Saturday, August 25, 2007

Recommended Reading

A choice Salon piece on farm subsidies, organic food, and the environment-

Oil and food don't mix--

Congress just handed petroleum and chemical guzzling industrial farms five more years of wrong-headed subsidies, but chef Dan Barber says sustainable, organic food will yet prevail

7/7 Truth

NPR's "This American Life" had an interesting episode earlier this month, on becoming suddenly well-known. The second segment (start at about 9 minutes in) focused on Rachel North, a survivor of the July 2005 terrorist attacks in London.

It turns out that there are conspiracy theorists who believe that attack was a government lie (it's easy to have missed this, they haven't learned the fine art of blog and YouTube comment spamming... in the U.S. anyway). Ms. North became the subject of their attacks, and she discusses how she handled finding herself in the middle of all this.

The full segment is about 20 minutes. An interesting listen while surfing online.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weekend Odds and Ends

Bill Maher's HBO show returns tonight at 11 EST. Set your Tivo/DVRs...

A Republican scheme to get California's electoral votes split suffered a setback, when Gov. Schwarzenegger refused to endorse the proposal. He did, however, propose his own reforms for California's districts.

When Congress reconvenes, they will investigate just what's happening in America's mines.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, makes clear to reporters that his loyalties lie with America and its constitution the President who appointed him. Also, discussing all this is killing people, you jerks.

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article on the U.S.-Iran conflict, cutting through the propaganda. And Robert Greenwald presents the latest 'Fox Attacks' video on the issue.

Republicans hate contraception. Safe sex = bad, everyone!!

Finally, Ted Nugent is a fucking crazy person. Wow. Just wow, dude.

Going, Going... Gone!

With the talk of the Democrats being in trouble politically (more on that in a later entry), one thing must be mentioned in their favor... they're not running for the hills either.

Attorney General Gonzales' plot to (apparently) destroy the Justice Department continues apace. Wan J. Kim, the assistant A.G. in charge of the Department's civil rights division, is resigning. Nearly a dozen top Justice officials have also suddenly resigned in the last six months, including the Deputy Attorney General, Gonzales' chief of staff and White House liaison, and the voting rights section chief. It's this type of solid leadership that has met with the President's strong approval... heckuva job, everyone!

Over in Congress, Republican representatives (maybe even some Senators soon?) are announcing retirements left and right. Reps. LaHood, Pryce, and Pickering won't be seeking election. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert apparently will step down even before 2008. And now the latest, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), has declared his intention to leave after this term (leaving him, no doubt, more time to cooperate with the FBI in their investigation against him). Democrats gained an early advantage in 2006 due to all the Republicans-- Tom Delay, Bob Ney, Mark Foley-- resigning in disgrace. Looks like 2008 holds similar promise as well.

It would appear that the GOP is embracing a last-man-standing approach to 2008 victory.

[UPDATE (8/25): Rumor mill buzzes Gonzales may finally go... and replaced with Chertoff?!]

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

A new study reveals that U.S. media coverage of the Iraq war has dropped in recent months. Two main things seem to account for this. The first is the media is now obsessed with the 2008 election (you don't say!), and so the war has taken the back seat. The second is that with the President getting his way thus far, we are in a cold period of the war debate.

In the actual war itself (that pesky thing!), there's been no lull.

Meanwhile, Sen. Levin (D- MI) recently returned from the Iraq congressional dog-and-pony shows and is the latest to join the 'Let's Ditch Prime Minister al-Maliki and Replace Him With A New Puppet' Club. That worked in Vietnam, right?

And said Prime Minister says to his critics that, "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people."

Our President, though, merely said cryptically that replacing Maliki is "up to the Iraqis". Not exactly a strong vote of confidence in the government that thousands of soldiers have died to prop up, eh Mr. President? Why are we in Iraq again?

Finally, speaking of the soldiers, the AP reports that "the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring." It adds-
That presents the Pentagon with several painful choices if the U.S. wants to maintain higher troop levels beyond the spring of 2008:

-Using National Guard units on an accelerated schedule.

-Breaking the military's pledge to keep soldiers in Iraq for no longer than 15 months.

-Breaching a commitment to give soldiers a full year at home before sending them back to war.

For a war-fatigued nation and a Congress bent on bringing troops home, none of those is desirable.

And since when has that stopped them from abusing our soldiers and hiding behind them?

Let's recap... We are not militarily capable of continuing this war because the army has been so abused. We have spent 4.5 years, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars propping up a government we're now ready to abandon. The war's biggest supporters here are now trying to pretend they've actually been its critics all along. Its consequences are expanding more and more outward the longer it goes on.

It's over. Time to cut our losses and come home. This'll only get clearer the longer we stay.

[UPDATE: Sen. Warner (R-VA)'s declaration that he wants President Bush to begin withdrawing troops by Christmas is being taken very seriously as a news story. It shouldn't be. Sen. Warner is not saying he will change his votes on the war; he is not saying that Congress should and will force the President's hand. He's just asking Bush nicely to consider it. To call this weak tea would be an insult to weak tea. Next.]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

America To The Rescue?

Jon Stewart looks at our simple-mindedly backward foreign policy in recent decades-

Also on the show Rob Riggle reported from Iraq, and Jon talked with Barack Obama.

Odds and Ends

President Bush finally embraces the Vietnam analogy; naturally gets all of the lessons wrong.

Where do each of the leading Democratic presidential candidates stand on the war in Iraq? One site has created a handy chart. Worth checking out.

Meanwhile, more great economic news to read while eating your mac and cheese: "Americans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows."

And the Treasury Secretary says not to worry. It's all good.

A federal judge ruled the administration broke the law (no way!) by not producing a required report on global warming's impact. I'm sure they'll get right on it now.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, says it's discontinuing a program that spied on hippies and peace activists. They said that they checked your email and they're upset to read that you don't believe them.

The American Psychological Association are a bunch no-good terror-coddlers, ruling that "psychologists can no longer be associated with several interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism detainees at U.S. facilities because the methods are immoral, psychologically damaging and counterproductive in eliciting useful information."

Stopping prisoner abuse? Jeez, next thing you know Janeane Garofalo's gonna be on '24'.

Finally, Moose burps cause global warming; pigeons caused the Minnesota bridge collapse.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mr. Petraeus Goes To Washington

Guess what date Gen. Petraeus will be presenting his report the White House's report to Congress? I'll give you a hint... it's September 11.

Now that scheduling may indeed be a legitimate coincidence, but you're naive if you're not expecting the war's remaining defenders to wrap that date and the flag around the testimony to ensure that anyone who acknowledges what a farce the report is (and has already been revealed to be) is an unpatriotic terrorist-coddler. Let's see how it affects the spine of the Senators we're counting on to end Operation: Kick The Can Down The Road.

Ahhh, Memories...

Talking Points Memo has a highlight reel of administration officials testimony to Congress-

And in the latest chutzpah, Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department is "contending that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act." This is in response to investigations into 'missing' White House emails. Short of there being a John Dean in the Bush administration, we are never getting to the bottom of all this.

1994 Cheney Being Right = 2002/2003 Cheney Lied

Last week, I (and a zillion other blogs) posted a 1994 video of Dick Cheney presciently explaining why invading Iraq would be a disaster. Only three years later-- ie. well before 9/11-- his ties to neocon thinktanks showed he was changing his mind. Why?

Here is what a Cheney spokesperson said last week about this, before going for the 'no comment' close: "He was not Vice President at the time, it was after he was Secretary of Defense." Well, no shit Sherlock, but that doesn't address the issue.

Jon Stewart got it right (as usual, and how sad again that it has to be him) when he interviewed Dick Cheney's biographer last week. The significance of the video was it that showed that the Vice President who sold the war knew what all the risks and consequences were likely to be... except none of that was mentioned when they were selling the war in 2002 and 2003.

No one in the administration even hinted at the issues Cheney had acknowledged 8 years earlier. And, as Stewart also noted, they didn't even bother planning for them either.

It was all talk of cake walks, being greeted as liberators, a war that would pay for itself, and be over in in six weeks (tops!). And those who tried to warn at this time of what was going to happen (folks like Al Gore, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Lincoln Chafee, etc) were labeled as unpatriotic fools and traitors and terror-sympathizers. And even now, the war-defender stance is that no one could've known how this would turn out and hindsight is 20/20. But for many people who were (and still are) dismissed, foresight was 20/20.

The video goes to the heart of the deceit and lies with which they sold this war. It is no wonder that the Cheney people have no comment. If I'd lied my country into a disastrous war, I wouldn't want to discuss it either.

Meanwhile, In The Rest of the World...

Because there's crazy shit happening in the rest of the world too, here's a quick late-night roundup of significant news from other countries on this crazy old planet of ours...

Mexico: Hurricane Dean swirls over Gulf of Mexico / Venezuala: Venezuela Congress OKs Chavez's reforms / Russia: Russia steps up military expansion / France: France offers U.S. symbol with Iraq trip / Africa: UN reveals child death rate in Africa for innoculable diseases / Palestine: EU to resume Gaza fuel aid after days of blackouts / China: China cracking down on AIDS groups

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The title's an semi-obscure reference, but it's the first thing that came to mind when I read the latest on the President's continuing insistence that he will veto Congress' attempts to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Of course, at this point, it's not news when the President threatens to veto anything out of Congress... it's really news when/if he would just sign these bills that have popular support.

That news, however, is now coupled with this news-
The Bush administration, engaged in a battle with Congress over whether a popular children's health insurance program should be expanded, has announced new policies that will make it harder for states to insure all but the lowest-income children...

Stuff like this isn't surprising after all these years, but it remains frustrating.

The President signed every bill that came out of the GOP congress (with the one stem-cell exception), no matter how odious it was. And now he's in full-on stubborn mode, blocking almost everything the Democrats bring up. Is this because his rigid conservative ideology just meshed with all the crap from the last congress, but can't with these new legislative priorities? Or is he so bitterly partisan that the content of the bills matter less than which party proposed them? Personally, I believe it's 60% the latter, 40% the former.

Common political sense would say that a struggling lame-duck President who's seen all his domestic proposals crash and burn (privatizing social security, immigration reform) would re-embrace the center and try and craft out something legislatively he can claim as a legacy. But not The Decider. It's his way or the highway.

In regards to this particular issue, the official White House line is that the costs are just too high for the President to agree to. Yes, the same President who, with his GOP congress, achieved record levels of pork-barrel spending and deficits for the majority of his term. A real fiscal conservative! Not to mention, of course, all the billions (trillions?) poured into the quicksands of Iraq, because as blogger Jim Henley notes, the media and politicians view military spending as 'free' with no consequences in reality.

But that's the modern conservative mindset in a nutshell... they'll spend the country into bankruptcy fighting an endless war to protect their pride, but the health and prosperity of their own citizens should be left to the free market to decide. That's the mentality that has kids sucking on lead-painted toys. It's the mentality slowly destroying the Republican party's hold on American politics.

But don't tell President Bush that. He's not listening.

Why Didn't GOP Congress Issue Subpoenas To The Administration?

...Because Dick Cheney told them they couldn't. What a grand old party!

Meanwhile, Sen. Leahy held a press conference yesterday to tell the Bush administration that he was very cross with them for not meeting the deadline to hand over documents on the warrantless wiretapping program. And what is the Senator going to do about this? He's going to discuss it with other Committee members next month. You show the White House who's boss, Pat!

Seriously, guys, all these investigations have been illuminating and thorough. We appreciate that. But unless one of them is followed up with some kind of action, all you're doing is reconfirming for everyone what a bad administration this is. That's revelation, not accountability. Impeach the Attorney General. Hold some White House officials in contempt. Maybe even call up Sen. Feingold and ask him about his censure resolution. Anything to show that these actions have consequences.

Because the Bush administration spent their first 6 years believing that could get away with anything. Spoiler alert... they still do. And all the subpoenas in the world won't change that unless someone has the balls to rain down some justice on these folks.

This Is Really Getting Insane

NBC is reporting that Michigan wants to move its primary up to January 15, which could make New Hampshire and/or Iowa moves their primaries even earlier than that. 40 years ago, it was standard practice to not have the party nominees decided until June or July. With the current system, the candidates will be decided by late February. This is really silly.

Welcome to the era of the perpetual campaign. Let's see how this all affects turnout.

[PS- Democrats had their umpteenth primary debate on Sunday morning. I missed it again. A roundup is available- here. Video highlights are available- here.]

Monday, August 20, 2007

'Rove Turned Religion Into A Weapon Of Political Combat'

Bill Moyers gave his take on the legacy of Karl Rove this past Friday on PBS-

Odds and Ends

'Superbad' is super good. See it now! Until then, enjoy (?) this news roundup...

The military is processing so many injured soldiers right now, they've literally run out of Purple Hearts. This article tells the story of a 75-year-old vet who was forced to buy his own from a military surplus store. Our veterans sure do get treated swell by their government.

As if foreclosure didn't suck enough...some are getting taxed on their debt relief.

Another week, another revelation that Attorney General Gonzales perjured himself, this time over the 2004 visit to John Ashcroft's hospital room. 100 strikes and you're out?

Meanwhile, there is new concern over just how much spying power did Congress give the President in the 2007 Goodbye To Oversight bill. Congress, these are questions you ask before you pass the bill. Before.

And this from the Washington Post: "A secret U.S. intelligence court has ordered the Bush administration to register its views about a records request by the American Civil Liberties Union, which wants the court to release a series of pivotal orders issued earlier this year about the National Security Agency's wiretapping program." It's a good thing for Bush he doesn't give a shit what the courts say.

Moving on, is Michael Bloomberg really running for President? Dan Rather says no.

White House press secretary Tony Snow plans to leave soon, for financial reasons. After all, he only makes a mere $168,000/yr working for the White House. It turns out that Fox News pays much higher for lies than Bush.

Finally, the Daily Show features legimitately live reports from Iraq this week. Sweet.

Nothing To See Here, Move Along, Move Along...

AP: 'Arctic sea ice shrinks to record low'

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: Return of the Neocon

Bill Kristol, America's most ubiquitous warmonger, came again to chat with Jon Stewart-

All the latest pro-war talking points were there from Kristol... wait for Petraeus' 'non-partisan' report, insisting that the pro-war pundits who wrote a pro-surge column were previously war 'skeptics' when they never were, blaming 'defeatism' for the failures of their war, etc. And, as usual, Jon quietly knocked down each one. It's why he rules.

Gen. Petraeus' Super-Independent, Honest September Report

Glenn Greenwald wrote last month what I believe to be the definitive take on how seriously people should take Gen. Petraeus when he appears on Capitol Hill next month. His report, of course, is the one that breathless pundits have been assuring us for months will lead to congressional Republicans finally ditching President Bush on the war, and is why we all need(ed) to shut the fuck up until then. Greenwald's piece makes clear that Petraeus' track-record was never any better than anything else coming from the administration.

But now a nugget buried in an LA Times piece on the pending Petraeus report makes clear exactly why no one should take this seriously-
...Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.

The senior administration official said the process had created "uncomfortable positions" for the White House because of debates over what constitutes "satisfactory progress."...

Bold added by me, because duh. I guess we can just call it the White House report now.

With this revealed, it's no surprise the White House was trying to minimize the much-hyped Petraeus report. They are also now claiming that the report was never Petraeus's in the first place, but the record betrays this latest lie.

Will Congress, knowing this, fall for this kabuki? The answer is that it won't make a difference, with maybe a few exceptions. Everyone who already has abandoned the Bush policy will continue to push for withdrawal. Those who have voted with the White House line will continue to do so, cherry-picking what they need from the report to urge more eternal patience. No veto-proof majority gained, and the war continues into 2009.

At most, we'll get superficial troop cuts, likely just removing extras added this year.

It's depressing when you see a train-wreck coming and you can only stand by and watch.

Yahoo Loves The Environment, Celebrity Whores

I noticed yesterday that Yahoo had added two subsections. The first is Yahoo!Green, which features environmental news, tips, and features. The second is omg!Yahoo, which focuses on celebrity news and gossip.

It's nice to see Yahoo reaching out to environmentalists... and also the majority of Americans who just want to know if Jessica Alba got herpes or not.