Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dear Mr. President

Whether their real motivations are electoral or principle, some Senators are taking a stand.

Not that the President cares what Congress thinks-- if Bush/Cheney do decide to pull the trigger on Iran, nothing short of an unlikely successful impeachment will stop him-- but it's nice to see them reasserting their constitutional role in the matters of war. Article I, Section 8 represent!

30 senators (yes, out of 100... *sigh*) have written a letter to President Bush on this issue-
"We are writing to express serious concerns with the provocative statements and actions stemming from your administration with respect to possible U.S. military action in Iran. These comments are counterproductive and undermine efforts to resolve tensions with Iran through diplomacy.

This includes the Senate vote on September 26, 2007 on an amendment to the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. This amendment, expressing the sense of the Senate on Iran, and the recent designation of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, should in no way be interpreted as a predicate for the use of military force in Iran.

We stand ready to work with your administration to address the challenges presented by Iran in a manner that safeguards our security interests and promotes a regional diplomatic solution, but we wish to emphasize that offensive military action should not be taken against Iran without the express consent of Congress."

It was signed by Senators Webb (its creator), Akaka, Baucus, Boxer, Brown, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Casey, Clinton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feinstein, Harkin, Johnson, Kerry, Klobuchar, Kohl, Leahy, McCaskill, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, Rockefeller, Sanders, Stabenow, Tester, Whitehouse, and Wyden.

Some Obama supporters are probably thinking 'hey, why didn't ol' Barry sign this?'. The official answer from his campaign is this statement: "It will take more than a letter to prevent this administration from... justify[ing] military action in Iran." Actions do speak louder than words. But while that is true, signing couldn't have hurt, no?

Here is what Sen. Obama is doing instead-
Democrat Barack Obama introduced a Senate resolution late Thursday that says President Bush does not have authority to use military force against Iran, the latest move in a debate with presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton about how to respond to that country's nuclear ambitions...

...His resolution says any offensive military action against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress, and seeks to clarify that nothing approved so far provides that authority...

Yea, good luck getting that past the Republicans and Lieberman.

Sen. Clinton responded by accusing him of 'playing politics'. {*rolls eyes*} United front please, donkeys. United front. You're trying to stop the President from playing 'third time's the charm' with Mideast war, not debating earmarks in a farm subsidy bill. Take it seriously.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan...

Our good friend in Pakistan suspends constitution, declares martial law. Cheney = jealous.

Reuters: Pakistan's Musharraf imposes emergency rule

More Odds and Ends

The Hollywood writers' strike means no Stewart or Colbert. Oh well. Here's the news-

The President's veto of the Water Resources Development Act is not getting press, but it should. The bill "funds water infrastructure projects around the nation [and] has won such widespread support in Congress because it would help with hurricane protection, flood mitigation and wetlands restoration." An override is likely.

This is brilliant... Sen. Biden explains the history of the Iraq war to some fourth graders.

Newly revealed memos remind us why Rummy needed to go: "In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid 'physical labor' and wrote of the need to 'keep elevating the threat,' 'link Iraq to Iran' and develop 'bumper sticker statements' to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war." Saddest part? All this advice is still the official strategy of the GOP leadership.

Meanwhile, 60 Minutes reveals the identity of Iraqi intel bamboozler 'Curveball'.

Any chance that Michael Mukasey's AG nomination was in jeopardy ended yesterday with pledges of support from Sens. Schumer and Feinstein. Maybe they were waterboarded.

Political video roundup! This new John Edwards ad hits the nail on the head where Hillary Clinton is concerned. And Sen. Obama tells her to drop the victim act. Obama also sat down for a great interview with Tavis Smiley.

The real story of Rudy Guiliani and the 9/11 tragedy is finally going to get the spotlight.

Finally-- and speaking of-- this week's episode of 'My Name Is Earl' was a must-watch. Taking place on July 4, 2002, it's a brilliant satire of that crazy post-9/11 summer.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Presidential Hissy Fits

I'm not as big a fan of Keith Olbermann as many liberals are (It's not personal... cable news in general is a disturbing mess to me). But this segment, on the way President Bush throws increasingly childish temper-tantrums (see this from Thursday, for example) to browbeat his critics, is excellent. It perfectly captures the 'I want to "compromise" by forcing my opponents to do whatever I say' mentality that guides the GOP leadership.

Truly embarrassing for our nation. Can you imagine Bill Clinton speaking like this? Or even Bush's own father? Etc.

Ultimately, though, this has been a consistent strategy because it works... particularly using the troops as an emotional cudgel. That's the big guns. If it wasn't so effective at cowing so many Democrats, I could write it off as more random petulance from The Decider.

Yes, the President is an immature egomaniac; that's not changing. What should change, and what we really need, is for Democrats to-- as John Edwards says-- "show a little backbone, to have a little guts". Polls show the lack of that is what's dragging down congressional approval ratings (to ram the point home, more Republicans approve of Congress right now than Democrats).

They stood up last year and they won that fight. Why are they re-afraid now?

Some Iraq Areas Now Free From Violence, Human Life

Here's a shocker... in turns out that when neighborhoods are ethnically cleansed and/or deserted, that violence will be reduced there (along with everything else- people, resources, etc). Victory is certainly just around that corner for sure now.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Odds and Ends

I have returned from my (brief) stay in LA. NYC is much better. Here's the news...

President Bush's old Texas friend Karen Hughes has left her State Department position of, well, basically trying to make people around the world like us. TPM Media looks at what a heckuva job she did in this capacity.

Michael Mukasey's nomination is likely not in jeopardy (all the Republicans and many Democrats still like him), but his confirmation will not be the cakewalk he expected. And just because he's already loyal enough of a Bushie to pretend to not know waterboarding is torture!

The Telegraph ranks the top 100 most influential U.S. conservatives and liberals.

Frivolous lawsuits do piss me off, but you know what... I'm okay with this one: "A Baltimore federal jury awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq, deciding that the family's privacy had been invaded by a Kansas church whose members waved anti-gay signs at the funeral."

Neocon Norman Podhoretz has a disturbing debate on Iran with Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria.

It turns out the majority of Americans (minus the usual 30%) are much more pragmatic about sex than the moralizers want to believe: "People decisively favor letting their public schools provide birth control to students... Sixty-seven percent support giving contraceptives to students, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. About as many - 62 percent - said they believe providing birth control reduces the number of teenage pregnancies."

Finally, Drew Carey speaks out against dumb government bans on medical marijuana.

Stephen Colbert: A Candidate Without A Ballot

The truthiness-inspired candidacy of Stephen Colbert has come to an end.

He couldn't afford the $35,000 fee to get on the GOP ballot (party of the rich? omgz, no way!), so he sent in the $2,500 to get on the Democratic ballot instead. Looks like that check is probably being returned-
The South Carolina Democratic Party voted Thursday to keep comedian Stephen Colbert's name off the Democratic Primary ballot, according to Executive Director Joe Werner...

...Werner confirmed Thursday that viablity was the issue — because Colbert only sought to run in South Carolina and has essentially acknowledged his bid was a joke, the party could not deem him viable.

It was fun while it lasted. And now Mitt Romney is still the fakest candidate in the race.

We Want You (To Profit Off This War)!

I'm a big fan of old WWII propaganda posters, so this new Ruben Bolling cartoon amuses me-

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

[Related article... AFP: State Department under fire over reported Blackwater immunity]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

When Democrats Debate!

Missed last night's spooky debate? Detailed recaps- here and here. Video highlights- here.

Ohh Great Pumpkin, Where Are You?!!

In honor of this blog's namesake... Welcome, Great Pumpkin!

The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

[Sorry for the lack of blogging in the past day or so... I'm in LA on a trip (did you know they have a subway... it's true!). Regular blogging should resume on Thursday morning.]

Fearing Fear Itself

On a similar note from Bill Maher's new rules and my recent posts, Paul Krugman has a great column on 'Islamofascists' and the game of fearmongering the GOP has installed in place of a serious foreign policy.

That there's 14 months left of this is, indeed, the scariest thing imaginable this Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Republican Guard

As the war's stalwart defenders tell us for the 10,903th time that we've finally turned that corner in Iraq (and anything that goes wrong is your fault for stabbing them in the back), two disturbing events intersect behind the scenes.

Anyone still questioning the partisan politicization of the U.S. military under the Bush era (which culminated in September's Petraeus masturbation theatre) should look no further than a series of emails sent by Col. Steven A. Boylan-- the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. Petraeus-- to muckraking lawyer/journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald, who had been denied a Petraeus interview request this summer even as the General spoke to right-wing bloggers and spent the latter half of the summer giving guided tours of Baghdad to members of Congress, has been doing a serious of pieces for Salon on how top military officials are doing partisan dirty work for GOP outlets (ie. leaking documents to the likes of Matt Drudge and Michelle Malkin that had been denied to credible journalistic outlets). In response, Col. Boylan sent an unsolicited response to Greenwald, which seems to serve no other purpose than to belittle or intimidate him (in a followup response, Boylan is defensive and angry that the email was published, while giving an unbelievable denial of it). Though Boylan states that "I am not sending this as anyone's spokesperson," he cannot pretend his actions do not reflect back on his position.

Here are some choice excerpts-
"I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible...

...As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable... You may recall that a 30-minute interview was conducted with the program that you claim to be a contributor. So instead of doing the interview with you, we went with the real talent, Alan Colmes...

I invite you to come see for yourself and go anywhere in Iraq you want, go see what our forces are doing, go see what the other coalition forces are doing, go hang out with the reporters outside the International Zone since that is where they live and work and see for yourself what ground truth is so that you can be better informed. But that would take something you probably don't have."

Translation: 'You are a pussy and I hate you.' Such professionalism!

And, as Greenwald details in his post, the Colonel in his response does not deny the central points of his post(s). The military, long a prop in Bush administration photo-ops, is now being outright abused as a PR branch of the Republican party message.

And if that doesn't inspire confidence, then this definitely shouldn't-
Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial, ubiquitous Iraqi politician and one-time Bush administration favorite, has re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq .

His latest job: To press Iraq's central government to use early security gains from the surge to deliver better electricity, health, education and local security services to Baghdad neighborhoods. That's the next phase of the surge plan. Until now, the U.S. military, various militias, insurgents and some U.S. backed groups have provided those services without great success.

Ahmad Chalabi, for those not familiar with the name, is the infamous con-man and neocon ally whose lies were instrumental in the administration's case for war (funneling phony stories of weapons labs and WMDs to willing ears). Eventually he fell out of favor with the Bushies... but that was years after the war had started, after he'd served (corruptly) in the Iraqi government, attended the 2004 State of the Union address as Laura Bush's guest, and leaked U.S. state secrets to Iran. Good times!

(For a Chalabi overview, see this excerpt from Bill Moyers' "Buying the War" documentary.)

The fact that they are turning to him to help put Humpty Dumpty back together is a frightening thought. The devil you know, I guess. But not everyone is concerned about the reemergence of Chalabi in Iraq-
Chalabi "is an important part of the process," said Col. Steven Boylan , Petraeus' spokesman. "He has a lot of energy."

Ahhh, nice to see you again so soon, Colonel. We're full-circle now.

I'd love to be optimistic about Iraq. But that would require massive memory damage. Fortunately, I'm fine. Unfortunately, this war is not. It's still considered treasonous to say it.

At this point, simply calling this spade a spade may be enough to get my vote.


Since I'm off to LA for the day, I thought I'd post Jon Stewart's take on the SoCal fires-

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Nation of Moonbats

Look what you did Bushie... you turned America into a nation of moonbat socialists!!

A Bloomberg/LA Times poll on a variety of economic matters finds that-
Almost two-thirds of Americans say a recession is likely in the next year and a majority believes the economy is already faltering ... By 44 percent to 33 percent, Americans say Democrats would be better than Republicans at restarting growth should a recession occur.

A majority of Americans also say they would tolerate higher taxes to help pay for universal health care, an idea that all the leading Democratic hopefuls have championed. And about two in three say they haven't benefited from the tax cuts President George W. Bush pushed through Congress during his first term...

....By 52 percent to 36 percent, Americans favored health and education spending as a better economic stimulus than tax cuts.

Of course, the poll also shows Americans have little faith in the politicians (or at least the ones runnings thing now) to get us there. Good thing we all get to vote again next year.

Odds and Ends

Please 'Heroes', please be less comatose tonight. Thanks. Here's the news...

More of this from Sen. Obama: "Senator Barack Obama said he would start confronting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton more directly and forcefully, saying Friday that she had not been candid in describing her views on critical policy issues, as he tries to address mounting alarm among supporters that his lack of assertiveness so far has allowed her to dominate the presidential race."...

...And less of this bigot-pandering bullshit. None of this either, please.

Friends of Clarence Thomas on the criticism of his book... Waaaahhhh!

Yet another great article in Newsweek on the insanity that is the groundwork the Bush crew is laying for war against Iran. Michael Hirsh writes that "the administration is casting Iran as America's biggest bogeyman on every front" whether it's missile defense or Mideast peace. Meanwhile, TPM has a video roundup of this week's saber-rattling on the Sunday shows.

Accountability recognition! The FEMA official partly responsible for last week's fake 'press conference' was set to move on... as the new public affairs chief for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But that's been scrapped in light of the outcry over the incident. I'm sure he'll still fail upwards elsewhere.

AM NY takes a look at the overlooked aspects of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 initiative.

Finally, Bill Moyers Journal had a great discussion this weekend on presidential power.

Meanwhile, In The Rest of the World...

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

Canada: Harper to meet Dalai Lama over Chinese protests / France: Rights groups file French torture case vs Rumsfeld / Russia: Putin compares U.S. missile shield to Cuban crisis / Africa: A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut" / Africa: Darfur peace talks will continue, say UN and AU / Middle East: Israel cuts fuel shipments to Gaza in response to rockets / Turkey: Turkish forces clash with rebel Kurds / India: Gap pulls clothing after Indian child labour report / Myanmar: Myanmar junta denounces US as 'bully' / Afghanistan: US intensifies fight near Taliban-held town; talks under way to oust Arab fighters

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: New Rules - Halloween/Fear Edition

Bill Maher discusses the things that Americans are afraid of (there was a good discussion on fear v. freedom earlier in the show), and wants people to prioritize their irrational fear(s)-

Wanna watch the whole show?... It can be viewed here, here, here, here, here, and here.

"Muslims" Against "Sharia"

I posted a satirical take earlier this week on the first annual 'Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week', something fabricated by a fringe group of far-right demagogues looking for an excuse to pontificate on college campuses.

I received a comment from a group calling itself it 'Muslims Against Sharia' (they didn't care for the entry), and ended having a bit of a back and forth with them. My natural cynicism about these things led me to do a little digging into this group. My findings were quite revealing about the far-right and how they hide behind seemingly-respectable front groups to lend their insane views some sense of credibility.

Not sure all reading this are interested, so my findings can be read on my LJ community.