Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nevada / South Carolina Decide

There were three contests today, so let's try and put together who won what.

In Nevada, there were caucuses for both parties. Mitt Romney won, though that's likely because only he and Ron Paul actually spent any time campaigning in the state. And there is a large Mormon population there. Whatever the reason, one more in his column.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won. And she won dirty. There was of course all the race-baiting and smear campaigns against Obama... and tonight there were reports that Bill Clinton attempted to personally intimidate and sway some voters in Vegas. This truly is Rove-style campaigning and I'm disgusted to see it coming from not just a Democrat, but the former leader of the free world. Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan express concern.

Obama's consolation prize? Still appears to lead in delegates. But South Carolina is crucial.

Speaking of... South Carolina had their GOP primary today (the Democrats have a go at the state next Saturday). John McCain won a narrow victory over Mike Huckabee. This disappoints me because we really seem to defaulting to the two candidates from each party everyone just assumed for years would be the 2008 nominees. Can't we do better than this? (Romney still leads the R's in the delegate count, though)

MSNBC reminds me that MONSTER TUESDAY is coming in two weeks and it will be explosive.


This from Atrios (who has a PhD in economics)-
"John Hardwood said the proposed stimulus would involve checks cut to people and the checks would be a 'credit against the payroll tax.'

Wonder if he was being precise. If so, the money's coming out of those social security file cabinets instead of general revenue."

Remember in 2000 when Al Gore spoke of a "lockbox" to protect Social Security and everyone (including the pundits who now falsely hype a Social Security 'crisis') just laughed him off? Hahaha! Good times, good times.

U.S. Economy Has Shotgun Wound / Pres Bush Prepares Band-Aid

By now, you've heard of the stimulus plan from the Bush administration (apparently, everyone in Washington DC got together and decided that all the economy needed was a little stimulation). From the AP-
President Bush, acknowledging the risk of recession, embraced about $145 billion worth of tax relief Friday to give the economy a "shot in the arm. "

Bush said such a growth package must also include tax incentives for business investment and quick tax relief for individuals.

The big sell of this is plans for tax 'rebate' checks (advances?) which may be mailed out this summer. Speculation is that "taxpayers could get rebates of up to $800 if single, or $1,600 if married." What a brilliant, nuanced plan... throw more $$ the government can't afford at people and hope that they forget about the actual issues (home foreclosures, weak dollar, low job growth, etc) that have lead to an economic downturn.

Frankly, this is like something a child would think of. I envision this discussion-
Aide: "Mr. President, the economy is in big trouble, we need a nuanced, targeted, and aggressive fix to these problems!"

President Bush: "Give peoples some moneys. Then they be happy and buy a toy!"

I am reminded of a plan Senate Republicans floated in 2006 to give everyone $100 gas rebate checks as a way of buying off disgruntled voters solving the oil problem once and for all. Even conservatives told them to fuck off. Anyone want to guess how this similar proposal to a more complicated problem(s) will be received?

Via Yahoo Finance, here's the stocks greeted this news yesterday-


(Over in Asia, they received the news with the exact opposite reaction.)

And while the President is planning just to cut everyone a check and call it a day, Congress is thinking bigger-
While Bush focused solely on taxes, Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have been working on a broader package that also would include a temporary increase in food stamps and an extension of and perhaps increase in unemployment benefits.

Still, there have been rumors that Republicans will hold any package hostage unless Democrats agree to make permanent the Bush tax cuts. Some are now saying the GOP will back off on this for pragmatic reasons, but I am not so delusional.

Personally, I would decline an $800 check in exchange for a smarter President.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And One More Thing...

In that National Review posting I referenced before, Freddoso concludes with the following warning about the liberal fascists coming to destroy your economy-
This is part of the "new direction" for America. Inflate of the price of cars, fuel, and food. Justify it by scaring people with hyperbolic, doomsday predictions about unknown (and mostly unknowable) future effects of global warming. Throw in the doubtful proposition that incremental steps like this can do anything to stop global warming, and you might fool some people into thinking that it's worth accepting an economy they can't afford to live in.

A beautiful strawman; I won't waste time knocking it down. Instead, I offer this revision-
This is part of the "new direction" for America. Inflate the threat of terrorism. Justify it by scaring people with hyperbolic, doomsday predictions about mushroom clouds and (and mostly unknowable) possible future attacks. Throw in the doubtful proposition that undemocratic steps like sidestepping the courts or Congress, secret prisons, torture, and preemptive wars can do anything to stop potential threats, and you might fool some people into thinking that it's worth sacrificing their liberties and freedoms for.

I can only imagine Mr. Freddoso's outrage at a party that behaved like that.

First, The Liberals Came For Our Cars...

With the Michigan primary earlier this week, there was a renewed focus on the auto industry, the economy, and the effects that the two have on each other. I had bookmarked this post by National Review's David Freddoso and forgot to blog about it at the time. He passes along a (rich) GM executive's warning that "the new fuel efficiency requirements imposed by Congress last month would add $6,000 to the price of an average GM vehicle by the end of the next decade..."

Foreseeing ravenous auto-loan dealers and used car salesman resulting from this horror (coming to eat Little Red Riding Hood with their fangs), he rants-
"It's not enough to thank Democrats in Congress, who wrote and passed that ludicrous energy bill — after all, what about the President who signed it? But still, remember this next time you hear a Democratic politician complaining about middle-class families that can barely scrape by — about the single mother who can't make it in this economy. Next time Hillary Clinton brings her up, I also want to hear why that single mother is now less important than a possibly-at-risk polar bear."

He refers, of course, to the energy bill that Democrats watered-down to be the liking of conservatives (taking out a provision removing oil industry tax breaks in order to pay for alternative energy, allowing the CAFE standards to be phased in through 2020, etc). And even then, after all the Democrats' compromise, it was still too horrific for conservatives.

It's always amazing how anytime any politician proposes an even remotely progressive economic policy, conservatives insist that it will destroy the economy (ie. raising the minimum wage... or raising CAFE standards for the first time since the Bee Gees were the hottest band in America). Nevermind that it's been their brilliant economic advice and policies that have us on the verge of a recession (again).

Yes, we cannot know whether these initiatives will have the desired results we need, but the status quo is more unacceptable than the unknown. And historically, these efforts are minimal at best. And, ummm, won't more efficient cars actually save families $$ in the long run?

As for the scare-tactics of the auto industry, I like what Chris at Americablog says-
"Did you know that the new environmental regulations will cost Detroit $85 billion and they're going to make you pay for all of it? Wow, I'm shaking in my boots. So instead of gradually moving in this direction decades ago when foreign car makers decided the long term future was not gas guzzlers, Detroit used political muscle with goons like Congressman Dingell to delay the inevitable making it much more expensive for Big Auto. Let's all feel sorry for the management in Detroit that made these idiotic decisions, shall we? You know, the people who has dragged the industry down and fired tens of thousands of workers...

...They made their bed, now they can go sleep in it."

But then again, I'm just some public transportation-taking idiot. What do I know?

Weekend Odds and Ends

Spoiler alert-- I heard the 'Cloverfield' monster is a liberal fascist. Here's the news...

Deregulation = delicious! WaPo: "A long-awaited final report from the Food and Drug Administration concludes that foods from healthy cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as those from ordinary animals, effectively removing the last U.S. regulatory barrier to the marketing of meat and milk from cloned cattle, pigs and goats."

As some seek a special counsel, has the CIA found a fall-guy in the destroyed tapes case?

Congress has just passed a new mine safety bill, which builds upon one passed in 2006. The President says he will veto it, because he feels that the old bill was good enough for him.

Watch Chris Matthews have a semi-meltdown on 'Hardball' on Thursday evening.

News from the Middle East... If I am reading this report correctly, it implies the September Petraeus report was faulty and misleading. OMGZ! Must be MoveOn's fault. Meanwhile, Sec. Gates continues to get pissy with NATO over Afghanistan. The IPS news service has an analysis of how the official story of the Straits of Hormuz incident unraveled. And President Bush's talk of freedom and democracy in the Middle East... empty? Blasphemy!

Finally, with the GOP South Carolina primary tomorrow, McCain is proposing-- get this!-- more tax cuts for corporate business. Huckabee wants to let his invisible friend God rewrite the Constitution. And the Onion News Network looks at the disgusting allegations that Mitt Romney may have once been tolerant of homosexuals.

Recommended Reading

Worried about the economy? Here's a good article on the events of this past week-

Salon: How Wall Street broke the free market--
When the likes of Kuwait and China are bailing out Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, capitalism as we know it has a problem

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Liberal Fascism (Continued...)

I had been planning to write about that book today anyway, and got a treat as Jonah Goldberg showed up as the guest on A Daily Show last night (video- here). The actual interview apparently went on for 18 minutes, though it had to edited down-- and noticeably so-- to 6 minutes for TV purposes.

I already hammered Goldberg enough, so just one more point about the way that movement conservatives think.

In the interview, when asked for an example of modern liberal fascism, Goldberg discusses Hillary Clinton's 1996 book, "It Takes a Village", in which she suggested the airing of public service messages offering advice on how to take care of ones children. This is, of course, the same man who lamented that foiled terror attacks prevent new draconian security policies and prayed for a Pinochet-like figure to come along and smash the Iraqis into submission... And other Bush-era insanity like that. That tells all you need to know about his worldview and how serious his concerns over "fascism" are.

I know his National Review colleagues are upset there's no way to see the full interview, but I seriously doubt that there's anything of redeeming value in the full 18 minutes.

[PS- He also says the New Republic magazine was "openly pro-Mussolini in the 1920s", but perhaps Mr. Goldberg should take a look at what his own National Review was supporting as late as the 1970s. Not pretty.]

Liberal Fascism: From The Minimum Wage To Organic Baby Carrots

The National Review's editor-at-large, Jonah Goldberg, is in the midst of a promotional whirlwind for his satirical masterpiece, 'Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning' (which I discussed previously- here). The National Review even just added a specific Liberal Fascism blog for Mr. Goldberg. Eat your heart out, Madame Coulter!


Salon's Alex Koppleman did an in-depth interview with Goldberg earlier this month about the book. There's some many wonderful nuggets in here, I don't know where to begin. Let's start at the beginning-
What's the book about?

It's a revisionist history.

Well, at least he's honest. Continue, please!
For 60 years most historians have been putting fascism on the right, or conservative, side of the political spectrum. What are you able to see that they weren't?

...To sort of start the story, the reason why we see fascism as a thing of the right is because fascism was originally a form of right-wing socialism. Mussolini was born a socialist, he died a socialist, he never abandoned his love of socialism, he was one of the most important socialist intellectuals in Europe and was one of the most important socialist activists in Italy, and the only reason he got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I...

Or maybe it's because he founded the Fascist Party. But again, continue...
Related to your definition, at least as I read the book, was something that's been controversial about it. Especially because of one of the earlier iterations of the subtitle, ["Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Hegel to Whole Foods"] there's a perception that your argument comes down to things like both Nazis and liberals being proponents of organic food. Is that how it works? Because the Nazis liked dogs and I like dogs, I'm a Nazi?

No, no. I mean, I try to reject that kind of thing ... I don't believe that liberals are Nazis; I believe that if Nazism came to the United States it is entirely possible that liberals would be at the forefront of the battle to stop it. [BLUEDUCK'S NOTE: Notice how he is unsure if us liberals would oppose Nazism if it came to America... but no, he's not comparing us to them at all!] So would conservatives. I'm not trying to do any argument ad Hitlerum in this book.

But what I am trying to do, at least in the chapter that you're talking about, is show how -- [take] Robert Proctor, who wrote an award-winning, widely esteemed book called "The Nazi War on Cancer." He points out that this organic food movement, the whole-grain bread operation, the war on cancer, the war on smoking, that these things were as fascist as death camps and yellow stars. They were as central to the ideology of Nazism as the extermination of the Jews.

Just sit on that one for a moment. Seriously. He tries to backpedal from this as soon as he said it, saying "that is not the same thing", even though he just implied that it is. This is a truly awful man.

He then goes on some more on the evils of organic food, which he seems to believe some imaginary dictator is forcing on him (paging Dr. Freud, clearly this is a man whose mom forced vegetables on him at supper, and he has issues about it), stating "you have people saying that you can't smoke in your own home or that you can't eat certain foods". He does, however, concede that not all laws and edicts are evil. "The autobahn was fascistic -- that doesn't mean that we should ban highways," he says. Phew!

Want more? No? Well, here it comes anyway-
I mentioned seat-belt laws, which are really aimed at the individual who's supposed to be wearing the seat belt. And on the right, there's the Terri Schiavo debate.

Yeah. Well, but the Terri Schiavo debate is an interesting example. The Nazis were grotesque euthanizers. Long before they went to the Jews they started exterminating the mentally ill, the enfeebled, what they called "useless bread gobblers," people who couldn't contribute to the society. And there are all sorts of criticisms that I think are legitimate that you can aim at pro-lifers, but you can not argue that pro-lifers are somehow Nazi-like in their support of the pro-life cause, because it is exactly contrary to the way the Nazis operated to believe that every life is sacred.

Get that? The people-- those darn activist judges, 85%+ of Americans-- who supported Michael Schiavo's personal decision to remove his wife's feeding tube were grotesque Nazi euthanizers. But he's not calling people Nazis, why do you keep saying that?!??

You write about militarism being central to fascism, and a militaristic strain remaining in today's liberalism -- the war on cancer, the war on drugs, the War on Poverty. [BLUEDUCK'S NOTE: Don't forget The War on Terror] Why include the war on drugs formulation with liberalism? It was Richard Nixon who declared it, then it withered under Jimmy Carter and then Ronald Reagan really brought it back and was the drug warrior.

I think that's probably a fair criticism. But I should start at the beginning ... What appealed to the Progressives about militarism was what William James calls this moral equivalent of war ... They're not the ones who want to go to war all that much. But they're still deeply enamored with this concept of the moral equivalent of war, that we should unite around common purposes. Listen to the rhetoric of Barack Obama, it's all about unity, unity, unity, that we have to move beyond our particular differences and unite around common things, all of that kind of stuff. That remains at the heart of American liberalism, and that's what I'm getting at.

Barack Obama's calls for unity are equivalent to the drug war? Brilliant. He continues-
As for the war on drugs part, I think you make a perfectly fine point, except I would argue that Nixon was not a particularly conservative guy. Measured by today's standards and today's issues, Nixon would be in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

Yes, but only because soulless goons like you dragged the GOP so far to the right since then.

Finally, he says to the book's critics-
And if you can't get past the cover and the title, then you're not a serious book reader and you're not really a serious person.

Yessir, if you're judging this book by its title, cover, and content, then you are not a serious person (unlike Jonah, who is very, very serious person). You may in fact be a Nazi. Not that he'd ever compare anyone to them. Duh.

Hello, I'm A Republican From The Government, and I'm Here To Help

Balloon Juice's Tim F has been following the saga of the construction of the massive U.S. embassy in Baghdad (a 104 acre, $600+ billion fortress), particularly what a mess it's been. In his latest such piece, he uses this mess as a metaphor for modern conservative governance-
"One would expect Republicans to take it worse than anybody that managers of the embassy project handed the project to a firm that never did embassy work before, mismanaged the proceedings and then buried evidence of major safety issues. They won’t, of course. A central theme of modern Republicanism is that appearing to do something is more important than doing it well. The mentality isn’t limited to the embassy, of course...

...Take abstinence only education. Studies have variously showed that it either doesn’t work or causes more underage sex than doing nothing, yet ordering teens to cross their legs until marriage remains a central point of the White House’s education agenda. The disparity between goals and results has gotten so stark that some states have given up federal funds so that they can implement sex ed programs that work. Hurricane FEMA. Setting aside programs that are meant to contradict their official purpose, which include mine safety, climate science and environmental protection, more often than not programs which Republicans want to work still collapse from miserable implementation.

Sure, as a guy who shares almost none of their agenda I won’t be supporting modern Republicanism any time soon. The billion dollar question is why anybody would."

Because liberals are evil, wanna tax you to death, and gay-marry terrorists. Next question.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jon and Fareed Discuss Geopolitics

On Monday night, Jon Stewart and Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria had another in a series of their great discussions on the state of the Middle East and the world at large.

And last night, Stewart talked with John Bolton (a good discussion, if overly polite).

Conspiracy Theory Rock

My friend Anthony sent me this video... it aired once on SNL in 1998, and was edited out of all future reruns. Apparently, NBC objected to it. Can't imagine why.

Michigan Decides / What Now?

Yesterday was the Michigan primary, where the big story was the win of Mitt Romney (his first since the Wyoming caucus which no one seems to count). Andrew Sullivan has some quick reactions, most of which just acknowledge what a long primary season this will be.

From what I saw of the campaign, Romney seemed to win over voters by playing the populist, by discussing the legendary economic woes of Michigan (oh noes, class warfare!). The Republicans are very concerned about the economy in theory. But seriously, all is well!

(Spending more than the others combined on TV ads probably bought him some votes too)

The Democratic side of this primary was a much bigger mess. In a decision I think was petty, the DNC had stripped Michigan of its delegates-- Florida too-- for moving up their dates in the primary calendar. Obama and Edwards removed their names from the ballot in solidarity with this, but Clinton did not. And so Hillary won this state by default with a decisive win over "Uncommitted". Except that she gets no delegates... Or does she? Like I said, a mess.

Since they were ignoring this state tonight, Democrats instead held a debate in Las Vegas, in anticipation of Saturday's Nevada caucus. I thought that, despite really awful moderating from Tim Russert, the three candidates actually had substantive discussions on the economy, Iraq, etc. Look for clips on YouTube in the morning. Wrapups/Video- here and here.

Finally, MSNBC did a commercial for their upcoming coverage of the February 5 primaries (starting at 5am?). There was a huge graphic that said 'MONSTER TUESDAY' and an explosion and stuff. We take elections very seriously in this country.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

War Forever!

Supporters of the war have latched onto news of potential re-Baathification (see analysis- here and here) as a sign that political reconciliation is happening in Iraq. As usual, the devil is the details, and many experts of the situation there see numerous problems with the law. Decide for yourself at the links above.

Andrew Sullivan posted on this too earlier this week. After discussing this news, he takes a larger look at where we stand-
"Since the failure of nerve by the opposition last summer, the US has effectively decided to occupy Iraq for the rest of our lives. We had a choice: ten months or ten years, and by default we picked the latter - and, according to McCain, it's more like a hundred years. This is very hard to undo, given the quicksand of a Muslim country that requires you either get out quickly or settle in for a looong occupation. Whether the Iraq that emerges is a meaningful state, or whether it is an effectively dismembered hodge-podge of regions held together by US troops and local forces, becomes less relevant once you accept Bush's premise that the US has absorbed the area as a client state for the indefinite future. He has had five years to entrench this into the global order and American politics and, simply by not budging, he has changed the facts on the ground. Iraq, I suspect, is now America's for ever - something Iraqis will always resent but never be able to reverse.

Some withdrawal of troops may well be possible in the years ahead, if we're lucky...

...Welcome to Empire: an endless, grueling slog in treacherous places where no one loves us, but which we cannot leave. Fewer casualties perhaps (and that, of course, is a wonderful thing); but more debt, more money, more treasure, more risk, more Muslim resentment and more blowback in the end. But marginally cheaper oil in the long run, perhaps. Lovely, isn't it?"

The depressing part? Read his post. He's actually optimistic about how things are going.

A Fair and Balanced Look At Sen. Obama

Hey, speaking of Sen. Obama... The gang at Fox Attacks has unveiled their latest video, looking at how Fox News has covered him. The first minute shows Bill O'Reilly's confrontation with an Obama staffer at a recent rally, but the rest is the good stuff. A compilation of insane Clinton coverage can't be far behind either.

God only knows why Democrats are unwilling to face these pantheons of journalism.

This is the newer video... they did a great one a year ago as well.

[PS- If you can believe it, the Fox Business Channel has not been a runaway hit.

Also from Sliming Obama: Dueling chain e-mails claim he's a radical Muslim or a 'racist' Christian. Both can't be right. We find both are false.]

The Dark Side of the Clintons

One big reason why I cannot support Sen. Clinton is that when it comes to campaigning, they love to take a page (several, really) out of the Rove/GOP playbook of dirty politics.

Page #1: Dog-whistle race-baiting (Paul Krugman discusses this strategy- here). There's been a pattern in the last few weeks of surrogates of the Clintons using coded language to attack Obama based on his race... including, but not limited to, the "imaginary hip black friend" remark, the "shuck and jive" comment, the Bob Kerrey stuff, etc.

The latest such incident involves Clinton ally, BET founder (and former Bush ally) Bob Johnson, who said, "To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved..." Winkwink!! Johnson was forced to backpedal, stating said his comments referred to Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago "and nothing else." To call this shameless would be an understatment.

Page #2: Smear campaign/Distorting your opponent's record. The Clinton campaign has gone after Obama with the full Rove, reminding voters that he's the dreaded L-word... a liberal. I'm reminded of, in 2004, when President Bush told voters that John Kerry was the biggest liberal in all the Senate. Democratic candidates shouldn't remind me of George W. Bush.

So Obama is a liberal... except when he isn't. The Clintons sent out a mailer in New Hampshire before the primary, claiming he is conservative on the abortion issue. Obama is "unwilling to take a stand on choice," it said. This, of course, is a lie. Obama has 100% ratings from both Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

Expect soon to hear how Obama was against the war... before he was against it.

Page #3: Voter supression. Just as the Supreme Court is discussing suppressive voter ID laws, a movement is underway to keep some Nevada residents from getting to this Saturday's caucus. The state teachers union, which is seen as loyal to Clinton, "filed a lawsuit late Friday that could make it harder for many members of the state’s huge hotel workers union to vote" by contesting a decision from last year creating at-large precincts inside nine Las Vegas resorts, closer to where many work. This is being seen as revenge for Obama getting the endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union. Sen. Clinton, of course, denies any involvement with this movement, but she doesn't seem to disagree with it.

Most people here want to get past the dirty politics of the Bush years. Electing Sen. Clinton seems a bad option in that regard.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Media Climate

Here's an interesting site... What Are They Waiting For? It looks at how the Sunday talk shows have ignored the climate change issue when interviewing presidential candidates.

Odds and Ends

These are all important stories and I wish I could write more, but this'll have to do...

There were protests across the world this past weekend to mark the 6th anniversary of Guantanamo (oh, what happy times we've shared!). These freedom-haters were joined in spirit by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs: "The chief of the U.S. military said he favors closing the prison here as soon as possible because he believes negative publicity worldwide about treatment of terrorist suspects has been 'pretty damaging' to the image of the United States." Of course, he says of the administration, "I'm not aware that there is any immediate consideration to closing Guantanamo Bay." Is it 2009 yet?

The costs of war take a deadly toll: "The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war."

Pakistan to U.S.: Please don't attack al Qaeda without our permission, k thnx.

It appears that Sen. Dodd's filibuster of the FISA revision (that would give retroactive immunity to the telecom companies) succeeded... Harry Reid, apparently, won't try to pass the new bill, but will just extend the temporary FISA revision passed last summer through mid-2009. If that's the case, then we stand a good chance of really fixing this mess after Bush leaves office.

Evolution is still a dirty word in many schools throughout the country.

The fallout from the subprime debacle now includes criminal investigations of banks.

Finally, tomorrow is the Michigan primary. Since the Democrats aren't participating, some grassroots Dem groups are encouraging voters to vote for Mitt Romney, because they wanna keep him in the race.

Bush in the Middle East

As all lame-duck Presidents do, President Bush seemed to convince himself that he will be the one who will bring peace to the Middle East (or perhaps this is case of an arsonist trying to put out his own fire). He had very strong words for both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his visit to the region last week.

But he hasn't stopped there; he's making his way to all the fun places!

Today, for instance, the President is visiting our ally, Saudi Arabia. Why? Well, knowing how flawless our record of funding and arming dubious regimes has been, there was this news: "The Bush administration will notify Congress on Monday of its intent to sell $20 billion in weapons, including precision-guided bombs, to Saudi Arabia, moving up the announcement to coincide with the president's arrival in Riyadh."

Concerned about this? Don't worry, the administration understands. They "plan to counterbalance the Saudi sale with $30 billion in military assistance to Israel — a more than 25 percent increase over the next 10 years." Oh well, now it's okay. My congressman (Rep. Weiner) and others plan to try and block the sale. But Bush is treating it like a done deal.

And another article notes that "President George W. Bush is unlikely to complain about oil prices near $100 per barrel when he meets with Saudi Arabia's king next week, even though prices have nearly doubled since the last time the two met in 2005." Well, of course not; a ho never talks back to her pimp.

Moving on to the Iranian issue, the overly-hyped Straits of Hormuz incident (prank?) seems to have re-emboldened the hawks... in talking to the Israelis, the President distanced himself from the recent NIE, even though at the time of its release they appeared to accept its reality. Suck on it, intelligence community!

And over in the United Arab Emirates, the President had nothing but praise.

As you can, peace in the Middle East is right around the corner. Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: "You Should Check Into Your Guy..."

I'm still ambivalent about the return of our favorite satirists, but they're managing great.

This past Tuesday, Jon took on former Bush speechwriter (and current Giuliani campaign advisor) David Frum. Watch as he takes Frum to task on how when Republicans are seeking votes, they run against the very platform that their party operates on.

Counting Delegates

As Markos of Daily Kos noted on Tuesday, us younger voters (is 28 young?) are seeing the first serious primary contest of our lifetimes. That means we'll be seeing discussions of aspects of presidential elections that seemed archaic in recent years.

The party's conventions this summer (which in recent years devolved in giant pep rallies) may even end up serving their original purpose... the final selection of the party nominee. I seriously doubt it'll come to that in either party-- despite GOP panic-- but it's interesting that it's an option. And so, counting delegates is actually important this time around.

So what's the delegate count now, with just a few (ideologically different) states down? It would appear that, on the Democratic side, Sen. Obama has a slight lead over Sen. Clinton. Likewise, the man still holding the lead in delegate #s on the GOP side is... Mike Huckabee (with Romney, not McCain, a close second). So he has a cushion to fall back while he retools his campaign. As does Obama. The bigger states are still to come, and I won't even hazard a guess on how they'll turn out.

Anyway, just a nerdy aspect of the campaign to keep an eye on as we move forward.