Friday, February 02, 2007

Weekend YouTube Theatre

Well it's the weekend again at last. How was your week? Good, good. I'll kick things off with some recommended YouTube viewing... not one, but two videos! Guaranteed to keep you busy for at least the next 10 minutes or so.

-(1) The first is a Keith Olbermann 'Countdown' segment on the disturbingly similar rhetoric and actions between President Bush in 2002/2003 (when he was planning a war on Iraq) and now in 2007 (when he appears headed down a similar path with Iran). They say history repeats itself, but doesn't it usually take a few decades off? Watch-

Keith Olbermann on Bush's warmongering toward Iran

Related reading/commentary on where things stand for us in Iraq: Here and here. If all we're doing is training the militias and fueling a growing civil war, does that mean victory is nigh? Meanwhile, the U.S. defends its military build-up against Iran, while denying it's looking for war. Excuse me if I don't believe any party in this situation.

-(2) The second video is of lighter fare... video of a press conference of the "suspects" responsible for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie ad campaign that brought the city of Boston to its easily frightened knees. The two treat the press inquiry into the matter with all the seriousness it deserves. Enjoy-

Boston Ad Prank Suspects Talk About ... Hair

Background: here. Hilarious right-wing blog pants-shitting: here.

Please note that Homeland Security has revised the terror alert system in the wake of the foiled attack by the Mooninites in the city of Boston. Vigilance is recommended. If you see anything suspicious, please do NOT respond to it in a calm and orderly fashion; only the most hysterical reaction will do. Thank you.

Have a safe and frightened weekend. Go [insert name of preferred SuperBowl team here]!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Homo Hypocrisy

Dan Savage tackles Mary Cheney's efforts to duck the political relevancy of her pregnancy-

The Passion of Mary Cheney

Quote of the Day Year

From the lead editorial of the current issue of The Nation-
'World opinion is against it. The American people are against it. The Democratic Party is against it. The Congress of the United States is against it. The Iraq Study Group is against it. The Iraqi people are against it. The Iraqi government is against it. Many Republican lawmakers are against it. The top brass are against it. But George W. Bush is going to do it: send 21,500 more troops into Iraq. Can a single man force a nation to fight a war it does not want to fight, expand a war it does not want to expand--possibly to other countries? If he can, is that nation any longer a democracy in any meaningful sense? Is its government any longer a constitutional republic? If not, how can democratic rule and the republican form of government be restored? These are the unwelcome questions that President Bush's decision has forced on the country.'

That one paragraph sums up the point we now find ourselves at.

With President Bush insisting that he is the sole "decision-maker" on the issue of war (historical note: the 2002 Iraq congressional resolution for force only occurred because Congress asked the White House to let them vote on it), top Senators still hold onto hope that their resolutions rebuking his escalation policy will force the White House to accept reality on the war. How naive these Senators are.

The President's position has been clear for some time... leaving is losing, and an exit strategy is something his successor can deal with, as Bush plans to pass on the war to the next guy. All a non-binding rebuke resolution will do is to lead to more speeches from administration officials and defenders about how war critics 'embolden' the 'enemy' (whoever that is this week).

Now, I can understand why many in Congress are not yet ready to take the gloves off in this political battle; no one goes looking for a fight. But they better get ready to do so real soon. If they're dreaming of some compromise or concession from the White House, they need to wake up. Now.

I doubt most Americans want to wait another year or two while members of Congress search for the most polite, non-confrontational way to force the White House to start wrapping this up. Escaping this debacle will be hard... there may not be one right way to withdraw from Iraq, but we must find the least of the bad options in that regard. Regardless, that debate must occur on Congress' terms, not the White House's, as has been-- and still is-- the case.

And on top of all this, Congress (and, more importantly, we as a country) must now deal with the very real possibility of the United States confronting Iran military in some form in the near future. We've known since 2002 that the neocons had their eye on Iran as the country after Iraq in need of their particular brand of 'liberating' (and we've had even more urgent rumblings about this starting last Spring). The administration and their cultish defenders have thrown around many rationales for such action (for the sake of the neocons, please ignore that the calls for war against Iran predate these rationales)-- the rantings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nuclear program. And now, the administration has settled onto one overarching rallying cry... Concerns over Iranian interference inside and around Iraq.

(This also provides them with a convenient scapegoat for their debacle in Iraq.)

I do not mean to defend the leaders of Iran, but it must be noted that the evidence for the administration's grand claims about that seem somewhat lacking. Not surprisingly, the administration is in no hurry to provide public evidence of its charges in this regard.

And to whatever extent the concerns about Iran are legitimate, what efforts have been undertaken to resolve this diplomatically? Has any administration official considered a direct visit to Tehran to hash this out in person, rather than all this proxy nonsense? Has any effort been made to engage regional allies in similar diplomacy? To the best of our knowledge, the answers are no, no, and no. We've been here before, haven't we?

Yet it is with this narrative that the Bush crew appears to want to provoke a confrontation.

No one can honestly predict what will happen, but I think it's clear the direction that the Bush administration has us headed in. Deeper in, double down. So I really, really hope that congressional leaders aren't deluded enough to think they can avoid this political fight.

Let's stop marking time and start getting down to business.

[Related reading--
-Defense Tech: Breaking: Double the Troops in "Surge"
-Glenn Greenwald: Republicans and Congress' war powers -- then and now
-Vanity Fair: From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq-
The same neocon ideologues behind the Iraq war have been using the same tactics—alliances with shady exiles, dubious intelligence on W.M.D.—to push for the bombing of Iran. As President Bush ups the pressure on Tehran, is he planning to double his Middle East bet?

Odds and Ends

What's going in this old country of ours? Let's take a look...

The minimum wage increase approved in the House has finally passed in the Senate, but only after Republicans got the small business tax breaks they were demanding. This will have to be reconciled with the House version. Odd that when the GOP was doling out tax cuts galore in the past six years, they never threw in a wage increase for working Americans, but now apparently the latter cannot be approved without the former. Very odd.

Al Gore is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, as calls grow for a 2008 presidential run.

The Scooter Libby trial continues to provide a much-appreciated window into the secret workings of the Bush administration. A handwritten note by Vice President Cheney admitted as evidence has people buzzing about the implications. As does the recent testimony of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

Government scientists describe how the White House interfered to water down their work on climate change.

(UPDATE: Exxon-funded conservative thinktank offering $$ for scientists who will denounce climate report.)

Attorney General Gonzales doesn't know that habeas corpus is a guaranteed right by the U.S. Constitution. Meanwhile, Nat Hentoff wants to know if the White House is afraid of freedom.

Speaking of fear, an Aqua Teen publicity stunt brings out the inner chicken little in Boston.

Meanwhile, across the world, China blows up a satellite, shows us who's boss.

President Bush and the economy: A tale of two photo-ops.

Sen. Biden really needs to make sure his brain is in gear before engaging his mouth.

Henry Kissinger's revealing comments, however, got less media attention. Also odd.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Don't Forget to Fix Social Security

Recommended read... Newsweek article on Social Security and Bush's health care proposal-

Don't Forget to Fix Social Security by Allan Sloan