Saturday, November 10, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens' groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
1. The President didn't seem too concerned with WMD attacks on our soldiers (I wonder why?)
...The troops were well within range of any weapons of mass destruction, military analysts have pointed out.2. The President had no idea how much the war would cost
US administration officials had already prepared public opinion for war by raising fears of Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme and his ability to create "mushroom clouds." But the transcript reveals the two leaders were more concerned about getting a fig leaf of international approval for the war, than any imminent threat from Saddam.
Mr Bush does admit that averting war would be "the best solution for us" and "would also save us $50bn," greatly underestimating the cost to the US treasury of nearly five years of warfare. But he also talks of how he planned to exact revenge on countries, that did not back the US in its drive to war.3. Oh yeah- there was also this- as the title indicates
Saddam 'ready to walk away for $1bn'
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"It's government insurance, not private insurance. It's European style socialized medicine," Romney said.Are you kidding me? If Hillary is talking about European-style medicine, I say bring it on. Ever seen Sicko? Media Matters does a nice job skewering this here.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
- The media- case in point, in looking at the news this evening MSNBC and AP have reported that Bush is reducing the number of troops in Iraq. He isn't. He is just putting them at pre-surge levels. Also, he has just acknowledged that our troops will be there forever. Yet, the media parrots the line that Bush is removing troops.
- The White House- I shouldn't even have to explain this.
- Congress- I understand that things cannot be changed overnight. But really, have some sort of damn backbone. The American people want a change, if the Republicans stand in your way, let the American people know.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Two Canadians were reported detained in China yesterday along with four others after they displayed a huge banner on the Great Wall calling for a free Tibet. Chinese authorities detained the six activists who were scaling down part of the wall with a 42-square-metre banner that says: One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008. The two detained Canadians have been identified as Melanie Raoul and Sam Price by the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet. Both are from Vancouver.This is the Olympic spirit in action? C'mon, what's the big deal?
Child labor. Forced abortions. Religious persecution. Jailed dissidents. Cultural cleansing in Tibet and ethnic cleansing in Africa.
Monday, August 06, 2007
For much of the last 40 years, Democrats have ignored their guts and searched for the best facts and figures. But the most compelling fact is that during those 40 years, only one Democrat has been reelected to the presidency. Bill Clinton was also the only Democrat who intuitively understood that the best appeals seize people with something emotionally compelling, lay out the alternatives posed by the candidates and "close the argument" with inspiration or outrage.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Police and army reinforcements were sent to the town of Lithang in western Sichuan province following the incident Wednesday at an annual horse festival that attracts thousands, according to the overseas monitoring group International Campaign for Tibet and the U.S. government-supported Radio Free Asia. The reports said a local man, Runggye Adak, was detained after he climbed onto a stage erected for Chinese officials, grabbed a microphone and asked the crowd if they wanted the Dalai Lama to return. Hundreds responded with a roaring yes, the reports said. A crowd later gathered a detention center to appeal for Runggye Adak's release, but officers fired warning shots to disperse the group, it said. RFA said about 200 Tibetans were detained following the protest, but gave no indication of whether they were still in custody.
This is the country where the Olympics are going to be held? Write a letter to IOC president here to tell him what you think of the Chinese actions in Tibet. Past Tibet posts can be found here, and more information about this issue here.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
- Using a pseudonym, the soldier writes a story for The New Republic (TNR) detailing some rather disturbing behavior on the part of himself and fellow soldiers in Iraq.
- Nutcases on the right, declare that because we don't know his name- the story is made up and demand that TNR apologize for making things up.
- The soldier who wrote it comes forward to let the right wing know that he does, indeed, exist.
- Nutcases on the right, from the safety of their parents' basements, personally attack the soldier going as far as to post pictures of him on their blogs and threaten him with physical harm.
My one thought in reading all of this is, who on God's green Earth behaves this way? These aren't some isolated crackpots who are doing this, these are people who guest host for Bill O'Reilly, appear on CNN and write for major American newspapers. Yet, when faced with the fact that they were 100% wrong, they don't kindly apologize and then decide to shut the F-up. Instead, they act like a pack of wild dogs who just got a taste of blood. As Digby notes, the fact that war makes soldiers do things which are morally questionable or downright wrong, is not a secret. But in listening to the right wing on this, you would think that war is all gumdrop bullets and lollipop IEDs.
*I don't often check out Malkin's blog, but doesn't it seem that she is coming unhinged? It is like reading something written by someone suffering from schizophrenia. It is both rambling and random, visually disorganized and is filled with paranoid delusions.
Atrios has a similar post today, and while I relied on my intuition, he has actually done some research. Here is what he found:
Number of times the term "Clinton fatigue" appeared, according to a Nexis search, in major papers during July of 1999: 27.This really just makes you want to put your head in a microwave oven. Clinton was TWICE as popular as Bush is, at the same point in his presidency, yet the thought that the public is sick of Bush barely enters the press discourse. The only time it did, it came from the right.
Clinton Gallup poll approval rating in July of 1999: 64
Number of times the term "Bush fatigue" has appeared, so far, in July of 2007: 1, courtesy of Byron York's hair.
Bush Gallup poll approval rating in July of 2007: 31.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
No reasonable person watching Gonzales' tragically comedic performance Tuesday's on Capitol Hill-- especially his miserable exchange with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in late morning-- can any longer defend his appalling lack of competence, courage and credibility. And no one who hears him say that he is what's best for the Department right now should forget that on the eve of his testimony (and a few days after he urged his subordinates to work diligently to regain their morale) the nation's top law enforcement official reportedly left work early to go for a bike ride Monday afternoon-- at about 3:50 p.m.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Constituents called Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.I am sure there is nothing to be concerned with here. Well, except for the fact that this is unprecedented-
As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom'' in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.
On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.
Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he ``cannot think of one good reason'' to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.
"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House,'' Ornstein said.
I think the lesson to be learned here is that we should trust the President- unconditionally.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Even if Ambinder is correct, this is not a standard which is applied uniformly (if at all). For example, look at the coverage of Bush back in 1999-2000. At that time, there was evidence to suggest that he was an absolutely horrible person who had little concern for how others felt. Perhaps the most horrid example comes from an interview Tucker Carlson did with Bush in 1999 where Bush mocked the pleas of a condemned prisoner:
In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them", he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.Yet if Ambinder is right, and that political journalists are just trying to highlight possible character flaws in candidates, why didn't this story get some serious coverage? In 2000, Bush sold himself as a compassionate conservative and committed Christian- if anything, the Karla Faye Tucker story shows that Bush was full of it. However, this story is relatively unknown and I only came across it a couple years ago while reading a blog entry on Atrios.
Compare the relative silence on this story with the hubbub surrounding Al Gore's mythic pronouncement that he invented the Internet in 2000. Gore was mocked endlessly by the political press for saying that he invented the internet, when he actually said nothing of the sort. The story was supposed to show that Gore was someone who exaggerated a little too much and suggested that he had some serious honesty problems.
Seen in this light, Ambinder's original assertion that this is all about revealing important character flaws is ridiculous. The political press chooses to cover certain stories because they are just very petty people with an inflated sense of importance. They aren't wisely presiding over our public discourse because they want to inform the American people, they are playing the same type of game silly teenagers play.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Ron Paul 26.23%
Barack Obama 24.02%
Hillary Clinton 11.08%
Bill Richardson 5.59%
John Edwards 2.63%
Joe Biden 0.84%
Mike Gravel 0.16%
Dennis Kucinich 0.05%
Chris Dodd 0%
John McCain 18.31%
Mitt Romney 4.05%
Rudy Giuliani 2.44%
Mike Huckabee 1.84%
Tom Tancredo 1.63%
Duncan Hunter 1.05%
Sam Brownback 0.07%
Tommy Thompson 0%
Jim Gilmore 0%
John Cox 0%
Do you notice the difference between those in Group 1 and those in Group 2? Group 1 represents all of the candidates that want to see an end to the war in Iraq, which had 70.6% of all donations from the troops. Group 2 wants this war to last indefinitely and they got 29.4% of all donations from troops.
Joe Lieberman is going to be hopping mad when he finds out that the troops are being partisan.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Q Sir, thank you very much for your service to our country so far, we appreciate that very much.
Q Mr. President, I appreciate your position on the war in Iraq. We've got a debate that's going on as much about should we stay or should we come home. Is there a way to change the tenor of the debate to determine how we win in Iraq?
Q I personally admire the way you've conducted the government and I admire your backbone, where you just stand and take a position. (Applause.) I'm not happy about the influx from Mexico...Now then, thirdly, when they do these polls to determine how you're rated, how come, if they have 1,000 people, they call 750 Democrats and only 25 Republicans? (Laughter and applause.)
Q And I want to thank you for the appointments or the nominations for our Supreme Court. That will be a wonderful legacy for you. (Applause.)
Q Semper Fi. First of all, Mr. President, I want to thank you, personally, for your support for our veterans. My son was lost in Iraq, and I want to thank you very much for your strength.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. Thanks for sharing that.
Q I also wish that there was some way that, as the press make so much to-do about what goes on in areas around pretty much the 50-mile area around Baghdad, which is pretty much where everything is going on, if there was some way to offset that with all of the great things that are going on.
So, the White House was able to find the last half-dozen people remaining in this country who still think the President is the most bestest President ever. Yet apart from just how damn creepy this all is, shouldn't there be some serious press scrutiny over this practice?
For one, isn't it a bit disconcerting that only those who think the President is awesome get to ask him questions? Those that really dislike the President also pay taxes, why shouldn't they have an opportunity to speak their minds? Couldn't someone in the press corps ask this question of either the President or Tony Snow? When you think about what it means for this country, that a President views himself as only the leader of those that support him- it's an absolute outrage. If the press was really interested in asking the tough questions, they could certainly ask about this.
Secondly, what does it say about a man who cannot face ALL of the people? Why must he be protected from any possible criticism?
If we lived in a world where the press was focused on keeping the powerful in check and not on trivial news stories, we might be able to find this all out. Yet, I cannot recall a single news story which asked if this practice was fair. The Daily Show did a bit on how maddening these Potemkin Town Halls are, but outside of this the press has been happy to let the President and his crazed supporters play pretend.
I am really too pissed off to offer anything thoughtful here, so I will let Digby say it for me:
There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.
Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.
Now, I am not especially surprised that the press corps doesn't like John Edwards. Many of these people probably didn't like guys like him in high school either and one thing we know about the political press corps is that they have never matured beyond the 11th grade. (See: chilean bass stupidity.) But I have to ask, once again, just who in the hell these people think they are and why they think they are allowed to pick our candidates for us based upon their own "feelings" about them? I don't recall electing them to anything. (But, hey, maybe we should just poll the kewl kidz and find out which candidate they "like, totally, like" and we can cancel the election and save a lot of time and money.)This is our Beltway press corps, in a nutshell. They see themselves as divine creatures. They know what's best for the American people, and they will base those decisions on the most ridiculous of reasons. This, of course, isn't the first time its happened. The press corps fell in love with George W. Bush and hated Al Gore. They mocked John Kerry, Howard Dean, and John Edwards in 2004, while their naughty parts became engorged at the first sight of the War President.
They managed these elections like high school girls manage their own popularity. Unfortunately for us, the outcome here wasn't that Sally got to be homecoming queen, instead we ended up mired in a war that won't end, an economy that is just moments away from collapse and a Constitution that is now in the White House septic tank.
There is just so much crap here it is hard to get through without putting your head into a microwave oven. So much so, that this will be two posts. The first major problem with Ambinder is the ridiculous assertion that the hair cut matters because Edwards is essentially being a hypocrite over his stance on poverty:
Why doesn't John Edwards's hair equal Mitt Romney's face paint?
The primary difference is definitional: The centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts; he presents himself as a dedicated messenger for the cause, and he likes expensive haircuts, bought a gimungous house, etc. etc. His credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously. (The haircut was inadvertently billed to the campaign, a spokesman later said).
First, Edwards is running for the highest office in the land and if it looked like a drunk monkey cut his hair he would be ridiculed. Second, why should someone apologize for doing well for themselves? Edwards came from working class roots but then worked hard and enjoyed enormous success. Good for him. Why is it that his spending is considered crass, but if you come from money it is okay and you can still say you understand regular folks? As Glenn Greenwald says:
Beyond that, every politician claims to understand and be devoted to the plight of the "working family." Mitt Romney and George Bush, born to great wealth, certainly make those claims, even though they haven't been anywhere near "working families" since the day they were born. Ronald Reagan was endlessly held up as the fighter for "working families" despite his personal wealth. If Edwards' wealth makes him so suspect when he claims to be devoted to the poor, why doesn't the in-born, unearned wealth of Bush and Romney -- and every other non-poor politician -- make them equally suspect as advocates for "America's working families"?Yet, the largest problem here, is that those who represent the elite, like Ambinder, have no idea what class means in America- while Edwards has lived it. Like your racial background or your religious background, if you are coming from the working class it is not something that just magically disappears if you attain a certain status. However, for those who grow up comfortably, social class isn't something that matters. For them, it can be switched off.
This is why those that manage the public discourse can't believe that Edwards can be both wealthy and focused on class issues. Once he attained that certain financial status, he surrendered any authority on what it means to be poor in this country. But, those of us who grew up as working class know better than this. It may be harder to recognize someone who grew up needing food stamps to get by, but that doesn't mean a certain awareness about life's difficulties doesn't follow you for the rest of your days.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
His latest example of outright hackery was published in the Washington Post, made the argument that history will judge Bush kindly. As you may well imagine, the piece was just ridiculous and had no right to be featured in any newspaper, much less the Post. Fortunately, David Corn has provided a much needed reality check for Kristol. Please read.
True, there is a bit of political theater involved here but it is happening for a reason. Senate Republicans are purposefully ignoring the wishes of the American people, we want an end to the conflict in Iraq. While we pay the price for this mismanaged ill-conceived war, the President's supporters have managed to keep us headed in the wrong direction. They don't seem to care that this war has cost us billions, thousands of American and innocent Iraqi lives.
Instead of pointing this out, Tumulty frames it as a petty political squabble. The problem, as Tumulty sees it, is that it is just so UNCOOL to point out that the Republicans are standing in the way of what the American people want.
Unfortunately, the reaction from the pundit class is not that surprising. They are more concerned with finger-wagging than they are with things that actually matter to the American people.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
As expected, the press has decided to swallow the line that the only enemy we face in Iraq is the terrorists.
Monday, July 16, 2007
I am also dying to find out how the pundit class is going to react to this. My gut tells me they will paint this as the Democrats being too partisan/political. Instead of what it really is, the Republicans ignoring the will of the American people.
The numbers are low because of Congress's inaction on 1] failure to substantially move towards redeployment in Iraq, 2] failure to move towards Impeachment, or 3] both issues.I think 3 is probably right. However, I do worry that Democrats are somewhat misdirecting their anger. In the Senate we are operating with the thinnest majority possible. As of now, we have 50 Senators to their 49 (with Johnson of South Dakota still recuperating). However, on some issues we are actually in the minority as Lieberman sides with the Republicans on a lot of foreign policy issues. We also need to remember that the Senate provides the minority party with a lot of rights, hence the recent dust-up over the usage of the filibuster by Senate Republicans.
Even if we do pass something, we then must contend with the veto. President Bush has made it quite clear that he will veto just about anything now that the Democrats are in charge and with the current Republican Cult, overriding a presidential veto is damn near impossible.
I worry that over the next 16 months, many Democrats will forget that we are in a tough position on so many important issues. And as a consequence, will stop supporting good Democratic candidates. As I wrote about a few days ago, there already seems to be a disturbing trend where liberals are throwing up their hands in disgust over the fact that things haven't changed immediately. We need to stop doing that. Otherwise, I fear that we will end up losing big in 2008, and go through another 8 years of destructive Republican rule.
He also points out something that is quite important- in regards to the current disparity between the press and the people. Pundits have been keen to point out that the approval ratings for Congress are very low which, they believe, shows that the American people want to see an end to partisan squabbles. The numbers, however, don't bear this point out. The reason for the low approval ratings is that Democrats are not happy with the lack of partisanship as nearly 50% of all Democrats disapprove of the job Congress is doing. We want our leaders in Congress to show some spine and not roll over when the Republicans start whining. We want them to fight back.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.But wait, it gets even nuttier. One of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination, Sen. Sam Brownback, has come out and said that he would preemptively strike Iran if elected president. He was interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News, when they had the following exchange:
The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.
Hannity: There’s probably going to come a point for the next president that they’re going to have to determine whether to go out and have that preemptive strike. And you’re ready and would be ready to do that?
Brownback: Yes, I am, and I think we have to be.
I think a lot of people look at what has happened over the past six years, and blame it purely on the Bush White House. While I am sure that he is responsible for a lot of it, we cannot forget that the entire Republican party is diseased. They are a group of people whose world view is absolutely detached from reality. We will get rid of Bush, sooner or later, but this warped way of thinking will go on.
I recommend viewing it, as it is perhaps the most well reasoned presentation I have yet to see regarding impeachment. I won't say that I am entirely convinced that we should head down this road right now, but it certainly softened my stance against this course of action.
What I will say about it, and I think most sane people would agree, is that this is a conversation that needs to move beyond PBS and onto CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. The American people are certainly open to having a broad conversation about impeachment and it is time for the major news networks to have it.
My concern with the broader debate (and it was actually brought up in the Moyer's video) is that the frame of the debate will be on punishing the President rather then on upholding the Constitution. There is ample evidence out there to show that the major news networks and pundit class will make this a very silly affair. We will have shouting heads rail about how this is payback for Clinton, or how it is sour grapes over 2000 and 2004, when it is really very simple. It is about protecting this country's most sacred principles.
“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”The way the President sees this, these helpless insurance companies need to protected from those free-loading health care hoarding children.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
- The pre-War mission was to rid Iraq of WMD
- After the war began, the mission expanded
- Then the mission was complete
- But then it continued again
- Then the mission was to develop a free Iraq
- And to train the Iraqi troops
- Then it shifted to advancing democracy
- And protecting America from terrorists
- Then the mission was providing security for the Iraqi population
- Now?? Undefined
Ten separate missions in 5 years, and now it is not entirely clear just what the hell we are supposed to be doing over there.
Lastly, this is a pretty clear example of what the Democrats have to fight through with regards to the press. Democratic leaders have been saying since 2003 that the mission in Iraq was not entirely clear and that President Bush kept changing the goal posts. Yet, we have had nothing from the media pointing out, just like this post did, that the mission has never been certain.
Friday, July 13, 2007
- There is ample evidence already provided that would be grounds to open impeachment hearings on both Bush and Cheney
- Both the enemic Congress and the lax press bear responsibility for not moving swiftly to overdue impeachment hearings
- The very Constitution hangs in the balance
- Not holding Bush/Cheney to account would allow the next president, whether Democratic or Republican, unprecedented power to trample the civil rights of all Americans.
- Pelosi squandered her Constitutional duty by taking Impeachment "off the table"
- Impeachment is bigger than partisan battles, and calls for true statesmanship, not political calculations.
Two leading Republican senators said today that President Bush should seek a new war authorization and present a plan to Congress by Oct. 16 outlining contingency plans in Iraq. Those plans, which would include reducing American forces, should begin by the end of the year.Atrios, captures my thoughts on any Republican plan perfectly:
Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, both of whom have criticized the administration’s troop buildup plan, introduced a measure expected to be considered next week when the Iraq war debate resumes. The senators said it was critical to move beyond the current clash between Congress and the White House and begin making plans to be implemented after the military releases its progress report in September.
There will come a point where all of the very serious members of Congress (the wanker caucus) will come together on some bill or another which will pretend to force Bush to do something about Iraq but which won't actually force him to do anything. David Broder will applaud, the media will praise the president for not vetoing it, and only us dirty f-ing hippie bloggers will point out that it doesn't change a damn thing.These very serious people are in way way over their heads.
Why doesn't Fox put on Donahue opposite Hannity, instead of that lapdog Colmes?
As the caption accompanying this photo states:
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Col., is the sole Republican candidate to address the NAACP convention. He was flanked by lecterns with placards for nine other GOP candidates -- all no-shows.Jeffrey Feldman asks a very good question about this picture, however. Essentially, why isn't this picture on every newspaper in the country? Not one of the major Republican candidates decided to show up to a forum dedicated to talking about race in America. Guiliani, Romney and McCain all had something better to do. Maybe they decided that they didn't have to attend because racism is over (since Imus was fired).
In rebuffing calls to bring troops home from Iraq, President Bush on Thursday employed a stark and ominous defense. “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq,” he said, “were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that’s why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.”As anyone with an IQ above that of the common house plant can see, Bush is plainly using this as a ploy to connect Iraq with Al-Qaeda- again. The New York Times, to its credit, tries to debunk this claim:
It is an argument Mr. Bush has been making with frequency in the past few months, as the challenges to the continuation of the war have grown. On Thursday alone, he referred at least 30 times to Al Qaeda or its presence in Iraq.
But his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.
There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.
Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
For the most part, this is great. I bolded, however, something which really bothers me and it has been going on for far too long. These disputes are always presented as two sides of an unresolved argument (in fact, the title of the article is: Bush Distorts Qaeda Links, Critics Assert). As in, Bush has his reality, his critics have theirs. Yet, Bush's reality is extremely easy to debunk. In the very next paragraph, the authors lay out quite clearly, that Al-Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq before 9-11!
Instead of reporting it as a he said/she said, kind of dispute, call it like it is. The President is making another attempt to play fast and loose with the facts about Iraq. If the White House challenges the claim, the New York Times has a mountain of evidence to back it up. It isn't that hard to understand. After all that we have seen from Bush and his cult, it shouldn't surprise anyone that they will actively try to manipulate the American people in order to further their goals.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
On PBS everywhere Friday evening July 13
Topic: Impeaching Cheney and Bush
Guests: Bruce Fein, former deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan; John Nichols, author of "The Genius of Impeachment"
Podcast this show here.
Today was a historic first for religion in America's civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.
The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.
"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.
"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."
Today was a historic first for religion in Pakistan's civic life: For the very first time, a Christian delivered the morning invocation in the Parliamentary chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Muslim activists.
The three protesters, who all belong to a fundamentalist Sunni sect, and who apparently traveled to Islamabad all the way from Karachi, interrupted by loudly asking for Allah's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Christian in the Parliamentary chamber.
"Forgive us for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.
"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."
Ms. Sheehan can, of course, do what she likes . But what bothers me about her announcement is the "I am taking my ball and going home" mentality of some on the left. I understand that there is great deal of frustration with the way things are going, I feel that too. However, I get the feeling that with these folks, they thought the electoral victories in '06 was going to instantly result in a liberal paradise. Unfortunately, that is just not the case.
I will say that we are certainly better off now, then we were a year ago. Jon Tester is an improvement over Conrad Burns, Jim Webb is an improvement over George Allen, Bob Casey is an improvement over Rick Santorum, etc.
Yet, as we saw yesterday with the Republican obstructionism on Webb's Amendment or the lack of press coverage on its defeat, we still have quite a fight ahead of us. What this means is that if we want to build a political movement which will last well into the future, we need to develop some political maturity.
We need to understand that we can't win every fight, and more importantly, we need to understand why we lost those fights. We need to realize that the changes we made to the party in '06 represented a beginning and not an end. And, lastly, we need to be both patient and vigilant, in regards to our political leaders. The problems brought about by conservatives, are going to take a long time to undo yet we shouldn't let this serve as an excuse for our leaders.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
Sadly, this should not come as any surprise. The Bush administration is fervently anti-science and routinely puts politics before policy. Yet, we also get a glimpse at the cult-like devotion this administration demands from the folks who work for it:
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.
You read that right, public officials, working for the White House, MUST say the President's name three times. I am not sure if the official is then supposed to genuflect or look skyward, but the idea that there is a rule about how often his name is mentioned scares the hell out of me. That bit of news, however, is not the most shocking/sad/anger inducing nugget included in his testimony:
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.
“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.
The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.
Forget the fact that almost nobody associates the Kennedy family with the Special Olympics or that the Kennedy family is no longer a dominant political force in this country. In perhaps the sickest display of this administration's pettiness, these heartless SOBs running the White House thought it okay to play politics with an event that is designed solely to help disabled children and adults. This level of outright villainy is typically reserved for Ernst Blofeld or Lex Luther not the President of the United States. I half expect to read in the news tomorrow that President Bush has ordered all kittens be put to death because Garfield's owner is a registered Democrat.
"I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously"Under normal circumstances I might be surprised by this, but after 6.5 years of this administration, it is very easy to understand how they think. They are only loyal to the President, not to the Constitution or to the American people. Fortunately, Patrick Leahy provided a correction:
Although, in their defense, I am sure a lot of them have yellow ribbons on their SUVs so their support of the troops is unimpeachable.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Yeah, I am sure these numbers are purely a product of bad circumstances.
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.This is the clearest test yet, regarding Gonzales and the President. And while the odds have improved regarding his resignation, I would still place my money on Gonzales staying on as Attorney General. Either that, or Congress will work to forcibly remove Gonzales via impeachment (or once again hold a vote of no confidence) as this revelation may very well push Congressional Republicans in the Democrat's direction.
Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
At this point, the public's view of the president has been affected to one degree or the other by the conflict in Iraq, his support for the now-aborted immigration bill, the Scooter Libby sentence commutation, and the negative way in which the public views the economy.The part that is curiously absent here is any mention of the man himself. The reason for the bad poll numbers always seem to be related to certain circumstances surrounding his presidency, NOT his own personal leadership style or personality. That never enters the equation when evaluating Bush; for whatever reason, the idea that people do not like him or that they believe he is a horrible leader is simply outside the realm of possibility. Yet, I get the sense that it is these evaluations which are driving these numbers.
This became clear to me when I was talking to my grandmother, back in late 2002. Like all grandmothers, she is very sweet and never has a bad thing to say about anyone; but while we were watching TV, Bush came on the screen. Without any hesitation, she looked at the screen and exclaimed:
I hate that asshole.Nuff said.
Monday, July 09, 2007
One of the points I was careful to impress upon him was that the worst part of a war in Iraq would be the potential conflict between Turkey and Northern Iraq. This, I said, was probably the most overlooked problem in the run-up, yet it represented the gravest threat to all involved. Turkey would not appreciate an autonomous Kurdish territory on its border, as it would threaten their own internal stability by encouraging the Turkish Kurds to annex their section of Turkey. The U.S. as the assumed protector of Iraq, could not let another nation harm or threaten Iraqi civilians nor could it afford the potentially huge headache in the north. Yet, the U.S. was limited in its possible response to Turkey, a NATO ally. I explained, that it would take a miracle to avoid an added conflict in the region.
Up to now, it would seem that I have been proved wrong on this prediction. Perhaps by divine intervention or European pressure on Turkey, this area of the country has stayed peaceful and Turkey has kept to itself. If there had been a confrontation, it would have made the situation in Iraq infinitely harder to deal with. The U.S. would have needed to send logistical and military support to northern Iraq, further depleting it's already weakened force.
Unfortunately, things may be coming to a head:
Reports that Turkey has massed a huge military force on its border with Iraq bolstered fears that an invasion targeting hideouts of Kurdish rebels could be imminent. But how deeply into Iraq is the Turkish army willing to go, how long would it stay and what kind of fallout could come from allies in Washington and other NATO partners?What is most infuriating about this scenario, is (like so many other things that have happened in Iraq) that these things were not hard to predict. It is not like I or the millions of other people against this war, were privy to some secret intelligence. We just didn't get our news "from the MOST TRUSTED SOURCES EVER!", we searched for news that was reputable and didn't carry water for Bush Administration. And if CNN did present this debate before the war it probably would have gone something like this:
Serious News Anchor: Can we expect any problems from Turkey, if there is an autonomous Kurdish section of Iraq?Actually...I don't want to pretend trampolines aren't treacherous. They are incredibly dangerous.
Over matched anti-war Hollywood celebrity: This is something that really concerns those of us against the war, this could prove to be a Catch-22 for the U.S. If we placate Turkey, we lose the Kurds. If we placate the Kurds, we run the risk of instigating Turkey...
Conservative think tank shill: It is quite obvious that this liberal elite does not want freedom and ponies for Iraqi Kurds.
Serious News Anchor: We have to leave it there, you both make excellent points. Next up, are your children at-risk from backyard trampolines? A report you don't want to miss.
In a nutshell, Moore asked Wolf if CNN is going to apologize to him for attacking Fahrenheit 9-11 when it turned out he was ultimately correct. As I pionted out previously, Moore has a much better record than the vast majority of other pundits/commentators. Yet, as this commenter from Atrios notes:
I would love to see any statement from this administration get one tenth of the fine-toothed combing that every single scene of Moore's movies get.I would also extend this to CNN, MSNBC and certainly Fox News. The media's standards for Moore's movies border on the ridiculous. For instance, in one of the many articles that sought to fact check Moore, they point to the fact that he did not mention the following:
Believe it or not, the United States does rank highest in the patient satisfaction category. Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair.In regards to the last part, I think this only strengthens Moore's point about the feebleness of the U.S. health care system. If you need a boob job or liposuction, you will be hurried right along. If you need emergency surgery, well you are kind of screwed.
On the first part of the quote, this certainly helps Moore's argument about the weakness of the American system. As is revealed in an earlier segment of the article:
Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world's best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care's paid for.According to this little nugget, we can assume that the measure of patient satisfaction is most definitely skewing the overall results. I would be curious to know what our ranking would be if patient satisfaction was left out. CNN could have found that out, but I am sure they try their best to stay away from anything resembling journalism.
In CNN's defense, I should point out that Michael Moore is fat.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
There are some interesting differences between east coast vs. west coast hiking. First, the weather is just not as good on the east coast. The humidity makes hiking a lot more difficult as breathing is harder and you sweat like a monkey. Second, it is hard to get used to the distances. We went on a 8.5 mile hike here, which would typically be regarded as a moderately long hike in the Cascades, but on the east coast that is a very long hike. The trails are much more rugged here as we had to hike over 3 miles of craggy, exposed rocks (as the old saying goes about hiking in Pennsylvania- "this is where boots go to die"). As you might imagine, this slows down hiking time considerably.
Otherwise, it was a great time and I will let the pictures speak for themselves:
I think the dogs had fun too. Here is Pico:
Here is Lola
These numbers are important and they allow me the opportunity to clarify why I think having a super-majority of the people behind impeachment is essential. I am not suggesting that we need this type of broad support as some sort of political calculus (i.e. a Clintonesque sampling of the political landscape before assuming a policy position). Rather, impeachment is a revolutionary act. As such, it requires the consent and support of folks across the political spectrum. If this is only the will of a vocal minority, I don't see how it becomes any different from those behind Clinton's impeachment or the tyranny of the religious right. We, as a nation, need to say with one voice- this President needs to leave, now.
I would certainly encourage those that support impeachment to voice their concerns to their fellow citizens. I do think there needs to be a robust public debate about this president's legacy. I would also like to see some more congressional investigations into possible wrong-doing, both now and in the future.
However, I don't want this to become a distraction for our side. Our primary focus must be on why we are better able to lead this country than conservatives. We have better ideas than they do, and we need to make that case every day. We need to challenge conservatives on their opposition to increases in the minimum wage, the war in Iraq, health care, foreign engagement, trade and human/civil rights. We need to fight for these principles so that, in the end, we improve the lives of millions.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
|Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush?|
|Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide July 3-5, 2007. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time. Of the total sample, 933 interviews were completed among registered voters.|
|Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney?|
|Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide July 3-5, 2007. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time. Of the total sample, 933 interviews were completed among registered voters.|
Yet, it appears that pollsters are shy about even bringing up the topic:
Independent national pollsters rarely ever ask Americans for their opinions about impeachment. In fact, when Washington Post polling director Richard Morin started receiving questions about it from readers, he got a little snippy about it, and refused to take the questions seriously.
It's hardly a mystery -- the notion of impeaching Bush and/or Cheney is still considered a "fringe" concept that "serious" people are supposed to reject out of hand. And yet, for a radical idea, a surprising number of Americans seem to think impeachment is a good idea. .....t's hard to compare these numbers against other recent polls -- news outlets are generally afraid of the "I" question -- but once an idea is embraced by nearly half the country, I think it's probably safe to stop calling it "fringe."
Fred D. Thompson, who is campaigning for president as an antiabortion Republican, accepted an assignment from a family-planning group to lobby the first Bush White House to ease a controversial abortion restriction, according to a 1991 document and several people familiar with the matter.
A spokesman for the former Tennessee senator denied that Thompson did the lobbying work. But the minutes of a 1991 board meeting of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Assn. say that the group hired Thompson that year.
I would like to think that this would destroy Thompson's chances in 2008. However, I just know that Chris Matthews will turn this story into how manly Thompson is for supporting abortion rights.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Has there ever been a president who deserved it more? I don't think so. Looking at this as someone who believes that until we hold them accountable for their crimes, these zombie crooks will keep doing this over and over again until our country is unrecognizable, my instinct is to scream it from the rafters. But I'm still not convinced that the Democrats should try to impeach.She points out three reasons why impeachment is a long shot:
1. There isn't an identifiable 'crime' to impeach him on- some might say the actions that led to war would constitute grounds for impeachment, but we need a specific, easily provable instance of wrongdoing here. I don't see one. The acts related to the attorney scandal may constitute grounds, but that leads us to 2.
2. Time is not on our side- the legal battles related to the attorney scandal would take an extremely long time to settle. By that time Bush would already be out of office.
3. This is the most compelling reason against impeachment- so I will quote in full:
Finally, there is the most important and indisputable fact that Bush and Cheney will never be convicted in the Senate. This isn't the GOP of 1974 and they will never cross over in enough numbers. They won't do it even if video tapes of Bush personally giving hush money to Scooter Libby turn up. Let's not kid ourselves about that reality. The fact is that impeachment will probably bring their caucus together.I would also add that before a move like this is made, we need broad public support for it. As of now, less than half of all Americans support impeaching the president. If we get to a point were a full 65% of the American public supported impeachment, then there would be a compelling enough reason to follow through on it. Until that time, however, I would suggest focusing on getting a Democrat into the White House in 2008.
But even so, that's not necessarily a good enough reason not to do it. It could be useful, if only to tie the administration up in knots until they leave the scene. But the risks are high that if you don't have a specific (and somewhat simple) crime to point to and a good chance of at least getting a quick impeachment vote in the House, that it could blow back pretty hard on the Dems. This is not because people like Bush and don't want him out of office. It's because they see that the presidential campaign is in full swing and know that Bush will be out of office soon anyway. That means many of them will likely be susceptible to the inevitable GOP screeching that the petty Democrats are playing politics, going for payback, wasting time etc. And the media will be thrilled to help the Republicans make that case.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Paris Hilton did more time than Scooter Libby.The second:
I have to say that the claim that Wilson's charges have been discredited, disproved or even meaningfully challenged is simply false. What he said on day one is all true. It's really as simple as that.The conservative meme on this, is that the charges which got this all started are crap. The right wing is trying desperately to make this point part of the conventional wisdom. It is essential for those of us who want greater accountability from the Bush Administration that we fight them tooth and nail on this point.
There's a tendency, even among too many people of good faith and good politics, to shy away from asserting and admitting this simple fact because Wilson has either gone on too many TV shows or preened too much in some photo shoot. But that is disreputable and shameful. The entire record of this story has been under a systematic, unfettered and, sadly, largely unresisted attack from the right for four years. Key facts have been buried under an avalanche of misinformation. The then-chairman of the senate intelligence committee made his committee an appendage of the White House and himself the president's bawd and issued a report built on intentional falsehood and misdirection.
No one is perfect. The key dividing line is who's telling the truth and who's lying. Wilson is on the former side, his critics the latter. Everything else is triviality.