Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm no slouch myself.

Kevin Drum quotes Cliff May's deep thoughts about Saddam and the war:

It's easy to say that if we had left Saddam alone, nothing bad would have happened. But how is that different from what was said for years about Osama bin Laden?

Kevin points out that might be a good argument had somebody actually been saying that we should leave Bin Laden alone.

But I'm more concerned with May's statement itself. It bears a little too much resemblance in structure and cadence to Judge Smails famous speech dedicating his boat in "Caddyshack:"

It's easy to grin, when your ship comes in... and you've got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, Is the man who can smile... when his shorts are too tight in the seat.

Is Cliff May really Ted Knight?

I am so smart. I am so smart, s-m-r-t... I mean s-m-A-r-t.

Once in a while it's not such a bad idea to venture over to the other side of the blogsphere and take a look at what "Right Thinking" Americans are up to. Or, as in the case of the above linked site, Jawas. Extremely conservative Jawas. But short, lizardlike Jawas.

Dr. Rusty Shackleford (in the made-up name department I outrank him as a Dean of a fake school) has a real problem with American Research Poll showing that a plurality (46%) of Americans supporting censure of President Bush and with Glenn Greenwald for citing it. Shackleford proceeds to meticulously and logically dismantle both the polling organization ARG but put Greenwald to shame in the process.

Just kidding.

Shackleford writes-

I don't know anything about The American Research Group or about Dick Bennett, who runs the New Hampshire polling firm, but the numbers seem very odd to me.

Either explain why the pollsters are biased or why their methodology is wrong or shut up. Don't allude...

Either these numbers are WAY OFF, or every single Senate Democrat (with the exception of Russ Feingold) has lost their sense of the direction as to which way the political wind is blowing.

Ya think? Try actually having to be a constituent of these clowns. They have all the political acumen of a baked potato and they absolutely LOATHE their base.

I don't find it hard to believe that 70% of Democrats would want Bush censured, but 29% of Republicans? Unless, of course, Andy Sullivan is still calling himself a Republican, I just don't buy it.

I'm right there with you. Hard to believe there are still 29% of Republicans that still BELIEVE in the constitution after what we've witnessed these last few years.

The same poll claims that 47% of independents want the President impeached. So, more independents want the President of the United States impeached than censured? What the hell kind of logic is that?

I dunno. The kind of logic that assumes that if the President broke the law he ought to get more than a slap on the wrist?

The Left, as expected, are soiling their panties over this one. They smell blood in the water and are pouncing. What is so interesting about the Left, which usually prides itself in its epistemelogical relativism, is how they claim to know reality as it really is. Glenn Greenwald makes the assertion that what the wiretapping program is breaking the law, as if that were an objective fact, and then advises: Go forth and censure.

Greenwald doesn't just "make the assertion" that the wiretapping is illegal. Greenwald has written pages and pages on his blog explaining why the wiretapping program doesn't even begin to pass legal and constitutional muster. He's a 1st Amendment lawyer as well so he knows what the hell he's talking about. He didn't just pull it out of his ass, Jawa-boy.

But really what leaps off the turnbuckle and and drives Shackleford into the mat is the very actions of Republican Senators themselves. Today Senator DeWine introduced a bill explicity making the warrantless wiretapping legal. The tacit admission, the 500 pound gorilla in the room, is that this means it's not legal now for the administration to bypass FISA and spy on Americans. But we all knew that already.

At least those of us that don't spend the majority of our time in a sandcrawler hunting droids.

When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey; and when I drink water, I drink water.

I'm beginning to like this Ned Lamont guy running against Joe Lieberman.

Lamont's running, and he's got a message for the globetrotting incumbent who returned from his most recent trip to Iraq with a ringing endorsement of the occupation: "Senator," the challenger said, "stop by Bridgeport on your way back from Baghdad and listen to your constituents..."

What Lamont thinks Lieberman's constituents will tell the senator when Connecticut Democrats vote in the August 9 primary is that the Bush administration must be challenged, not coddled.

Making pointed reference to the incumbent's status as the Democrat that Republicans love to love, Lamont declared his candidacy with a Monday announcement that, "I am jumping into this Senate primary because voters deserve a choice."

We'd rather have whiskey than water, Joe. It looks like you may just find that out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I could think of things I never thunk before. And then I'd sit... and think some more.

The bloodshot eyes, the long weekends at Camp David, the grim somber expression that seems to say "I'm constipated." These can signify only one thing. Look out world; the Preznit is strategerizing.

Either that or he fell off the wagon.

No, it's that first thing:

"President to issue new national security strategy document."

(At least this will take care of his constipation problem.)

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

"Troubled?" That's a polite way to put a war with no foreseeable end, 2300 dead Americans, a situation where we're hated by pretty much everybody outside of the government and overextended strategically. Troubled = FUBAR.

The strategy expands on the original security framework developed by the Bush administration in September 2002, before the invasion of Iraq. That strategy shifted U.S. foreign policy away from decades of deterrence and containment toward a more aggressive stance of attacking enemies before they attack the United States.

Or, as in the case of Iraq, just because we can.

The preemption doctrine generated fierce debate at the time, and many critics believe the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has fatally undermined an essential assumption of the strategy -- that intelligence about an enemy's capabilities and intentions can be sufficiently reliable to justify preventive war.

Or that said intelligence wouldn't be manipulated for political reasons. The strategy assumes that those making the decisions to go to war are always good actors. Right out of the gate we found this to be untrue.

We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," the document says, echoing a statement made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week. It recommits to efforts with European allies to pressure Tehran to give up any aspirations of nuclear weapons, then adds ominously: "This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

Ominiously for whom? Certainly not the government of Iran who are sitting in the catbird's seat.

If I was a G.I. in Iraq right now surrounded by an overwhelmingly Shia population watching Bush and Cheney poke at the Iranian hornet's nest with a stick, a country with an army of over 15 million men and is predominantly Shia, I'd take the administration's warning as ominous.

Oh, and there's an election coming up so diplomacy won't look that appealing to this administration.

That poor G.I. is screwed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

America isn't easy.

Wow! Three posts in one day. On a work day even.

Actually I've been compiling the quotes below to use in a post in November but I just read the following from Reddhead at Firedoglake:

Does anyone else still get sniffly at the scene in The American President where Michael Douglas gives the presser about "being so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job" or the scene in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jimmy Stewart stands up and filibusters with his heart on his sleeve? This is one of those hallelujah clips.

I agree. Hopefully you will find them as inspiring as we do.

Look at these three words written larger than all the rest, and with special pride never written before or since -- tall words, proudly saying "We the people" .. these words and the words that follow ... must apply to everyone or they mean nothing.

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by from this day until the ending of the world but we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition, and gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves acursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks, that fought with us upon St. Crispin's day!

Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Don't you realize? The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.

Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!

Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"

We've got Armadillos in our trousers. It's really quite frightening.

Got the following marching orders from Howard Dean today-

Russ Feingold is a Traitor

That's what Republicans want you to think.

They are so scared of having a legitimate debate about Iraq or national security that they have only one reaction to news of their failures or calls for accountability.

On Monday, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to censure the President for breaking the law by creating a secret domestic spying program. Agree or disagree with his proposal, as a Senator -- and as an American -- he has the right to speak his mind and express his views without Republican Senators questioning his patriotism.

But that's exactly what happened. This week Republican Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado, in an interview with Fox News radio, said in response to Feingold's action that he has "time and time again [sided] with the terrorists".

Send a message to Senator Allard: shame on him for questioning the patriotism of another Senator. Sign this petition and it will be delivered to Allard:

Agree or disagree with Russ Feingold's censure resolution, it is completely out of bounds to suggest that anyone demanding accountability is siding with terrorists. It is simply un-American to question the patriotism and loyalty of a Senator who wants the Congress to live up to its responsibility.

We've heard this cowardly nonsense from Republican leaders before. They attacked decorated Veteran and Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha for getting real on Iraq. They attacked Democratic Leader Harry Reid for shutting down the Senate to demand answers about manipulated pre-war intelligence.

They have ended the careers of generals who questioned Bush Administration talking points, and they even attack their own when respectable Republicans speak out on the disaster this administration has created in Iraq and its failure to close the gaps in our security here at home.

And time and again, the Republican controlled congress has consistently failed to conduct real oversight of the Administration, choosing instead to protect the Administration.

But polls show that nearly 70% of Americans reject this president and the Republican Congress that has failed to hold him accountable. And together we will hold Republicans accountable at the ballot box this year.

That's why the Democratic Party is putting the infrastructure on the ground now to fight in all 50 states. People everywhere are saying "enough is enough" -- and we will be ready to organize and fight everywhere with your help.

Please contribute whatever you can to make it happen:

The sick behavior of desperate Republicans will only stop when we fight back, and 2006 is the time to do it.

Thank you,

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

As a reminder Dean was recently called into the Principal's office as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid chided him for his 50 state strategy. They want to stick to to the old model of targetting the few races that are demonstratably winnable. He wants to build a majority.

As for Allard: he should apologize for his remarks or be thrown out of the Senate.

Mr. President, if I may speak freely, the Russkie talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know how.

It's always gratifying when a Democratic politician shows a little gumption and calls Republicans on their bullshit. Kent Conrad of North Dakota was pushing a pay-go bill that would simply require any cut in taxes be met with a dollar for dollar cut in expenditures or the flipside of tax hikes being necessary with an increase in spending. The bill went down 50/ 50 (how say you Mr. Vice President?) on mostly party lines with just a handful of elephants getting on board.

Of course what ultimately doomed the bill was it's strong nod towards that naive concept often referred to as "reality." Reality, at least the objective reality that most of the world outside of what makes up the G.O.P. base, is composed of all sorts of nasty concepts that drive Republicans absolutely nuts. Concepts like empirical math, deductive logic and balanced ledgers. Concepts which, when brought up in a conversation with your average wingnut, lead to pleas that you "stop the crazy talk."

Alas the Deficithawk (Accipter Kempus) has gone the way of the Dodo. Some scientists say the expansion of the common Chickenhawk (Accipter Cheneyus) into the Deficithawk's traditional feeding grounds caused the creature to die out. Other scientists point to the strange mating ritual - an explosion of loud mating calls and bright plumage - coupled with an inability to actually consumate the relationship as the factor most responsible for the bird's demise. There are even those that claim the bird never existed to begin with, having been the product of what psychologists refer to as "self-delusion" on the part of believers, or Bird-Brains as they like to call themselves.

Kudos to Conrad for making an attempt at restoring a little sanity to the Bush fiscal train wreck. God knows we can't have a surplus. Then we might start paying down the debt and then treasury bonds might not be available and then where in the heck would rich people put their money that would be safe? They might have to invest it in a startup or something else equally as risky.

Can you imagine what THAT would do to the economy?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Like, it's a gggghost!!

Democratic Senators had two options when facing Russ Feingold's call for censure: stand, fight and lose and try and change the broader frame that they're wimps or cut, run and lose and reinforce the broader frame that they're wimps.

Which would it be...

Democratic leaders shy away from censure plan

Democrats Beat Quick Retreat on Call to Censure President

Democrats attempt to postpone effort to censure Bush

Perhaps we should have offered them more Rooby Racks.

Monday, March 13, 2006

You certainly have a way of cutting through the felgercarb.

Most of you know I'm a big fan of the new Battlestar Galactica. I've been somewhat disappointed with the second half of this season, particularly the stand alone episodes as it seems to me the series is losing a little bit of it's focus. Of course much of the story has focused on characters other than Commander Adama as Edward James Olmos really adds a dimension to the drama that none of the other characters can meet.

I just got through watching the season finale and have a few thoughts on the show and whether it'll be worth watching next year.

******** SPOILERS SPOILERS*********

  • I really enjoyed the election storyline. It exemplified so much of why this show is just great. We were put in the position of rooting for a democratic election to be stollen because the man who actually betrayed humanity to begin with was about to take over the presidency. If you think about it in those terms you can gain some insight into how some justify election hanky-panky in Florida and Ohio. That's how they see the world.
  • Having said that I'm not sure I bought Adama's actions after Rosilin told him Baltar was working with the Cylons. Here is a man to which the survival of the fleet has become the primary motivator and, to that end, already moved once against a democratically elected leader. It seems a little out of character for him to just roll over as Baltar took power.
  • Starbuck's behavior towards Apollo seemed out of character as well. She may have been trying to hurt him on purpose for some reason but it really sucked. It also seemed something that happened between them may have hit the cutting room floor or be slated for flashbacks next season. It's hard to see how they got to the point where they arrived at the point where they were at the end of the episode.
  • The BIG CHANGE. Wow. At first I thought we were in a Baltar dream sequence. It almost seemed he was dreaming he was Lincoln during the Civil War. Somebody in the foreground wearing what looked like a Union uniform was talking about the union. It was really disorienting and my first gut reaction was very negative towards the change in tone and leap forward in time..
  • This move was gutsy. I can't think of a gutsier direction taken by a television show. They have fundamentally reshuffled the deck and started over with characters the audience has already identified with. For that reason alone I'm inclined to be supportive.
  • On a minor note one of the things I like that the new show does is take episodes of the old show and put a real world spin on them. This episode seemed an extended version of the original series episode about the casino planet where the government, against the advice of the military, forces the fleet to stop and winds up putting humanity at risk (again.)

...and hear the lamentations of their women.

This weekend's announcement by Senator Feingold of a motion for censure was great to hear. It brought the predictable "for us or agin us" blathering from Frist who claimed it sends the wrong message to our enemies at a time of war. The Righty rag The New York Sun referred to Feingold's announcement as "pandering." Is it possible to pander when you assume a position that most Americans share with regards to the NSA spying? From where I sit the real politicians that are pandering on this issue are the Republicans who refuse to even investigate the program thus caving to the wishes of Bush.

Of course their weenie-dom pales in comparison to the rest of the Democratic party. I see Ted Kennedy and possibly Barbara Boxer being the only other two Senators that will sign on to Feingold's resolution. Just another in a long line of examples of the party choosing an election strategy that amounts to "we're not as bad as those guys." I'd love to be wrong about this but the Democratic party if nothing if not predictable.

Predictably chickenshit.

UPDATE: I realize I've been harping on this a lot lately but I know a lot of people share my frustration. The Democratic party is the only organization with enough financial and political clout to pull back the reigns on the reactionary craziness that poses as conservative these days. That so many of the leadership of the party seem to view "winning" as simply retainining their seats as oppossed to winning a majority and being able to affect REAL change just drives me absolutely crazy.

I want more leaders like Feingold. He isn't afraid to tell it like it is:

When the domestic spying story first broke, the President went from saying he wouldn't be able to talk about it, to suggesting there was no other way to wiretap terrorists, to implying that the FISA law is out of date. He went on to claim that sweeping inherent powers of the presidency or the authorization of force back in 2001 gave him such authority -- neither of which is legally or factually correct. While the President has cherry-picked information before, he cannot do the same with the laws of our land.

Censuring the President is not something that should be taken lightly. But the President has BROKEN the law and there needs to be action and accountability.

Which is why I'm off to put a call in to Wyden's office to urge him to support Feingold's motion.