Saturday, October 21, 2006

This Year's GOP Campaign Boogeyman...


¿Esos Republicanos son muy desesperados, no?

War With Iran This Week?

That's what some have been speculating for weeks, based on quiet reports of the moving of the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group fleet to the Persian Gulf and other rumblings. There are fears of Tonkin-style tomfoolery from our government, in which an attack is provoked by us, but the details would remain murky enough here at home to call Iran the aggressors and justify a military response. Keep in mind that the Senate did pass something called the 'Iran Freedom and Support Act' before they went on recess. Finally, the BBC reported that Condoleeza Rice's recent Mideast trip may have been about laying the groundwork for action against Iran.

Personally, as compelling as I find all these indicators to be, I don't buy it. This is pretty out there, even by modern standards. Even I do not believe that the White House is this monstrously insane and stupid. The tide is no longer with them. Besides this being a war which be a) immoral and illegal, and b) impossible to be accomplished successfully, I fail to see how this would help them politically (which would be the sole reason to act now). This country has turned against the war, the Bush crew knows that. A new invasion would only worry voters and solidify the fact that this is an administration that chooses wars with reckless abandon. It would also be too obvious as a ploy to work. People are actually paying attention to these things now, which is why all the recent terror alerts, etc, have failed to help the GOP. No doubt the White House wants to do this war before they leave office (and will certainly try), but they lack the political capital to pull this off right now. And this does speak volumes about how (justifiably) paranoid this administration's actions and hubris have made people, that they believe the administration would start a new WAR as a political October surprise.

So, no, I don't believe these rumors/fears, though I thought they were worth acknowleding.

[Related: Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter speaks to Democracy Now about Iran.]

Quote of the Day

"What I'm about to write isn't especially insightful, but given that our foreign policy debate these days is almost entirely played out between people who think wars are really great and those who think wars are like totally awesome, perhaps it needs to be said.

There's this attitude out there where one's foreign policy abilities are judged by whether you supported the right wars, with people like Peter Beinart checking off their little lists. The foreign policy hawks see supporting wars as courageous acts, as if sending other peoples' kids off to die and voting for massive defense budget increases requires courage instead of a healthy possession of sociopathic tendencies.

Wars are failures. A primary purpose of sensible foreign policy is to stop them. When wars happen, our foreign policy has failed. That isn't to say there's never a point when they're necessary or justified, but that point is simply an acknowledgment that the people in charge failed."
--Blogger 'Atrios', yesterday

Speaking of people of who think wars are like totally awesome, Sen. McCain was the guest on a recent 'Hardball' episode during their college tours. Sen. McCain discussed his plan for winning the war in Iraq, which was as vague, unspecific, and wish-fueled as every other. It mostly seems to just involve sending an additional 100,000 troops there, which will make the Weekly Standard crowd happy, but ultimately won't accomplish anything except increasing the U.S. casualty rate and maybe postponing the inevitable another year or two.

Chris Matthews, to his credit, did try to get at the point of where these extra troops would come from. McCain responded, dismissing the idea of a draft, instead stating "if these young people felt that this nation was in a crisis and we asked them to serve, virtually every one of them would stand up because I have the greatest confidence in the young people of America." Matthews then asked everyone in the audience who supports the Iraq war and McCain's position(s) on it to stand up. A significant number did. Matthews then asked those who "would consider participating in this war" to continue standing. Most immediately sat back down. Seizing this opening, Matthews asked those who still stood exactly how they planned to participate in the war-- if they intended to enlist. All that could be heard was some answers about "support" and "strategy", not "I'm heading down to my local recruiting office today" (it's amazing how many people, as Atrios noted, find merely supporting the war to be a courageous fight of some kind). McCain then whined that Matthews' "bias" was starting to show. Rough translation: 'Please stop exposing my plan as the farce that it is'.

These are the politicians whom we are supposed to respect and look to for 'grownup' leadership. We shouldn't. They are deluded fools at best, and warmongers at worst. If people like Sen. McCain cannot even stand up to the lame-duck Bush/Cheney presidency when they legalize torture and suspend habeas corpus rights, then they should not be trusted to fight wars or lead our nation.

Finally, here's another AP headline that says it all: Bush: I won't change strategy in Iraq

[Semi-related reading: "Ugly choices" in Iraq -- but after the election is over (Salon War Room)]

Campaign Ads

The election is two weeks away.

You know what that means... campaign ad bonanza!!! Woooo!!!! There are far too many to choose from (including the RNC's great 'We haven't captured bin Laden, but that's okay, because he makes a great boogeyman' spot), so I chose two ads from each party I came across this week that really stood out to me. They speak volumes about how each party is framing the debate... the McCaskill one, in particular, is a must-see though somewhat hard to watch.

Republicans: 1. Vernon Robinson (North Carolina)
2. Mike Dewine (Ohio)

Democrats: 1. Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
2. Jon Tester (Montana)

"...Always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

The Simpsons' annual 'Treehouse of Horror' special (which 10 years ago did one of the most brilliant parodies of modern elections) has a sharp satire of the Iraq war planned for this year's episode. Radar has details-
Anyone who thinks Hollywood is run by a liberal cabal won't change his mind after watching The Simpsons' annual Halloween special. The episode, which airs Nov. 5, concludes with an Iraq war satire that may rank as the most pointed political statement the show has ever made. In the segment, aliens invade Springfield to prevent mankind from obtaining "weapons of mass disintegration," but their mission, called "Operation Enduring Occupation," turns into a quagmire. "You said we would be greeted as liberators!" accuses one alien.

"We were looking for an ending to the episode, and it just kind of suggested itself," says Simpsons executive producer Al Jean. "I'd like to take credit for being adventuresome, but I think we're expressing a viewpoint 69 percent of the country agrees with."

Perhaps—but in the past, the show's writers have usually been careful to maintain an ironic distance from the hot-button issues they've tackled, including abortion and evolution. The Halloween segment, in contrast, feels remarkably earnest, right up to its final line: "This sure is a lot like Iraq will be." That line may not make it to the air; some of the writers want it cut, says Jean, though not because it's politically loaded. "The debate is whether people already get it and we're being too obvious," he adds....

I vote for cutting the line. No need to hit people over the head with it.

And don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Taxes To Sock The Axis

Another Friday evening, time for some more fun with YouTube. This week I decided to go retro... a classic Disney WWII propaganda cartoon called "The Spirit of '43" starring Donald Duck, who learns the patriotic importance of paying taxes during a time of war. This cartoon was playing at the Smithsonian when I visited this summer, in the section looking at WWII information/propaganda efforts.

This cartoon (and many others) is collected on the following DVD collection:
Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines

Finally, remember-- When you ride alone, you ride with bin Laden!

Quote of the Day

"Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few 'bad apples' in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this."
--Kevin Tillman (whose brother/fellow soldier, Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004) in a powerful letter.

He ends by noting we do have an accountability opportunity coming up... on November 7th.

King George Swats Away Pesky Judicial Flies

He may have waited three weeks after it passed to sign it, but with the Military Commissions Act now law, the President isn't wasting any time uniting his country behind common ideals and goals for an end to global terrorism abusing his new (permanent) war powers to stamp out judicial accountability for his actions...

From the NY Times-
Once President Bush signed the new law on military tribunals, administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress wasted no time giving Americans a taste of the new order created by this unconstitutional act.

Within hours, Justice Department lawyers notified the federal courts that they no longer had the authority to hear pending lawsuits filed by attorneys on behalf of inmates of the penal camp at Guantánamo Bay. They cited passages in the bill that suspend the fundamental principle of habeas corpus, making Mr. Bush the first president since the Civil War to take that undemocratic step...

The Washington Post has more-
Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

Beyond those already imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, the law applies to all non-U.S. citizens, including permanent U.S. residents...

Our new standard- guilty until proven innocent. They hated us for our freedoms, you know.

Some miscellaneous notes: Bob Harris has a good piece on this issue, including noting the obvious that torture provides false and counterproductive information. And in his softball interview with the President, Bill O'Reilly actually managed to ask some decent questions about waterboarding and the administration's use of it. The President dodged and spun like crazy. The Red Cross, by the way, has condemned this law.

However, John Yoo- one of the architects of Bush's terror policies- has a clear message for the courts: "Get out of the war on terror". I agree, John, three branches of government were too cumbersome anyway. Checks and whatnow?

Finally, the aforementioned NY Times piece concludes-
The 60 or so men at Guantánamo who are now facing tribunals — out of about 450 inmates — also could have been tried years ago if Mr. Bush had not rebuffed efforts by Congress to create suitable courts. He imposed a system of kangaroo courts that was more about expanding his power than about combating terrorism.

While the Republicans pretend that this bill will make America safer, let’s be clear about its real dangers. It sets up a separate system of justice for any foreigner whom Mr. Bush chooses to designate as an “illegal enemy combatant.” It raises insurmountable obstacles for prisoners to challenge their detentions. It does not require the government to release prisoners who are not being charged, or a prisoner who is exonerated by the tribunals...

...In the short run, voters should see through the fog created by the Republican campaign machine. It will be up to the courts to repair the harm this law has done to the Constitution.

And the courts will likely be hearing this soon. Challenges have already been made, based on the obvious constitutional grounds (including, but not limited to, the fact that it says habeas corpus "shall not be suspended" except in cases of "rebellion or invasion"). But these cases take time to work their way up through the courts and the President and his minions know this. By the time this bill is inevitably declared unconstitutional and reversed, the President will likely be near the end of his term. They just wanted to buy more time. And if, by some travesty, the law is upheld, well that that's a bonus.

Keith Olbermann has another great segment exploring the larger implications of this bill.

The media as a whole, though? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

My Bad!

Kim Jong Il is very sorry and says that we if scratch his back, he won't nuke anyone else's...

Report: N. Korean leader regrets test
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.

"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.

Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported...

Sounds like it could be an unexpected opening.

If it is, think we'll take it? Or just let more opportunities pass us by?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


These two concurrent, but separate, headlines say it all...

I wonder who the 30-34% are who still support this. Eternal optimism or mindless devotion?

Alas- is that reality setting in? After years of dismissing the mere suggestion of it, the President has finally accepted the obvious Iraq/Vietnam parallels, giving an answer he already probably regrets to a George Stephanopoulos comparison of the fighting in Iraq today to the 1968 Tet Offensive. President Johnson (and later Nixon at first) stayed the course in that war. How'd that work out for them?

Last one to the helicopter on the embassy roof is a rotten egg!

[Related- Tet memories underscore woes in Iraq (AP)]

Odds and Ends

Here's another collection of stories slipping through the cracks...

More bad news for a secrecy-obsessed White House: "A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election season debate over lobbyists' White House access." Stonewall time for Mr. Cheney.

It's election season, so time for the requisite bogus terror threat, this one focusing on "dirty bomb" attacks on NFL stadiums. The 'threat' was originally posted on a humor website. Lame. I miss Tom Ridge and his duct tape.

Speaking of requisite election-timed things, when's the new Osama video being released?

Nearly five years after branding them part of the 'axis of evil' and insisting they would never allow them to develop nukes, the Bush administration has a new approach to the North Korea situation... "offering 'a pretty good deal' of economic and diplomatic benefits for giving up nuclear weapons". Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan... "Taliban militants are increasingly targeting top government officials in Afghanistan, which has seen a spike in assassinations and attempted killings the last six weeks." Methinks some reporters should ask the President how his 'stay the course' philosophy translates to that situation.

In news that should be obvious to anyone who understands psychology... Karl Rove was a loser in high school.

Evangelical Christians don't all focus their faith on gay-hating and other faux-moral issues; some see a higher moral calling. "Evangelical Christian leaders are tackling a growing list of domestic and international issues, such as genocide in Darfur and global warming," the Washington Post reports. Good for them. However, "These initiatives do not sit well with some grass-roots religious conservatives, who prefer to keep the focus on a tighter range of issues, principally opposition to abortion and same-sex unions." Of course.

Thomas Frank may soon have to add a postscript to "What's the Matter With Kansas"... there is a Democratic comeback occurring in that state, with many moderates and former Republican switching party affiliations. More, please.

The complete evolutionary works of Charles Darwin are now available online.

Democratic activists to Sen. Kerry and others: You've got $$$. Your party needs it. Cough it up.

The Foleygate noose continues to tighten around Speaker Hastert, but he stands firm.

Finally, Russian President Vladimir Putin said to Israeli politicians after he assumed his mic was off, "Say hello to your president for me! Turns out he’s quite a powerful guy! Ten women he raped! I never expected that from him! He surprised all of us! We all envy him!" Just so you know that other countries have shameful leaders as well.

Republicans Love Democracy

Just look at how much respect they have for the Democratic process!!

In 2004, the GOP used numerous dirty tricks to either rile up their base (pamphlets telling Southern voters that if Kerry won, he'd legalize gay marriage federally and ban bibles) or to suppress minority, and therefore likely Democratic, turnout (leaflets sent to poor neighborhoods 'reminding' them to vote on Nov. 3, when the election was actually on the 2nd). Similar incidents have been reported this year as well.

One such incident was an attempt in Southern California's generally conservative Orange County (except for that ol' liberal Sandy Cohen) to scare Latino voters away from the polls. According to the L.A. Times, a letter, written in Spanish, was sent out "warn[ing] that immigrants will not be permitted to vote in the election. It also warns that the state has developed a tracking system that will allow the names of Latino voters to be handed over to anti-immigrant groups." A state attorney general's investigation is focusing on the campaign of Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen. He, of course, denies the charge.

Expect to hear of more incidents like this in the next two weeks.

(PS- On the official campaign front, Republicans are back on the 'If you vote for Democrats, Al Qaeda will KILL YOU' train. A new RNC ad "shows footage of terrorists training set to the ticking of a time bomb. After flashing quotes from Osama and other terrorists promising doom to America, the ad concludes: 'These are the stakes. Vote November 7th.'" This is all the ads says (nothing of substance) before ending with the date and a link to Fearmongering = democracy! You can view the ad on Powerline with the requisite approval from its cult-like webmaster. How reminding Republicans that bin Laden remains a free man and a low priority for the party in charge is supposed to benefit the GOP is beyond me, but I say let 'em go nuts. Their false bravado this time around seems to be backfiring.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

"People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did, and what the President signed today, essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values. It couldn't be more significant. The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to 'Dancing With the Stars'. It's otherworldly... People clearly don't realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I'm not too sure we're gonna change back anytime soon."
--Jonathan Turley, GWU professor and constitutional expert, last night on the detainee bill

[See previous entry- A Proud Day For America]

Voter Fraud...

...The real November surprise?


UPDATE: A related NY Times article- New Laws and Machines May Spell Voting Woes

Star Wars

The Bush administration's new outer space policy? = All your base are belong to us.

Washington Post: Bush Sets Defense As Space Priority-
U.S. Says Shift Is Not A Step Toward Arms; Experts Say It Could Be

President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone "hostile to U.S. interests."

The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy...

..."The Clinton policy opened the door to developing space weapons, but that administration never did anything about it," Krepon said. "The Bush policy now goes further."...

I am glad our governments continue to waste money on projects like this. Poor people would've just blown that money on food and shelter, anyway.

Our Wise And Serious Leaders

A recent study estimates that over 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the start of the war. The U.S. death toll continues to rise to new highs each month as well. The Iraqi government is powerless to control their own country... But, of course, our wise leaders take all of this news very, very seriously as always!!!

President Bush discusses with Bill O'Reilly how this is all just media lies.

Vice President Cheney tells Rush Limbaugh the situation in Iraq is going "remarkably well".

Sen. Santorum compares our situation in this war to 'Lord of the Rings'.

Rep. King says that being in Baghdad is "like being in Manhattan".

Boy, I wish us crazy liberals could be as serious about these issues as those wise Republicans.

(PS- You know the saying 'know thy enemy'? The Republicans do not. Very serious they are.)

Russian Dolls

Stephen Colbert looks at a sampling of Republican scandals of the past few years and how the news media's Russian dolls method of reporting results in each new story meaning the last one is forgotten. A great take on our low attention span journamalism.

You Should've Asked To See The Body, Your Honor

Enron scandal? What Enron scandal? Nothing to see here, show's over, move along now...

Washington Post: Judge Revokes Lay's Conviction
A federal judge in Houston yesterday wiped away the fraud and conspiracy conviction of Kenneth L. Lay, the Enron Corp. founder who died of heart disease in July, bowing to decades of legal precedent but frustrating government attempts to seize nearly $44 million from his family.

The ruling worried employees and investors who lost billions of dollars when the Houston energy-trading company filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2001. It also came more than a week after Congress recessed for the November elections without acting on a last-ditch Justice Department proposal that would have changed the law to allow prosecutors to seize millions of dollars in investments and other assets that Lay controlled.

With the judge's order, Lay's conviction on 10 criminal charges will be erased from the record. "The indictment against Kenneth L. Lay is dismissed," U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III wrote in a spare, 13-page order...

The 'Grandma Millies' of America take it in the ass all over again.

Even in death, Ken Lay manages to rob his victims.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Proud Day For America

The reports were correct... today is the day that President Bush intends to sign the detainee bill that was so urgently needed that he needed to ram it through Congress with little public debate or scrutiny but not urgently enough that he couldn't wait three weeks to sign it after it passed. You know, that bill.

Here's the AP story: Bush to sign law on terror suspects

Nice bland headline, AP. Was "Bush to further destroy America's international credibility by legalizing torture, indefinite detention, rendition, eliminate habeas corpus rights all so that he can create an electoral wedge issue and retroactively pardon past crimes and abuses" deemed too lengthy?

Anyway, here's the lead paragraph-
President Bush is signing into law today new standards expediting interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects, a bill the White House says strengthens his hand in a time of war...

But I think the more relevant information is buried in the middle-
The swift implementation of the law is a rare bit of good news for Bush as casualties mount in Iraq in daily violence. Lawmakers are increasingly calling for a change of strategy and political anxieties are jeopardizing Republican's chances of hanging onto control of Congress.

Bush was able to divert attention from Republican troubles when he first asked for the legislation during a dramatic speech on Sept. 6 in the White House East Room attended by some families of Sept. 11 victims...

...The signing ceremony offered Bush the chance to bask in a legislative victory...

Ahhhh, there we go.

(UPDATE: It's official- the bill has been signed. Here's a photo of the White House photo-op for it, including a 'Protecting America' sign on the desk. You'll also notice in that picture of few of those 'maverick' Republicans who promised to stop this bill applauding its signing.)

The President, ignoring of course that Osama bin Laden remains very much free, says that this bill will bring to justice those who "orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people," as if everyone we've captured was a 9/11 terrorist... or even a terrorist at all. Most of the people swept up in the immediate aftermath of the attacks were detained with no evidence at all. Many of them have now been proven to be innocent, and yet many remain in custody. Who decided these men were terrorists? George Bush? Dick Cheney? John Ashcroft? Any number of overzealous military soldiers? But proof didn't matter; we were scared and angry and action needed to be taken. These men were locked away, tortured or worse, and kept hidden by a complicit media and Congress in the shadows of American visibility.

This bill does not make such uncomfortable distinctions.

New revelations about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and secret prisoners over the tears brought a lot of this into the open. Then, last June, the Supreme Court (who obviously haven't learned to be as polite and subservient as Bush's Congress) came and told the President that, yes, the Constitution does apply to him too. It was put up or shut up time for the Decider. Time to try these 'enemy combatants' and put all their evidence cards on the table.

Many innocent Guantanamo detainees have been released over the years, but many innocent men remain among the scattered 'evildoers' and 'folks'. Many of these men will be tried too, which is why the bill makes sure to allow hearsay and (likely false) evidence gained by torture. The burden of proof in Bush's kangaroo court is small.

Keith Olbermann did a great segment exploring the constitutional implications of the bill.

Lt. Commander Charles Swift, the lawyer who represented Hamdan in the aforementioned Supreme Court case, stated yesterday that "I don’t believe that it’s going to match constitutional muster when the courts have an opportunity to take a look at it." He is absolutely right. But that process will take time. Until then, we will have to live to with this law.

And so what could have been written off by history as the temporary mistakes of an overzealous wartime President are now on course to become permanent parts of the American legacy and image.

The saddest part of this is, as the Washington Post editorial pointed out last month, how unnecessary all of this is. This could've waited a few weeks to be debated substantively in a less partisan environment. These prisoners have been locked up for years now without any legal recourse; any pretense by the administration that now all of the sudden they want to give them their day in court is bunk. This legislation and this battle was forced as an electoral strategy, as one last effort to score cheap 'national security' points with a divided, confused, and scared electorate. Will it work? We'll find out in about two weeks.

Finally, Jack Balkin calls this law "the very essence of tyranny". I concur.

November Surprise?

The date for Saddam Hussein's verdict to be read has been announced and it's...

...November 5th?

Totally a coincidence, I am sure. *cough*

The Gay Old Party

Frank Rich explores the homophobic hypocrisy of the Republican Party...
If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal, it is surely this: The revelation that the political party fond of demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well-stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America...

...The split between the Republicans’ outward homophobia and inner gayness isn’t just hypocrisy; it’s pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from “The Architect,” the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove’s own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians...

I don't think it's as complicated as Rich makes it sound. The Republicans wanted to win elections. Their actual legislative records are abysmal. So they stoke the fires of the so-called 'culture war' by demonizing Janet Jackson's tit and then dig deeper by riling up the religious right with fears of a gay apocalypse and mandatory abortions for all. Gays make a convenient boogeyman for the right.

And make no mistake, they will continue to.

Case in point... Mitt Romney, the conservative governor of Massachusetts. With George 'macaca' Allen's presidential prospects gone, he is the 2008 candidate of choice for the religious right. To lay the groundwork for this, he is running around his own state and demonizing its legalization of gay marriage as something that will destroy families and hurt children. While people like Rich want to pretend that the GOP's gay problem is coming to a close, expect people like Romney to be rewarded for their bigotry come primary season.

The Governator And The Patakinator Take On Climate Change

Encouraging news, but still a long way to go...

AP: States to lower greenhouse gas emissions
The governors of California and New York announced a partnership Monday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing power plants in their states and across the Northeast to trade emissions credits.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would sign an executive order on Tuesday that calls for a program allowing his state to work with the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at power plants starting in 2009. Under the program, power plants in participating states will be granted a limited number carbon credits, equal to the amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. Those that exceed their limits must purchase credits to cover the difference, while those that produce less carbon dioxide can sell the surplus credits...

...The executive order is Schwarzenegger's latest move to address global warming — an issue that has often put the Republican governor at odds with the Bush administration. Schwarzenegger, up for re-election in November, has urged the governors of Western states to join California in a regional trading system and signed an agreement with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to develop new technologies to combat global warming...

Going green to win? Why that idea might just be crazy enough to work.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Better Start Swimming Or You'll Sink Like A Stone

The political tide is definitely turning against Bush's war in a major way... more and more Republicans are speaking out about it with an eye on the elections, 2006 and beyond.

I remember that starting a year ago, around the time that people like Rep. Murtha began asking for withdrawals, that panicked Republicans began trying to dissuade Democrats from this path, purporting to advise them that criticizing this awesome war would translate badly to voters (even though voters were ahead of the Democrats in wanting withdrawals and change). Case in point: The slew of high-ranking Republicans (like the Vice President) in August giving 'advice' to Democrats to stay away from the war as a political issue. Democrats have mostly stood their ground and- short of a Diebold fiasco- look poised to reap the political benefits of an angry populace tired of staying Bush's course. Seeing this, many top-level Republicans are now saying out loud what they have likely been thinking privately for some time-- that this war was a colossal mistake and we need to start getting the hell outta Dodge.

AP: 2 GOP senators urge new Iraq strategy
Two leading Republican senators called Sunday for a new strategy in Iraq, saying the situation in getting worse and leaving the United States with few options.

Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Warner of Virginia are part of the growing list of Republicans who are speaking out against President Bush's current plan for Iraq as U.S. casualties rise.

"The American people are not going to continue to support, sustain a policy that puts American troops in the middle of a civil war," Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Hagel said he agreed with Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said after a recent visit to Iraq that Iraq was "drifting sideways." Warner has urged consideration of a change of course if the Iraq government fails to restore order over the next two months or three months....

[Blueduck's note: Yea, I'm sure the next two months will really turn this war around...]

..."We need to find a new strategy, a way out of Iraq, because the entire Middle East is more combustible than it's been probably since 1948, and more dangerous," Hagel said. "And we're in the middle of it."

Democrats long have urged a change in Iraq policy. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there is "no military solution to this conflict" and the United States must pressure Iraqis to take over their country.

"If they're going to have a civil war, they're going to have to do it without us," Levin said on CNN. "This is long overdue. We've got to focus Iraqi leadership attention on this by telling them we need to begin a phased redeployment of American troops from Iraq within the next few months."

Also Sunday, Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran who favors withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, criticized Republicans for referring to him and other war opponents as "Defeatocrats."...

..."It's all baseless name-calling, and it's all wrong," wrote Murtha, D-Pa. "Unless, of course, being a Defeatocrat means taking a good hard look at the administration's Iraq policy and determining that it's a failure.

"In that case, count me in. Because Democrats recognize that we're headed for a far greater disaster in Iraq if we don't change course — and soon. This is not defeatism. This is realism."...

^ What he said.

I think Salon's Tim Grieve said it best in August: "The case for withdrawal is pretty simple: We shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place, and the cost of staying there -- in lives, in money, in the lost opportunities to deal with Osama bin Laden or Iran or North Korea -- far exceeds whatever marginal benefit there may be in staying the course, which is serving mostly to make Americans a target and create a dangerous sort of codependency on the part of the Iraqi government and its fledgling security forces."

The next few weeks will be rough, but I will remain optimistic. The grownups may soon be back in charge.

UPDATE: President Bush to Iraqi Prime Minister: I'll never leave Iraq.

[PS- The U.S. death toll so far this month alone is at least 53.

The Iraqi death toll? You don't wanna know.]

Did President Bush Lie On His Secret Prison-Guantanamo Transfers?


Am I surprised? No.

(T-minus one day- apparently- until the odious detainee bill becomes law)

Quote of the Day

"The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum thinks Foley will sweep the Dems back into power: Financial corruption like the Abramoff affair is complicated and boring, but everyone understands sexual shenanigans. Perhaps, but are the voters really so brain-dead? Is there no point trying to whip them up into a frenzy about some outrage that actually matters? Like, oh, Bush's refusal to declassify the full National Intelligence Estimate documenting how the Iraq War has created more terrorists. Or Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent--so much so that Senator Frist said he wants to put them in the government. Have we given up on habeas corpus, just voted away with the help of twelve Democratic Senators and twelve House Dems, including Sherrod Brown, often praised in this magazine? It would be interesting if someone mentioned the record Foley compiled on the rare occasions when he zipped up his pants and went to work--like his support for that stupid 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, and for denying public education to illegal immigrant children. Now that's what I call child molestation.

It shows you how hapless and shallow the Democrats are that they find so little electoral joy in a principled coherent challenge to Republican rule. Instead, we get tactical theatrics over whatever comes down the pike: last month gas prices, this week Foley. I see why the Democrats feel they have to do it: They're too compromised, the contests are too close and the discourse has been dumbed down for so long, it takes something simple and splashy to get people's attention. But it doesn't say much for the party--or for the rest of us, either."
--Katha Pollitt on campaign-issue priorities in The Nation

Sunday, October 15, 2006


An ominous bit of news inside the Washington Post...
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove...

Are they delusional?

Or do they have an ace/October surprise up their sleeve?

Or do they know that the fixed/crooked vote-counting system will bend their way?

None of these possibilities are encouraging.

Woodward and Kerry

Bob Woodward interviewed Sen. Kerry a few months ago about what his foreign policy, etc, would've been if he had been President in the aftermath of 9/11. The Washington Post has now published their discussion. A lot of this makes you go 'Umm, where was this John Kerry in 2004?', but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

A Conversation With John Kerry

Weekend Funnies: The 'What Now?' Edition

Boy, our leaders really showed them by... umm, ignoring diplomatic options for years.

Ohh, what a mess. What now?

[Related news: Security Council OKs N. Korea sanctions (AP)]

Odds and Ends

More news stories that slipped through the cracks in the past few days...

The AP has the 'DUH!' headline of the month: 'Bush keeps revising war justification'. It notes he has moved "from narrow military objectives at first to history-of-civilization stakes now". The article runs through of litany of shifting rationales from WMDs to 9/11 ties to saving Iraq from Saddam to the WWIII battle between good and evil. I did note, however, that though this lengthy piece features many quotes, not one of them is from a Democrat/liberal. So biased that media is.

Another Republican about to go down? Reports indicate that "The FBI is investigating whether Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., used his influence to secure lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter."

Meanwhile, media lust for another sex scandal is waiting on news from an investigation into Rep. Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress. Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that Kolbe took with two former pages and others in 1996. Where's Ken Starr and his multi-million dollar semen-investigating powers when you need him?

Democrats refuse to endorse Rep. William 'freezer cash' Jefferson, favoring a different candidate instead.

Seventeen prisoners from Guantanamo- you know where we keep all the terrorists so dangerous we have to torture them and try them without evidence- were released and have arrived in Afghanistan. They maintained that they were falsely accused. One said that "most" of the prisoners there were innocent and had been turned in to the U.S. military by other Afghans because of personal disputes.

Military documents obtained by the ACLU revealed "new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war." For instance, a 2005 anti-war rally was labeled as "potential terrorist activity". No wonder they can't find Osama, they're tracking down Cindy Sheehan instead.

New polls show that more Americans are supportive of gay rights, despite a resurgence of homophobia-baiting following the Foley fallout. In related good news, more polls indicate that attempts this year to use gay marriage as a wedge issue are largely being ignored by voters.

Finally, an analysis shows that when it comes to campaigning, Democrats are from Mars and the Republicans are from Venus. Don't blame me, I'm voting for Kodos.

The Final Days Of Habeas Corpus?

Earlier this week, I asked whether the President had actually signed his detainee bill yet (you know the one needed so urgently it positively had to be passed before the elections) as the Congress had rubberstamped it weeks ago. Keith Olbermann's segment a few days ago indicated that it wasn't signed.

Now an online article about a U.S. citizen seized by US Forces in Iraq indicates that the President will sign the bill this Tuesday. I haven't read that anywhere else, but it's a very reputable site and so I will assume they are correct.

If the President does an elaborate signing ceremony (and he will), expect that darn ol' liberal media to give it all the attention the President desires, while not asking any uncomfortable questions about the implications of a constitutional democracy legalizing torture and signing away habeas corpus in the name of a never-ending war.

Just as the Republicans rushed a Iraq resolution shrouded in spin and doomsday scenarios for midterm gains in 2002, so too have agreed to consolidate executive power and sully the moral/constitutional legacy of the United States under the guise of 'security' in hopes of retaining power in 2006. I intend no hyperbole in stating that these people hold contempt for democracy.

We should be very ashamed and angry that this is about to happen.

Quote of the Day

"This is an election unlike any other I have ever participated in. For six years this country has been totally dominated - not by the Republican Party, this is not fair to the Republican Party - by a narrow sliver of the Republican Party, its more right-wing and its most ideological element. When the chips are down, this country has been jammed to the right, jammed into an ideological corner, alienated from its allies, and we're in a lot of trouble... The Democratic Party has become the liberal and conservative party in America. If you want to be fiscally conservative, you've got to be for us. If you want to conserve natural resources, you've got to be for us. If you want a change of course in Iraq... you've got to be for us."
--Former President Bill Clinton, stumping in Nevada.