Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bush Warns He May Start Governing; Prepare Accordingly

With a Democratic congress attempting to focus on domestic policy (there's a domestic policy now?), President Bush again holds the power of the veto-- which he only recently discovered-- over their heads... it's not just for stem cells anymore!

Since January, the President has threatened to veto the following for one reason or another... the cutting of student loan interest rates, requiring the government to negotiate with drug companies over the price of medication, ending subsidies to oil companies, more stem cell research, expansion of federal hate crime laws to include attacks on gays, and the 9/11 Commission bill.

So far, the only substantive non-Iraq-$$$ bill of the Democrats he's seen fit to sign has been the minimum wage increase (which should go into effect... eventually). And that took him about 5 months. As in Iraq, we're making great progress.

AP: Bush warns he'll veto runaway spending

Connecticut for Lieberman Party Chairman Calls For Lieberman Resignation

This is a funny story.

Last year, after being bested in the Democratic primary, Joe Lieberman-- realizing that he could not allow pesky 'voters' to keep him from Connecticut's his seat-- formed his own party to run as an independent. He called it the 'Connecticut For Lieberman' party (how telling that it wasn't the other way around).

Earlier this year, a man named John Orman decided to mess with Lieberman and changed his registration to this new party, making him its only registered member. He appointed himself party chairman. He passed a series of party rules, including that "If any CFL candidate loses our party's nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party's endorsed candidate."

If I lived in Connecticut, I'd be jealous I hadn't thought of it myself.

Now, Chairman Orman has called for Sen. Lieberman's resignation because of his increasingly belligerent demands for war against Iran. "He has crossed the line," Orman said.

Sen. Lieberman has not responded and remains in the Senate, where he enjoys his final year and a half as a person of consequence, until 2009 when an increased Democratic majority will render him pointless.

Masturbatory 2008 Speculation

Does these poll results reflect the general consensus thus far?-
Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton leads with 33 percent, followed by Barack Obama at 22 percent and not-running Al Gore at 15 percent. John Edwards lags behind the pack with support from just 8 percent of the Democrats polled.

The catch for Clinton: Electability. In a generic, Democrat vs. Republican presidential matchup, the Democrat wins by eight points. But when the Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton, the Times poll suggests -- at this moment in time, at least -- that the next president of the United States could be a Republican: Giuliani leads Clinton by 10 percentage points; McCain leads Clinton by four percentage points; and Romney leads Clinton by two percentage points.

The McCain vs. Clinton and Romney vs. Clinton leads are within the poll's margin of error, but they still stand in pretty sharp contrast with what the poll found with respect to Barack Obama. In one-on-one matchups, Obama leads Giuliani by five percentage points, McCain by 12 points and Romney by 16 points.

Hillary's electability is a huge problem, but something seems off here. Other polls have been more favorable to her. Thoughts? Does this mesh with what you're hearing?

At any rate, concerns of racist voters aside, Sen. Obama seems the Democrats' best bet.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hey, Speaking of the Gays...

...This was a good article.

Time magazine: The Quiet Gay Revolution-
As gays have moved into the mainstream, Republicans have landed on the wrong side of history

Weekend Odds and Ends

The weekend's here. Let's all avoid the Fantastic Four movie together. Here's the news...

In Palestine, things continue to fall apart: "Hamas fighters were in full control of Gaza on Friday... further clouding the chance for peace after routing their secular Fatah rivals in days of vicious gunbattles. With Western-backed president Mahmud Abbas of Fatah naming a new prime minister for his emergency cabinet, Palestinians face the prospect of being ruled by two separate administrations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank." Arab foreign ministers hold crisis talks to discuss the fallout.

Matt Drudge, meanwhile, amuses himself with this crisis.

Speaking of crises, a major Sunni mosque near Basra was bombed yesterday, increasing fears of further sectarian reprisals over the bombing of a major Shiite site earlier this week.

Back in Washington DC, top Senators promise to revive the ailing immigration reform bill. Republicans, continue your imploding. Mark Kleiman looks at the political ramifications.

Attorney General Gonzales is in deeper trouble now, but will, of course, never resign.

Finally, Al Gore on the G8 climate proposal: Is that all?

My Thoughts On Outing

There's a debate among gay bloggers on the ethics of outing.

Here's my general opinion and I'll move on to the specific example that prompted this renewed debate... I think the closet is the right of any gay man, if he chooses to stay hidden. Hey, some people aren't exactly surrounded by accepting communities or families. Coming out is a difficult process and everyone has to come to it in their own time and way. Outing someone is generally wrong.

With that said, Tyler Whitney did deserve to be outed.

Who is Tyler Whitney? He is an 18-year-old Republican activist who was just outed by gay muckrakers. Too harsh, you say? Well, Whitney was more than your average gay Republican (which alone qualifies you for hypocritical self-hater status, in my book); he aligned himself with the more extreme elements of the party. He was, for instance, the webmaster for the presidential campaign of Rep. Tom Tancredo, one of the more openly bigoted members of Congress (see his Wikipedia for just a small sampling of his greatest hits). But that's nothing. Dan Savage links to an article which shows us how deep the self-hatred of a gay Republican operative goes-
...Whitney's candidate, Rep. Tancredo, has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which means he has never voted in favor of any pro-LBGT legislation...

...In addition to his ties to Tancredo, Whitney is closely associated with Kyle Bristow, the leader of the Young Americans for Freedom MSU chapter, now officially listed as a hate group. Bristow has opined that if he had a gay son he would kill him, and that homosexuals should be in prison.

Whitney is also pictured in a Nov. 20 protest holding a sign which reads "Go back in the closet." The protest was against a proposed comprehensive human rights ordinance in the city of Lansing, an ordinance that was later adopted by a unanimous vote of the City Council...

He also posts at the far-right Free Republic. It has a special section on 'homosexual agenda'.

As Savage notes, the campaign team advisor, Bay Buchanan (yes, related to Pat), is crying foul at this outing, citing the invasion of Whitney's privacy. Ignoring even how little Republicans have cared for the privacy/civil liberties of Americans in the last 5 years, these are also the same people who made denying marriage rights to gay couples a national issue in two consecutive election cycles. So his privacy became a moot point the moment he signed on.

So no, I'm not a fan of outing. But for the Mary Cheneys of the world... kick their closet doors down. Expose them, and the party that they represent, for the self-serving bigots that they are. Life for many gay people is hell enough without closeted Republicans stoking the fires of intolerance for their own gain. Fuck 'em.

[UPDATE: One of his defenders gave me a stern talking-to on my LiveJournal community.

UPDATE #2: Said defender is one of the most anti-gay posters on Free Republic. Shocker!!]

Recommended Listening

KCRW's 'To The Point': Democrats Try to Put Their Stamp on a New Energy Policy

As the program indicates, expect the Michigan Democrats to water this down big time.

(Oh and, as usual, the Republicans are waiting to block anything substantive too.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rudy 9/11

The liberal media has all but ceded the floor to Rudy 9/11 on the terrorism issue.

The big question is: How does he get away with it when his actual national security credentials are either non-existent or frightening, depending on your point of view? The answer is simple. It's because the Democrats won't call a spade a spade. They rarely ever do on this issue.

Just say it, Democrats... Rudy Guiliani is an opportunist, feeding off a national tragedy for personal gain, with no real security credentials, and authoritarian leanings. For added measure, remind people that a) the type of policies he supports-- torture, unchecked executive power, endless war-- have made the world more vulnerable to attacks since the Republican president and congress implemented them in recent years, and b) the counter-terrorism successes we have had, of varying degrees of seriousness, have been due to careful police work and legal intelligence-gathering, exactly the type of things Democrats have been arguing for, much to the disdain of right-wing conservatives.

It's rarely not that hard a point to make. And it won't bite either.

[PS- Rudy's position on Iraq? None. "That’s in the hands of other people", he says.

PPS- Still, I fully expect Rudy to implode, and Romney (or Thompson?) to be the nominee.]

The Cost of War, Continued

Reuters: U.S. hometowns strained as police go off to war

Scooter Told To Go To Jail / Right-Wingers Harass Judge

The judge in the Libby trial ruled today that Scooter Libby can't delay his 2 1/2-year prison sentence while the case is on appeal. That means that Libby will have to beg the President for a pardon ASAP report to prison in the next month or two. Libby's new lawyers intend to seek an emergency order delaying the sentence. Emergency = Scootie doesn't wanna to go to jail!!

It is on this note that I read a separate report that this judge had been the subject of harassment prior to this decision, by fans of Scootie-
A federal judge showed no sign that he would delay I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison term in the CIA leak case Thursday — even as he reported getting threatening letters and phone calls after sentencing the former White House aide.

"I received a number of angry, harassing, mean-spirited phone calls and letters," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said. "Some of those were wishing bad things on me and my family."...

This is, of course, nothing new. The Bush cultists who make up the party base (though that's becoming less the case in recent weeks because of his support for immigrants) have always been taught to regard an independent judiciary as an enemy.

The most famous example of this was the harassment and threatening of the judge who ruled in the husband's favor in the Terri Schiavo case in 2005. Conservatives were lead in this 'fight' by then-House majority leader Tom Delay, who said "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." And when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, it was not her subservience to the President that bothered them, but rather fears that she was merely moderately conservative.

Considering that, among many other things, the Schiavo debacle was mentioned by many people as a key cause of the conservative downfall heading into 2006, you'd think the party/movement leadership would've learned some lessons and made efforts to de-crazify the base. Instead, they're waiting to be pacified with a Libby pardon.

Want to take bets on whether it's coming? I'm offering no predictions here.

Meanwhile, in Gaza...

Peace in the Middle East continues to be as elusive as ever...

AFP: Abbas declares state of emergency as Hamas overruns Gaza

White House: Indefinite Imprisonment = Democracy!

Tony Snow answers questions about the administration's detainee policies by doing what he does best... repeating the question back in his own words, as if to imply the very asking of the question itself was an absurd act-

Notice that Snow refers to the people held at Guantanamo and related prisons as having been "plucked off the battlefields". This is, of course, a lie. In many cases, in the late 2001/early 2002 period, people in Afghanistan settled debts by turning in enemies of theirs (whom they claimed were Taliban or al Qaeda) to the U.S. military, who in turn didn't ask too many questions because they were happy to have some early successes. Many others imprisoned were taken out of their homes (as was the case with Al-Marri whose court case prompted this questioning) or from airports and town streets, etc. Knowing all of this, we can see the Bush administration definition of "battlefield" pretty much constitutes the whole world. A scary thought.

As counterrorism policies go, this is not only Orwellian and unconstitutional, it's also ridiculously counterproductive. And its continuation not only stems from the administration's embrace of radical executive authority, but also their refusal to admit a mistake. They know, as Colin Powell said this past Sunday, that we need to close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus rights for detainees. But doing so would be admitting that this was a bad policy. And they simply cannot do that.

As with Iraq, cleaning up this mess will have to wait for the sap who's our next President.

Quote of the Day

"I'm a small government guy. Unless, of course, the President wants to do something."
--Stephen Colbert, interviewing Ron Paul, perfectly capturing the mentality of Bush cultists.

No-Shit Headline of the Day

AP: Fox News covers Iraq less than other networks, study finds

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mid-Week Video Theatre: Is America Ready?

The Daily Show's Samantha Bee has the first in a series of looks at the 2008 candidates-

Odds and Ends

Comedy Central is debuting "Lil' Bush" tonight. Looks dumb. Anyway, here's the news...

As President Bush tries to get his party in line on the immigration bill, the GOP base's loyally authoritarian xenophobes are saying 'no dinero!' to RNC solicitors because of the dirty Mexicans ruining White America 'amnesty' provision. It's lose-lose for the GOP. Their corporate backers-- whom they rely upon for money-- want the bill passed. Their base-- whom they also rely upon for money-- don't want it passed.

Divisions over the war have a similar effect, if less hostile, inside the Democratic party.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, shit continues to blow up. A blast in Iraq hit a key Shiite shrine. An explosion in Beirut kills "a vocal, anti-Syrian lawmaker" in the Lebanese government. And, over in Gaza, "Hamas Islamist gunmen pressed on with their Gaza offensive... in a Palestinian supremacy struggle escalating steadily into civil war."

And, over in Congress, it's subpoena time for Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor over their roles in the U.S. Attorney scandal. The White House followed up by trying to figure out a way to stonewall without appearing even guiltier.

In legislative news, the House is taking on a gun control/background check bill. In the Senate, they're tackling an energy bill which would "would raise mpg standards about 40% by 2020" and "make oil-industry price gouging a federal crime."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration declares war on owls: "The Bush administration proposes cutting 1.5 million acres from Northwest forests considered critical to the survival of the northern spotted owl." Take that, spotted owls.

Finally, did the President's new Albanian BFFs steal his watch? The truth is out there!

I <3 NYC

It was just announced yesterday that "New York will play host later this year to a new edition of Farm Aid, a benefit concert to help family farms." The concert will be on September 9th on Randall's Island, featuring performances by Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp and Neil Young (tickets on sale this weekend).

In concert with this announcement (pardon the pun), Mayor Bloomberg also unveiled plans for "using biofuel to heat city buildings". Details-
...By next year, 30 percent of heating oil purchased for city buildings will use B5 — a compound that has 5 percent biofuel.

Based on Fiscal Year 2007 numbers for city heating oil purchases, that would equal roughly 13 million gallons of B5, or 600,000 gallons of pure biofuel. Once the city tests its boilers on B5, it hopes to convert to using B20 — which uses 20 percent biofuel — by 2012, the mayor said.

“How much of a difference would it make?” Bloomberg asked. “The B20 blend emits 85 percent less soot than standard heating oil.”...

...The mayor’s goal is to cut carbon emissions emitted by city government by 30 percent over the next 10 years. In his sustainability plan, he called on the rest of the city to cut that percentage of carbon emissions by 2030...

In addition, the Mayor plans to "officially solicit bids this fall from private solar developers to build, own, operate and maintain solar panels on 20 to 50 city-owned buildings as part of a pilot program aimed at promoting the use of solar energy". Tax rebates will be given to offset the installation costs. Obviously, solar alone cannot power all of New York City (it's, ummm, a pretty big place), but it certainly is a big help.

Now, if you can get every city to do this, maybe it'll make some kind of difference.

In the meantime, we'll find it under 'Much Better Than The Status Quo'. Thumbs up.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
[Mayor Bloomberg, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson enjoy his homegrown bio-"fuel".]

The Assault On Reason

Mike Moynihan at Reason magazine reviews Al Gore's book. Many of the criticisms are fair.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

Talking Points Memo's Steve Benen analyzes a Washington Post article which shows what a failure the surge is, and what a farce the President's rhetoric is. Benen states-
Apparently, U.S. forces have not only aligned themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen, we're also now cooperating with sectarian militias, working outside the Iraqi security forces, that include insurgents that have attacked Americans in the past. What's more, we're allowing them to procure weapons and we're granting them the power to arrest other Iraqis.

He adds that all of this makes it hard(er) to tell which side is which and who we're fighting. This is, of course, the heart of the problem of this war in many ways.

On one note, the President speaks as if we're in a war against al Qaeda in Iraq, when-- even ignoring that they weren't a presence there until we invaded and opened the floodgates-- it's really a sectarian/civil war between Iraqis (al Qaeda-related fighters make up only a fraction of the fighters there). But he can't say we're at war with Iraqis, because the revised rationale is that we went in to help them. And we can't be at war with Iraqis since the military is so worn down that we can't actually accomplish anything without help from... the Iraqis. Who are fighting us because they want us gone. And 'round and 'round we go.

Secondly, this makes clear that, ultimately, it's the Iraqis who are better suited to take of their own problems, both politically and military. Whatever aid our presence there provides-- in stop-gap security measures-- is outweighed by how our occupation gives the Iraqis an enemy in U.S. forces when, without us, their attention could be focused on the external threats aiming to increase instability.

This is the underlying reality many have understood for some time.

Except, of course, for the idiots in charge-
U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a "post-occupation" troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years...

"One of the guiding principles," of this strategy says the article, "is that the United States should leave Iraq more intelligently than it entered." I doubt we could possibly leave as dumb as we went in, but yea, this is still pretty dumb.

As the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum noted last week, this sort of idea is the worst of both worlds. It's "a big enough number to keep the Arab public convinced that we intend a permanent imperial presence in the region, but too small a number to accomplish anything effective... A much better option would be to draw down nearly to zero, keeping troops and air support nearby but not physically within Iraq. Otherwise the pressure to intervene will rear its head constantly and Iraq will remain the festering centerpiece of American foreign policy, preventing us from devoting our attention to more serious issues. We can't afford that, and neither can Iraq."

Instead, the strategy here seems to be to control the oil, I mean to appease the military industrial complex fools who started this war in the first place by maintaining it as long as possible, and in as half-assed a manner as possible, so that nobody will have to admit we made a mistake.

Not exactly a cause worth fighting and dying for, in my humble opinion.

Fun At The Creation Museum

One blogger has a detailed post about a recent visit to the Creation Museum.

Satirists couldn't come up with stuff as funny as this.

Meanwhile, In Afghanistan...

Washington Post: Karzai Is Uninjured As Rockets Hit Nearby-
Attack on President Claimed by Taliban

Reuters: Civilians suffer escalating Afghan conflict

TPMmuckraker: Some in U.S. Intelligence See Musharraf on His Way Out

Monday, June 11, 2007

'Are We Going To War With Iran?'

My friend Steve IMed me last night to ask that question. It's hardly a new question among dirty liberal hippies concerned, sane Americans, but Senator Lieberman's latest war fantasties on CBS' "Face The Nation" this weekend may have renewed fears.

Here's the situation, as I understand it. The neocon/Cheney faction is still aching for war, while the State Department/diplomat faction continues to push for diplomatic efforts. And President Bush is caught in the middle, likely angry that his administration is no longer ideologically on the same page, causing him to do way too much thinking for his own good.

So basically, whether or not the President intends to start another half-assed military adventure in his lame-duck term depends on whether Dick Cheney or Condoleeza Rice is more persuasive. And whether or not Congress has the balls to stop this train if it looks to be leaving the station. Although that's not an encouraging picture I just painted, another war still seems unlikely to me.

Senate Meanies To Hate On Poor Gonzales

Senate leaders are pushing for a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales today, for no other reason than his politicization of every aspect of the Department has undermined our system of justice.

[UPDATE: Surprise, surprise... Senate Republicans have blocked the vote.]

U.S. Attorneys fired for dubious reasons? Pushing for politicized voter fraud cases in key swing states? No, they have insisted, they're not responsible for any of this. In fact, no one was responsible for any of it! Tom Tomorrow's new cartoon summed it up perfectly-

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Family Circus 'Not Me!' ghost was apparently running the Justice Department for the past few years.

The President, of course, made it clear in advance that he didn't give a shit either way. "[I]t's an interesting comment about Congress, isn't it?," said Bushie. "And they can try to have their votes of no confidence, but it's not going to determine -- make the determination who serves in my government."

Three words hapless Senate leaders might keep in mind for Gonzo... im-peach-ment.

Odds and Ends

I ate too many tacos this weekend and my tummy hurts. Here's some news...

President Bush assures everyone that his immigration reform bill is not dead. Of course, he said the same thing about Social Security privatization in summer 2005, so take that with a grain of salt. The President must really want to provide big business with cheap, exploitable labor help immigrants to take on his crazy base like this.

Another court ruling takes on the President's detainee policies: "President George W. Bush cannot order the military to seize and indefinitely detain a Qatari national and suspected al Qaeda operative, the only person being held in the United States as an 'enemy combatant,' an appeals court ruled on Monday." Why do the courts hate America?

Moonbat Colin Powell disses his old bosses, says "I would close Guantanamo — not tomorrow, this afternoon."

Oh no, Democrats have pushed for gun control, now they will never win an election again!!11!! From the Washington Post: "Senior Democrats have reached agreement with the National Rifle Association on what could be the first federal gun-control legislation since 1994, a measure to significantly strengthen the national system that checks the backgrounds of gun buyers."

Finally, lobbyists are finding the Democratic majority much harder to maneuver.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: The Candidates Debate

Jon Stewart tackles this past Tuesday's GOP presidential debate-

On a related note, the NY Times' Paul Krugman sums up why these debates remain a farce-
"If early campaign reporting is any guide, the bad media habits that helped install the worst president ever in the White House haven’t changed a bit...

...[A]s far as I can tell, no major news organization did any fact-checking of either debate. And post-debate analyses tended to be horse-race stuff mingled with theater criticism: assessments not of what the candidates said, but of how they “came across.”...

...Look, debates involving 10 people are, inevitably, short on extended discussion. But news organizations should fight the shallowness of the format by providing the facts — not embrace it by reporting on a presidential race as if it were a high-school popularity contest.

For if there’s one thing I hope we’ve learned from the calamity of the last six and a half years, it’s that it matters who becomes president... And I don’t know if this country can survive another four years of Bush-quality leadership."

Don't worry, Paul, only 9 more months until the first primaries! Woooooo!

So, How Was Your Week?

The soft bigotry of low expectations continues to aid President Bush.

I heard Tony Blankley on KCRW's "Left, Right, and Center" say that Bush had a good week (he's the show's resident conservative, for what it's worth). Why? Because the G8 Summit wasn't a complete bust.

Ignoring even that coming out of the G8 was news that the President tried to rhetorically torpedo the European climate initiative and also his interactions with Vladimir Putin vis a vis the missile shield boondoggle had pundits talking of a new 'Cold War', there were a number of things that-- for any normal presidency-- would be considered earth-shakingly bad news.

One of his former top aides, Scooter Libby has been sentenced to a prison term. Other administration officials are either leaving or under investigation. His immigration bill has been knocked into a legislative coma. His base has finally turned on him. And, oh, that war(s) he started remains a strategic disaster. We get so many failures and scandals a day now that they begin to fade away even as they first hit the wires. I take no glee in all this depressing news, but a spade is a spade.

But, hey, he didn't cause a major international incident, so this was a truly awesome week for him and for us.