Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Morning Funnies

This week has left me with a strong urge to rewatch "Team America: World Police" for some reason...

[Related news:
U.S. envoy offers N. Korea bilateral talks (AP)]

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quote of the Day II

Andrew Sullivan, blogging on the Krauthammer column I mentioned earlier-
"Yes, there is such a thing as emergency power. But when the emergency is permanent, when the war is defined as indefinite, when it ends only when the executive says so, then we are talking about something different: a reordering of the constitutional system to create a neo-monarchy, licensed indefinitely to torture, capture, wire-tap and imprison, regardless of the rule of law, or the guilt or innocence of its victims. But, hey, that's now the conservative mainstream, as I have been forced to recognize. I might as well get used to it."

Or you can for vote for change this November and hope that somebody holds these people accountable for their madness (or at least puts up some kind of a fight over it). We're still a democracy, we have options. As I said in April, "The only hope is a Democratic takeover of Congress this Fall. They're not perfect, but they will do oversight."

They'll also govern for the whole country, not just for the small group of ideologues the Republicans dedicate most of the legislative schedule for pandering to every two years. I know what you're thinking... healthcare and wage increases over gay marriage bans and flag burning rants? What a crazy concept, I know.

[Blog followup from Sullivan with a reader's email:
A Conservative Recants

UPDATE: Related reading- Hamdan Myths and Facts]

Quote of the Day

Blogger 'Digby' in a new post: Why Do They Hate Us So Much?-
"Aside from protesting the sheer irrationality of the invasion of Iraq and the extreme measures undertaken under the presidents wartime powers, one of the main liberal arguments has been this practical observation that crude thuggish behavior was counterproductive --- that our strength lay in our technological mystique, our open society that would not succumb to threats and our ability to get allies to support us and work with us globally to shut down these terrorist operations. That argument has been given hardly a moment of consideration --- helped mightily by the news media in the early days who were determined to play well-coiffed soldiers in the reality TV show called the GWOT.

The right has managed to dominate with an internally inconsistent argument that says in order to preserve our civilized values we must do unspeakable, uncivilized things, even to innocent people. (The constitution isn't a suicide pact!) And the great thing about it is that if we were to suffer another terrorist attack, it wouldn't disprove this thesis, it would make the case for redoubling it. (tristero takes this on, here, in case you missed it.)

The facts are that our actions have made more enemies, have made our allies mistrust us and have opened the door to the idea that because we are behaving like an unpredictable rogue superpower, the world needs other military powers to challenge us. The more this happens, the more the rightwing nuts insist that we should be tougher and stronger and meaner so that we can put these naysayers in their place. This taken to its logical ends is catastrophe for America."

What he said.

He's especially right on one point- no matter what happens, they will use current events (such as today's news of a foiled attack on NYC tunnels) to justify/rejustify their belief in this system of preemptive war and pseudo-monarchical executive power. If we get attacked again... that will mean that the President needs even more power and even more latitude to torture and wage war at will. It will in no way constitute a failure of his policies, but rather a reinforcement of them. Conversely, if we continue to avoid a future attack... that will prove that President Bush's methods were successful and he should be given more power and latitude. It will in no way indicate the success of good ol'-fashioned police work from federal agencies.

That's infallible logic in the cult of Bush.

[Related reading on my last point:
Media to GOP: Heads you win, tails you ... win (Media Matters)]

Odds and Ends

Some random stories, etc, that caught my interest today...

First up, Glenn Greenwald presents- when far-right extremists go wild!

Charles Krauthammer hates the Supreme Court, misses the good ol' days of internment camps for Japanese-Americans.

In lighter news, Bill O'Reilly joins in the group of conservative talkers who see an anti-American conspiracy in 'Superman Returns'. O'Reilly compares the ommission of the phrase "and the American way" from the film to a George Soros-fueled conspiracy of secular-progressivism based on anti-U.S. sentiment out of fears "some jihadist in Pakistan might throw popcorn at the screen". Apparently even Superman cannot win in the imaginary 'culture war' destroying our nation.

Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont debated last night for the first and only time in the Connecticut Democratic primary race. The debate received media coverage on MSNBC and even foreign stations, as experts believe the primary results will foreshadow the leaning of the main midterm elections. Video highlights at PoliticsTV. Joe hated Ned, some say, and misses debating his friend Dick Cheney.

Finally, President Bush turned 60 yesterday; received a soothing massage from Larry King.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

"But that's really just a single piece of a broader, and even more remarkable turn of events: the Bush administration literally seems to have no foreign policy at all anymore. They have no serious plan for Iraq, no plan for Iran, no plan for North Korea, no plan for democracy promotion, no plan for anything. With the neocons on the outs, Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, and Dick Cheney continuing to drift into an alternate universe at the OVP, the Bush administration seems completely at sea. There's virtually no ideological coherency to their foreign policy that I can discern, and no credible followup on what little coherency is left. As near as I can tell, George Bush has learned that 'There's evil in the world and we're going to stand up to it' isn't really adequate as a foreign policy for a superpower but is unable to figure out anything better to replace it with. So he spins his wheels, waiting for 2009. Unfortunately, the rest of us are left spinning with him."
--Kevin Drum, at the Washington Monthly (THE END OF DEMOCRACY PROMOTION)

And that's where we stand.

While I am not asking for a return to the Rumsfeld-fueled uber-hawkish foreign policy (war fun!) that ruled from 2002 to just recently, I was surprised by the White House's almost nonchalant reaction to the North Korean missile situation. These people spent over a year planning an invasion of Iraq, a country that was not a threat to us, based on the flimsiest evidence that they could shine up and show off... and now barely a whimper from 1600 Pennsylvania as Kim Jong Il shoots off his rockets to show G.W. that he has a big dick too. Is Bush burnt out? Too afraid that people thinking about North Korea might remind them how all our resources were thrown away on the neocons' pet project in the Mesopotamia? Or simply trying to be patient- gasp!- and figure out the most sensible way to respond (or not respond) to this situation?

Like I said, I'm not saying I even remotely prefer the old cowboy approach to every situation that comes up, but I think it's clear that the White House is stuck in some foreign policy limbo. He's already made it clear he's going to leave the Iraq mess to the next President, so why bother sticking his toes into the North Korean water when evidence indicates that Kim Jong Il has mostly just hot air to throw at us right now? He may just ride out the rest of his term and not bite off more than he can chew.

We could only be so lucky.

[Related reading:
-Washington Post: A Driven President Faces a World of Crises
-Dan Froomkin (WaPo): Bush's Foreign Legacy]

You Lose Some, You Lose Some

Two states had an opportunity today to legalize gay marriage...

...Both decided not to pull that controversial trigger.

First up, my home state of New York-
New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, has ruled against granting full marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples, PageOneQ has learned. Chief Justice Judith Kaye (right), an appointee of former Governor Mario Cuomo (D) and one other justice dissented in the opinion.

"We hold that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the Legislature," the seventy page ruling begins...

A similar decision was also made in Georgia-
The highest courts in two states dealt gay rights advocates dual setbacks Thursday, rejecting same-sex couples' bid to win marriage rights in New York and reinstating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Georgia...

...In Georgia, where three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004, the top court reinstated the ban Thursday, ruling unanimously that it did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that the ballot language was misleading, asking voters to decide on same-sex marriage and civil unions, separate issues about which many people had different opinions...

Gay marriage, and homophobia being officially stigmatized by society, is inevitable. It will take time (and tolerance), but I believe that we will get there soon enough. When? I have no clue. 5 years? 10? 20? Hopefully not that long. It took a number of huge political events (the Montgomery bus boycott, the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, President Kennedy sending the National Guard to stand down Gov. Wallace at the University of Alabama, Martin Luther King and the national movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, etc.) to get the country to desegregate and accept civil rights... and still the process was slow, taking many years. To this day, it is not complete. I do not believe this issue is exactly comparable with the race-based civil rights of the post-WWII era, but they do share one thing in common... a belief in equality for all citizens, regardless of their labels or differences.

So I am not impatient on the issue of equal rights for gays. In short, consider me frustrated, but optimistic. Massachusetts won't stand alone forever.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

While We Were Sleeping

Hey, I said it was supposed to be a slow few days for news! What's the big idea having all these major stories occur while I was eating my burgers? Well, I probably won't have time for any in-depth blogging until tomorrow, but here is a quick-round of big stories that broke while we were celebrating our independence...

There's a still a war going on in Iraq.

And one in Afghanistan too!

North Korea test-fired a series of long-range missiles. The missiles failed shortly after launch. The international community condemned this move. The White House called the missile tests "a provocation" but not an immediate threat. Well of course not, North Korea doesn't have oil.

Enron founder, and former Bush ally, Ken Lay has died of a heart attack, just six weeks after being convicted in the massive Enron fraud scandal. He was 64 years old.

Sen. Lieberman, to no one's surprise, has stabbed the Democratic party in the back... he has announced that he is planning an Independent run for his Senate seat should he lose next month's Democratic primary against challenger Ned Lamont. Lieberman is working on this Independent run (collecting signatures) , while simultaneously campaigning for the primary, a move that is concerning many Democrats. It may also be the reason that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reversed course and announced that they will support the primary winner, whoever that ends up being.

Seymour Hersh continues his Iran reporting by revealing that senior members of the military hierachy are dissenting against the President's hawkish policy toward Iran. At issues are concerns over the that fact that "agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities" as well as the "serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States" from a preemptive attack.

In other news, the Palestinians and Israelis still hate each other.

Is President Bush willing to flip-flop on immigration reform to help the House in this election year?

Finally, the CIA has closed the unit that has focused on bin Laden for a decade. I guess they're truly not that concerned about him either.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Independence Day!!!

Since this is likely to be a slow day or two for news, I'm taking a blogging break.

Have a great holiday to all who are reading this, hope you have some time to munch down some burgers and see the fireworks. And remember that, despite everything, we should all be proud to live in this country and the many possibilities it has to offer. Warts and all, I love this little ol' country of ours.

Now if only we can do something about those two squatters...

[Related reading:
Washington Post (E.J. Dionne): A Dissident's Holiday]

Quote of the Day

"If the freedom of the press makes some Americans uneasy, it is anathema to the ideologists of terror."
--NY Times editor Bill Keller and LA Times editor Dean Baquet, in an excellent joint editorial explaining their decisions to publish the controversial bank finance spying story

NY Times Op-Ed: When Do We Publish a Secret?

Of course, the idea of two journalists being forced to defend the basic idea of freedom of speech on this particular holiday weekend does speak volumes about how far we've come (or regressed?). It's worth reading in full, though. Lest we forget why the Founders were really fighting for when they signed that Declaration 230 years ago.

Hint: I doubt it was for the idea of a 'unitary Executive' empowered by continuous war.

[Related editorial from the editor of Time magazine:
No One Gets a Blank Check]

Truth, Justice, and the Malkin Way

Right-wing bloggers are constantly uncovering conspiracies that don't actually exist (usually involving treasonous liberals or journalists or conservative Supreme Court judges). One of the more recent ones involves the new 'Superman Returns', which apparently promotes an anti-American global worldview as well as other awful things like premarital sex. Some examples- here and here. But the cake is taken, as usual, by Michelle Malkin. Take it away, Michelle-
I sat through about half of Superman Returns yesterday. The movie was boring and gave me a headache. But that's just me. Guess I'm just one of those people who doesn't have the patience for Hollyweird escapism that pits softened not-so-superheroes against rootless, not-so-arch enemies. It's a 9/11 thing, I think. (Can't wait until Frank Miller's "Holy Terror, Batman!" graphic novel is out.)

Anyway, much has been written about the screenwriters' substitution of "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" with "Truth, Justice...all that stuff." See Jeanne Wolf, The Hollywood Reporter, and The American Thinker. Debbie Schlussel's take, which I spoke with her about yesterday subbing on KFI-AM's John and Ken show, is here.

Brandon Routh was adequate, but I prefer my superheroes old school and unashamed of the American flag. No globaloney for me.

To quote Stan Lee, "'Nuff said".

Shorter version: "Superman Returns gave me a headache, I left after the opening credits. Unless its Sean Hannity telling me to be scared of brown people, I am NOT INTERESTED! Hrrmmph!"

She's a serious political commentator, you know. Who knew a summer film based on an escapist comic strip created by two Jewish immigrants during the Great Depression would be a politically-free popcorn escape afternoon of fun? Gosh! Drudge had this 'issue' up the other day too; apparently it's a major concern for conservatives (thank God there's not a war going on or anything). Apparently ommitting 'the American way' from a comic book movie clearly means you hate America; fuck the rest of the "world"!! Who knew Bryan Singer was such a libaloon moonbat? The scariest part for me was reading and trying to imagine just what someone like this does for fun and just kind of movie they would enjoy. Home videos from Abu Ghraib?

Now, when Michelle remembers Kal-El's an illegal immigrant, she may him even less...

[PS- For more Malkin-esque insanity, Glenn Greenwald explores how right-wing bloggers believe they have uncovered a murderous plot by the NY Times' travel section to have Cheney and Rumsfeld assassinated!! Scooby Doo bloggers to the rescue! Also, in a blog post entitled 'Dissent Is Patriotic' (!!!), Malkin reminds readers to attend a protest today... at NY Times headquarters! GOD BLESS AMERICA! Tomorrow, for the Fourth, we burn down the Supreme Court!!!

Finally, Tom Tomorrow mocks how the media continues to take them seriously as political consultants.]