Saturday, May 12, 2007

Immigration Reform Again

Yes, it's that time of year again. The trees are in full bloom, summer is coming soon, and Washington politicians are attempting once again to find an immigration solution that will satisfy everyone (from corporate business owners who want cheap, exploitable labor to pro-immigrant rights activists to isolationist xenophobes).

Said the President today (as he said last year as well)-
President Bush, promoting bipartisan immigration talks as they reach a critical stage, said Saturday that Republicans and Democrats are building consensus that could produce a bill this year.

"I am optimistic we can pass a comprehensive immigration bill and get this problem solved for the American people this year," Bush said in his weekly radio address...

Yep. A half-assed political 'compromise' will surely solve our immigration problems forever.

Personally, I support sane enforcement of border and immigration laws-- and that especially means cracking down on businesses who exploit immigrant workers, moreso than punishing the exploited themselves-- while taking steps to encourage legal immigration (raising quotas for granting citizenship to pending immigrants, setting up immigrants with social workers to help them integrate, etc). A guest-worker program is exploitative in nature, so that'd be out for me. We don't need a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am immigration policy. The earned-citizenship path for those already here is appealing to me (because, sorry, we allowed/encouraged these people to come here, so deporting them now is pure hypocrisy), while also sealing the gaps in the system to keep this problem from resurfacing every 10 or 20 years.

The goal here should be to solve the existing problems, not to demonize immigration.

Of course, true long-lasting reform-- it doesn't have to be exactly what I suggest, but any policy that's more than just a paper tiger-- would upset factions in every one of the groups I mentioned at the beginning, and so we will never get it.

See you next May, everyone.

While Our Treasury Department Is Investigating Michael Moore...

...Stuff like this continues to be ignored.

AFP: Uninsured US patients gouged by hospitals: study

The War and Age

In a series of Gallup polls, people were asked whether or not the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. The biggest 'no' answers came from the 30-39 years old group (meaning people who became politically aware during the Reagan years). Younger than 30 said 'yes' by a big margin, though.

Everyone else (people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and up) gave overwhelmingly 'yes' answers to the question... by around 3:1 numbers. That's not surprising, either. The older generations have seen more of history, have a real memory of real war and danger, and therefore aren't as myopic in their worldview. My Nana-- God bless her-- can remember the Great Depression and WWII and she tells me when she sees this war and listens to this President, she is just infuriated to a degree which I cannot personally relate.

These are the real numbers. 9/11 may have put temporary, emotional blinders on some, but, in the end, most Americans aren't as invasion-happy as some would like us to believe. For some reason, they seem to believe that war is some serious business. What moonbats.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Even More Odds and Ends

A busy week is winding down. I'm gonna watch a zombie movie later. For now, the news...

Southern California was on fire again: "A wildfire erupted on an island nature reserve off the California coast on Thursday, sending firefighters from the mainland scrambling into boats to tackle the blaze, officials said."

And, for us east coasters, here's what we have to look forward to: "Global warming could turn the heat way up during the summer in the eastern United States, raising the average by nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2080s, a new NASA study finds." Better stock up on SPF 500.

President Bush and Speaker Pelosi come to an agreement! On trade accords, anyway.

Liberal media alert!! CBS fires Gen. John Batiste-- retired Iraq commander-- for advocating withdrawal in TV ad.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi blogger visited New Orleans last month and was devastated by what they saw. Money quote-- "New Orleans looked like Baghdad after the war in 1991... Not until officials in this administration stroll in the streets of New Orleans the city is going to get the help it needs."

Paul Wolfowitz, hanging on for dear life, grows more teflon. Alberto Gonzales, ditto.

Finally, the Pope to the youth of South America... please stop fucking.

[PS- Slate presents: An illustrated guide to GOP scandals. A really well-organized resource.]

Consent, Acquiescense, or Disinterest

From a recent episode of 'Boston Legal'-

Can't We Even Apprehend People Properly?

The questionable Fort Dix plot (six paintball 'jihadists' were going to even make it past the gate of an army base?) just added another familiar aspect of these investigations... overreach by those investigating it-
He railed against the United States, helped scout out military installations for attack, offered to introduce his comrades to an arms dealer and gave them a list of weapons he could procure, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

These were not the actions of a terrorist but of a paid FBI informant who helped bring down an alleged plot by six Muslim men to massacre U.S. soldiers at New Jersey’s Fort Dix.

And those actions have raised questions of whether the government crossed the line and pushed the six men down a path they would not have otherwise followed...

...The same documents that prosecutors used to build a case against the suspects also depict them as somewhat disorganized, lackluster plotters. And clumsy and amateurish, too: The FBI learned of the alleged plot when the men went to a Circuit City store and asked a clerk to transfer a jihad training video of themselves onto a DVD. Also, they mistakenly thought an AK-47 costs $500, instead of $1,500 to $3,000.

Also, one of the men, Tatar, called a Philadelphia police officer in November, saying that he had been approached by someone who was pressuring him to obtain a map of Fort Dix, and that he feared the incident was terrorist-related, according to court documents.

But the article adds that-
“In the post-9/11 era, the entrapment defense is basically useless,” Klingeman said. “For a defendant, merely saying he wishes he could do harm to America, the jury has heard enough.”

Let me say that if you really suspect someone is plotting terrorism, then your case should stand on its merits. You shouldn't need to entrap them into something grander just to give your case some headline-worthy pizazz. Still, even so, it's not quite as ridiculous as the 'plot' we busted up in Miami last summer.

And I suppose these guys should be glad they were processed legally, instead of getting the Jose Padilla treatment.

Meanwhile, In Afghanistan...

...Or close enough, anyway.

Things apparently get desperate in the forgotten war-
Pakistan has erected the first section of a controversial fence on the Afghan border, severing a key corridor used by Taliban militants, the chief military spokesman said Thursday.

The building of the barbed wire anti-insurgent fence however provoked anger from Kabul, which says it does not recognise the porous frontier between the two pivotal allies in the US-led "war on terror."...

...More than 1,000 people have died in Taliban-related violence in Afghanistan this year including around 50 foreign soldiers. The majority of the bloodshed has been in provinces bordering Pakistan....

Not sure any major news outlets reported this; I think Paris Hilton got arrested or something.

Another Smoking Gun That Will Go Nowhere

Another bombshell from the National Journal's Murray Waas-
The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The withheld records show that D. Kyle Sampson, who was then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, consulted with White House officials in drafting two letters to Congress that appear to have misrepresented the circumstances of Griffin's appointment as U.S. attorney and of Rove's role in supporting Griffin...

I'm sure that Karl Rove and the Attorney General are drafting their resignation letters as we speak. Right after the President announces his withdrawal timetable for Iraq.

Prove me wrong, reality, prove me wrong!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hey Media, Did You Know Gullible Isn't In The Dictionary?

By now, you may have seen all the breathless headlines and stories about moderate Republican congressmen visiting the White House to tell President Bush that their patience on Iraq is limited and that they will abandon him in September if things don't improve. OMG!

Besides the fact that these meetings make the headlines every few months or so (I can recall a similar one just last month when the first funding bill was being negotiated), you'd think the media would show a little more skepticism because... let's see for starters... we know from a story earlier this week that come the September 'deadline', Republicans will just ask for more time to put lipstick on the pig. Shouldn't people with short-term memory problems not go into journalism?

There is also the fact that such a detailed, immediate leak about the meeting means that the people involved in it-- White House officials, GOP congressfolk-- wanted the story out there. It makes the White House look open to criticism and makes the rubberstamp GOP caucus look like they are standing up for their angry constituents. You know something fishy is up when Drudge features the headline so prominently.

If these Republicans were actually serious about their frustration, they would've voted with Democrats last week to override the President's veto. They didn't. They would also fight to put some real teeth into the Iraq funding bill that the House is deciding today. They won't.

Tim F. at Balloon Juice has the proper skepticism on this kabuki political theater. He also notes that many conservative Democrats may join the GOP in stripping the funding bill of any teeth and giving the President the blank check for indefinite war 'clean' bill he so desperately wants (though other sources add doubt to that).

What's waiting if they stay strong on the bill? Another presidential veto, of course.

[UPDATE: The House passed a new funding bill, paying in installments based on progress.]

Habeas Corpus

Democrats had an opportunity yesterday to add a restoration of habeas corpus rights for detainees into a defense supplemental bill... only they completely wimped out. Way to go, guys! They swear they will make an attempt at restoration a separate bill, ummm, eventually.

To quote Glenn Greenwald: "If Democrats are too afraid even to take a stand against the Bush administration in defense of this centuries-old core American liberty, it is impossible to imagine any even minimally risky stands they are willing to take."

Resources to help fight this- here.

[PS- For NPR fans, 'This American Life' recently did a special episode on the habeas issue.]

More Odds and Ends

Busy week, here's more of the news we missed while enjoying the sunshine...

Hey, remember that U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal? Well, with Chevron now settling its case for their involvement, you'll never guess who is implicated in that deal... "According to the Volcker report, surcharges on Iraqi oil exports were introduced in August 2000 by the Iraqi state oil company, the State Oil Marketing Organization. At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company."

That's buried in the story's middle. Now imagine if it were a Democratic Secretary of State.

Tom Delay to FBI: Leave me the hell alone!

More bad news for Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department... a ninth purged U.S. Attorney has been revealed. It's Missouri U.S. attorney Todd Graves, who left in early 2006. TPM's Josh Marshall has a video podcast with details.

More anger-inducing details on the melamine-tainted food(s) that have killed many pets.

Finally, surprise!, the government isn't happy with Michael Moore's trip to Cuba for 'Sicko'.

Prime Minister Blair To Resign On June 27

Tony makes it official. Another career ruined by The Decider.

And Now, Primary Politics

Gov. Bill Richardson-- perpetually qualified, perpetually ignored-- is trying out some hip new ads to boost his visibility in a crowded primary field. It is sad that these races have come down to who has the most money and who gets the most media attention (from what I've read, primaries used to actually be serious until after the 1970s or so). At this point, I assume he'll just be happy with a VP nod.

Anyway, here is the latest ad(s) and he is looking for feedback. Me? I likee.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"It’s not in Baghdad, it’s not in Katrina, it’s not at Walter Reed, it’s not with the U.S. attorneys..."

Newt Gingrich's great advice for the GOP... avoid discussing the President and/or reality.

With a great outlook like this, no wonder many Republicans want him to run for President.


More progress that we're making in Iraq-
The mosque of Imam Kadhim, the most revered Shiite shrine in Baghdad, is a tempting target for Sunni insurgents. To protect it, Iraqi and U.S. troops rely on the Mahdi Army, the same Shiite militia that Washington considers a threat to Iraq's stability....

...Without the militia, U.S. and Iraqi officers acknowledge that the 2,000 Iraqi security forces and 500 American soldiers based in the area would be hard-pressed to protect the neighborhood's 120,000 residents and the shrine, which houses the tombs of two 8th century Shiite imams.

By leaving the Mahdi security network in place around the shrine, U.S. commanders do not need to divert resources from other parts of the city where security is worse....

War pushers wanted to dismantle the Mahdi Army, but can't because Iraq needs them for security. Victory!

I'm sure the families and friends of our soldiers (not to mention the destroyed and displaced families of Iraq) can take comfort in knowing their sacrifices have created this beautiful clusterfuck we keep digging ourselves deeper into.

But don't worry... Republicans swear they're gonna abandon Bush/the war in September. And this time, they're still completely full of shit totally serious. No, seriously, they're just full of shit. Operation: Stalling For Time continues.

Please fasten your seatbelts and put your scapegoats in their full upright position.

[PS- The Pentagon notified 35,000 soldiers to be prepared for Iraq this Fall. Extreme surge!]

Chris Matthews Eats His Wheaties

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Another group of domestic Keystone Terrorists-- six men-- have been apprehended before pulling off their totally, 100% brilliant scheme to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey... which they prepared for with paintball exercises and making training videos which they had their local video store copy for them.

The usual pants-wetter crowd is treating this with the utmost seriousness (and trying to squeeze the story through their personal anti-Islam, anti-immigrant prisms), but I have a good enough memory to understand the difference between some hyped-up psychotic wannabes and an actual threat to national security.

Some healthy skepticism from Washington Monthly, Talking Points Memo, and The Carpetbagger Report.

The latter writes that "it’s worth noting that today’s success was due to intelligence gathering and law-enforcement efforts — the very techniques the Bush White House has consistently ridiculed as ineffective in counterterrorism. For that matter, as Steve M. noted, '[A]pparently no warrantless wiretapping led to these arrests, no torture of suspects in overseas prisons, nothing liberals have objected to in the Patriot Act. Remember that when you’re told that these arrests prove that we can’t trust liberals and Democrats.'"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check if the fear terror level has been affected...

Terror Alert Level

Mickey Mouse Outed As Hamas Militant

Via Wonkette, the Associated Press has the shocking details.

Hey, Dick, Maybe We Should Gift-Wrap Them Too?

Conservative operative Dick Morris has the answer as to why U.S. soldiers must stay in Iraq definitely... better them getting murdered than me. Basically, he says, we're offering up U.S. troops as a free gift to our 'enemies' (whoever that even is at this point) in hopes that they'll leave us alone.

Real classy folks, these guys. Real classy.

Odds and Ends

Queen's visiting; I don't think King George made a good impression. Here's others news...

We all know that Attorney General Gonzales is nailed down at the Justice Department, but Paul Wolfowitz's grip on the World Bank just got a little less tight: "A committee of World Bank directors has formally notified Paul D. Wolfowitz that they found him to be guilty of a conflict of interest in arranging for a pay raise and promotion for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005."

Sweet! Now will some committee find him guilty for starting a monstrously disastrous war?

Hey, speaking of the Justice Department... "Congressional investigators are beginning to focus on accusations that a top civil rights official at the Justice Department illegally hired lawyers based on their political affiliations, especially for sensitive voting rights jobs." {*feigns shock*}

Liberal media uncovers shocking secret... Barack Obama is black!!! OMG!

Meanwhile, on the healthcare front: "Abandoning the business lobby's traditional resistance to healthcare reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies plans to launch a political campaign today calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California."

And Washington Monthly explores another success failure of the free-market healthcare system.

Finally, let's review conservative constitutional logic: Allowing suspected terrorists to have legal rights to counsel and defense, etc = TREASON!!!!! Allowing suspected terrorists to purchase guns = GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! Conservative America, you are a true peach.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Cost of War

More ways in which The Decider's misguided war is hurting us here at home-
...In Kansas, the governor said the state's response [to the tornado] was limited by the shifting of emergency equipment, such as tents, trucks and semitrailers, to the war in Iraq.

"Not having the National Guard equipment, which used to be positioned in various parts of the state, to bring in immediately is really going to handicap this effort to rebuild," she said.

Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the adjutant general's office, which manages state resources during emergencies, said the state has a shortage of heavy equipment transport trailers, pallet-sized loading systems, Humvees, dump trucks and other large equipment that would be help move massive amount of debris.

"We are never at 100 percent because we are allocated a certain amount from the National Guard Bureau. With the war, we are much shorter than we would be. We have about 40 percent of what is allocated," Watson said...

Yes sir, we definitely afford to continue this war indefinitely. Everything's fine.

Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along...

Kudos To You, Yahoo

Headline on Yahoo's main page... 'Gas prices surge to record average of $3.07 per gallon'.

I think you can guess which word in there amused me. Article- here.

France Elects Conservative President; Freedom Fries For Everyone

The big political news of the weekend was the French presidential election (with an envious 85% turnout rate). Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy won the very close race, pledging in victory to be a uniter, not a divider.

Hopefully any similiarities between France's new leader and our own begins and ends there.

His reform package contains the usual conservative go-tos... 'promising to loosen rigid labor laws, trim fat from the public service, cut taxes and wage war on unemployment.' Etc. The first three (and maybe the fourth?) haven't exactly worked out for our country, but maybe they polish turds better in France.

But Sarkozy also said in victory that "a great nation like the United States has the duty to not create obstacles in the struggle against global warming." A reminder that conservatism in Europe is not as insane as American's warped brand.

At the least, the right's kneejerk anti-Europeanism may disappear for a few days.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: The Busy Americans

Can you tell I am loving Bill Moyers' return to PBS?

Beside his 'Buying The War documentary', he has a regular show-- 'Bill Moyers Journal'-- every Friday night at 9pm. Last week, for the first episode, he had Jon Stewart and Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall as his guests. The Stewart interview was fascinating, because Jon has a way of really making sense of complex issues in a relatable way that is missing in the mainstream media dialogue.

This is 10 minutes from the middle section of the interview-

You can watch the entire interview for free on PBS's site... here.

Buying Time

Andrew Sullivan-- who, like Agent Mulder, wants to believe-- still holds on to the popular media belief that the Republican party is about six months away from bailing on President Bush and the war. Ignoring the more obvious fact that they've been saying that for almost a year now, the fact is that if that was going to happen, it would've been after the midterm election and/or after the President told the Baker-Hamilton commission to fuck off.

The GOP has wrapped themselves in this war and will have a tough time untangling themselves without exposing their complicity and failures. Not to mention that their base believes this to be the war to end all wars-- a belief fueled by years of jingoistic GOP rhetoric-- and will not take kindly to such a betrayal.

I'm betting that the Republicans are all in, at least until after the primaries in spring 2008. And, even then, they won't run against the war, they'll just attempt to distance themselves from it, while simultaneously blaming Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jack Murtha, and George Soros (and hell, anyone to the left of Chuck Hagel) of 'losing' it for us.

Let us also not forget that the facts continue to make clear that this current incarnation of the war is as much a farce as all the others. The President's office has quietly acknowledged that they won't even try to assess the surge until at least September and they've made clear also that they expect nothing of the Maliki government. The 'surge' accomplished exactly what the President wanted it to... it buys him time so that he can achieve his officially-stated goal of passing his disaster off to the next president.

The President remains confident he can continue to buy time until 2009. For now, the Republicans share that confidence. I don't see that changing anytime soon; they've invested too much in this for self-correction.