Saturday, August 11, 2007

Newt Gingrich: Moonbat

John Edwards recently got a lot of vitriol from the right-wing for calling a spade a spade in regards to the partisan, unserious way the administration has handled the issue of terrorism. Edwards had called the phrase 'war on terror' a "Bush-created political phrase" and said the White House treated the war like a "bumper sticker".

It turns out one person who agrees is... right-wing hero Newt Gingrich.

The former Speaker sounded like a dirty liberal himself, stating that 'the Bush administration is waging a "phony war" on terrorism' and that we should instead embrace 'a national energy strategy aimed at weaning the country from its reliance on imported oil and some of the regimes that petro-dollars support.' In this speech, he said directly that "None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war." He added, in a broader political sense, that "We were in charge for six years... I don't think you can look and say that was a great success."

What a goddamned moonbat!

(Oh, and if you need proof that the politicization of the 'war on terror' soldiers on, look no further than these new license plates they're offering in good ol' Oklahoma.)

Of course, I get the impression from other things in that article that part of Gingrich's criticism on the 'war on terror' that we've been insufficiently ferocious, failing to really rain down fire and destruction on our enemies. Harder war is their solution there. So it's not all perfect, but a far break from the cult-like orthodoxy of the base that sees Bush as a conquering war hero defeating the vile islamofacists.

In light of Gingrich's admissions, this selection from Harper's is worth posting-
I attended [a recent conference] in Italy with a group of European and American counterterrorism experts. A large team of U.S. Department of Justice officials, drawn from its uppermost echelons, was there, including three of the principal architects of the legal policies for the war on terror. In not-for-attribution comments, one openly acknowledged that the war on terror was cast in the first instance as a political ploy and that it was a conceptual failure. It was now essential for the Americans to move on to something else, he argued. None of the others challenged that view; indeed, two of them said that they agreed with it. So even inside of the Bush Administration, the war on terror has been written off as a scam that served its limited political purpose and is finished.

Well, don't tell the '08 GOP front-runners that. It's the only tool they've got left.

[PS- One newspaper columnist says... More 9/11s, please! 9/11 forever!]

Wanna Know In How Bad a Shape the GOP Is?...

...They're literally trying to scare/trick people into making campaign contributions.

As one commenter at TPM aptly noted, "If this mailing had been from the Democratic Party, Karl Rove would order Alberto Gonzalez to hold a press conference touting it as an example of voter fraud." But don't worry folks, standard IOIYAR(*) rules still apply.

[*It's okay if you're a Republican]

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rudy Guiliani: American Hero

We now begin the next installment of the hit series 'Rudy Guiliani: National Security Expert and Counterterrorism Hero', the man who escaped from reality the burning wreckage of the World Trade Center to chase down terrorists around the globe.

My former mayor said the other day that, in response to criticisms from families of 9/11 victims, "I was there working with [rescue workers]. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them." And if that wasn't chutzpah enough, Guiliani also said, "I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers."

And if you can possibly believe it, some people have been critical of these remarks!

Rudy Guiliani's now attempting to clarify his remarks. He stated today that "I think I could have said it better. You know, what I was saying was, 'I'm there with you.'... What I was trying to say yesterday is that I empathize with them, because I feel like I have that same risk." Which is, of course, not at all what he actually said.

In a helpful coincidence, Rudy's latest 9/11 masturbation theatre comes on the heels of a great Village Voice article entitled: 'Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11'. It's long, but worth reading, and worth passing on to as many people as possible.

Censuring the Bushies?

Sadly, we need a lot more Russ Feingolds and a lot less Liebermans before this happens...

CQ Politics: Democrats Introduce Censure Resolutions Aimed at Bush, Cheney and Gonzales

Civil Unions: The Cool Compromise All The Kids Are Talking About!

Democratic candidates danced around the issue of gay marriage in last night's debate. Fun.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Another Debate?! OMG!

Considering that we're still about 6 months away from the February primaries (let's not even think about the general election), we're in for a lot of debates. Buckle up, folks!

The latest debate was a Democratic one, on Tuesday night. It was themed around labor issues, but other issues (ie. foreign policy) did come up. A roundup/summary: here. Video highlights from TPM on: taking lobbyist money, dealing with Pakistan, and John Edwards taking on Sen. Clinton.

And if that's not enough for you, Democrats are debating gay issues tonight.

Odds and Ends

New York City flooded again yesterday. I love summer in the northeast. Here's the news...

It's bad enough for the administration that Britain has begun its withdrawal from Iraq, but the new leadership is also taking a tougher line on Guantanamo. They called "for the Bush administration to release five British residents held at Guantanamo Bay."

Barack Obama clarifies his controversial comments about Pakistan.

Speaking of Pakistan: "Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pulled out of a major tribal council in Afghanistan aimed at ending Taliban and Al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism, officials said Wednesday."

And the AFP news service refused to do the White House any favors by passing along its propaganda. A new report on administration statements begins: "US President George W. Bush charged Monday that Iran has openly declared that it seeks nuclear weapons -- an inaccurate accusation at a time of sharp tensions between Washington and Tehran." Imagine that... providing the reader with context!

The NY Times decides to end its pay-subscription system for its op-eds and archives.

We may also be closer to learning the dirty secrets of how NYC officials handled all those dangerous hippies during the 2004 RNC: "A federal judge yesterday rejected New York City’s efforts to prevent the release of nearly 2,000 pages of raw intelligence reports and other documents detailing the Police Department’s covert surveillance of protest groups and individual activists before the Republican National Convention in 2004."

Finally, will Minneapolis' damage be fixed before the Gulf Coast? Local politics suggest 'yes'.

Watch Out, White People!

God bless Matt Drudge for giving us white men the heads up that we are doomed-

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mike Huckabee Plays Hardball With GOP Politics

On Hardball tonight, GOP candidate Mike Huckabee calls out his own party as the party of corporate interests and greed. It's worth acknowleding, as far as I'm concerned. If conservative voices didn't attempt to smear/silences sentiments like Huckabee's, we'd have less of an uphill battle to fight.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan...

The war in Afghanistan, like the one in Iraq, will apparently last forever-
British troops could remain in Afghanistan for more than the 38 years it took them to pull out of Northern Ireland. That is the bleak assessment by Army commanders on the ground in Helmand province.

In an interview with The Observer at HQ in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Brigadier John Lorimer, commander of UK forces in Helmand, said: 'If you look at the insurgency then it could take maybe 10 years. Counter-narcotics, it's 30 years. If you're looking at governance and so on, it looks a little longer. If you look at other counter-insurgency operations over the last 100 years then it has taken time.'

His scenario is the starkest assessment yet from a senior officer tasked with defeating the Taliban, tackling the heroin trade and rebuilding the war-ravaged country...

When Ted Koppel called this "our children's children's war", he wasn't kidding, was he?

President Bush, meanwhile, claims he understands the situation there better than Afghan President Hamid Karzai, basically stating Karzai's acknowledgment of the reality in his country is wrong. Shoot me.

Humility in Politics?

NY Governor Eliot Spitzer is embroiled in a major scandal involving possible dirty tricks used to aid the Governor's office in their battles with State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno.

Realizing that he can't allow this scandal to weaken his still-fresh administration, Spitzer has issued comments making clear he is aware of public concern and will change direction-
"Those of you who know me recognize my core belief that without passion and conviction in politics we are doomed to fail,” said the governor. “What I'd like to reflect on today, and this may come as a surprise to some of you, are the inevitable risks that occur when passion and conviction are not sufficiently tempered by humility. How we manage these risks, it turns out, may be just as critical as the fight itself."...

..."Without vigilance and humility, righteousness can become self-righteousness,” said Spitzer.

“Over the past few weeks, it has become evident that this principle was forgotten. We were fighting so hard for what we believed was right that we let down our guard and allowed our passion to get the best of us. I have accepted responsibility for these failures."

Whatever comes of this scandal, it's refreshing to see a leader acknowledge political reality.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Republicans Wake Up Early, Debate How Awesome War Is

In what came as a total shock to a lot of people, the Republican '08 candidates held a debate early Sunday morning in Iowa (some of us sleep in, ya know!). If this AP article is any indication, it was what you'd expect... war good, abortion bad, gay marriage bad, guns good, Democrats bad.

(Time's Ana Marie Cox sarcastically live-blogged the debate on their website blog.)

The only thing approaching a lively moment occurred when super-libertarian (and intertubes fave) Rep. Ron Paul called out the other candidates on their hypocritical and BS rhetoric on Iraq, noting that the same people who happily lead us into this mess can't be trusted to get us out (assuming they're even thinking about getting out at all). Mitt Romney's super-intelligent, clever response? "Has he forgotten about 9/11?," he replied to Paul.

A perfect summary of the empty jingoism passing for debate from the GOP front-runners.

As I've said before, I don't subscribe to the Ron Paul cult, but I'm very glad he's in this race.

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

This is not exactly what we call we good news-
Five Iraqi MPs have announced a boycott of cabinet meetings, deepening the political crisis and leaving the unity government without any Sunni members.

The ministers, who are loyal to former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, blamed what they said was the Shia-led government's failure to end sectarian favouritism...

...So far this year, 17 government ministers - nearly half of the cabinet - have either suspended their participation or quit.

You know what this political crisis needs? More troops!!! Indefinite military occupation! {*waits patiently for Jesus Petraeus to put Humpty Dumpty together again*}

In all seriousness, I feel pity for those who think more time, money, and bodies will fix this.

Quote of the Day

Here's Bush cultist Mark Noonan (at Blogs for Bush) bragging about the President's victory over liberals/Democrats on the issue of warrantless wiretapping-
"Do not, dear leftists, underestimate the monumental contempt your leaders have for you at all times and under all circumstances. Think of it like this - how much respect can anyone have for a group of people who demand to make their own decisions about porn, but are willing to turn over their healthcare decisions to Hillary Clinton?"

Can any of my readers translate that rambling into English, please?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Odds and Ends

I ate too much peanut butter this weekend and now my tummy hurts. Here's the news...

Congress is officially on summer recess now (filled with BBQs and phone calls from angry constituents), after accomplishing some things good... and some things notsomuch.

One bill passed in the House goes in the 'good' camp, as far as I'm concerned. It "approved $16 billion in taxes on oil companies, while providing billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy and conservation efforts." I see a veto in this bill's future.

For those following the real-estate/mortgage crisis, more bad news arrives.

After Attorney General Gonzales had previously told Congress otherwise, the Washington Post reveals that "White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity."

This is, of course, illegal. Expect impeachments many angry hearings to result from this.

Finally, 2008 candidates agree... Jon Stewart is awesome.

Follow The Money

Who gave $$ to which candidates? Huffington Post has a new feature allowing you to search.

Caving To The Worst President Ever

The capitulation of Congress on the warrantless wiretapping issue is proof again-- that even at approval ratings in the mid-to-low 20's-- President Bush need only bark 'terrorism' and Congress will shit its pants and follow along. I really thought we were past all of this when voters made clear last November how tired they were of such timidity. Apparently, we still have a long way to go.

I'm reminded of a classic bit from the last season of 'Family Guy' where Lois, now the Mayor, tries to get the townspeople to go along with a proposal of hers. After seeing their disapproval, she then asks "what about the terrorists?" and proceeds to describe a number of insane plots, including one by Hitler and the Legion of Doom to assassinate Jesus, and another in which Darth Vader tried to buy yellowcake uranium. The townspeople immediately begin throwing piles of cash at her unquestioningly so she will save them.

Congress, you are better than just being the dimwitted residents of Quaghog.

[Related: Memo To Dems: Please Remember Why You Won In 2006 (TPM- Election Central)]

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

A few important stories of what's happening in Iraq while everyone is on vacation...

From the AP-
Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid, officials said Saturday...

..."We no longer need television documentaries about the Stone Age. We are actually living in it. We are in constant danger because of the filthy water and rotten food we are having," said Hazim Obeid, who sells clothing at a stall in the Karbala market.

Insert sarcastic reply about 'hearts and minds' and/or 'great progress' here.

And this alarming news, from the BBC-
The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years...

That a) we've just left weapons lying all over Iraq for anyone to pick up, and b) the Iraqi security forces we're training are shady as hell, are hardly new news. It was reported way back in October 2004 that "nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives" had gone missing from an Iraqi facility under U.S. control. Not to mention all the U.S. cash that has also gone 'missing' in Iraq.

On a semi-related note, the Washington Post reports that "U.S. commanders are offering large sums to enlist [former insurgent fighters], handing them broad security powers in a risky effort to tame this fractious area south of Baghdad in Babil province and, literally, buy time for national reconciliation."

Because if there's one thing that sums up our Iraq policy... it's buying time.

[Related reading: Can Maliki Save His Coalition? (Time)]

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: Democrats Debate Lobbying

As I mentioned in a previous entry, this weekend was the annual YearlyKos Convention for liberal and Democratic activists. Most of the '08 presidential candidates (sans only Sen. Biden, I believe) attended a presidential forum for the attendees.

One of the most interesting discussions to come out of this forum was on the issue of lobbyists and their influence on politicians. The headlines will focus on Sen. Clinton's defense of the lobbying profession (or, by contrast, the stark denunciations by John Edwards and others), but you really have to watch the whole thing to appreciate what an interesting debate it was.

Luckily, the Talking Points Memo gang has been posting great videos from the event-

Katrina: The Anniversary Stories Begin

Harry Shearer plugs the beginning of stories on the 2nd anniversary of the Katrina disaster.

Spying and FISA: Sweeping It Under The Rug

Earlier this week, I expressed confusion/anger over the rush to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Law to the liking of the very same administration which has been violating it non-stop for over 5 years now (even Democrats-- in both the Senate and the House-- didn't bother putting up any kind of a fight here).

The rhetoric in the 'debate' over these changes was, of course, couched in Cheney-esque statements of 'oMg they gonna blow us up if you pass tihs right n0w!!1!!' insanity. Sen. Trent Lott, for instance, warned that if this wasn't passed before the August recess, then "the disaster could be on our doorstep." Quick, everyone under their desks!!

So desperate was the President to get what he wants (and what he wants only) out of this deal that he overrode a compromise attempt between congressional leaders and his own Director of National Intelligence earlier this week. That speaks volumes.

Why the rush? It turns out (and I know that this will shock and surprise you) that the answer has less to do with national security concerns and more due to administration concerns over the legal ramifications of their criminality. Via the Anonymous Liberal, new reports reveal-
The order by a judge on the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court has never been publicly acknowledged by administration officials—and the details of it (including the identity of the judge who wrote it) remain highly classified. But the judge, in an order several months ago, apparently concluded that the administration had overstepped its legal authorities in conducting warrantless eavesdropping even under the scaled-back surveillance program that the White House first agreed to permit the FISA court to review earlier this year, said one lawyer who has been briefed on the order but who asked not to be publicly identified because of its sensitivity.

[Scooby-Doo] Ruh-roh! [/Scooby-Doo]

So, I think we have our answer... a judge on the FISA court itself (as on par with similar rulings from lower courts) had ruled the program was a legal sinkhole, and now the administration needed Congress to give their actions a retroactive rubber-stamp to keep them in the clear.

This is basically a repeat of what happened last Fall, after the Supreme Court ruled against the President's kangaroo courts down in Guantanamo Bay and after his torture program was likewise coming under legal scrutiny. Bush's solution? Get Congress to pass something called the Military Commissions Act, which made me all these things legal after all. Good times!

Would Congress fall for the same trick twice? They apparently just did.

Chatty Neocons

Because I love to share the laughter, here's links to Daily Show video of their segments on Rumsfeld's testimony on the Tillman death coverup, as well as Cheney's interview on Larry King. Enjoy.