Friday, December 14, 2007

The Republican Youtube Charade

Republicans Dog and Pony

The Republicans ACTUALLY HELD A YOUTUBE DEBATE! And my dead great great grandmother JUST WON THE BOSTON MARATHON!

The Democrats had the real Youtube Debate. Real people who expressed themselves as individuals, not as robots like the obviously predominantly Republican crowd did. And the converted choir of an audience got the expected pre-programmed answers, except when the candidates tried to out Right Wing each other, or they had to bring someone back into the fold. Only then did sparks fly when the stray touched nerve offered each stalwart the opportunity to burnish his medals with the other guy's forehead.

As to the crowd: With that bunch, well, it's ironic for most Republicans to cry fowl because of a few questions such as General Kerr's or the toy lady's went off script. Most of the questions were asked by Republican faithful and were non-confrontational. Indeed, one ought to suspect that by some secret agreement with Youtube and the GOP, CNN may have screened out most Democrat's questions in favor of those of Republicans. There was the gung-ho gun enthusiast. There were questions about raising taxes and how to control spending, and of course, abortion. Very few questions were on Iraq.

By the way, l think that Grover Norquist whose "Americans For Tax Reform banner was CLEARLY SPELLED OUT on his Youtube post, should be extended the same courteousies by the Democrats as were given to General Kerr. I'm pointing this out, because I DON'T think CNN was trying to ambush the Republicans.

Then our heroes tried to get into their kabuki dance, but not before an opportunity for Giuliani and Romney to beat each other over the head came up.

The question was on illegal aliens and whose "sanctuary" was the most supersanctuariest, Giuliani's NYC or Romney's Massachusetts. Then the dogfight began! First Romney accused Rudy of making New York City a "sanctuary" for illegal aliens. Giuliani responded by parsing the term "sanctuary." Then Rudy accused Mitt of not only running a "sanctuary state," but of keeping a "sanctuary Mansion" as well, on the basis that the landscaping firm Romney hired to work there had a few illegals on the payroll.

On gun control, except for a rather admirably human moment of showing real concern by Duncan Hunter, who winced when the questioner was thrown a rifle, Hollywood-style, most everyone toed the gun lobby line, even Ron Paul. Moreover, when Rudy showed some real cred as a mayor as he stuck up for reasonable psych exams as part of background checks, the crowd booed him! Hunter even had the nerve to throw in Iraq as part of the rationale for gun owner's rights. Is someone bringing their fowling piece to a firefight in Ramadi?

And then there is Grover:

Here was the counterweight to General Kerr that allowed the scared little candidates to scurry into their warm little anti-tax comfort zone.

Most of candidates bragged about how they were the most partisan at least about not raising taxes. Tancredo kissed up to Norquist and even showed us the pat old Grover gave on his back. Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani signed Norquist’s pledge, but surprise, surprise, Thompson and McCain showed that you didn't have to sign any pledge to stay loyal to voodoo economics.

However, the National GOP Loyalty Rally didn't stop there no sir!

Government spending was the next target. The GOP showed its truly dull sheen of bankruptcy when the supposed maverick, John McCain, shocked the populace when he accused S-CHIP, a program meant to help many struggling families educate their children, as contributing to smoking! Factcheck anyone?

Not to be out scrooged this Christmas season, Giuliani was in favor of cutting costs by cutting labor in favor of mechanization.

And while I admire his stand on the war, I most sincerely do not like this slavish devotion to state's rights as exhibited by Ron Paul when said he would cut the Department of Education.

But when Paul deviated from the group by reminding us that we could cut costs by overhauling our failed foreign policy and bringing our troops home from an unnecessary war, McCain, himself a veteran of Vietnam, and therefore a witness to an unnecessary war, replied to this by calling it isolationism.

And the icing on the cake came when Rudy replied to a question on how he would repair the U.S.'s world image, said he would keep on fighting the War on Terrorism, but he would make the distinction between normal Muslims and radicals. As if a stray bullet, killing a toddler could tell the difference. Maybe someone should have voiced this sentiment at Haditha!

Moreover, while McCain deserves credit for criticizing the failed strategy that led us to this fiasco, he fell in line by criticizing a deadline for troop withdrawal.

And so it goes. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. The Democrats had the real people's debate. The Republicans were all hat and no cattle.

Republicans on Government Programs

Grover Norquist asks a Question

Republicans on repairing the U.S. image Abroad.

Giuliani vs. Romney on Illegal Aliens

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pete Stark and The Sinful Stone Throwers

Four Gasbags

(Warning: A few of these quotes came second-hand from or Wikipedia)

I for one, find this John Boehner remark to be rather disingenuous:

Mr. Stark, by his despicable conduct, has dishonored himself.

No way Pot! This is the BRONZE kettle! A far less similar hue to yours you won't find!

Mr. Stark can only look to the Right for any teachers in the art of senseless vituperation.

When I think about the unthinking bloviators of the Right, I find it hard to feel sorry for them as they reacted with indignancy to the remarks of Pete Stark, although they might be enough to get some Freeper's skivvies in a bunch! However, I'd like to remind at least those of us who'd care to listen, that despite the erudition of the best of us on the Left, aside from the occasional "Hymietown," or Joycelyn Elder's theories on teaching masturbation, or the Dean Scream, and anything Rosie might have to say, we never seem to hold a candle to the Right!

The Right Wing media has at least four prominent shining examples of oratory that regularly regail us with their pearls of wisdom!

And yes, they are Mr. Rush Limbaugh, Billo O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. The Squawking Magpies of the Right.

One catalyst of their bile is their palace guard brand of patriotism. If you have it, you're a real American. Say something they don't like - and it won't matter if you fought in Iraq or lost a loved one on 9/11, you're a fraud or a dupe. When confronted with vets who denounced the war, Limbaugh called them "phony soldiers." And in reply to the ad of a soldier who called him out on his statement, he then said this:

He discusses his service in Iraq, the wounds he suffered there, and he says to me in this ad, "Until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service." You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.

He has the temerity to equate a war veteran with a suicidal terrorist.

Ann Coulter is another great humanitarian with erudition. When 9/11 widows criticized the administration's lack of interest in investigating the causes of 9/11, she gave this touching tribute:

These broads (the widows of 9/11 victims) are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much.

It is amazing how someone could underutilize the two brain cells it would suffice for most of us to call up compassion for such obvious victims, and dismiss them out of hand.

Then there's Billo. Here is a man who parses the definition patriotism in a rather chiliastic fashion because he was offended by San Francisco's ban of military recruiters from city schools:

If I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

On the issue of torture, Limbaugh is positively sophomoric. Here, he describes his attitude towards the indignities suffered at Abu Ghraib:

This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation...I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of the need to blow some steam off?

Now Mr. O'Reilly likes to mix his spurious statements with bombast:

I'll tell you what. I've been in combat. I've seen it, I've been close to it... and if my unit is danger, and I've got a captured guy, and the guy knows where the enemy is, and I'm looking him in the eye, the guy better tell me. That's all I'm gonna tell you. The guy better tell me. If it's life or death, he's going first.

No Billo, John Wayne would not be proud of you! You see, torture gets your enemy to tell you what he thinks you want him to hear, not the truth.

However, the piece d’resistance is a statement by Anne Coulter, as she wondered in 2005 why the New York Times didn’t propose the same solution for terrorism as it did for online child predators:

Would that the Times allowed the Bush administration similar investigative powers for Islamofacists in America!

Which brings me to this week's scandal about No Such Agency spying on 'Americans.' I have difficulty ginning up much interest in this story inasmuch as I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo.

Ms. Coulter might want to remember that though she may fondly wish America to be under fascism, communist dictatorship would put her ilk on the short hit list. "Televised spectator sport?" Like the Doctor's Trial Stalin had in the early 50's? Or maybe she meant like the People's Court after the attempt on Hitler's life starring Screaming Judge Friesler? Yep. Real super-patriot that Ann Coulter!

And the Right wants to stack Mr. Stark's relatively more factual statement up against ginormous classics like these? Hah!

Keep'em coming folks. You see, the well of stupid, insensitive and obnoxious statements runs rather dry on the Liberal side. And, try as you might to engender indignation at the few and infrequent gaffes you may detect from the Left, we know that you will never fail to disappoint us in demonstrating to us by your own tongues, examples of what you are looking for.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Smearing of The Innocent: Graeme Frost, Bethany Wilkerson, and the Calumny of the Right.

michelle Malkin, Graeme Frost and Bethany Wilkerson

Graeme Frost is not a pawn. He is a boy. A boy who was once severely injured, whose sister is severely disabled. Nevertheless, according to the Right, he committed a serious unpardonable crime. He dared to speak out against the policies of Bush and the rest of the privatizers as a young boy.

Now, it used to be that young children of traumatized families were sacrosanct, but not any more!

Apparently, at this point, feeling threatened on all sides by a disgruntled and scandalized American public, the Right knows it is standing on a precipice looking down a deep and dark abyss. Every "gain" the Right made during the last 6 years, would be undone and reversed if a Democratic president was to coincide with a Democratic Congress. Now they are paranoid.

Like cornered bears, they seem to attack these days anyone, no matter how innocuous, who they perceive to be threats. Their reaction to the Frost family’s action is like that of a conspiracy theorist finding his enemy under every bed.

Here and there, they miraculously find snippets they call clues to bolster their ignorant suppositions about the "affluent" Frosts, and the “unworthy” Wilkersons.

On Wizbang, Kim Priestap writes:

First, Mr. Halsey Frost, Graeme's father, owns his own woodworking design studio, Frostworks, so his claim that he can't get health insurance through work is shockingly deceptive. He chooses not to get health care for his family. Second, Graeme and his sister Gemma attend the very exclusive Park School, which has a tuition of $20,000 a year, per child. Third, they live in a 3,000+ square foot home in a neighborhood with smaller homes that are selling for at least $400,000.

I believe that they bought their house at $55,000. The neighborhood's property values were not as high then due to the crime rate. However, why let facts get in the way?

Think Progress did give the definitive answer for Graeme Frost and his heroic family:

1) Graeme has a scholarship to a private school. The school costs $15K a year, but the family only pays $500 a year.

2) His sister Gemma attends another private school to help her with the brain injuries that occurred due to her accident. The school costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost.

3) They bought their lavish house sixteen years ago for $55,000 at a time when the neighborhood was less than safe.

4) Last year, the Frosts made $45,000 combined. Over the past few years they have made no more than $50,000 combined.

5) The state of Maryland has found them eligible to participate in the CHIP program.

Wingnuttery over at Whiskeyfire found the Admission section of the Park School webpage, added this overlooked detail:

Park enrolls students based on their talents and capabilities. Families who are unable to meet the full cost of tuition may apply for the Financial Assistance Program, which supplements tuition payments. Financial assistance does not need to be repaid.
In 2007, 18% of Park students in grades 1-12 received over $2 million in financial assistance that ranged from $1,000 per year to full tuition. Tuition remission for children of our faculty brings that total to 25% of the student body.
Because each family's situation is unique, it is impossible to predict the amount of funding awarded based solely on income. For example, the number of children attending tuition-charging institutions is an important factor. As a guide, families with incomes up to $160,000 received financial assistance during this past school year.

To which Wingnuttery added:

If the school is giving assistance to families making $160K, they are offering pretty substantial assistance to those making $45K. I'm just guessing here, but it sure does seem plausible!

I take it that the Right Wing has never needed tuition assistance! I sure did when I was in junior college - back in the '70's.

I'm surprised that at the first stage of this news cycle that the Right Wing didn't discover such obvious facts that Graeme's sister was so severely and permanently disabled that her private school necessarily had to be one that accommodated her disability, or that Graeme had a scholarship that left the Frosts only to pay $500.

And now, little Bethany Wilkerson who had a pre-existing heart condition will have to face the calumny of the selfish.

Has anyone heard of an insurance company giving a policy to an infant with a pre-existing heart condition? Bethany had to have her surgery at six months old. She still has a hole in her heart.

Yet, that doesn't stop the Freepers from attacking the credibility or character of her parents. It is remarkable what Mark Steyn has to say:

Last week I compared parents who allow their kids to be props in political debates to stage mothers. Instead of, Judy, take one more Benzedrine and this time smile during the encore of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," it is "Madison, tell the nice man what Uncle Gore said would happen to the polar-bear cubs if people don’t drive better cars." Maybe the political form of stage mothering isn’t as harmful to the kids, but it is just as exploitative.

Now Mr. Steyn wants to argue that the Democrats had chosen the wrong S-CHIP poster family.

Well, I was surprised that someone on the Right could actually concede (italics) that the Frosts might have a fair to middling claim to S-CHIP!

However, he only does so to imply that the far poorer Wilkersons are a worse choice due to "bad behavior":

While the debate around the Frost family at least initially centered around their relative wealth, the issue really at hand is one of bad behavior. While US Action and a labyrinthine maze of leftist activist groups prepare to rally around images of Tampa Bay’s Most Photogenic Baby holding up a crayon sign that says "Don’t Veto Me," Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children ó for irresponsible decisions.

Wait a minute! Is the Right to Life crowd finally converting to Pro Choice? Hallelujah will miracles never end!

I thought it was the job, no - the duty of every girl, single or married, rich as a queen or poor as a beggar to not interfere with nature and postpone the Blessed Event through contraception. And when the bun went in the oven, every good girl saw it through! Amazing how conveniently chameleon like the morality of the Right is when it sees its money slipping away!

Bethany's mother probably faced the same dilemma many newlyweds face when adjusting to marriage. She left her job at the country club (whose insurance plan would anyway be irrelevant to Bethany's case, because her condition must have made her ineligible,) because it was an obstacle to the establishment of a household.

In addition, the funny part is that just as the Wilkersons ruled out abortion, the Frosts in their own way are also are the model Conservative family!

Most Conservatives want government support for attending private schools, which is what Graeme got - government support for attending private school!

Instead of having a "woodworking hobby," Halsey Frost was an entrepreneur. He owned his own home as well. And he tried to do well by his family.

But because of the Frost’s stand on S-CHIP, he is castigated!

Listen to how E.J. Dionne puts it:

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn't even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories -- most of them don't check out -- about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Oh, yes, and conservatives tell us how much they love homeownership, and then assail the Frosts for having the nerve to own a home. I suppose they should have to sell that, too.

Well, if the Frosts and the Wilkersons, who in different ways personify two of the staples of Family Values, then how is it that their espousal of S-CHIP bars them from passing Right Wing muster?

Well, if you're not saving the money for butter... maybe you want it for guns!

Let me leave you with one last tidbit from Wikipedia:

Insurance companies use the term "adverse selection" to describe the tendency for only those who will benefit from insurance to buy it. Specifically when talking about health insurance, unhealthy people are more likely to purchase health insurance because they anticipate large medical bills. On the other side, people who consider themselves to be reasonably healthy may decide that medical insurance is an unnecessary expense; if they see the doctor once a year and it costs $250, that's much better than making monthly insurance payments of $400 (example figures).
The fundamental concept of insurance is that it balances costs across a large, random sample of individuals (see risk pool). For instance, an insurance company has a pool of 1000 randomly selected subscribers, each paying $100 per month. One person becomes very ill while the others stay healthy, allowing the insurance company to use the money paid by the healthy people to pay for the treatment costs of the sick person. Adverse selection upsets this balance between healthy and sick subscribers by leaving an insurance company with primarily sick subscribers and no way to balance out the cost of their medical expenses with a large number of healthy subscribers.
Because of adverse selection, insurance companies use a patient's medical history to screen out persons with pre-existing medical conditions. Before buying health insurance, a person typically fills out a comprehensive medical history form that asks whether the person smokes, how much the person weighs, whether the person has been treated for any of a long list of diseases and so on. In general, those who present a large financial burdens are denied coverage or charged high premiums to compensate.[5] One large U.S. industry survey found that roughly 13 percent of applicants for comprehensive, individually purchased health insurance that go through the medical underwriting process were denied coverage. Declination rates increased significantly with age, rising from 5 percent for individuals 18 and under to just under a third for individuals aged 60 to 64.[6] On the other side, applicants can get discounts if they do not smoke and are healthy.[7]
Starting in 1976, some states started providing guaranteed-issuance risk pools, which enable individuals who are medically uninsurable through private health insurance to purchase a state-sponsored health insurance plan, usually at higher cost. Minnesota was the first to offer such a plan; 34 states now offer them. Plans vary greatly from state to state, both in their costs and benefits to consumers and to their methods of funding and operations. They serve a very small portion of the uninsurable market — about 182,000 people in the U.S. as of 2004,[8] but in best cases allow people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other chronic illnesses to be able to switch jobs or seek self-employment without fear of being without health care benefits.[9] Efforts to pass a national pool have as yet been unsuccessful, but some federal tax money has been awarded to states to innovate and improve their plans.

Bethany Wilkerson and Her Family on MSNBC Countdown

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The "Soldier's and Citizen's Rally against the War" in Syracuse, NY on Sept. 29th


On a beautiful Saturday afternoon last week, I saw something incredible - people, thousands of people coming together, peacefully yet passionately united to end the most unnecessary war this country ever fought since Vietnam.

We came with signs like "Healthcare NOT Warfare, " or "Green Party Veterans Against the War," or "BUSH - WEAPON OF MASS DECEPTION." Many groups came together because the war in Iraq is an obstacle to their causes just as the Vietnam War was a generation ago. There were Greens there, as well as Iraq Veterans Against the War, childcare advocates, a Catholic priest, the SEIU, chapters of the DFA from all over New York State.

The first rally occurred at Everson Museum Plaza. Somehow, we packed at least 2,500 people there to hear veterans speak out against the insincere absurdities they encountered in the American war effort, and how that turned them against the war.



There were at least two die-ins on the march to Walnut Park and S.U. Both were under the sign: "IF NEW YORK WERE IRAQ." I am an uncle to two little girls, and began to think about the little children who were dying in Anbar, Ramadi and Baghdad.


Myself, I chose a more humorous approach to a visual presentation. A listener to Stephanie Miller, I used one of my many contributions to Photoshop Fun at Stephanie, a "living caricature" of a terrified Dubya, which I pasted onto both sides of the placard. It was a way to ritually force a horrified Bush to look with fear and trepidation at a crowd not vetted by the Secret Service, and unencumbered by Loyalty Oaths or Pledges! The caption read: "Ruggie! Wheresz Mah Ruggie?!"

Actually, this was an attempt to encourage any tired marchers to keep going by creating a sense of joy at scaring the bejeezus out of Dubya.

As we marched into Walnut Park, (with people beeping us and yelling encouragements along the way) the last rally began. Marine Lance Corporal John Turner told us all how at every tour in Iraq, things got progressively worse and how he changed from a "gung ho Marine" as the Syracuse New Times:
put it - to a disillusioned one.



An hour after the rally began, marchers were STILL pouring in as a massive crowd! Placards were everywhere!

Later, although i could not attend, I heard that on campus at S.U. there were speakers like Scott Ritter, Dr.. Dahlia Wasfi and other witnesses who were there in Iraq who saw the disastrous results of the Bush War Machine and his Lie Factory.


As I saw the mass of people filling up Walnut Park, vibrant with energy and commitment, I realized that this must have been what it was like in the Sixties, only better because the people are behind us, and there were no riots. Those marches were of a generation. This one spanned ALL generations.

I can find no better a way to end the story than with a quote from SNT:

They had marched through the streets from downtown, where an even larger group had gathered at 1 p.m. outside the Everson Museum, 401 Harrison St. It was by far the largest peace march downtown Syracuse had seen in years, and it came at an important time in the debate about the Iraq war. The Bush administration appears determined to continue the conflict in spite of public sentiment, as evidenced by the November 2006 elections and polls showing Americans want the war to end.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lions ‘n Tigers ‘n Youtubes Oh My!

Lions 'n Tigers 'n Bears Oh My!

The Youtube Snowman’s Gonna GIT Ya!

The Republicans do not make good stand-ins for Dorothy in the Land of Oz, but this Youtube thing has taken them away from Munchkin Land into the big black Forest and it has really got them scared!

So, what exactly about Youtube causes the Republicans such fear and consternation?

I watched the debate and found that for the most part the people who participated asked incisive and penetrating questions. As Blog House from the Minneapolis Star Tribune put it:

One mother of a serviceman stationed in Iraq asked if Democrats were "putting politics before conscience," a worker at a refugee camp in Darfur asked if the candidates could promise the children there a better life and a lesbian couple from New York and a minister from North Carolina asked about gay marriage.

In addition, there were questions about Social Security, illegal aliens, terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, global warming - all asked by people who were not afraid to cite reports and quote statistics.

Moreover, the "snowman" asked a pithy question about that global warming Mr. Romney.

Now, I'm curious about Republican reticence in participating in the largest town hall like debate in the history of U.S. elections. It's not like they haven't done free-for-all debates before, and they do use the Internet.

Now they accuse CNN and Youtube of "cherry picking" questions to make the Dems look good. To me, that's a non sequitur. Given the last 6 years of Republican disasters on the job, a third-grader with a D average would be up to the task.

Of course, CNN and Youtube would weed out the jokesters, wiseasses, loonies, and otherwise incomprehensibles. However, if even the person who called his assault rifle his "baby," had a clear and concise question to ask, his post got airtime.

Now, Mitt Romney has some 18 of his own postings on his which can be reached from his own webpage.

All of his "official" postings tout his opinions, or what a great guy he is.

So, what are Mitt Romney and the other Republicans afraid of?

In my opinion, they are afraid of what they can't control.

Mitt Romney can't control all the other Youtubers who posted their own versions of Romney's greatest hits, showing him to be a flip-flopper. Like the ones on Election Central:

In the Romney videos you can watch Romney...Pledge not to impose his moral beliefs on others. Praise his mother's 1970 Senate campaign in Michigan as a pro-choice candidate. Discuss the experience of an in-law who died from a botched illegal abortion. Say the Boy Scouts of America ought to allow gays to participate. Completely distance himself from Ronald Reagan. And much, much more!

He also can't control his own ignorance of a new media, as when it manifested itself in his on air confusion of Youtube and MySpace.

The Republicans can't conceive of anything working well without being controlled therefore, they believe that if they don't control it, "big money Liberals, " or MSM controls it.

The truth is - Google controls it. In addition, Google does not care about political or religious opinion. The fact is, anyone on Youtube can post so long as the postings are tasteful, and are not sexually or blatantly offensive.

People get a little creative on Youtube. After all, it's their 15 minutes of fame. In addition, it's a cheap way to produce a video, or an indie short. And so, some Youtubers became the Slam Poets of the Internet, with props and all.

Yet to the Republicans, it's just controlled anarchy.

At least from Jed Babbin's of Human point of view, the whole CNN/Youtube thing was a "clown show," and Republicans shouldn't engage the Dems in anything other than in tightly controlled, micromanaged events stacked in the Republican's favor:

Think about it:†get the folks from, say, RedState, PowerLine, InstaPundit, LittleGreenFootballs and a couple of the milblogs like BlackFive and Sgt. Hook. (Guys, I know Iím neglecting a lot of other good-to-excellent ones.† But there just ainít enough room.)† Let Michelle Malkin moderate it.† The result will be the boost from online activism the Republicans whine they lack, and theyíll get a much better questions than theyíll get from YouBoobTube.

Uh, Jed, the whole idea behind debates is to present your point of view and try to win people over to it. Preaching to the converted is just icing on your cake, and strictly incidental.

Perhaps I'm wrong about this. However this media has the potential for great power. The Republicans are proving this despite themselves. By refusing to participate, they show themselves to be controlling and manipulating - cowards. Which means they can stand in for the Wicked Witch!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lugar, Domenici, and..."I Told You So?"

Lugar Snowe Domenici

Many people have shown themselves to be unrealistically impatient with this Congress. Cindy Sheehan now wishes to run against Nancy Pelosi in her District. I myself have heard Liberal talk show hosts dismiss Pelosi and Reid's sincerity with a broad backhanded slap. Moreover, of course, Congress, elected with high expectations to end this war now has an approval rating on a par with Bush's.

I think the 110th Congress has been badly undersold. You see things are changing. The glacier is moving. People said “Do Nothing Congress!” I said, “Give this Congress a
Chance!” Now I’m declaring a tentative “I told you so.”

I have a couple of theories about why a tipping point in favor of the Dems is now occurring in Congress.

Theory One: Some Republicans are actually getting sick, tired, and impatient with the conduct of the war in Iraq, and are not happy with the prospect of a lengthy commitment in that war-torn country.

Theory Two: At least one major Senate Republican has a nasty ethics tie-in with the ever-popular Alberto Gonzales that he would like to see go away.

Theory Three: Many Republicans see how unpopular Bush and the war are, and are worried about the slavish pro-war stance all GOP hopefuls are taking as they try to appeal to the Right in 2008 and all the negativity it will inspire in the general elections They note which way the wind is blowing, and the money is going - in Democrat's pockets! In comparison with the poorest Dem Presidential hopeful, the richest GOP contender is a pauper!

Theory 1 is exemplified by Republican Senators such as Dick Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Lugar's Wikipedia profile suggests no improprieties on his part. Apparently, Lugar is so popular that twice he ran for the Senate unopposed by the Democratic Party in Indiana. The first time he got 87% of the vote.

Moreover, he could work with the other side to:

As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Lugar built bipartisan support for 1996 federal farm program reforms, ending 1930s-era federal production controls. He worked to initiate a biofuels research program to help decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil, and led initiatives to streamline the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reform the food stamp program, and preserve the federal school lunch program.

Well, at least the Wikipedians don't feel the need to write home about any Lugar shenanigans, so let's see what Wiki says about his stand on the war:

Stance on Iraq War

On June 25, 2007, Senator Lugar, who had been 'a reliable vote for President Bush on the war,' said that 'Bush's Iraq strategy [is] not working and ... the U.S. should downsize the military's role.'[4]

Lugar's blunt assessment has been viewed as significant in that it shows the growing impatience and dissatisfaction with President Bush's strategy in Iraq. Lugar's speech had particular resonance given his stature as one of the party's elder statesmen on foreign policy. After Lugar finished his remarks, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), a sharp critic of the war, praised Lugar's 'thoughtful, sincere and honest' speech, which Durbin said was in 'finest tradition of the U.S. Senate.'[5] Durbin urged his Senate colleagues to take a copy of Lugar's speech home over the Fourth of July break and study it before returning to work.[5] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, in reaction to Lugar's speech: 'When this war comes to an end, and it will come to an end, and the history books are written, and they will be written, I believe that Sen. Lugar's words yesterday could be remembered as a turning point in this intractable civil war in Iraq. '[6]

Two days later, on June 27, 2007, Lugar said that Congressional measures aimed at curtailing U.S. military involvement in Iraq, including 'so-called timetables, benchmarks,' have 'no particular legal consequence,' are 'very partisan,' and "will not work.

Olympia Snowe is considered one of the fairest impartial and honest Senators in a long time. At the Clinton impeachment trial, she voted to acquit once a motion to vote separately on the charges and the remedy failed.

Snowe is a moderate and resolutely so. According to Wikipedia:

Snowe is a self-described political moderate, whose independence in the Senate often marks her for complaints from more conservative groups, especially over her support for legalized abortion and gay rights. On other social issues like drug policy, travel to Cuba, and censorship issues like government regulation of the media and prohibiting flag-burning, Snowe is quite conservative. In fiscal matters and on defense, Snowe is also generally conservative. She has been long-regarded as a hawk on foreign affairs, supporting both President Clinton's involvement in Kosovo and President George W. Bush's interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, however she recently has criticized the administration's involvement in Iraq.

So, Snowe and Lugar ain't got no skin in the game other than what they feel is right. What about Pete Domenici?

By all rights, Domenici should be part of Bush's Praetorian Guard.

According to Wikipedia, Republicans for Environmental Protection called Domenici "Worst in the Senate in 2006." This brings me to Theory 2.

In addition to assigning Domenici a score of zero for his environmental voting record, the group issued him ìenvironmental harm demeritsî for what they saw as two particularly irresponsible acts: first, for spearheading efforts to include in federal budget legislation provisions for ìspeculative revenues from oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; second, 'for sponsoring and securing passage of S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which would perpetuate Americaís dangerous oil dependence, set a precedent for drilling in sensitive marine waters, and direct a disproportionate share of federal royalty revenues from a public resource to four states.

The nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters is also not happy with him for voting to allow mining companies to buy patents on public lands to mine them without environmental standards for $5 or less an acre. Real sweet guy!

Now what would make an environmentally sensitive guy like Pete suddenly grow a conscience on an issue like Iraq? Doesn't he know they've got oil there?

Perhaps I rely too much on Wikipedia, but once more, they have got something interesting to say that may shed light on the timing of Pete's newfound religion:

Prior to the 2006 midterm election Domenici called and pressured then-United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico David Iglesias to speed up indictments in a federal corruption investigation, immediately prior to an election, that involved at least one former Democratic state senator. When Iglesias said an indictment wouldn't be handed down until at least December, Domenici said "I'm very sorry to hear that" ó and the line went dead. Iglesias was fired one week later by the Bush Administration. A communication by a senator or House member with a federal prosecutor regarding an ongoing criminal investigation is a violation of ethics rules. In a March 2007 statement, Domenici admitted making such a call.[4] House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., issued subpoenas to require Iglesias and three other ousted U.S. attorneys to testify before Congress.[5]

Domenici later admitted calling Iglesias, though Domenici claimed he never used the word 'November' when he called Iglesias about an ongoing Albuquerque courthouse corruption case.[6] Domenici has denied trying to influence Iglesias, and has hired lawyer K. Lee Blalack II to represent him.[7]

According to the Justice Department, Domenici called the Department and demanded Iglesias be replaced on four occasions.[8]

According to the Washington Post, on the day of the firing (Dec 7, 2006) William Kelley, a deputy to then White House Counsel Harriet Miers, said in an email that Domenici's chief of staff was 'happy as a clam' about the Iglesias firing. A week later, a Justice Department email to the White House counsel stated: 'Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias's body to cool).'

Now with Gonzales being investigated for what now looks like perjury over Attorneygate now would be a good time to get on the investigator's good side. Play the anti-war card!

Theory Three is one out of left field, but quite logical if you think about it. There's been a load shift in the political truck as it careens toward Election City. It's been due to how Americans perceive the situation in Iraq, how they see the overall performance of this Administration, how they view the Republican Party, and a perceived "Culture of Corruption" within it. It's also logical to assume that rank and file Republicans feel somewhat demoralized. And so, one result of this is a realization that Democrats and the Progressive Left in general are growing in power. A major indicator of this is the fact that for the first time in my memory, the Democratic Party, and it's candidates are outraising the Republicans in funding while the Republicans, possibly out of panic, are spending like sailors!

Even FOX NEWS has been forced to admit this:

Democrats outraised Republicans about $80 million to $50 million from April through June. But Republicans kept pace with Democrats on spending ó nearly $50 million spent on both sides.

The Democrats' money advantage was helped in large part by the extraordinary fundraising of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. He raised $32 million for the primary; she raised $21.5 million.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics site, the securities and investment industry's favorite recipient of funds is Hilary Clinton. Before it was Mitt Romney.

The Wall Street Journal's prognosis of the situation is this:

If their fund-raising advantage continues -- so far, Democrats have been pulling in about 58% of overall donations to federal-office seekers -- they will have more resources for pricey advertising, organization building and voter outreach next November to buttress their edge in the polls. Moreover, Democrats' focus on small donors leaves them room to raise more cash over the next year, since many contributors have yet to hit the legal limit of $2,300 per candidate per election, and could potentially keep giving.

And so, it seems, at least now that people perceive that Republicans and Conservatives in general are on their way out, and Liberal will stop being a dirty word.

Therefore, I now feel that I was right to defend this Congress, because I feel that the votes are going in the anti-war direction. One reason may be that many Republicans are waking up to the dire situation in Iraq. Another reason is that due to the probes into possible corruption in the Administration, some legislators may find themselves in awkward positions they may wish to distance themselves from. Finally, some Republicans have their political fingers in the wind, and see which way the wind blows.

All of which leads me to say that Pelosi and Reid are being undersold; This Congress will get its benchmarks and an exit strategy! I give you a tentative "I told you so!"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Scooter Libby, The Little Power Clique That Could, and "Omerta."


But this belief in intrinsic legal immunity extends to the entire Bush movement (which has become virtually synonymous with "neoconservatism"). That is what explains the literally endless defense not merely of individual acts of illegality, but of the claimed power to break the law in general. They are an authoritarian movement which believes only in its own power. By definition, none of its Leaders can ever be guilty of anything because to be a Leader of that movement means, by definition, that their actions are always for the Good and that anything which impedes those actions -- whether it be ethics, political principles or the law -- are unjust."

Glenn Greenwald -

Comrades!" he cried. You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.

Squealer - Animal House

Scooter Libby is well protected. He's supposed to be in jail now. You see, he's guilty of lying to obfuscate an investigation of charges of treason.

Six years of gaming the system by Bush and Congress created this Culture of Corruption, and the rules it lives by. One rule is: If you are in The Group, be loyal, and you will be rewarded. Disloyalty will be punished. Of course, Rule 2 is: reward loyalty. Corollary 1 to that rule is: If loyalty is not rewarded, expect disloyalty. Corollary 2? Disloyalty leads to aired out dirty linen. Corollary 4 is: Paranoid treachery to the loyal that are in trouble leads to disloyalty with lethal consequences. Therefore remember: A good crime boss always rewards loyalty. Scooter Libby was on the inside, and had to be treated that way.

Anyway you look at it, Libby is in The Group, and The Group is to be beyond the reach of government or the law.

All the safeguards are there to guarantee complete _omerta_ for all the dirty doings of The Group. This echelon can do many things under the cloak of secrecy. Worried about the legality of extraordinary rendition of suspects to countries that are not too particular about violating a prisoner's rights while interrogating them? No problem. The Group has _omerta._ Outing loyal CIA agents whose husbands had the temerity to expose one of The Group's scams, lying to cover up the deed, and then protecting the liar to ensure his silence is par for the course in The Group.

And so The Group operates by it's own rules, and it doesn't care how many holes it puts in our Constitution.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pelosi, Reid and the Circular Firing Squad

Pelosi Reid

Many people in the Progressive camp are upset over the war-funding bill that passed a few weeks ago, thinking that they've been betrayed by overly cautious Democrats who are too busy reading tea leaves to "get off their collective asses and DO SOMETHING!" I couldn't disagree with them more.

While I would rather have a hard and fast timetable for exiting from Iraq, I just don't see how it's feasible to get everything we want while Americans still have a great deal of ambivalence about our exit strategy.

I see how it all looks: First Congress says; " Accept this timetable Dubya!," all the while knowing they will compromise after the inevitable veto. All for the lack of 60 veto-proof Republican votes. How will they regain their traction?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the war, as well as the hurricane season may have something to do with it.

The situation still continues to deteriorate in Iraq, and given the track record of the Bush outfit, this new gamble of giving arms to Sunni militias that previously fought us on the basis that they will fight al Qaeda is really Russian Roulette with 3 rounds in the barrel. Who says that they won't turn on the Shiite dominated government? Who says that they won't turn on us again? And what if they decided that al Qaeda can be an ally? Doesn't the whole project smack of desperation anyway?

And why is it that some people on the Left feel that it is their right to bully those of us who are not so extreme in our positions? So Pelosi & Co. can't get you everything you want. What many on the Left don't understand are the political realities we've all been confronting in general and in Congress in particular.

Democratic control over Congress is new and as yet not consolidated. Half of those 30 competitive House seats captured by Democrats went to centrists, some of whom like Nick Lampson or Tim Mahoney voted against Iraq troop withdrawal. These are people whose seats are virtually still in play, and are being targeted in 2008 by Republicans. They cannot just simply "vote their consciences" without at least taking into consideration the feelings of their constituents who may not all be so up in that about being Liberal. And what about Dems like Jack Murtha? What about the vets? How can you expect Jack Murtha to vote against funding for the troops?

And what have you, at the grassroots level been doing? Did you picket? Did you write letters, or e-mails? Did you at least call your Congressman? It's fine to bitch and crab about "sell out" politicians, but it's your job to really put on the pressure. Pelosi, Reid & Co. can only go so far. You have to take it the rest of the way.

I just had a look at's demographics of the U.S. House of Representatives. Did you know that there are only 2 registered Independents, that is - if you count Joe Lieberman as an "Independent" on the war. Of the Democratic Representatives in office there sits a majority of 285. Of the Republicans, there sits a minority of 250. There's only a difference of 37 votes between the two parties. Not enough to override a veto. Especially if the guy issuing that veto is a stubborn, moronic Republican. Where is the veto-proof majority?

The recent vote on illegal immigrants and the test vote on Alberto Gonzales proves my point. The illegal immigrant bill was the exception that proved the rule. Without those Republicans, not even an alliance between Reid and Bush could save the bill from defeat. Now comes the Iraq war, where Dubya and the G.O.P are thick as thieves. With Bush & Co. tag teaming the Dems, the only 3 options are to keep up the pressure on Republicans, impeachment of the Vice-President, and the defeat of those who chose to obstruct the passage of this bill. In my opinion, only the first option is viable. the other two will take until next year to do. Handy for the election, but how many will die in Iraq 'till then?

The More Liberal Than Thou faction seems to forget that in any democratic legislature, especially one so closely divided, politics is a game of numbers, based on who the Congressman represents, and whether or not your people can give that person a deal they could live with. And in a closely divided Congress, even the party in control has to make sacrifices. And like Woodrow Wilson and his failure to ratify the Versailles Treaty, those who are trapped in their ideology are doomed to sink in it.

I hear that in Officer Training School you learn one hard rule that applies to a representative democracy:

The enemy always gets a vote.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why I Won't Weep Over Jerry Falwell

So now, the old Snail has gotten to write again.

It has been a few weeks but I did not have the opportunity to do some proper research on anything for a while. I’ve been dealing with a few personal matters, and with me personal matters get very sticky.

Thank heavens Jerry Falwell reminded me of where my true focus should be!

Falwell was an interesting man who was a paradox in some ways yet in most he was very predictable. Pardon me, but I’ll stick to what made him predictable.

I always found his demeanor to be smug and condescending. It was as if he felt that he knew the secrets of the universe, and we were all merely his acolytes.

He did some good things. In 1967, Falwell created the Lynchburg Christian Academy, a fully accredited K-12 day school. He created and built up the Thomas Road Baptist congregation from a handful to a mega church. His founding of Liberty University and even the Moral Majority were all par for the course. If you believe in something create the mechanisms to attain your goal.

However, what I remember is that smug, blustering boob that pontificated to all, and condemned the innocent and undeserving to damnation, all according to his own special criteria.

His tunnel vision was strikingly obvious when he actually had the temerity to blame 9/11 on the courts, gays, lesbians, feminists, abortion, the A.C.L.U. and civil libertarians!

According to the Washington Post,"On September 14, 2001, on Pat Robertson’s show he said:

The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'

How’s that? The A.C.L.U. and P.F.AW. left us open to terrorism? Hardly! The inattention of the Bush gang to the red flags like a PDB of possible terrorism as well as our basically one-sided policy in the Middle East might actually have had something to do with 9/11. If anything, the intolerance manifested in Falwell’s statement is closer to that of bin Laden’s than anything the A.C.L.U. or the P.F.A.W. believes in.

All his life he had a tunnel vision that allowed him to make such divisive statements. In the Sixties, Falwell was pro segregation, and called the Civil Rights movement the “Civil Wrongs” movement. In the Eighties he, a man of God, defended the use of nuclear weapons.

Of course, after every gaffe Jerry would get religion and apologize after the nation showed appropriate indignation, outrage, or ridicule.

Which reminds me of Falwell the buffoon.

Poor, sweat Tinky Winky! How could he have known that carrying a purple purse constitutes portraying a gay character? Poor clumsy Falwell! Shouldn’t he have double checked his editor’s article on Tinky Winky in his National Liberty Journal? I don’t sem to recall him trying to distance himself from that article.

Falwell always made mountains out of molehills, whether it was prayer in schools, or same sex marriage. And of course, Falwell always made himself out to be more important than he was.

“Some people,” as Hannity would say, even postulated that Falwell’s importance to American politics was a little inflated.

Jonathan Alter was not as impressed with Falwell as most people were:

According to lore (and much of the coverage of his death), November, 1980 found Falwell at the peak of his powers. That was the month Ronald Reagan was elected president, after having met with Falwell and other members of his brilliantly-named organization, "The Moral Majority." While Falwell might have contributed slightly to Reagan's margin of victory, he was not even close to being instrumental in his election. With incumbent Jimmy Carter bogged down with the Iranian hostage crisis and double-digit inflation and interest rates, Reagan won with 57 percent of the vote -- a huge landslide. At best, the Moral Majority added a point or two to Reagan's totals. More likely, it contributed nothing. Exit polls showed that Carter bested Reagan among Southern Baptists, 50-46 percent. And abortion ranked well behind foreign policy and economics among issues that mattered most to voters that year.

Look, someone will undoubtedly feel the loss for Falwell's passing. It just won't be me. Too much water has passed under the bridge for too many people.

Wikipedia - Jerry Falwell

The National Liberty Journal

Positive Atheism's Big Scary List of
Jerry Falwell

Fallwell's Liberty University Bio

Friday, April 13, 2007

No Freedom of Speech for Don Imus?

Imus 2

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Beatrice Hall

Something troubles me.

It's not that I liked Don Imus. Frankly I despised him for his adolescent insensitivity. I still remember that obscene gesture that he did with a wet cigar around 1998 during the Lewinsky scandal. Despite whatever Bill Clinton did in the White House, he did not deserve that kind of treatment on national TV, even from a detractor like Imus. Captain Cowboy Hat and his crew has a long record of such abusive behavior of which the Rutgers incident was only the latest. He should be shunned. He should be ostracized. He is pond scum.

According to MediaMatters, Imus has a rap sheet on both arms. This year alone, he was accused of at least echoing a phrase that he attributed to his executive producer, "Besa mi culo," in reference to Gov. Bill Richardson. In March, executive producer Bernard McGuirk in character as "Cardinal Egan," equated Barack Obama's topping Hilary Clinton's fundraising to a stereotypical view of black criminals.

Imus & Co. are also is said to have cast racial slurs on Jews, Arabs, Latinos, you name it.

And women from all walks of life were special targets for Imus. The stronger, more powerful the woman, the more they got the Imus treatment.

Still, despite all that, his career shouldn't have been ended.

If Imus was fired because of something he said, and those girls were deeply offended, then we shouldn't castigate Bill O'Reilly's attempts get Keith Olbermann fired, because after all, despite the fact that Olbermann was being honest, O'Reilly was offended by what he said, and how he portrays O'Reilly. And what about Rosie O'Donnell?

Can we afford what may turn into a witch hunt?

Bill Maher is a man who may well understand the position that Imus is in because also lost a show for saying something which at the time, (somewhere after September 11, 2001,) was assumed to be contrary to the tensions and overwrought sensitivities of the time. According to Radio Ink, Maher rushed to Imus's show, and defended him with these words:

I just think there is so much in this country about making people go away for a mistake. It's a mistake, you apologized, and you know you don't lose your livelihood - I don't understand that people have to lose their livelihood because they made one rotten joke. It's like nobody in this country can have one moment of discomfort. If you were made to feel one moment of discomfort, the person who caused it has to go away and that's just ridiculous.

Yeah it was a bad joke, it was real creepy but after that people move on. You know? Don't listen to you any more. You will lose some black listeners and that should be your punishment.

Of course, Bill didn't take into account that Imus & Co. are repeat offenders, but essentially, he is right.

People on the Left have as much to fear from this business as well as the Right. While not nearly as caustic as a Michael Savage, Limbaugh and O'Reilly, radio Left of the dial has many provocative and envelope pushing talents that might one day go too far. Stephanie Miller mentioned fears of "a slight chilling effect." And I'm sure Mike Molloy his offended somebody with his acid tongue. Did I mention the outspoken Randi Rhodes? So many people ion the Left have been attacked and smeared for their speech by the Right, that we should be the first to defend anyone’s freedom of speech. And yet, sometimes even we turn on the A.C.L.U.

I really hate to say this, but there has always been a slight totalitarian streak in many on the Left. It manifests itself in their ability to dismiss out of hand ideas that they are opposed to. It gave rise to political correctness. It also manifests itself in uncalled for bullying, harassment and head hunting.

For this very post I fear there will be a very caustic reaction. Once again, I DO hate the sinner, and would consign him to a very special circle of Hell, as well as hate the sin. To those who tout all of Imus's charities and big heart I would say:

Forget it! He hurt people, and many of them were weaker than he!

But I would not consign freedom of speech to the shredder! just because someone abused it. That the Rutgers girls were deeply hurt and offended by what Imus said, I have no doubt, but those girls are at a point in their live where they can overcome this adversity. Imus, at his age lost his career.

I wonder if anyone remembers how many times certain groups tried to take a few library books off the shelves because they found some words or passages in those books to be objectionable? Some books I’m sure were like Mein Kampf, or maybe somebody didn’t like O’Reilly’s books. But then, some people didn’t like Mark Twain’s books like Huckleberry Finn, or Tom Sawyer, because they had the “N“ word in them. No one remembers what a great thinker Mark Twain was, or that his books were written with the best of intensions.

Freedom is only freedom if the least of us can have it. Otherwise it’s only privilege. And privilege only serves to control people.

Bill Maher

Huffington Post - Michael Fauntroy, PhD "What's Next Al?"

A Poem about Don Imus

New York Times - Networks Condemn Remarks by Imus

Thursday, April 05, 2007

John McCain and the Potemkin, sorry I meant Shorja Market

John McCain Potemkin 1

Potemkin Village - From Wikipedia:

Potemkin villages were, purportedly, fake settlements erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. Conventional wisdom has it that Potemkin, who led the Crimean military campaign, had hollow facades of villages constructed along the desolate banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the monarch and her travel party with the value of her new conquests, thus enhancing his standing in the empress's eyes.

So John McCain and Lindsay Graham took themselves a little stroll in a Baghdad sook didn't they? Get a little local flavor, some face time with the folks right? Show us all how safe things are becoming in Iraq by not wearing the old brain bucket right? And those quaint little Iraqi merchants were so friendly! Heavens! A little island of peace and love! A taste of what the future of Iraq will be!

All to be gobbled by the folks at home via the TeeVee!

Only, there's one small problem:

When you're trying to pull off as large a PR scam as this, you can't let them see the gears turning!

Lindsay, John, it's nice that you went to the market sans helmets, but you should've left your flak jackets at home as well. But that was just one of the smallest giveaways. There's more.

You see, I can't even remember the last time I went to the Farmer's Market with a couple of Blackhawks and Apache gunships flying overhead. Have to keep control of my expenses you know. After all Johnny, you did say things in Iraq are getting better now didn't you?

From Capitol Hill Blue:

Monday, 02 April 2007
According to Arizona Senator John McCain, life in Baghdad is pretty safe these days - so safe, he says, that he walked freely in an open air market without any fear for his safety.

On his "safe" walk through the Shorja market where 137 Iraqis died from a truck bomb in February, hundreds of combat-ready American soldiers surrounded McCain and his party while Blackhawk helicopters provided air cover. The Senator, and others, wore flak vests.

The market where McCain walked "freely" is also fortified with blast walls and "Jersey barriers" to restrict vehicle traffic.

Reporters weren't allowed along on McCain's "walk of safety." An Army spokesman cited "security" as a concern for limiting access by the press. Instead, the military provided photos and video afterwards. After the Senator and two Republican colleagues returned to the safety of the even-more-heavily-fortified "Green Zone," he bragged about how safe Iraq had become under the seven-week-old "troop surge."

While he spoke, roadside bombs southwest of Baghdad killed six American soldiers. They weren't surrounded by a security cordon of troops pulled off regular duty to protect visiting VIPs. No Blackhawks circled overhead to provide extra security.

It's a sad state of affairs when a photo op by an aspiring Presidential candidate warrants more protection than American men and women fighting in an out-of-control civil war.

And I'm happy that you brought along that nice Gen. Petraeus and 100 of his boys! They deserve a break! But in a new and improved more peaceful Iraq, did they really need to bring all that hardware? After all it's not like somebody was going to bomb the place! Pity that few other Americans had such luck in another part of Baghdad:


4 G.I.ís Among Dead in Iraq; McCain Cites Progress

April 2, 2007

BAGHDAD, April 1 ó Mortar attacks, suicide car bombs, roadside bombs, ambushes and gun battles killed at least two dozen people on Sunday, including four American soldiers, the authorities said.
The American military command said the soldiers were killed southwest of Baghdad just after midnight as they responded to an earlier bombing that had killed two other American soldiers. The insurgents have frequently tried to reap greater death tolls by carrying out attacks against rescue crews rushing to bomb sites.

Such a nice peaceful day! And why on such a day did you and the other Republicans feel that you needed to bring 100 soldiers with full hardware on a shopping spree? Maybe you were trying to hide something? Maybe you knew that without those G.I.s, those Apaches and Blackhawks your life wouldn't be worth a plug nickel! And maybe without that preliminary sweep, you'd've lost more than your big tow to an I.E.D as your were strolling. Maybe Dubya was so anxious to save his legacy and you were so desperate to prop up a sagging Presidential campaign that you put on an act and threw up your own Potemkin Village just to try and fool the people. All nothing but props while the media and the people float by in their barges and merely give it all a glance.

Well, guess what Senator McCain:

This time the barges decided to dock. Time for a little stroll of our own to see what's behind the props of your little Potemkin Market.

IraqSlogger Sen. John McCain Goes Shopping For Votes

Monday, March 26, 2007

George W. Bush and the Supernanny

bush copy

He's had it Too Good for Too Long. Now he has to Learn to Make Nice.

Does George W. Bush have any notion of what true maturity and responsibility are?

A truly mature person is one who understands his own fallibilities, and does not seek to judge and condemn others whom he perceives fault in. He does not assume that he is always right, that his decisions are the only ones that matter and that nobody else has the right has the right to an opinion but he.

A mature person is forthcoming, evenhanded, and respectful of the rights and prerogatives of his colleagues in government. A mature person is mindful that he and those colleagues are all working toward the same goal, in this case the security and well being of the American people, and is not insultingly dismissive of any notions other than his own for furthering those ends.

A responsible person is one who owns up to his mistakes, and doesn't try to hide them with platitudes and cheap appeals for a rigid, false patriotism. Responsible people do not try to misdirect from their failures by attacking the opposition with a broad tar-laden brush to obscure the well-meaning arguments of the opposition.

Responsible people do not go into cover-up mode every time suspicions are raised about certain actions of the administration. They are so secure in the knowledge of their honesty that they confront their accusers and allow their minions to testify and not hide behind executive privilege.

This week we learned just how immature and irresponsible George W. Bush could be.

The Immature Crybaby Bush, Prone to Temper Tantrums:

Mr. Bush seems to have forgotten that a new Congress was elected almost solely because nobody wants this war, and the Dems promised to end it.

In a press conference at the Diplomatic Reception Room,with his own bit of political theater behind him, he dismissed out of hand one of the prerogatives that Congress has, the power of the purse:

The Democrats have sent their message, now it's time to send their money. This is an important moment -- a decision for the new leaders in Congress. Our men in women in uniform should not have to worry that politicians in Washington will deny them the funds and the flexibility they need to win. Congress needs to send me a clean bill that I can sign without delay. I expect Congress to do its duty and to fund our troops, and so do the American people -- and so do the good men and women standing with me here today.

And with this Dubya gave the back of his hand to the American people.

He refused to acknowledge that nobody but the extremists wants to "cut and run."

A mature person could learn to see the other side’s view, even if he still disagrees with it. A mature Bush could have seen the advantage of having a deadline for exiting Iraq in 2008. It will focus the Iraqi government, and if the insurgents lie low, that only means that we'll have time to finish training the Iraqi forces and ingratiate ourselves with the people there by actually improving their lives. And the House’s plan not only does not call for immediate withdrawal, but calls for every one of the Iraqi government’s aims to be accomplished by that deadline. According to the official summary of bill H.R. 1591, the emergency funding bill:

Directs the President to transmit to Congress by specified dates certain determinations and certifications with respect to conditions to be met by the Government of Iraq. Requires redeployment of the armed forces from Iraq if any of such conditions is not met.

Directs the President to appoint a Coordinator for Iraq Assistance, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Declares that Congress will fully support the needs of members of the Armed Forces who the Commander in Chief has deployed in harm's way in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and their families.

That would put the insurgents between their rat holes and a hard place.

Yet, Dubya refused to see where Congress's ideas converged with his, and splattered tar all over Congress and the people with a sealant brush called "cut and run."

And then there's Bush's command performance this week concerning the Gonzales matter.

Responsibility and Confidentiality in the Oval Office:

Q If today's offer from Mr. Fielding is your best and final offer on this, are you going to go to the mat in protecting the principle that you talked about? And why not, since you say nothing wrong was done by your staff, why not just clear the air and let Karl Rove and other senior aides testify in public, under oath? There's been a precedent for previous administrations doing that.

THE PRESIDENT Some have, some haven't. My choice is to make sure that I safeguard the ability for Presidents to get good decisions.

Michael, I'm worried about precedents that would make it difficult for somebody to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here's what's on my mind. And if you haul somebody up in front of Congress and put them in oath and all the klieg lights and all the questioning, to me, it makes it very difficult for a President to get good advice. On the other hand, I understand there is a need for information sharing on this. And I put forth what I thought was a rational proposal, and the proposal I put forward is the proposal.

Confidentiality in the Oval Office is not necessarily implicit. Not when it entails conspiracy to commit crimes or unethical behavior.

On a local level, once probable cause is proved, the appropriate law enforcement bodies can bug a Chief Executive's office, be they governor or village mayor. After all, we are the ultimate bosses in this democracy not George W. And we have the right to know what are minions are doing in our name. And it is the height of irresponsibility for this administration to obstruct any investigation into unethical behavior.

Immature? Irresponsible? A mature person knows enough not to bite the hand that feeds it. If George W. Bush thinks that he will bring this Congress to heel, then he really has at best a fifty/fifty chance of succeeding. Time is on the Democrat's side, as more and more Republicans are coming over to coming over to their side.

A responsible person knows enough to come clean about his minions if the possibility of their unethical behavior arises. The boss of a company who cooperates fully is more likely to be trusted than one who constantly obstructs the investigation.

George W. Bush with his displays of arrogant closed-mindedness on the one hand, and obduracy on the other has shown that he is neither mature, nor responsible. He's like the spoiled little brat who has suddenly found himself with a stern new babysitter. Now it's a battle for control. But I have a suspicion that Supernanny will win.

President Bush Addresses Resignations of U.S. Attorneys

President Bush Discusses Iraq War Emergency Supplemental

H.R. 1591 - Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes.

H.R. 15981 as received in Senate - Summary

Friday, February 16, 2007

The "Iraq Surge," and Seven Things Wrong with It

1) First of all there aren't enough men. Equipment is not ready, yet political stress at home and distrust in Iraq will preclude any slow introduction of troops into the war zone.

Those 20,000 troops will be gradually "dribbled" in as if Iraq were nothing more than a sleet covered driveway getting halite. In fact, this is already beginning with delayed rotations, lowering standards for induction, and longer tours of duty.

Problem is, what if that is not enough?

Rule one of insurgency is;

Have the support of the population in whose name you are fighting.

Counter-insurgents must separate the guerillas from their constituent population or risk prolonging the war indefinitely.

Ever since we threw open the barn door, and gave Iraq over to the Shia, and alienated the Sunni, any kindergartener would've known that civil war in Iraq would have to be sectarian. And they would also know that alienated Sunnis, fearing the wrath of the Shiites has been enforced by "ethnic cleansing," would naturally rally around the first militia that calls them to action. It matters very little I think of who drew first blood at what mosque. This war was going to start because someone wanted it to.

And now the Sunni insurgency has all the support from the Sunnis that it needs. And we have done nothing to prevent it.

And it isn't the danger of attack from the Shia that is most imminent at the time,

2) If over 80% of the people in Iraq think it's OK to kill Americans, the insurgents and the militias have a potentially large reservoir of recruits.

3) This means that chasing insurgents may continue to be a game of "Whack A Mole." This situation is well illustrated in Wikipedia:

However, the majority of counter-insurgency efforts by major Western powers in the last century have been spectacularly unsuccessful. This may be attributed to a number of causes. First, as Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart pointed out in the Insurgency addendum to the second version of his book Strategy: The Indirect Approach, a popular insurgency has an inherent advantage over any occupying force. He showed as a prime example the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic wars. Whenever Spanish forces managed to constitute themselves into a regular fighting force, the superior French forces beat them every time. Whenever Spanish forces managed to constitute themselves into a regular fighting force, the superior French forces beat them every time. However, once dispersed and decentralized, the irregular nature of the guerilla campaigns proved a decisive counter to French superiority on the battle field. Napoleon's army had no means of effectively combating the guerilleros and in the end their strength and morale were so sapped that when Wellington finally was able to challenge French forces in the field, the French had almost no choice but to abandon the situation.

4) This means that "clear, hold & rebuild" will be very difficult because we will need far more than 20,000 or 40,000 to pervasively occupy insurgent controlled areas, and to expand these areas, due to our inability to trust Iraqi forces.

5) The Iraqi government cannot be trusted due to the heavy Shia influence of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and SCIRI.

6) Both Sunni and Shia can count on military and political support from Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, both surreptitious and otherwise. Bush keeps focusing on Iran's supposed culpability, but I seem to remember that Saudi Arabia has threatened to openly support the Sunni militias if we leave Iraq.

According to the Iraq Study Group Report, while the Saudi government may be an ally, many Saudis may be privately supporting the Sunni militias in Iraq:

Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals
within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate U.S. military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues.

7) The resources spent in Iraq would deprive the U.S. of needed resources at home. According to Associated Press, via MSNBC, Bush is asking for $100 billion more for military and diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan for this year and $145 billion for 2008. MSNBC goes on to say that those requests “come on top of about $344 billion spent for Iraq since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.” Bush is threatening to cut spending from hospitals, education, and sundry other things the middle class needs:

Portman said Bush's budget submission contains about a 1 percentage point cut in the rapid growth in Medicare - which averages almost 8 percent a year without changes - to squeeze about $66 billion in savings over five years from the federal health care program for the elderly.

Bush would curb payments to health care providers such as hospitals, and would require more of the higher-income recipients to pay greater premiums.

I've got a fabulous idea. Congress must tell Bush that any monetary support for our soldiers will be earmarked for adequate body armor, strengthened humvees, and all the other sorely lacking items our boys need to survive. And not one cent of that money will go to a ''surge!"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

George W. Bush's State of the Union: Train Wreck Due To Pilot Error

I hate to say this, but I found there to be nothing new in SOTU. . Bush's speech fell flat. It was predictable.

Although he seemed to be genuinely sincere in his congratulation of Nancy Pelosi as the first "Madame Speaker," he congratulated the new "Democrat" majority in Congress, with his usual "doublespeak," a backhanded complement if I ever heard one.

And a very revealing tell from a man who claims that he wants a bipartisan Congress. Funny, but it's only after control of Congress was wrested from a corrupt Republican party that he has revealed this new brotherly spirit. Before ‘06, ol' Dubya had a fine ol' time running over the Dems with his "Rubber Stamp faction. Now he's all lovey-dovey now that We Dems are back in power!

That's if you can assume that when he says things like:

Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority. (Applause.) Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

In other words: ‘‘it doesn't matter what all crazyass ideas you all have in Congress. We all are going to do things the right way - the Dubya way!" Bush's idea of bipartisan effort is where everyone shuts up and obeys every fiat from the Decider.

He showed how obstinately out of touch he was by bringing up some old failed chestnuts liked privatization, and the voodoo economics of balancing the budget and cutting the deficit without raising taxes on his precious "base."

On "No Child Left Behind," he has proved again to be intransigent, as he has refused to drop the impossible standards of the law, and called anyone who tried to reform the law "backsliders."

And then we heard the same old drivel desperately camouflaged to sneak past the public, like appointing judges only he likes, pretending that we are "fighting over there, so we don't have to fight them over here." And then, he had the NERVE to tell us that the responsibility for this war would be left to someone other than the guy who started it!

Of course Bush is decidedly simplistic about every last item of the rest of his speech. The Arabs who are terrorists "hate our freedom," as if poverty, tyranny weren't at all reasons to feel a great deal of antipathy toward the country that propped up the perpetuators of these conditions.

And it's all going to be Mickey-Mouse easy to bring democracy on the heels of those 21,000 new troops to Iraq right?

Wrong! "Some people," as Sean Hannity would say, believe that in the end we have only 3 choices: 1) Accept that there's a civil war on, and either back the Shia faction, which would be like backing your worst enemy, and make enemies out of the Middle East's Sunni majority. Or 2), we force a minority Sunni government on Iraq, which will oppress the Shiites once more.

Of course, Bush would not be Bush without brainlessly or thoughtlessly pushing on ahead with his plan without consulting with Congress. Most people tell him that 21,000 troops are not enough that more like 250,000 troops is necessary. But Bush doesn't see that as he accuses detractors of "stepping back.”

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

In case, you hadn't noticed Dubya, too late to close the barn door!