Saturday, May 13, 2006

There's too much. I sum up.

Some good stuff...

Over at Steve Gilliard's News Blog Steve quotes Marc Shields as saying Republicans now see a 30 seat loss in the House. Steve takes a great jab at Democrats for not taking advantage of the current situation to deliver the killing blow:

What the DC Dems don't get is how alienated Americans have become with Bush and the GOP. They are begging for aggressive leadership, and people are still worried about NASCAR dads.

Folks, you need to worry about Walter Reed dads. They want the war to end, they want a resolution to the War on Terror and not the ham handed methods Bush is using.

Jane Hamsher started a mini-brouhaha over at her site over a post she did citing that CNN poll that shows most Americans would prefer Bill Clinton was still running the country rather than the Chimp. Jane referred to Bill as "the finest Republican President of my lifetime" and got the predictable round of ire from progressives.

Personally I think Bill Clinton was far from a perfect President but when I consider our current position in the world and what it was to have a President surrounded by grown-ups who looked at the facts and made grown-up decisions I feel pretty nostalgic. Not all of our foreign policy was correct, in my estimation, but at least in was based on a rational approach rather than the President's "gut."


Digby takes on the same CNN poll comparing Bush and Clinton with the goal of deconstructing the roots of voter's disenchantment with Bush:

Bush by contrast has had a free hand. He had an historical moment that could have brought the country and the entire world together --- which he decided instead to use as an opportunity to aggressively assert arrogant partisan and American power. Rather than being a "uniter not a divider" as he promised in the campaign, he roared into office with his one vote majority and treated the Democrats like lackeys, behaving as if he had a mandate to enact the most extreme items on the GOP agenda. He used patriotism as a bludgeon to intimidate all dissent against his inexplicable war with Iraq. At every turn he behaved with insolence and hubris and his failure has been manifest. Now he lives in a bubble, wandering around dazed and confused about what is happening to him --- which is not the result of Democratic partisanship, I might add, but rather the assessment of the American people. (The Democrats were paralyzed during most of his term.) Perhaps that's why his fall has been so steady --- the slow realization among the people that being a leader takes more than a manly swagger and a down home accent.

Bill Clinton may have been an imperfect human being but he was a president. This guy is, and always was, just a brand name in a suit.

The inevitable attack on Iran moves a step closer. Of course the moving of these two carrier groups could be just bluster on the part of the administration.



A little over a hundred posts with adjoining pop culture quotes and now three of them have been from the same character in the Princess Bride. I can't help it. I just love Inigo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

All I ask from you is a very simple answer to a very simple question. There are only two ways to answer it: guilty or not guilty.

This seems to me just a tad bit irresponsible. The Washington Post is contacted by the jury foreman in the Moussaoui trial who has a beef with the juror who held out against the death penalty for Moussaoui and runs with the story. The only thing I can't figure out is which is the bigger ass: the jury foreman or the Post.

The foreman is unhappy with rules set up by presiding judge Brinkema that allowed the dissenting juror's identity to be kept secret from the other jurors. Votes were taken on the basis of anonymity so they had no idea who was holding out against the death penalty. It seems to completely beyond the comprehension of the foreman as to why this juror might have been a little bit shy about sharing their name with even the other jurors on the case.

This might give her a clue:

Brinkema ordered that the identities of the jurors be withheld for security reasons. The foreman contacted The Post and the interview was conducted on the condition of anonymity by a reporter who recognized her from the trial.

For security reasons. I'm sure it's security from the long reach of al qaeda and all the operatives of that secretive organization and not the ravings of wingnuts upset that Moussaoui didn't get the guillotine. The juror who wanted life in prison instead of the death penalty wouldn't possibly have faced any retribution from the unhinged among us after the trial. It's not like other jurors are talking to reporters or anything. His/ her name would never have gotten out.

As for the Washington Post; reporting this foreman's words might be something I'd write off to the nature of journalism if it happened a few years ago. Journalists used to live by the credo "we report, you decide." But if there's anything the Bush era has taught us about journalism it's that that credo is dead. Now that journalists live by the credo "we decide what to report" reporters can't use the excuse that they go where the news takes them.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia.

"Bush Admin. Spying On Tens Of Millions Of Americans...

The government is secretly collecting records of ordinary Americans' phone calls in an effort to build a database of every call made within the country, it was reported Thursday.

AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers' phone calls to the National Security Agency program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement."

They are spying on US. Try as I might I can't think of ANY way patterns to domestic calls might suggest ties to terrorism.

I am furious at this invasion of our privacy. This is not a Police State and I'll be damned if I'm going to let them make us into a nation of Winston Smiths.

Take my word for it, General, this type of defense is useless against that kind of power! You'd better let Washington know, fast!

Jane Hamsher posted something that dovetails nicely with my post this morning. She is writing on the news that the administration has killed a Justice Department investigation into the illegal NSA wiretapping by refusing security clearance to department lawyers. Jane says--

It’s right in line with what they did last week — finally agreeing to Nancy Pelosi’s request to draw up a list of the members of Congress who were briefed on the program, and then classifying it so she couldn’t see it. It was the childish move of a petulant, power-mad emotional 8 year-old.

The Democrats seem to want some kind of process to happen before they approve Feingold’s censure plan. It’s hard to imagine anyone still needs proof that this President has willfully, deliberately and consistently broken the law, but if that’s the case, then how about falling in behind Al Gore’s plan (which happily includes a provision for filibustering any laws that try to retroactively legalize the administration’s previous lawlessness).

Someone? Anyone? This "don’t rock the boat" November election strategy while the public trust is eroded and the country goes to hell is curiously not working for me.

Far from getting behind Gore's plan we have Democratic Senator Dick Durbin jumping up and down excitedly because the nominee for Director of the CIA may have said that he supports just such a law legalizing the NSA spying retroactively.

The administration isn't in the cat bird's seat here, the constitution is. It's high time, no, well past high time that the Democrats began defending that constitution against this lawless administration. They're the only ones in a position to do so and yet they're still scared of their own shadow.

Well, then the law is crazy.

The Boston Globe:

CIA nominee hints he is open to shifts in surveillance law

By Katherine Shrader, Associated Press May 11, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The CIA nominee, General Michael V. Hayden, has told a Democratic senator that he may be open to changes in an eavesdropping law to allow the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance.

President Bush and senior officials have said they do not believe changes are needed to empower the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court approval, on communications between people in the United States and overseas when terrorism is suspected. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established a system requiring national security agencies to first seek approval from a secretive federal court before monitoring Americans.

Bush's program skirted those rules.

Skirted = avoided, demolished, sodomized, plowed right through, ignored, broke, violated, buggered, obliterated, took a shit on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You only live twice, Mr. Bond.

Have I mentioned I really, really hate Democratic political strategists?

Case in point:

Democrats Won't Focus Hayden Hearing on Surveillance (Update1)

May 10 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats say they will focus their fire on Michael Hayden's military background and suitability to head the Central Intelligence Agency when Senate confirmation hearings begin next week -- and won't emphasize the nominee's role in running a much-criticized eavesdropping program.

Absolutely. Let's focus on what appears to be the non-issue of a Director of the CIA who is currently in the military and completely ignore the fact that the man has shown, under oath, that he is totally ignorant of the text of the fourth amendment to the constitution.

I'm sure this is part and parcel to Rove's gamesmanship of the NSA issue, portraying it as the number one thing Republicans will be hitting Democrats on in this fall's elections. Jeebus Democratic politicians are easy to play.

I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners.

Should the Blazers change ownership and stay in Portland (two big question marks) I would say an ideal first step from this former fan's point of view would be to hire back Rick Adelman. He's one of the best coaches in basketball and it was a disgrace he was let go years ago.

That and Terry Porter or Clyde Drexler in the front office and I just might shell out some bucks to see a game again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.

Apologies for the Peter Sellers posts twice in a row but when I read this headline:

"White House Calls Iranian Letter a Ploy"

I could only hear Clouseau saying "Ah, ze old Iranian letter ploy."

The article itself is full of all sorts of humorous absurdities. How can something that quotes Ambassador (shouldn't it be "Acting Ambassador?") to the United Nations John Bolton who does his best Edward G. Robinson impression:

Iranians are always interested in talking right before everyone puts the squeeze on them….

"See youze guys, we're gonna put the squeeze on them with our heaters and if they don't see things our way they'll be swimming with the fishes."

There is one useful observation, though. Of course it's not made by anyone in the administration--

"The U.S. is thinking we should exhaust the stick before we try the carrot, and the international community is thinking we should exhaust the carrot before we try the stick," said Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank in Washington.

I'd just add that we don't really have a stick anymore as most of our stick happens to be stuck in Iraq. At best we can muster a small branch, probably more like a twig.

When it comes to pushing Iran around we just don't have the wood.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I like to watch TV.

This Bush quote from Christy Hardin Smith's piece on a post-presidency Bush really cracked me up:

"I would like to leave behind a legacy or a think tank, a place for people to talk about freedom and liberty, and the de Tocqueville model, what de Tocqueville saw in America," Mr. Bush told Mr. Schieffer. "I would like for there to be a place where young scholars come and write and think and articulate and opine and teach."

Does anyone really believe our manchild of a President actually used the word "opine?"

If I were to walk up to Mr. Bush today and ask him what he admires about de Tocqueville could there be even the slightest doubt he would say something like "I don't do that anymore. Not since I found Jesus a few years ago. Toking a fatty is something I gave up."

It reminds me of how, early in his Presidency, they tried to make Bush look all smart and stuff by having him tell everybody that interviewed him he was enjoing the biography on Truman. When he was asked what his favorite part was he just stammered out a nonsensical answer.

Forget the think tank, George. Start a trout farm. Better yet-- start a perch farm with some of those magical 7 pounders you have at your ranch.

Why are you obsessed with fighting times and fates you can't defy?

It would be wonderful if there was a way to compare the views of those on the right who went bonkers at the worldwide riots that took place after that Danish cartoon depicting Mohammed was published to the growing imbroglio over the impending release of The Da
Vinci Code.
I think it's a safe bet that many of those screaming bloody murder about "the religion of peace" going nuts over a cartoon are pretty much the same group of individuals that think Brown's work of fiction is a direct frontal assault on Christianity that has to be stopped at all costs.

I was flipping through the channels last week and wound up listening to a Christian Rock station for a minute and was fascinated by an ad for a seminar regarding the movie that would be taking place at a large local megachurch. "You may not be seeing the movie," the ad warned ominously, "but your friends and neighbors will and you'll need to know how to deal with their misconceptions about the book and movie."

As a reformed-Catholic the current political alliance between the Catholic church and our own protestant Evangelicals is fascinating. As I was growing up the idea that Evangelical Protestantism and Catholicism would mesh was insane. That little that the two movements shared in comment paled next to the vast differences in coda.

So I still find it odd that Protestants are so quickly willing to take up what, for all intensive purposes is the call for holy war against the movie. One explanation could be the shared self-martyrdom so much a part of the psychological make-up of Christian Conservatives today. There's little difference between the whining of a protestant James Dobson or a Catholic Cardinal Arinze when they blather about being under attack:

"Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget," Arinze said in the documentary made by Rome film maker Mario Biasetti for Rome Reports, a Catholic film agency specializing in religious affairs.

There is a tradition of sacrifice for the better of social good in Christianity. But protesting a movie just isn't in the same league as the actions of an Archbishop Romero of El Salvador standing up to a corrupt and evil regime that ultimately claimed his life. Nor does fighting to keep a brain-dead woman hooked up to life support equate to fighting to free slaves, sometimes at risk to life and liberty. Christian leaders devalue the true, just sacrifices made in the name of Christianity when they equate the trivial with the necessary. They aren't fighting demons, they're fighting shadows.