Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday night fun

This is a great song. Deal with it...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

And the beat goes on

The press operates from the same old playbook. George Bush is someone looking out for the country's good while Democrats are filled with partisan hate. Miss Laura from Daily Kos has the lowdown.

This is simply a myth that will not die. The Bush presidency is the most partisan in recent memory and their only concern is with how they will be perceived politically. One only needs to review how we got involved in Iraq to see just how far they will go. Absolutely pathetic.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Corner turning

Saddam Hussein is dead.

I think we have turned the corner in creating a free and stable Iraq.

Just like we turned a corner when the statue fell.
Just like we turned a corner when we killed Saddam's sons.
Just like we turned a corner when we found Saddam.
Just like we turned a corner when we handed sovereignity to the Iraqis.
Just like we turned a corner when Iraq held its first elections.
Just like we turned a corner when Iraq held its second elections.
Just like we turned a corner when the constitution was ratified.
Just like we turned a corner when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed.
Just like we turned a corner when we handed over security to Iraqi forces...

Coming soon- Jesus horses at the Smithsonian

I read this today, and I nearly fell out of my chair:
Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that the official position of a 'national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’"

These people are unbelievable.

Joe Lieberman: Professional Idiot

I have read Sen. Lieberman's op-ed in today's Washington Post a number of times and I still cannot figure out what the hell he is saying. His argument is that we need to increase the number of troops in the country because we can't let the country fall into the hands of al-Qeada and Iran. Yet, I have come to the conclusion that he got some monkeys together and had them type away, and kept any sentence that seemed reasonably coherent. He is not a bright man. To wit:
  • If he is so concerned about Iran then why go to war to begin with? As Anonymous Liberal points out, Iran was essentially a winner once the first troop stepped foot in Iraq. As the new Iraqi government was bound to be friendly with Iran considering the number of Shi'ites in Iraq.
  • He, apparently, is just itching for a fight with Iran. Why? Well, the reasons aren't exactly clear. If invading Iraq has cost us half a billion and thousands of lives- one would reasonably expect Iran to be that much tougher.
  • As Sam Rosenfeld suggests, Lieberman thinks it appropriate to use comic book language to describe the conflict. Rather then trying to understand the complexity of the Middle East, he has a child's understanding of the conflict.
There is a hell of lot more to say, but I fear that continuing to parse his argument will cause brain damage.

I, for one, welcome our new overlords

This is just scary-- A recent ruling by a judge in Florida stated that an industry's trade secrets are more important than guaranteeing fair elections.

In Florida's 13th congressional district, the election between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan was extremely close, with Buchanan earning 369 more votes. However, the actual results are uncertain because of serious problems with the voting equipment. In Sarasota county alone, there were 18.000 votes that were not counted (all on computer voting machines). Jennings' lawyers, the ACLU and People for the American Way each filed motions asking that the software, which runs the voting machines, be examined. Here is the judge's reply:
Judge William L. Gary called their request "nothing more than conjecture and not supported by credible evidence," and said that making the secret code available for scrutiny "would result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets."
If this ruling holds, we are all in a lot of trouble. Private corporations will effectively own our democracy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Breaking the proverbial...

It has been a long time, but I saw my first show since moving to Philly. I was lucky enough to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at a great local spot.

I love seeing live music and Philly grabs all of the big shows. Unfortunately, the shows I want to see have come on nights that I cannot see music. Hopefully that will change.

Ain't technology grand?

My brother in law, gave me an old iPod recently.

The thing is like crack for the ears.

President Bush's horrible decisions are making him feel horribly

David Ignatius of the Washington Post feels really bad for the President because his grand adventure in Iraq is not working out well.
Bush opened the emotional curtain at a news conference last week. A reporter noted that Lyndon Johnson hadn't been able to sleep well during the Vietnam War and asked Bush if this was a "painful time" for him. He gave an unexpectedly personal answer: "Most painful aspect of my presidency has been knowing that good men and women have died in combat. I read about it every night. And my heart breaks for a mother or father or husband or wife or son and daughter. It just does. And so when you ask about pain, that's pain."
On the bright side, the war is essentially an abstraction, with no real consequences. It is kinda like 'Deal or No Deal':
What makes reality TV gripping is that it's all happening live -- the contestants make their choices under pressure, win or lose. So too with Bush. He is making a vast wager -- of American lives, treasure and the nation's security -- that his judgments about Iraq were right. The Baker-Hamilton report gave him a chance to take some chips off the table, but Bush doesn't seem interested. He is still playing to win. The audience is shouting out advice, but the man under the spotlight knows he will have to make this decision alone.
Let's see what is in the briefcases...

The most popular unpopular President in US history

I don't know how else to parse this, but according to Heidi Collins of CNN, the President is AWESOME (from Atrios).
Ken Rudin: Given the fact that John Edwards from day 1 has been talking about the two Americas, the fact there's been a disparity among - with economics in this country.

Heidi Collins: Ken, forgive me, do you want to position yourself as the opposition to Bush or do you want to be the person who says hey, this is all about bipartisan. Do you really want to be talking about two different Americas because of how close that sounds to, you know, two different worlds in Washington even? And getting things done.
Why does the President represent one side of the debate? With overwhelming opposition from the American people to just about every policy, the President represents the fringe of debate. It would be nice if the news media started to understand that.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is getting ridiculous

For conservatives, having a healthy debate on the merits of the Iraq war sends a dangerous message to our enemies. Yet saying the following is just fine:
“Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior.”
This quote came from Robin Hayes, a congressman on the Armed Services committee, in a speech to a local Rotary club.

I wish I could understand how their brains work.

Joe Scarborough gets it right

It seems odd to say this, but conservative commentator Joe Scarborough provided a crystal clear explanation of why the president is moving into dangerous waters. On last night's show he, and his panel, systematically deconstructed the flawed decision making regarding the war in Iraq. I recommend viewing the whole segment (here).

Considering that Scarborough has been a long time supporter of the president, I view this as a hopeful sign that other conservatives will begin to see the light. This is not an issue that can be neatly delineated as a partisan one, all Americans need to see that Bush's failures as a leader will have profound consequences.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top 5 Albums of the Year

Unfortunately this was not a big year for me purchasing music. With changing cities, buying a house and starting a new academic program, I just couldn't find the time to pick up some new CDs. That having been said, I really really liked the following 5 albums (in no particular order).

Band of Horses (Everything All the Time)- this is a band out of Seattle, which is in heavy play at KEXP. Oddly enough, I don't own this album but I have heard enough of it to realize what a great album it is.

Neko Case (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood)- an absolutely beautiful album. It has come to the point where she could pull a Yoko Ono and scream for 45 minutes and I would love it.

The Silver Jews (Tanglewood Numbers)- I would bet my right kidney that you can't find a better lyricist then David Berman.

Built to Spill (You in Reverse)- this was a wonderful album. I know this because my wife stole it and has kept it in her car for months.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (Rabbit Fur Coat)- similar to Neko Case, but different enough to make this an excellent album. She is Loretta Lynn and Neko Case is Patsy Cline. That is a good thing.

Songs that I wish I wrote or was allowed to sing on (links go to YouTube videos):
The Hold Steady- Chips Ahoy
Loose Fur- Hey Chicken
The Decemberists- Oh Valencia

My old academic department

For anyone who wonders about the things that happen in academic departments, I offer you this:
After I worked out yesterday night at the Community Center, while I was drying my hair at the men's locker room, a guy passed by and told me: "it was nice in the beginning until you f...ed it up". I looked at him and then he said "I meant your hair" and he smiled. He is big, tall, white, with black short hair around 30-40 years old. He looked like a hitman to me. I have never seen him in the Community Center and he did not work out yesterday, only came by the locker room dressed in jeans and a sweater, not work-out clothes.

If a professor wants to hire a hitman to beat me up or intimidate me now that I got my Ph.D., at least the Department will know where to start from,
This was a message posted by a student to the entire department. He has just completed his Ph.D. and has continually made accusations that members of the faculty were out to get him (with some meager evidence to support him).

Fortunately, I do not study there any more.

Of course there is a liberal media bias...

Columnist and commentator Debbie Schlussel (a frequent contributor to MSNBC, CNN and NPR) recently had this to say about Senator Barak Obama.
So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
You see, Barak Obama's father (a father he did not know) was Kenyan and a Muslim. So of course, he must be a terrorist.

Considering how insulting her comment was, you would think that she would be shunned by the mainstream media, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Just like Dennis Prager and Glenn Beck, if you are a member of the right wing fringe you can say just about anything you want. There will always be a seat for these people on the cable news talk shows.

But god forbid someone mention that former RNC chair Ken Mehlman is gay...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Putting two and two together

I am really not very encouraged with two items in the news. The first is the announcement that Bush would like to increase the size of our armed forces. The second is in regards to a recent revelation that the Navy is going to increase its presence in the Persian Gulf to warn Iran about its recent behavior.

I know it seems far-fetched to bring up, but this is not a normal person in the White House. I would not be surprised if within a year we are militarily engaged in Iran. The president is becoming increasingly detached from reality and views himself as a monumental historical figure. Iran is just the place to cement, what he thinks, will be his grand legacy.

Virgil Goode- Fighting the War on America since 1996

What an absolute tool.

Congressman Virgil Goode is warning his constituents about the coming scourge of Muslims. His evidence? Newly elected representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) is a Muslim. Apparently Muslims hate our democratic ideals so much that they are participating in elections and getting elected.

Here is a segment of the letter:
I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.
The sad thing is, this type of letter has been written to constituents for over 100 years. Just replace Muslim with Black, Catholic, Latino, Gay, Lesbian, etc. and you have the field manual for every right wing jackass in our nation's history.

Why do they do this? Because it is all they have.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Troop Surge

Let me get this straight, the grand plan for Iraq now is to add more troops? How did this plan even pass the laugh test? Why do we continue to listen to folks that were 100% wrong about this whole endeavor?

Take the latest news from Iraq, which states that violence in the country is at its highest point since Iraq regained sovereignty:
Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since Iraq regained its sovereignty in June 2004, the Pentagon told Congress on Monday in the latest indication of that country’s spiraling violence.

In a report issued the same day Robert Gates took over as defense secretary, the Pentagon said that from mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months.

Every step Bush has taken has been the wrong one. I think we would have a lot more success if instead of following him, we asked him what he thinks the right move would be and then do the exact opposite.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still bleeding


This article was in the very same paper as the Clinton article mentioned below. The focus of the article is on Bush's stubbornness (or as they say- stalwartness). Here is a little taste:

The seemingly unshakeable confidence in the rightness of his positions has helped the current president weather political storms that might overwhelm others. For a man who presides over an unpopular war, just lost Congress and faces a final two years with constrained options, Bush gives little sign of self-pity. At holiday parties for friends and family in recent days, he has found himself bucking up others depressed by the turn in his political fortunes. "Don't worry, it's not as bad as it looks," he told one friend visiting the White House. "There's a lot we can get done."

The friend, who shared the private moments on the condition of anonymity, was struck by how upbeat Bush seemed. "But he's not a fool," the friend added. "He knows how bad all this is, trust me. There is some resignation that this is where he finds himself. I know he's got a lot of second thoughts about how he got there. Anybody would."


I really can't believe they are sticking to this script, with both of these men. Clinton's sexual foibles had no real consequences on the American people, yet he is seen as an unhinged fiend hell-bent on destroying the American way of life. But President Bush has us bogged down in Iraq for the foreseeable future, he has torn up the Bill of Rights, decimated our ability to lead on the global stage, mismanaged every aspect of the US economy and has, through negligence, helped to arm both North Korea and Iran. Why have all these things happened? Because the President will not change his mind on anything. His stubbornness is THE reason things are as bad as they are.

Sometimes they make my eyes bleed

Sweet Jesus, this article in the Washington Post is as about as bad as it gets. This country is in need of some real leadership and instead we get an article about why former President Clinton's indiscretions matter for Hilary Clinton.

I can't, for the life of me, figure out why they even bothered with this. Their central tenet is that Bill is a liability because of his past, yet in this article they note that the former President is incredibly popular. The only population that cares about this crap is the press. They have completely manufactured this controversy and will make sure that it is all over the evening news and Sunday morning talk shows.

Here is the thing that the press must come to understand, the American people do not need endless examinations regarding the minor weaknesses of our leaders. Instead, we need substantive and thoughtful explorations of the major issues. If they just put half their energy into looking at these issues, there is no telling how much better off we would be.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The first strike in the Hobo Wars has begun

I really don't know how else to read this, but it seems that the Hobo and their ilk have finally emerged:
A small spider bite turned out to be a big problem for Cindy Pettey. Pettey awoke when she was bitten on the stomach in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, but thought little else of it. Then she started running a fever, she felt achy and weak. The bite sore became larger.

Next thing Pettey knew, a doctor was telling her he believed she'd been bitten by a dangerous hobo spider.

Pettey had surgery that removed 10 pounds of skin and flesh, leaving her with an abdomen covered in stitches.

I fear for my friends in Oregon (where this attack occurred) but to be honest with you, it is every man for himself/herself. We are at code red here and unfortunately the Department of Homeland Security has neglected their duty. As such, I will step in to provide some advice.
  1. Do not, I repeat, do not cool your fresh baked pies on your window sill.
  2. If you feel the need to hop a train, please consult a non-Hobo travel agent.
  3. If you come upon some folks standing around a trash can fire, ask them to sing. If they sound like Billy Joel you can approach them, they are doo-wop singers. If not, run like hell.

I loved reading this

From the New York Times, here is an article on how Craigslist is refusing to turn its operation into a cash cow. The article has special relevance to me as I am just finishing up a course on Advertising and Society, and this article really highlights just why the ad industry is terrified of the internet. I had proposed in class that the biggest problem facing the businesses world, is that places are popping up all of the time for folks that want to avoid commercialism. Unfortunately, for the business world, these people are the ones that are most likely to innovate and create (and represent a target demo for the ad industry).

On a related note, I predict that in one year YouTube will be the ifilm of today. The switch to advertising on the sight and increasing commercial oversight will move traffic elsewhere.

God help us

Two small items in the news today have succeeded in scaring the crap out of me. The first is from the daily press briefing with Tony Snow. He was asked about Senator Smith's (R-OR) assessment of the war in Iraq, here is his response:

QUESTION: You’re just going to blow it off. A Republican senator is saying that president’s policy may be criminal and it’s immoral and you’re just saying…

SNOW: What would you like me to say? Should I…

QUESTION: Don’t you think you should answer for that? You’re saying — you said from this podium over and over that the strategy is victory, right?

SNOW: And it continues to be.

QUESTION: And you have a Republican senator saying there is no clear strategy, that you don’t have a strategy.

SNOW: Well, let’s let Senator Smith hear what the president has to say. We understand that this is a time where politics are emotional in the wake of an election. And you know what? Senator Smith is entitled to his opinion.
Then there was this in the NY Daily News, which sought to find out how the President is coping with the recent criticisms of his Iraq strategy (via Atrios):

Yet Bush is described by another recent visitor as still resolutely defiant, convinced history will ultimately vindicate him.

"I'll be dead when they get it right," he said during an Oval Office meeting last week.

While I would certainly agree that there are times to shun conventional wisdom, however, the President has crossed the line. He is absolutely delusional and a megalomaniac.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Juan Williams on the brink

NPR reporter Juan Williams has been a fixture on Fox News Sunday for quite some time, and I have been worried that his exposure to these conservative clowns had caused some long term damage. If this segment from today's show is any indication, it looks like he is going to be alright (here is the video):

WILLIAMS: Squishy, impatient, you know, they’ll be in the land of milk and honey? What do you imagine, an American administration is coming in, Republican or Democrat, after President Bush that’s just going to lay down and run away like scared little —

HUME: It will not be phrased that way. Listen, Juan, it’s very simple.

WILLIAMS: This is really — sometimes i just want to scream. You guys have been going on since this thing began. I mean, you don’t give credit to people, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Barbara Lee, people who said from the start this is a mistake. You put them down. Now it’s everybody’s a surrender monkey or impatient or squeamish or weak. Why can’t you say, hey, there’s a real problem in Iraq?

There all idiots

From Atrios, you would think that at some point Joe Biden would realize that he has been saying the same thing for over 3 years!

When hearing things like this, I become completely disheartened that there will be a solution to the trouble in Iraq. These people that we have trusted to lead this country are about as distanced from reality than anyone you would find in a state mental hospital, which is the oddly ironic thing about so-called 'foreign policy realists'. They strive, continuously, to sound authoritative and steely eyed--in the moment, yet when you actually look at their comments over time it is readily apparent that they have absolutely no clue. For them, there is no Iraq, it is purely an abstraction that can be safely debated on a weekend talk show.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A petulant little child

There is no other way to describe the President (except for totally delusional). The President had met with Democratic leaders to discuss the ISG report and what they could do to forge a strategy that worked. Kevin Drum found this little nugget in a report of a meeting Bush had with Democratic leaders:

Instead, Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.

Bush said that "in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America," recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill. "He's trying to position himself in history and to justify those who continue to stand by him, saying sometimes if you're right you're unpopular, and be prepared for criticism."

Durbin said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now — work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

I don't know what worries me most here. The fact that the President had a tantrum when he was called on something, or that he thinks the comparison between he and Truman is an apt one.

Washington vs. the rest of us

Digby has a great post about the utter insanity at work within the Washington establishment. I strongly recommend reading the whole thing, but if you are not so inclined I will boil it down for you.

Bill Clinton was a horrible man because he lied about Monica Lewinsky, the Washington Elite could not believe that the President would bring such dishonor to their quaint little village on the Potomac. Nevermind the fact that President Clinton was doing a remarkable job running our country, his transgressions against the Establishment (which weren't transgressions at all) were enough. He made the sleepy little town of DC look unseemly.

Contrast that to George W. Bush. He is a man of integrity who has maintained the right level of decorum in Washington, and really, who cares that his decisions as President have been atrocious. So what if he has the US bogged down in a war that we cannot win. So what if he let New Orleans die so that he could stay on vacation. So what if he has trashed the Constitution. The important thing is, he is being a good resident of DC.

The closest thing I can compare this sick little game to is a high school clique, for them, the clique comes first and everything else can be ignored.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Night Video

I was going to post the video to Chips Ahoy by The Hold Steady, but I saw this. This man is an absolute genius.

Senator Smith's lament and why it doesn't matter

Having lived in Oregon, I am not a particular fan of their junior Senator, Gordon Smith. He is as much of a political opportunist as anyone I have seen on the political stage, so I am doubtful he really means what he says here (he is up for re-election in 2008, in a state that is becoming bluer by the hour). That having been said, it is encouraging to hear such a strong message coming from a Republican:
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen Gordon Smith, a moderate Republican from Oregon who has been a supporter of the war in Iraq, said the U.S. military's "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore."

Smith said he is at, "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day.

"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."

Smith said he has tried to quietly support President Bush during the course of the war -- and doesn't believe the president intentionally lied to get the U.S. into the war -- but now recognizes, "we have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation" for a war waged due to bad intelligence.

Moved this week by the findings of the Iraq Study Group, Smith said he needed to "speak from my heart.

"I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way," he said.
The sad part is, no matter how much the American people protest. The US will not leave Iraq in the immediate future. As Atrios has detailed, the President is wedded to Iraq and any pretense that he will listen to reason is misplaced. As this article from the U.S. News indicates:

Former White House advisers to George H.W. Bush are keenly disappointed and concerned about the current President Bush's initial reaction to the report by the Iraq Study Group.

They consider him rather dismissive of the group's conclusions, issued yesterday, which include the view that current Iraq policy is failing. The group recommends a variety of important changes, such as assigning U.S. troops to play more of an advisory and training role and less of a combat role. The ISG also recommends that the United States withdraw most of its combat brigades by early 2008 and that the administration increase diplomatic efforts, including starting talks with Iran and Syria and energetically working toward an Israeli-Palestinian solution.

Adding to the unease were President Bush's comments at his Thursday news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in which he avoided commenting on specifics in the ISG report.

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons," says a former adviser to Bush the elder. "If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."

No level of protestations, short of Laura Bush and Barney leaving the President, will get us out of Iraq in the short term. For Bush, he has simply replaced one addiction with another. He is an Iraqaholic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why am I not surprised?

From the "you have got to kidding me department", it turns out the 'moral' conservative blow hard Dennis Prager, I blogged about a couple days ago, was appointed by President Bush to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Maybe Bush placed him on the board so that they could get the perspective of an intolerant bigot. That is really the best explanation I have.

Damn end of the semester

I had been waiting to write a post like this until things settled down a bit, work wise. However, Matthew Yglesias wrote the exact same words I had wanted to write:
This, however, is just the very mix of silence, collaboration, and complicity on the part of "respectable," "credible," "mainstream" analysts that produced the war in the first place. The more courageous and farsighted voices who got things right were treated as marginal at the time and, shockingly, are still treated as marginal -- excluded from all the coolest bipartisan commissions.
I can't, for the life of me, understand why those who opposed the war at the outset have been shut out of the process for figuring out how to fix this infernal mess. If you want to be serious, you should try and get the advice of those people that had a serious understanding of the risks associated with going into Iraq. Until the press and the political establishment get this very simple point, we will continue to make horrid foreign policy mistakes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Good times and no sniffles

About 12 years ago, a woman I worked with on trying to save the planet told me about this, and now it is news. At the time, I thought, you must really, really, really want to get high if you are willing to drink copious amounts of the most vile substance known to man. Yet, on the bright side none of that nasty chest congestion.

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat

Lou Dobbs knows as much about polls as the nice young woman at Movering knows about herpetology.

Getting serious

I read this article in the Washington Post, and thought, hmm...these are not household names. Yet, in a sane world, each of these people would be on the political talk show circuit explaining what our next move in Iraq should be. Why? Well, because they were right about Iraq and as such, they have displayed some fundamental understanding of foreign policy. They said the following BEFORE the war in Iraq started:

John Spratt (D-SC)
"the outcome after the conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less certain."
Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Warned that Bush's postwar strategy must "take seriously" the possibility that a replacement regime "might be rejected by the Iraqi people, leading to civil unrest and even anarchy."
David Obey (D-WI)
He spoke then about poor preparation for postwar Iraq, a concern he developed after listening to State Department officials.
Instead, we get Joe Lieberman and John McCain gracing every Sunday morning talk show. How does that make any sense?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Best. Video. Ever.

This video has been out for a while, but I absolutely love it. If I am correct, it was filmed in Portland.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

In a fair world

If we were to elect our Presidents based solely on their ability, Barney Frank would be wrapping up his second term.

Just a great mind, and a guy that should have a lot more power than he currently has. Watch.

Sensible Conservative Night

The sensible conservatives keep pissing me off. This time is George "Please, for the Love of God, Don't Give Me a Wedgie" Will. As I wrote about two nights ago, Jim Webb served a big old slice of Shut the F-up Pie to George W. Bush. Yet, to paint a picture of a liberal run amok (psychedelic flashback to Howard Dean's Presidential run) George Will made it seem like Webb was being a bully:
Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."
This is not what happened. This is the Washington Post's account of the incident (which Will cites):

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Webb responded to the President in way that was commensurate with the President's response. Unfortunately, some idiot Democratic consultant has gotten the vapors over the incident (from Digby):
Jesus H Christ. I'm watching some "Democratic strategist" named Rich Masters agree with Joe Scarborough that Jim Webb had made a rookie mistake by failing to kiss George W. Bush's ass when the jerk got snippy with him. Scarborough and whichever GOPbot they have on there agrees that it really reflects badly on the democratic party as a whole and Webb should apologise.
I have one thing to say about this, wonvweor oerowe foewnfowenroiqwen werfasdkawoaej. Once again I am so angry words fail me.

Note to Democrats who feel we need to apologize when we are the ones getting bullied: please go on vacation, those of us who are willing to stand up for what we believe will come and get you when all of this unfortunate business is over.

Idiot alert

Most people are not aware of who Dennis Prager is, but he tries to tout himself as the thinking man's conservative (he was a fellow at Columbia University-- although as a certain friend of mine is aware, that is really just a clown college). He hosts a radio show and writes columns and while he is not nearly as bombastic as Rush Limbaugh, he certainly has a lot of influence.

That is unfortunate, because he seems to be a huge fan of lead paint cocktails. In one of his latest columns he gets real angry at one of the Democrats' newest congressmen- Keith Ellison. The crime? Rep. Ellison is a Muslim. Prager lambasted Ellison because he imagined that when Ellison was sworn in as a representative he would pledge to be loyal to the US with his hand on the Koran and not the Bible. He compared being sworn in with a Koran to being sworn in with Mein Kampf.

The problem? Well, for one, US representatives are not sworn in with any religious text. The other, well...there is this thing we call the Constitution and it makes a very clear point:
Article VI. - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
What is funny is that when I saw what Prager had to say, I knew immediately he was full of it. Yet, to the conservatives? He is some sort of genius. It almost makes you feel bad for them.

Calling BS

I really like this article by Dan Froomkin, although I am not sure if he is exactly right. I don't think that the press is afraid to call BS any longer. The press calls BS on a lot of things, the problem is that they don't call it on the things that matter. If you are powerless then the press has no problem tearing you apart. However, if you wield any power at all, then the press will let you get away with, literally, murder.

It seems that in this media environment the only ones who are willing to call BS on those in charge are The Daily Show, The Colbert Report or Keith Olbermann. Unfortunately, anything they say is done with the understanding that they are being snarky.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lovin' me some spine

Looks like Senator Elect Webb from Virginia has been watching Rikki- oh. snap.
President Bush has pledged to work with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, but he has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Jim Webb, whose surprise victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) tipped the Senate to the Democrats.

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.

Also, this from the WP about the interaction:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.


"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."

Just a reminder, this was the Senator that everyone said was going to be the Great Centrist Hope. HA! (Thanks to LieparDestin at DailyKos)

P.S. Is Rikki even still alive?
P.S.S. I can guarantee you Sen. Webb did the whole finger snap thing.

Christian Coalition: Love the Coalition, Hate the Jesus

Looks like the Christian Coalition was looking for more of a Republican Jesus type to lead the organization. Their most recent head was asked to leave after it was revealed he wanted to focus on the poor. Silly man, doesn't he know that we do God's work when we push for a repeal of the Estate Tax?
The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America (Rev. Joel C. Hunter), which has long served as a model for activism for the religious right, has stepped down, saying the group resisted his efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming.

Dr. Hunter said his departure from the Christian Coalition indicated his belief in the rise of an evangelical Christian constituency that is less interested in the passage of certain laws and focused instead on “living what Jesus would do.”
I am not a jesusologist, but I think Jesus kind of focused on issues related to helping the poor. I guess the Christian Coalition just didn't get the memo.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More nonsense

I remember back in 2003 when this war started, I thought it was a very very very bad idea. It turns out I was wrong, it was a very very very very very very very bad idea. We have officially lost to the insurgency and increased al-Qaeda's power. However, in President Bush's defense, he DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH AN INTERN. From the Washington Post:
The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.

The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said.

The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post, is far more bleak than some officials suggested when they described it in late summer. The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.
UPDATE: From AmericaBlog, what else has our involvement in Iraq gotten us? This:
"[Iranian President] Ahmadi-Nejad's hand may in fact have never been stronger. With an ambitions nuclear program, the world's third largest oil reserves, a massive army and ballistic missile arsenal he's also gained huge popularity on the so called Arab street by supporting Hezbollah's recent fight against Israel.
Either way Tehran is now clearly a necessary destination for key players in the Middle East. "
I thought the war in Iraq was going to strengthen our hand in the Middle East? We must be playing for the low-hand.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I finally got a digital picture of the newest member of the 'family'. But first, here is our first dog Lola. She is about the same size as a grizzly bear, and like a pre-pubescent child every picture ever taken of her looks weird.

This is Pico, he is quite a bit smaller than Lola. He is still a puppy, when we take him to the dog park it is like a shower scene in a bad prison movie.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I am not one of those folks who thinks we should impeach the President (normally), but you can only take so much of the incompetence without completely losing your mind.

First off, I don't know what it means to embolden our enemies, but I am pretty damn sure this is not going to unembolden them.
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many of the insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says that $25 million to $100 million of the total comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

So...they are now able to completely fund their own insurgency? At least they have the whole entrepreneurship thing down. It also looks like they are going to start franchising the mayhem.
“If accurate,” the report says, its estimates indicate that these “sources of terrorist and insurgent finance within Iraq — independent of foreign sources — are currently sufficient to sustain the groups’ existence and operation.” To this, it adds what may be its most surprising conclusion: “In fact, if recent revenue and expense estimates are correct, terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq may have surplus funds with which to support other terrorist organizations outside of Iraq.”
f ewior iwer oiuerj adinai rwerijkldmklfj. That is how mad this news makes me. I can only type nonsense words. The Iraqi insurgency now has enough money to open an "International House of Suicide Bombing" in a city near you. But gets worse. According to Michael Ware of CNN, this is the type of action we are seeing in Iraq, and there is no way to candy coat it:
...for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like.

This is what we're talking about. We're talking about Sunni neighborhoods shelling Shia neighborhoods, and Shia neighborhoods shelling back.

We're having Sunni communities dig fighting positions to protect their streets. We're seeing Sunni extremists plunging car bombs into heavily-populated Shia marketplaces. We're seeing institutionalized Shia death squads in legitimate police and national police commando uniforms going in, systematically, to Sunni homes in the middle of the night and dragging them out, never to be seen again.

I mean, if this is not civil war, where there is, on average, 40 to 50 tortured, mutilated, executed bodies showing up on the capital streets each morning, where we have thousands of unaccounted for dead bodies mounting up every month, and where the list of those who have simply disappeared for the sake of the fact that they have the wrong name, a name that is either Sunni or Shia, so much so that we have people getting dual identity cards, where parents cannot send their children to school, because they have to cross a sectarian line, then, goodness, me, I don't want to see what a civil war looks like either if this isn't one.
This is what we are faced with now, an insurgency powerful enough to farm out their bombings and a people engaged in a full scale civil war. I am now at the point where if any 'serious' foreign policy thinker were to tell me, to my face, that Iraq is still winnable and a noble cause, I would haul off an punch them square in the mouth.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Who is to blame?

Glenn Greenwald has a very good post about how the Bush Administration tried its damnedest to link the surge in Iraqi violence to the insurgency's desire to have the Democrats win the elections; and with the bombings yesterday, this certainly is not true.
Ponder how corrupt and misleading their coordinated pre-election claim was: All the increased violence in Iraq was just about the midterm election, not a sign of a spiraling civil war. It was just The Terrorists who hate Bush, because he is so tough with them, trying to help the Democrats. Nothing was really that bad in Iraq. Once the elections are over, it will all subside, because it's only about that.

The only thing worse than government leaders lying to their citizens so blatantly about a war is lying in order to benefit themselves politically for cheap electoral gain, so that's exactly what Bush officials and Bush followers do.
I agree whole heartedly that the Bush administration is completely detestable for attempting to do this, but I also think there is a special room in hell for the press. As I.F. Stone said "All governments lie", and we need the major news outlets to ask very simple, yet essential, questions. In the reports of the violence yesterday, there was no mention made of the pre-election exhortations of Bush, Cheney and the like. Without press accountability on this matter, these madmen will continue to push ridiculous notions. This isn't just plain old incompetence, it is willful negligence.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nothin' says Thanksgiving better than a little Yo La Tengo

Memories of the way we were

I came across these editorial drawings by David Horsey of the Seattle P.I. today and I was struck by how ridiculous they seem. I know hindsight is 20/20, but our hubris pre-Iraq was remarkable.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The problem with blogging

I posted about my support for Representative Rangel's desire to debate reinstating the draft the other day, and as usual someone came up with a much more eloquent way to discuss the same issue. CURSE YOU INTERNET!!!!

Anywho, I found this piece by Lawrence O'Donnell at the HuffPost and he does a great job of making the point. In addition, this story about he and Kissinger just about sums it up:
In my one conversation with Kissinger, which occurred on TV, I asked him if he knew anyone who got killed in Vietnam. He was completely thrown. He doesn't go on TV to be asked such small-minded questions, he goes on TV to pontificate and TV interviewers are happy to let him do it. Kissinger sputtered and ran away from the question, leaving the distinct impression that he did not know anyone who was killed in the war he managed. His memoir of the period does not mention a single casualty. If you have ever stood at the Vietnam Memorial and run your hand over the name of a relative on the wall, as my mother and I did last month, you can get as angry as Charlie Rangel does about people like Kissinger deciding how long our soldiers should be exposed to enemy fire in a war we know we can't win.
We need to know why they don't send themselves or their families off to war.

Broca Vindicated

A friend of mine, who incidentally has the hair of Zeus/James Traficant/Eric Estrada, challenged me on the assertion that conservatives are not funny. As more proof I offer this.

Detainee blues

My growing frustration with the news division at NPR not withstanding, this piece they did the other day on Gitmo and detainees was remarkable. They interviewed one of the lawyers for the detainees and it is just amazing how much leeway the government has. Here is one of the snippets:

"Ninety-six percent of the time, [the government] produced no evidence of any sort," Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux told NPR's Robert Siegel. Denbeaux represents two detainees and co-authored the report.

"They relied instead on secret evidence that was classified," Denbeaux says. "And the government's procedure was, anything in that secret evidence was presumed to be valuable and valid. And then the detainee was given the opportunity to rebut the secret evidence. But he was never told what the secret evidence was."

If you have the time, listen to the whole interview it is really hard to stomach.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fox News to try satire show

Are we headed in the direction of a worldwide irony shortage? Will the US have to drill for irony in Alaska?

All signs point to yes:
Fox News Channel might air two episodes of a "Daily Show"-like program with a decidedly nonliberal bent on Saturday nights in late January, with the possibility that it could become a weekly show for the channel.

The half-hour show is executive produced by "24's" Joel Surnow and Manny Cota and creator Ned Rice, who previously wrote for "Politically Incorrect" and "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" through This Just In Prods. It would take aim at what Surnow calls "the sacred cows of the left" that don't get made as much fun of by other comedy shows.

"It's a satirical news format that would play more to the Fox News audience than the Michael Moore channel," Surnow said. "It would tip more right as 'The Daily Show' tips left."
So, let me get this straight...Fox News is going to produce a fake news show...

In terms of being funny, I want to put this out there to all of the conservatives, Republican is to comedian as Christian is to rocker. Comedy is not a world conservatives were meant to inhabit; like me and hair salons, the universe decided there was no need to put us together. Do you want evidence? The funniest Republican, without a doubt, is Drew Carey.

Quod erat demonstrandum

Bringing back the draft

In looking over the news, I found this story. Rep. Rangel wants to reinstate the draft, and this is why:
There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way
On this count, he is absolutely correct and it will be intriguing to see how the issue is handled. My gut tells me that this will be viewed as political grandstanding and Rangel will be vilified in this order-
  1. Right wing bloggers
  2. Right wing commentators
  3. Fox News and Republicans
  4. Joe Lieberman and The New Republic
  5. CNN
  6. Joe Biden
  7. Moderate Democrats
Why? Well, because for numbers 1-3 it is their job. But 4-7? Because Rangel is bringing up class and race inequity, and in the US, doing that is equivalent to drinking freshly squeezed puppies. The fact that it is typically working class folks, and not the well-heeled, that are getting shot at, is like the uncomfortable family secret everyone knows but doesn't talk about.

That having been said, it is an issue that will blow up in the Democrats' faces. The news frame on this issue will be that the Democrats are reckless, and out to kill your kids. Nevertheless, this is a place I would like to see a line drawn in the sand.

Together We're Heavy

I really don't have anything to say about this image. It just looks like President Bush has decided to leave office to form a band with other world leaders. Why might he do so? That is elementary, it is designed to combat The Polyphonic Spree's musical/global hegemony.

Good for President Bush.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Daily Show - Jon Stewart - Ted Koppel on Iran

Staying on message

I wonder what it will take for the media to divorce themselves from the storylines they have adopted so eagerly. From what I can gather they are working from the following script:
  1. Nancy Pelosi is already ruined as Speaker, because there was a contested election for Majority Leader in which her favored candidate lost (although she won the election for speaker unanimously).
  2. The Democrats are operating with little to no popular support (although they won big in the last election).
  3. The future of the Democratic party is with the conservative wing (although the newest poster boy for the conservative narrative says things that would have made Eugene Debs blush)
  4. The President is still teh cool (although recent polls have him at all-time lows)
Normally, empirical evidence would provide an impetus to change minds. Unfortunately, it seems that the press will just be using the same script they have been using for the last 14 years.

Paging Mr. Orwell

I wrote about this UCLA story last night, and after talking with some folks in my office decided to check out the 'official' line on this story. Here is part of the article from the AP:
A UCLA police officer shocked a student with a stun gun at a campus library after he refused repeated requests to show student identification and wouldn't leave, police said.

The student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, was shocked Tuesday at about 11 p.m. as police did a routine check of student IDs at the University of California, Los Angeles Powell Library computer lab.

"This is a long-standing library policy to ensure the safety of students during the late-night hours," said UCLA Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein.

She said police tried to escort Tabatabainejad, 23, out of the library after he refused to provide identification. Tabatabainejad instead encouraged others at the library to join his resistance, and when a crowd began to gather, police used the stun gun on him, Greenstein said.

It is both fascinating and scary to read this story. Thematically, the story suggests that the force used was appropriate, the student was a troublemaker and that the crowd was simply observing the incident. Compare this to the video. These notions are absolutely false. The police tasered the student multiple times when he was on the ground, the student was trying to leave AND the students were actively asking the police to stop.

You don't often find as clear examples of media legitimation of coercive state power, but when the shoe fits it really fits.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

New links

I added some new links to folks that happen to write some fun stuff. You will be pleased to know that none of them has ever done serious jail time.

I am like the Julio Gallo of the Internets, only the finest vintage for Disco and me.

p.s. Fight the tattoo, give some loot.

Why do the Democrats hate everything?

Apparently, there is some huge military confilict giong on in Irack, or something or other. I really don't know enough (or care) to comment on that, so I will trust Fox News to get you the information you need.

Anywho...judging from the media reports, the only story in the world is that the Dems are in complete disarray. From the media reports that I have been reading, I get the impression that the Dem caucaus has devolved into such a state of chaos that Barney Frank was drinking goat's blood from the freshly decapitated skull of John Dingell.

Why have things gotten so bad? The Democrats had an ELECTION for Majority Leader and there was more than one candidate. That, my friends, is really bad for democracy. Never mind the fact that the Republicans put Trent "Wary of the Colored Folk" Lott into the number two spot in the Senate, the real story is that the Democrats are feasting on human flesh simply because Steny Hoyer beat out John Murtha as Majority Leader.

NOTE TO WHOEVER CRAFTS THE NARRATIVES: The Democrats are not a monolithic party. They are trying to usher in a 'new' era of politics where those that are voted into office decide on the issues, not on strict party loyalty. They are trying to be everything the Delay Republicans were not, they are going to try (and hopefully not fail) at restoring decorum to the House and Senate. This means that from time to time, there are going to be inter-party disagreements. This is not a sign of sickness, this is a sign of a healthy democracy.

Come and see the violence inherent in the system.

While my tongue is planted firmly in cheek with this title, this incident is really very disturbing. Apparently a UCLA student was tasered multiple (six) times for refusing to leave the library when the cops asked him to. In the cop's defense, he was brown (or some shade similar) and a Muslim so he should be expected to offer affirmative evidence as to why he is not a terrorist. That may seem insensitive, but as far as CNN is concerned, that is reason enough to suspect a Muslim of hating America. Here is the video of the incident:

Here is the thing, this guy was a student at UCLA who happened to forget his ID. He was on the way out of the library (which he had every reason to be in), got mad at the cops for harassing him and resisted them. Good for him, and good for the students who stood up to the cops. This is what happens when everyone is considered a terrorist. Thank you Patriot Act. I can feel the Freedom in my extremely manly loins.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This is just tremendous

Of all the newly elected figures, the one that has typically been presented as the Great Vanguard of Rational Safe Centrism is Jim Webb. It is actually not all that surprising since he was a member of the Reagan administration, but as his editorial from the Wall Street Journal shows, the take on him has been dead wrong. He is exactly the type of politician the Democratic party has needed for a very long time. Please read:

The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.

In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners' pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate "reorganization." And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind. A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation's most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the "rough road of capitalism." Others claim that it's the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.

Still others have gone so far as to argue that these divisions are the natural results of a competitive society. Furthermore, an unspoken insinuation seems to be inundating our national debate: Certain immigrant groups have the "right genetics" and thus are natural entrants to the "overclass," while others, as well as those who come from stock that has been here for 200 years and have not made it to the top, simply don't possess the necessary attributes.

Most Americans reject such notions. But the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

America's elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest. A recent survey in the Economist warned that globalization was affecting the U.S. differently than other "First World" nations, and that white-collar jobs were in as much danger as the blue-collar positions which have thus far been ravaged by outsourcing and illegal immigration. That survey then warned that "unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash" in America that would take us away from what they view to be the "biggest economic stimulus in world history."

More troubling is this: If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The "Wal-Marting" of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.

With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. Nothing is more important for the health of our society than to grant them the validity of their concerns. And our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.

Thanks to DailyKos

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

If the people lead, the leaders will follow

From Gallup

Who Should Control?

Data from the weekend USA Today/Gallup poll ratified the basic results of the election: Americans want Democrats to be in control.

Asked who they want to have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the next year, Americans by a two to one margin said the Democrats in Congress rather than Bush.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why the narrative matters

I have written quite a bit in the last few days about the framing of the Democratic victory and my own frustration with the way the media has handled it, the reason for my continued posting on the matter is that how the story is told will dictate what legislation gets passed and the level of opposition the left can offer.

When the victory is presented as the triumph of centrism, the logical conclusion is that the Democratic party should not rock the boat and instead should maintain the status quo. Yet, when viewed as a victory for populist economic policy and solid resistance to Bush foreign policy, the Democrats have a lot more leeway to aggressively push their legislative agenda.

I believe (and many others do to- one particularly good example) that the latter is true. If you look at the margins of victory for Congress and Governors on a national scale, you see something quite startling. The Democrats won big:

Races for Governor nationwide: D- 53.5% R- 42.7%
Races for Senate nationwide: D- 55% R- 42.4%
Races for House nationwide: D- 53.3% R-44.5% (does not include uncontested races)

Put into perspective, this is about the margin of victory seen in the 1988 Presidential election (53.4%R to 45.6%D), is more than the difference seen in the Republican Revolution of 1994 (51.5%R to 44.7%D) and is much more than the difference seen in the latest Presidential election (50.7%R to 48.3%D). Unfortunately, you are not going to see this discussed in the popular press. Instead you get this:
The November 21, 1994, edition of Time magazine -- published following that year's congressional elections, in which Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate -- featured the headline "G.O.P. Stampede: A Special Report" on the cover, and featured a graphic of an elephant trampling a donkey.

The November 20 edition of Time -- published following the 2006 congressional elections, in which Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate -- features the headline "Special Report: The Midterms," and features as the cover story "Why the center is the new place to be," by columnist Joe Klein, with a graphic of a Venn diagram.
And this:
The American people, as politicians like to say, spoke last week - and spoke in no uncertain terms. The 2006 vote does not suggest an eagerness for a sharp left turn. It seems, rather, to be a plea for a shift from the hard right of the neoconservatives to the center represented by the old man in Houston [President George H. W. Bush].
It just goes to show that the press corps that runs Washington cannot possibly think outside of its own incestuous conventional wisdom. I wish I could be proved wrong about this, yet these are people that think Thomas Friedman is a genius. So, my advice...don't hold your breath.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Feingold in 2012?

Well it seems that in the field of contenders for the '08 Presidential nomination we can cross off Russ Feingold. He was definitely my favorite candidate for the nomination and I am disappointed to see that he is going to be on the sidelines. I am a huge fan of Feingold for a number of reasons, but mostly because he possesses a quality that so many lack in Washington- integrity. And as the vanguard of true progressivism, in the mold of Paul Wellstone, he would have certainly kept the focus of the campaign on issues that matter.

As this excellent post by Glenn Greenwald demonstrates, having a person in Washington like Feingold drives the peddlers of conventional wisdom crazy:
It is hard to overstate how ignorant and wrong Beltway pundits are about everything, and how barren and corrupt inside-Washington conventional wisdom is.

Russ Feingold has spent his entire idiosyncratic political career espousing views because he believes them, even when those views are so plainly contrary to his political interests. He infuriated his entire party by being the only Democratic Senator to vote against dismissal of the Clinton impeachment charges prior to the Senate trial. He pursued campaign finance reform hated by incumbents in both parties.
Why does Feingold do these crazy things? Well, in his own words he sums it up rather nicely:
I love this country very much and am so lucky to be able to serve it in the United States Senate.
We really need more people like him.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Late night Friday fun

I love this video. Enjoy.


Here's the thing- my wife's friend is running a marathon in support of a mutual friend that recently died of cancer. She is hoping to raise $10,000 for the cause and now it seems she has hit the wall. Consequently, she has decided that she will put a tattoo on her derrière. Of what? The highest bidder on e-bay gets to decide.

Let's see if we can stop that from happening.

Please give now, so that she doesn't need to put some nimrod's name on her hiney.

Don't play nice

In a few of the post election articles that I have read, there is a common theme. That theme is, the Democrats need to learn to play nice with the President in order for the country to move forward. My advice? The Dems should run, not walk, away from this crap.

I don't mean to suggest that the Democrats should move towards drawing up articles of impeachment; however, the Dems need to be very wary of the White House and they weren't put into office so that they could do the Presidents bidding.

1. There is no such thing as working with the President. As history has shown, this administration has only one focus- Politics. When you work with the President, you are working to undermine your own policy position. With Karl Rove running the show, everything is about consolidating political power and compromise is tantamount to surrender. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should demand that Karl Rove resign and should tell anyone who will listen that they won't work with the White House until they are truly interested in working together.

2. We won a majority because the vast number of voters believe we need a new direction. That means we need to lead and try to enact our own agenda, rather then the Presidents. While the DC insiders appear to believe that we need to 'assume the position' in order to get anything done, the Democratic leadership should know better.

Someone please stop the E$tablishment Democrats

In my earlier predictions on this blog regarding the elections, I noted that Howard Dean would not get any credit for the congressional sweep. Well, it seems I was a bit cautious in my assessment (as I was with my House and Senate picks). In the New Republic, there is a piece which suggests that Dean failed the Democratic party. Here it is:

Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

So let me get this straight...the Democratic incumbents running for office were undefeated in all House, Senate and Governor races, in addition to gaining their respective majorities. Yet, we are to believe that Dean held this up? While, I am not going to suggest that Dean was solely responsible for the sweep, he certainly had a more integral role than all of the E$tablishment Dems put together.

Note to James Carville, Paul Begala and the rest of you jackasses: We will win more elections if you learn to just shut the hell up. Enough of the inane centrist blather of the DLC, the Dems won this election because they appealed to the people, not the DC king makers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Today was a lot of fun

For the first time in four elections, I did not spend today angry about the results. It was great to read about the seats we picked up and imagine how Karl Rove was responding to all of this. In addition, Dem incumbents did not loose a major election this cycle and that is unheard of.

As great as this win is, the narratives coming out of the election's postmortems are (ironically) killing me. According to the Wash Post and other media outlets, the Dems won because of the moderate (some might say corporate) Dem:
The passion of the antiwar movement helped propel party activists in this election year, and the House leadership under the likely new speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hails from the party's liberal wing. But the Democrats' victory was built on the back of more centrist candidates...
This is ridiculous.

True, some conservative Dems won seats, but some wild-eyed liberals also made an impressive showing. I mean for God sakes Vermont elected a socialist to represent them in the Senate!! However, rather then crafting some long analysis to deconstruct this election, I am going to leave it to the Ezra Klein from the American Prospect (read the whole damn thing):

THE DAY AFTER. It's nice to finally write one of these election wrap-ups that doesn't have to account for a massive Democratic disappointment. Change is good, right? What it does have to do is punch back against the remarkably coordinated and quick campaign from the right (and sometimes the right includes the left) seeking to paint this election as some sort of victory for ... conservatism. The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing.

Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

So is Shuler right-wing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota's abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri's stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we're really going to call this election for conservatism?

I don't think so. That distorted interpretation is being promoted by an array of right-wingers and self-styled centrists anxious to constrain the new majority's perceived range of motion. Some of them are conservatives trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others are "centrist" Democrats look to grad defeat from the jaws of victory. Both are, for ideological reasons, afraid that a Democratic majority will govern like...Democrats. And make no mistake: They'll convince no small number of Democrats to eschew any such legislative style. But if the country had wanted a continuation of conservative rule, they would have voted for it. Instead, they voted Democratic. And their elects should give them what they asked for.