Thursday, July 31, 2008

A must-read piece in today's NY Times. Our voting system continues to be in deep trouble thanks to electronic, paperless voting machines. Cohen only mentions these three highly questionable outcomes, but one has to wonder how many more exist. If our electoral process can no longer be trusted, then what's the point of anything? Why have campaigns, why passionately express opinions, why vote...?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

With regards to the surge, Dick Polman has it right:
In the interests of a political detente, maybe Barack Obama should admit that he was wrong about the '07 troop surge in Iraq, and John McCain should admit that he was wrong about the '02 decision to invade. But since neither candidate is likely to budge, perhaps the big question for voters should be: In hindsight, whose misjudgment was worse?
The difference is that one guy was wrong about a tactic. The other guy was wrong about a fundamental national security decision.

McCain, naturally, wants the electorate to focus exclusively on the surge. And, yes, as it turns out, he was basically right about the surge (while overstating its prowess, as we shall see in a moment). But the surge, lest we forget, was basically a last-ditch tactic that was designed to mitigate a national security disaster, to get the conflagration under control. McCain was an early, unquestioning enabler of the invasion that sparked the conflagration. He helped set the whole house on fire (at a cost thus far of 4125 American lives and half a trillion dollars), yet now he wants to be reap political reward from the fact that he helped hose down some of the flames.
Obama needs to stop heeing and hawing concerning this question and forcefully make the point(s) Polman is making. It's typical that the Dem who has been so right on an issue does not stress it enough; if McCain had voted against the war, we'd never hear the end of it, it would be his #1 bragging point. But Obama was right from the start and he should stress that emphatically and proudly, and repeatedly.

It's similar to an investor who avoided buying a stock at $30 and another who correctly decided to sell that same stock weeks later at $12 before it went to $5. Are you going to credit more so the investor who avoided a $7 slide from $12, or the one who avoided the decline from $30 to $5? Let's get real people!

Also, we don't need a president who's good at mopping up messes he helped to create. We need one who has the judgement and wisdom to keep us out of messes, period. That in itself would be a refreshing change.
The White House continues to scramble in its final days to do what it can to make its friends happier and our country more polluted:
Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.
Where in the *&%$ is this AWOL Congress to put a stop to this madness? I mean who would've imagined that this lame-duck schmuck with horrid poll numbers would still be able to wield the political power he's been able to at this point in his term? The Dems in Congress deserve the likewise abysmal poll numbers they receive, a more flaccid, gutless bunch I can't recall.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

John Dean comments on the Kucinich impeachment hearings:
Given the fact that Bush will be out of office in less than six months, it is not likely that the Kucinich resolution will receive the consideration it deserves. This is unfortunate. It has been clear to me since 2004, when I wrote Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, in which I analyzed the basis for the very charge that Kucinich has now leveled, that Bush’s actions with regard to Congress – in essence, telling Congress and the American people a deadly lie involving the nation’s blood and treasure – constituted, without question, a “high crime” and impeachable behavior.
Based on prior subcommittee hearings, the House Judiciary Committee knows well that the checks and balances of the Constitution do not work when the Executive Branch has made itself preeminent among its co-equals, and made a mockery of the separation of powers, as Bush and Cheney have done. Nor is there any real mystery on Capitol Hill about how this happened, for it is the clear result of the action – and inaction – of the conservative Republicans in Congress who assisted Presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II with their increasingly radical expansion of presidential powers. Ironically conservatives once opposed an excessively powerful presidency but they now favor it because they believe they can more easily win the White House than control of Congress.
Accordingly, I thought if I could merely make the point that conservatives, at one point, decided that they could not tolerate Nixon’s imperial behavior, and explain exactly why they came to that decision, it might clear the Republicans’ focus to deal with Bush and Cheney. Unfortunately, explaining this Nixon-versus-Congress history would be no easy task, for I discovered how ignorant current members of Congress are about Watergate when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee a few years ago. At that hearing, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham made statements and asked questions about Watergate that were less informed that I get from today’s average high school student.
As today’s hearings continue, it will be interesting to see if any members of Congress are prepared to defend Bush and Cheney’s lies about taking the nation to war in Iraq. Disturbingly, it has been clear for some time that Bush and Cheney did indeed lie – and that their lies fit within a clear, extensive pattern of abuse of power. Yet condemnation from Congressional Republicans has yet to be heard. Sadly, it seems possible that today’s Republicans -- unlike [Charles] Wiggins and the other Nixon apologists who changed their minds when confronted with proven presidential lies -- have no moral lines that they will draw.
No further comment needed.
As Dan Froomkin aptly points out, VP Darth Cheney does not allow we the public to see who is employed in his office. We can see who works for the guy ranking above him -- need I remind you the President -- but no, we can't see who works for the man second in charge. He compensates them with our tax dollars but we can't know who he's compensating.

Another example of our underground federal government at work...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The right-wing media watchdog Media Research Center is in a tizzy over the media's coverage of Obama's trip abroad. I suppose the media should somewhat ignore this event and instead give equal coverage to McCain doing, uh, doing what exactly? Offering up stump speeches that are mainly focused on attacking the guy currently visiting nations abroad -- which is what McCain urged Obama to do to begin with? Oh yeah, that's compelling TV.

Look, the decision to make this trip was a stroke of genius by the Obama campaign, enabling Obama to appear and be received as a head of state and to get tons of media attention at McCain's expense. What we're hearing from the right and from McCain's campaign is sour grapes, period. Internally they know this was a terrific move and it's frustrating the hell out of them. Same as when the Obama camp announced that he would give the convention speech in the Denver Broncos football stadium -- top that one Mr. Maverick.

Oh, and whereas the MRC complains about a lack of coverage for McCain by the liberal media, isn't it funny how this same media continues to help out McCain anyway they can, as if they're propping him up to make it a fair fight. If Obama made this many mistakes and gaffes at this point in the campaign, he would've been toast. The media would've been all over it like the distortions concerning Gore inventing the internet. Liberal media, my arse.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hopefully the first of many Reaganites to get sane. Larry Hunter, an admitted lifelong Republican, supply-side conservative economist, and former Reagan adviser, is going to vote for Obama. On Keith Olbermann's TV show, Hunter said one reason he went public with this stance is because he heard so many of his colleagues and friends profess similar concerns and beliefs about this upcoming election but were too afraid or embarrassed to speak out.

It's an interesting observation. Whereas many have feared that a Bradley effect could compromise Obama's chances this November, it would seem what's much less anticipated is perhaps many voters like Hunter will cross over to Obama in secret, casting their vote for him but not professing their intention to do so -- a sort of reverse-Bradley effect. In that respect, let's hope timidity wins out over racism.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Regarding the latest in a running series of executive-privilege assertions:
"As far as I know, this is an utterly unprecedented executive-privilege claim," said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University law professor who is an expert on executive privilege and separation-of-powers issues. "I've never heard this claim before."

Normally, claims of executive privilege are invoked to protect the disclosure of the president's communications with his top advisers. But in this case, the White House invoked the claim to keep secret Cheney's responses to FBI agents (hardly what anybody would call his advisers), who were grilling him as part of the now-closed criminal investigation headed by Fitzgerald.
But a number of former federal prosecutors and legal scholars said that Mukasey's argument that future White House officials wouldn't cooperate with the Justice Department if Cheney's 302 report were to be publicly disclosed seemed a stretch. (The legal claims were prepared in part by Office of Legal Counsel chief Stephen Bradbury, whose legal opinions on interrogation and torture have come under fire from Congress).

"Creative is a good word to describe it," said Mark Rozell, another executive-privilege expert who is a professor at George Mason University's School of Public Policy, about the attorney general's contention. "This is really an argument to protect the White House's own political interests and save it from embarrassment."
And constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley adds:
You know, reading this letter from Attorney General Mukasey, the president is extraordinary, he doesn‘t just claim presidential privilege, he claims deliberative process privilege, he claims law enforcement privilege, he claims anything short of a copyright infringement, to keep the documents away from Congress....We‘ve seen this in other area where Mukasey is treating the White House as off the constitutional grid. That anything that happens in that building, in his view, is simply not accessible to Congress.
And, you know, this is why when senators Schumer and Feinstein saved Mukasey‘s confirmation, this is what they purchased. And what Congress needs to do, the only thing they can do, is to bring back inherent contempt and to say they‘re going to start to exercise contempt on their own, that the deal is off.

Attorney General Mukasey has broken a very long-standing promise to be a faithful broker, to bring this case to the grand jury—he won‘t. And Congress has a right, now, to say, “We‘re going back to doing this stuff ourselves.”
Btw, where is Chuck Schumer regarding all of this? Wasn't he Mukasey's biggest cheerleader for the Dems? Thanks much AWOL Chuckie!

But is Mukasey there to represent we the people and enforce the laws of this land, or is he there to first and foremost protect, defend, and insulate the president? I thought we got rid of the last stooge performing such a role -- we now just have a new one?

And if Mukasey can do this and get away with it, what's stopping him or any other arm of the administration from doing anything they want whatsoever? I'm starting to think our system of government has no teeth when it comes to checks and oversight, that perhaps the founding fathers never anticipated such a brazen, ambitious and dare I say fascist type leader to take the helm of the country. Is this the fault of the naiveness of our great forefathers -- or does the right amount of checks and balances exist and it's the congressional Dems who are just too weak-kneed and flaccid to enforce such powers?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another error committed by McCain, this time potentially jeopardizing the life of his opponent.

This is not the first time McCain has had a "senior moment." (click here, here and here, just to list a few)

It's one thing for him to incessantly flip-flop to pander to anyone and everyone, but it's quite another matter when McCain just literally makes a mistake, repeatedly. We've had eight years of a bumbling fool in the White House who has made one enormous mistake after another, can we really afford to have four more years of the same?
Intros are no longer needed:
Environmentalists are bracing for a final battle with the Bush administration over its efforts to weaken clean water, air and toxic waste regulations before a new president moves into the White House.

With only about six months left in office, the administration is proposing rule changes that would repeal a 25-year ban on loaded guns in national parks, ease air pollution regulations on power plants near the parks, exempt factory farms from key provisions of the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, allow mountaintop mining near streams, and make it easier to dump hazardous waste into the recycling system.

"The Bush administration is feverishly trying to undo as many environmental regulations as it can in the final days before the president leaves office in order to reward big business and special interest groups that have supported them," said Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America's Washington, D.C., office. "It's really a shame because it could take years to undo some of the damage."
That's quite a list of pollution, toxin release, and cancer. He feels his job is not quite complete, there are still things to be done to further wreck the planet....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Censorship and purposeful scuttling occurring to the point of confusion. Cheney's staff deletes testimony, crucial email goes ignored, they scoff at a 588-page report by their own experts -- it goes on and on. Bush continues to spout the empty rhetoric concerning the costs to the economy, but his EPA recently said measures taken to combat global warming would save us close to $1 trillion (with a "t") over the next 30 years. Instead of carbon offsetting, we could also look at this as Iraq War offsetting (the cost of the war estimated to be $1+ trillion).

Regarding climate change, they're already calling 2001-2008 as "The Eight Lost Years." They were lost in more ways than one.
I give you not just the most inept and clueless president ever, but also the most disgraceful and embarrassing:
George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock....One official who witnessed the extraordinary scene said afterwards: "Everyone was very surprised that he was making a joke about America's record on pollution."
It's not just 71% of America that can't wait for this guy to exit but it's very apparent that most nations of the world are likewise counting the days. We've had a spoiled frat-boy moron presiding over us for far too long.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Many a political tout is exclaiming that Obama needs to get his biographical story out there for public consumption, sooner rather than later. That Americans need to get to know him fast, given more voters are already familiar with the McCain story, both fact and fiction.

But before Obama does that he first needs to fully explain why he voted for the FISA bill, after saying he would vote against it. The flip-flops of McCain far outnumber those of Obama, but this flip-flopper by Obama needs to be explained ASAP.

To further muddy up the landscape is Hillary's vote; she voted against it. Granted, on the first vote concerning this bill she was conveniently absent; reminder: she was still running for president then (like Obama). Now out of the race, she can be "bold" and principled.

However, Obama is supposed to be about change, strong-held beliefs, and looking out for the people over special interests, so what gives here?

But don't fret. Sen. Feingold was on Olbermann's show suggesting next year, assuming a stupendous election this November for the Dems, they'll be able to fix this travesty of a bill. Really? How can we have confidence in this happening when the current bunch of incumbent Democrats have collectively acted in such gutless, flaccid fashion for far too long? Are we to believe they'll suddenly grow spines and vote their conscience?

No evidence equates to much continued doubt and they have only themselves to blame for this much-deserved skepticism and cynicism.
Regarding the recently passed horrendous FISA bill, Chris Hedges states that it will work to intimidate those "who seek to expose the lies of our government or governments allied with ours." He goes on to explain how and why.

I wonder if this was a primary goal of this legislation, to further cut down on info being received and reported that embarrasses or exposes our government. Our ever increasingly secretive government becomes that much more clandestine and less accountable.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

  • Pat Buchanan describes Obama as being "exotic" -- you know what that's code for (starts with a "B" ends with a "K")....

  • Christopher Hitchens (correctly) describes Jesse Helms as "a senile racist buffoon."

  • Old news: GW's approval rating is at new lows. New news: of those 71% who disapprove of Bush, just 26% support McCain. Basically that says very few are buying that McCain is a better alternative to Bush; confirms McCain = Bush ("McBush").

  • Ever disappearing oil reserves? Kuwait claims 100 billion in reserves, internal documents cite just 48 billion barrels, some say it's as low as 24 billion. Any wonder why the price of crude is skyrocketing?
  • Thursday, July 03, 2008

    So the right has become apparently so frustrated with Obama, the fact that he's a darn good politician and a very strong candidate, that they must stoop to attacking his wife. The ever-smug and a bit crazy Dinesh D'Souza offers up a recent example.

    If the right refuses to stick to the actual candidates running, and even more so the issues that face this country, then it should be reminded that Cindy McCain has less than a stellar background.

    What's that saying about glass houses....?
    How desperate is McCain? Enough to accept Swift Boat money.

    It wasn't that long ago when this vet condemned the Swift Boat liars as they attempted to smear and bring down John Kerry. But I suppose that was then this is now, and McCain will continue to toss aside any remaining principle he has to win the White House -- even if it means accepting $$ from a propaganda group who did to Kerry, as McCain said in 2004, “the same kind of deal that was pulled on me.”

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    As criminal as the interrogation policy under Bush has been its wrongful repercussions won't truly be felt until that fateful day when unfortunately we learn of one or more of our soldiers suffering the same brutal fate, with the captors specifically citing Gitmo and/or Abu Ghraib as the catalyst. Yes, as Alberto Mora states, the images of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib are already responsible for X number of U.S. deaths in Iraq, but again the American public won't pay attention until one or more of our own are captured and tortured.

    Let's pray that day never comes, but Bush/Cheney's past actions re "interrogation techniques" have likely made it all the more probable.