Saturday, March 31, 2007

Project For A New American Thought Experiment

Neocon columnist Charles Krauthammer has a 'thought experiment' for all the fools in Congress who won't patriotically shut up and support our vague, open-ended war in Iraq. He wants us to take the Martian perspective on our two failing wars.

He proudly declares that "the Martian would choose Iraq".

In doing so, he finally (unintentionally) comes clean on why his crew abandoned the Afghanistan mission to start a new war of choice in Iraq. He dismisses the former as "a geographically marginal backwater with no resources and no industrial or technological infrastructure" (blueduck's note: oh, and it was also actually where that pesky 9/11 thing was planned from) while the latter was "one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure... [and] the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region". Kaching!

Mr. Krauthammer must've accidently forgotten to mention democracy and WMDs and rape rooms and stuff. Republicans seem to be forgetting a lot of things these days.

[PS- I concede Afghanistan war 'nostalgia' is a bit silly. Time to shit or get off the pot there.

PPS- I'd imagine the visiting Martian would wonder more why we're lead by morons.]

Where Were These People Three Years Ago?

For a guy still exercising extreme executive power, President Bush is quickly losing allies.

This NY Times article just blows your mind... it's about Matthew Dowd, the President's chief campaign strategist for his reelection. It says how Dowd has now lost faith in Mr. Bush (because I guess three years ago he was a totally competent genius). He said we need to withdraw from Iraq and that, in hindsight, John Kerry was correct.

He's speaking in hopes of bringing the President back to reality. Yea, good luck with that.

Money quote: "He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a 'my way or the highway' mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides."

No wonder Gonzales won't resign, President Bush needs to keep all the friends he has left.

Odds and Ends: The 'Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing' Edition

I should stop reading the news. I'm only depressing myself. Well, here it is...

Gitmo justice alert! McClatchy Newspapers reports that: "Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty at the Guantanamo Bay Navy Base yesterday to supporting terrorism in exchange for a nine-month prison sentence under a plea deal that..." What do you think it is? A deal that somehow helps us in the 'war on terror'? NOPE! It's a deal "...that forbids him from claiming he was abused in U.S. custody." God bless America!

And evidence that the White House/Pentagon knowingly lied about how Pat Tillman died.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi plans "to stop in Syria next week during a Middle East trip that began Friday". The White House criticized this, as they step up their rhetoric against the Syrian government.

Moving on to Bush administration tales of incompetence and stupidity... Julie MacDonald, the assistant secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been reprimanded for "disclosing nonpublic government information" including to corporate interest and lobbyists and umm, her online gaming friend. She needed a second opinion from the dwarves of 'World of Warcraft'.

Federal judge to Bush: No, you can't do logging without any environmental concern.

Finally, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings' advice to acting-White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who was feeling a little nervous? "Put your big-girl panties on."

[PS- Bill Maher presents the George W. Bush Scandals & Fuck-Ups Collector's Plate Series.]

Iranian Hostage Crisis II: British Boogaloo (Pt. 3)

International community to Iran: Okay, okay, you made your point. Now let the sailors go.

Iran: NO.

[PS- Jon Stewart speaks to the Iranian leadership with some friendly advice.]

Sex = BAD!

Because I'm a huge masochist, I often read through Blogs for Bush, which is very cult-y, even for GOP cultists (I mean, even Michelle Malkin has a dissenting opinion once a month or so). I came across a fairly typical, emotional rant against abortion. I felt compelled to reply with something I always want to say when conservatives go off on this topic.

I replied-
Abortion is a nasty business.

You know how you could cut down on abortions (and just unwanted pregnancies in general)?

Comprehensive sex education in junior high and high school (none of this abstinence-only crap... actually teach kids everything, so they don't think what they hear from other kids are the facts). Giving out condoms. Teaching about birth control and making it accessible to those who need it. Parental involvement. For example, based on what I have seen from my friends, those whose parents encouraged healthy attitudes about sex waited longer before they had it and were always safe, whereas those who were told it was to be ashamed of were somewhat more careless.

Etc etc.

But the problem with that is that conservatives today are against what I just said. They don't want to educate, they just want to moralize. Their joining with the religious right has dragged them down. And so unwanted pregnancies go up.

Food for thought.

I would add also that there is a stereotype that many people-- ie. Bill Maher-- have about the GOP base, which is that they are very sexually repressive (toward others, maybe not themselves) and huge moral prudes. I wasn't even thinking of this stereotype, per se, when I posted this reply, but the responses I got brought it back to me big-time.

Here is an excerpt of the first reply I got-

You reveal quite clearly the difference between conservatism and liberalism. Liberalism makes a sweeping assumption that people are not smart enough to adhere to conservative values and thus, since we are destined to failure, then abstinence to you (and your like) is "crap."...

...For you to claim that "they are just going to do it anyway" is a defeatist attitude...

Don't give up on mankind. Plain and simple. We should be teaching the consequences of poor judgement and the value of righteous living.

Now I am not naive to say that God didn't make us as sexual beings and there is a raging desire for that expression, but it is possible to maintain control and keep those desires in check. There are many that do, and many that wish they had.

Sex bad, God will help repress our nasty libidos. Check.

And the second-
...I disagree with Jeremys comments that the conservatives help escalate the amount of abortions because they support the religious right. Its just another example of how the leftist disreguard resposibility for actions made. Kids now adays have access to all types of medium that makes it very hard to make responsible decisions. In my opinion hollywood has a lot to do with the declining values in this country....

Standard blame-Hollywood rant. Check.

And the third-
What an idiotic statement. I teach at at a Middle School and if you start handing out condoms, the 12 year olds are going to start using them. Next step, they realize sex feels better without condoms. Next step, pregnant 12 year olds.

Giving out condoms = everyone instantly becomes sexually active (unprotected, for some reason)? Flawless conservative logic. Check.

I am converted. I will ask the Reverend Haggard to pray for me immediately.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Recommended Reading

I read 'em. I liked 'em. I'm passing them along...

House of the Rising Sons: Why "Defeat" doesn't matter

Chris Kelly (HuffPost): Meet John D'oh: Michelle Malkin is Watching You

Mother Jones: Reversal of Fortune-
The formula for human well-being used to be simple: Make money, get happy. So why is the old axiom suddenly turning on us?

Salon's 'War Room': Does Andy Rooney hate America?

Time Out New York Kids: Green Party-
We may never rival the Left Coast in quinoa eating, but with environmentally responsible dwellings, energy efficient schools and organic eateries galore, it's never been easier for NYC families to get green.

Accidental Honesty

Every once in a while, a conservative will say something unintentionally revealing about the state of conservatism (ie. the recent blatherings of Tom Delay). One person who's usually helpful in this regard is Rush 'Excellence in Broadcasting' Limbaugh (when he's not spouting off conspiracy theories).

Here's what ol' Rush had to say yesterday about the Justice Department scandal-
"I’m at a loss to understand why it is that even some people on our side and the conservative media think throwing Gonzales away is going to stop this. Now, they’ll say, 'Well, that’s not what we’re trying to do. We want competence. We are conservatives, and we have high values, and high standards.' This is a battle going on here. There’s an election that’s going to hinge on stuff like this, and everybody the administration throws overboard is a tantamount admission to people that pay scant attention to politics there’s all kinds of corruption going on in there."

Translation: 'Actual corruption is okay; it's the revelations of it we have to worry about.'

Mr. Limbaugh later added: "USA Today’s got a poll: 'Do you think something’s wrong about the firing of eight US attorneys?' 72% said yes. 72% of the American people, a bunch of blithering idiots who have no idea what they’re talking about, but yet they voted, so these polls matter."

A real man of the people, no?

This is, of course, the same Rush Limbaugh who said, following the midterm elections, that "I feel liberated... I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried." I believe this lasted about 34 minutes before he started grabbing every water-pail the GOP threw at him... And that is also the same Rush whom the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez calls today "honest" and "an international treasure".

And there you go again-- one moment of accidental honesty and he's back carrying water for his GOP masters. Because it's what's best for America? Or the Justice Department? Or Congress' priorities? No, because it's a "battle" (and, of course, because it'll piss of the 'libs', a major conservative priority). This is the mindset of the modern Bush/GOP cultist in a nutshell.

Will the GOP isolate these people or continue to embrace them? Do ducks have feathers?

Miscellaneous Thoughts On Iraq

The official talking point (the current one, anyway) of Iraq war supporters-- and those freaking out over withdrawal calls, specifically-- is: Things are finally starting to turn around in Iraq. They are?

But beyond the questionable nature of that assertion is the deceit with which it is used. The unspoken implication in the idea that things are finally starting to turn around is that things were bad before. But war supporters never really admitted any such thing. They assured us in 2006 that things were on the right track and we were turning a corner. We were assured the same thing back in 2005 as well. And in 2004. And in late 2003. They were wrong then, covering up for the failures that they helped cheerlead. But this time, they assure us, they are very serious.

But they won't acknowledge that rhetorical contradiction. Are they willing to admit then that they were wrong and deceitful before? No, of course they aren't.

So, sorry, I'm still taking my chances with those who predicted this disaster from the start.

One particularly insane/desperate (insanely desperate?) war supporter is Senator John McCain. In regards to the Senate debate over withdrawal, McCain repeated easily one of the ridicilous war supporter talking points... the 'fighting them there' one. Said the Senator: "The consequences of failure are catastrophic because if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."

The Senator likely proceeded to illustrate this on the wall with crayon.

Less silly, but still equally deceitful, was his assertion (to every media outlet that would listen) that "there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today." Time magazine's Karen Tumulty emailed their current Baghdad correspondent to verify this. His response: "I just spoke with XXXXXX, our Iraqi bureau manager, about where in Baghdad I could go for a walk. He said there was one neighborhood (I'm not telling -- why make it a target?). He said I could get out of the car with him and a couple of our Iraqi bodyguards and walk for about three blocks - -then we'd have to get back in the car before the cell phone calls to kidnappers caught up with us." Sounds lovely!

Several dozen people were killed in a stroll revenge killings by policemen the other day.

Finally, Speaker Pelosi dresses down the President in regards to his recent hissy fits press conferences: "On this very important matter I would extend a hand of friendship to the president, just to say to him: 'Calm down with the threats, there's a new Congress in town. We respect your constitutional role, we want you to respect ours. This war must end, the American people have lost faith in the president's conduct of the war, let's see how we can work together.'" Buuurrrrnnn.

[PS- The Senate officially passed the Iraq troop withdrawal bill. Your move, Mr. President.]

I Read Magazines

Two interesting articles in the new Time magazine, out now.

On the healthcare debate- 'It's Universal'.

And on climate change- 'GLOBAL WARMING: 51 Things We Can Do'.

[PS- Time, this plug doesn't mean you're off the hook for last week's intellectual insult.]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The worst part of the current Bush policy is that our departure from Iraq is going to be a dangerous, delicate operation that needs to be planned in a far more precise, sophisticated way that anything this Administration has attempted so far. It will have to be accompanied by some really creative diplomacy, and also creative thought about the sort of residual force we want to maintain in the region (and in Iraq). Given the remarkable incompetence--and, of course, the utter policy blindness-of this administration, it is likely that task will fall to the next administration...which will then be blamed, by Rush Limbaugh and Co, for 'losing' Iraq. We live in vomitous times."
--Time magazine's Joe Klein, probably accurately predicting the slow nightmare we'll experience over the next few years.

Tom Tomorrow elsewhere has an excellent blog post on how conservatives are already preparing to blame us for losing their war. We totally would've won in Vietnam if we had just stayed a few more decades years, ya know.

Iranian Hostage Crisis II: British Boogaloo (Pt. 2)

Iran to Britain: Want your sailors back? Say you're sorry.

Odds and Ends

I want the Haitian from 'Heroes' to wipe MC Rove from my mind. Until then, here's the news-

Sign that Pres. Bush is really, really unpopular? Even the Saudis are distancing themselves from him and his war. Too bad. I really thought those two crazy kids would make it.

More bad news for the GOP... new polls show growing support for the Democratic party.

And more bad news still. From the AP: "Contrary to his public statements, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was deeply involved in the firing of eight federal prosecutors, his former top aide said Thursday, adding that the final decision on who was to be dismissed was made by Gonzales and President Bush's former counsel."

And Sen. Kennedy senses a common theme among those fired... '08 election swing-states.

Moving on, Sen. Inhofe (R- Headinthesand) and his allies really want Al Gore to know they hate him. They're blocking plans to hold one of seven worldwide "Live Earth" concerts (in July) on Capitol grounds.

Secretary Gates: No, seriously... close Guantanamo Bay, please.

Finally, the no-shit headline of the day: 'Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows'.

The Cockroaches of DC

Earlier this week, I posted a video of a January 18, 1972 news report on the Nixon reelection campaign which featured Karl Rove (then working with the College Republicans). I noted that "Our politics really have been run by the same core group of people for decades."

I present another YouTube find that re-proves that point.

Behold a young(er) Dick Cheney... in Nov. 1976, discussing Pres. Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter.

Colbert Bad; MC Rove Good?

At last year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, Stephen Colbert scorched the earth.

This year? Karl Rove rapped about destroying small animals. The press ate it up.

[UPDATE: Ahh, actually it was the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner.]

More GOP Scandal Overload

It appears that Attorney General Gonzales is definitely in his last throes now.

In regards to the U.S. Attorney scandal, how do Republicans attempt to refute criticisms that the Attorneys were fired for politically-motivated reasons? Why they.... launch politically-motivated attack ads against fired Attorneys to attack their credibility! Genius!

All this while a 'thank you' email further implicates Karl Rove in the Attorney firings.

What a grand old party indeed.

Moving on, in the seemingly-forgotten scandal over the FBI's abuse of the Patriot Act, FBI director Robert Mueller begs Congress not to strip any of the extra powers granted them after 9/11. They'll totally use them honestly now, they swear.

Finally, there is another scandal brewing (!) over whether the GOP was using the General Services Administration (the government's procurement agency) to finance political operations for Republican campaigns. GSA Chief Lurita Doan was questioned by Congress about this-- in particular, her involvement with a Karl Rove-created slide show on 2008 races to focus on (you can see Rove's list- here). Her response was well... not very responsive.

She must've developed a case of that Republican amnesia.

Headline of the Day

Christian Science Monitor (via Yahoo): 'Few Americans share Iraq war's sacrifices'

That's not true, though! As the President noted, I suffer every day when those darn news reports force me to worry my pretty little head about this whole thing. It's rough, I tell ya.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

American Pie

In my recent searches for Ben & Jerry's new "Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream" flavor, I found myself surfing around the Ben & Jerry's website. Beside all the information on their many ice cream flavors, their site also features numerous sections expanding upon their political/social goals and philosophy.

One section-- 'American Pie'-- focuses on the unbalanced federal budget.

The section is a fun and interesting way to remind people of some uncomfortable truths about our nation's priorities. As most people know, the the majority of our federal budget goes to military funding (much of which is just pork, fraud, and waste... the much-heralded troops get a mere fraction, I assure you). We could/should be spending it on improving the quality of our nation, but that would be, like, totally gay.

Some interesting reading while you're wolfing down a pint of Phish Food.

[PS- Some more of our tax dollars at work.]

Iranian Hostage Crisis II: British Boogaloo

Well, the tense situation between Iran and Britain over the captured sailors in disputed waters took another fun disconcerting turn today when Iran released video of the sailors, including a female soldier who was dressed in a head scarf (she alone will be released for now, officials said).

When I first heard this news last week, my initial reaction was admittedly 'Thank god it was British sailors and not ours.' There's no question that if this had been our guys, President Cheney Bush would've immediately declared WWIII. We know that the administration is so desperate for an excuse to confront Iran, that they trotted out that bullshit presentation last month about supposedly Iranian weapons in Iraq... and oddly stopped mentioning it once people started asking some pesky questions about proof, etc. So you can imagine how they'd react to this.

So far, the British government is taking the right stance. Strong, but sane.

Former U.K.-er Andrew Sullivan, for instance, urges calm: "This, however, is a serious matter and the plain deception of the Iranian regime strongly indicates that this is a deliberate provocation. All the more reason, perhaps, not to take the bait. Slowly, international pressure on Tehran is rising; isolation is growing and this incident can be leveraged to increase that isolation at the U.N.. This may, of course, be a signal that Tehran is going to react to greater sanctions with greater belligerence. In all of this, the fear, of course, is that hotheads will prevail. But this is a time to be cool."

Pray for a resolution. With so many people eager for war, I hope they end up disappointed.

Who Needs 'Em? We Have Target.

New York to Walmart: Fuck you!

Walmart back to New York: Hey, fuck you too, buddy!

Quote of the Day / Senate Iraq Debate

Last week, the House passed "a binding war spending bill requiring that combat operations cease before September 2008, or earlier if the Iraqi government does not meet certain requirements." The Senate is expected to take up this bill in the coming days.

But an initial victory occurred yesterday after a Republican effort to strip the provision from the Senate version requiring a timetable. Senate Democrats (plus two Republicans and minus one Connecticut For Lieberman) held the line in a vote and retained the provision.

The AP says of it, "As drafted, the legislation called for troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days, with a non-binding goal that calls for the combat troops to be gone within a year... The measure also includes a series of suggested goals for the Iraqi government to meet to provide for its own security, enhance democracy and distribute its oil wealth fairly."

This has, of course, aroused anger and criticism from the usual suspects (ie. the 'legislating defeat' rhetoric). It is on that note that Salon's Tim Greive comments on the frustrating 'debate' we keep having on the war-
"As the Senate prepares to vote on a troop withdrawal plan for Iraq, Republican presidential contender John McCain says that 'sooner or later, my Democratic colleagues will find that we should sit down and work on this issue together for the good of the nation.'

Does anyone have any idea what he's talking about?

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group made recommendations for the way forward in Iraq. The Bush administration pretty much ignored them. Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate have urged the president to re-think his plan to escalate the war. He has rejected their advice. In a new Pew poll, 59 percent of the people who responded said they'd want their member of Congress to vote for a measure that would require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by August 2008. The White House has said that the president won't make decisions based upon polls -- and that he's sure the American people wouldn't want to withdraw from Iraq if they knew that withdrawing would be losing.

So, 'sit down and work on this issue together'? There's someone who hasn't tried to do that yet, but it's not those who are calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. It's the man at the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue who is keeping them there."


"...But those words were written thousands of years ago."

Finally... The Onion has its own online news channel.

A must-see early news report: 'Immigration: The Human Cost'

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pictures of the Day

Found these two images in my internet travels. Found them amusing.

Science Bad!

Poll question... what do you think the Bush administration hates more? Checks and balances? Or science? Lots of the former in the news this week, but ABC News has the latest on the latter as well-
Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject...

...The group says it has identified hundreds of instances where White House-appointed officials interfered with government scientists' efforts to convey their research findings to the public, at the behest of top administration officials...

..."Directives and signals" from White House offices, like the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, are handed down to political appointees and politically-aligned civil servants through off-the-record conversations, the report says. Frequently, those giving the direction have little or no scientific background, according to the report...

(More from the Government Accountability Project- here.)

And then there's this news from The Guardian (UK) paper: "By the end of the century up to two fifths of the land surface of the Earth will have a hotter climate unlike anything that currently exists, according to a study that predicts the effects of global warming on local and regional climates. And in the worst case scenario, the climatic conditions on another 48% of the land surface will no longer exist on the planet at all."

You know what that means.... Time to discuss things some more! Wooooo!

[PS- An economist warns biofuel production may inadvertently raise food prices. We'll deal.]

Meanwhile, In Iraq...

Holy diplomacy, Batman! Perhaps realizing that The Decider's obviously flawless war plans might not succeed in smashing the populace into submission, our envoys in Iraq have been quietly engaging in talks with insurgent groups to reach a political solution-
The senior American envoy in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks last year with men he believed represented major insurgent groups in a drive to bring militant Sunni Arabs into politics.

“There were discussions with the representatives of various groups in the aftermath of the elections, and during the formation of the government before the Samarra incident, and some discussions afterwards as well,” Mr. Khalilzad said in a farewell interview on Friday at his home inside the fortified Green Zone. He is the first American official to publicly acknowledge holding such talks...

...Mr. Khalilzad’s willingness even to approach rebel groups seemed at odds with the public position of some Bush administration officials that the United States does not negotiate with insurgents...

Negotiations? Zalmay's old Project For A New American Century neocon pals won't like that.

And in the buried lede department, I also read this in the article-
Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi politician who is a friend of Mr. Khalilzad, said the talks fizzled partly because insurgent representatives made untenable demands. They sought a suspension of the Constitution, breakup of Parliament, reinstatement of the old Iraqi Army and establishment of a new government, he said.

Just some random politician who is a friend of Mr. Khalilzad? No mentions that Mr. Chalabi was one of the chief architects of the U.S. invasion and premier peddlers of the false intel that started this whole thing? Or that he was Laura Bush's personal guest at the 2004 State of the Union and a major White House ally in Iraq until it became too clear to the public what a shady character he is? Didn't think that'd be a worth a mention, Mr. Fancy NY Times Writer? Just some constructive criticism.

Finally, in the congressional debate over the war, Senate Republicans still decide to stick with the President and the war... if they ever mention either of them at all.

[PS- Did you know the army's still sending injured troops back into duty? It's true!]

Too Close To The Edge

Some headlines you don't like to see...

AFP: Britain threatens to raise stakes in Iran standoff

AP: U.S. Navy Launches Show Of Force Off Coast Of Iran

Always A Creep

Here's a YouTube treat... it's a January 18, 1972 CBS News report on the revolutionary new campaign tactics being used by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (or 'CREEP', as it was appropriately known). At about the 3:53 mark, you'll see a familiar face in the College Republicans segment. Our politics really have been run by the same core group of people for decades.

A reminder this particular GOP political mischief-maker has been around a long, long time.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

Josh Marshall, summing up why the President is unconcerned that our AG is a serial liar-
"For some, it is a matter of outrage that President Bush has renewed his support for Alberto Gonzales even after new evidence has emerged that the Attorney General has repeatedly lied about the US Attorney Purge. Myself, I see it more as a matter of confirmation and almost a welcome one in that it confirms the nature of the debate we're having.

This isn't a case where Alberto Gonzales has fallen short of the president's standards or bungled some process. This is the standard. The Attorney General has done and is doing precisely what is expected of him....

...This is about the president and the White House, which is where this entire plan was hatched. Gonzales was just following orders, executing the president's plans. This is about this president and this White House, which ... let's be honest, everyone on both sides of the aisle already knows.

(And, what's that? Why's it news that "Monica Goodling, a senior Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday." Nope, no scandal here, folks.)

And on that related note, Salon's Joan Walsh smacks down the beltway morons who keep floating the talking point that Democrats investigating White House/GOP malfeasance will somehow cost them politically (the most illustrative example of this groupspeak being this clip from Sunday's "Chris Matthews Show").

Walsh runs through the litany of serious issues Democrats could/should be investigating-- spying and secret prisons, Hurricane Katrina, the treatment of wounded vets, war profiteering, pre-war intelligence, etc-- and then reminds us that "Democrats are a long, long way from the frivolous partisan follies of Fostergate, Travelgate, Troopergate, Chinagate, Whitewater or anything having to do with Monica Lewinsky. I trust voters to see the difference, even if political reporters can't."

For what it's worth, the White House's ally/cheerleader at Murdoch's NY Post, John Podhoretz, blogs at the National Review: "Harriet Miers Went... And Gonzales will go too."

Not a good sign for Abu Gonzo.

Odds and Ends

Got a case of the Mondays and no time to escape to Chotchkie's. So less commentary today than usual, but here's the big news for you to digest. All rainbows and sunshine, as usual...

The Telegraph (UK) reports that Tony Blair has warned "that Iran has only a few days to find a diplomatic solution to the escalating crisis over the 15 missing British sailors and Marines." What will happen if they refuse? I hope we don't find out... but the news is now that Iran is softening its stance.

Oh, and the captured soldiers may have been 'interrogated'. Dick Cheney will be so proud.

Meanwhile, many parters-- U.S., Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia-- give that whole Mideast peace thing another big push. The idea of a regional peace summit is being floated around.

Back at home, the President finally acknowledges the widening income gap... and says you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, okay?!

And GOP Senators on Al Gore's plans for a global warming awareness concert on Capitol grounds... Get bent, fatty.

Is '24' Liberal or Conservative?

The overly analytical debate continues.

Personally, I'm more interested in debating the political leanings of 'My Name Is Earl'.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Forgotten War

Time magazine (probably correctly) assumes that Americans don't give a shit about the war in Afghanistan. While their cover story everywhere else-- entitled 'Talibanistan'-- is about the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. cover story is about... why we should be teaching the Bible in public schools. Darn that ol' liberal media!

Huffington Post's 'Eat The Press' reminds us that this happened last year too with Newsweek.

I'd write more, but as an American, my attention span has already wandered elsewhere...

The War On Terrorism Hippies

In 2004, as the President was working hard to scam Americans into reelecting him, the current retroactive justification for the invasion of Iraq was the spreading of democracy in the Middle East. President Bush was cast as a tough, ass-kicking Johnny Appleseed, spreading democracy in the hardest of soils (spoiler alert: he won the election, but this actually was a spectacular failure).

And as this campaign was set to crescendo in late August in NYC for their 9/11 Masturbation Theatre Republican National Convention, this was going on-
For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.

From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.

They made friends, shared meals, swapped e-mail messages and then filed daily reports with the department’s Intelligence Division. Other investigators mined Internet sites and chat rooms.

From these operations, run by the department’s “R.N.C. Intelligence Squad,” the police identified a handful of groups and individuals who expressed interest in creating havoc during the convention, as well as some who used Web sites to urge or predict violence.

But potential troublemakers were hardly the only ones to end up in the files. In hundreds of reports stamped “N.Y.P.D. Secret,” the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports....

More alarming details at the link above.

(via Atrios, who said 'Forget civil liberties issues, this is such an absurd waste of resources.')

While the depth of the spying engaged here is disturbing (for both reasons Atrios notes), the general concept is nothing new. In 2005, NBC News revealed that the Pentagon was monitoring and keeping a database on peaceful anti-war groups. And, in early 2006, as the White House insisted its just-revealed warrantless wiretapping program was a limited counter-terrorism program, revelations debunked that, noting that the NSA was sending the FBI a "steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names" which "led to dead ends or innocent Americans". Etc.

No one will be held accountable for this, of course. But just more proof that, for the government, hippies are just as frightening as Osama. It's a real serious war they're fighting.

Here's To Your Health

All of the major 2008 Democratic primary candidates (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and the rest) were in Las Vegas yesterday to participate in the New Leadership on Health Care 2008 Presidential Forum. It was the first real debate between the candidates, and one specifically focused on the healthcare issue.

Some details from and liveblogging analysis from Taylor Marsh.