Saturday, December 16, 2006

Domestic terrorism

Without doing any research on crime stats, it seems to me that mass murder/suicides in the US are becoming more and more prevelant. It seems there's a new one every couple weeks (there was just another one in KC). It seems to me that the size and scope of these attacks are in line with the size and scope of many, if not most, suicide bombings and similar terrorist attacks in other countries. In detailing such crimes in the US however, the words domestic terrorism never come up.

While I will be the first to admit that this might be simple antecdotally derived bullshit, as it may simply be that these types of events are getting more coverage or that they're on the decline and I'm just noticing more, I find the difference between the analysis of the two types of events to be very interesting (for lack of better words, all due respect and condolences to the victims and families).

Yes, there are clear differences regarding motivation and political context. But I find it curious that many seem to fall over themselves to offer platitudes about "the war on terror" but no one seems to give a damn that domestic mass murder, if not terrorism, is increasing. I'm alot more worried about friends and family getting killed in such an act of domestic violence than of the threat of foriegn terrorists (and I lost two acquaintances on September 11th, so don't think I take that risk lightly). But Hillary and Joe are probably right, it's all the video gaming industry's fault.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Could someone who is articulate...

...please write the defining post on this so we can let it go? I can't do it. I start and then I get so mad I sound like a lunatic. The stupidity of the allegation in the first place is enough to make my eyes go crossed, but to have to try and outline why?

It's more than I can bear. I am not kidding -- I have broken out into hives trying.

So I plead, someone, someone more articulate than I, please take me up on this assignment.

* * * *

Post: The Clenis

Resolve: President Clinton's penis (heretofore referred to as "The Clenis") has nothing to do with 9/11, nor our subsequent "war on terror," nor our war in Iraq.

  • The amount of time and resources it took for Clinton to get with Monica.
    (See: shooting fish in a barrel)

  • The amount of time and resources it took trying to find anything to pin on Clinton.
    (See post below re: Christmas Cards, Abu Ghraib)

  • Defining moral relativism.
    (See: marital infidelity, fabricating evidence to support pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation)

  • Clinton's report for the Bush Administration outlining the threat posed by al Quada.
    (See: possible attack re: US Airline)

  • Creative logic: Sadaam = bad guy. al Quada = bad guys. Sadaam = al Quada.
    (See: "close enough")

  • The US should/shouldn't take out dictators because they are bad guys.
    (See: North Korea)

  • What about if there's evidence (however false) that they have threatened us directly? (Ignore: North Korea)

  • Civil wars: to intervene or not to intervene?
    (See: Vietnam)

  • Spouting phrases one learns from Fox news and ABC Specials as fact.
    (See: anonymous)

How times have changed

"What's at stake here is the rule of law. Even the president of the United States has no right to break the law.
The result will be a return to the imperial presidency of the Nixon era, where the White House felt the laws did not apply to them, since they never would be punished. That would be a national tragedy of immense consequences."

At least that's what Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R - WI) thought about the necessity of impeaching a president way back in 1998...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Come on, come on...

Al Gore hasn't ruled out a Presidential run in 2008.

"I am not planning to run for president again," Gore said last week, arguing that his focus is raising public awareness about global warming and its dire effects. Then, he added: "I haven't completely ruled it out."

How's this for a bonus: he could formally announce his candidacy while accepting the Oscar for best documentary.

Gore/Feingold '08!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Put That In Your Pipe

From Digby:

The House took 140 hours of sworn testimony to get to the bottom of whether Clinton had misused the White House Christmas-card list for political purposes, but only 12 hours on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"Mission Accomplished"

I mentioned that I thought it deplorable for Bush to have made his Mission Accomplished declaration.

In response, anonymous said...

seems to me that at the time bush gave the 'mission accomplished' speech, the mission had been accomplished. future missions were not accomplished, but removing saddam from power was mission accomplished at that time.

Except that the FIRST SENTENCE of Bush's speech, given on May 1, 2003 is this:

Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

Major combat operations have ended, he said. Have prevailed. As though it were over. He knowingly and purposely made every implication that "major combat operations" in Iraq had ceased; this speech did not imply they would resume within hours and continue indefinitely, as has been the case.

Let's not get into the slippery slope of semantics. He made a purposely misleading speech.

And even the White House seems to agree.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sometimes the checks & balances are pretty cool.

what happens when a bi-partisan arm of congress gets to be all independent from the current administration?

You get things like the GAO (US Government Accountability Office) telling the Dept. of Health & Human Services in a letter that their policy of grant-giving only to abstinence only education organizations may in fact be in violation of a Federal Law that says that information specifically designed to address sexually transmitted diseases must contain medically accurate information - including things like condom use.

Go go GAO!

Because, in spite of what the conservative right-wingers would like us to believe, the majority of Americans do actually support accurate sex education in school: Annenberg Public Policy Center Study released Nov. 6, 2006.

Why I Love Charles Pierce (long-ish)

(Crap, Ish is posting again...)

Following is from Eric Alterman's blog on Media Matters. Pierce used to be a regular correspondent there, and from the looks of things, he's back. I hope you will take a moment to at least skim the attached, and understand why I love reading Mr. Pierce.

I have spent more than a year wandering in the trackless steppes of Outer Blogistan, living by my wits, surviving as best I could. (Strong men wept when we had to eat the lead camel.) I once even found myself in strange lands without humor. Then, in my last extreme, stumbling in the unforgiving wilderness, off in the distance, and not where it used to be, I spied a familiar light in a different window.

And yes, I will have more fatted calf, thank you.

Jeebus Christmas, he said, in keeping with the season, have I grown tired of the MacGyver Theory Of Washington Politics -- the notion that, if we just pluck out of David Broder's moth-eaten Rolodex the people with the most gray mold on their careers, they will all get together and build a solution out of two coconut shells and a handful of magic beans. I first formulated the MacGyver Theory during the Iran-Contra scandal, when we had first the Tower Commission and the utterly pointless joint congressional committee, which worked in tandem to help the criminals escape as surely as if old Ed Muskie had baked them a cake with a file in it. (For the record, Lee Hamilton was in the middle of this mess, too.) The MacGyver Theory speaks only in the passive voice -- "Mistakes were made" -- and only in the sterile syntax of the bureaucrat. No individual is ever guilty, only the system is, because it "has broken down," and where did I leave that baling wire and chewing gum anyway? Nobody ever goes to jail because we're looking forward, not back. The MacGyver Theory's devotees believe quite strongly that the messy business of actual self-government will discomfit The American People, who are sweet little children asleep upstairs. That's how the MacGyver Theory protected jovial old Dutch Reagan. (We cannot have "another failed presidency," not even one that's already, well, failed.) It's also how it was trotted out during the extended 2000 presidential election. "The American People" needed "closure" more than anything else, and who better than Antonin Scalia to build an airplane out of palm fronds to get us all out of the "constitutional crisis" that was so visible from the Green Rooms in D.C.? And now, the Iraq Study Group, the MacGyver Theory applied to people's lives.

I rise again to present, by way of a relevant comparison, my argument that my colleagues in the sportswriting business do their jobs better than most members of the elite political media. Last year, Bud Selig appointed former senator George Mitchell to run the in-house investigation of what is perceived to be the problem with performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Almost immediately, the choice came under criticism that centered on the fact that Mitchell's probe would not have any real power to compel testimony or documents, and that Mitchell himself had been tied into several major-league baseball franchises -- most notably, the Boston Red Sox -- and, finally, on the very simple grounds that any in-house investigation started out in Credibility Gap given major-league baseball's inability to police itself.

I don't agree with a lot of these criticisms, but they have some merit, and the fact that they were mustered so widely and so quickly stands in stark contrast to the reverential coverage of the Iraq Study Group and its hunt for the pony in the pile. For example where was the instant and withering contempt from our courtier political press over the presence on the ISG of a useless old vampire like Edwin Meese, who started his career calling for detention camps to be set up to house student demonstrators at Berkeley, and ended it, two steps ahead of the law, by giving the Iran-Contra crowd just enough time to shred what they needed to shred? And, anyway, what in the name of Christ's sweet strawberry preserves does Edwin Meese know about Iraq? Why not just hire him to re-wire the space shuttle and design the new levees in Louisiana while he's at it? County commissioners go to jail for putting their idiot nephews on county road crews, But, on the bloodiest question of the past 30 years, supposedly educated people wait with their tongues hanging out for a viable solution to emerge from what appears to be the Petrified Forest, and nobody points out the absurdity that's sitting right there, listening to its arteries harden.

And, yes, I will have some more fatted calf, thank you.

And while I'm at it

Just a couple of thoughts that keep rattling around in my head. I invite you to respond (in part so that I don't feel like I'm talking to myself.)

1. The vaunted emphasis of the Iraq Study Group on coming to a consensus, and the need for unity, is really a failing. The group itself is composed of the most-inside insiders, because they're the type of serious people who can achieve consensus. And the need for consensus virtually assured they would not hear or consider "crazy" points of view from people who, I don't know, were right about the folly of this war from the start.

2. The idea that the ISG report would somehow give the President "political cover to change course" was just another naive pipedream. He ain't changing course.

3. Maybe I missed it, but I don't feel like I have seen anything even approaching a coherent rationale for why we should stay in Iraq even a minute longer than is necessary. (Of course, I'm still waiting for a coherent rationale for going there in the first place.)

The Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, don't want us there. They haven't demonstrated that they want to unite to form a democratic secular government.

So why stay? To prevent an all-out civil war, with the grim prospect of Balkan-style ethnic cleansing? My impression is that that is more or less already underway, and we have very little ability to control it. We are used by each side when we are useful, and attacked when we are in the way. But I don't sense we are in any better position to stop this from happening now than we would be if we were out of Iraq and over the horizon.

Thomas Friedman, lucid for the moment

But everything Iraq’s leaders have done so far suggests that a united, democratic and pluralistic Iraq is their second choice. Tribal politics is still their first choice. We can’t go on having our first-choice kids dying for their second choice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My Head, My Heart

Kos makes a simple, easy-to-understand argument about why a Democratic push to impeach BushCo. is a bad idea. His point boils down to this, essentially: they have better things to do right now.

I know this to be true. Iraq is a fiasco and we have to figure out what to do about it before the remaining US troops are sucked into a black hole of full-blown civil war, before the country collapses on top of us, before I ever, EVER have to hear myself agree with James Baker again.

But I am mad.

When 9/11 happened I was mad and I was human and I wanted revenge. I wanted those responsible to be punished. Bush and his war in Iraq did not do that. Is not doing that. (I get achingly, fumingly enraged when I think of the "Mission Accomplished" declaration he had the audacity to give.)

No, Bush has not punished those responsible, but he could have. So now he, too, bears responsibility. And he, too, should be punished for his crimes.

Of course, I know better. But I don't feel better.

So when I read this comment on Kos, I appreciated the sentiment.

What are Democrats for?

I can see the pragmatist argument you are making. The Democratic party has obtained a foothold, but it's precarious, and tactically it is more sound to secure that foothold than risk reaching for a higher goal when you can still fall off the cliff.

On the other hand, there are questions of morale here.

I am a cynical, despairing voter. I vote for Democrats because I see them as my best hope for getting my political interests represented. There are very few Democrats who actually strike me as ideal voices, however. The successful Democrats all seem to be the mealy-mouthed conservative do-nothings. They toe the line, they bleat about Republican excesses, but demonstrate that wonderful bipartisan spirit when it comes to important votes. I'm sick of it. It seems to me that conservative, 'safe' Democrat-ism is what lead to the Bush presidency in the first place, and what lead to the Iraq war, and the Patriot Act, and signing statements, and Alitos and Roberts, and Bob Gates as a Rumsfield replacement, and the whole bloody mess in general.

The Republicans, by God, stand for something. They make the usual political statements about peace and freedom, but you know, when they want lower taxes, they lower taxes! When they want a war, they wage war! When they promise money to their corporate benefactors, they unleash the moolah! When they want to impress their base, they will make complete asses out of themselves by claiming that brain-dead women are merely napping. They stand for things that I think are pretty horrible, and accomplish things that are even worse, but they do what they set out to do, mostly. Except the Thousand-Year Republican Reich, that hasn't worked too good, but hey, they've got people like you still thinking it might happen.

I don't want Democrats who will only do 'safe' things in office. I don't want Democrats who will only consider doing 'unsafe' things when their offices and majorities are 'safe'. I want heroes. I want Democrats who will do hard, unsafe things, when they are vulnerable. I want brave risk-takers, not hunkered-down spear-carriers.

You see, there's a Hydra in the Lernaen Swamp that is our nation. It's been festering evilly since the Cold War. It's heads have names, names we've known since the Nixon years. And they still keep popping up even though it's the 21st century. That's because, back then, when we first fought the Hydra, people did the expedient thing of chopping off a few heads, and letting others retire without doing jail time. However, you can't just chop the heads off. You have to burn the stumps, or the heads pop back, double in number. Look at the names of the people infesting this current administration. There are people in power now who have been screwing the world up since the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I administrations. Nobody burned the stumps back then, so they've popped up again, and done as much or worse than before.

I want a Hercules, who is going to go in, chop the heads off, burn the stumps, and kill the fucking Hydra once and for all. It won't be safe, it won't be expedient, but if it is never done, the problem will never end.

If you're in a giving mood...

If you find yourself, as I do, thinking about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, here's a few ideas for how to show your support. (Hint: it's not a bumper sticker.)

Any Soldier is a website that allows you to send a care package to a soldier in harm's way. You can specify a branch of service, a specific unit, even a specific person. Or you can allow the site to match you with someone at random. The site has a good list that tells you what to send, and how to send it.

Treat Any Soldier is the turn-key solution for Any Soldier. They have created a number of different care packages. All you have to do is point and click, and they do the rest.

Many soldiers are at elevated risk of head injuries because they have been supplied with helmets that offer inadequate shock protection. And because they are also uncomfortable, soldiers take them off. Operation Helmet provides helmet upgrade kits free of charge to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For wounded troops coming home, there is the Wounded Warrior Project. They have a program which provides wounded soldiers being transported back to the States with a backpack full of comfort items such as toiletries.

If none of these ideas grab you, there is a longer list of groups active in supporting deployed soldiers and their families at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feingold for VP in '08

Interesting post on Hullabaloo about dividing Presidential candidates into those who voted for the Iraq War, and those who voted against it: Clean Hands versus Bloody Hands.

But what's really great about the post is that it quotes at length from a speech that Senator Russ Feingold gave at the time of the vote on the Iraq War resolution. It shows that it was, in fact, possible for some people to see clearly at the time much of what has come to pass.

Therefore, Mr. President, without a better case for al Qaeda's connection to Saddam Hussein, this proposed invasion must stand on its own merits, not on some notion that those who question this invasion don't thoroughly condemn and want to see the destruction of the perpetrators of 9-11 and similar terrorist attacks on the United States.An invasion of Iraq must stand on its own, not just because it is different than the fight against the perpetrators of 9-11 but because it may not be consistent with, and may even be harmful to, the top national security issue of this country. And that is the fight against terrorism and the perpetrators of the crimes of 9-11.
Mr. President, we need an honest assessment of the commitment required of America.
I do believe that the American people are willing to bear high costs to pursue a policy that makes sense. But right now, after all of the briefings, all of the hearings, and all of the statements, as far as I can tell, the Administration apparently intends to wing it when it comes to the day after or, as others have suggested, the decade after. And I think, Mr. President, that makes no sense at all.

Read a longer except of Feingold's speech here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Man bites dog! President tells truth about Iraq!

The President inadvertently told the truth about Iraq yesterday in Amman (from UK's The Independent, courtesy of Wolcott):
"there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq [but] this business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all."
Sigh. Too true.