Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Overheard at the White House

This, from The Hill, via Talking Points:

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn't ask you that, I asked how he's doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn't. It's safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.

The President was being courteous in inquiring about the well-being of Webb's son, and Webb's reply was somewhat confrontational. (That seems consistent with what I've heard about Webb.) Webb could have rounded the edges off his response, saying something like, "he's fine, thank you for asking, but his mother, his wife and kids and I would all like to see him get back home safely."

The President's retort reveals him to be thin-skinned and a bit flippant. (Not that we didn't already know that.) The President could have said something like, "we'd all like to see all of our brave young men and women come home." See? That wasn't so hard. He could have even added on one of his stand-by empty platitudes. ("As soon as the mission's complete.")

Personally, I find more fault with the President's retort.

Just wait till Webb gets to Dick "Go Fuck Yourself" Cheney's reception!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bush to Troops: Drop Dead.

“We’ll continue to be flexible and we will make the changes necessary to succeed,” Mr. Bush said. “But there’s one thing I’m not going to do: I’m not going pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.”

When the President says "I’m not going pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,” absent a defined and achievable mission, that sounds an awful lot like he's telling the troops, "we don't know what the mission is, and we don't know if it's possible, but you can't leave until you're finished with it." What leadership.

Any politician or pundit who pops off with this kind of empty rhetoric ("whatever it takes to complete the mission") should be forced to put their money where their mouth is. They should be asked: will you enlist? Would you urge your son or daughter (or daughters) to enlist?

I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment that anyone who says "do what is necessary to succeed" without actually saying what it is they think is necessary or what they think success is can be kicked in the crotch with impunity.

Just Because They Do It In Flanders, That Doesn't Mean It's OK

Apparently putting up crosses to memorialize the dead is disrespectful to those who have died for their country. Who knew?

Don't mess with, Iraq

President Bush has warned Syria and Iran "not to interfere" with Lebanon's "young democratic" government. Because there's nothing that chaps Bush's ass more than interventionist foreign policy. That and pretzels.

We hold the international moral highground equivelant of a swampy ditch.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why can't they live by what they profess to believe?

'Dr. Dino' convicted in Florida tax fraud trial

It's curious to me that all of these supposed religious, moral leaders keep going down for living lives directly opposite from what they say they believe, and what they try to force on others. I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't some "out" fundamentally built into Christianity that allows for this. It seems to me that if you believe in the idea of Jesus as a savior, and that you can do anything in this life as long as you accept that belief, and ask for his forgiveness, you are completely punting any responsibilty to live by the beliefs you claim. You can lie, cheat, steal, harm your fellow man, and all of your corrupt morality won't matter in the long run because Christ died for you, and if you believe that - you're 'in'.

What kind of bullshit is that, really? I believe in the Golden Rule. I don't have to believe in God or force my idea of "true" religion on anyone to live by that. I truly believe accountability to your fellow man is a far greater a standard than accountability to a belief system not universally shared. I really wish fundamentalists would stop trying to mandate a morality for the rest of us they themselves seem incapable of living by.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Something we can agree on

New study shows, guess what, the Iraqi people don't really want us in Iraq, either:
The survey by much-respected World Public Opinion (WPO), taken in September, found that 74% of Shiites and 91% of Sunnis in Iraq want us to leave within a year....

By a wide margin, both groups believe U.S. forces are provoking more violence than they're preventing -- and that day-to-day security would improve if we left.

They do this...really?

I was reading that Spkr. Pelosi is considering a bill to provide severance pay to House staffers that are losing their jobs because their bosses were voted out. The piece I was reading indicates that it was something the GOP didn't do for Dems back in 1994. Which indicates to me that it's something that is normally done as a regular course of action.

Really? Isn't working in such jobs assuming the risk of losing your job because of politics? This just seems crazy to me, I have sympathy for those that are losing their jobs, but also I can't help but notice that nothing's in session most of the time and presumably they're paid between the election and when the new Congress goes into session. I don't begrudge them some time at the office working on their job search, but severance? Really? Severance?

This just seems to be one of the tiny little parts of politics where it becomes so apparent that priorities revolve around personal and party power, and has relatively less to do with the fact these people are elected to do a job for the citizens, not to spend the citizen's money on things that help them politically.

Severance? Really? Do the congresspeople themselves get severance?

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's Not About Freedom Of Speech

Just because you're free to say it doesn't mean you're not a racist bastard.

Below, in case you haven't seen it, Michael Richards (of Seinfeld fame) loses his temper and goes way beyond using the "N" word.

I am horrified.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"We'll succeed unless we quit."

So says the Uniter while visiting Vietnam.

Is this "we're succeeding as long as we're trying" line of thinking a consciously derived policy statement, or simply a manifestation of one man's pathological inability to admit a mistake?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What a difference a year makes ...


"In an ironic turnaround, Iraq brought regime change to the United States."

-- Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I can't come up with a catchy name for a post about Iraq

The majority of people in the United States agrees with me when I say that Iraq is not going well. I believe that polls support that they would also agree when I say it was a mistake to go over there in the first place (and if anyone cares, yes, that's been my position all along).

However, we did go. Those that led us there should be held accountable, and to a certain extent the latest election did just that. We should not simply whitewash the decision to go as a "that's in the past, let's focus on the now" with regards to holding those accountable for the apparent misrepresentation of the situation and the horrible assumptions that led us there.

That said...

I am wary and nervous about the Dems making wholesale withdrawal the centerpoint to their policy toward Iraq. I do believe we need to change course, a scaled drawback and more focused role is important, I think. I say I think because I'm not a military expert nor have I been there to see what's going on. I think Fareed Zachariah's recent article in Newsweek offered an interesting approach; cut troop levels overall, knowing that bad things will happen (i.e. more inter-faction violence erupting) but using that as a way to get the Iraqi government more accountable for it and focus on imbedding more troops with Iraq army divisions while withdrawing to 5 or 6 superbases from which we can try and hold back wholesale mayhem and/or genocide (that's a rough paraphrase of a 4 page proposal, apologies if I mangles it).

But my point is this - I agree that it was a mistake to go there. It has cost thousands of U.S. lives, tens to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, has destabalized the region and has hamstrung our ability to respond to diplomatic threats (Iran's nukes) as well as provide support for critically needed international interventionist missions (Darfur). But that said, we ARE there. When our country made the decision to go, we all, everyone of us even if we didn't vote for the people who did it, incurred a responsibility not to simply let it devolve into wholesale genocide. Which I believe will happen if we take the approach of withdrawing all troops in the relatively immediate future.

Perhaps I misunderstand the position of Pelosi and Murtha, but it seems that they are moving toward a much more fast withdrawal kind of program, a "what's the best way for us to cut our losses and get the hell out of dodge" kind of approach. Which I appreciate, but I'm really wary of us setting up the Sunnis to be wiped out by the Shiites.

I don't know, I don't have any answers and I'm sick of the whole mess. We can't stay the course of a massive interventionist role with hopes that someday the violence will go "poof." We can't allow the current Iraqi government to have it both ways, uring us to stay privately so they can continue using our military might as a shield while killing us publicly and tacitly operating militias bent on consolidating power through eradication of enemies. At the same time, we can't simply say, ok, we're gone, because I think that leads to a swift and massive extermination of the minority Sunnis under the guise of anti-insurgency. Will anti-war activists who are also advocating intervention in Darfur (which I support, by the by) raise the flag of intervention for that possible genocide? I honestly don't know.

So I'm wary of the Dems, or rather the Pelosi and Murtha bloc, staking a position of "get out now," which honestly in my mind is only slightly less myopic and U.S. centric that the administration's plan of "stay massively involved, keep shooting people and hope for the best." I realize it's alot easier politically to say "get out of Iraq" than say "let's create a reasoned policy that is responsive to the massive complexity of the challenge at hand." But that doesn't make it the best course to follow.

Yes, the election was largely won on the "Iraq is a shitstorm" vibe. But as bad as it was to pander to the jingoistic and militaristic aspects of the American public to justify the war, is it not at least somewhat as bad to pander to the "I'm horrified at the war, please make it go away" aspects of the American majority now if it means worse harms to the region we have already inflicted so much damage on?

Again, no answers, just worried that most of those in power are worried about a political win, not a win for the folks in Iraq, whatever nationality they may be.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Are there any straight Republicans?

Haggard, Foley, Gannon/Guckert, now Mehlman

No wonder they all think Gay marriage is such a threat to "the family"...

Heath Shuler's in da Tent!

With so much being made of the "conservative win" on Teusday, what with a solid handful of Southern conservative democrats being elected (along with plenty of more liberal Northeast dems), I was very interested to listed to a radio interview with Heath Shuler today. As I've said before, the fact that the Dems picked up some of their seats with conservative Dem candidates is indicative of winning the middle and embracing some much more centrist candidates, not of an overt move right.

So I listened to Heath. As a football fan, I had to get over he was a huuuuuuge NFL bust. But given that I've never been drafted in the first round or paid millions for my college athletic prowess, it's tough to really get on him for not making it in pro sports. But Heath was pretty well spoken and didn't soft peddle his more socially conservative ways, he's not wild about gun control, doesn't like abortion but doesn't so much want to make outlawing it a political cause and does not support gay marriage. Ok, so he's not my ideal guy on those social issues.

But here's the kicker that I thought summed up and refuted the whole "Republican in Dem clothing" argument. When asked about what he see's as his role in Congress, he said that (paraphrasing) while some social issues divide Democrats in Congress, the importance of working in short order to raise the minimum wage, improve access to healthcare and work on better solutions to education and poverty are really the key. He said that he's a Democrat because he believes that's the party that stands for giving a helping hand to those less fortunate, and that it's embarrassing that one in five children in this country live in poverty. Quoting directly, he said "we're better than that." He supports fiscally conservative measures, i.e. a more balanced budget, but that giving huge tax cuts to the rich isn't the way to do it, rather measured tax cuts for the middle and lower class is a better revenue solution for the country. And making smart choices on spending is critical, because the funds we do have should be directed at supporting the middle class and helping those in poverty find a better life.

So gun control, personal feelings about abortion and gay marriage aside (not to downplay those issues, they are biggies, and we'll continue to debate them), I'd like the GOP pundits to take the Heath Shuler interview, stick in their pipes, and smoke away. Because what he said sounded nothing like a conservative, or Republican win to me.

My new favorite Congressperson...

Is officially John Hall (D) - New York 19th.

Not sure if folks have seen his two appearances on Colbert, but he's understated, hilarious and sang a mean national anthem duet with the C-man. Funny and fairly good all at the same time (he's the former lead singer of Orleans).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Totally 80's!

While I'm being an unrepentant BlogWhore. (Hope to see you all at BlogWhore07, btw.)


(Music plays - it sounds very much like those ads for Trivial Pursuit's "Totally 80's" version...except it's slightly different.)

John Negroponte: Who helped funnel secret aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, covered up human rights abuses in Honduras, and is now Director of Central Intelligence?

(Music: totally 80's!)

Daniel Ortega: Who led the Sandinistas fight against the Contras, but was just re-elected President of Nicaragua?

(Music: totally 80's!)

Announcer: They're all here- James A. Baker III, Elliott Abrams...and now Robert Gates is joining the party, too!

What party? The Bush Administration's Totally 80's! Iran-Contra House Party, that's what!

All of your favorite characters from the Iran-Contra Affair are gonna be here! (John Poindexter was here, but he had to leave.)

Who knows who else is coming? Robert McFarlane? Oliver North? Fawn Hall? Eugene Hasenfus?

Grab a New Coke, kick off your Air Jordan's and enjoy!

For lunch today in the GOP Cafeteria:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Gin Rummy

I guess he didn't want to have to deal with the San Francisco Values.

Random Notes from a Very Good Evening

...many candidates for most annoying narrative of the evening, but here is one: "the Dems are succeeding by moving to the right, by becoming in effect, more like moderate Republicans." It is true that some of the Dems who were successful in conservative areas are to the right of the quote-unquote center of the Democratic party. (For instance Bob Casey, who defeated Rick Santorum, is anti-choice and anti-gun control. OTOH, he's... not Rick Santorum.) But the broad spectrum of Dems didn't owe their victories to having co-opted Republican positions. If anything, they owe it to the Republican's abandoning reality and moving ever further to the right fringes (and doing so on first-class tickets paid for by Jack Abramoff).

... there wasn't any one state that had me saying "WTF?" last night. I was pleasantly surprised that South Dakota voted down a draconian anti-abortion law. I was not surprised to see many anti-gay marriage amendments pass, though I was happy to see my home state of Arizona buck the trend.

... who I was happiest to see thrown out: Richard Pombo in CA, Santorum, Ken Blackwell in OH. Katherine "Kabuki" Harris in FL. I was happy to see Arizona turn out blow-dried blow-hard JD Hayworth, who caused the conservative Arizona Republic to endorse his opponent and label him a "bully."

... person I was most hoping to see thrown out on their ass who wasn't: "Mean" Jean Schmidt (R-OH), who called Jack Murtha a coward on the floor of the House.

... expecting/dreading the new narrative, that Karl Rove somehow managed to "save" this election, make this disaster better than it otherwise might have been. How? How much worse could this have been for Bush and Co.? Short of a mob with torches and pitchforks showing up at the White House?

...very happy to watch Pombo go down in California, but this race also provided my personal highlight of the evening: Pombo held his post-election celebration at a restaurant called "Waterloo." I assume that's because "the Disastrous Failure Bay of Pigs Cantina" was booked.

... I wrote a new fake news piece: "Cheney Hears What Voters Are Saying: "Keep Up the Good Work"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

About that tide...

Early returns look positive for Dems. Despite my clear issues with the bi-partisan nature of American politics, I'm happy about this. Let's see where the night takes us, because I remember being told Gore was our next president one November eve. And I picked a horse in this last weekend's Breeder's Cup that I had a "good feeling about," that literally died, so I'm not real big on my prognostication skills in general. So who knows.

All that said, there's all this talk about a "tide" or "wave" of Democratic momentum. Even if they pick up both houses of Congress (unlikely, I think the GOP holds the Senate when all is said and done, but again, the horse...), it's not a tidal wave when all the individual elections are 51% to 49%. It's the same thing with the "Bush mandate," barely over half of the voters doesn't mean you've won some clear victory and the other side no longer matters. It's just silly, this is all about whether a small majority of voters likes one party/set of candidates or another, it's simply IS NOT a mandate about one clique all of a sudden being the "cool kids" and the others being relegated to the debate team (and before anyone gets offended, I was not only on, but was captain and coach of my high school debate team).


An observation I read on one of my blog tours: by the end of the night tonight, we will all be looking at one state (maybe more than one), saying to ourselves: WTF were they thinking?

Meanwhile it's looking like a very good possibility that here in CA we will have 4 more years of being governed by an Austrian cyborg from the future.

It's Your Civic Duty

Go vote!

Do it now!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Congress Tells Auditor in Iraq to Close Office

Another One Bites the Dust

Happy Ending

Sometimes, you sense the tides changing. As more and more of the people responsible for "moral leadership" in our country go down in the flames of their own hypocrisy, I can't help but sit here and gloat just a little.

Ok, a lot.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's in the orange juice down there?

According to a story in the NY Times this morning, the GOP actually has a pretty good chance of keeping Mark Foley's seat in Congress. This despite the fact that the name of the GOP candidate, Joe Negron, isn't even on the ballot; Mark "measure it" Foley's is.

The election, which pollsters now list as a "tossup," features a candidate who is "a self-described fundamentalist Christian who opposes same-sex marriage and tighter gun control." That's not Negron, that's the Democratic candidate, Tim Mahoney.

Apparently there are a lot of people in FL-16 who wouldn't cotton to havin' that kind of "Librul" represent them in Congress. (Maybe they're troubled by Mahoney's liberal views on evolution and miscegenation.)

Lucky for them that Mr. Negron was available, having earlier in the year dropped out of the running for Attorney General, due to a lack of name recognition.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A (partial) list of hoary myths

1. "We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here at home."

2. "We haven't been attacked since 9/11, so the strategy is working."

3. "Liberals like Nancy Pelosi don't want us to be able to monitor international phone calls to and from terrorists."

4. "Democrats don't have any serious policy alternatives. They just want to 'cut and run.'"

5. "John McCain and Joe Lieberman are principled centrists."

6. "The liberal media doesn't report on the positive things happening in Iraq."

7. "The terrorists are attacking us to try to weaken our resolve, and to influence our elections. The terrorists want you to vote for 'cut and run' Democrats."

John McCain Is Not A Moderate

With elections around the corner, and so many of us looking for an end to Bush's bumbling reign of terror, I'm really worried that McCain will be the Republican front-runner, and that lots of left-leaning moderates will vote for McCain for the wrong reasons.

Wrong reason: “Well, if we HAVE to have a Republican president, it may as well be McCain.”

I have heard this said (heard it a lot, actually, in 1999 and 2000), but I don’t really understand it. Is it because he’s supposed to be a nice guy?

Will you still think that if he institutes a draft?

Honestly, I do not see how McCain would be better than Bush.

McCain is pro-war and militaristic. His views on foreign policy are pretty much in line with the those of the Bush Administration (although he would like to see us stronger in Iraq, and is advocating sending thousands of more troops there).

And while McCain does not always toe the party line when it comes to some things (like Big Tobacco and campaign finance reform), that doesn’t suddenly make him moderate. It simply makes him a little less predictable.

Okay, so he doesn’t blindly agree with the Christian right…but that doesn’t mean we should overlook things like oh…I dunno…that he supports teaching Intelligent Design in public schools.

Go look at his voting records. Look at who supports him (e.g., terrifyingly neo-con groups like John Birch and the Eagle Forum).

I am afraid that because he comes in a more palatable package than Bush, people will think he’s a far better choice. But who cares what the package looks like if it’s wrapped around the same bullshit we’re trying to get rid of?

Seriously. Imagine the kind of damage Bush could do with just a little less swagger and a little more credibility. Imagine the kind of mess we’d be in if more moderates and most leftists didn’t think Bush was a joke.

McCain’s credibility scares me. He is most certainly not a joke, and I am most certainly not laughing.

Things Fall Apart (Updated below)

I've been chewing on a bit of the conversation Cuznate and I were having below, the gist of which is this.

I think a fair amount of the impulse behind the emergence of NetRoots as a force on the left side of the political spectrum has been the sense that the Democratic Party couldn't get out of its own way. In the face Karl Rove and his goon squad, the Dem's couldn't muster and deliver a message that was in any way compelling to masses of voters who really wanted an alternative to the Bush gang. People were frustrated by the Dem's inability to counter Rove & Co's ability to set the agenda, command the playing field. They got pissed and said, okay, we'll have to do it ourselves, try to change this party from the inside.

The NetRoots movement and the Dem's have been aided by the sheer quantity and intensity of the Bush Administration's failures: failure to capture bin Laden; failure to secure peace in Afghanistan; failure to respond effectively to Hurricane Katrina. There is an equally long and illustrious list not of failures but of outright acts of malfeasance which I won't go into.

I ramble, but here's my point: the NetRoots on the left are attempting to change the Democratic Party from within. Next Tuesday, we will find out if they are succeeding. If they are not, might they decide to leave the party?

At the same time, I expect a similar chain of events to occur on the right. And there is evidence that it is already under way. Here Kos links to a disillusioned conservative blogger.

I still think of myself as a Republican- but I think the whole party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills, and it frustrates me to no end to see my former friends enabling them, and I wonder 'Why can't they see what I see?"


Bush has been a terrible President. The past Congresses have been horrible.... Why can't they just admit they were sold a bill of goods and start over? Why do they want to remain in power, but without any principles? Are tax cuts that important? What is gained by keeping troops in harms way with no clear plan for victory? With no desire to change course? With our guys dying every day in what looks to be for no real good reason? Why?

This is what some conservatives may be saying in increasing numbers starting on November 8. If conservatives begin to wake up and realize they've been "sold a bill of goods," I'm all for that. Who knows how widespread it might be, or what might emerge from this reckoning (if it comes to pass). But it could have an interesting impact on 2008.


Update: The always entertaining Charles Pierce weighs in on the topic:

"BUYER'S REMORSE. This gloriously frank piece is getting a decent amount of blogo-buzz this morning, and it's got me to thinking that the current buyer's remorse among "principled" conservatives makes me want to vomit.

I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends -- but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse."

Hey, John. Michael Dukakis was a decent man. Al Gore was a decent man, and so was John Kerry. Max Cleland and Tom Daschle were decent men. Newt Gingrich, a supremely indecent man, made his career attacking decent men. Going back further, because I'm old enough to remember that vicious closet-case Terry Dolan and his NCPAC campaigns, Frank Church and George McGovern were decent men. It's not enough to decide that the tactics that empowered your political philosophy are suddenly odious because they've empowered a feckless incompetent. Repentance before redemption, boys. Rise from the fainting couches and pick up the flagellum. As the nuns used to say, I don't think you've sufficiently examined your consciences."

May We Bring You Another Virgin, Mr. Bin Laden?

Apparently the number of Americans killed in Iraq has now exceeded the number killed on 9/11, meaning that George Bush is responsible for more American deaths than al-Qaeda.

I guess the terrorists can just kick back and enjoy the show, now that we're doing their job for them.