Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dread and Iran

Talking Points Memo, highlights a recent article from the AP. It doesn't sound good:
Citing Iranian involvement with Iraqi militias and Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration has shifted to offense in its confrontation with Iran — building up the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf and promising more aggressive moves against Iranian operatives in Iraq and Lebanon.

The behind-the-scenes struggle between the two nations could explode into open warfare over a single misstep, analysts and U.S. military officials warn.

I also agree, whole heartedly, with the analysis provided by Josh Marshall:

I've always viewed the fears that the White House would try expand the war into Iran with a mix of deep skepticism, fascination and latent foreboding. Logically, it makes no sense on any number of counts. But the last half dozen years has taught us all that that's simply not a significant obstacle. There are any number of ridiculous gambits I was sure these guys wouldn't try before they did try them.

Again, the 'sensible' interpretation of what's happening right now is that the administration is trying to regain control of the situation in Iraq. And to further that aim they're rattling their sabres at Iran to get them to back off and stop making trouble. That's the sensible explanation. But we're not dealing with sensible people. And much more important, the folks who are running this show are simply too stupid to be trusted to execute such a delicate and perilous feint.

There is no good reason for us to engage militarily with Iran. As much as I dislike the leadership in Iran, going up against them now does nothing for the US. We cannot sustain an area that large, we cannot afford the financial cost and we cannot isolate ourselves any further on the world stage.

Knowing all of this won't change Bush's mind.

Oh IPod, why must you vex me?

By my own admission, I am not a bright person. However, you would think that I could figure out what the hell is wrong with my IPod.

ITunes does not recognize the IPod- at all.

My IPod is Taiwan.

Changing the tone

From a post on Crooks and Liars, we get the following quote by right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham:
Ingraham: A friend of mine, a very close friend of mine—-very conservative from Kentucky—his dad called him up after the speech, his father is right wing Christian conservative—called him up after the speech, after Webb's speech and said, " Did you just hear…this Webb guy? Like, I haven't heard a Democrat talk like that for years." I heard more and more people saying the same thing…
This is what the Democrats have lacked for years, they need a voice that is not afraid to challenge conservative notions on their own turf. Conservatives, oddly, have owned toughness for years and it is encouraging to see the tables being turned.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cats as Right Wing Tools

Just so we can both be clear, neither disco or broca are suggesting that the type of political activist pictured below is an anarchist. Further, they are not human beings either.

"Anarchists" as Right Wing Tools

Just so that we are clear here- these are the folks that I am referring to:



Anarchists as Human Beings

Since we are smack-talking about anarchists on this blog, I thought I'd post some pictures of anarchists, from a Eugene Weekly series available here , here and here.
















Also, Wikipedia does a tremendous job of summing up the incredibly multifaceted anarchist movement.
There is a variety of types and traditions of anarchism with various points of difference.[4][5] However, the varieties are not particularly well characterized and not all them are mutually exclusive.[6] Other than being opposed to the state, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."[7] Preferred economic arrangements are one of the many areas of disagreement for anarchists.[8]

The multiple schools of thought include Black, Capitalist, Christian, Collectivist, Communist, Eco, Feminist, Green ,Individualist , Monarchist ,Mutualist , Primitivist ,Philosophical, Social ,Syndicalist , and Without adjectives .

I'm not condoning violent protests, and few of these people are either. Some of the "dumbest political activists" who are anarchists are pictured below:

Noam Chomsky










Howard Zinn

Monday, January 29, 2007

Protesters as Normal Human Beings

Bob Hebert of the New York Times has an interesting thought:
You can say what you want about the people opposed to this wretched war in Iraq, try to stereotype them any way you can. But you couldn’t walk among them for more than a few minutes on Saturday without realizing that they love their country as much as anyone ever has. They love it enough to try to save it.
While I am glad that Hebert had enough intellectual curiosity/honesty to meet the protesters, I find myself frustrated that he is playing the 'people who don't like this war are hippies" game. Unfortunately, he is not the only one- this is AmericaBlog (one of my favorite blogs) writing about the march:
It was an interesting mix of people. Rather young, which was very interesting. Lots of students, and kids in their 20s. And not your usual peacenik crowd - these kids looked like upper middle class college kids (not an easy crowd to motivate politically). The march was well organized, no violence or anything out of line that I saw.
I am not exactly sure where this frame originates from- but from personal experience, it is out of date. The people most motivated to help end the war are remarkably similar to those folks you meet in every day life. They shower, brush their teeth and have jobs. Now granted, at every march you are going to get the one group of protesters with signs asking for the end of water fluoridation, and there are the *anarchists* UPDATED: 'Anarchists' (who are most likely in league with the pro-war crazies*); but the vast majority of these people are the type of people you could ask over for dinner.

It only serves those that want this war to continue. As they become successful painting anti-war protesters as pot-smoking satanists, the more likely it becomes that more average folks decide to not join their ranks.

*I have no proof that anarchists are working with pro-war forces, but c'mon- they are either the dumbest political activists on the planet (perhaps universe) or they are working to give the anti-war crowd a bad name.

The last refuge of scoundrels

Glenn Greenwald has written about an alarming trend coming from the war supporters. The ever-annoying practice of suggesting that all criticism for the President's plan "emboldens the enemy" and "discourages the troops". This is Bill Kristol from yesterdays Fox News Sunday:
Support the troops. Appropriate the funds. Encourage them. Let Dave Petraeus have a chance to win this war. Don't pass a meaningless resolution that, as Joe Lieberman said -- on the one hand, it's non-binding so it's meaningless, but symbolically, it could only encourage our enemies.
This ridiculous criticism has been around since the beginning of the war, yet now it seems that it is given all by itself. In the past, supporting the troops was offered as part of the reason for supporting the war. Now, it is the only one.

Hidden in these comments is the stunning realization that there is nothing to be had in Iraq. The neocons have so thoroughly screwed the pooch on this, that the only thing they can cling to is the thought that our words are somehow shaping a war thousands of miles away.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

For the record

In a break away from this site's usual dedication to all things politics (and sometimes music, apparently), I'm going to get a little autobiographical on all y'all. I apologize in advance.

I'm leaving for Norway in less than 48 hours to spend the next three years going to school at the University of Oslo. All my life I've wanted to do something like this and now I'm freaking out. Between bouts of sheer terror and excited realization, I begin to ponder - what exactly will I miss from my home country? Here is my speculative top 10.

1) Beer. I'm talking thick, rich micro-brewed nectar of the gods. Surprisingly, and sadly, the beer in Norway blows. The Norwegians know it too. Anyone wanna start a brewery in Oslo? Pleeeeease.

2) Coffee. Oh sure, they have coffee in Norway, but it's more like Dunkin Donuts and less like anything that actually tastes good. (I just made about half of this country angry. 'S'okay though, it's mostly a red half.

3) Spacious surroundings. The apartments are uber-small and uber-expensive and I'm an American who's used to uber-big and uber-wasteful.

4) Driving. Actually, not driving is also one of the things I'm really looking forward to.

5) My dog. He won't be coming with me and this breaks my heart oh so much. Actually, I'm going to miss him so much that he should get his own top 10 list. Top 10 things I'll miss about Monty: 1) His breath. I don't know why. 2) His smile. 3) His B.O. Again, I'm at a loss for this one too. 4) His greetings with stuffed animals held lovingly and proudly in his enormous maw. 5) His big, brown eyes. 6) His hugs. 7) The way he looks when he sleeps. 8) His groaning requests to be let outside. 9) Puppy playtime. 10) Fur on all of my clothes, car, house, food, etc.

Okay, moving on to something less sappy:

6) The politics. Believe it or not, I think we've actually turned a corner (no, not in Iraq - in consciousness). Besides, fighting the fight can be fun sometimes. Am I right?

7) Mail-order everything.

8) Sushi, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Middle Eastern, BBQ, etc.

9) Supermarkets larger than a 7-eleven. This too is one of those things that I'm looking forward to getting away from. What can I say, I'm a wickedly complex individual. Don't try to understand me.

10) Malls...Just kidding! Seriously though, I will miss Mexican food and my dog.

So that's it. I'll be interested to see what this list looks like after I'm there for 6 months. Time will tell.

Oh, and by the way, in case you think I'm just an insensitive family hater, I left friends and family off the list b/c that just goes without saying. Besides, they'd get their own list and then suddenly this turns into a weep-fest and I'm already starting to question my manliness with that list for Monty. Damn he's an awesome dog though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It figures...

I am cutting and pasting from Atrios here, but I think it is worth it to see how the Sunday talk shows ignore those folks who were against the war at the outset:
ABC's "This Week" - Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; actor Kevin Bacon.

Joe Biden - supported the war
Richard Lugar - supported the war
Duncan Hunter - supported the war
Kevin Bacon - unsure of his opinion on war.

CBS' "Face the Nation" - Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Jim Webb - opposed war, though not in Senate at time.
Mitch McConnell - supported the war
Arlen Specter - supported the war

NBC's "Meet the Press" - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and David Vitter, R-La.; former presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson; Kenneth Pollack, a Brookings Institution analyst.

Mike Huckabee - supported the war
Chuck Schumer - supported the war
David Vitter - supported the war
Michael Gerson - former Bush speechwriter, supported the war
Kenneth Pollack - supported the war

CNN's "Late Edition" - Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Chris Dodd - supported the war
Jon Kyl - suppported the war
Michael Steele - supported the war
Donna Brazile - unsure if she took stand on Iraq war, but is on board of wingnutty Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

"Fox News Sunday" - Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.

Sam Brownback - supported the war
Joe Lieberman - loves the war
Ellen Miller - N/A
By my count 15 of the 16 guests (who had a legitimate voice) were for the Iraq war at the beginning.

I am glad the Sunday talk shows are staying balanced.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Little Known Facts on Wikipedia

The things you learn-the surprising fact comes at the bottom:


Garret Augustus Hobart (June 3, 1844November 21, 1899) was the 24th Vice President of the United States.

He was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Marlboro Township. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1863. He was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Paterson.

Hobart served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1872 to 1876, serving as speaker in 1874. He was a member of the New Jersey Senate from 1876 to 1882, serving as its president in 1881.

He was nominated as the Republican candidate for Vice President on the ticket with William McKinley, and was elected in the 1896 presidential election.

He served as Vice President from March 4, 1897, until his death from heart failure in Paterson, New Jersey on November 21, 1899, aged 55. Hobart is interred in Cedar Lawn Cemetery

During his tenure as Vice President, his wife Jennie Hobart frequently performed the duties of First Lady because Ida Saxton McKinley, wife of President of the United States William McKinley suffered from epilepsy.

The popular television show Charles in Charge is believed to be loosely based on Garret's life.

Not that my opinion matters so much, but I now have so much more respect for Garret. He went from being a below average VP to an AWESOME VP and he totally looks like Scott Baio

Things are going swimmingly in Iraq...Really!

The constant refrain from the right wing regarding Iraq war coverage is that they don't show all the wonderful things that are going on in Iraq (e.g. all the schools that are being painted, the surprisingly low electricity costs, all the schools that are being painted). The same can be said, however, for all of the horrible things that are occurring.

According the Lara Logan (CBS's Chief Foreign Correspondent) her network is refusing to air a segment she reported on. The report she filed explored the extreme violence encountered TWO BLOCKS from the U.S. controlled Green Zone, yet the piece is only being shown on the CBS website (here).

This is a fairly clear example of how the Right has been able to get the frame that they want. If CBS were to run this piece on the evening news, the wingnuts would go nuts and scream about the media's liberal bias. By constantly complaining about the coverage, they have created a situation where the media has become afraid to report the truth. Instead of realizing that the facts are not in their favor, the madmen who support the current policy in Iraq will do everything they can to make sure the media keeps its head in the sand.

Cheney Prevents Intelligence Oversight

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has recently revealed that President Cheney exerted a great deal of force on the Senate Intelligence Committee in order to delay their report on bad Iraqi intelligence:
Vice President Dick Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, the panel's Democratic chairman charged Thursday.
...
Rockefeller said that it was "not hearsay" that Cheney, a leading proponent of invading Iraq, pushed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to drag out the probe of the administration's use of prewar intelligence.

"It was just constant," Rockefeller said of Cheney's alleged interference. He added that he knew that the vice president attended regular policy meetings in which he conveyed White House directions to Republican staffers.

Republicans "just had to go along with the administration," he said.

If only we had a governmental system that provided for a system of constant...I don't know...maybe...checks and balances. I'm just spit ballin' here, but it would seem pretty great if there was a way for one branch of government to watch the other. It might prevent abuse of power and over-reaching by one branch.

"W" Receives his daily Iraq briefing...sort of

Cheney Spars with Blitzer Over Criticism of Iraq,

Cheney further displays his complete lack of contact with reality. Instead of acknowledging that they have critics, he makes it about Blitzer. What is really fun is that Blitzer takes heat for being right wing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

So simple, even a 4 year old gets it

Saw this on Matt Yglesias's blog and it kind of speaks for itself (plus there is the awww factor):



p.s. I don't think this warrants a whole new post, yet this quote about conservatives by T-Bogg is perfect:
I have said before, and I'll say it again: conservatives are the kind of people who immediately start contemplating cannibalism when their boat breaks down five feet from shore.

Bipartisanship of Oz

Steven Thomma recently wrote a prescient analysis of what is likely to be the outcome of Dubya's call for bipartisanship, after nearly six years of "my way or the highway" bravado, and equating the dem's with terrorists.

George Bush tried to go home Tuesday night.

His goal was what he thought he left behind in Texas when he was a Republican governor with a Democratic legislature. But the mythical bipartisan place he tried to reach out to in his State of the Union address Tuesday was never like the one he romanticized in Texas. It's not what he's built in six years in Washington. And today it's as elusive as Oz.

"Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on," he said, "as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there's work to be done."

Yet the chasm between the parties is wide and deep, the politics between them are poisonous and Bush bears much of the blame.

After reaching out to Democrats his first year, Bush governed after the 2001 terrorist attacks as the leader of a one-party state.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wee!

January 23,2007 is for more than speeches from arses.

Zealotry

All in all, this is generally a good article about Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) as it covers his ascension through the Democratic party and his prominent role in delivering the Dem response to the SOTU. I do, however, have a problem with this part of the article:
Democrats owe their newfound control of the Senate to Webb's slim and improbable victory over former Virginia Sen. George Allen (R). Webb -- a Vietnam war hero turned antiwar zealot -- also embodies his party's central message: a determination to oppose the Iraq war while still supporting the troops who are there.
A zealot? Webb shares the opinion of, roughly, 70% of the American people. So, according to the Post's logic- this country is filled with anti-war zealots.

What does it make the escalation dead-enders like Joe Lieberman (I-Himself) and George Bush?

Washington is run by teenage girls

I foolishly spent my morning caught up in some blogosphere fun in the form of Serious Washington Journalist James Carney vs. blogger Atrios. In a nutshell, the Serious Washington Journalist wrote a comparison piece on President Bush and President Clinton for the horribly named Time Magazine blog- Swampland. His argument is that Clinton was once hugely unpopular and that Bush should follow Clinton's lead.

The problem with his post? It is simply not true and the blogger Atrios called him on it. Clinton was never as unpopular as President Bush, and when he did fall out of favor, it wasn't even close to as long as Bush has been*. Instead of taking the criticism in stride, Serious Washington Journalist got snippy (I highly recommend checking it out as it is a great example of how badly the Washington press, in general, handles criticism- here, here & here).

Nevertheless, the absolute worst part of the whole thing is this quote by Carney, in regards to President Clinton's 1995 State of the Union:
Then he proceeded to deliver what may forever be the longest State of the Union address in history -- 81 long minutes of policy prescriptions large and small. It was interminable, a seeming embarrassment.
You see, for a Washington insider like Carney (Time Magazine's DC Bureau Chief) the last thing this country needs is a President that focuses on policy. His job isn't to run the country, it is to serve as the central figure in political warfare. Carney, and his ilk, don't seem to understand why President Clinton was so popular- he made policy a priority rather then staging photo-ops on aircraft carriers.

*providing even more evidence that the Washington press refuses to believe Clinton was liked more than Bush

"Blockbuster Developments" in Libby Case

Here's some fun facts from today's Scooter Libby perjury case. Ah, how nice it would be for some justice to be done.

Under oath, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby told a grand jury that he first learned that Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent from conversations with the media. In fact, he first learned that information from Vice President Cheney himself.

Libby is now on trial for perjury. His defense is that he simply forgot who told him that Plame worked for the CIA. But in court today, prosecutors outlined a powerful case establishing that Libby had reason to remember who told him and motive to cover it up. MSNBC’s David Schuster said today’s revelations from prosecutors are “new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:

– “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”

Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”

– “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”

Egads

War costs

It's a gol durn elephant, George!

On the morning (here at least) of the president's impending rhetoric expulsion, I thought it might be wise for everyone to review, yet again, the ways that issues are framed.

Moral 1. Every word evokes a frame.

A frame is a conceptual structure used in thinking. The word elephant evokes a frame with an image of an elephant and certain knowledge: an elephant is a large animal (a mammal) with large floppy ears, a trunk that functions like both a nose and a hand, large stump-like legs, and so on.

One of my least favorite examples, and there are a lot to choose from, is the conservative (and now, mainstream parroting) use of the words "partial birth abortion." The correct term is "late-term abortion." One is either born or not. Using the words "partial birth" evokes a frame that is both gruesome and factually untrue. But then, Republicans have never really troubled much about truth now have they?

So your homework, boys and girls, is to remember that every word that comes out of li'l Georgie's mouth tonight is carefully scripted to evoke a picture of something -- most likely something that it's not (e.g. Clear Skies Initiative). Question everything you hear. Heck, if you're of age, make a drinking game of it. Every time the president tells a lie, take a drink. You'll need a cab.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Umm..about Pelosi being ruined...

As was pointed out by a more astute blogger than myself. About two months ago, the mainstream press was declaring that Nancy Pelosi was ruined as speaker. The consensus was that she should just pack it up and head off to her little pot & sodomy farm in San Francisco. She was DONE. Stick a fork in her, D-O-N-E. Nobody was going to listen to her and the House Dems were in open rebellion.

Well...just two weeks into her term as speaker. We find out that she kicked a little butt.
Sworn in just over two weeks ago as the first female speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi wasted no time showing who's boss.

The California Democrat rammed six major bills through the House at breakneck speed, stomped out smoking privileges near the House floor, partially sidelined a powerful Democratic committee chairman and decided she liked traditionally Republican office space so much she claimed it for herself.

By Democrats' timekeeping, she did it all in far under the 100 legislative hours she had allotted.

"We did what we promised the American people we would," Pelosi declared on Friday, pledging it was "just the beginning."

Pelosi's initial agenda, completed Thursday, included measures with wide popular support: increasing the minimum wage, broadening stem cell research, allowing government bargaining on Medicare drug prices, cutting student loan costs, putting in place terrorism-fighting recommendations from the Sept. 11 commission and rolling back energy company tax breaks.

Each bill passed with bipartisan majorities and Pelosi triumphantly gaveled down the votes, at one point banging the gavel so enthusiastically that it left a small dent in the podium.

And the American people? They kind of like that San Francisco liberal a hell of a lot more than that Texan 'cowboy':

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Approve 33
Disapprove 65

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Nancy Pelosi is handling her job as speaker of the House?

Approve 54
Disapprove 25

The pollsters helpfully compare the failed Pelosi speakership with Newt Gingrich's successful kick-ass revolutionary one (approve/disapprove):

12/20/94 (as incoming speakers): 35/43
1/4/95: 35/37
1/29/95: 40/48
3/5/95: 38/51

The Washington press corps must be pretty pissed that Pelosi is ruining their preordained story. Maybe they can write some more stories about her choice in outfits.

A place where logic dies

While the rest of the sensible world celebrates John Warner's (R-VA) decision to oppose the troop 'augmentation'. Glenn finds a maddening little nugget from before the war with Iraq (From Larry King Live in the early part of 2003):
KING: What if Saddam Hussein tonight in a fit of sanity decides he totally wants to cooperate. That's it. Whatever Bush ask for short of exile. What does he do?

WARNER: You asked me what does he say, and my reply to that would be, he has no credibility.

KING: But he can't -- that's nothing.

WARNER: But he could establish credibility with quick and prompt actions.

KING: Like.

WARNER: And they'd have to manifest themselves as compliance with the Security Council resolutions all of them. But especially 1441. I am going to disarm, here it, is go find it. Not hide-and- seek. . . .

You know, I asked George Tenet, CIA director basically what you just stated, and he's written a letter, it arrived in my office an hour ago. And he states, we have now provided all of the information that we could to the inspectors. Yet they have not uncovered anything.

Because Saddam Hussein from the very beginning after 1991, decided that he's going have to endure some type of inspection regime as he continues to build weapons and he's become very skillful to keep these manufacturing base of weapons of mass destructions active, mobile and beyond the ability of any inspections to really catch it. And this is proof of it. We've given them all the information, they can't find it.

KING: What's his purpose, he's inviting war. . . .

WARNER: The group of nations agreed on [the inspections], and I think Hans Blix tried to make it work. But he's been outsmarted.
I don't mean to suggest that Warner's change of heart is unwelcome (although, I believe this is being done to carve out a sensible center- which is staying in Iraq for a long time). Yet, we shouldn't forget how we got here. A lot of very foolish people, put on nice suits and thought that because they looked serious they were serious.

Drawer full of Diamonds

Oh my, I can hardly wait for the POTUS's State of the Union. Mr. Snow Job just adds to the excitement. When asked what the best part of the speech was, he responded You know, it's difficult to say. It's like looking in a drawer full of diamonds.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Is there a word?

I have racked my brain to come up with a word to describe Joe Lieberman. Here is his latest:
Yet in hindsight, some Bush advisers believe they misjudged the politics that would greet Bush's Jan. 10 unveiling of the new plan. They understood that many if not most Democrats would not welcome a troop increase but thought at least some would grudgingly go along — not anticipating what ended up as near-universal opposition by Democrats and visceral anger even among some Republicans.

They had hoped more members of Congress would embrace the advice that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) gave the president during one session in the Cabinet Room. "Mr. President, I have two words for you," Lieberman said, according to officials who were present. " 'Be bold.'"

I think 'enabler' works best. What a wanker.

For people like Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush, being bold means being willing to carelessly end the lives of thousands.

Disco Returns

Chuck Hagel Channels Michael Moore

This is from today's Face the Nation in which Senate 'maverick' Chuck Hagel decides that dissent on the part of the American people is good. Why? Because, when we have earnest debates at home- it reduces the chance that young men and women will die for no real reason.

When I saw this clip, the first thing that came to mind was Michael Moore's ending commentary in Fahrenheit 9-11. He says virtually the same thing. Unfortunately, I cannot find the clip as Moore has been branded as Satan and there are two million clips that talk about how much he hates America and the troops.

Contrast that opinion to the one espoused by Bill Kristol today. As a supporter of the war, he suggested that critics of the war should not say anything for 6 to 9 months. In essence, 70% of the American people should just sit on their hands no matter how badly the war is being managed because it is our dislike of the disastrous policy which is the real danger.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Much Ado About Squat

Let me preface this by saying that I thought that no one but me and 12 other people probably even noticed this story, but since I heard it on NPR after reading it in the paper and seeing it referenced on one of the internets, someone must be paying attention.

First, a summary of the story:
For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

So why do I care? Well, I like this story and I don't like it. First of all, I like that they at least point out the social changes within this country since the 1960's, even though the media machine as a whole would have us all believe that social conservativism is the new mainstream in this country, apart from Hollywood, and New York, and the Northeast, and the West Coast, and parts of the upper Midwest, and Florida, and select middle and working-class families...

I don't like it because it focuses the heart of the matter on women. For better or worse, I just don't think that looking at one half of the equation will give you a very clear idea of what's going on. But then, I'm just a simple man.

Whatever the case, I say the social revolution is doing well. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some sin living to do.

Matthew Sweet

If I had just one wish, I would have wished to write this song:

Unfortunately, I didn't.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One year ago

As Atrios points out...it was one year ago that Stephen Colbert did this.

How has the White House responded? Well, um...they hired political firebrand Rich Little (if you do not know who he is, he was AWESOME in the 80s- with his harmless criticisms of President Reagan and Johnny Carson). Apparently, Yakov Smirnoff couldn't make it.

Just to make sure that nothing goes crazy, the President has made sure that any criticisms of his presidency are kept on the DL. Good for him.

President Bush < Vice President Cheney

I guess this kind of kills the whole "the American people really likes the President" crap:
A new poll has found that the American people dislike President Bush more than they dislike ... Dick Cheney. The poll — by Fox News, of all people — finds that President Bush's unfavorable rating is 58%, while Cheney's unpopularity rating is five points lower at 53%. Bush can, however, still take some small solace from the fact that his approval rating is one point higher than Cheney's; the President's is 38%, while the VP's is 37%.
Worse than Cheney? I thought only puppy killing demons with VD, bad breath and a horrible habit of one-upping in conversation could be disliked more than Dick Cheney.

p.s. I will buy a lobster dinner for the first political commentator who states that Bush being more disliked than Cheney is good news for the Bush Administration.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The past will help the future

In judging from some of the recent postings from the left end of the blog world, there seems to be a bit of a dust up over the rationale for going to war. In reviewing the issue, it seems interesting that the notion of preemptive war, or the Bush Doctrine, has completely disappeared from the political discourse. Four years ago, the Bush Doctrine was touted as the new world order and now it has the same relevance as this little gem. Nevertheless, it is necessary to realize just how disastrous the doctrine and rationale for war was(is).
Preventive war is based on the idea that an enemy (presumably) is preparing to do something that will one day threaten you and it is in your best interest to stop them before they achieve that goal. It requires a kind of intelligence that is so amazingly sensitive and prescient that we can see threats before they even emerge.*

This omniscience was what the Bush administration sold going into Iraq ---- that we knew that Saddam was developing weapons that one day would threaten us. That, needless to say, was not true and we can hope that the Bush Doctrine is dead because of it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Second Verse Same as the First

Like Glenn Greenwald, I am convinced that the Bush administration is firmly focused on attacking Iran and this point is generally being ignored by the media. I suppose the big questions is, could the administration actually pull this off? If you were to ask me three years ago if this were possible, I would have answered immediately in the affirmative. Yet today I am not so sure, if there was a relatively sane administration in the White House I would say absolutely not. However, the Bush administration has recently shown some damn crazy behavior, which is making an attack seem fairly likely. As Glenn points out:

  • Israel's Prime Minister "accidentally" ending decades of nuclear ambiguity by unambiguously acknowledging Israel's nuclear arsenal;
  • New Defense Secretary Robert Gates's extraordinary departure -- the very same week -- from long-standing protocol by explicitly describing Israel as a nuclear power;
  • The announced build-up of forces in the Persian Gulf back in December, the purpose of which -- according to Bush officials -- "is to make clear that the focus on ground troops in Iraq has not made it impossible for the United States and its allies to maintain a military watch on Iran" (UPDATE: As well as this incident revealing the placement of a nuclear-powered submarine in the Straits of Hormuz);
  • The leaking by the Israeli military that Israel was developing plans for an attack on Iran using small-grade, limited tactical nuclear weapons. Though the leak was done in such a way as to create plausible deniability as to its significance -- the leak was to a discredited newspaper and leaks that a country has "planned" for a certain type of attack are commonplace and do not mean they are actually going to attack -- the leak was nonetheless deliberate and caused the phrases "Israeli nuclear attack" and "Iran" to be placed into the public dialogue, at exactly the time that tensions have been deliberately heightened between the U.S./Israel and Iran -- the purpose of which is almost certainly not a planned nuclear attack by Israel on Iran, but a ratchering up of the war rhetoric;
  • Increasingly explicit advocacy by neoconservatives in the U.S. for a war with Iran, as reflected by the recent Washington Post Op-Ed by Joe Lieberman in which he really did declare that the U.S. is already at war with Iran ("While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran");
  • The transparent and deliberate use by the President throughout the last several months of 2006 of highly threatening and accusatory language towards Iran that is identical in content and tone to the language he used towards Iraq in the months immediately preceding the U.S. invasion -- often verbatim identical.
    • I would also add that we have promoted a Navy officer to oversee CENTCOM. This promotion seems strange as our problems in Iraq do not require a naval solution, but in Iran, we would rely heavily on the Navy.
This could be all posturing, but I doubt it. The focus is too precise. If the Bush administration were just trying to keep Iran at bay, there would be more talk and less action. You don't commit forces into an area and you don't take military action unless you have an endgame in mind.

I am willing to wager that the neocons are going to manufacture a way into Iran as there is no way that we could invade Iran without provocation. Perhaps a Gulf of Tonkin type incident, which will propel us into war, is what the Bush administration is looking for. With the 'surge' of troops into Iraq, this offers the perfect cover. Iran will naturally respond to increased troops on their border and this might provide the ideal opportunity to strike (one only needs to look at our own country's response to the Cuban Missile Crisis for an example).

Here's to hoping I am way off of the mark.

Big Brass Ones

You have got to hand it to the President. He is not afraid to say anything, no matter how far away from the truth it is. In his weekly radio address, the President made the following point:
President Bush on Saturday challenged lawmakers skeptical of his new Iraq plan to propose their own strategy for stopping the violence in Baghdad.

“To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible,” Bush said.

In a pitch to lawmakers and the American people, Bush said the United States will keep the onus on the Iraqi government to take charge of security and reach a political reconciliation. He countered Democrats and his fellow Republicans who argue that Bush is sending 21,500 more U.S. troops into Iraq on the same mission.

To be quite honest, even if I grant (which I am not) that the there are no other proposals, I don't believe that it is irresponsible to oppose the idea yet offer no alternative. For instance, say the Pres and I were having dinner in a restaurant and we noticed that another diner was having a seizure. Now, without any serious medical training, I would not know what to do. Yet, if the President were to turn to me and suggest that we douse the afflicted individual with gasoline and light them on fire in order to stop the seizure, I would be acting negligently if I let this plan go ahead. In regards to his escalation idea, it is a bad idea on its face and I don't need to come up with a counter plan, because the proposed plan is even worse than the current course of action.

However, the President's assertion that there are no other plans out there is patently false. Here is a list of groups/individuals who have offered plans to help us in Iraq:
  1. The Baker Commission
  2. John Murtha
  3. Joe Biden
  4. Center for American Progress
  5. Dennis Kucinich
I think what the President meant to say was "disagreeing with me is irresponsible".

Yeah, We're All Gonna Die, But...

O.k., so global warming is not to be ignored and it threatens us all. Case in point: I'd like to continue my campaign to prevent scurvy. Not only is global warming very real and very scary, now it's threatening the health of my teeth and gums.

"Southern California saw temperatures dip to freezing in some places last night. It was 7 degrees in Lancaster, while downtown L.A. had a low of 40.

The cold weather is expected to continue until Sunday morning.

California growers are trying to protect their oranges, lemons, peaches and other crops. About 70 percent of the citrus crop is still on the trees and Sunkist says cold could cause a billion dollars in damage."

Mother Nature doesn't pull punches.

Getting it right vs. getting it wrong

There is a must read article in Radar that compares the careers of pundits who were wrong about the war in Iraq and pundits that were right about the war. What the article finds is that those who were right about the war have been increasingly marginalized, while those that got everything wrong have become even more trusted by the mainstream media.

The article also brings up some interesting possible consequences for military engagement with Iran. Once again, those arguing against military action are forgotten.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Joe Lieberman: I won't investigate Katrina

Fresh from Newsweek, Joe Lieberman has decided that he is not going to investigate the government's response to Katrina:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the only Democrat to endorse President Bush’s new plan for Iraq, has quietly backed away from his pre-election demands that the White House turn over potentially embarrassing documents relating to its handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
I guess he is backing off of because holding your government accountable is partisan. In addition, keeping your campaign promises must also be a sign on partisanship. In true Lieberman style-- this is what he said during last summer's Senatorial campaign

Asserting that there were “too many important questions that cannot be answered,” Lieberman and other committee Democrats complained in a statement last year that the panel “did not receive information or documents showing what actually was going on in the White House.”

Yet today he is singing a different tune. Joe Lieberman got what he wanted, he got the top spot on the Homeland Security committee; now he wants to push his ridiculous war in the hopes that it will further his shameless career ambitions:
But now that he chairs the homeland panel—and is in a position to subpoena the records—Lieberman has decided not to pursue the material, according to Leslie Phillips, the senator’s chief committee spokeswoman. “The senator now intends to focus his attention on the future security of the American people and other matters and does not expect to revisit the White House’s role in Katrina,” she told NEWSWEEK.

Phillips said that Lieberman may still follow up on some matters related to Katrina contracting. But in listing the Connecticut senator’s top priorities for the panel, she cited other areas, such as reform of homeland-security agencies and legislation promoting tighter security at U.S. seaports. Asked whether Lieberman’s new stand might feed complaints that he has become too close to the White House, Phillips responded: “The senator is an independent Democrat and answers only to the people who elected him to office and to his own conscience.

Apparently, the spokesperson is talking about the neocons and Republicans who put Lieberman back into office. Because if Lieberman had any conscience, he would listen to the stories of people who lost everything in this disaster. Even his colleagues in the House are asking for an investigation into the failings of the government:
Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Louisiana Democrat who participated in House investigations on Katrina last year, also said the Katrina disaster needs further inquiry and that he will continue to push for such a probe in the House. “It is still important to my constituents—many of whom lost everything, including their loved ones—that we learn from the mistakes so that they aren't repeated,” he said. “We deserve to know what happened."
Unfortunately for the American people, Joe Lieberman answers to only one constituent-- his enormous ego.

Mr. Joshua = Pork Rinds

Don't question it, just roll wit it. Ya dig?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Please stop Tom Curry before he hurts someone

This story had to have originally been from some Mad-Libs for Reporters book. This is what Tom Curry, intrepid MSNBC reporter, had to say:
President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both need Jim Marshall.

He’s a House Democrat who represents the kind of Republican-leaning district in the South — in Macon, Ga., and its environs — that Pelosi must keep in order to hold onto her majority in the House.

And Bush needs the support of Marshall and Democrats like him to give his Iraq policy a chance of success.

Pelosi must keep Jim Marshall in the fold because, if we don't, the margin in the House will be 232 to 203. True, we would still have a sizable majority, but we would have a palindrome for a number (I really don't know why that is bad, I am just assuming that this is the reason it is so important to keep Marshall on board).

Note to Mr. Curry: I know you want to write a story about how the American people are evenly divided over Iraq. I know you want the reading public to believe that the Democratic party is holding on by a thread to its Congressional power because the rest of the country is still really conservative.

However, that just isn't true. First off, Jim Marshall represents a VERY conservative district as he came extremely close to losing his last election in 2006 (a year in which the entire populace was trending Democratic). Consequently, I would venture to guess that he is trying to stay in the good graces of his district. Secondly, Marshall is not coming out in support of the plan. As is noted later in your article, Rep. Marshall is still on the fence.

Clear as a bell

Keith Olbermann provides the news report I wish all news anchors were giving:
President Bush makes no secret of his distaste for looking backward, for assessing past results.

But in our third story on the Countdown tonight… too bad.

Any meaningful assessment of the president's next step in Iraq must consider his steps and missteps so far.

So, let's look at the record:

Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said he was no nation-builder; nation-building was wrong for America.

Now, he says it is vital for America.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control. Today, U.S. troops observe Iraqi restrictions.

He told us about WMDs. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubing. Yellow-cake.

He has told us the war is necessary…Because Saddam was a threat; Because of 9/11; Osama bin Laden; al Qaeda; Because of terrorism in general; To liberate Iraq; To spread freedom; To spread democracy; To keep the oil out of the hands of terrorist-controlled states; Because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.

In pushing for and prosecuting this war, he passed on chances to get Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Muqtada al-Sadr, Osama bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than recommended. He disbanded the Iraqi Army, and "de-Baathified" the government. He short-changed Iraqi training.

He did not plan for widespread looting, nor the explosion of sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment.

Gave jobs to foreign contractors, not the Iraqis.

Staffed U-S positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

We learned that "America had prevailed", "Mission Accomplished", the resistance was in its "last throes".

He has said more troops were not necessary, and more troops are necessary, and that it's up to the generals, and removed some of the generals who said more troops would be necessary.

He told us of turning points: The fall of Baghdad, the death of Uday and Qusay, the capture of Saddam, a provisional government,the trial of Saddam, a charter, a constitution, an Iraqi government, ¤elections, purple fingers, a new government, the death of Saddam.

We would be greeted as liberators, with flowers.

As they stood up–we would stand down, we would stay the course, we were never 'stay the course',

The enemy was al Qaeda, was foreigners, terrorists, Baathists.

The war would pay for itself, it would cost 1-point-7 billion dollars, 100 billion, 400 billion, half a trillion dollars.

And after all of that, today it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Republicans, Democrats, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.

Watching and waiting

Since the President proposed the second worst idea ever, I have been wondering what the consensus response from the media is going to be. I am quite certain that the plan does not have the support of either parties in Congress and the American people are generally tired of this President and his half-assed ideas.

That having been said, I do not believe there will be a uniform condemnation of this plan by the press. Instead, the press will operate from the 'cult of Bush' playbook which has provided the ground rules for covering the President. The way this operates is:
  1. The President offers a horrible idea
  2. The press/pundits declare the subject is open to debate
  3. The press refers to a Bush cultist for insight
  4. The cult member looks for any reason, whatsoever, to drink the Kool-Aid.
  5. Kool-Aid is consumed and Bush is declared a genius
  6. The press then refers to a non-Bushist who offers a clear and rational opposition to Bush's plan
  7. Ridiculous debate ensues
  8. The press mulls over this insane debate for 6 months
  9. In the meantime, the President offers another horrible idea.
  10. Repeat steps 2 through 10
I would like to have more faith in the process, but to be quite honest with you, we are 4 years into an absolute disaster and nothing has changed. The Democrats (and sane Republicans) are perfectly willing to do the right thing and end this mess, yet they are forced to fight a ghost. The President of 9-11 (another press fiction) will always play a central role in debate and it's going to take a long time (or Dr. Peter Venkman) to get rid of that ghost.

Scrolls

As always, Emily makes an excellent point.

Save the myth, save the President

I wonder what sort of evidence the press would need in order to believe that the President is not liked by the American people. Why? Well, according to CNN, the President is VERY, VERY popular in Montana. Only 55% of folks polled in the Treasure State think he is doing a bad job.

Perhaps organizing a "Let's Poop on the President Day" would suffice.

The Dominoil Theory

I listened to this show yesterday and wanted to punch my radio everytime this tool opened his mouth. The short version is that we need to escalate in Iraq so that we don't repeat the mistakes of Vietnam. All those who believe this BS raise your hand....Anyone? Anyone at all?

Double-dutch Rocks!

This is an oldie, but it makes me happy.

Surging up the escalator

Well, well, well. Here we sit on the morning of the impending "surge" announcement and I can't help but feel sick to my stomach on behalf of the country. This "president" of ours is playing politics with our troops I've no doubt. I'm sure that there exists a scrap of paper in the "president's" National Security PeeChee that says something like this:

1) Suggest a "surge" which is really another term for escalation - sounds really macho.

2) Pray to chief advisor (Jesus) that the Dem's can't find their collective voice on the issue.

3) Blame Dem's for inevitable worsening of situation in Baghdad post-surge due to their lack of support and positive healing energy - or - Take credit for victory in the unlikely event that escalatio- uh, surge works.

Questions?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Selling Assets

It seems our marathoner friend did not reach her fund raising goal. Well...it looks like someone gets to tattoo her backside.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Memory Hole

From Atrios- this was the Time Magazine cover from a month ago.


The lesson? Conventional wisdom is always wrong.

Washington Post- Whistling Past the Graveyard

I am just flabergasted by this article in the Washington Post regarding the strange weather we are having. The headline suggests that the weather is 'wacky', in the same way that one might say that Carrottop is a 'wacky' guy.

Yet, what this article obscures is the enormous threat posed by global warming. Over the course of the entire article, the phenomenon is not mentioned once. And while it may be difficult to say for certain whether global warming is directly responsible for this change in weather, to completely ignore it within this context is horribly irresponsible.

I believe this represents the central difficulty in discussing climate change in the media, global warming represents a systemic change in the environment. It is not easy to point to a specific event and know for sure that global warming is directly responsible. However, by not talking about it at all, we are certainly putting ourselves in danger.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gratuitous Philly Tie In

For the uninitiated, SNL came out with the following video (BTW it contains some racy material):


Well now I am proud to show off a response from the great city of Philly. I love this woman (it contains even racier language).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Please don't be true

This is just some posturing by the Israeli government, but if it is true, God save us:
Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

An attack on Iran, by the Israeli government would turn a horrible situation into a horrible situation with millions upon millions of expletives preceding it.

Best Global Catastrophe Evah!

It was a beautiful day here in the city. I took my dogs for a run to the dog park, spent some time cleaning up the front of the our house and just really enjoyed the 70 degree weather we were having.

It is January 6th.

We are all going to die. Thank you Exxon/Mobil.

On a related note, the friend that is running the Phoenix marathon just got signed on to help end global warming with Al Gore. It is pretty cool and you can check it out here.

So Obvious it Hurts

They're doing it again: the "liberal" media. They're ignoring another story just because it favors a Democrat.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been scientifically proven to be the hottest Speaker of the House ever in a poll of 10,000 households that I just imagined in my head. Homely GOP'ers won't cop to it and the media refuses to take up the call. It's times like these when I can't wait to move to Norway.

Also, Broca regrets recent decision to invite yours truly into the fold.

MSNBC: Congress didn't change overnight? That is an outrage!

Lisa Myers of MSNBC is shocked that everything wasn't fixed TODAY:
Democrats say they were returned to power in part because of corruption and ethical lapses of the Republican Congress. They promised to clean up the swamp and crack down on lobbyists.

But hours after changing House rules to reduce favors from lobbyists, it was back to business as usual in Washington.

This shows what the Democrats are truly up against. The press expects that everything is going to happen immediately and when it doesn't? Well, that is evidence that the Democrats were acting disingenuously during the campaign. To members of the press, the fact that there are still some strange things that go on in Washington is clear evidence that the Dems don't want good government. If Ms. Myers wanted to do some actual reporting, she could review the well-detailed relationship between lobbyists and Republican lawmakers and see if the new laws are an improvement on that.

Furthermore, the Democrats need to hold fundraisers. That is not illegal; in fact, if the Democrats want to stay in power, they need to beat the Republicans. I don't wish to ruin the Pollyannish dreams of Ms. Myers, but unfortunately politicians need to raise money to win elections. Until we have complete campaign finance reform, politicians will need to raise vast sums of money.

My greatest fear, concerning the press, is that for the next 2 years we will constantly hear stories about how the Democrats didn't fix EVERYTHING. This article certainly suggests that this concern is valid. The Democrats will be held to an impossible standard; whereas with the Republican majority, there were very few questions about their effectiveness.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The left proved right, again

From the New York Times (via TPM):
In the week since Saddam Hussein was hanged in an execution steeped in sectarian overtones, his public image in the Arab world, formerly that of a convicted dictator, has undergone a resurgence of admiration and awe.

On the streets, in newspapers and over the Internet, Mr. Hussein has emerged as a Sunni Arab hero who stood calm and composed as his Shiite executioners tormented and abused him.

“No one will ever forget the way in which Saddam was executed,” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt remarked in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot published Friday and distributed by the official Egyptian news agency. “They turned him into a martyr.”

In Libya, which canceled celebrations of the feast of Id al-Adha after the execution, a government statement said a statue depicting Mr. Hussein in the gallows would be erected, along with a monument to Omar al-Mukhtar, who resisted the Italian invasion of Libya and was hanged by the Italians in 1931.

In Morocco and the Palestinian territories, demonstrators held aloft photographs of Mr. Hussein and condemned the United States.

Let me see if I got this right, we took a horrific dictator who was hated throughout the world and in one brief moment we have turned him into a hero for all the Sunni world. Well done, neocons, well done.

Five favorite albums of all time

Getting to listen to all of my music (via the new iPod) has helped me determine what my favorite albums of all time are. In no particular order:

The Clash (London Calling)- A seminal album that is amazing from top to bottom. This album would be on the list solely for the song "Lost in the Supermarket". This song best embodies my theoretical viewpoint regarding commercial culture.

Pavement (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)- Most folks seem to think that Slanted and Enchanted is a better album, and while I fully acknowledge it is a great album, the songs just aren't as strong. The songwriting and melodies are perfect on this album (e.g. Unfair, Range Life).

Wilco (Summerteeth)- Every album Wilco has put out is remarkable, but this is the best. With Summerteeth, the band changed from an alt-country outfit to a truly experimental band. This album is also set apart from the earlier ones because of the songwriting, from "How to Fight Loneliness" to "She's a Jar", this was Jeff Tweedy's first foray into the free expression songwriting that has become his calling card.

The Flaming Lips (The Soft Bulletin)- Another transitional album and this one came at the band's peak. I can't find a bad song on the album, it is symphonic yet oddly intimate. The Flaming Lips were able to package all of their quirkyness into an album that works on every level. If you don't own it, you need to buy it.

Belle and Sebastian (The Boy with the Arab Strap)- This album belongs on the list for completely different reasons than the ones above. This album changed my perspective on music, for the better. Before I heard this album, I was convinced that music had to sound like ROCK N' ROLL to be good. Yet, after getting one listen to this album it was clear I was wrong.

Is the 2002 Senate Trying to Cover its A**?

I have mixed feelings on this ABC News article. It states that 33 US Senators would have changed their vote on Iraq if they knew then what they knew now:
ABC News decided to survey the views of the senators who served in 2002, most of whom remain in the Senate. The survey indicates that those senators say that if they knew then what they know now, President Bush would never have been given the authority to use force in Iraq.
...
By ABC News' count, if the Senators knew then what they know now, only 43 at most would still vote to approve the use of force and the measure would be defeated. And at least 57 senators would vote against going to war, a number that combines those who already voted against the war resolution with those who told ABC News they would vote against going to war, or said that the pre-war intelligence has been proven so wrong the measure would lose or it would never even come to a vote.
Here is my take on the change of heart-

1. There is really no change in the information available, a solid 30% of the American people were against the war and a majority of other governments were against the war based upon the intelligence that was available at the time. The BBC and other non-Kool Aid drinking media outlets had reported that the evidence for going to war was weak/non-existent. There was really no solild reason for us to go to war, whether it was WMDs, terrorist funding or connections to Al-Qeada the rationale was flimsy, at best. In addition, the fall out related to our invasion was not hard to figure out. The ethnic tensions at play in Iraq were apparent and the potential influence of Iran on a changed Iraq was fairly clear.

2. The history regarding the authorization of force has been largely forgotten. The political context is completely ignored by the mainstream press. The debate and vote came one month before congressional elections and the Republican party heavily politicized the vote. That doesn't neccisarily mean the Democrats should have authorized use of force, just that the potential for completely ceding control of Congress to the Republicans was always in the background. Unfortunately, we will never know what the outcome would have been had the Democrats fought back.

3. Also regarding the historical context, the authorization for use of force was billed as neccesary by the President, not for actual war but for increased sanctions on the Iraqi government. We were consistently told that the President wanted peace yet still needed to send a strong message so that we could get inspectors into Iraq. In this regard, the complete dishonesty on the part of the Whitehouse has been revealed by the Downing Street Memo.

In the end, I don't know if the Senators involved with this vote are trying to wash their hands of this enormous mess. The political climate we exist in now is vastly different then the one we saw 4 years ago. I would have loved to see some political courage, but I also realize that there is a difference between courageous and being foolhardy. As such, I think we should take this poll with a grain of salt. What we should be doing now is holding these folks accountable.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I was wondering when someone would get around to writing about this:
But now, a small but increasingly influential group of neocons are again helping steer Iraq policy. A key part of the new Iraq plan that President Bush is expected to announce next week — a surge in U.S. troops coupled with a more focused counterinsurgency effort — has been one of the chief recommendations of these neocons since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

This group — which includes William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, and Frederick W. Kagan, a military analyst at a prominent think tank, the American Enterprise Institute — was expressing concerns about the administration's blueprint for Iraq even before the invasion almost four years ago.
It is Neocon II: Electric Boogaloo!! It's Awesome!!

So what lessons did we learn from the our first colossal error? Apparently we weren't listening hard enough to the neo-conservatives. Consequently, we really need to follow their recommendations. Why? Because they are apparently due to be correct about something any time soon.

I mean sweet Jesus on a taco (I think I just made that up), what are these people smoking/snorting/rubbing on their bellybutton/injecting/bathing in? We should be running as fast as we can away from any ideas they have about anything. For instance, if Sen. Lieberman suggested that I have mac n' cheese for a snack; I would run like Jesse Owens in rocket shoes away from any processed cheese product.

Fighting reality every step of the way

I have been following this story for a while now, and I am consistently wowed by the idiocy of the far right. For the uninitiated, Michelle Malkin and some of her friends got all in a tizzy over this news story:
The attack on the small Mustafa Sunni mosque began as worshippers were finishing Friday midday prayers. About 50 unarmed men, many in black uniforms and some wearing ski masks, walked through the district chanting "We are the Mahdi Army, shield of the Shiites."

Fifteen minutes later, two white pickups, a black BMW and a black Opel drove up to the marchers. The suspected Shiite militiamen took automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from the vehicles. They then blasted open the front of the mosque, dragged six worshippers outside, doused them with kerosene and set them on fire.

The problem was that after the story was reported, the US forces in Iraq stated that they had no record of one of the sources for the story. Since that time, Michelle has been working overtime to find this witness and has even pledged to go over to Iraq to find this guy (read about her nuttiness here). Why? Well in the warped mind of conservatives, if the witness doesn't exist than everything in Iraq is going well. Rather than admit to themselves that they were wrong, they will create elaborate conspiracies to justify their opinions. This is the chief problem with conservatives in this country, they would prefer extensive contrivances over evidence (e.g. global warming, evolution, the failings of the President).

And by the way, it turns out the guy does exist (read to the bottom to get the rightwing's response- their collective ability to delude themselves is amazing):
The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.
Now, this would be funny if there weren't some real consequences. By attempting to find this one man, not only is he in legal trouble, his life and the life of his family is at risk. Police officers in Iraq are frequent targets, especially ones that collaborate with the press. Unfortunately, this does not enter into their mental calculus, they just want to fight the facts.

Feelin' alright

This is simply amazing:


Congratulations to Nancy Pelosi, the first woman elected Speaker of the House.

On a side note, I completely agree with mcjoan. The media has relatively ignored this story with very little mention made of how historic it truly is. Regardless of your political leanings, it means a great deal to finally have a woman as the Speaker and it should be a cause for celebration. I remember as a kid just how crazy it was when Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, yet Speaker Pelosi is not garnering half the attention. Leading one to wonder if it would kill the conservatives in this country to show a little class.

Doing his part to keep the myth alive

Tom Curry, the national affairs writer for MSNBC, has this brilliant insight regarding the new Congress:
Michele Bachmann and David Loebsack are both newly elected members of the 110th Congress and both Midwesterners.

The congressional districts they represent are only a three-hour drive from each other. But Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat, come from political universes that are light-years apart.

He’s a liberal, a former professor of international relations who backed Howard Dean for president in 2004; he has never served in the state legislature or on a city council. She’s a conservative tax lawyer who served in the state Senate and led the crusade to outlaw same-sex marriage in her state.

Both elected on Nov. 7, Bachmann and Loebsack are proof that the electorate didn’t have one consistent message in every congressional district last year.
You see, not every Congressional district voted for change. One voted for a whackjob conservative; ipso facto, we are still a divided nation.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Straight Talk Express

People like John McCain because he has integrity (from Vanity Fair).
"Should gay marriage be allowed?," (Chris) Matthews asks.

"I think that gay marriage should be allowed, if there's a ceremony kind of thing, if you want to call it that," McCain answers, searching in vain for the less loaded phrases he knows are out there somewhere, such as "commitment ceremony" or "civil union." "I don't have any problem with that, but I do believe in preserving the sanctity of the union between man and woman." It may not be clear just what McCain is trying to say, but it's easy to see how his words could be skewed in a direction that the Republican right might not like at all.

Fast-forward to the next commercial break, during which McCain and Matthews reposition themselves from the stage to the auditorium floor to take questions from the students. McCain's longtime political strategist, John Weaver, a lanky, laconic Texan, moves in to whisper some advice. The next question is about the pending federal farm bill, and McCain repeats his long-standing opposition to certain agricultural subsidies.

But then, out of nowhere, he adds, "Could I just mention one other thing? On the issue of the gay marriage, I believe if people want to have private ceremonies, that's fine. I do not believe that gay marriages should be legal." There: he said it, the right words for his right flank.
p.s. I know a lot of people think that McCain is going to be the next president (or at least the Republican nominee) but I don't see that happening. I am guessing it will be Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas. Just sayin...

Old school

When I was a kid, we used to call this type of thing a 'face job'.

Well done, Rep. Ellison.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Liberal media: still at it

Senator Barak Obama tried cocaine when he was in college (20+ years ago), the WP seems to think that this will be enough to potentially ruin his Presidential ambitions.

I find it odd that when a Democrat admits to questionable behavior in their late teens/early twenties, the press is quick to hop all over it. Yet, when Republicans demonstrate bad behavior into their 40s this isn't an issue.

Strange...you would almost think that there is a concerted effort to discredit Senator Obama.

I have found a way to be rewarded for my profound stupidity

So wrong it hurts- from March 17th 2003:
We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam's regime. It will produce whatever effects it will produce on neighboring countries and on the broader war on terror. We would note now that even the threat of war against Saddam seems to be encouraging stirrings toward political reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a measure of cooperation in the war against al Qaeda from other governments in the region. It turns out it really is better to be respected and feared than to be thought to share, with exquisite sensitivity, other people's pain. History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.
Who was this modern day Oracle of Delphi? None other than Time Magazine's newest 'star' columnist Bill Kristol. Only in this messed up media age, can such stupidity be rewarded.

However, I see an opportunity to make it big- I shall now try to cement my reputation as a major pundit:
In the coming months, the President will re-make the world. Armed with his remarkable foresight, all nations will adopt a half-price nacho policy on Tuesdays. The streets of Rome, Singapore, Cairo will be flooded with oozing yellow gold (and tasty jalepenos). In addition, utilizing his steadfast resolve, the U.N. will adopt the second Bush Doctrine "Whoever Smelt it Dealt it". No longer will there be flatulence related arguments, as the individual with the sharpest sense of smell will easily be tagged as the cheese cutter. Lastly, through divine intervention, the President will finally figure out a way to make Jesus more "John Wayneish" thus making him more desirable to people throughout the world. He will replace the 'sissy' sandals and put some totally bitchin' cowboy boots on ol' J.C. Billions of people will convert to Christianity, bringing an end to conflict everywhere.
I eagerly await your call Time magazine.

Mixed Thoughts

I am not sure what to make of this.

On the legal side, I am not a fan of democratizing inalienable rights. Gays should have the right to marry, and it is not up to the bigoted and right wing religious fascists to have a vote. Allowing such a vote opens the door to the increasing tyranny of the majority.

On the other hand, I would love for these folks to get their butts whipped in an election. I would be very proud of my home state if they defeated this amendment and stood up to bigotry. I think most people in the state came to realize that their world was not going to end because gays and lesbians had the right to marry. The question now will be, if those folks are motivated enough to vote against the religious nuts.