-to-liquid fuel is not all it's cracked up to be -- not by a longshot:
The Energy Department found that coal-to-liquid fuel could generate roughly twice the carbon emissions that regular gasoline does....According to the National Coal Council, ... a tremendous coal-to-liquid push--involving $211 billion in investments over the next 20 years and a 40 percent increase in mining--would allow the United States to replace just 10 percent of its oil supply. By contrast, using that coal to generate electricity for plug-in hybrids would displace twice the oil and emit a fraction of the carbon.
Or if not hybrids, how about just raising the MPG standards for all vehicles? It would work to conserve gas, cut down on global warming, save consumers money, and contribute to our independence from foreign oil.

Frankly, conservation is one of the best methods for addressing the global warming problem, and yet one of the least mentioned or utilized (mainly because no corporation can make big bucks off of it). For shame.
The Giuliani 9/11 myth, a secret Rudy no doubt fears will get out between now and November 2008. With any luck, it will.
Of the three leading Dem prez contenders (Clinton, Obama, Edwards), each of them do very well against all GOP contenders, but the only one who sweeps the board in defeating all Republican challengers is Edwards. He's the only one who beats Rudy too. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Signs are emerging that Bush et al are trying to back off September as a deadline concerning judging Iraq's progress.

When it came to the spending bill, the Dems didn't have enough votes to override GW's veto; in America, there's not much you can do about that.

However, with this blossoming chicanery about September, the Dems need to go to the mat. Unlike the recent back-down, this attempt at weaseling out of an agreed-upon deadline is not a matter of governmental procedures. If the Dems let September slip away as the time of truth-telling, they deserve to be slammed, hard.

In part, I assumed the Dems avoided the veto fight now to instead use September as the definitive month of judgment -- knowing many Republicans by then would be eager to jump sides on this issue. I wouldn't call that a gamble, but rather a safe, calculated assumption.

Then again, when dealing with rascals like Bush & Co., someone else would say this is what happens when you don't stand up to them every time you have the chance.
Bush may feel that over the years Iraq will miraculously improve and he'll one day enjoy renewed appreciation.

Unlikely. Instead, in the future we're more likely to hear hundreds of stories like these from vets:
Staff Sgt. David Safstrom, Delta Company, 82nd Airborne, currently on his third tour in Iraq, quoted today: “What are we doing here? Why are we still here?…We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

Sgt. First Class David Moore, a self-described “conservative Texas Republican” who now supports troop withdrawal, quoted today: “In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war. Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.”

Sgt. Kevin O’Flarity, a squad leader, quoted today: “I don’t believe we should be here in the middle of a civil war. We’ve all lost friends over here. Most of us don’t know what we’re fighting for anymore."
Fitzgerald appears to be saying something very damning about the VP -- and boy is he pissed!
AP's Jennifer Loven writes:
"Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq," he [Bush] said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats over their desire to legislation a troop withdrawal timeline. "I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course."

Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways....
Uh, what is "dramatically different" with this supposed new strategy? I'm fairly certain that all GW has done is send more troops. That's an enormous change?

It's one thing to have an inept president in the White House, it's quite another to have an inept, delusional madman running the country. Can we really afford 19 more months of this?
When you play a role in helping to distort and lie about intel, resulting in the deaths of 3400+ U.S. soldiers and counting, well, this is the kind of reception you can expect.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

An interesting little story that came out late yesterday:
U.S. intelligence analysts predicted in two papers widely circulated before the 2003 Iraq invasion that al Qaeda would see U.S. military action as an opportunity to increase its operations and that Iran would try to shape the post-Saddam era. The top analysts in government also said that establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a long, turbulent challenge.
Three predictions which came true.

As I wrote over a year ago, it wasn't our intel that was bad, but rather the politicizing, distorting, corrupting, and outright ignoring of it by higher-ups in the administration. High crimes occurred in high places.

In the story, Bush is quoted as saying, "Going into Iraq, we were warned about a lot of things, some of which happened, some of which didn't happen."

Here are a few things that didn't happen:
  • Iraqis greeting us with flowers.

  • Iraqi oil would pay for the war.

  • The war would cost under $50 billion.

  • A thriving Iraqi democracy.

  • A unified Iraq (jury out).

  • Insurgency was in "final throes."

  • Found WMD.

  • Keep Iraq Al Qaeda-free.

  • Find Iraqi connection to 9/11.
  • I'm sure I've neglected to list several more.

    Happy Memorial Day weekend!

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    I've been pondering, and re-pondering, the apparent give-in by Dems to Bush's demands on the spending bill. Did the Dems cave? Yes. Does it suck and as I wrote show a lack of spine? Yes.

    But perhaps beyond the black and white on this topic, some grey should be considered (after all, this blog's namesake), and Dick Polman helps to illuminate in that regard:
    The Democratic party is at it again, employing its traditional talent for intramural invective. This old habit doesn’t necessarily serve its members well. Liberals have long complained – accurately – that Bush has been pursuing his war with scant regard for the facts on the ground, but their current anger at the Democratic Congress suggests that they, too, are prone to ignoring reality.

    The facts on the ground, in Washington, are simple: The Democrats may have the gavel, but they don’t have the votes to impose their will on Bush and override his vetoes. The margins are way too thin. And a fair number of elected Democrats represent moderate swing districts, in places like Indiana and North Carolina, where constitutents have soured on the war, but nevertheless might view a war money cutoff as tantamount to abandoning the troops in harm’s way.

    As Jonathan Alter points out in his latest column, “This (swing state factor) is not a figment of some spineless Democrat's imagination, but the reality of what he or she will face back in the district over Memorial Day. Democrats who vote to cut funding not only risk getting thrown in the briar patch by Republican hit men in Washington; they also might not be able to satisfy their otherwise antiwar constituents at home….Democrats who vote to cut off funding can be more easily blamed for the war's failures, especially in swing districts.”
    Time is on the Democrats’ side. The party that’s saddled with an unpopular war tends to be punished at election time, as the Democrats should well remember. They lost the ’52 race in part because of Korea, and lost the ’68 race because of Vietnam. And now that the GOP has been successfully tagged as the Iraq war party, the Democrats will have the wind at their backs in 2008 – if they can manage not to slice each other up along the way.
    Dick may be right. In light of the intractable veto and the known hatchet artists for the GOP, the Dems could be playing the smart poker hand by letting the tide of the war play out. A formal timeline was dropped, but a comprehensive report is slated for September, Bush must give a status report by July 15th on Iraq's progress towards meeting benchmarks, and there are indications judgments will be made well before September rolls around -- in particular by more than a few Republicans.

    Assuming no miraculous turnaround in Iraq, GW's popularity will remain in the toilet and the pressure to withdraw will only increase.

    Is it, dare say, immoral for the Dems to back away from digging in and demanding a timeline? On principle, yes, but practically, not really. In this case, the practical could be the wiser, and more effective, choice. (Oh, and don't think Karl Rove didn't see as a bonus outcome that the Dem supporters would be pissed and look to eat their own).

    But Kevin Drum provides another perspective:
    But there's also a different interpretation: that the public will side with whoever they agree with on the merits. Maybe that seems naive in our spin-ridden, media saturated age. But you never know. People might actually support the side they agree with. Stranger things have happened.

    If that's the case, it means that Bill Clinton won his showdown with Newt Gingrich not because of his bully pulpit, but because Gingrich wanted to make cuts in social programs that the public didn't support. And in fact, that's exactly what happened. Clinton's position was the popular one in that battle, so Gingrich ended up getting the blame for shutting down the government.

    This time around, though, the public is pretty clearly on the side of congressional Democrats: they think the war is going badly and they want to see us withdraw from Iraq within the next year. So what would have happened if Dems had held their ground, made a public case for why it would actively benefit the country to get out of Iraq, and simply sent a lightly modified version of the original bill back to Bush? If he'd vetoed it again, isn't it likely that Bush would get the blame for being stubborn and petty, not Congress?
    Kevin could be right (he often is), and as I said at the start I continue to mull over this matter, but it strikes me that there are at least two key differences between now and the Newt/Bill showdown:
  • In terms of being able to communicate their side to the public in a convincing way, Bill Clinton is light years ahead of anyone in this Dem congress. This point cannot be overstated.

  • Unlike the social issues behind the 1995 confrontation, Iraq is much more emotion-filled and intense, therefore making it easier to manipulate people. This war has bred fed-up anger and feelings of betrayal pitted against fear of terrorist attacks and guilt to be patriotic, to honor the dead as well as those fighting for us.
  • Sorry, with an issue as charged as this one, odds favor Rove and his "hit men" over softies like Pelosi and Reid -- and I think those two fully understood this fact.
    Dan Froomkin recently noted that Bush "criticized the congressional investigation for 'taking a long time. It's going to -- kind of being drug out, I suspect, for political questions -- political reasons.' It takes a lot of chutzpah to stonewall -- and then blame the investigators for a delay."

    Circumvent truth-finding wherever and whenever possible, repeatedly ignore requests by these congressional investigators to the point where subpoenas are threatened, only to then blame those in Congress who have the near-impossible task of trying to pound some honesty out of an extremely uncooperative administration. It goes well beyond sheer chutzpah to downright galling.
    Regarding Bush's latest attempt to scare up support for the war by releasing details of alleged efforts by Osama bin Laden to plan attacks against the US from Iraq:
    General Joseph Hoar, the former head of US Central Command, said Mr. Bush was returning to the tactic of instilling fear in the public by overstating the role of terrorists in Iraq. "It is important to note that there was never one [an al-Qaeda element in Iraq] prior to our invasion," said Gen Hoar.
    When Bush was asked if he thought our presence in Iraq has helped Al Qaeda grow, he replied, "Oh, so, in other words, the option would have been just let Saddam Hussein stay there...And the answer is, absolutely not...See, that’s the kind of attitude — he says, okay, let’s let them live under a tyrant, and I just don’t agree."

    But many people in other countries unfortunately live under awful tyrants, why isn't Bush looking to sanctimoniously free them? I'm sure he can stir up questionable intel to justify invading those countries....
    We have the following from The Washington Post, "More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again." And in the same article we have, "President Bush and other senior administration officials have cited declines in sectarian killings in justifying U.S. troop increases and additional funding for the war. 'The level of sectarian violence is an important indicator of whether or not the strategy that we have implemented is working,' Bush said May 10."

    What say you now oh great decider...? Using your litmus test, doesn't this indicate the strategy is not working?
    Regarding Monica Goodling's testimony, the NY Times writes, "She gave Congress all the reason it needs to compel Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, to testify about what they know....Since the list was by all accounts a joint Justice Department and White House effort, Congress has no choice but to question under oath the two people who are in the best position to shed light on the mystery."

    Do you think the Dems have the spine to play hardball and go after Rove and Miers? This after the cave-in job Reid masterminded? The goodwill may be turning for the Dems, and if they continue to be wet noodles to the point where Rove is probably giggling, then they'll completely deserve the turned tide.

    Dick Polman comes up with a few questions to be asked:
    Goodling’s attempt to offer mitigating circumstances merely prompts more questions. Was she aware of the civil service bar on partisan screening? Did her Bush superiors indicate to her that she was expected to abide by those rules? After she breached them a few times, did anybody flag her behavior and tell her to stop? Can she credibly argue that she “didn’t mean to” cross the line - when in fact she was a repeat offender, doing so on roughly 50 occasions? (Best defense: She just couldn’t help it.)

    Here’s the short answer to all of the above: Goodling was merely an instrument of the Bush administration strategy to politicize the nonpartisan institutions of government.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Apparently Monica Goodling has not a clue how those eight U.S. attorneys made it on the list to be fired. As Steve Benen writes:
    You know, it is curious. These questions are pretty straightforward, but no one is able to answer them. Lawmakers asked Kyle Sampson about who drew up the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and how those names got on the list. Dunno, he said. They asked Alberto Gonzales. Beats me, he said. They asked Paul McNulty. Ask everybody else, he said. They asked Monica Goodling. Ask anybody else, she said.

    As Kevin [Drum] put it, “Goodling is now the latest high-ranking DOJ official to say that, really, she has no idea why those U.S. Attorneys were fired last year, or who made the choices. The list appeared, somehow, but apparently not from any human hand. It’s a miracle!”

    Miraculous, indeed. Here’s a wacky thought: maybe someone at the White House knows?
    Karl Rove smirks on.
    The news afar just keeps getting better:
    The United States is continuing to make large payments of roughly $1 billion a year to Pakistan for what it calls reimbursements to the country’s military for conducting counterterrorism efforts along the border with Afghanistan, even though Pakistan’s president decided eight months ago to slash patrols through the area where Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are most active....So far, Pakistan has received more than $5.6 billion under the program over five years....despite new evidence that the Pakistani military is often looking the other way when Taliban fighters retreat across the border into Pakistan....The administration, according to some current and former officials, is fearful of cutting off the cash or linking it to performance for fear of further destabilizing Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is facing the biggest challenges to his rule since he took power in 1999.
    So Musharraf's very weakness and tenuous hold of power serves as a form of monetary blackmail to the U.S., and meanwhile the Taliban prospers. Incredible.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

  • We had the "dog ate my homework" with the missing RNC emails, and now we have it with Gonzo not knowing who was acting AG when Ashcroft was ailing. What's worse, that Gonzo really didn't know, offering another example of his clueless ineptness, or that he did know (is lying) and intended on strong-arming a weak/sick Ashcroft despite the transfer of power to Comey?

  • This administration's oppressive, chilling effect on scientists is apparently working: "The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum."

  • Al Qaeda is now depending on and thriving due to money originating from Iraq: "U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity. The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network." So our presence in Iraq is bolstering Al Qaeda. Just great.

  • Regarding the Dems dropping a withdrawal timeline, it's perfectly clear: THEY CAVED! However, Chris Bowers is reserving judgment for now and infers that the story is in fact bogus. Stay tuned.
  • Monday, May 21, 2007

    To avoid another Bolton or Fox incident, Sen. Harry Reid has been forced into out-foxing the scoundrel in the White House.
    The governors of California and Connecticut are justifiably pissed off:
    It's bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public's health and welfare.

    California, Connecticut and 10 other states are poised to enact tailpipe emissions standards -- tougher than existing federal requirements -- that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles by 392 million metric tons by the year 2020, the equivalent to taking 74 million of today's cars off the road for an entire year.

    Since transportation accounts for one-third of America's greenhouse gas emissions, enacting these standards would be a huge step forward in our efforts to clean the environment and would show the rest of the world that our nation is serious about fighting global warming.

    Yet for the past 16 months, the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to give us permission to do so.

    Even after the Supreme Court ruled in our favor last month, the federal government continues to stand in our way.

    Another discouraging sign came just last week, when President Bush issued an executive order to give federal agencies until the end of 2008 to continue studying the threat of greenhouse gas emissions and determine what can be done about them.

    To us, that again sounds like more of the same inaction and denial, and it is unconscionable.
    This president has been the main catalyst for a renewed surge of federalism in this country, with many states filing suit against the federal government due to long-term neglect and stonewalling on important issues -- global warming being just one. Under Bush, the EPA's job has become one of kicking the can down the road as opposed to strongly enforcing existing regulations, much less gutting them.

    One thing seems perfectly clear: the next person to move into the White House will undoubtedly be far more green than this current denier.

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Kevin Drum believes Rudy Giuliani will ultimately cost himself the GOP nomination "because at some point he'll throw a public hissy fit of some kind and self destruct." It's very well possible considering Rudy's volatile demeanor -- a side of him that ironically conflicts with the cool-headed, 9/11-hero imagery the campaign projects onto the public.

    But even if he doesn't succumb to a fatal outburst on the trail, what will likely doom Rudy for certain is his choice to be seen as simply four more years of GW. Whether it be his shocking endorsement of waterboarding, or the use of scare tactics to win votes, or just flat-out praising Bush as "a great president," Rudy couldn't cozy up any closer to GW if he wanted to.

    I will assume Giuliani believes the same as McCain and Romney: to get to be the Republican presidential nominee will require winning over the far right faction of the party. (As Paul Krugman recently wrote, "rank-and-file Republicans continue to approve strongly of Mr. Bush’s policies — and the more un-American the policy, the more they support it.") After that task is accomplished, then spend time distancing oneself from GW to appeal to the more moderate general electorate.

    But as I've written before, in order to win over the zealots in their party to become the nominee, too much will have been said for any one of them to successfully try and wiggle away from. The Dem candidate will have tons of video footage and quotes to hang'em with, and I believe it's safe to assume that GW will not suddenly become popular next year.

    It's a demented Catch-22 with the kiss-kiss-GW mode the only course of action for any of the GOP contenders. To go the route of Sen. Chuck Hagel would instantly translate into longshot status -- something not lost on the front-runners. But again, all that they must do and say to become the nominee ironically will make it all that much more difficult for the nominee to become president.

    Demented indeed, but that's the shape of the Republican Party these days, thanks in large part to that wunderkind Karl Rove.

    As if the GOP's prospects were not dim enough for 2008, we now have the added bonus of influential figures threatening to further splinter the party. Just belly-warming.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg may run for president after all. Given the current cast of GOP characters running, I say "run Mikey run." I've grown to like much of what Bloomberg stands for -- not very surprising since he was a Democrat for most of his adult life.

    This little wrinkle is interesting: "Polls thus far have shown a third-party Bloomberg bid would draw more Republican votes than Democratic ones." As a vote siphon, will Bloomberg be to the Dems presidential nominee what Perot was to Bill Clinton and Nader was to GW? Though in many ways Bloomberg is a much more credible candidate, having oodles more dollars than Nader, being less kooky and a joke than Perot, and having (successfully) held public office.

    The Bloomberg dance could turn out to be more interesting than following the Gore dance.
    Some comments regarding the Comey vs. Gonzo drama:

  • Dahlia Lithwick sums it up nicely, "The White House went ahead and reauthorized a controversial, presidential-power-grabbing program deemed illegal by the Justice Department, after trying to extract permission from a critically sick John Ashcroft who didn't quite know what day it was." Just when you thought these guys could go no lower, they find a level beyond zero. Can it get any more despicable than this? They're not even above bedside bullying.

  • Dan Froomkin writes, "So what was the [warrantless wiretapping] program like before that -- when it was illegal even in the opinion of Bush's own Justice Department? What was the government doing for two and a half years -- starting soon after September 11, 2001, through the spring of 2004? That is -- or at least should be -- the question of the day in Washington." It appears as if for 2+ years GW and his administration violated the law. As for Froomkin's last sentence, there are so many questions of the day concerning numerous scandals and controversies that it's very difficult to focus on just one.

  • Dick Polman writes, "The lurid intrigue starring Alberto Gonzales (who else) - in which the then-White House counsel is depicted racing to John Ashcroft’s hospital bed in 2004, in order to inveigle the seriously ill attorney general to sign off on a domestic eavesdropping program that had already been deemed illegal by Ashcroft’s chief deputy at Justice - is just the latest drip-drip disclosure of the Bush team’s aversion to the rule of law." Ahh yes, "aversion to the rule of law" -- didn't that once constitute a favorite line by Republicans for impeachment proceedings? Oh, how times have changed.

  • Glenn Greenwald writes, "The overarching point here, as always, is that it is simply crystal clear that the President consciously and deliberately violated the law and committed multiple felonies by eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law....What more glaring and clear evidence do we need that the President of the United States deliberately committed felonies, knowing that his conduct lacked any legal authority? And what justifies simply walking away from these serial acts of deliberate criminality? At this point, how can anyone justify the lack of criminal investigations or the appointment of a Special Counsel? The President engaged in extremely serious conduct that the law expressly criminalizes and which his own DOJ made clear was illegal." Indeed, imagine if this were Bill Clinton, the GOP and right-wing scream-o-sphere would be ape-shit crazy with condemnation and calls for booting him from office. The level of hypocrisy is incredible. (Oh, and it would be nice to see some Dems grow some real spine).

  • Doesn't this Keystone Kops race-to-hospital remind you of another similar incident? You know, when Newt Gingrich broke the news to his ailing wife, who was in the hospital undergoing treatment for cancer, that he was leaving her. Just more examples of that "compassionate conservatism" we hear so much about....

  • And now this nonsense, "The Justice Department said yesterday that it will not retract a sworn statement in 2006 by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that the Terrorist Surveillance Program had aroused no controversy inside the Bush administration, despite congressional testimony Tuesday that senior departmental officials nearly resigned in 2004 to protest such a program." Apparently the threat of mass resignations does not qualify as controversy within the the administration. Black is white, and vice versa. Sounds like another lie from our top lawyer -- unless you assume Comey is doing the lying. Good luck with that wager.
  • Further evidence that McCain has completely and utterly sold himself to the lunatic far right, he was the first to honor the death of Jerry Falwell. He said, "Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country."

    As John Nichols writes:
    Distinguished accomplishment?

    Would that be when Falwell regularly featured segregationists Lester Maddox and George Wallace on his Old Time Gospel Hour television program in the 1960s? When he condemned the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and referred to the civil rights movement as "the civil wrongs movement"? When he opposed sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime in the 1980s?

    Or when he produced an infomercial in the 1990s accusing President Clinton of orchestrating murders of journalists and political critics, even though he would eventually admit that "I do not know the accuracy of the claims"? When he attacked "Teletubbies" character Tinky Winky as a gay recruitment tool? When he asserted that the Antichrist "must be, of necessity, a Jewish male"?
    To add to the litany of Falwell examples of love, tolerance, and acceptance (you know, all values Jesus preached and practiced), click here.

    If Falwell was considered holy, then heaven will be a very depressing place.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    With these surveys judging our healthcare vs. other countries, in conjunction can they provide info that shows the degree to which HC lobbyists influence the system via legislation and other methods of impact?

    I have a sneaky suspicion that our perma-status of not showing up well in these exercises might have something to do with the amount of power lobbyists have in making sure our HC system remains subpar, extremely costly -- and incredibly profitable.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    From a recent Fox News interview, Cheney said, "So if you're going to be a public official advocating withdrawal from Iraq, you, in fact, are also saying that what you're recommending is validating the al Qaeda strategy."

    Completely outrageous and nonsensical, but hey, it's just more classic nutzoid talk from our favorite crazed VP.
    As we careen towards the days of the Politburo....

    With the Pentagon banning the use of web sites like YouTube and MySpace, and yet at the same time actively using such sites to spread their carefully-controlled positive messages, we verge that much closer to the version of Russia we so greatly despised not too long ago.

    It's all in accordance with this administration's mantra: restrict, restrict, restrict (unless it applies to big business).
    Global warming deniers often cop the line, "why should we change to prevent global warming if China doesn't?"

    Look, conservation and doing what we can to halt climate change is not a causal argument strictly tied to another entity (in this case, a country). We should do what we feasibly can, period.

    But note that China is where the U.S. was 50-100 years ago, when we were developing and progressing as a nation with little concern for the environment. In the process, we were guilty of a good deal of unadulterated polluting and China is now doing the same in their rapid evolution towards a more developed country. When we did it, much less scientific evidence was known which meant for fewer scoldings from others, and fewer developed nations existed then to do any of the scolding.

    So here we are now and it makes little sense to penalize or harshly judge China for trying to develop. After all, their industrial activity moves them closer to capitalism -- a good thing, right?

    But we should be looking to help them grow as cleanly and as efficiently as possible. We have the technology and the know how -- the same technology and know how we should be using to clean up our act.

    Economic growth and environmental stewardship can coexist. Perhaps not 50-100 years ago, but certainly they can work together today. All it takes is leadership.
    I came across an article on a study titled "Egos Inflating Over Time," which makes the case that this generation of young adults is much more narcissistic than those in the past. An end result is self-esteem on steroids, with overblown egos leading to many problems.

    An example of a potential cause of this sad condition is the trend to avoid keeping score in games involving the young (e.g. Little League, youth soccer and lacrosse, etc.). By admonishing the fact that in sports there's always a winner and loser, instead choosing to convey the warm and fuzzy "we're all winners" or "there's no such thing as losing" sets up many youngsters for future problems.

    As much as winning or just having fun are terrific goals, equally important is encouraging kids to learn how to deal with losing or coming up short of victory. They need to be exposed to all emotions, and that includes disappointment and failure -- even at this early age -- so they can process the feelings, grow from them, and become not just better competitors but more so better human beings.

    As it is, most kids keep score of who is winning in their own heads. Parents are only fooling themselves if they believe otherwise. In that case, best to have the kids understand that they won't win every time in life, and as a result other qualities -- such as resilience, perserverance, practice, humility, acceptance -- should be recognized and embraced. Looking back as mature adults, our youth will ultimately thank us for taking the less vacuous route.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Odds of a Republican president in 2008:

    Yikes. If this were a stock, I'd be shorting it.

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    We now know what will certainly hit us here while we're over there: dastardly Mother Nature.

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Get ready to see more of this blame game as Bush's cabal of losers continue to play hot potato with the Iraq war decision.

    Needless to say, if the war were a success, they'd be stumbling over each other to take all the credit. Yet, given the monumental, disastrous reality, instead we have the pointing of fingers at everyone but themselves.

    No one wants to go down in the history books as a primary contributor to such an epic fiasco. It's what spineless, inept scoundrels do.
    There goes that "liberal" media again....
    To brainiac Dick Morris, and likely many other right-wing dunderheads, the solution to "not having them follow us home" is to have soldiers over there with bulls-eyes on their backs. He believes it's best to offer terrorists "the opportunity to kill more Americans" in Iraq, thus avoiding the hassle of worrying about attacks in the U.S.

    More lobotomized wisdom from the far right. Is it any wonder the public is fed up with these idiots?

    Friday, May 11, 2007

  • Iraqi parliament mirroring U.S. Democrats:
    A majority of members of Iraq's parliament have signed a draft bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels....The draft bill proposes a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some U.S. Democratic lawmakers have demanded.
    Ahh, but what do they know, right? And how dare them try to run their own country -- the nerve.

  • Regarding the lack of votes thus far sparing Gonzales, Kevin Drum writes:
    Normally, cabinet officers who have been caught in multiple obvious lies have to either resign or else seriously try to defend themselves. But Gonzales realizes this is just tradition. Unless House Democrats have the votes to impeach him, he doesn't have to do anything. He can just mock them to their face and there's nothing much they can do about it.
    Yes, it comes to honor and dignity -- what GW was supposedly going to return to Washington -- versus simple math. Since lying is the norm for these guys, they have no shame when it comes to sticking it out when others would've resigned, and therefore there's no cost or penalty for lying.

  • Not exactly Dennis Kucinich saying this.

  • When scoundrels quarrel.

  • In the Bizzaro universe that is this administration, Snow's protests just mean it was most definitely the case:
    [Tony] Snow, who sat in on the meeting in the president's private quarters, said it should not be overdramatized or seen as another "marching up to Nixon," a reference to the critical moment during Watergate in 1974 when key congressional Republicans went to the White House to tell President Richard M. Nixon that it was time to resign. "This is not one of those great cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," he said.
  • Rudy is toast.

  • Try, try, try again -- but if you fail, don't worry about it:
    CHENEY: Well, we're interested in having benchmarks that we want to see the Iraqis meet. The President has talked about this previously. That's not a new concept or anything that one of the Democrats came up with. It's also not - I'm always a little puzzled when we talk about consequences....So when we talk to them about consequences in some kind of bureaucratic sense or threatening them with a cutoff of funds, for example, if they don't do A, B and C, it strikes me as, you know, that's Washington talk but it may not have all that relevance on the ground out there.
    Where's the incentive?

  • Quite a list, Bush must be so proud – you know, returning honor and dignity to the White House.
  • Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    As I wrote yesterday concerning the master minds behind the "surge," the rats are jumping ship twenty months early. Again, does not bode well for Iraq. Plan B better arrive ASAP.
    Notice how Bush people are all cast from the same polarizing, divisive, controversy-riddled mold? Cheney, Rove, Bolton, Rumsfeld -- Wolfowitz.

    We know these guys are inept and can't lead, which I guess in part is why they raise such a stink anywhere they go. They need to get their way through the use of bravado and highly questionable practices, as opposed to solid, reasonable policy decisons.

    The world will be a much better place when these a-holes are finally vanquished from power. Amen.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Get ready for a rise in U.S. casualties in Iraq in the next few months, so says an Army general. He also stated that insurgent groups linked to Al-Qaida were escalating attacks, the aim being to incite sectarian warfare. Note that U.S. News & World Report has an article concluding that "Bin Laden already has a safe haven in Pakistan and may be stronger than ever." Yes, Al-Qaida is stronger than ever and creating havoc in Iraq.

    Needless to say, this news does not bode well for the perception that Iraq will be improving by September. In addition, the following does not say much for the odds of progress:
    Deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch II, who helped spearhead the recent policy review that led President Bush to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, announced yesterday that he will step down early next month, becoming the latest key aide to depart the White House at a critical juncture.

    Crouch, the No. 2 official at the National Security Council, has been a pivotal figure on a series of difficult issues, including Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran and the detention policy for terrorism suspects. And it was his interagency group meeting at the White House complex for many weeks last winter that resulted in the ongoing troop buildup in Iraq, which has become the defining decision of the year for Bush.
    Crouch becomes the second top official involved in crafting the new Iraq strategy to leave before it is clear if the new approach will work. Meghan O'Sullivan, the deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, also plans to resign soon.
    Some of the key architects behind the "surge" are calling it quits. That's a bit odd. You'd think they'd want to hang around for a few months longer to bask in the glow of approval, assuming conditions improve in Iraq. It's not a good sign if these folks have their doubts.

    Meanwhile, a Pentagon report released on Friday suggests "that extended tours and multiple deployments, among other policy decisions, could escalate anger and increase the likelihood that soldiers or marines lash out at civilians, or defy military small concern since the United States’ counterinsurgency doctrine emphasizes the importance of winning the trust and support of the local population."

    An Army general predicts an increase in U.S. military deaths this summer as Congress hopes to observe improvement then, and in the process our soldiers continue to get stretched to their limit, to the point where mental issues have set in making the circumstances that much more dangerous for all involved.

    You think GW is connecting the dots? Doubtful. In December 2005, Newsweek wrote about "Bush's Bubble" and this week the cover story for U.S. News discusses much of this same topic.

    I've written how scary this state of forced, artificial comfort in the White House could be for the rest of us. The three D's (detachment, delusion, and desperation) are a recipe for disaster. Twenty months to go, keep your fingers crossed.

    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    Several months ago I wrote about how the primary schedule appeared to favor John Edwards.

    Late last month top research outfit ISI Group wrote about the same topic, stating because "the primaries will be even more front-loaded in 2008....that Edwards has a better shot at the nomination than most think."

    In fact, the first two caucuses are Iowa and Nevada, in that order, and Edwards leads in Iowa which could very much set him up for a huge boost five days later in Nevada.

    Needless to say, the road to the nomination is fueled by favorable and plentiful media coverage fueling the necessary momentum to surge to the front of the pack, creating a self-fulfilling domino effect that takes on a power of its own. It worked for John Kerry when he won in Iowa and given the revamped schedule for 2008, such abrupt surprises could work wonders for a non-front-running candidate -- especially if that candidate is already predisposed to being more media-adored than say a John Kerry.

    Just some food for thought.
    A few days ago, Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen produced another in a series of reports showing the Iraqi reconstruction efforts to be going poorly. Very poorly.

    Recall Bowen is the inspector the GOP (specifically presidential candidate Duncan Hunter) tried to do away with last year via a middle-of-the-night-inserted provision in a bill -- a bill that was completed, meaning party negotiations were finished so no more changing allowed. Also, note that Hunter gets half his campaign contributions from defense contractors. (Reminder: Hunter wants to be your president). Nonetheless, his chicanery was discovered and stopped.

    Yet we now learn that Bowen himself is under investigation, spear-headed by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which is "drawn from the executive branch; its chairman is Clay Johnson III, deputy budget director and longtime friend of the president."

    But we're told not to worry, that this investigation based on "fairly narrow issues" is not payback to punish or intimidate Bowen. Oh, thank goodness. I believe them. I mean why not, since this administration would never use bully tactics to influence anyone, right?

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    The prosecutor purge scandal edges that much closer to the White House. Increasingly it appears as if political party affiliation was used as a screening device for hiring federal prosecutors -- a practice that is illegal. Federal law prohibits the Justice Department from considering political affiliation in hiring/firing decisions.

    Yet, as Murray Waas writes:
    The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.
    Andrew Cohen sums it up:
    No one who has followed this story closely can be shocked by this news. Of course, the fix was in with the Goodling, Sampson and Co. to replace professional nonpartisan officials with partisans; of course White House leaders directed the plan, and of course the Attorney General either went along with it (as he always does with his president) or negligently allowed it to happen on his watch.
    Just deserts cannot come soon enough.
    On Tuesday, I wrote about the many former Reagan officials who have increasingly come out with harsh words against Bush/Cheney. However, to read about one endorsing Hillary in 2008, well, what is there to say. Yes, it's that bad for the GOP.

    Speaking of Reagan, Dick Polman writes:
    It’s also true, of course, that this Reagan nostalgia is at odds with reality. When the candidates tonight offer their requisite praise, no doubt they’ll neglect to mention that, during Reagan’s tenure, federal spending rose by 25 percent, that the size of the federal workforce actually grew, that he raised taxes in 1982, that the size of the federal deficit doubled, and that, on the social front, he rarely gave more than lip service to the anti-abortion movement. In fact, at the time, conservative activists often joked, “It’s not that Ronald Reagan lacks principles, it’s just that he does not understand the ones he has.”
    I've written here many times about the distortions of Reagan's legacy, how the right has morphed it into something they like and want to be true, as opposed to the reality of the record. Just more delusional grasping. Truly sad.
    In discussing the communication of US troops with others, Bush said, "You've got a kid in Iraq who is emailing mom daily, talking about the realities of what he or she sees. Information is moving — you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets."

    Yes, GW believes Google is "the Google" and the internet is plural. Gads!

    But his talk of blogs and the internet is ironic since the military is currently seeking to very much control the use of blogs on the internet by those serving in Iraq.

    So much for "talking about the realities"....

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Sean Hannity recently had Sen. Brownback on his radio show and he had to remind the senator that they're in the minority when it comes to overturning Roe v. Wade (for some reason, Brownback thought otherwise).

    Hannity could've kept going, stating he and Brownback were in the minority on many issues. Iraq, global warming, stem cell research, social security reform, gun control, tax cuts for the rich -- the list goes on and on.

    It appears as if Sean has fully embraced the idea of Republicans being the minority party for many years to come.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    I wrote last Friday, Bush "has much time left in office and a woefully awful president who listens to no one, realizes his legacy is shit, and yet still must confront many serious problems facing this country -- well, he's very capable of doing some go-for-broke things that could really be huge whoppers, even by his standards. Brace yourself and strap in."

    Steve Benen seems to agree, writing today:
    A mature, sensible leader might become introspective, wondering how best to get back on track. Bush has apparently taken to whining about how unappreciated he his. As I recall, Nixon started talking the same way, right before he was driven from office.

    This isn’t encouraging. In fact, if Bush starts wondering what he can do to prove everyone wrong about his greatness, this kind of thinking could get scary.
    Buckle up!
    Just how wrong has this administration and neocons been about Iraq? Dick Polman has assembled a collection of now infamous quotes, with a few below:
    Pentagon adviser Ken Adelman (2/13/2002): “I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."

    Vice President Cheney (8/26/2002): “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

    Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld (2/7/2003): “(The war) could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (2/27/2003): Iraqis “will greet us as liberators."

    Cheney on NBC, March 16, 2003: “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

    Wolfowitz (3/27/2003): “We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

    Dick Morris, Fox News (4/9/2003): “Over the next couple of weeks, when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing…"

    Fred Barnes, Fox News (4/10/2003): “The war was the hard part....And it gets easier."

    Columnist Charles Krauthammer (4/19/2003): “The only people who think this wasn’t a victory are upper West Side liberals."

    Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (5/1/2003): “I think it was time to say to the American people, the hostilities in Iraq have ended.”

    Bush (5/29/2003): “We found the weapons of mass destruction.”
    If it were not for already knowing how clueless these folks have been, the quotes would resonate as truly amazing. But at this point we know better.

    For good measure, the public believe about every other word that comes from the mouths of Bush/Cheney concerning Iraq. Fool me once....
    The cost of the Iraq war is fast approaching half a trillion dollars. However, including the economic impact of lost lives, long-term healthcare costs for wounded veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military, and other unforeseen expenses, professors Stiglitz and Bilmes have concluded the war will cost over $2 trillion when all is said and done. By far, the most expensive governmental mistake in our history.

    We hear conservatives complain about government spending, but never a mention of the cost of this fiasco. Imagine what $2 trillion could accomplish if invested in this country, the USA. An outrage.
    It's funny, we continue to hear Republicans invoke the name of Ronald Reagan as if to stir up some warm and fuzzy sentiment to counteract the feelings Bush/Cheney instill.

    Yet, the list continues to grow of former Reagan administration officials who have gone public with harsh criticism of this current administration (a few examples here, here, here, here, here). The latest being Reagan's former National Security Agency head, who recently delivered a weekly address for the Democrats (!).
    Over the past couple of years, the President has let it [Iraq] proceed on automatic pilot, making no corrections in the face of accumulating evidence that his strategy is failing and cannot be rescued.

    Thus, he lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money, and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies. The Congress is the only mechanism we have to fill this vacuum in command judgment.

    To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is 'absent without leave.' He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge.
    No effective new strategy can be devised for the United States until it begins withdrawing its forces from Iraq. Only that step will break the paralysis that now confronts us....The bill that Congress approved this week, with bipartisan support, setting schedules for withdrawal, provides the President an opportunity to begin this kind of strategic shift, one that defines regional stability as the measure of victory, not some impossible outcome.

    I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him.
    Odom not only advises Bush to sign the bill, but he categorically states withdrawal is the first-step to an Iraq solution. Again, a former Reagan official. What are the odds that Reagan himself would be supporting Bush/Cheney right now? In many ways, GW makes Reagan look like Chomsky in comparison.
    Taking Tenet at his word (a giant leap, admittedly), according to him "slam dunk" did not refer to any intel proving Saddam had WMD or was an "imminent threat," but rather the phrase was said in relation to how well the administration could sell the war to the American public. The two are very different. One concerns reality and facts as they are known, and the other refers to PR-type spin to coax the unwitting public into believing a stance the White House was favoring and desperately needed support. Tenet is making the case that such shaping of the intel to back the policy was a "slam dunk," implying enough loose ends and innuendo was available to scare the living bejesus out of most Americans, that there was enough "crap" to justify to the public that war was necessary.

    Boy, isn't it great he cleared that up, years later no less? What a brave, upstanding ex-government official -- give this guy a medal! (Oh, Bush did, my bad).

    James Fallows has posted a terrific response to Dan Bartlett's claim that Bush seriously debated the need to go to war:
    At least George Tenet is not telling a flat-out lie -- which is a difference between him and White House counselor Dan Bartlett.

    Tenet, as mentioned earlier, would have better served his country (and his reputation) by speaking up more promptly about the Bush Administration’s failure ever to have a “serious debate” about whether it was worth invading Iraq.

    But his failing was telling the truth too late — not sticking to, well, a lie like the one Bartlett uttered yesterday (according to the AP) as part of the White House’s attempt to rebut Tenet:
    “This president weighed all the various proposals, weighed all the various consequences before he did make a decision.”
    I say plainly: that is a lie. To be precise about it, no account of the Administration’s deliberations, by anyone other than Bartlett just now, offers even the slightest evidence that this claim is true. Innumberable accounts offer ample evidence that it is false. I have asked this direct question to many interviewees who were in a position to know: was there ever such a meeting or discussion? The answer was always, No. The followup challenge to Bartlett should be: show us a memo, show us a policy paper, show us a scheduled meeting, show us notes taken at the time to substantiate the idea that the Administration ever seriously considered what the nation would gain or lose by invading Iraq, and what the alternatives might be. What the Administration actually considered, according to all known evidence, is how it would invade Iraq, and when.
    As I wrote on Saturday, "does anyone really care what any of these folks have to say at this point? It seems as if all of them lie and the fact is they were all involved in the hoodwinking and cookery of the intel from the start and I don't recall any of them crying foul then (of course not counting the likes of Richard Clarke)."

    We now see Rice tap-dancing in response to Tenet's book. They all lie as no one -- including Bush himself -- wants to be on the hook for one of the worst decisions in our history. They continue to wriggle and squirm.