Saturday, July 07, 2007

Universal Health Care = Terrorist Haven!!!1!!

This mind-blowingly stupid new talking point, started by FOX pundits, natch, grows...

Now MSNBC's morning show and the conservative NY Sun have joined in the fun.

Our country is run by truly stupid people.

[PS- There's a good piece in the NY Times on where the '08 candidates stand on healthcare.]

Quote of the Day

Blogger extraordinare Mark Kleiman makes a good point about the stupidity of Democratic campaigning tactics, as well as the modern American political system. He writes-
"Hillary Clinton told an Iowa crowd that George W. Bush is 'radical' rather than 'conservative.' Politically, this strikes me as dumb. Bush isn't going to be on the ballot next year, but lots of people who call themselves 'conservative' will be, and there's no reason for Democrats to help them make Bush their scapegoat... The right wing of the Republican Party owns Bush, and the Democrats shouldn't let anyone forget it...

...But Bush is hardly unique [in regards to what Hillary said]. Today's Republican party is plutocratic, authoritarian, theocratic, racist, nativist, militarist, and imperialist, but hardly conservative except in the sense of being reluctant to reform entrenched abuses. You could throw rocks at random at the ten clowns who line up at the podia for a Republican Presidential debate and never risk hitting an actual conservative, though you couldn't avoid hitting a Reagan-worshipper. It's American conservatism that is no longer conservative, not merely George W. Bush.

That's too bad: the conservative impulse is just as necessary to a properly balanced political system as the progressive one."

What he said.

Live Earth

Today is the Live Earth concert(s) that Al Gore helped organize (one on all 7 continents), to benefit causes to combat climate change. Will this concert do anything to tackle the serious crisis of climate change, any more than 2005's Live 8 event eradicated world poverty or 1985's Live Aid ended suffering in Africa? No, of course not.

But it's very hard to be cynical toward the people who are trying to make a change, when there are so many out there who don't care, or don't even believe that there is a problem.

The concert organizers got two pieces of good news this week. The first was that a Brazilian judge overturned the cancellation of the Rio concert. Muy bueno! The second was that, after an initial blocking by Senate Republicans, Gore announced an additional concert, this one in DC, on National Mall at the National Museum of the American Indian.

For those, like me, without tickets, Sundance Channel will be broadcasting live all day.

[PS- I'm sure those in the western U.S., dealing with a record heat wave, are thinking about this issue this weekend. And Time's recent piece-- '51 Things We Can Do to Save the Environment'-- is always worth a second look.]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Weekend Odds and Ends

Have you been to the Kwik-E-Mart yet? If not, you're missing out. Here's the news...

Great news for fans of unchecked executive power from Cincinnati: "A divided federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit Friday challenging President Bush's domestic spying program... [stating that] the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because they couldn't prove their communications had been monitored by the government."

Of course, that's the whole point, isn't it? This is warrantless, oversight-less spying. They cannot prove they have been wiretapped any more than the government can prove that they have not. Such extreme power has no real security purpose other than Nixonian power-grabs, which is the underlying scandal here.

Meanwhile, the costs for Bush's war(s) could top $1.4 trillion when all is said and done.

Sen. Lieberman is never pleased, of course. He wants more wars and he wants them now!!

Elsewhere, Rupert Murdoch's bid to consume and destroy buy the Wall Street Journal appears close to success. If this goes through, expect front-page WSJ stories in a few years on celebrity scandals and editorials on the brilliance of George W. Bush. Oh wait, that last part's already true.

Speaking of George W. Bush, America's got impeachment fever! The moonbat nation grows.

Withdrawals and Timetables

Despite what most folks in Washington DC seem to believe, we have done it before.

Best Campaign Ad Ever

I showed this to a friend... sad part is that he wasn't sure if this was a real or a parody.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's 'Put Up or Shut Up' Time, Folks

In light of the news that yet another swing-state Republican Senator is speaking out against the Iraq war (it was a totally awesome war up until now), Senate Majority Leader Reid echoes my sentiments on this political kabuki theatre. It's put up or shut up time.

Reid said in a statement this afternoon-
"Senator Domenici is correct to assess that the Administration's war strategy is misguided. But we will not see a much-needed change of course in Iraq until Republicans like Senators Domenici, Lugar and Voinovich are willing to stand up to President Bush and his stubborn clinging to a failed policy – and more importantly, back up their words with action. Beginning with the Defense Authorization bill next week, Republicans will have the opportunity to not just say the right things on Iraq, but vote the right way too so that we can bring the responsible end to this war that the American people demand and deserve.

As evidence mounts that the 'surge' is failing to make Iraq more secure, we cannot wait until the Administration's September report before we change course. President Bush and the Iraqis must move now to finally accept a measure of accountability for this war, implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations, transition the mission for our combat troops and start bringing them home from an intractable civil war."

And let's hope Sen. Reid is willing to back up his words with action too.

Otherwise, it's just more of that 'courageous waiting' Stephen Colbert mentioned last week.

[PS- Senator Domenici, of course, has a reason to be worried heading into 2008. In addition to general anti-GOP sentiment, he is a key figure in the U.S. Attorney purge scandal. Angry that then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias wasn't engaging in the partisan hackery they wanted, Domenici made an appeal to the White House, and, surprise surprise, Iglesias was fired. This Domenici's a real man of the people for sure.

PPS- Rep. Doolittle (R-CA), facing a corruption scandal, also rhetorically abandons the war.]

Right On Cue

When news began breaking that one or more doctors may have been among the conspirators in the recent foiled terror plots in the U.K., I thought cynically to myself... "How long before conservatives try and use this to smear universal health care?"

It turns out the answer is about one day.

On Fox News today, Neil Cavuto and Jerry Bowyer (a writer for the National Review) paint national health care systems as 'breeding grounds' for jihadists. Why? Because "it's easy to hide in the bureaucracy."

Kudos to the right-wing... no matter how crazy I imagine them to be in my mind, they insist upon taking it one step further in real life. Now that's dedication.

[PS- Elsewhere, Rush Limbaugh commends a 13-year-old for being angry about being forced to read about... global warming (his kind parents told him it was all lies). OmG fAciSm!

UPDATE: Courtesy of Talking Points Memo, video of the Fox News segment... here.]

Post-Holiday Odds and Ends

It's a slow news week, but there's still some nuggets out there to find...

In Libby news, ol' Scooty paid his fine of $250,400 and may now resume his life as a free man-- pending that January '09 pardon to seal the deal-- thanks to George W. Bush's mercy. Of course, Andrew Sullivan reminds us that said mercy was absent in his days governing Texas and only applies to those who have covered up for the crimes of his associates worked for his administration.

Meanwhile, Congress plans to hold hearings on this, which should accomplish... nothing.

Honesty in politics alert!! From the BBC: "Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq." OMGz!!1!!! That's moonbat talk, Brendan!!

And the LA Times reports that "The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops". It notes that "More than 180,000 civilians... are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts." War has never been more profitable or awesome.

Senator Clinton, meanwhile, picks up the all-important coal lobbyist endorsement. Hooray!

And unaccomplished GOP darling Fred Thompson, we learn, was President Nixon's mole on the Senate Watergate Committee. After people like Cheney and Rumsfeld, it's not surprising that the GOP is so eager to have another Nixon-era scumbag in the executive branch... Wait, what?!

Finally, President Bush tells us how we can help the troops: Car pool. Pray.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, America!

Taking a blogging break... in the meantime, here's Jimi Hendrix-

Free Lady Liberty!!

Since 9/11, the crown of the Statue of Liberty has been off-limits to visitors. I think that speaks to something larger about the irrational way we reacted to the threat (tell me again why one psycho's retarded scheme means I have to take off my sneakers at the airport?). This copper beauty remains a symbol of the freedoms American represents, and when we start tossing them aside based on fear, and making the Statue off-limits, we send an equally-powerful message.

My congressman, Anthony Weiner, hopes to change that, adding "an amendment to a spending bill giving the National Park Service $1 million to study how to safely reopen the staircase to the statue's crown". The Park Service is also claiming the spiral steps up to the crown is a fire hazard-- odd that only became a concern after they'd closed it-- but millions had done it in the past with no problems (including me, many years ago).

Contact the National Park Service... tell them to reopen the crown, or the terrorists win.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."

In light of the Scooter Libby news, Talking Points Memo goes on a trip down memory lane...

The Media and Fairness

There has been a lot of talk recently in liberal circles about reviving the Fairness Doctrine, a government regulation of the media to keep political debate, as FOX would say, fair and balanced. The liberal case for this does seem right on the merits... namely its destruction during the Reagan-era helped pave the way for things like FOX News and talk radio, bloviating pundits, and the general dumbing down of the media in general. Conservatives, in turn, oppose it because they feel all the aforementioned stuff just helps combat what they believe to be pervasive 'liberal media bias' (a laughable concept).

I agree with that, but I don't think reviving the Fairness Doctrine is the answer to our prayers.

The problems with the media-- intellectual incuriousity, journalistic laziness, gossip-y fluff stories, celebrity trash, etc-- cannot be solved by any piece of legislation or government regulation. As liberals tried to warn before the Iraq war, regime change/democracy can't be forced on someone through force; change must come from within.

How to accomplish that change then when the problems in the media seem so entrenched? I honestly don't know, but I think the Doctrine is not the right solution. I'm open to being convinced otherwise, of course.

The Anonymous Liberal has a a good post pondering this issue as well, asking "If conservatives are going to insist that everything except Fox News and talk radio are 'liberally biased,' don't they at least owe us some sort of explanation as to how market forces could possibly allow for this sort of liberal domination? Is the public overwhelmingly liberal?" They wouldn't agree; they claim conspiracy (oMG, George Soros!).

As for the related question of why conservative talk radio has done better than its liberal counterparts-- Air America is not only a flop financially, it's not very good radio either-- I'd add that's less a sign of overwhelming conservative support in America (polls prove otherwise), but rather a difference in taste between liberals and conservatives. I'll note that this is a bit different on cable TV, where liberals like Keith Olbermann are seeing rising ratings, while conservatives like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are seeing declines.

Few liberals want to listen to some idiot on the radio ranting and raving his opinions, because since we may share many of them, what's the point? Echo chambers are no fun. Maybe I'm being biased here, but it seems conservatives feel more comfortable just having their opinions reinforced by someone loud and angry (also, it helps keep the talking points straight). It's why so many liberals listen to NPR... it's reporting (and actually fair and balanced, to boot), not opinion shows/punditry. We want the media to inform and educate, not pontificate.

In the end, maybe the best we can/should do is ignore the crazy people, while fighting to make sure their talking points don't become the media conventional wisdom. Right now, I'd rather Congress worry about the war and healthcare and global warming... not Rush Limbaugh.

[PS- I have been listening to KCRW's 'Minding the Media' lately. A very good show.]

Justice, Averted

President Bush semi-pardons Scooter Libby, adding another shitstain to his lengthy record...

AP: Bush commutes Libby prison sentence

[UPDATE: Since Drudge, etc, are playing the Mark Rich card, Atrios posts an important fact.

And Andrew Sullivan notes President Bush is the man who showed little to no remorse in executing people in Texas, even when they had expressed remorse for their actions. They got to die, but Scootie is spared from his 'excessive' 30 month sentence, because Dick Cheney got mad and because the conservative base screamed at him. That he didn't go for a full pardon may be seen as a 'compromise' by beltway pundits, but it's nothing less than imperial chutzpah to claim to respect a sentence and then wipe it away simultaneously.]

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sen. Leahy to White House: 'See You In Court!'

Sen. Leahy makes clear that he is taking the President's attempts to blow off subpoenas issued in relation to investigations of the warrantless wiretapping and the purged U.S. Attorneys seriously. He says he is ready for a court battle if the White House will not cooperate. Good for him.

We're A Very Rich Country

Via Reason magazine, a look at which countries share your state's GDP-

(click thumbnail for larger image)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: Courageous Waiting

Earlier this week, I mentioned the press that Senator Lugar (R-IN) was getting for a speech he gave denouncing the Bush policy in Iraq, and stating that the window of time we have to reverse course before total disaster is closing. Lost in all the celebrations of his return to reality was the fine print... namely that he had no plans to act on these statements, whether by supporting Democratic proposals for withdrawal or by creating one of his own. It was the kind of faux-courageous stand that the U.S. Senate is known for.

Stephen Colbert congratulated the Senator on his amazingly super-bold stand-

[UPDATE: Sen. Lugar clarifies... he does support withdrawal. But what will he do about it?]

Fighting Them There, So We Don't Have To...

The latest from a hectic weekend across the pond (BBC summary of known facts- here)...

Canadian Press: Flaming SUV rams into Glasgow airport...

AP: U.K. police make 5th terror arrest

[PS- National Review's Jonah Goldberg seemingly expressed dismay that the plot was thwarted, because the necessary political levels of fear may not now cause people to enact the policies he desires. Sen. Lieberman agrees. Of course, these are the same people who thought our response to the Virginia Tech tragedy should've been to put more guns on campuses, so I think we'd do better to not listen to the crazy people.]

But, But Congress Isn't Doing Anything!11!!!

From Roll Call (via Think Progress)-
239: Number of bills the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate only to be held up, with conservatives “objecting to just about every major piece of legislation that [Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)] has tried to bring up.”

Remember when conservatives used to call Democrats 'obstructionists'? Hahaha. Good times.

When people complain about the lackluster amount of progress the new Congress has made six months into their majority, this should be kept in mind. Part of this, of course, can be blamed on Harry Reid's failure to push back effectively, but he can't pull votes out of thin air. The GOP has made its mission clear... by forcing Democrats to fight to win even the most innocuous legislative battles, they will leave them with less capital and energy to win the larger ones. It's partisan gridlock at its worst.

And waiting at the end of it is a presidential veto. Slim majorities = big headaches.

[Video summary- here; more details of blocked legislation- here.]