Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The essence of the Republican party

This isn't a joke.

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

You read that correctly. A business wants to protect its customers from serious illness and the Bush administration is trying to prevent that from happening. Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident. Remember the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter? How about the E. coli in fresh spinach? Or the lettuce at Taco Bell? Tainted pet food? Think it's all a coincidence that these reports of food chain contamination are appearing with increasing regularity? Think it's just the "librul media" taking pot shots at Bush?

Think again. This is the predictable result of Republican policies. It's how Republicans protect American citizens. Despite all their rhetoric to the contrary, Republicans couldn't care less about small government, financial responsibility, "family values," national security, or any of their other "signature" issues. In fact, they couldn't care less about the health, safety, and welfare of American citizens if they tried. Their philosophy of governance is that their primary responsibility is to protect corporate interests. Period. What, you're not rich? Cry me a river about your petty health care problems and your stagnant salary.

The above are just a few examples dealing with food safety. If you really want to see the contempt the Republican party has for all of us, look at these:
  • FEMA/Hurricane Katrina
  • Dept. of Education/Every child left behind
  • Alberto Gonzales/US Attorneys firings
  • Cheney's energy task force
  • Halliburton's No bid contracts
  • Falsification of justification for war with Iraq
  • Outing of Valerie Plame
  • Warrantless wiretapping
  • Walter Reed
  • EPA/WTC Ground zero air quality
  • Abu Ghraib/torture
  • Extraordinary rendition
  • Suspension of Habeas Corpus
  • Jack Abramoff
  • Extended tours of duty for soldiers in Iraq
The list goes on and one. Just think about these scandals the next time you hear a Republican proselytizing. He doesn't give a shit about you. He just wants your vote and he'll say anything he thinks you want to hear to get it. The evidence is right in front of you. All you need to do is open your eyes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

As the Justice Department Turns (over a spit)

Jesus H. Christ, how freakin' stoopid does the Bush administration, and in particular his Justice Department, think we are? There will always be the 28-percenters who would be okay with George Bush eating a live baby on the fifty yard line during the Super Bowl half-time show, but what about the rest of us? These officials sound like a bunch of children telling lies to their parents. None of them are even remotely believable.

I still remember the look on Patrick Leahy's face in response to Gonzales turning himself into a human pretzel during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13th. We've all seen that look from teachers in grade school whenever kids tried to give some bullshit excuse for not having their homework done. While watching him testify, I kept thinking of the scene from Oliver Stone's "JFK" in which David Ferrie (Joe Pesci) was telling his cockamamie story about a trip to Houston with "the boys" during a bad thunderstorm to go goose hunting without any guns, and Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) said something to the effect of, "I'm sorry, Mr. Ferrie, we're going to have to detain you for further questioning. Frankly, we find your story to be not believable", to which Ferrie replies, "Really?...Which part?"

Now today, Monica Goodling admitted she broke the law with her questioning of prospective employees, but she didn't mean to. (/me bangs head on table.) Then she let this gem slip:

[Goodling] said Gonzales told her, "Let me tell you what I can remember," and "laid out his general recollection" of the process leading up to the firings -- that he believed they had all been dismissed for performance-based reasons.
Let me get this straight. The Attorney General of the United States believed that eight, Senate-confirmed United States Attorneys, who reported to him, were fired "for performance-based reasons." Ahem. Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical. We're not talking about McDonald's here (no offense to McDonald's employees). When a United States Attorney is fired, it's memorable. If you're the president of a major corporation and one of your vice presidents is fired (much less eight), you'll remember precisely why. This is no different.

What he was really telling her was, "I don't remember anything. That's my story, so you'll have lots of maneuvering room if the questions get tight. Just don't blame me or the president, and we'll hook you up with a nice cushy job at the Heritage Foundation when this blows over." It's either that, or he really is that clueless about what is happening in the department he is supposed to be running. I guess he's just praying that everyone will think he's a total idiot because that's preferable to being impeached and possibly prosecuted for federal crimes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dems made to look like fools

The Democrats caved in and gave the president everything he asked for with his supplemental Iraq spending bill: no timelines, no benchmarks, no strings attached.

Democrats gave up their demand for troop-withdrawal deadlines in an Iraq war spending package yesterday, abandoning their top goal of bringing U.S. troops home and handing President Bush a victory in a debate that has roiled Congress for months.
They are playing political games with the lives of millions of people. Someone remind me, why exactly did we elect these guys? I know congressional hearings and oversight were desperately needed and I'm thankful that we seem to have some accountability back, but this plus the fact that some Democrats are seriously considering not voting to restore Habeas Corpus is both disheartening and disturbing.

The person I'm most disappointed with is Jon Tester from Montana. I contributed money to his campaign, and he's not even from my state. Not that I'm expecting him to do what I want him to do just because I showed him some love, but his platform included endorsing withdrawal from Iraq:
“It is time for the President to articulate a clear exit strategy for American troops from Iraq. An open-ended occupation is not in the best interests of the United States, the Iraqi people, or the Middle East. The time has come to support our troops by laying out a plan to bring them home.”
So to hear him now reciting the slop from Karl Rove's fax machine is quite unexpected:
"I am doing everything in my power as a U.S. senator to end the war in Iraq, but I will not cast any vote that I believe compromises the safety and security of our troops on the ground," Tester said, also in a prepared statement.
Tester doesn't understand the way the government works, or he's being intentionally obtuse. Neither one makes him look especially good to most of the people who voted for him, and he completely reneged on his campaign promise. He will vote to give the president the open-ended occupation that Tester already said was "not in the best interests of the United States, the Iraqi people, or the Middle East." Mr. Tester: please take Max Baucus with you and spend some quality time with Harry Reid and Russ Feingold. It sounds like the four of you need to have a li'l talk.

MSNBC impeachment poll

MSNBC is conducting a poll that asks:

Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment?
After 443,843 votes, 88% of the respondents answered:
Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial.
This is an astonishing figure even though MSNBC does state that it is not a scientific poll (which should be as good as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the Intelligent Design crowd).

Remember back when the Washington Post's polling editor Richard Morin was getting the vapors because participants in a WaPo online chat session kept asking him if he was going to poll on public support for impeaching George Bush? Jane Hamsher said:

The headline blazing across the Washinton Post this morning reads: "Poll: Most Americans Support NSA’s Efforts."

It was written by Richard Morin, and we’ve been down this road before. Just days after the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke, before people had become wise to what was going on (and long before Clinton’s popularity soared during the congressional hearings), Morin was polling on impeachment with carefully worded questions. He got the results he was looking for, and long after public opinion had turned they existed as a bulwark against any change in conventional wisdom on Capitol Hill.

This, however, was Morin’s response not long ago in a Washington Post online chat:

Naperville, Ill.: Why haven’t you polled on public support for the impeachment of George W. Bush?

Richard Morin: This question makes me mad…

Seattle, Wash.: How come ABC News/Post poll has not yet polled on impeachment?

Richard Morin: Getting madder…

Haymarket, Va.: With all the recent scandals and illegal/unconstitutional actions of the President, why hasn’t ABC News / Washington Post polled whether the President should be impeached?

Richard Morin: Madder still…


[W]e do not ask about impeachment because it is not a serious option or a topic of considered discussion –witness the fact that no member of congressional Democratic leadership or any of the serious Democratic presidential candidates in ‘08 are calling for Bush’s impeachment. When it is or they are, we will ask about it in our polls.

So Richard (or can I call you...Dick?), even though Congress is ignoring the issue for the time being, given the rather substantial size and skew of this MSNBC poll, can we expect to see you conduct your own poll to get an actual scientific answer to the question to help members of Congress gauge the speed and direction of the wind?

Comey's testimony

Since much of the corporate media didn't even bother to mention James Comey's stunning testimony last week, here are a few links to articles by Glenn Greenwald that examine it. One of the bombs dropped was this radioactive bit:

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey detailed the desperate late night efforts by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew Card to get the Justice Department to approve a secret program -- the warrantless wiretapping program.

According to Comey's testimony this morning, only when faced with resignations by a number of Justice Department officials including Comey, his chief of staff, Ashcroft's chief of staff, Ashcroft himself and possibly Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI, did the White House agree to make changes to the program that would satisfy the requirements of the Justice Department to sign off on it. . .

The events took place in March of 2004, when the program was in need of renewal by the Justice Department. When then-Attorney General John Ashcroft fell ill and was hospitalized, Comey became the acting-Attorney General.

The deadline for the Justice Department's providing its sign-off of the program was March 11th (the program required reauthorization every 45 days). On that day, Comey, then the acting AG, informed the White House that he "would not certify the legality" of the program.
The transcript of part of Comey's testimony is here. In particular, Comey detailed the attempt by Andy Card and Gonzales to manipulate Ashcroft's approval while Ashcroft was in the hospital so sick from a gall bladder condition that he named Comey Acting Attorney General pending his recovery. Comey's recollection is that the hospital visit by Gonzales and Card was arranged as a result of a telephone call from the President himself to Ashcroft's wife.

Comey testified that upon learning of this intended visit, he literally ran up the stairs to Ashcroft's hospital room, and his reason for the rush tells you all you need to know about this administration: "I was worried about him, frankly. I was concerned that this was an effort to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded -- the department as a whole -- was unable to be certified as to its legality." According to Comey, once he arrived in Ashcroft's hospital room, this is what occurred:

And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there -- to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was -- which I will not do.

And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me -- drawn from the hour-long meeting we'd had a week earlier -- and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney general.

SCHUMER: But he expressed his reluctance or he would not sign the statement that they -- give the authorization that they had asked, is that right?


Poppies fund the Taliban

Anyone doubt we'll see heroin addicts prosecuted for "providing aid and comfort to the enemy" sometime in the near future?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fundraising for Osama

His ability to effortlessly express his ideas is what makes Digby one of my favorite writers:

The Bush administration and its neocon muses have long said that the most dangerous thing the US could do would be to give the terrorists a victory by "proving" that we don't have the ballocks to stand and fight. They firmly believe that a failure to kick ass and take names, going all the way back to Reagan and the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut, is what caused the Islamofascists to think they could attack us. They know this because bin Laden has trash talked this line on various tapes and missives over the years so it must be true. (He wouldn't lie, would he?)

And when they hear him saying "bring it" like big dumb bulls they see red and immediately start snorting and stomping the ground and rush headlong into some half baked scheme designed to prove that we can't be intimidated. But what if the Islamoboogeymen are actually waving their capes in front of the big, dumb United States in order to get them to do exactly that?


Basing your decisions upon your stated enemy's threats and taunts and holding fast so they can't yell "psych!" is not a foreign policy --- it's a WWF advertising campaign. It isn't real and it doesn't address any real problem. The US is the most powerful country on earth and the Islamoboogeymen are not going to take over our government and make us all wear burkas and pray to mecca. Really.
This is a conversation that should have taken place in 2002 after the shock of 9/11 wore off somewhat, but instead of facing the problems head-on like true leaders, Bush and Cheney decided that it didn't matter (and still doesn't) why Al Qaeda attacked the United States. It's much easier for them to frame it as good (Christianity/democracy) vs. evil (Islam/not democracy) than it is to try to understand the true dynamics at work because they never really cared. They saw 9/11 as more than just a horrible act of war; they saw it as an opportunity to enact the neocon agenda while enriching their friends and empowering themselves.

How many times have our fearless leaders told us that Islamics hate us for our freedoms? Think about that for a minute. People everywhere have pretty much the same basic needs and desires. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you plot to kill as many people as you possibly could in another country thousands of miles away simply because you don't like the books they read or the clothes they wear? Does that even make any sense? Or could there possibly be another, more logical explanation? Al Qaeda has told us exactly why they hate us, but our government totally ignores their stated justifications for obvious reasons: it shifts at least part of the blame onto them. Al Qaeda, and indeed most of the rest of the world at this point, don't hate the American people for cultural reasons (at least not enough to want to kill us all); they hate us for our government's policies. Since we're the ones who vote our government officials into power, they hate us by extension.

The intelligence community has a term for what Muslim extremists are doing: blowback. Blowback is why the Japanese attacked us in 1941 and it's why the Iranians took Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979. It's also why Al Qaeda attacks our interests throughout the world today. Ron Paul, who is an old school conservative, tried to explain this during the recent second Republican debate, and Giuliani all but branded him a traitor because Republicans can't afford to have their signature issue, The Great Global War on Terra, questioned by rational people. Americans are way too valuable as compliant sheep who pull the correct election booth levers as directed by our strong, fearless leaders to worry our pretty little heads about boring issues like foreign policy that are way too complicated for us beer-drinking, American Idol-watching consumers to understand anyway.

Now, I am by no means condoning Al Qaeda's actions. I think Bin Laden and everyone who had anything to do with 9/11 should be hunted down, arrested, and put on trial for their crimes. If capture can't be accomplished, I have no problem with permanently entombing them in their caves or turning their homes into large craters . However it's handled, the perpetrators of 9/11 cannot go unpunished. It would be just peachy if the Bush administration shared this sentiment and cared at all about bringing public enemy #1 to justice, especially since the Commander Guy promised on more than one occasion to do exactly that, but it's clear by their actions that Bin Laden is more useful to them alive and free.

Digby shares with us how Al Qaeda is being well funded thanks to our escapades in Iraq. You could say that we are a boon for business. But this is a two way street and the Republicans, being the master marketers that they are, are well aware of it. It would be great if one of the Democratic candidates would point out the symbiotic relationship that exists between them. Al Qaeda gets new members and an influx of cash to wage their war on the infidels because our government's policies are inflaming the Muslim world. Meanwhile, Republicans get votes from scared citizens so they can maintain control of the government because they've convinced enough of us that there are Islamofascists hiding under every bed and in every closet waiting to strike, and the only way to keep your family from being murdered in some spectacularly gruesome manner is to keep voting for Republicans (even though they were in control when we were attacked and ignored numerous warnings). We're getting the short end of the stick, however. Al Qaeda is growing stronger by the day, while we're draining our precious resources on a campaign that cannot possibly end positively from our perspective, yet our leaders are so blinded by their all-consuming hunger for power that it doesn't matter to them.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The ticking bomb

Anonymous Liberal wrote an outstanding essay on the ever popular "ticking bomb" scenario for torture justification.

The second, far less relevant question is this: are there certain hypothetical scenarios under which the use of torture can be morally justified? If you construct the right scenario (nuclear bomb about to go off, suspect knows the target, etc.) just about anyone will answer yes to this question. But that's not at all surprising or informative. After all, it's possible to construct a hypothetical scenario where you'd be morally justified in shooting a little girl in the head (you're in a cave running out of air, there are four other younger children, they'll all die unless you off yourself and the oldest kid, etc.). The bottomline is that all of us are capable of simple utilitarian moral reasoning. If you are presented with a choice between something very bad and something even worse, the moral logic is pretty clear.

But this is all an exercise in irrelevance because that's not how rational people make policy decisions. Just because you can construct a hypothetical scenario w[h]ere shooting a girl in the head is the "right" thing to do, that doesn't mean that we should do away with the legal prohibition against murder. When it comes to acts that are sufficiently bad--such as murder and torture--you need categorical rules.

[highlighting is mine]

The so-called "ticking bomb scenario" is simple-minded nonsense. It assumes two things that never happen in real life: 1) that you know for certain that a bomb is about to be detonated, and 2) that you're positive the person you have in custody has information that will allow you to stop that bomb from going off. I'm fairly certain that in the entire history of mankind, that scenario has never yet presented itself. Moreover, even if it did, the odds are slim, at best, that the suspect would divulge the necessary information under duress (as opposed to simply giving you disinformation).

As McCain and others have pointed out, if a sufficiently dire situation presents itself, those officials who would contemplate the use of torture need to do so with the knowledge that it is a practice so disgusting and heinous that we have seen fit as a society to ban it categorically. If they are to engage in torture, they need to know it is illegal and that they are likely to be punished if they are wrong. Then and only then can we have any hope that our soldiers and intelligence officials will be sufficiently judicious in their use of this horrible practice.
It still amazes me that we even need to be having this debate in this country. Where are our values? The part that really makes my brain hurt is that American Christians are more likely than non-religious Americans to approve of torture, with Catholics favoring torture in much higher percentages than all other groups. You can't help but wonder, do most Christians know anything at all about their savior? I suppose this makes sense when you consider that this group went to see "The Passion of the Christ," the bloodiest movie about Jesus and by far the highest grossing, for entertainment purposes literally by the bus load.

Christianists own today's Republican party. They also own each and every Republican running for President. If John McCain is the only one who thinks torture is the antithesis of the most base beliefs held by this country until George Bush came along, then we are in serious trouble if any one of them becomes the next president.

What has happened to this country?

This is one of the most disturbing articles I've read in a long time. Please read the whole story, but here is the short version. A 43-year old woman was brought to the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles by LA County police complaining of severe abdominal pains. This was her third trip in two days. The other two trips resulted in essentially "take two aspirin and call me in the morning". The woman collapsed on the floor from the pain she was experiencing, yet the hospital staff ignored her. A janitor even mopped the floor all around her. The whole scene was recorded on the hospital's closed circuit camera system. Her boyfriend showed up and repeatedly tried to get the hospital staff to help her, but they ignored him. Within 90 minutes, the woman was dead from a massive infection resulting from a perforated large bowel.

What kind of country have we become that something like this could happen? This is absolutely disgusting. It would be one thing if this were an isolated occurrence, but incidents like this are becoming more common especially in LA where hospitals routinely dump indigents in the gutters. I hope this poor woman's family owns that hospital and everyone working there who ignored her after the lawyers are done with them. This is precisely why tort law is needed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday Funnies

Bob Geiger's weekly political cartoon roundup.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wolfowitz out

Paul Wolfowitz has finally resigned as president of the World Bank. The man had no business being in charge of a poverty fighting institution to begin with. The only reason Bush put Wolfowitz in charge was to ensure that the neocon agenda was realized. Their goal was to use the World Bank as yet another weapon to bully countries that are hostile to US interests, while protecting and rewarding those that are friendly. His corruption fighting agenda was just a bogus excuse.

Even though he is being forced to resign, Wolfowitz still makes out pretty well. He accepts no responsibility for his willful manipulation of the rules and the bank is blaming their own. How typical for a member of the Party of Responsibility®. They always manage to find someone else to blame for their screw-ups. I suppose it's a small price to pay to get him out the door, but it's still ridiculous considering everyone knows it's bullshit. Also, he was to receive a $400,000 bonus if he held onto his office for 2 years, which would have been June 2nd. Since he is holding out until June 30th, I'm guessing he will still get his booty although none of the mainstream outlets have reported on this that I am aware of. I would point out that that money could have been much better spent helping poor, starving children somewhere in the world, but the World Bank throws away so much money on themselves that $400K doesn't even register with them.

Now if only Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush can be convinced to follow suit, we can finally look to begin heading down the long road to recovery from too many years of Republican rule.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nice face lift, Rush

Limbaugh never looked so good. TRex has the skinny.

Saturday Funnies

Bob Geiger reviews this past week's political cartoons.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On approval ratings

Chapter 39 of Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" begins with a paragraph describing the results of a poll conducted in Iraq the week of November 11 to 18, 2005 that measured the approval rating of various Iraqi leaders. The interesting part of this is in the footnote where Woodward notes that Saddam Hussein had a 22%/78% favorable/unfavorable rating in that poll. After everything he had done to his country, he still had a 22% approval rating. When you consider that the most recent Newsweek poll of George Bush peg him at 28%/64% with 8% undecided, what does this say about Bush and his supporters, not to mention the Iraqis?

We now officially have a king

George Bush coronated himself king today when he signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law.

See this post at Fire Dog Lake. Be sure to watch the video. Then read Glenn Greewald here. Then please call your Congressman and both Senators. I'm lost for words.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

It's not terrorism if you're white, part deux

It was just last week that I was discussing the corporate media's complete lack of interest in home-grown terrorist, Tyler Joseph Froatz. Froatz was held without bail after authorities found a sizable weapons cache in his Jeep and apartment following his arrest for assaulting the organizer of an immigration rally in Washington, DC. Details can be found here. At the time, I speculated that the case might have attracted more attention if his name had been more exotic and his skin browner:

Imagine if Tyler Joseph Froatz was named Tayib Jamal Farahani and was of Middle Eastern decent. To say that this would have generated some national interest is a bit of an understatement. This would have been splattered all over CNN for hours. Fox would have had a field day. The wingnut blogs would have been on this like ugly on an ape for weeks. Michael Chertoff would have made a public statement raising the terra level to blinking red. Dick Cheney would've booked all the Sunday talking head shows. And Dubya would've said something incredibly stupid. But since it was just Bubba from Podunk, the MSM and assorted right tards not only couldn't care less, many of them wish he would've succeeded.
I just never expected my theory to be tested quite so quickly. All we need now is the official response from the White House.

I also want to point out that none of our civil rights were harmed in the making of these arrests. George Bush didn't have to listen to our phone calls, open our mail, monitor our Internet activity, or check our bank transactions. Hell, he didn't even need to torture any of the detainees at Gitmo. Nope. This case was blown wide open with good old fashioned police work based on a tip from a concerned citizen.

It will be interesting to see if the details currently being reported stay consistent over time or if this is another case like the Miami terrorists. In any event, this case proves that there are still some competent, hard-working people in the executive branch. The FBI are to be commended for taking any and all appropriate action here.

Oh, and since the terrorists are indeed following us back here, does that mean our soldiers can come home now?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dems wimping out

(Updated below)

I had high hopes for this Democratic Congress. They occasionally seem to show awareness that the main reason they displaced the rubber-stamp, Republican-controlled Congress is because the American people are sick and tired of the war in Iraq. The only thing that's changed since then is that even more Americans are sick and tired of the death and destruction being wrought in their name while the coffers are being siphoned into the bank accounts of corporate interests and foreign governments that are only too happy to fund our suicidal spending spree.

Congressional Democrats were all fire and brimstone about not giving our clueless leader a blank check on Iraq. The first time he said "boo" to them, however, they all turned into a giant puddle of piss.

House Democratic leaders are preparing a new version of the Iraq war funding bill that would pay for the war in two stages.

The first stage would give the Bush administration about half of the $95.5 billion it seeks for U.S. troops and military operations. Congress would vote on authorizing the second half of the funds in July, but only after it reviews a report from President Bush on a series of benchmarks measuring the Iraqi government's progress.


[A leadership aide] said that by "fencing off" the second installment of war funding, Congress would get more detailed information about how the money would be spent and how much more is needed. The aide described the plan as "being responsive to concerns of members who really want us to keep the pressure on Bush, and at the same time we are making sure we are funding the troops and making members comfortable with that."

Shorter version: they're going to give him the fucking money. After all the tough talk, they're going to do exactly what Bush said they would do: they're going to pussy out and give him the money. By attaching the bullshit language about "benchmarks," they are trying to give the appearance of holding Bush accountable, but it's a farce because he gets $50 billion up front, no questions asked and later gets to go back to the well after he writes his "who I killed on my summer vacation" report at the conclusion of the next Friedman.

Our military has been occupying Iraq for four years, but today we can't even identify who the enemy is (besides the 17 al Qaeda members who immigrated after we invaded), what our objectives are, or how we define success. In short, there is no plan whatsoever and there never has been. Yet knowing all this, our duly elected Democratically-controlled Congress is going to just hand over another $50 billion to George Bush so he can keep getting his rocks off. Jesus tap-dancing Christ this is so stupid.

It's even worse than it appears, though. Real people are being used as pawns in a big political game. When these pawns die, though, it's real lives being snuffed out way too early and entire families being ripped apart. And this for some bullshit ideological war on an undefinable enemy. The Democrats will not take a meaningful, principled stand against this insane war for fear of losing out in the next election. It doesn't matter how many people have to die or how much damage is done to either Iraq or the United States. It's all about power. This is just par for the course for the Democrats, though. They talk the talk, but when it comes time to put up or shut up, they fold like cheap patio furniture.

The truly mind-boggling part to this whole funding debate, though, is that Congress can end the war very easily if they really want to. There's no need to rush to present a bill to Bush at all. To end this war, all they have to do is emulate the last Congress by not doing a goddamn thing. They just don't pass a spending bill and the war is over. The Republicans did exactly that to Clinton in Somalia. And what did Clinton do once the funds were cut off? He pulled the troops out!

Our national debt is 9 trillion dollars and growing. That's $9,000,000,000,000. That's $30,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. The interest alone on that debt is over $400 billion each year. Where is the money going to come from to pay for this and why do none of our leaders seem to think we have a problem?

Republicans may be full of shit whenever they open their mouths, but at least you always know where they stand on any given issue. I think that's why so many people vote for them: they want strong, decisive leaders. Democrats love to tell us how they are for the common good and that they represent the common man, but it's all bullshit. Every time they start to grow a pair of balls, their highly paid and highly useless "consultants" convince them that it's bad to stand up to the man whose only supporters are people who make money by doing so, and people who believe The Rapture is upon us.

Maybe I'm wrong about the Democrats on this, and believe me, I sincerely hope I am. If so, I'll gladly issue a huge mea culpa. Until that happens, though, I will remain skeptical and mad as hell. And they wonder why we're the "angry left?"


Digby just said it better than I ever could:
This interesting post from Steamboats Are Ruining Everything takes us back to 1820 and reminds us that brutish conservatives are nothing new:
William Hazlitt explained the nature of it in his 1820 essay, "On the Spirit of Partisanship."

Conservatives and liberals play the game of politics differently, Hazlitt wrote, because they have different motivations. Liberals are motivated by principles and tend to believe that personal honor can be spared in political combat. They may, in fact, become vain about their highmindedness. Hazlitt condemns the mildness as a mistake, both in moral reasoning and in political strategy. "They betray the cause by not defending it as it is attacked, tooth and nail, might and main, without exception and without remorse." [highlighting is mine.]

The conservatives, on the other hand, start with a personal interest in the conflict. Not wishing to lose their hold on power, they are fiercer. "We"---i.e., the liberals, or the "popular cause," in Hazlitt's terminology---"stand in awe of their threats, because in the absence of passion we are tender of our persons.
Hazlitt was right. And never more than today when the stakes are so high...History proves that bad things do sometimes happen. Being barely left standing to say "I told you so" will be no compensation.

Another domino falls

(Updated below)

In other news, one of embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz' top aides resigned today to pursue "other opportunities." Kevin Kellems was a White House employee before Wolfowitz tapped him to become his adviser at the bank. In a statement to the Associated Press, Kellems said, "Given the current environment surrounding the leadership of the World Bank Group, it is very difficult to be effective in helping to advance the mission of the institution."

Yo Kevin, I hear the Justice Department is looking for some people with your background. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.


From the NY Times (login required):

A committee of World Bank directors has formally notified Paul D. Wolfowitz that they found him to be guilty of a conflict of interest in arranging for a pay raise and promotion for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005. The findings stepped up the pressure on Mr. Wolfowitz to resign.


It was not clear whether the committee, consisting of 7 of the bank’s 24 board members, would remove Mr. Wolfowitz from his post or, more likely, express a loss of confidence in his leadership in a manner that might persuade him to resign. Bank officials say that a majority of the bank board has concluded that he should go.


European officials at the bank said that if Mr. Wolfowitz resigns, either now or some time in the future, Europeans may be willing to let the United States continue to exercise its customary prerogative of choosing the next bank president.

Since the bank was established as part of the post-World War II global economic architecture in a conference at Bretton Woods, N.H., the United States has always chosen the bank’s president, in part because it has always had the largest single share of voting rights at the bank, currently 16.4 percent.

A senior European official said that Europeans have informally told Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that many of their governments, some of whom asked for the custom to be discarded in 2005, would now renew their demand, especially if Mr. Wolfowitz is forced out by a vote of the bank board.

This official said that the overwhelming sentiment in Europe, as expressed in editorials, political commentaries and even web logs, was that European governments should never again let the United States pick the president of the World Bank all by itself.
The nerve of those Europeans thinking they can tell the President of the U. S. of A. how to do his presidentin'. It's about time for The Commander Guy to once again express his complete confidence in Wolfowitz because there is no way a bunch of pansy euroweenies will push Dubya around. He may have to get his flightsuit prepped. A bigger codpiece may even be in order. Given Bush's propensity for belligerence, there is little doubt that he will tell the EU to piss off when they challenge him much like he has done with Congress. What happens after that should be highly entertaining.

Time for another Friedman Unit

(Updated below)

Since the January Friedman Unit is about over, it's time time to start talking about the next one:

Sigh. Here we do NOT go again:

"Over the course of the next three to four months, we'll have some idea how well the plan's working. . . . By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B?"

Sure they will. This is deja vu all over again:

I think it will be rather clear in the next 60 to 90 days as to whether this plan is going to work. . . . We need to know, as we . . . move through these benchmarks, that the Iraqis are doing what they have to do. -Boehner, 1/23/07
Meanwhile, some of the nice folks out in the red states that have been devastated by tornadoes over the past week are realizing that their national guard might be of some use back home about now. Maybe this is some of the sacrifice that Dubya has spoken of.

I'm not suggesting that these people are responsible for their national guardsmen being over in Iraq because of their blind support for George Bush and his disastrous war of choice, but I am suggesting that some of them might want to reevaluate their position now that they see the real world consequences. Oh, and the whole middle of the country still doesn't look too good, weather-wise.


From Crooks & Liars:

More on the Kansas National Guard Equipment Problems

John Amato adds: "We can only hope Mother Nature is a little kinder to us in the future."

Greed and indifference have been our guiding principles for the past 100+ years with respect to nature. Relying on hope at this point with all the evidence indicating Mother Nature is really pissed off might not be the best strategy (not that hope ever is a strategy).

How subjective the truth?

It's interesting to me how conservatives and liberals both constantly accuse each other of lying about everything. The liberals call themselves "the reality-based community." The conservatives call them that also, but they're just being sarcastic. They think the "moonbats" are the liars. I mean, what really gives here?

I've been reading political blogs for about 4 years now. The whole reason I started was because I didn't feel like corporate media was providing a complete or accurate picture of what was going on in the world. Everything seemed to have a surreal quality to it, like something just wasn't right. Some of the news sounded more like propaganda than journalism. A lot of things didn't seem to make sense any more. One day I got fed up. I googled for alternative news sites and came across a few blogs.

The sites that I read religiously (see my blog roll) all strike me as being run by honest, intelligent people with loads of integrity. Sure, they sometimes make mistakes, but they acknowledge their mistakes and print a correction every time one has been pointed out. I've seen some arguments stretched a bit at times, too (at least in my opinion), but they really care about being accurate. The few times I tried to read major conservative sites, like, littlegreenfootballs, and michelle malkin, I could only take a few minutes before either getting pissed off or feeling ill. They just seem to create their own facts. Even when they are proven wrong, which has been almost always (remember Captain Jamil Hussein?), they never own up to their screw ups.

What I'm really curious about is this: are the conservatives who claim liberals are serial liars being ingenuous with their claims? Do they believe what they're saying? Does the world outside their windows really look that different than it does outside mine? I just can't see how two people can look at the same event yet produce such different sets of facts unless one of them is lying. Is the truth really that subjective?

I would like to be able to hold an honest, intelligent, non-emotional conversation with a conservative to try to understand why we see everything so differently. I'm not talking about a debate here, just a conversation. I have little faith that it could happen without turning into a huge ad hominem fest, but I would like to at least try. (And no, I don't sit in my room and hit myself in the head with a hammer, either.)

On Digby on Woodward On Tenet

From Digby quoting Bob Woodward:

In his remarkable, important and often unintentionally damning memoir, George Tenet, the former CIA chief, describes a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, two months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In much more vivid and emotional detail than previously reported, Tenet writes that he had received intelligence that day, July 10, 2001, about the threat from al-Qaeda that "literally made my hair stand on end."

According to At the Center of the Storm, Tenet picked up the phone, insisted on meeting with Rice about the threat from al-Qaeda, and raced to the White House with his counter-terrorism deputy, Cofer Black, and a briefer known only as "Rich B."

"There will be a significant terrorist attack in the coming weeks or months," Rich B. told Rice, and the attack would be "spectacular." Black added, "This country needs to go on a war footing now." He said that President Bush should give the CIA new covert action authorities to go after Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization. After the meeting, Tenet's briefer and deputy "congratulated each other," Tenet writes. "At last, they felt, we had gotten the full attention of the administration."

Is it me, or does this fish keep getting bigger? I know Tenet is just being a self-serving finger pointer here like the kid who rats out the others to try to get out of detention, and Condi does not dispute that he told her, but this story gets better every time he tells it. He's trying to throw Condi under the bus for hanging him out to dry on the infamous 17 words, but he ends up making himself look foolish also.

Woodward wonders why he didn't take it directly to the President. As Digby points out, though, there is no reason to believe Bush would've listened since he already blew off the CIA for telling him the same thing by famously saying, "All right, you've covered your ass, now."

With the serial lies that come out of this administration, it's hard to tell who's the more full of shit.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Saturday Funnies

Bob Geiger's weekly round-up of political cartoons.

Friday, May 4, 2007

It's not terrorism if you're white

The Maryland dead tree edition of The Examiner reported today that a counter protester was arrested at an immigration rally in Washington, DC this past Tuesday (May 1st) following a confrontation with several protesters. Prior to physically challenging some of the protesters, 24-year-old Tyler Joseph Froatz was distributing fliers that read, "The only way to stop a flood is to cut off the flow" and displayed cartoon drawings of tanks and soldiers gunning down people crossing into the US from Mexico. When police arrested him after he assaulted the event's organizer, they found him armed with a hammer, taser, a loaded flare gun, and two knives including a 12-inch dagger. A search of his nearby Jeep turned up a loaded M-1 rifle, ammunition, and a map of a local embassy. Police later searched his apartment and found "at least 15 guns, a Molotov cocktail, a hand grenade, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition." Froatz is a former Eagle scout and self-proclaimed Herndon Minuteman. He was denied bail by a DC Superior Court judge this afternoon over concerns that he may pose a threat to the area.

Ya think?

This is the first I've heard of this story, so I assume that it hasn't been widely reported by corporate media. A quick search on "the Google" turned up only a couple of local stories and a few blog accounts.

Imagine if Tyler Joseph Froatz was named Tayib Jamal Farahani and was of Middle Eastern decent. To say that this would have generated some national interest is a bit of an understatement. This would have been splattered all over CNN for hours. Fox would have had a field day. The wingnut blogs would have been on this like ugly on an ape for weeks. Michael Chertoff would have made a public statement raising the terra level to blinking red. Dick Cheney would've booked all the Sunday talking head shows. And Dubya would've said something incredibly stupid. But since it was just Bubba from Podunk, the MSM and assorted right tards not only couldn't care less, many of them wish he would've succeeded.

When a foreigner gets caught plotting to kill Americans, it's new$. When a white conservative gets busted? Not so much. Welcome to the United States of Bigotry.

The Reagan Love Fest

(Updated twice below)

Over at Fire Dog Lake, Scarecrow nicely summarizes the Republican talking point dissemination forum being passed off as a debate. Reality denial appears to be alive and well within the Republican ranks. About the only debating that occurred was over who is most like Ronald Reagan and who could blame Clinton the most.

If you listen to these men, it appears we do not have a credibility problem with the rest of the world, so we don’t need to worry about how we will restore America’s honor or prestige or repair alliances or international institutions. Torture was not mentioned, nor the Military Commissions Act, with its denial of habeas corpus (except for Paul), nor restrictions on attorneys, nor use of secret evidence or evidence extracted through torture. Kidnapping and renditions weren’t mentioned either, so I guess Canada, Europe and the Middle East are not upset about that; there was no mention of secret prisons, nor Guantanamo, nor indefinite detention without charges or trials, nor warrantless wiretapping, misuse of national security letters by the FBI, and so on. Only Paul, now just a curious anachronism in his own party, a true believer in the limited government credo of what used to be the Republican Party but not longer is, could offer a few lines about the continuing expansion of executive powers — and then only in reference to Terry Schiavo.

No one brought up problems at the Justice Department, nor concerns about politicizing justice, or interfering with prosecutions. Matthews asked about Karl Rove, but no one took the opportunity to say anything bad about Karl. When asked which of the Bush mistakes (unnamed) he would avoid, Huckabee said he’d avoid sending US jobs overseas.


According to these men, the President’s tax cuts for the rich are fine and can be made permanent, and there were many proposals to cut different taxes further. But those Democrats need to be stopped from pork barrel spending, because the budget is out of control. Drunken sailors came in for praise by comparison. There was no support for increasing revenues, even to pay for their glorious war.


After the “debate,” MSNBC’s panelists tried to hype the disagreements, but the[y] missed the fact that these men share a common mind. These people do not live on the same planet as the rest of us. When they wake up and look out the window, they do no[t] see what we see.

They do not see a nation angry at them about the war nor shamed by a government that sanctions torture. With their Reaganesque optimism, they do not see families struggling with health care costs, job security, retirement security, and college tuition. They don’t seem to worry whether the government is doing enough to protect us from unsafe working conditions, unsafe products, unsafe foods and drugs. They apparently don’t see global warming as a national security or economic threat. American democracy is not threatened; the Constitution is not under siege, and Americans don’t hate the Bush regime for what it has done to our liberties (Paul excepted). Attacks on the rights of women, gays, and immigrants and anyone who looks like the “enemy” are non-issues.

The collective denial shown by these men was even more surprising because one of the first questions asked concerned the fact that about only 22 percent of the American people think the country is on the right track, but you’d never know it from listening to these men. And because they seem to completely disconnected from what the American people believe, there is no possibility that any of these men could successfully address the nation’s concerns. Last night, the Republican Party declared itself to be in denial and irrelevant except as an out of touch opposition party with no ideas left for any of the hard questions of governance.
This country can't survive another Republican presidency.

UPDATE: When this is the best the wingnut cheerleaders can come up with, you know they've got nothin'. Glenn Greenwald, on the other hand, has got plenty.

UPDATE II: As much as Republicans and their enablers have heaped praise upon Bush (to the point of ejaculation in a few instances) for the first six years of his presidentizing right up until the mid-term elections, it's curious that they now avoid mentioning his name at all. In fact, his name was mentioned exactly once during the debate last night, and even then it was only because one of the softball questions explicitly asked about him. He is their creation and the embodiment of everything they stand for. They all even sound like him. Why would they seek to distance themselves from someone they so wish to emulate?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Little Schadenfreude

I don't know about anyone else, but I am truly enjoying watching Paul Wolfowitz make a complete idiot out of himself in front of the entire world. It couldn't happen to a nicer neocon.

In a last ditch to save his neck or may be anticipating what the Ad Hoc committee would propose, Wolfowitz blames Bank rules for mix up. After directing the blame on staff who know the rules of the Bank, now he has a change of heart and is pointing the finger at confusion and miscommunication - and this three days after he has been crying that he has been unfairly judged.

This is Supporting the Troops

Supporting the troops John Mellencamp style.

This isn't from his performance at Walter Reed; just showing the man some love.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Why Science Doesn't Suck - Reason #84,727,589

The religious right wants everyone to believe that the study of science will turn people into amoral, emotionless automatons who see no purpose to life. Here is but one reason that science is so important to us all.

London: Scientists yesterday revealed the world's first genetic cure that could give the blind their sight back.
The next time you hear some religious whacko railing against science, please tell them that their opinion might be different if their knowledge of the world spanned more than a single book (and that is probably being generous). Or you could just tell them to STFU since you can't reason with someone who doesn't believe in logic and reasoning.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

As Expected, Bush Vetoes Iraq Spending Bill

Junior amazed nobody today with his veto of the Iraq supplemental spending bill. His speech following the veto started with:

Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need. Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill.
We've heard a number of retired generals who served in the Iraq war blasting Bush and his inept crew's policies within the past six months. The most critical condemnation to date appeared today. Having grown up in a military family, I just cannot fathom this happening under any other president commander guy.

May 1, 2007

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.

Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear -- most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops' peril.

The legislation you vetoed today represented a course of action that is long overdue. This war can no longer be won by the military alone. We must bring to bear the entire array of national power - military, diplomatic and economic. The situation demands a surge in diplomacy, and pressure on the Iraqi government to fix its internal affairs. Further, the Army and Marine Corps are on the verge of breaking - or have been broken already - by the length and intensity of this war. This tempo is not sustainable - and you have failed to grow the ground forces to meet national security needs. We must begin the process of bringing troops home, and repairing and growing our military, if we are ever to have a combat-ready force for the long war on terror ahead of us.

The bill you rejected today sets benchmarks for success that the Iraqis would have to meet, and puts us on a course to redeploy our troops. It stresses the need for sending troops into battle only when they are rested, trained and equipped. In my view, and in the view of many others in the military that I know, that is the best course of action for our security.

As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military's finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.

I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.


Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired

Powerful stuff. It's clear the entire military has lost all respect for their Commander in Chief. How much longer will he let this go on?