Saturday, August 04, 2007

Conservatives For Obama?

Why would 'small-c' conservatives endorse the liberal Senator Barack Obama? Andrew Sullivan explains-
"I haven't pretended he isn't a liberal. But a small-c conservative can consider backing a liberal if all the viable 'conservatives' are corrupt, divisive, shallow, in hock to religious fanatics or palpably unserious about national security... [W]hen you have an unhinged, incompetent fanatic in power, unable to recognize let alone govern reality, sometimes you have to pick the least worst option. And when the 'conservatives' explode entitlements, lose wars, legalize torture, violate the Constitution or abuse it for electioneering, what's a real conservative supposed to do? Sometimes, punishing a party for its betrayal of core principles is a necessary act of cleansing...

...I'm not sure we can afford more of this Republican recklessness and incompetence in foreign affairs - let alone their big government nannying and trashing of the rule of law at home. I see no reason to believe that Romney or Giuliani or Thompson are serious about national security. None has told us what they'd do in Iraq now. And hyper-ventilating about 'offense' and torturing our way to victory is a mark of deep, deep unseriousness. Any candidate who can pledge to 'double Gitmo' has forfeited the support of informed people. If Giuliani is elected, I don't think the Constitution will survive another terror attack. It's really that simple.

If Clinton is the nominee, of course, a lot changes. A lot of people will be forced to return to the GOP and struggle against most odds from within. So Obama is very much on the table. He has to be, by default.

Besides the fact that I find Sen. Obama to be a capable and dynamic leader, and someone who would gather world support around us after the Bush years, I think this is a good reason for endorsing him (though a year ago, I was still hoping for Gore/Feingold, so what do I know?)... he is a neutralizing candidate for all the conservatives who aren't insane.

Moreover, I think his anti-poverty proposals sound more genuine than that of John Edwards.

Yes, obviously racism still matters. Barack's skin pigmentation will be an issue with the usual suspects (expect lots of 'dog-whistle politics' if he's the nominee). But he doesn't have the built-in base of enemies that Miss Clinton has. And that's important for both before and after an election.

[PS- His latest foreign policy speech is generating a lot of buzz.

And no, I don't think he is talking about a ground invasion of Pakistan... he clearly meant limited, focused strikes if we have real intelligence verifying top-level targets. And, yes, Obama is right that nukes are off the table. The 'naive' people are the ones who disagree.]

Weekend Odds and Ends

This was a big news week. Doesn't the world know it's August? Here's a quick look...

One steam-pipe explosion and a collapsed bridge later, America suddenly realizes... our national infrastructure is old and in need of major work! Sorry, American infrastructure, all our money and energy's tied up in this Iraq project. You just stay quiet and wait your turn like all the other domestic disasters.

Bad week for the Gulf Coast... First, the Bush administration has backtracked "on its pledge to do a better job in awarding contracts to small, Gulf Coast businesses for Hurricane Katrina work." And then, a federal appeals court ruled that Katrina victims "cannot recover money from their insurance companies for the damages".

Russia claims the North Pole as its own. Poor, poor Santa.

After reembracing the old strategy of arming everyone in the Middle East and hoping for the best, Secretary Rice went and "pressed Israel and the Palestinians on Thursday to talk about the key issues that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state." 355th times the charm.

President Bush actually signs a bill (the homeland security bill) instead of vetoing it!!

The Senate, meanwhile, passed a bill "to make lawmakers disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a move some called the biggest advance in congressional ethics in decades." The vote was 83 to 14 for, with all 14 'nay' votes coming from, surprise surprise, the Grand Old Party.

And over in the House, they passed a bill to "add 6 million lower-income children to a popular health insurance program while making deep cuts in federal payments to Medicare HMOs" (plus increases in tobacco taxes). If it survives the Senate, it faces a likely veto.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bill O'Reilly vs. DailyKos

This weekend is the second annual YearlyKos Convention (probably not as fun as Comic Con)... a gathering of liberal bloggers and Democratic party activists where they discuss issues important to them. It's a major event, with most of the '08 front-runners attending. TPMtv has been doing good video podcasts from the conference (the official YearlyKos site has video too).

For reasons both obvious and not, this is driving people like Bill O'Reilly insane. Mr. Falafel himself has spent the last two weeks on his show (hey, it's not like there's a war(s) going on or anything) ranting about the convention and its founders from the DailyKos website, accusing them of being vile and among the worst things on the internet (really? worse than pterodactyl porn??).

Chris Dodd appeared (poor guy) on the show to defend DailyKos-

Money quote: "Don't suggest here that this is a real debate you're having here about DailyKos. You object to the ideology; you're using a few instances here, that everyone would find objectionable, as a way of suggesting we ought not to participate. That's terribly wrong in my view."

Ol' Bill'O, of course, like most of his generation, is trying to play on fears of phantom hippies to get people equating the suit-wearing, laptop-wielding YearlyKos crowd with the disheveled masses outside the '68 Democratic Convention battling the police. But, as the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum notes, "What's happening now isn't a youth revolt, and it's not powered by free love, free acid, or fear of being drafted. It's powered by a lot of ordinary moderate liberals who have been radicalized by George Bush and the Newt Gingrichized Republican Party. I think a lot of journalists... don't quite get this."

I'd also note that if that Bush/Lieberman photoshop job was the worst, most vile thing that Bill'O could find in the thousands of diaries and user pages at Daily Kos, then it's a cleaner site than even I thought. Kudos, Bill.

Finally, that al Qaeda/San Francisco quote that Sen. Dodd mentioned, which Bill'O denied even existing? I know this will blow your mind, but Sen. Dodd is 100% correct... Bill'O did indeed say it in November 2005.

[PS- While right-wing blogs and pundits were bloviating about YearlyKos, the President of the United States was meeting with this super-non-partisan brain-trust: Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz, Scott Hennon, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Janet Parshall and Hugh Hewitt. None of whom, of course, has ever said or done anything vile. *cough*]

Stay Secure and Stylish

The Department of Homeland Security has an online store. I can't resist the shorts myself.

Flip-Flopping... To The Extreme!!11!!

Are there any deeply-held beliefs and principles of the top three GOP front-runners(*) that they won't throw out the window to suck up to their base?

Mitt Romney takes the cake here (former Lincoln Chafee-ish Republican turned proud George W. Bush-wannabe), Rudy Guiliani is following close behind ('Pro-choice? Did I say pro-choice? I'm sorry, I meant 9/11'), and now John McCain, whose campaign is running on steam at this point, is trying to catch up.

Sen. McCain, former champion of fair immigration reform, now says "¡No más!"-
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Thursday backed a scaled-down proposal that imposes strict rules to end illegal immigration but doesn't include a path to citizenship.

The move away from a comprehensive measure is an about-face for the Arizona senator, who had been a leading GOP champion of a bill that included a guest worker program and would have legalized many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. It failed earlier this year...

...McCain's immigration position has been a campaign liability among Republican voters and hurt his efforts to raise money...

But, of course, come general election time, they'll all be recanting this insanity and shuffling back to what passes for the center these days. They're just great leaders that way.

[* Note: I'm not counting Fred Thompson (or "Fred!" as the far-right lovingly calls him), because a) he's not even officially running yet, and b) I am not aware of any principles or beliefs he ever had to betray.]

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

More pesky news from Iraq while Washington DC sits back and waits for General Whatshisface to release his super non-partisan report next month (or whenever)-
The main Sunni Arab political bloc quit the Iraqi cabinet on Wednesday, plunging the government into crisis on a day when suicide bombers killed more than 70 people with massive strikes in the capital.

The Sunni Accordance Front said its five cabinet members and Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie would resign from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

"This is probably the most serious political crisis we have faced since the passage of the constitution. If unresolved the implications are grave," the remaining deputy prime minister, Barhim Salih, a Kurd, told Reuters...

Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

I quote this anti-war activist I saw on TV the other day: "We are buying time at a cost of the lives of our soldiers." Oh no wait, that wasn't an anti-war activist... it was current U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. My bad.

Points for honesty at last, I suppose.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Headlines That Make You Go 'Grrrrr' (Pt. 2)

AP: 'House Democrats drop push for tougher auto fuel economy'

The article goes on to note that "Pelosi said she supports the Senate-passed mileage measure and that the issue would be addressed when the House and Senate bills are merged," likely next month. But that's not a guarantee, of course. So for now, the higher mileage standards are in a state of legislative limbo.

Honoring Virginia Tech... With Rock

The latest issue-based rock concert will be A Concert for Virginia Tech, held on September 6th, at the start of the new school year. Playing the concert are John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Nas and country star Phil Vassar. Tickets are available to people at the school only, not the general public.

It seems a low-key event, likely why it's garnering so little press (plus Virginia Tech was, like, sooo 4 months ago).

Why The U.S. Attorney Scandal Matters

Lost in all the talk about whether to impeach Attorney General Gonzales, or the rampant amnesia of every Bush administration official who's testified before Congress on the firings, is the original reason this scandal emerged.

Nine U.S. Attorneys were fired last year (an election year) for political reasons. Some, like California's Carol Lam, were investigating GOP corruption a little too thoroughly. Others like New Mexico's David Iglesias, refused to do the GOP's bidding in bringing in bogus voter fraud indictments. Etc.

Now the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum summarizes a new Washington Post story on John Brownlee, a U.S. Attorney from Virginia who almost made the firing block. Here's a list of super, totally coincidental events-
-On October 24th of last year, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee, after years of effort and with the approval of the head of the DOJ criminal division, is a day away from securing a guilty plea from the manufacturer of OxyContin.

-Mary Jo White, a defense lawyer representing an executive for OxyContin's manufacturer, calls Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to beg for a postponement.

-McNulty tells his chief of staff, Paul Elston, to call Brownlee and ask him to slow down.

-Brownlee declines and announces the settlement.

-Eight days later, Elston puts Brownlee's name on a list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired.

Pundits say there's no real scandal here. So I'm glad these stories keep cropping back up.

But back to the investigation of the scandal, there's now the completely expected news that President Bush is gonna shit out some more executive privilege claims to keep Karl Rove and another political aide, J. Scott Jennings, from testifying. I think we're about two months away from Bush using executive privilege to keep himself from holding press conferences.

Mr. Gonzales, meanwhile, attempts to 'clarify' his previous testimony, poorly as usual.

Headlines That Make You Go 'Grrrrr'

C-NET News: 'Senators to abandon '08 e-voting paper trail mandate'

Wall Street Journal Commits Suicide

Another pillar of journalism agrees to flush itself down the toilet-
Rupert Murdoch has sealed a deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. for $5 billion, ending a century of family ownership and adding a crown jewel to his global media empire, News Corp...

I look forward to articles on how Lindsay Lohan's arrest affects the stock market and why it's Nancy Pelosi's fault. Plus even more editorials by disgraced neocons on why the war is awesome. Good times.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

LastThroes McGee Says A Bunch of Lies

Talking Points Memo does a pop-up-video remix of the Dick Cheney interview on CNN-

Rummy In The Hot Seat (Pt. 2)

Salon's Julia Dahl has a summary of Rumsfeld's testimony today on the Tillman death.

Videos are available on the Democrats' official YouTube channel (see those for 8/1).

I Spy With My Eye...

...A major constitutional scandal that just won't ever go away-
The Bush administration's top intelligence official has acknowledged that a controversial domestic surveillance program was only one part of a much broader spying effort, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday edition.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell wrote in a letter that other aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program remain classified, the Post said...

...Bush acknowledged the existence of a program that monitored domestic phone calls and e-mails without court oversight in December 2005. The administration has not confirmed other secret spying efforts reported by news outlets, such as one that searched millions of telephone records.

Bush signed an executive order that authorized "a number of ... intelligence activities" following the hijacking attacks of September 11, 2001, McConnell wrote.

The warrantless wiretapping program was put under court supervision in January but the administration now wants Congress to allow it to do many of the same activities without a court order...

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

[UPDATE: Ugh. Democrats are reworking FISA to the White House's liking. Is this for real??]

Rummy In The Hot Seat

Remember Don Rumsfeld? He testifies today before a congressional committee for a hearing entitled 'The Tillman Fratricide: What the Leadership of the Defense Department Knew'.

I'll post updates/links to video later when I get home. Must-see C-SPAN, for sure.

More Odds and Ends

My vacation is officially over today. Back to the real world, then. Here's more 'news' stuff...

Salon has highlights of crazy old man Dick Cheney talking to creepy old man Larry King.

In other news, the U.N. remembers about that whole Darfur business. The AP reports that "The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur" and that "If deployed fully, it will be the largest peacekeeping operation in the world."


NY Governor Eliot Spitzer's not having a good summer, finding that gubernatorial politics is a lot more skeevy than being an attorney general.

Finally, the Daily Show looks at how last month's Live Earth has already changed the world.

Heckuva Job, Brownie

The Daily Show looks at how a competent government deals with a natural disaster-

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Meanwhile, In Iraq...

More good news from our super-successful war of freedom in Iraq...

It appears it's definitely vacation time for overstretched U.S. forces the Iraqi government-
Iraq's parliament went into summer recess for a month on Monday despite failing to enact a series of laws that Washington sees as crucial to stabilizing the country and reconciling warring Iraqis...

....The parliament is due to reconvene on September 4, just two weeks before the top U.S. general in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Washington's envoy to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, are due to report to Congress on the success of U.S. President George W. Bush's new Iraq strategy and make recommendations.

The recess leaves Bush with little to show Americans after sending nearly 30,000 more troops to Iraq to give Iraqi leaders breathing space to reach a political accommodation...

...Petraeus said commanders felt they would need a substantial force in Iraq at least until mid-2009...

And if the blessed St. Petraeus says we need to stay indefinitely, then it's sacred law. Amen.

Meanwhile, there was also big news this week on the first big meeting between President Bush and the new U.K. Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. They will discuss the war in Iraq, among other pressing matters (Darfur, world trade, etc).

But while Brown is expected to continue the friendly U.S.-U.K. relationship, he is not going to allow his country to prop up Bush's failed war any further. From The Independent newspaper across the pond-
Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States...

...Mr Brown made clear - and President Bush accepted - that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression the two countries were diverging...

For the U.S., however, the summer of stalling continues unabated. Is it 2009 yet?

Post-Vacation Odds and Ends

It appears I missed a lot while at Comic Con. Here's the big stuff in summary...

Was Pat Tillman murdered??! Some new evidence paints a horrifying picture.

In other news, Mideast peace is right around the corner again! From Reuters: "[Condoleeza] Rice said Washington planned to offer Egypt a $13 billion package and Israel a $30 billion deal -- increases on previous military funding -- over 10 years, as well as unspecified defense aid to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states." Because what's hampered the peace process was a lack of military funding.

Back in domestic political news, Congress is finally beginning to take the Gonzales problem seriously. MSNBC reports that "A group of House Democrats will introduce a resolution calling on the Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales."

Sounds good to me... Assuming it goes anywhere, of course.

Speaking of GOP corruption, I read this news on the series of tubes known as the internet before: "Federal agents searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on Monday, focusing on records related to his relationship with an oil field services contractor jailed in a public corruption investigation, a law enforcement official said."

Talking Points Memo, meanwhile, has put together a video explaining what the scandal is.

The Democratic YouTube debate generated tons of buzz, but the GOP candidates seem frightened by the internets and are backing away from the GOP debate. CNN announced plans to reschedule it. Sorry, guys, if you can't handle YouTube questions from a talking snowman, I don't trust you with the nuclear codes.

Finally, is Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal in jeopardy?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chief Justice Roberts Not Having A Good Week

Reuters: 'Chief Justice Roberts suffers seizure, fall'

He's expected to make a full recovery, and is doing well. A noteworthy story nonetheless.

The Return

I have returned from San Diego, tanned and relaxed. I enjoyed a very fun week interacting with my fellow geeks and seeing the sights. Regular blogging will resume later after I eat and nap, but in the meantime, enjoy this Daily Show video on the ongoing clusterfuck of a scandal revolving around Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department-

[Related reading:
-AP: 'Special prosecutor weighed for Gonzales'
-AP: 'House Democrats pass contempt citations'
NY Times: 'F.B.I. Chief Challenges Gonzales’s Testimony'
Think Progress: 'AP Reveals New Document Demonstrating ‘Clear Case’ Of Gonzales Perjury On Spying Program']