Saturday, November 25, 2006

How I Feel

[Related reading:
-Talking Points Memo: Is it just me or has George W. Bush checked out of the stumbling national crisis we know as 'Iraq'?

-TPMCafe: Your Handy Guide To Where Potential '08 Presidential Candidates Stand On Iraq]

Saddam The Menace

Victory!!!! We finally found video of Saddam using his WMDs!!!-
As the world worried about Saddam Hussein’s quest for nuclear and biological weapons, he took time out to discuss with his top advisers the merits of a decidedly more primitive arsenal: slingshots, Molotov cocktails and crossbows.

In a previously undisclosed video, apparently shot in the months before the American-led invasion in 2003, Mr. Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, beams as military officers display and demonstrate low-tech weapons spread on a table in a ceremonial room. Whether the episode shows genuine preparation for an insurgency or was merely a bizarre propaganda exercise is unclear...

Interesting that Hussein foresaw, and prepared for, an insurgency against the occupation.

We didn't. We didn't put any thought into this friggin' disaster at all.

Democracy's Alive And Well In Russia (Pt. II)

Last month, after the mysterious murder of an anti-establishment Russian journalist, I asked "I wonder how that happened? Me thinks Bush's friend Pootie-Poot is a bad man." At this point, that seems more of a statement than a question.

Reuters: Poisoned ex-Russian spy dies
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital on Thursday three weeks after he was poisoned in what friends said was a plot orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Russia has dismissed the allegation as nonsense, saying it was silly to suggest the Kremlin wanted to kill Litvinenko, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin...

...British police said they were investigating what they called the "unexplained" death.

If Moscow were found to have had a hand in his poisoning there could be far-reaching diplomatic consequences. It would be the first such incident known to have taken place in the West since the Cold War...

We should probably pick our allies better.

James Dobson: 'Sorry Ted, I'm Too Busy To Cure You Of The Gay'

How was your Thanksgiving? Good good.

Instead of realizing that being gay is not a choice and that gays are not just in big cities, but all around us in our friends and families, and that society forcing gays to repress themselves does great emotional and psychological harm, the leaders of the religious right learned the opposite lesson from the Rev. Haggard revelations.... if a gay person is revealed in your midsts, you must force them back deeper and deeper into the closet and pray away their gay. If you have the time.

Via Think Progress-
Ted Haggard was one of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the nation until he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a male prostitute and buying meth.

Focus on the family founder James Dobson, who considers Haggard a “close friend,” told CNN’s Larry King last night that he was “asked to serve on a three person restoration panel.” One purpose of the panel, Dobson acknowledged, was to “restore [Haggard] from being gay to not gay.” Dobson said he didn’t have time to participate, however, because such a process “could take four or five years.”

If meth hadn't been involved, it might only have taken two or three years.

And Andrew Sullivan shares a 1981 quote from former Republican senator Barry Goldwater-
"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them...

There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"

Remember- It is people like Mr. Dobson, not Mr. Goldwater, who have controlled the Republican party for the last 25 years or so. Are the members of the party willing to reverse this sad course? Did the election teach them a lesson about the price of extremism? All indications thus far (ie. this talk of Mitt Romney as the '08 presidential candidate) point to 'no' as an answer. They want to all sit around and pretend they're the party of Goldwater and small government and civil liberties and fiscal responsibility, while ignoring that they drove the car off the cliff, and sniping at the Democrats for the way they are attempting to tow that car. Just as well. The longer they stay their course, the longer they will remain out of power.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This Holiday Season, More of the Same On the War Front

President Bush is set to meet with Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki next week... in Jordan. Huh. Seems odd to have such a major summit about Iraq not in Iraq, you know where people and fighting and dying every day for the mission the President has staked our lives and reputation on. But when, after 3.5 years, they can't even secure the airport runway, it's no wonder Bush (and Maliki) want to stay away. Anyway, from the article-
...The White House announcement of the November 29-30 meeting in Amman came as Bush faces calls to begin a phased withdrawal of US troops and engage Syria and Iran on Iraq.

Bush and Maliki said in a joint statement that they will review a panel's discussions on the transfer of security from US troops to Iraqi forces as well as the role of Iraq's neighbors.

"We will focus our discussions on current developments in Iraq, progress made to date in the deliberations of a high-level joint committee on transferring security responsibility and the role of the region in supporting Iraq," the leaders said in a statement distributed by the White House on Air Force One, as Bush returned from a week-long trip in Asia...

So far, it's still sounds like an updated version of 'stay the course'. Yay.

Speaking of the President's super-historic trip to Asia this past week, it turns out the President is as much a man of the people there as he is in his own country. His national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, admits he didn't interact with the Vietnamese people, but the President feels as if he did anyway. Says Hadley, "If you'd been part of the president's motorcade as we've shuttled back and forth, the president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles... I think he's gotten a real sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people and their willingness to put a very difficult period for both the United States and Vietnam behind them." Yep, it's amazing how much you can learn from a people by waving to them through your motorcade window.

Back in Iraq, it appears our battle to win hearts and minds is not going very well. A new poll of Iraqis shows that they want us out of their country... with the % approving of attacks on U.S. troops increasing. Money quote from the analysis- "'Seven out of ten Iraqis overall–including both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)–say they want the United States to leave within a year.' Note: less than 10% of Iraqis nationwide support a U.S. withdrawal only as 'the security situation improves,' the current policy of the Bush administration." The American people made clear in this month's elections they support the Democratic position on Iraq (focused on an exit strategy) and the President didn't listen to them thus far, so I doubt he cares what the Iraqis are saying.

The Iraqis better suck it up and realize American politicians need to try to save face before worrying about them.

Finally, Firedoglake takes another sobering look at the training of the Iraqi military.

And more than 140 bodies have been found dumped across Baghdad over the past three days.

So, it looks like no 'surprise trip' to Iraq this year for 'turkey' dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Quote of the Day

"I've concluded that it's a mistake to entrust the cause of American idealism and Arab reform to a movement led by people who plainly loathe Arabs (Palestinians 'behave like lemmings' wrote [the New Republic's Marty] Peretz two weeks ago before observing last week that Iraqis now lack 'even the bare rudiments of civilizations') and couldn't care less about their well-being except insofar as pretense to caring is a useful club with which to batter domestic political opponents.

As an approach to intra-punditocracy one-upsmanship this seems to work out okay, but as an approach to foreign policy it's moronic. In that realm, what actual foreigners actually think actually does matter, whether or not you care about them or agree with their opinions. And what Muslims think about the United States is that we don't give a damn about their interests or welfare. They are, therefore, very skeptical of schemes that involve giving the United States more control over the fate of the Muslims -- be it conquering Iraq, strong-arming Arab regimes with economic pressure, or efforts to maintain the principle that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is sacrosanct when Iran wants to break it but not when the United States or Israel or India wants to.

Under these circumstances, democratization -- the shared passion of many Republicans and Democrats alike -- is doomed to fail."
--Matthew Yglesias in the American Prospect on why he stopped supporting this war

Love That New Bipartisanship

Speaker-to-be Pelosi is looking out for now-out-of-work Republican staffers this holiday season-
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has drafted legislation that would grant soon-to-be-unemployed Republicans severance pay while they look for jobs after Democrats take over control of the chamber on Jan. 4, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Democratic aides have kept details of the proposed severance package secret, such as how much former Republican aides would receive and who would be eligible for compensation...

...Giving House Republican aides a uniform severance package would fall in line with Pelosi’s declared desire to create a good working relationship with Republicans and not fritter away her limited political capital by settling the score for past slights. But if she offers the severance bill, she would be acting more generously than Republicans did toward Democrats when they captured the House 12 years ago...

And what do the Democrats get in return for such generosity? A big mess to clean up-
Republicans vacating the Capitol are dumping a big spring cleaning job on Democrats moving in. GOP leaders have opted to leave behind almost a half-trillion-dollar clutter of unfinished spending bills...

...The bulging workload that a Republican-led Congress was supposed to complete this year but is instead punting to 2007 promises to consume time and energy that Democrats had hoped to devote to their own agenda upon taking control of Congress in January for the first time in a dozen years...

...It will be no small test of the incoming Democratic majority, which has yet to develop a plan to cope with the more than $460 billion in unfinished budget business. The Democrats' problem is made even more complicated because President Bush in early 2007 will send Congress a bill that could exceed $130 billion for continuing the war in Iraq, according to Capitol Hill aides....

Remember all those fake stories of Clinton staffers trashing the White House before Bush's people came in six years ago? This is the legislative equivalent of that. How nice of the GOP to get as much work done on the way out as they did over the past few years... none.

[More on the Dems' plans for ethics bills: Democrats Plan Series of Votes on Ethics Reforms (Washington Post)]

Now They Tell Us

Here is the no-shit headline of the week: "Blair: Force alone can't beat terrorism"

And it took them 5 years to realize what many people knew on day one.

From the article-
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said military force alone cannot defeat terrorism, acknowledging Sunday that solving the Mideast crisis was key to curbing violent extremism...

...Sunday's meeting between the two leaders, crucial players in the U.S.-led war on terror, led to the signing of security, aid and education packages aimed at promoting a moderate brand of Islam and preventing Pakistan becoming a haven for extremists bent on attacking Western interests...

...Britain and its allies are supplementing the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq with increased help for reconstruction projects, and a new impetus to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Blair said...

"This global extremism is an ideology that exploits grievances. So what we have to do is at the same time as we are taking on the ideology, we have to take away those elements of grievance," he said at the Punjab Governor's Residence in Lahore...

Tony Blair (finally) gets it. Will our leaders get it? Maybe. But it will take them longer.

Finally, here are more thoughts from a favorite Senator of mine, whose thoughts on these issues are usually dismissed. An in-depth talk about the state of terrorism. It's worth a read if you have the time.

Rangel and the Draft, Pt. 2

By bringing up the draft, Rep. Rangel hoped to renew a real debate how frivously we fight wars, and who has to go fight them... only it's not working out that way. The headline-focused news is reported is making Rangel out to be a crazy person who loves the war and wants to send more kids to die. Should Rangel have seen that coming and not bothered this time around? That's my opinion, but others disagree. Here's what some have to say on this issue-

-Firedoglake: Do You Feel a Draft in Here?
-Glenn Greenwald: Following through on warmongering rhetoric
-Lawrence O'Donnell (HuffPo): Rangel is Right

(I gave my thoughts on this, and how the media covers Democrats, on Monday.)

UPDATE: Listen to Rep. Rangel discuss tax policy on 'Face The Nation'- here.

The Next War: Still A Go?

I assumed the Democrats' victory put an end to any administration plans for military confrontation with Iran, #2 on the neocons' to-do list. Seymour Hersh, however, says that they still won't rule it out. I trust Hersh, and I don't trust the White House, so I'll take that at face value.

But first, as the hysteria continues, let's look again at the questionable intelligence front-
A classifed draft CIA assessment has found no firm evidence of a secret drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White House, a top US investigative reporter has said...

Hey maybe someone should actually do some serious investigating this time, no?

Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece is here: THE NEXT ACT
Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?

The question seems to hinge on how influential VP Cheney will remain in the final two years of Bush's presidency. The departure of Rumsfeld indicates his ability to dictate events has diminished, so that is a plus. But he's too stubborn to give this up without a fight.

Finally, saber-rattling will be tough with Iran now stepping in on security talks with Iraq.

[PS- When neocons attack! Iraq war architects throw W under the bus; express semi-regret.]

If Not McCain...

If the religious rights win the '08 primary battle, the Republican candidate will be former Mass. governor Mitt Romney.

Andrew Sullivan has your introduction to him and his gay-marriage obsession-
The Christianist Candidate

Meanwhile, In Lebanon...

Elsewhere in the Middle East, more upheaval, luckily this one ain't our fault...

Reuters: Lebanon braces for power struggle
Lebanon braced on Wednesday for a bitter power struggle after the assassination of an anti-Syrian Christian cabinet minister which his allies blamed on Syria.

Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was gunned down on Tuesday as he drove in a Christian suburb of Beirut, becoming the sixth anti-Syria politician to be killed in nearly two years...

...A U.N. investigation has implicated Lebanese and Syrian security officials in Hariri's murder. Damascus denies any links. It also strongly condemned Gemayel's killing.

The assassination is certain to heighten tensions in Lebanon amid a deep political crisis pitting the anti-Syrian majority against the pro-Damascus opposition led by Hezbollah, which is determined to topple what it sees as a pro-U.S. government...

I hope they will be able to bring those responsible to justice.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

"In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic."
--Washington Post's Jeff Cohen, giving a non-apology apology for his unbridled support of the Iraq war.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is your 'liberal' media. They support wars that kill thousands and thousands of people because it makes them feel better. These people are sick. And yet right-wingers view them as 'liberal' or 'anti-war' because their reporting has in the past year or two acknowledged the basic reality of it all. Those people are delusional. Put together, it's helped lead this country into numerous disasters, foreign and domestic, in the past six years.

Will a Democratic congress be able to change all this? That's the $64,000 question.

A Right-Wing 'Daily Show'?

As long as Dennis Miller isn't the host, I'll give it a try.

Reuters: Fox News eyes right-leaning satirical show

Ohh Shit, They're Onto Us!

Lexington Herald-Leader: Hippies still trying to ruin the country

I can see it clearly now... it's our lack of resolve, not Bush's lack of planning and foresight that fucked everything up. I am sorry. In the world of crazy right-wingers like Ms. Jenean Mcbrearty, this war was a brilliant idea that the President has handled flawlessly and would've been won if some non-existent hippies had only supported it blindly like she has. Clap harder, everyone!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go tie dye some shirts and spit on some troops.

A Global Warning

"An Inconvenient Truth" is on DVD today.

You should watch it. It's keen. Plus a bonus 30 minutes of updates from Al Gore. Who wouldn't want to watch that?

(Just a note: I bought this today and, god bless 'em, it doesn't come in a standard plastic DVD case. Rather it comes in a slim paper sleeve, wrapped and sealed of course, all made from 100% post-consumer recycled material. No hypocritically excessive DVD packaging here, folks!)

Moving The Goalposts

Here is President Bush, yesterday, unintentionally admitting he has no plan for Iraq:
"I haven't made any decisions about troop increases or troop decreases, and won't until I hear from a variety of sources."

Of course, as Talking Points Memo reminds us, we've been here before-
August 2005: President Bush said Thursday no decision has been made on increasing or decreasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, saying that as "Iraqis stand up, we will stand down" and that only conditions on the ground will dictate when it is time for a reduction in U.S. forces.

April 2004: "Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, has asked for contingency plans for increasing the number of troops in Iraq. No decision has been made to supplement the 134,000 troops now there, and White House officials said it was unclear whether such a move would help the situation."

November 2003: "The President is going to do what is most effective in Iraq, and he gets recommendations from his commanders on troop levels and what is needed. No decisions have been made about future troops levels," said National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

One reason this war has dragged on so long is because they keep making 'turning the corner' promises and saying that in six months we'll reevaluate where we stand. Then when that six-month mark arrives, they just repeat the same thing over again, until it's three and a half years later and we're worse off than ever before.

Israel realized this past summer after a month that their war was a mistake and that they needed to cut their losses. Us? We're far more stubborn. Saving face is all that matters to us.

Atrios blames the pundits, including many in the 'liberal' media who cheerleaded this war at the outset (and still are nervous about this 'withdrawal' talk), lest anyone think they were like us dirty hippies who had crazy beliefs in 2002/2003 like... that this war was a mistake based on questionable intelligence that would distract us from Afghanistan and other issues and was being done solely based on the personal agenda of the neocons pulling the strings on the Bush foreign policy. You know, craazzzy stuff like that.

The 'serious' people have just been delaying realistic exit strategies, which could've begun to be implemented well over a year ago, because they are holding on to delusions that if we just stay a little while longer, someone (Bush, McCain, Baker and co.) will come up with some amazing plan no one's thought of yet and save the day. They are, as Fareed Zarkaria said, "just willing more american deaths".

And the voices of the American people who just two weeks sent a message to the White House to start wrapping this up are once again disregarded. And the same people who have been fucking everything up for the past few years proceed full speed ahead.

Surprise- today comes news of possible troop increases, just what the doctor didn't order-
Pentagon officials conducting a review of Iraq strategy are considering a substantial but temporary increase in American troop levels and the addition of several thousand more trainers to work with Iraqi forces, a senior Defense Department official said Monday.

The idea, dubbed the “surge option” by some officials, would involve increasing American forces by 20,000 troops or more for several months in the hope of improving security, especially in Baghdad. That would mark a sharp rise over the current baseline of 144,000 troops...

Not that everyone agrees with this, of course-
But some officials and senior military officers are arguing against the idea, saying that it could undercut a sense of urgency for Iraqi units to take on a greater role in fighting the insurgency and preventing sectarian attacks. Gen. John P. Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, told Congress last week that the military was stretched so thin that such an increase could not be sustained over the long term.

And 'round and 'round we go... at least until the Democrats force the President's hand.

They all know that none of this will work; they just want 'one last push' to try and save face in hopes that this might not blow up in their face come the 2008 election cycle. It will, and our Middle East policy for the next 20 years will be dealing with the repercussions of this madness.

Finally, Josh Marshall throws in his 2 cents on the President's failure to understand Vietnam.

Will Dem Congress Overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy?

Prepare for right-wing freakout... the debate is coming.

Dems To Bush: Please Stop Appointing Crazy People

On Friday, I posted on the President appointing as new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services a religious nutcase named Eric Keroack who teaches abstinence-only and doesn't believe in contraception, even for adults. You can see his disturbing slideshow presentation- here. Just the kind of person you want in charge of family planning, right! Bushie, you're doing a heckuva job again!

Now comes news that numerous Democratic congressman have called for his ouster. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) said it best: "Less than two weeks ago the American public made it clear that they want a middle ground approach to our nation's most pressing problems. Unfortunately, this appointment says loudly and clearly that the president simply did not get that message."

Yep. Remember- bipartisanship to Bush means that you do what he wants.

Oh I Get It, I Get Jokes

With Murdoch axing the O.J. project, it's time to invest in a new one-
New York - Publisher Judith Regan announced today an agreement between ReganBooks and Vice President Dick Cheney for a book he will write (with his wife) titled If I Did It: Faking the Case for War, a hypothetical account of how he would have cooked the intelligence that led to our invasion of Iraq, if he had done so.

Asked if she considered Cheney's book to be his "confession" for lying us into a disastrous war, she said, "No."

There is also a TV special planned, to be aired during February sweeps.

The book comes with a free declassified copy of the Downing Street Memos and a corroded aluminum tube.

Connecticut For Lieberman, Party of Two

Boltin' Joe now has a chairman for his party...
Lamont beat Lieberman in a bitter Democratic primary, which forced the incumbent to use a backup option he’d been preparing for months. The day after the primary, Lieberman handed state election officials more than 7,500 signatures supporting his bid to run as a candidate of the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

At the time, Orman protested that there really was no such party, and that Lieberman was simply manipulating the election system to invalidate the outcome of the Democratic primary. Election officials disagreed and Lieberman said he’d been forced to take that route in order to allow all of Connecticut’s voters the opportunity to vote for him...

...Orman’s response was to trot down to his local registrar’s office to try to switch his party affiliation from Democrat to Connecticut for Lieberman, which is something no one else has done.

Although that switch isn’t official yet, Orman waggishly proceeded to convene a one-man party organizational meeting and elected himself “chairman.”

Chairman Orman also passed some rules for the party, including one requiring that, “If you run under Connecticut for Lieberman, you must actually join our party.”

Another of his tongue-in-cheek party rules reads as follows: “If any CFL candidate loses our party’s nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party-endorsed candidate.”

Always good to see Sen. Lieberman treated as the joke he is.

And sad that the Democrats depend on this opportunist for control of the Senate.

UPDATE: CFL party Chairman Orman speaks with Salon about this.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I would really, really like to write about something other than Iraq. Aside from the fact that I'd like it to stop descending into oblivion (or "bolivion," as Mike Tyson would say), I personally would simply enjoy someday writing about Iran, or North Korea, or Turkey or China or Russia, or even -- not to get crazy or anything -- some region of the world which our foreign policy isn't screwing up.

Alas, today is not that day."
--Americablog contributor AJ, on how we keep having to repeat ourselves.

Rangel and the Draft / Hey Media, While You're Covering This...

Much ink is being spilled over Rep. Rangel's renewed call for the reinstatement of a military draft, with only passing mentions being made to Rangel's true intentions, so I will give my two cents. I think Rangel is not doing his party any favors with this (it gives the other side easy headlines), but I can sympathize with his intentions.

For the record, Rep. Rangel has tried to push for this before, the first time in 2003. It became a source of much confusion and controversy during the 2004 presidential campaign when draft fears were being kicked around. Rangel knows it won't pass, but passing it isn't even really the point here.

The larger point he is trying to make is this... that people (for the most part) tend to support wars so much now because the reality of war is something most Americans will never know. Wars are introduced and waged so casually that they are an afterthought on a day-to-day basis. These wars are now 'supported' not with rations and mass enlistments, but by waving flags and putting cheap magnets on our gas-guzzling SUVs. It is easy for people to support wars when they are distant. It makes people feel tough and patriotic to 'support' the war from their homes, though they would never, ever go fight it themselves.

However, if war became a reality to the average American-- where (in theory, anyway) anyone could be called up to go-- you'd better believe we'd all be really reluctant before we support any unnecessary, preemptive wars. We would certainly ask harder questions (where's the proof of WMDs, what does this have to do with 9/11?, haven't you actually been planning this war for years?, what's the exit strategy?, what will the cost be?, how many casualties are you willing to accept?, etc) before we gave our leaders a blank check to use our finite military resources to achieve ill-defined political goals.

We'd actually take the business of war seriously... which we do not do now.

That is the point Rep. Rangel is trying to make here.

But the media and Rangel's denouncers will never try to see that point, they will never paint the debate on those terms, so in the end I feel that Rangel shouldn't waste our time with this for a second time around.

Michelle Malkin laughs this off, stating "It's a fitting symbol of what Democrat rule in Congress will be the next two years: A worthless, cynical expenditure of time and energy that accomplishes absolutely nothing."

As opposed to a fitting symbol of George Bush's rule in the last six years: a worthless, cynical expenditure of human lives, money, and international credibility that inflames terrorism worldwide, eh Michelle?

One can only hope that half the time devoted to this will also be devoted to the real Democratic agenda-
House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi said Monday her new Democratic majority will extend a hand to Republicans in moving the agenda of relieving the "middle-class squeeze." She said restoring the military draft will not be part of that agenda when Democrats take over the House in January.

Pelosi, following a strategy meeting with the next House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said she will meet with incoming House Minority Leader John Boehner and "we'll find our common ground for the American people."

"The principle of civility and respect for minority participation in this House is something we promised the American people. It's the right thing to do," she said.

Pelosi and Hoyer repeated that in the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress that convenes in January, they will try to pass bills that directly affect the pocketbooks of working-class and middle-class people, including raising the minimum wage, cutting interest rates for student loans and allowing the Medicare program to negotiate lower drug prices.

Other top priorities for January are lobbying reform, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and rolling back subsidies to the oil industry...

Important issues, all of these. But as sexy and headline-grabbing as the draft? Nope. So they stay buried.

Finally comes news that "The Republican strategy [through 2008] is not only to undermine Mrs Pelosi's control of the House but also to associate her in voters' minds with Senator Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination." How bipartisan of them. Pundits, you know how to proceed.

Way Ahead Of You

This is the best idea anyone's had in months...

NY Times: Calif. Couple Calls for Orgasm for Peace

Straight Talk Express Drives Off Cliff, Fiery Debris Runs For President

One can only wonder if years from now, historians will try to chart Sen. McCain's path from respected, straight-talking lawmaker to delusional, phony right-winger. I for one am shocked by just how quickly it happened... this man survived years of brutal torture in Vietnam, but a couple years of Bush and Cheney and the guy cracks. How sad.

In the past few years, we have seen McCain grow more and more extreme, pretending to believe in intelligent design and sucking up to every religious right leader he can get his arms around (he has hired a staffer of Jerry Falwell as a campaign advisor). This, coupled with his desire to drag Iraq deeper into the quagmire, will hopefully mean his presidential 'sure thing' odds are anything but. I knew Sen. McCain had lost it for good before the election when he threated to commit suicide if Democrats got control of the Senate (I assume Harry Reid has placed his colleague on suicide watch for his own good), but with the election over and the 2008 race not far off, he is hoping to out-right-wing all the other candidates. Sen. McCain was on ABC's 'This Week' yesterday and bloggers documented the horrors.

Watch as Sen. McCain flip-flop on Roe V. Wade and on gays in the military.

When discussing the war with Stephanopoulos, one observer noticed that, in the span of just one minute, the Senator had to repeatedly check his notes before answering the questions. Yea, that's what we need-- another President afraid to go off-script. Meanwhile, foreign policy scholar Fareed Zarkaria describes on that same show plans like McCain's for sending in more troops "just willing more american deaths". Indeed.

As for Hillary on the other side... don't even get me started.

Wanted in 2008: Sane candidate. Head firmly removed from own anus. Please apply immediately.

Monday Bonus YouTube Theatre

Long weekend, trying to catch up on other things... will have some posts up later.

In the meantime, enjoy a clip from yesterday's edition of "Meet The Press", in which Tim Russert spoke with Senators-elect Tester and Webb. Issues discussed include congressional ethics oversight and the impact of globalization on American workers. These are both good guys; the Democrats have a really encouraging freshman class for 2007. Fingers crossed, folks!

Video/transcripts- here.

[Related reading: Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law (NY Times)]