Saturday, May 17, 2008

Join President McCain in Fantasy Land

One criticism that many conservatives-- including John McCain-- have leveled at Barack Obama is that he is offering a 'false hope' and that he is offering an overly rosy vision for America. Well holy fucking shit folks... check out McCain's new 2013 ad.

I'll take Sen. Obama's inspirational realism over that cartoon fantasy any day. He may play the 'hope' card like nobody's business, but at least he a) offers substantive details on what he plans to do (McCain, on the other hand, intends to accomplish his goals by sheer force of will), and b) doesn't believe himself to be some sort of magician. Fixing all of our problems is a long-term project, and I feel that Obama gets that.

Furthermore, what makes this 'fantasy land' to me more so than the usual campaign promises is that for any of this to be accomplished would require betraying the ideology that not only the GOP operates under, but also that McCain's entire campaign has been built on up to this point. It operates under a delusion that the free market will deal with the energy/climate crisis (regulation bad! government bad!), that merely his awe-inspiring presence in office will get the Iraqis and others in the Middle East to "stop the bullshit" as he once insisted so that we can begin our peaceful 100-year occupation, that he will 'strengthen the border' (how?), that he will fix the strawmen healthcare problem which he believes to be lack of 'choice', that he will save the economy from the damage done to it by the policies he's endorsed, and that he will do all of this while cutting down on what he perceives as 'wasteful spending'. All in his first term.

It should be remembered that George Bush ran in 2000 as a different kind of conservative too. That, umm, didn't turn out so hot.

[PS- Watch Straight Talk McCain flop around like a fish when questioned on this.]

Obama Blogging

Sen. Obama, campaigning in South Dakota yesterday, defended himself and took on President Bush and Sen. McCain in the foreign policy debate that has sprung up this week (video). "They’re trying to fool you. They’re trying to scare you. And they’re not telling you the truth [because] they can’t win a foreign policy debate on the merits," he said. "I want to be perfectly clear. If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate I am happy to have any time, any place. And it is a debate that I will win."

The Washington Independent also has an article entitled, 'The Party Leader: As Obama Edges Closer to the Nomination, Challenges as Top Democrat Await'. Interesting and quick read.

And Salon has a good piece looking at Obama's electoral college roadmap to victory in November. It's a nice look at their strategy, and at how the Obama camp aims to change the map. That in itself would be a big victory.

Finally, that darn liberal media recycles 2004 campaign gags... oMg Obama and Edwards is teh gay, lolz!

"Mr. President, The Cuddles Stop Here!"

Jon and Stephen nail the real problem behind McCain's climate change rhetoric...

Friday, May 16, 2008

President Bush <3 Media Consolidation

Veto talk this week is all about the farm bill (to the extent that's even discussed), but there's also a Senate vote against media consolidation facing Bush's veto. Worth watching.

John McCain Acknowledges Climate Change; Right-Wing Flips Out

John McCain chose this week to tackle the important issue of climate change, with a speech and a new TV ad. I think that while it's nice to see that he agrees on the seriousness of the problem, his proposed solutions are standard conservative fare (regulation = evil!, more nuclear power!).

Sen. Obama hit back, noting the hypocrisy of McCain's rhetoric versus his action. "It is truly breathtaking for John McCain to talk about combating climate change while voting against virtually every recent effort to actually invest in clean energy... In stark contrast, I've called for a national standard to ensure that we're using more renewable energy, an expansion of our green energy sector that would create millions of green jobs, and a bipartisan plan to double our fuel efficiency standards. That is why the American people will have a clear choice in November when I am the nominee - between a candidate who opposes real solutions to our energy crisis, and leadership that will solve it once and for all," he said.

But that is tiddlywinks compared to the vitriol McCain received from conservatives. By discussing the issue at all (ignoring, again, that his 'solutions' were all GOP-approved), he committed a major sin of base conservatism... thou shalt not acknowledge the reality of human-caused climate change.

Here's some of the reactions-

Corporate apologist extraordinare Larry Kudlow writes "I’ve got to bone up and really learn the details about all this. But I truly have to ask: Is this candle worth the game? O my gosh!" Michelle Malkin protege Allah Pundit opines, "Why on earth is he campaigning on this issue in the first place? His ad budget’s going to be tighter than Obama’s, needless to say, and this isn’t something voters care enough about vis-a-vis the economy and Iraq to warrant the expense. If anything, it’s going to lose him votes by alienating the base." World-renowned scientist Rush Limbaugh snarks "It doesn't matter who you vote for President. You're going to get a liberal Democratic approach to something that doesn't exist." The National Review's Roy Spencer calls McCain "Another Al Gore" (eek!). And his colleague Mark Levin huffs that "Do the McCain Team eco-friendly polo shirts carry the union label? They wouldn't want to leave out too many of the lib constituencies."

oMg climate change libs treehug algore lolz!!1!

Let's face it...the Fox News-ification of American political debate continues to ensure that we will never, ever solve this crisis. Because the minority on this issue is very good at attempting to blur the lines, and ensure that we'll be "debating" it forever, rather than working together to find common purpose and solutions.

Prove me wrong Earth, prove me wrong!

CA Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban; Society Doomed

I don't wear my gayness on my sleeve, but news like this out of California yesterday always brings a smile to my face. Yes, it's just one small victory (there's a ballot movement by CA conservatives to get gay marriage banned in the state constitution) on what will be a long road, but that's not insignificant. For the record, Gov. Schwarzenegger says he opposes the ballot measure, though he also in the past vetoed measures from the state legislature (you know, where conservatives say this stuff should be decided) to legalize gay marriage, so take that for what it's worth.

Here's some stories/reactions about all of this...

Glenn Greenwald: California's marriage ruling -- what it means and what it doesn't mean

Andrew Sullivan: Judicial "Activism"?

Dan Savage (Slog): California Gay Marriage Ruling

Now *THAT* Is Playing Hardball

Chris Matthews is at his best when he's embarrassing right-wing blowhards by revealing how little they actually know about the subject they are ranting about (like this great war debate from a year ago). Tonight, the topic was Bush's slanderous remarks in Israel.

One of his guests was right-wing pundit Kevin James, who proudly hailed the President's remark, insisting (loudly) that Sen. Obama is a Neville Chamberlain-esque appeasing terrorist lover. Apparently, Chris could smell the ignorance, and decided to ask James point-blank what exactly Chamberlain did. James ignores the question, continuing to scream "appeasement! appeasement!", while Matthews demands that he simply answer the question. Finally, after a few minutes of that (seriously), Matthews had it-
MATTHEWS: "You don’t know what you’re talking about, Kevin. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong."

JAMES: "Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right?" […]

MATTHEWS: "I've been sitting here five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich."

JAMES: "I don’t know."

MATTHEWS: "You don’t know, thank you."

And then, in true Bush defender style, having been defeated, James pretended he had never personally accused Obama of any such thing.

This was an amusingly good 'the emperor has no clothes' moment and kudos for the politically schizophrenic Matthews for exposing it. As Matthews clarified, "there's a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing... appeasing is giving away things to the enemy," and then he gave poor Mr. James a history lesson as he flopped around like a fish. "We are talking about people with a blank slate in terms of history here!", Matthews exclaimed! Hey Chris, history is for elitists.

True warriors know that facts are pesky things. Just talk about 'strength' and scream a lot.

[UPDATE: Time's Joe Klein asks all the right questions in regards to this latest salvo by the Bush Republicans.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

Thanks to rain, I won't be seeing the New Kids on the Block tomorrow. Fuck. Here's news...

Ralph Nader, you can't hog all the fun... Bob Barr (former GOP congressman who reveled in the Clinton impeachment, but who's redeemed himself as a critic of Bush-era Republicanism) is running for President as a Libertarian.

Meanwhile, John McCain is getting criticized just because a number of his top campaign staffers are lobbyists who have represented the leaders of dictatorial nations such as Myanmar, and Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. I'm sure the liberal media will make him reject and denounce these men immediately! {*holds breath, passes out*}

And McCain also defends his not voting for the the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by singling out a 14-year-old girl in the audience for her concern on the issue. Oh, and also by some cut-and-paste GOP anti-lawyer rhetoric.

And Republicans lie about Sen. Obama's comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to score political points.

Moving on from the presidential race (crazy, I know!), the AP reports that the U.S. government finally put the polar bear "under the protective umbrella of the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday, concluding what biologists have been saying for years: the bear is on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic sea ice upon which it depends."

In the House, the newest farm bill makes its way along to veto-proof passage.

And this seems to be good news from the House: "The Democratic-led House on Thursday rejected more funds to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as many Republicans angry over the majority party's tactics sat out the vote. It did approve more money for the jobless and an expansion of GI education benefits."

Hold onto your hat, Lou Dobbs! A new study finds that "Immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations". But but, they can't be true, can it?!

Finally, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) threatens to kick Karl Rove's ass (metaphorically).

The Mind of a Neocon

The Pentagon was forced to release a series of documents that helped the NY Times uncover the story of the military analysts/media propaganda efforts, and people are finding all sorts of interesting tidbits inside.

One such tidbit was a transcript of a meeting then-Sec. Rumself had with some of these analysts, shortly after the 2006 elections and the announcement of his impending resignation. They discussed the state of Iraq, among other topics. In one part, when Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong lamented the lack of "sympathetic ears" for their vision for the war on Capitol Hill, Rumsfeld responded-
"This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack. And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it's a shame we don't have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats."

Yessir, it's a goddamn shame that terrorism isn't the all-powerful, daily threat that it's made out to be, and a shame that terrorists haven't killed as many people as we'd have liked in recent years, because it's really hard to get people behind our policies without the proper levels of fear. A real tragedy that the President's vision has been 'victimized' by the lack of carnage on American soil.

It should be noted that this type of mentality is sadly quite prominent in the far-right GOP base. Part of what this election is about (to me, anyway) is sweeping these people out of positions of power in our political structure. And then we may have to deal with the horror of a sanity-based approach to the terrorism issue.

[PS- Media Matters has a great report on the media and the analyst story.]

A New Low For President Bush? No, Just More of the Same.

A lot of people are getting very angry today over this story, in which the President used a speech to the Israeli Knesset on the 60th anniversary of their independence to launch a rhetorical attack on the foreign policy worldview of many Democrats, including Sen. Obama among others. Comparing the policy of not thinking you can kill and blow up everyone we dislike engaging in diplomacy with America's foes as appeasement on par with Nazi sympathizers, he said "We have an obligation to call this what it is."

But seriously, how is this new? The President and his seemingly endless supply of conservative dead-ender supporters have been foaming at the mouth for years about how any distancing from the Bush/neocon foreign policy equals appeasements since the beginning (despite the President and others having admitted they were lying about the war for years). That's like being shocked if Bush demanded Democrats give him another 100 billion for Iraq to 'support the troops' or Sean Hannity having an aneurysm because someone didn't wear a flag pin. This type of empty rhetoric is all that they know.

The only truly surprisingly disgusting part about this is that he said this while giving what should've been an apolitical speech to a foreign government. But even that isn't shocking, as he has politicized every aspect of his job and the government.

Sen. Obama fired back, stating "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing... Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power -- including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy -- to pressure countries like Iran and Syria."

The Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch was not as a polite (he's one of the angry folks I mentioned earlier), calling it 'political treason' and writing that-
As a believer in free speech, I think Bush has a right to say what he wants, but as a President of the United States who swore to uphold the Constitution, his freedom also carries an awesome and solemn responsibility, and what this president said today is a serious breach of that high moral standard.

Of course, there are differences of opinion on how America should handle Iran, and that's why we're having an election here at home, to sort these issues out -- hopefully with respect and not with emotional and inaccurate appeals. Not only is the president's comment a gross misrepresentation of Barack Obama's stance on the issue, but ironically, it comes just a day after his own Secretary of State, Robert Gates, said of Iran: "We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them." Is Gates a Nazi appeaser-type, too? And Bush has been hardly consistent on this point, either. Look at his own dealings with oil-rich Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, linked to deadly terror attacks like Pan Am Flight 103.

But what Bush did in Israel this morning goes well beyond the accepted confines of American political debate, When the president speaks to a foreign parliament on behalf of our country, his message needs to be clear and unambiguous. Our democracy may look messy to outsiders, and we may have our disagreements with some sharp elbows thrown around, but at the end of the day we are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives...

...And you, Mr. Bush, are the leader of us all. To use a diplomatic setting on foreign soil to score a cheap political point at home is way beneath your office, way beneath your country, and way beneath the people you serve.

Time magazine's Joe Klein also had some strong words for The Decider-
On cue, Bush compares Democrats to Nazi appeasers in a speech to the Knesset. A question: Does anyone think that an "appeasement" policy that included the following factors

--using Iran's 2001 cooperation in Afghanistan as leverage for a more robust engagement strategy
--not invading Iraq
--not isolating Syria, thereby forcing it deeper into the Iranian sphere
--aggressively pursuing an energy independence and conservation strategy at home

would have worked any worse than the Bush policies that have led to the strategic aggrandizement of Iran? The man's arrogant cluelessness is simply astonishing.

And neither of them wore a flag pin while they assaulted Bush with these dangerous facts.

Wanna see the President's latest hissy fit for yourself? Enjoy.

Humanitarian Aid By Force?

I feel for the plight of the people of Myanmar (Burma)-- just as we feel for those dying in the Sudan, etc-- who are suffering the double-blow of a cyclone that killed hundreds of thousands and also a military junta which is either refusing foreign aid or hoarding it for their supporters. This is immoral and it is a crime against humanity. But the number of people who are calling for military intervention to resolve this crisis is baffling.

Beyond the obvious (what military?), it should be insanely obvious by now that we can't solve all the world's problems-- real or fantasized-- with tanks, and jets, and soldiers. Not to mention our eternal loathing of exit strategies or long-term thinking. I don't believe what the Myanmar junta is doing should be ignored (surely there are ways to put the pressure on without going all GI Joe), but this type of reflexive thinking needs changing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

About Time.

John Edwards endorses at last... and it goes to Sen. Obama.

I am psyched about this, because Edwards is my top choice for the VP nod. Fingers crossed.

West Virginia For Clinton / Democrats Win House Election in MS

Well, the results are in from West Virginia and it's another race that went as expected, with a strong Clinton victory (aided largely, no doubt, by voters like this). This AP report sums it up: "Hillary Rodham Clinton coasted to a large but largely symbolic victory in working-class West Virginia on Tuesday, handing Barack Obama one of the worst defeats of the campaign yet scarcely slowing his march toward the Democratic presidential nomination."

"This race isn't over yet," she said. "Neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win." Fair enough, but unless she is planning to win like, 150% of the remaining delegates, this is starting to have a Huckabee feel to it. Fortunately, all that remains is Kentucky and Oregon next Tuesday, Puerto Rico on June 1, and Montana and South Dakota on June 3rd. So the end is in sight.

But the more interesting news tonight may be what went down in Mississippi tonight.

Democrat Travis Childers won a special House election there by a sizeable margin (this is a Republican district that Bush won 62% to 37% in 2004). Since the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats have won every special House race.

Last week, I wrote two entries on the GOP's attack strategy against Democrats, and how it is failing (the latter post focusing specially on the ads the GOP was running against Childers in Mississippi). They ran ads calling these candidates dirty liberals and attempting to tie them to that monster Barack Obama... and they got their asses kicked by pissed-off voters who are fed up and electorally motivated after eight years of Republican misgovernance. Throwing up scary pictures of Obama and Speaker Pelosi aren't going to make that go away.

Victory in November is not a guarantee. And John McCain sells their snake oil like few Republicans can. But the usual attacks don't work anymore, and that is something to be encouraged by. This is a fight we can win.

President Bush's Grand Sacrifice

Many people have criticized the Bush administration and their enablers for the historical lack of sacrifice this country has asked of its leaders and of itself during this time of war, choosing instead overly conservative policies and a shielding from the public of the larger horrors of the war.

Well all you assholes and cynics owe our great leader an apology-
US President George W. Bush said in an interview out Tuesday that he quit playing golf in 2003 out of respect for the families of US soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq, now in its sixth year.

"I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he said in an interview for Yahoo! News and Politico magazine.

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them."

God bless you, sir. You make that cripple FDR look like a selfish prick.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Checking In

Howdy folks. Sorry for the lack of substantive posting in the past few days... I've got a lot going on in my personal life right now (all good things!), and this has left less free time and mental energy to pour into blogging. These things come in waves. I'm sure I'll be back into it by the end of this week.

In the meantime, feel free to amuse yourself with a vintage Bill O'Reilly rage attack.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: The Elephant in the Room

There is a man running for President whose now infamous association with an increasingly repugnant and divisive figure has left him no choice but to reject and denounce this albatross ASAP. Here, Stephen Colbert gives this candidate advice on how to handle such a delicate matter.

[Nitpicker: Kaplan confirms obvious: McCain = Bush]

Recommended Reading

Esquire: The Cynic and Senator Obama--
The cynic wants to believe. But far too much has happened, and inspiration is no longer enough. The cynic will need to be convinced.