Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gas Prices Up, Car Use Down?

Here's an encouraging finding... the Department of Transportation reports that Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles this Spring versus the previous one. There appears to be a noticeable correlation between that and the steady rise in gas prices.

Some people, of course, see this as a bad thing. In the short-term, for those who like the convenience of driving somewhere close rather than taking mass transit, it likely is. But taking a long-term view, it mostly definitely is not.

Of course, I admit it's easiest for folks like myself in urban areas where public transportation is abundant and reliable, and you can actually walk to stores that you need. In the suburbs, it's still very possible to do, though maybe more time-consuming. In rural areas, however, you might not have much choice at all in these matters. I know; when I lived in Oregon, the closest store to us was a tiny general store many, many miles down the road.

The real solution is better cars, and a viable alternative (read: NOT ethanol) to oil-based fuels. We need a real wakeup call to automakers, which can only come from consumer demand or lifestyle changes. They've been making cars run on gasoline for well over half a century now... time to start thinking outside that box. We put a man on the moon, we can make a car that doesn't run on oil. We just don't want to. Start leaving your car at home more often, folks, it's the only thing they'll listen to.

Friday, May 30, 2008

McCain Rejects and Denounces Lobbyist Friends. Feeling's Mutual?

John McCain has come under fire this month, as some pesky folks have decided to look into his lobbyist connections (particularly Charlie Black and Thomas Loeffler, who also represent foreign dictators... and the latest, fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm, whose got connections to the housing issue). When McCain began cutting a few, but my no means most or all, of them loose, lobbyists everywhere got pissy with their old maverick pal-
More than a few Republican lobbyists in Washington are scratching their heads these days, asking: So this is the thanks we get?

It was a small band of loyal lobbyists who stood by presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain last August when his campaign went broke and his White House aspirations seemed doomed.

They raised money for him under impossible odds and kept him company in budget hotels during his darkest days.

Now they are under siege as McCain purges active lobbyists from his campaign team in a quest to wrest the reformist title from Democrat Barack Obama, his likely opponent in this fall’s general election...

The lobbyists quoted from the piece mostly wished to remain anonymous, which is so odd because there's nothing unseemly or corrupt about what they do, right? Gosh!

Here's one pissed-off anonymous lobbyist-
"If it was OK to have these people working for you in February, why is it not OK today?" asked one Republican lobbyist who counts a friend among the new McCain outcast class...

..."McCain’s self-righteous [expletive] has caught up with him. Now he’s got himself in a jam," said another Republican lobbyist who asked to remain anonymous because he is a campaign volunteer. "He’s got to change the subject back to economic growth and taxation and the war on terror."

Umm, sir, if you're worried about whether the Republicans will be foaming at the mouth enough this summer about the free market and tax cuts and terrorists, you've clearly been too busy buying off congressmen to pay attention to politics in the last eight years.

The article also has a funny mention about how lobbyists who were formerly backing Sen. Clinton now need to ingratiate themselves with Team Obama, but are having a hard time getting around his no lobbyist money pledge. It's hard out there for a pimp.

Weekend Odds and Ends

Holy shit. They moved the fucking island. Wow. Is is next season yet? Here's some news...

Rejecting McCain's pleas for a high-profile campaign stop in Iraq, Sen. Obama insists that he does intend to visit Iraq this year, except alone. "I think that if I’m going to Iraq, then I’m there to talk to troops and talk to commanders, I’m not there to try to score political points or perform," he stated.

And McCain discusses how quiet and successful things in Iraq are... except, not so much.

Sen. Obama also reitered a pledge to look at the steps taken by President Bush upon election, stating "I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution."

Meanwhile, as expected, people are spending their tax rebates on necessities, rather than extravagant items...

...and sweet, delicious spam?

And the buyout of Bear Sterns is finally complete this week.

Amnesty International confirms the obvious... human rights is just not a concern for the world right now.

More great news on the climate change front: "Global warming will likely drain more water from the Great Lakes and pose added pollution threats to the region's vulnerable ecosystem, environmental groups said in a report issued on Wednesday. Climate change could further reduce scant ice cover observed in recent winters, increasing evaporation rates and dropping water levels in the five lakes that collectively make up 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water."

Contaminated Katrina trailers continue to give people illnesses in the Gulf Coast.

Right-wing xenophobe extraordinare Michelle Malkin launches her latest crusade and takes down two of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups... Rachel Ray and Dunkin Donuts.

Finally, NY Governor Paterson tells gay couples... you are welcome here.

Scott McClellan... LIBTARD TRAITOR!!11!!!!

The right-wing has been foaming at the mouth for days about Scott McClellan deciding to come clean on 'What Happened' inside the Bush administration during the run-up to war in Iraq, and its aftermath (the Plame debacle, etc). Keep in mind that none of these people are accusing him of lying about any of this, nor are they attempting to factually refute any of his confirming-the-obvious stories... they're just pissed he wouldn't keep his ungrateful mouth shut. In the eyes of the Bush cultists, he now joins a long line of distinguished libtard traitors-- having all committed the sin of refuting the Bush administration and having good judgment about Iraq and other matters-- like Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and Lawrence Wilkerson.

As a dirty libtard myself, I am enjoying the schadenfreude. This hit an apex last night as Scottie sat down to talk with Keith Olbermann for pretty much the entire hour. The posts at the National Review blog were hilarious to read, such as when editor Kathryn Jean Lopez ranted that "Scott McClellan has joined the antiwar mind meld about Iraq". Yep, only the deluded could ever believe the decision to invade and indefinitely occupy a Middle Eastern nation (for reasons that changed week to week) was anything less than a brilliant and flawlessly executed idea.

But perhaps more interesting has been the meta media discussion about whether than darn liberal media actually did anything around the time of invasion other than keep their mouths shut and act as passive cheerleaders for the war. Glenn Greenwald provides a great analysis of this, including such examples as the NY Times' deceitful WMD reporting vis a vis Judy Miller, the generally fawning coverage of Bush at the time, MSNBC firing Phil Donahue simply for being anti-war, and more. CNN reporter (formerly of both NBC and ABC) Jessica Yellin-- yes, there's a lot of yellin' on cable news... zing!-- summed up at the atmosphere in newsrooms at that time-
"The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings," Yellin said.

"And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives--and I was not at this network at the time--but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time...."

But then a shocked Cooper jumped in, asking, "You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?"

"Not in that exact.... They wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces," Yellin said. "They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical, and try to put on pieces that were more positive. Yes, that was my experience."

This sort of fear-mode circa 2002-2003 has been widely discussed before too.

And yet the only problem the right finds with any of this is that McClellan confirmed it. Sad.

The Ten Types Of Republicans

A funny video my friend Anthony found for me on YouTube-

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CA Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban; Society Doomed (Pt. II)

Some more good reads on the CA gay marriage decision...

Glenn Greenwald: The California marriage decision and basic civics

Think Progress: McCain Tells Ellen DeGeneres: You Shouldn’t Have The Right To Get Married

I'll add one point of my own, which I believe I've made before. It's so disgusting to see conservative opponents of this pretending that they're not homophobic bigots, but rather simply opponents of judicial activism. Ignore even that 'judicial activism' really just means 'decisions that offend me' (and by today's standards includes such 'activist' decisions as Brown v. Board of Education, etc.)... it's the hypocrisy of that stance.

When the Massachusetts made a similar ruling in 2004-- effectively legalizing gay marriage there-- conservatives insisted that it was not up to the courts to endorse gay marriage, but that this was an issue for the state legislatures to decide. So, California heeded their words and twice passed legislation to make gay marriage legal. And yet, these same conservatives did not all champion the decision, celebrating a victory for gay marriage without that pesky 'judicial activism' they so sincerely oppose. Instead-- if you can believe it-- they hated the legislation, and were quite happy when Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bills (see history- here). It's almost as if they simply hate gay people getting married, and not any concern over the legitimacy of legislative decisions versus judicial verdicts made by majority-GOP state courts.

They can hate gay marriage, or gay people, if they want to, but at least be honest about it.

Recommended Listening/Reading

First, the listening... I may be late on this one, but I finally listened to this excellent 'This American Life' episode from March, entitled "The Audacity of Government". It focuses on (lesser-known) stories of the Bush Administration, its unique style of asserting presidential authority, and its quest to redefine the limits of presidential power.

What's good about it is you see how obsessive the administration has been about this, as their zeal goes down to every single issue, no matter how seemingly small or petty. It goes far beyond Guantanamo Bay and rebuking congressional investigations.

Then, the reading... Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has a new article entitled "Disarming Our Demons: The self-fulfilling prophecy of election-stealing." It's about the difference between real voter fraud and the imagined kind, and how the GOP's push for voter ID laws is chasing the latter.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott McClellan Admits White House Lied on Iraq, And That He Sucks.

Earlier this month, I wrote about Doug Feith's Iraq book, which I noted was the latest in a series of passing-the-buck memoirs from former administration officials. Who's next in this fun little game?

Why, it's Scott McClellan, not only the President's second Press Secretary, but also one of his old friends from the Texas days. What does Scottie have to say now that he's no longer being paid to lie on Bush's behalf? Well-
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

Well that we knew. And care to elaborate on that Iraq comment, Scott?
"History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”

Absolutely true. And many Americans-- say, those of us who who had jobs other than bamboozling the public for the President who started that war-- have known that from the start (and we were called unpatriotic terror appeasers for saying so, as McClellan now will be by the Bush cultists on Fox and elsewhere). Now Scott, if the President is still taking your calls, can you make an inquiry about an 'exit strategy' on our behalf? Thanks.

Apparently, he goes on to chastise (correctly) the people he was lying to every day-
McClellan charges that Bush relied on "propaganda" to sell the war. Allen summarizes: "He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war....McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush's liberal critics."

In the book, McClellan charges: "If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. ... In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

Darn that liberal media!

There's also lots of talk in the book about how the Plame matter was handled, and other topics (like how his poor friend George was poorly served by all the liars and criminals he mistakenly surrounded himself with). I will never pay for any of these books-- which will be coming out left and right over the next year-- but it's somewhat cathartic to see the fabric of the narratives Bush wove unraveled by his former aides, most of whom just want some distance when history delivers its unforgiving verdict.

[PS- Speaking of Iraq, McCain is working to expunge his position on it from his website. Maverick!]

Hillary Clinton: A Uniter, Not A Divider

The NY Times' Paul Krugman (a fair and balanced voice on the Democratic primary race) has written his latest column on the divided Democratic primary, insisting that its time for a certain candidate to tone down the rhetoric and work with the other side to heal the party's wounds...

Yes sir, Senator Obama needs to apologize to Senator Clinton ASAP. Wait, what?-
Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House...

...The point is that Mr. Obama may need those disgruntled Clinton supporters, lest he manage to lose in what ought to be a banner Democratic year.

So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do?

Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain. One more trumped-up scandal won’t persuade the millions of voters who stuck with Mrs. Clinton despite incessant attacks on her character that she really was evil all along. But it might incline a few more of them to stay home in November...

...Here’s the point: the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Head, meet desk.

Look, no one questions that Sen. Obama needs all the support he can get this Fall from voters who preferred another Democrat in the primary. That's always the case. And he should work hard to win them over, if they don't swing his way automatically after the primary contests are over. But the notion that these divisions are his fault and that he bears the sole/primary responsibility in healing them is mind-blowingly ridiculous.

Let's talk supporters for starters. Many Obama supporters have been holding their tongue on Sen. Clinton for the last week or two (I, as you may have noticed, haven't written about her in a while), not wanting to have the same debates ad naseum when we have a bigger fish-- John McCain-- to fry. Meanwhile, top sites/supporters like Taylor Marsh, HillaryIs44, and Corrente are all but ignoring the issues-- and the Republicans-- in lieu of rants about how Obama is a Pied Piper leading America to doom.

But more importantly, what has Sen. Clinton herself been up to lately?

She's promising to continue her fight, all the way to the convention, she insists, to get Florida and Michigan counted (only if Obama gets no delegates out of the latter, natch), comparing this fight to a) the civil rights movement, b) the 2000 Florida recount, and c) the election fraud in Zimbabwe (!!!). All while her supporters prepare to turn this Saturday's DNC meeting on Michigan and Florida into a circus. This is despite her having the same position on those states as the other candidates, up until she needed a rationale to continue the fight beyond the main primary contests. Then you had the much-hyped RFK assassination remarks, which-- beyond just how crass it came out (despite the less crass point she was trying to make)-- was false on its face, as again a) her husband had his nomination wrapped up by March 1992, not June, and b) the 1968 race which Kennedy was a contender in didn't even start until March of that year (it was not expected President Johnson would choose not to run again) so its continuation into June is not relevant to the 2008 race. Not to mention Clinton herself six months ago wanted the race over by Super Tuesday, thus 'disenfranchising' (by her logic) the remaining states. And then you have Bill Clinton running around insisting the media is covering up what an obviously superior candidate his wife is.

All of this is part of a larger narrative the Clintons are creating that the nomination-- rightfully hers (it was her turn, after all)-- was stolen by a cabal of Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers Obama cultists, liberals and elitists, sexist men, black people, etc... thus ensuring that her most ardent supporters either sit the election out or cast a protest vote for McCain. I get fighting hard for the nomination, especially having come this far. But this is something else entirely they are playing at here.

Meanwhile, Sen. Obama is focusing on John McCain, not attacking Clinton, and insisting over and over that he gives the Clintons the benefit of the doubt on every scandal/attack that comes up at this point.

Yes, both candidates should work together through the Summer and Fall to unite the party around the bigger picture (though I feel a VP nod for Clinton should be out of the question at this point), but the notion that its Obama or his supporters that have done this damage is beyond spin.

President Bush <3 Carbon Emissions

Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held hearings on the Bush administration's politicization of the EPA and their role in stopping California from going beyond the federal limits on carbon emissions. Here's some of the obvious that was confirmed-
A top official at the US Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that the agency denied strong carbon emissions limits proposed by California after the White House intervened, it emerged today.

But the official, who resigned from the agency earlier this month, told congressional investigators that he was instructed not to reveal whether George Bush or other White House officials played a personal role in the controversial blockage of California's pollution rules.

The EPA associate deputy administrator, 31-year-old Jason Burnett, told the oversight committee of the House of Representatives that agency chief Stephen Johnson was prepared to approve a waiver allowing California to set strong limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Trained staff members at the EPA had unanimously advised Johnson that US clean air laws supported California's plan and that the Bush administration should support it...

...However, Johnson shifted from support for at least a partial waiver in the autumn of last year to a denial of California's request in December. The state would have required a 30% reduction in tailpipe emissions from cars by 2016, dealing a blow to auto industry profits.

When asked whether Johnson spoke with the White House before his position changed, Burnett said: "I believe the answer is yes."

I'm not exactly sure how the White House can honestly justify this, which is likely why they are settling for not saying anything. One of the most frustrating aspects of the Bush years has been how Republicans have made the most seemingly mundane and obvious things-- ie. strong reductions on carbon-- a fight for every inch.

Here is video from those hearings of committee chairman Rep. Waxman doing battle with not only stonewalling EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, but also GOP Rep. Darrell Issa-

The Case Against Hillary Clinton

I've got another post coming up later about Senator Clinton-- after I which I plan to return to my silence on her, save any actual news-- but first I wanted to clarify the reasons why I have been so critical of her as a presidential candidate.

I see her brand of politics as corrosive (the Democratic mirror version of GOP/Rove politics) and cannot stand the thought of 4-8 years of the Clinton saga continuing to loom over American politics like an (unintentional) sideshow. As cliche as this sounds by now, it's time for a change. And while she does have many great ideas and policies-- like her husband did-- few of them will ever get accomplished because this brand of politics, as we've seen, is not conducive to getting any results. She may be as bright as her husband, but she lacks his political skills. And no, I don't think it's sexist to say so, any more than it's age-ist to say that McCain is a fool who can't tell his ass from his elbow. The Clintons at this point in their career represent so much that is wrong with politics... their corrupted ideals, the search for power for the sake of power, their addiction to spin and truthiness, etc.

Let me use three specific examples to explain where I am coming from here.

#1- Hillary the superior general election candidate. One of Clinton's big rationales now for her fight (being made vigorously by both Clintons every chance they get) is that she is a better candidate for the general election than Obama. Let's ignore that a) polls show both of them can easily defeat McCain, b) that argument got John Kerry the 2004 nomination, which ended pretty badly, and finally c) this type of subjective opinion isn't a rationale for overturning the decision of primary voters. What I find important here is how unwilling she has been to show us this.

As I am sure Sen. Clinton knows by now, the general election candidate she is fighting to face is John McCain, conservative maverick and media darling. And yet rather than proving her general election chops by taking him on at campaign events, she was not only siding with him on issues like the gas tax holiday (more on that later) and reinforcing GOP talking points (elitist, etc), but more importantly focusing her fire on her own party's candidate and leaders. Had she, in late February (when she suffered her worst losses), began taking on McCain on the stump (as Obama had then) and let voters judge which candidate went toe-to-toe with him better, then maybe this would be an honest argument. But she didn't, and she hasn't. She has-- with rare exceptions (ie. defending Obama on the 'appeasement' charge)-- largely ignored the GOP/McCain front of this election.

Moreover, if she insists on taking the fight to the late August convention (which I am skeptical she ultimately will), that would mean the Democrats couldn't begin the general election in full force until after Labor Day, putting them seriously behind the Republicans, who have been in general election mode for months now. The point is that if she believes she is the better candidate for the general election, she has a weird way of showing it.

#2- The Clintons will stab progressives in the back every chance they get. The Clinton supporters insist Obama is not a true progressive and will choose faux-bipartisanship over progressive fights as President. We have no way of knowing this yet (though his list of Senate accomplishments is meatier than any of his detractors will admit), but we have a way of knowing whether the Clintons will do the same... their record of doing so.

There are a few illustrative examples of that, not the least of which is Sen. Clinton's vote for the Iraq war, which she cast (as did many others) so she could appear tough in that immediate post-9/11 pro-war haze. Then there was the healthcare battle of '93 and '94, which was lost not just because of GOP attacks and special interest meddling (though that shouldn't be understated here), but because the Clintons lost public support by doing everything in secret, one of their worst vices. And now Clinton is the Senate's largest recipient of cash from the health industry lobbies, which may well explain why her health-care plan is one big Christmas gift to the insurance industry, rather than a fight for real universal healthcare. And then there was the Clintons selling out gays with the Defense of Marriage Act, and Don't Ask Don't Tell. Then there was recently Clinton's campaign staffers ranting about Obama being a liberal and elitist. Etc.

But the most recent and illustrative example is the aforementioned gas tax holiday. Stolen from John McCain, and hyped big time heading into the Indiana primary (and not mentioned since, how odd), Hillary's gas tax holiday proved that there is no position or policy that she won't betray for political expediency. One issue that Clinton discussed often in her speeches and in debates was energy independence and her position that creating 'green collar jobs' would not only accomplish that goal, but also boost the economy as well. It was an admirable position that I was happy to see Obama shared. But then, faced with a possible Indiana loss, she embraced the gas tax holiday, which not only would be environmentally and economically regressive, but was also dismissed by every economist on record (liberal and conservative) as a pander. She sold out her own energy policy-- and the progressive position on the issue-- for a delegate split in that one state and the chance to give another victory speech. Think long and hard about what that says.

#3- The issue of racism in the campaign. Let's leave aside the issue of whether the Clintons have engaged in subtle or overt race-baiting during the campaign. What I focus on here is the argument that the Clintons have been making, that Obama simply can't win over "hard-working Americans, white Americans" (though, as has been pointed out, that problem only exists in the Appalachian mountain states), and thus cannot be given the nomination.

Now, it's not at all inaccurate that there are a lot of racist people living in America (shocking, I know), and that a disturbing number of these people are registered Democrats (or 'Reagan Democrats' as they used to be known). But the idea that the Democratic party-- the party of the civil rights movement-- should, rather than fighting this racism in our country, instead reward it by giving the nomination to the runner-up just because she is white and popular in West Virginia is a pretty horrifying position to hold. And yet, that is where Hillary Clinton now finds herself.

I could go on and on (as if I haven't already), but these three points are the ones that come most strongly to mind. I look forward to the end of this primary (whenever that may be) when I will no longer have to write posts like this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Odds and Ends

A lot of stuff to catch up on, and here's my best attempt at a roundup...

President Bush and John McCain rang in the Memorial Day weekend with a one-two punch... the former by expressing opposition to a military pay raise, and the latter by opposing-- and not even showing up to vote on-- the just-passed, but veto-threatened GI Bill. But they wear flag pins!

Speaking of vetoes, one was slammed down onto the heavily-criticized $300 billion farm bill, insisting it was "fiscally irresponsible and ... gives away too much money to wealthy farmers." Congress, however, is well on their way to overriding the veto.

On an apolitical note, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has sent back images.

And the teaching of creationism as science in U.S. schools remains at disturbingly levels.

More happy economic news from our friends in the Bush administration: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday sharply lowered its projection for U.S. economic growth this year, citing blows from the housing and credit debacles along with zooming energy prices. It also expects higher unemployment and inflation." But you got that extra $600, so you're covered.

And the Senate moves forward on a bill to deal with the foreclosure crisis.

Meanwhile, more details emerge on the Bush administration's radical executive power-grabs.

This would seem to be good news... "The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed President Bush's former chief political adviser, Karl Rove, to testify about whether the White House improperly meddled with the Justice Department."... Except for the fact that Karl Rove believes himself above the law and won't comply and Congress doesn't have the balls to make him.

Finally, Gen. Petraeus... propaganda flack for Pres Bush? Why do people keep saying that?

Campaign Blogging

Just some miscellaneous campaign articles I thought worth posting...

The Telegraph (UK): US elections: Barack Obama juggernaut 'will crush John McCain'

Reuters: Obama leads McCain in November match: Reuters poll

National Journal: The Health Care Divide--
McCain may be pushing for greater changes than the Democrats in the way Americans pay for insurance and how they buy it.

Think Progress: McCain afraid of being seen with Bush tomorrow.

GOP Hypocrites: Part 347,595

There was a fun brouhaha earlier this month when President Bush indirectly set off a debate over U.S. foreign policy by ranting about the 'appeasement' policies of his political opponents while delivering what was supposed to be an apolitical address to the Israeli government. This lead to back-and-forths between the Obama and McCain camps and lots of mindless chatter on cable news, the highlight of which was Chris Matthews asking a right-wing blowhard to historically justify his rambling, at which point the guy admitted he was a moron. Good times.

And just a few days later, Israel themselves went all 'appeaser' on us. Tsk-
After eight years of stalemate and periodic tension, Israel and Syria announced Wednesday that they have launched "serious and continuous" indirect peace talks aimed at ending one of the region's longest-running disputes.

In similar statements issued from Damascus and Jerusalem, the rival neighbors said that they are taking part in indirect negotiations with Turkish diplomats serving as mediators. "The two sides stated their intention to conduct these talks in good faith and with an open mind," according to the statement from Prime Minister Olmert's office. "They decided to pursue the dialogue between them in a serious and continuous way, in order to achieve the goal of comprehensive peace."

If successful, the talks could lead to a broader shift in regional dynamics by returning the Golan Heights to Syria, cutting off critical support for Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, and diminishing the influence of Iran in the region...

With no hint of irony at this news of developing diplomacy between the warring nations, the National Review's Andrew Stuttaford wrote "There's a long, long way to go, of course, and the chances of success are slim, but this is an encouraging development nonetheless."

Remember, proposing diplomacy with enemies is only good when a Democrat isn't involved.

Meanwhile, Time magazine's Joe Klein took Senator McCain to task for his false and misleading rhetoric about Senator Obama's proposed talks with Iranian leaders. He wrote-
On Friday, I promised to check into whether Obama had ever said that he would negotiate--specifically, by name -- with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Indeed, according to the crack Time Magazine research department and the Obama campaign, he never has. He did say that he would negotiate with the Iranian leadership -- but, on matters of foreign policy and Iran's nuclear program, the guy in charge is the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. As of today, John McCain was still accusing Obama of wanting to negotiate with Ahmadinejad. Why doesn't the McCain campaign and other assorted Republicans ever accuse Obama of wanting to negotiate with Khamenei? Well, because Khamenei isn't quite the flagrant anti-Semite Ahmadinejad is...and, as we keep hearing, Obama has a Jewish problem.

And sewing that narrative is really what this is all about for the GOP.

When Klein questioned McCain about this, McCain replied: "Oh I thin- Again, I respectfully disagree... I mean, the fact is he's the acknowledged leader of that country and you may disagree, but that's a uh, that's your right to do so, but I think if you asked any average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they'd know. Go ahead."

So, basically, he doesn't defend himself factually against Klein's accurate correction, he just says 'hey the average American thinks Ahmadinejad controls foreign policy, so we'll pretend it's true'. Let's ignore that a) the average American can't find Iran on a map, let alone name any of its leaders, b) the average Americans believe a ridiculous amount of inaccurate and dumb stuff, and c) the job of a good leader is to educate citizens on the facts of these issues.

And this is the guy who's running on his 'strength' in foreign policy matters. Lord help us.

Hey, I'm Back

I have returned. And I will be back to blogging later today, but in the meantime, in belated honor of Memorial Day, here is a video report Bill Moyers did last May on the costs of this war. As Josh Marshall said yesterday, the soldiers fighting this war "are at once at the center of our national debate and yet, increasingly, as people, invisible."