Saturday, April 28, 2007

Debating The War: Some Helpful Links

On Tuesday, I posted a link to a guide on how to educate climate change skeptics. With the debate over the war about to get to even more insane than it has been (with the usual crowd throwing the word 'surrender' around like it was going out of style), I'd thought I'd do a similar post with links that may help in debating people on the war. I'm likely preaching to choir here, but hey it doesn't hurt to keep all the revelant facts in one place.

Media Matters: Media outlets reported that Reid said Iraq war "is lost," but failed to note his further comments

MSNBC: Americans siding with Dems against Bush

Arianna Huffington (HuffPost): Petraeus Ex Machina

Think Progress: CAUGHT ON TAPE: McCain Supported ‘Precipitous Withdrawal’ From Somalia, Haiti

Finally, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has a good post dissecting what 'losing' means.

Muslim Sentiment

These poll results from across the world should give us all pause and is only further proof that the 'war on terror' has only done more harm than good. This can't be blown off as general 'anti-American' sentiment... our policies have exacerbated this immensely, whether intentionally or not. We had a chance to make a real difference in 2001/2002 and instead we went completely the other way.

This needs addressing and the 2008 candidates need to explain how.

(And I think we know which party will answer "more bombs, please!" to that question.)

Odds and Ends

Welcome to the weekend, we made it. Here's the news that did as well...

NY Governor Spitzer formally submits his gay marriage bill to the state legislature.

(As an aside, this clip of comedian Wanda Sykes discussing gay marriage is pretty funny.)

Over in Washington, Deputy Sec. of State Randall Tobias has resigned... for using escorts.

A deputy chief of staff at the DoJ also resigned, but for Abramoff-related reasons.

Meanwhile, George 'Slam Dunk' Tenet tries to salvage his tattered reputation.

Terror arrests in both the U.S. (huge coincidence!) and Saudi Arabia make the news.

Finally, what's happening to all the bees?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan perfectly capturing why Rudy Guiliani is so popular... and dangerous-
When you probe Giuliani's logic, it means that we should start invading every country that could or does harbor al Qaeda - and that we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, since our presence there manages to generate more terrorists than we can kill. In fact, there's strong evidence that we are effectively training the next generation of al Qaeda in Iraq by honing their skills against a superior enemy.

The logic of Giuliani's case is therefore an open-ended occupation of much of the Middle East - an idea that seems extremely September 12. Has he learned nothing from Iraq - except the need to create more Iraqs? The "offense" argument is so crude, in other words, as to be meaningless. The question is not about "offense" or "defense"; it's about smart offense and dumb offense. We've seen dumb offense. Look at what it has accomplished.

"Cut Back the Patriot Act". Again: can he be specific? What is he referring to and how would it impact the war? "Electronic surveillance". I know no leading Democrat who doesn't support such surveillance. The issue is simply whether there should be court warrants. "Interrogation." Here is a critical issue. What does he mean by interrogation? What does he mean by torture? Does Giuliani support the Bush-Cheney policy of detainee imprisonment without charges, rendition, abuse, and torture?

I think Giuliani will run as the Jack Bauer candidate. It's in his DNA. There isn't a civil liberty he wouldn't suspend if he felt it was necessary for "security." And there isn't a dissenter he wouldn't bully or silence in the interests of national security. There is a constituency for this - a big one. It has been primed by pop-culture to embrace torture and the suspension of habeas corpus. It is a constituency with scant respect for any civil liberties when a war on terror is being waged. If that's the path Giuliani wants us to take, we have to be very clear about what it means. We have to ask ourselves: after the next terror attack, what powers would a president Giuliani assume? And what would be left of the constitution after four years of the same? Give Rudy the office that Cheney has created - and America, already deeply altered, will become a new political entity altogether.

If Democrats were smarter, they'd be making this exact same point as well.

[PS- Post-9/11 Rudy Guiliani also doesn't support gay rights anymore. Whatta strong leader.]

Up Is Down, War Is Peace

No, it isn't an Onion article, it's a legitimate piece from the American Forces Press Service-

Longer Iraq Tours Good for "Army Stress," Pentagon Says

"Oh Boy, A Carnival!"

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Welcome to the latest Gonzo Blog Carnival, a free-for-all of Blogosphere Madness! This carnival was made possible by For Your Success and Fear and Loathing - The Gonzo Papers.

Let's get started, shall we? We shall!

First, a timely post from The Wandering Author... he asks the question on so many people's mind these past two weeks: What caused the Virginia Tech shooting?

Next, let's do some traveling!

Ever wondered why British policemen are called "bobbies"? The Diary From England has your answers. Next up, LJP in Australia writes on SaveSaveSave about the details of her stay at the Great Ocean Hotel. Heather in Beautiful British Columbia, on a journey of her own, shares the details of Day 18 of her Maryland-Florida trip. And Queen of Pentacle's Blog wants to move to Europe. We Americans can't, of course, afford vacations.

Feeling kinky?

Tales of Ladies, Goddesses and Bitches has written a story for you. And The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly has an intriguing picture found in the blogosphere.

Moving on to the personal (but not *that* personal)...

The Lives and Times... of Anthony McCune has a Thanksgiving thought on how you will want to look back on your life 26 years in the future. The Poodle (and Dog) Blog tells of a bird that just had to fly free. Cardin at OptimistLab shares with us the lessons we can learn at the Taco Shack.

Here's some posts that are (unintentionally) somewhat meta.

The "Not-So" News has a post on the medical debate over whether to diagnose a child as obese (medically) or overweight (lazy fatasses). If the latter, I'll suggest we all blog less. But don't ask me to start! And Friday's Child has a blog post... on 'Privacy'.

A lot of poets in the blogosphere. Let's see what they've written.

Writerwoman at The Shores of My Dreams has one to share. The Crimsonflaw Lived To Tell The Tale has one called 'Silence'. My Soul's Phantasm has one called 'Portrait'. And Reminiscences of a Bleeding Soul has an emotional piece called 'Victoria's Demise'.

Meanwhile, two blogs have stories/poems created by multiple user participation. Aspiring Romance Writer has one such story in The Writer's Game. And Poets Who Blog does the same with 'Second Group Poem'.

Finally, I end with an advice-related post... The Home Biz Blogger writes about Microsoft Outlook '07 and how you can use it for daily task management. Me? I'm using a Mac.

And that's the end of the carnival! Thanks for coming! Enjoy the cotton candy!

[Keep scrolling down for new posts... Thanks!!]

Who's To Blame For Virginia Tech?

Via Jon Stewart, the pundits/media find their scapegoats.

Masturbatory 2008 Talk

The Democratic candidates held their first debate last night (18 months before the election!!!). I didn't watch it, and based on Salon's in-depth report, I take it I didn't miss anything substantive. Some interesting back-and-forths, though, and we better get used to seeing these people debate each other. It's going to be a long year.

Hopefully the first GOP debate will follow, I wanna watch them try to out-crazy each other.

[UPDATE: One journalist's scorecard of how they did- here.]

When I Die...

...This is definitely going on my tombstone.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The War At Home (Pt. 2)

The veto's coming, but Democrats are making it clear... they wanna go, but Bushie's staying.

AP: Congress clears Iraq bill, veto awaits

[Note: More details about the withdrawal legislation in my earlier entry- here.]

Quote of the Day

From the must-watch interview with Sen. McCain on Tuesday's Daily Show-
Stewart: "But that assumes that we're fighting one enemy. They're fighting each other.... We're there keeping them from killing each other. 'Surrender' is not, we're not surrending to an enemy that has defeated us. We're saying, how do you quell a civil war when it's not your country?"

McCain: "I'm saying...."

[*Audience applauds*] ....

McCain: "I think I know whose side they're on." [referring to audience]

Stewart: "No, they're on America's side, because they're patriots."

Pt. 1-

Pt. 2-

Washington press corps, take notes... this is how you interview a politician.

Adventures In Right-Wing Stupidity

I'd have to start a separate blog just to cover all the right-wing insanity these days, so I don't try, but there were a few noteworthy examples in the past few days that merited a post.

The NY Post-- my favorite newspaper (highlights)-- was so desperate to attack the Democrats as defeatists without appearing like the partisan hacks they are that they literally rewrote an AP story but still credited the original author. Just another day at the Post.

Speaking of fair and balanced Murdoch journalism... Fox News' John Gibson scapegoats the Iraqis for this debacle of a war, telling a caller that we didn't anything wrong, other than "unmask[ing] them as knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century".

Michelle Malkin literally cheerleads for the war.

Finally, the Powerline guys try to spin away the Tillman coverup by smearing his brother.

What a grand old party! I can't imagine why voters ever got sick of these people.

Odds and Ends: GOP Scandal Overload Edition

No wonder most news outlets don't cover these stories, they're so hard to keep track of...

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenad Sec. Rice to answer some questions about pre-war intelligence. Her answer? No, thanks, I'd rather not. Umm, Condi, that's kind of not how it works.

Karl Rove politicizing numerous government agencies? The hell you say!

Justice Department to federal appeals court: These damn Guantanamo detainee lawyers are getting wayyyy too many rights here. Let's see if we can do something about this.

Finally, Josh Marshall's TPM Media tries to figure out the rash of Republican investigations.

What They Said

The NY Times had a good editorial on the pending minimum wage increase.

A Smoking Gun?

The Republican line on the U.S. Attorney purge story is this: Yes, Alberto Gonzales is a moron, but this was a non-scandal because nothing actually illegal/unethical happened here. All efforts by those who originally uncovered this story-- like the incredible gang at Talking Points Memo-- to show how this was a GOP partisan operation tied to elections has been dismissed as 'conspiracy theories'.

The facts are against them there... here's the latest bombshell.

Last week, it was reported that the FBI had launched an investigation into Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) and had raided a business connected to him as part of that investigation. It turns out that they'd had their sights set on Renzi for some time, but only got the green light to go after him recently.

New revelations show that federal investigations have been trying to go after Renzi for over a year-- including a sabotaged wiretap request last Fall-- but faced numerous 'obstacles' from the Justice Department until after the midterm elections (in which a personal campaign visit from the President helped Renzi secure reelection).

Moreover, around that time, "Gonzales' then chief of staff sent then White House counsel Harriet Miers an e-mail message in which he suggested that Paul Charlton, the U.S. attorney overseeing the Renzi case, should be added to the list of prosecutors to be ousted."

Mr. Charlton was put on the list and was one of the eight Attorneys fired after the elections.

Just a coincidence, of course, no scandal here at all, no siree. {*cough*}

[PS- Former DoJ aide Monica Goodling gets granted immunity and subpoenad by Congress.

And Digby has a great post on how Gonzales is being used as the fallguy for this.]

A New Planet?

In case we kill this planet, we may have found a suitable backup to move to...

AP: Potentially habitable planet found

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

'Buying The War' (aka Darn That Liberal Media!)

Have some TV time to kill before 'Lost' tonight?

Then tune into PBS at 9pm to watch 'Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War'. It's not only about the way the administration marketed this war, but also addresses these questions... "How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?" A recommended viewing.

Here is a preview clip, courtesy of PBS-

It's Official...

...Rudy Guiliani is the new George W. Bush.

An Interesting Time To Be A New Yorker

There are two interesting things happening politically in New York. First, the local one.

Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference on Sunday (Earth Day) to discuss one aspect of his PLANYC 2030 campaign to plan for the city's future, this leg focusing on the environment.

His ambitious proposals include: creating new parkspace, planting 1 million new trees by 2017, a $2.50 surcharge on energy bills to fund energy-saving initiatives, reintroducing mollusk habitats to clean water naturally, make use of unused land space, slashing carbon emissions 30% by 2030, and more. (Graphic summary- here)

The most controversial aspect of the plan is a proposed $8 fee for people driving into Manhattan on weekdays between 6am and 6pm. The main purpose is to ease congestion in the city (it's worked elsewhere), but obviously less people driving in is better for the environment as well.

Obviously this will be an uphill battle, but I'm very supportive of it.

Moving on to the state level, Governor Spitzer is keeping his campaign pledge to push for the legalization of gay marriage in New York (this would be only the second state behind Massachusetts to make it legal).

The NY Times reported Monday that "Gov. Eliot Spitzer will introduce a bill in the coming weeks to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, his spokeswoman said Friday, a move that would propel New York to the forefront of one of the most contentious issues in politics."

The article sadly notes that the legislature is unlikely to approve it, but kudos to the Governor for keeping this fight on his agenda. It will take time, but we can win this.

Supporting Using The Troops

Those times in 2003/2004 when the administration was spinning fantastic new stories out of the war (see: 'Mission Accomplished') without being much questioned seems so long ago, but for many people it likely seems like yesterday.

Two such people are Private Jessica Lynch, whose temporary capture by Iraqi forces in the early part of the war was turned into a Rambo-esque rescue battle, and Kevin Tillman, whose brother Pat's friendly fire death in Afghanistan in 2004 was covered up by the military for similar PR purposes.

They both got their due yesterday, courtesy of testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It's nice to hear those closest to the situations confirm what we all feared was the case.

Video highlights- here, here, and here.

[UPDATE: The Tillman story gets even worse... two words- 'worm dirt'.]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The War At Home

The battle over the war between the White House and Congress is continuing apace.

The House and Senate are working to finalize their military funding legislation with a mandate for a phased withdrawal. The final bill will look like this-
[It] would require the withdrawal of U.S. forces to begin by Oct. 1, even earlier if Bush cannot certify that the Iraqi government is making progress in disarming militias, reducing sectarian violence and forging political compromises.

Another provision in the measure would withhold about $850 million in foreign aid funds from the Iraqis if the government does not meet those standards.

Also, the Pentagon would be required to adhere to certain standards for the training and equipping of units sent to Iraq, and for their rest at home between deployments. Bush could waive the guidelines if necessary. Democrats assume he would, but want him on record as doing so.

Under the nonbinding timeline, all combat troops would be withdrawn by April 1, 2008.

After that date, U.S. forces would have a redefined and restricted mission of protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, engaging in counterterrorism activities against al-Qaida and other similar organizations and training and equipping Iraqi forces.

It is, obviously, headed toward a veto from President Bush.

Moreover, the President got all Orwellian in his speech reiterating this, insisting that, in electing a Democratic congress which campaigned on winding down the war and rebuking this failed President, what the American people really voted for in November was his (unpopular) new escalation strategy. Foolproof logic, natch.

(You can also expect the usual rhetoric about 'surrender' and 'hurting the troops'.)

What comes after the veto, though? Do the Democrats push harder? Or cave?

Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall recently spoke with Sen. Kerry about that very question. Kerry's answer wasn't very specific, but he did say they will keep pushing one way or another. In 2008, he added, voters can express where they stand on this.

That's, of course, a silent acknowledgement that nothing can stop Bush's war until 2009.

Flag Politics

An Army sergeant asks... why aren't flags lowered to half-staff for killed soldiers?

(Spoiler alert: The answer is that it would be very depressing and that the flag would always be at half-staff reminding people more of the everyday horrors of this war therefore making things more uncomfortable for certain politicians. Also, we are reminded that they 'volunteered' to murder and be murdered. War is only as popular as it is mentally disposable.)

Another Investigation That Will Accomplish Nothing

A lot of people are very excited today about news that the Office of Special Counsel, a federal investigative unit, will be "launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove ... [and] will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities."

I think that this is a very important story and do plan to follow it, but I am not optimistic about anything substantive coming from this, no matter much damning evidence piles up along the way.

Karl Rove's hands have been in every major Republican scandal of the Bush era from the 'black baby' attacks on John McCain in the 2000 primary to the Abramoff web to the U.S. Attorney purge and everything in between. But, as best exemplified by Plamegate where Scooter Libby went down while Rove went free, he escapes even the most minor accountability.

Karl Rove is among the oldest cockroaches of Republican politics; he'll outlive us all.

History will be the only real judge people like him will ever face.

Mr. President, Tear Down That Wall!

One perfect example of the disconnect between the White House's fantasy plans and the actual reality inside Iraq is the proposed walling off of certain "restive" Sunni neighborhoods. Last Friday, I linked to a story that a "U.S. military brigade is constructing a 3-mile-long concrete wall" to do just that.

Yes indeed the key to 'victory' in Iraq is slowly turning the whole country into a series of Green Zones and West Banks poorly protected by an indefinite U.S. occupation. Freedom is definitely on the march.

Then yesterday came this news: "Iraq's prime minister said Sunday that he has ordered a halt to the U.S. military construction of a barrier separating a Sunni enclave from surrounding Shiite areas in Baghdad after fierce criticism over the project at home."


This was followed up by a NY Times article that implied the wall-building was part of a larger U.S. security plan and that the U.S. had not completely abandoned the idea. The U.S. leaders later tried to assure Iraqis that the move was 'temporary'. Etc.

Considering that even the 'surge' leaders acknowledge that we can't win militarily and that a political solution is necessary, it should be alarming to most people that 4+ years after invading (and 2+ years since the now-forgotten 'purple finger' moment) that the Iraqi government, the U.S. occupiers, and the Iraqi people themselves are on completely different wavelengths.

How To Talk To A Climate Change Skeptic

Have any close-minded family members/friends who still believe that climate change isn't real and was simply made up by Al Gore's cabal of socialist scientists to destroy the American way of life and make everyone use those weird swirly lightbulbs?

This website has a guide to educating them on the subject, divided by categories.

Monday, April 23, 2007

GOP Scandal Overload Updates

In which we learn that...

Paul Wolfowitz is indeed the scumbag we all thought he was.

And that while nervous Republicans quietly hope Attorney General Gonzales will go away, the President makes clear to all that he thinks Gonzo's doing a heckuva job and is staying. And guess what Mr. President, so is that albatross hanging 'round your neck.

Finally, TPM Muckraker has more on the bigger picture behind the U.S. Attorney purge.

Odds and Ends

Some more news to focus on until the latest cable news obession of the week...

Former Russian (post-Cold War) President Boris Yeltsin has passed away.

On Friday's "Countdown", MSNBC's Keith Olbermann spoke with the founder of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, about the coverup of the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman in 2004.

And TPM's Josh Marshall looks at the legal status of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh.

This year's Colbert-less White House press dinner seems to have been a total bomb.

Finally, this past Friday's edition of KCRW's 'To The Point' pondered this question... if polls show that the American public supports the Democratic position(s) on gun control and abortion rights, why has the conservative minority made more headway on those issues? An interesting discussion if you have the time to listen.

Still Around

Busy day at work... will be back to blogging tonight or tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy this recent SNL TV Funhouse cartoon by Robert Smigel... it's about the Bush administration's new secret weapon-- Torboto, the robot who tortures people.


Virginia Tech students to media: Please move on, k, thanks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: Earth Day Edition

Happy Earth Day everyone!!! Have you hugged a tree yet today?

This video aired during the 2005 'Earth to America' special on TBS-

You can learn more about what you can do environmentally- here and here.

[Bonus video... Bill Maher says every day needs to be Earth Day.]

We're Gonna Leave At Some Point, Right??

Robert Naiman asks an important question... Is the U.S. Government Planning for Withdrawal from Iraq?

I'll guess the answer is 'no'. Maybe someone should ask them why not.

As Naiman notes, given the administration's failure to have planned for post-invasion Iraq, and their refusal to acknowledge that Congress may get its way in pushing for an exit strategy, it's not far-fetched to foresee a Vietnam repeat of "denial until the last possible moment, followed by helicopters from rooftops".

This failure to plan again-- because President Bush doesn't care and because he plans to pass this off to the next guy-- is as alarming as it not surprising. As Sen. Jim Webb keeps saying, we have to go out smarter than the way we went in.

As Time's Joe Klein lamented last month, "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. ... 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."

Bingo; he gets it. It's going to be a disaster, and it's one we should be preparing for now.

One good proposal I read is from respected professor/journalist Juan Cole, in which he describes one way to work toward a political settlement in Iraq while we prepare our exit. Not that anyone who matters will read it.

[PS- This AP headline says it all... Analysis: Iraq surge may be extended]