Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sen. Clinton Panders on Gas Tax / Obama Keeps It Honest

I'm getting ready to leave work in a few minutes, so I don't have as much time as I wanted to rant on this topic, but since Hillary Clinton continues to campaign like a conservative Republican ("gas tax relief", "obliterate Iran", "liberal elites", etc etc), I will continue to tear her down here. I understand the instinct among many to attempt to defend her (because we're all still up against the GOP noise machine that worked to destroy her in the '90s), but really folks, she doesn't deserve it anymore.

At this point, the big difference in terms of campaigning between her and Sen. McCain is that McCain is a man who lacks substantive policy intelligence proudly running as a panderer, whereas Clinton actually has intelligence buried underneath that ruthlessness but is running a pandering idiot anyway. And the one candidate actually running an honest campaign is getting shit on for not playing this game. This country often gets what it deserves in terms of leadership. End rant.

(PS- I ranted about this voodoo economics proposal two weeks ago when McCain first brought it up. For reference.)

But What About November?

It seems ridiculous to try and analyze this stuff in April given how fickle voters can be, but for what it's worth, TPM's Josh Marshall looks at not only where Democrats stand now, but how they'll (theoretically) stand against John McCain in the Fall-

Interestingly enough, how they perform in the electoral map seems a reflection of the way they want to be seen in general... Hillary Clinton gives you what you know, and performs the tasks required competently. Barack Obama is a map-changer, and does the job with a different mindset than his predecessors. I believe we need the latter more, but I'm not a superdelegate, so what does it matter?

[NY Times: Assessing Strength of Contenders in Swing States

UPDATE: Here's a handy chart showing where the delegate math stands right now.]

Weekend Odds and Ends

Going to see 'Harold and Kumar' (something about White Castle at Gitmo). Here's news...

President Bush says those election year bribes stimulus checks will be going out soon, saving the economy once and for all. When's yours coming? The IRS website has a schedule up.

Meanwhile, John McCain is already spooked by that Democratic ad I posted the other day... and is flip-flopping on his earlier economic cheery talk. Asked if he believes Americans are better off than they were before the Bush presidency, McCain says now, "Oh, no. No." Oh no indeed, Senator.

NPR's 'This American Life' did a show entirely dedicated to stories on the Bush administration's radical theories of governmental power.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama will appear on Fox News tomorrow with Chris Wallace. A preview-

And the much-hyped Rev. Wright sat down this week for an interview with Bill Moyers.

Say it once, say it again: 'Experts say sex abstinence program doesn't work'.

And here's a depressing statistic and story: "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners."

In other news, U.S. lawmakers reach a deal on another shitty farm bill.

In international news, those protesting the upcoming Olympics in China have discovered a new avenue... taking on the event's sponsors.

Finally, the Bush administration was making a big deal this week by showing Congress secret evidence that North Korea was helping to provide Syria with nuclear assistance. It would really help, of course, if their case on these things didn't fall apart upon inspection.

Yes, We're Hoarding/Rationing Food Now

During WWII, which came on the heels of a terrible depression, Americans were asked by their government to conserve and ration food to help with the war effort. They would go on to be called the Greatest Generation by a bunch of people who'd today rather eat a turd than emulate their sacrifices in any form. Now, reality is forcing our hand (involuntarily) again to scale back. Call us the Totally Fucked Generation.

From Reuters-
Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Sam's Club warehouse division said on Wednesday it is limiting sales of several types of rice, the latest sign that fears of a rice shortage are rippling around the world...

...U.S. rice futures hitting an all-time high Wednesday on worries about supply shortages...

...With prices for basic food items surging, customers have been going to the clubs to try to save money on bulk sizes of everything from pasta to cooking oil and rice.

The article continues with the global implications-
Food costs have soared worldwide, spurred by increased demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation.

The situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.

Rice prices have risen 68 percent since the start of 2008.

Balloon Juice's Tim F has a great post up exploring the many complex reasons that all of this is happening... climate change, price of fuel, greater demand due to increasing populations, less resources, etc. Worth reading.

Seriously, is there any part of the shit that hasn't hit the fan in the last few years? Not that any of this means that our leaders should do anything of substance about all this. I'm sure we can afford another decade or so of debate.

[The Economist: The silent tsunami-- Food prices are causing misery and strife around the world. Radical solutions are needed]

Friday, April 25, 2008

America's Super Serious Foreign Policy

Can I have two quotes of the day? Sure, why not, I'll do what I please!

Earlier today, Johnny The Maverick said this: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. So apparently has Danny Ortega and several others. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare."

This represents another example in which his foreign policy philosophy matches that of George "We can't ever leave Iraq because it'll make us look bad!" Bush. Matthew Yglesias writes of this insanity-
"As well as being kind of scumbaggy, this way of looking at the world reveals a seriously flawed foreign policy outlook. Consider Saddam Hussein. He's a bad dude. And which American president is his worst nightmare? Well, it's George W. Bush. Thanks to Bush, Saddam got booted from power and killed. Compared to George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Dubya was a disaster for Saddam. But of course Dubya's Iraq policy has also been a disaster for the United States of America, whereas Clinton and Papa Bush ran policies that made us better off. International politics shouldn't be conceived of as some nutty zero-sum race to the bottom where our goal is to make Hamas cry -- the question is who are we trying to help and do we have ways to do it. Probably the worst thing that could happen to Hamas would be for it to be supplanted by some more radical group like al-Qaeda. But that wouldn't help Israel or the United States, any more than getting into a self-destructive conflict with Iran is a good idea just because it might make some bad Iranians suffer."

What he said.

His comments on this post are also pretty good, especially the first one on the origins of Hamas and another one which reminds folks about this little inconvenient truth. Ahem.

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

Quote of the day from Andrew Sullivan, who nails our self-justifying 'policy' in Iraq-
"I don't know what to make of all this [intra-Iraqi] maneuvring, but it does seem to me to reveal the increasing paradoxes of the war we are fighting. George W. Bush's major ally in Iraq is now a favorite of Tehran. Go figure. The defeat of the Sadrist forces could well mean an Ahmadinejad-Maliki axis over a large swathe of Iraq, a state of affairs we will have asked young Americans to risk their lives for. And now you see signs from Rice that U.S. policy is to back the Sunni powers against Iran. Whatever else this war started as, it is now something utterly different. And, at this point, it is increasingly hard to understand what exactly it is designed to achieve."

The purpose of staying in Iraq is to stay in Iraq. Period. Anything less would be an admission of defeat and, as we were told in Vietnam and are being told about Iraq now, it is worth any price in terms of lives, cost, national security, and international credibility to prevent such shame. That's all this has been about for some time. And that is why we must stay in Iraq forever.

(Seriously, though, is it November yet?)

The Pentagon's Media Trojan Horse

The NY Times had a major bombshell on Sunday, which the media at large is understandably too embarrassed to investigate further. The media's complicity in helping to sell the Iraq war-- on which there are already many great documentaries and books-- has already been widely discussed, but it is treated as a thing of the past.

But as their continued use of so-called 'military experts' shows, it's really not-
...Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.... put together this video to illustrate some quick examples of how this works...

Like I said, this should be a major scandal, complete with serious congressional hearings. But it won't be. It will just become another piece of evidence of a) the Bush administration's lies on Iraq, and b) their corruption of the media, which will all fade into the background very soon. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was supposed to be a moment of truth for the U.S. media, in which they decided to make up for their earlier abdication of journalistic duties in uncovering the truth, but that moment of truth lasted about two weeks, and then everyone got bored again. I've met toddlers with better attention spans than most of today's TV news folk.

File this story in with the Downing Street Memos under smoking guns that will never be properly held up to scrutiny.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Democrats vs. McCain: It's The Recession, Stupid!

The Washington Post had an article about John McCain's famous temper earlier this week, but I'm hardly convinced that anyone is going to vote for or against him because he once shoved Sen. Grassley. While I remain convinced that his biggest vulnerability is foreign policy-- he sees this as his strength, but every time he discusses it, he proves his ignorance on the topic-- the Democratic party seems to be betting on the craptastic economy to sink ol' Maverick McGee. Here is the first general election ad they are running-

This is, in my opinion, a good and simple ad. So why do I not think this is enough to defeat McCain? Because polls show that while the bad economy is the number one concern for most voters, it's not really having an effect on who they vote for. Huzzah.

The thing about undecided voters is that they are completely irrational decision-makers. No one likes to say that, but it's true. One would hope that conditions would smack some rationality into them, but this victory in November remains something which shouldn't be taken for granted. Democrats will have to work for it.

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

For President Bush, loyalty is everything. No one has learned this lesson better than the military brass. Just ask Adm. William Fallon, the former head of U.S. Central Command, who resigned was fired after making some public statements indicating his disagreement with the Bush policy in regards to Iraq and Iran.

His replacement? None other than Gen. David Petraeus, who will be able to bring the same brilliant leadership that gave us the clusterfuck marketed as 'the surge' to U.S. foreign policy all over the Middle East. On the plus side, Petraeus will be answering to a new President in 9 months, one who will (hopefully) not share his views on an unending occupation strategy.

[AP: Petraeus promotion keeps nation on its war course]

Hillary Clinton Masters Calvinball

Jon Stewart has a great summary of the Clintons' ever-changing primary season goal-posts...

[Washington Post: Continuing Battle Divides Democrats]

Odds and Ends

I told the world to stop moving while I was away. It didn't listen. Here's the news...

Rupert Murdoch decides two NY-based newspapers wasn't enough... goes for a third.

Senate Republicans plan to happily kill an equal-pay bill.

President Bush has unveiled his latest figleaf climate change 'plan', which is being widely heralded by... the type of conservatives who don't believe in climate change anyway. Others like Gov. Schwarzenegger blast it, saying "I think it is somewhat irresponsible." To say the least.

More of the Bush administration in action: "The government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted 'virtual fence' on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said."

Congratulations to the '24' creators for giving torture defenders some porn to justify it..

Supporting the troops, part 10,363: "The Veterans Administration has lied about the number of veterans who've attempted suicide, a senator charged Wednesday, citing internal e-mails that put the number at 12,000 a year when the department was publicly saying it was fewer than 800."

Oh, and fighting to kill the new GI Bill? That's part 10,364.

Jimmy Carter: 'Hamas told me they'll be nice from now on!' / Bush administration: 'STFU'.

As part of her continuing quest to out-McCain McCain, Sen. Clinton is now threatening to nuke Iran if they look at us wrong. Or something. Seriously, this woman is bad news.

Finally, Clinton advisor Terry McAuliffe's praise for Fox News becomes their new promo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pennsylvania Post-Mortem

Well, I am back. The 5 days or so away from internet politics was amazingly refreshing, it made me envy the majority of Americans who simply just ignore all this crap. I went to the NY Comic Con, met a cute guy (wish me luck), and even got to enjoy the sunshine this afternoon. I should do this more often.

Anyway, I will be back to blogging over the next few days. One event I (fortunately) missed was the Pennsylvania primary, which Sen. Clinton won by about 9 points as was expected. And so this race drags on some more (as was expected). Here are a few articles that look at where things stand after all of this.

Salon: Obama can't close the deal--
Clinton notches another do-or-die big-state win in Pennsylvania. Which is more troubling for Democrats -- her scorched-earth tactics or Obama's failure to build on his base?

AP: Clinton's win still leaves her the underdog

The Atlantic (Megan McArdle): Why aren't the superdelegates committing?

The Carpetbagger Report: So, what’s next?