Thursday, January 24, 2008

Community Rambling

Howdy all. Sorry for the lack of posting in the past few days. It's been a busy week (I'm going away to California for the weekend) and, frankly, I'm also a little burnt out on the primary right now. Let's face it, after 8 years of Bush politics, we all feel like our heads will explode now and then. I think I just need a few days to recharge my mental batteries. So I probably won't be posting again until Monday, though maybe I'll post something after the South Carolina primary on Saturday (assuming my hotel has wi-fi).

I leave you for now with A Daily Show segment from last night in which Jon Stewart looks at the very serious, in-depth economic reporting we get on cable news-

[Related reading: Tentative deal reached on tax rebates (AP)

UPDATE: This NY Times article's also recommended: Voters Show Darker Mood Than in 2000]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No-Shit Headline of the Day

AP: 'Study: False statements preceded war'

The study is available at The Center for Public Integrity website, who presents this chart-

But don't worry, that's the past. Everything they saying now about Iraq we can totally trust.

[Related reading: Surge to Nowhere-- Don't buy the hawks' hype. The war may be off the front pages, but Iraq is broken beyond repair, and we still own it.]

Congress: Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?

We've all been disappointed in the performance of Congress this past year, but two folks from the Brookings Institution had an op-ed in the NY Times last week looking on the bright side of our legislative branch entering 2008. They start-
AMID the clamor of the presidential campaign, it’s sometimes easy to forget that all 435 House seats and 35 of the Senate’s seats are up for election this year, too. So how should Congress under its new Democratic leadership be judged?

The public has reached a decidedly negative conclusion, based on Congress’s inability to force a change in policy on the Iraq war and the pitched partisan battles that characterized much of the year in Washington.

That sums up how many feel. But don't forget the bigger picture they continue-
But expectations for seismic change in policymaking after the 2006 midterm elections were almost certainly too high, given the deep ideological differences between the parties, the Democrats’ narrow majorities, the now-routine Senate filibusters and a Republican president determined to go his own way on Iraq, the budget and domestic policy...

...In terms of both the number and significance of new public laws, however, last year’s Democratic majority significantly outperformed that [1995] Republican Congress. Only one item described in the Republican Contract With America was signed into law at the end of 1995, while most of the proposals the Democrats announced as their agenda were enacted.

Democrats, to be sure, aimed lower in their specific legislative promises...

...The new Democratic Congress delivered on the promise of ethics and lobbying reform, and made considerable progress in reining in earmarks, which had exploded under the previous 12 years of mostly Republican rule. In fact, between the 2006 and 2008 fiscal years, the cost of appropriations earmarks appears to have dropped from $29 billion to $14.1 billion. Perhaps most important, Congress reasserted itself as a rightful check on the executive branch, significantly stepping up its oversight on a wide range of important subjects.

They also have a chart comparing the performances of four recent, key Congresses- here.

Don't worry. The upcoming FISA battle will give us reason to be pissed at Democrats again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Odds and Ends

We are now officially less than one year away from Bush leaving office. Here's the news...

If you ignore the huge market collapse (and low job growth, and weak dollar, and housing collapse, and etc etc), you fools would see how amazing the economy is and that it just needs some stimulating. Cheer up.

Fred Thompson drops out; GOP base to endorse Reagan's skeleton tomorrow.

And Michael Bloomberg seems closer to letting bored, unemployed DC consultants convince him to waste a billion dollars ruining the 2008 election.

And as works to mobilize progressives for the 2008 election, a new right-wing equivalent-- subtlely named "Freedom's March"-- is building its army.

No-shit headline of the day: 'Musharraf: Pakistan isn't hunting Osama'

This AP story sums up the silliness of the Bush war on terror: "Jose Padilla, an American once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb," was sentenced Tuesday to a relatively lenient 17-year prison term on unrelated terror support charges." America is safe once more!

Finally, today's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Never forget how hard this was fought.

Going To The Candidates Debate

So there was another debate last night, this one in South Carolina. As usual, the questions the CNN folk came up with were ridiculous and substance-free (as Newsweek's Jon Meacham said on A Daily Show last night, the media's real bias is toward conflict), but kudos to the candidates for having some good discussions anyway. Some early roundups- here and here. And some video highlights... first a clash on a variety of issues, then a debate on economic predators, and then on health-care.

Finally, Greg Saunders has thoughts on the Democratic primary that I largely agree with.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Fierce Urgency of Now

In honor of Dr. King, here's video of the full speech he gave in DC on August 28, 1963-

And here's audio of his speech in opposition to the Vietnam War, and his very last speech. Finally, Bill Moyers had an excellent report on the civil rights movement, and the roles that Dr. King and President Johnson played.

[AP: Popular view of King ignores complexity]

"And yet, if we are honest with ourselves..."

Martin Luther King Day is always a day for remarkable speeches by leading politicians (Al Gore gave a great one in 2006 on wiretapping and the Constitution), and with an election coming up, this year is no different.

Barack Obama gave a speech yesterday at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Georgia, where Dr. King had been a pastor. He speaks of the "moral deficit(s)" the country has, and of the "barriers to justice and equality" we must remove. The full speech can be read here (video- here), but this is the part that stood out to me most powerfully-
..."It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man...

...And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity...."

At the risk of sounding biased (again), I very much would like to have this man as our President. Yes, the 'change' stuff has become a punchline at this point, but the fact is that this country is in dire need of a strong progressive leader. I see Sen. Clinton as a competent executive, but not the agent of change she is marketing herself as. But marketing is what (sadly) matters in America, and she is winning that war. There are only a few weeks left to turn things around in primary season, and I will try to hold out hope that the Clintons' scorched-earth campaigning hasn't erased what people in Iowa saw nearly a month ago.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: How The Nation Was Led To War

With the Iraqi defense minister conceding that "his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq’s borders from external threat until at least 2018," it's obvious our Iraq adventure is far from over. So how'd we get here? Another look back at the big picture is warranted.

In a recent post at LJDemocrats, rivendweller alluded to the "false information" that the administration used to sell this war. A commenter asked for examples. I responded with Cliff Notes of the tale. If interested in this, you can read my (lengthy) responses... here.

And as a fairly decent summary, this Hardball segment from late 2005-

Remember that this was 2005. We're not discussing this history now. No one cares anymore.