Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The resistance is building

The Queen is not inevitable, folks.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ann Coulter, again

Oh Lord, does this woman never shut up? I defer to Henry Rollins on what needs to be said about her.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meltdown on Wall Street

Oh well.

Maybe someone will now realize that borrowing a trillion dollars from overseas isn't a sustainable policy over the long term. Not that any wingnut policy is, mind you.

Oh god No

If you want to know why many Democrats view Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the Presidency with deep distaste, look no further than today's Washington Post.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton have operated a family charity since 2001, but she failed to list it on annual Senate financial disclosure reports on five occasions.

The Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to disclose positions they hold with any outside entity, including nonprofit foundations. Hillary Clinton has served her family foundation as treasurer and secretary since it was established in December 2001, but none of her ethics reports since then have disclosed that fact.

The foundation has enabled the Clintons to write off more than $5 million from their taxable personal income since 2001, while dispensing $1.25 million in charitable contributions over that period.

Clinton's spokesman said her failure to report the existence of the family foundation and the senator's position as an officer was an oversight. Her office immediately amended her Senate ethics reports to add that information late yesterday after receiving inquiries from The Washington Post.

I'm pretty sure that this is just a stupid record-keeping blooper. However, to members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, of course, this just confirms what they believe about her anyway, and strengthens the entire 'Hillary can't be trusted' meme which we all remember so fondly from the Nineties. Back then, there was such a thing as Clinton fatigue, and many people are unwilling to have to endure it again.

Friday, February 23, 2007


So I've found Conservapedia, the online resource for those who consider Wkipedia to be too liberal. After all, as Steven Colbert once quipped, 'reality has a well-known liberal bias', and we can't have that, of course. Here's what Conservapedia has to say about unicorns:

The existence of unicorns is controversial. Secular opinion is that they are mythical. However, they are referred to in the Bible nine times,[1] which provides an unimpeachable de facto argument for their once having been in existence.

In the original texts, unicorns go by the Hebrew name Re-em whereas the Greek Septuagint used the name Monokeros.[2] Unicorn itself is Latin. All three names mean "one horn".

While popularly characterized as a horned member of the horse baramin, it is likely that the unicorn was actually quite unhorselike. One recognized theory is that the unicorn was actually the rhinoceros,[1] however a growing number of Creation researchers are theorizing that the unicorn was actually a member of the ceratopsian baramin.[2]

Post-Noachian references[1] to unicorns have led some researchers to argue that unicorns are still alive today. At the very least, it is likely that they were taken aboard the Ark prior to the Great Flood.

Does anyone wonder anymore why the country is so fucked up?

Friday, December 01, 2006

More evidence...

...that republican yammering about 'protecting babies' is primarily a means to preserve their dating pool; another one just got caught trying to get it on with a thirteen-year old who turned out to be an undercover cop.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"The Next Step? Think Vietnam."

Fareed Zakaria has an interesting piece in the current issue of Newsweek, worth reading several times. Kind of puts all the handwringing over what to call Iraq's civil war into perspective.
Dec. 4, 2006 issue - If you want to understand the futility of America's current situation in Iraq, last week provided a vivid microcosm. On Thursday, just hours before a series of car bombs killed more than 200 people in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City, Sunni militants attacked the Ministry of Health, which is run by one of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers. Within a couple of hours, American units arrived at the scene and chased off the attackers. The next day, Sadr's men began reprisals against Sunnis, firing RPGs at several mosques. When U.S. forces tried to stop the carnage and restore order, goons from Sadr's Mahdi Army began firing on American helicopters. In other words, one day the U.S. Army was defending Sadr's militia and, the next day, was attacked by it. We're in the middle of a civil war and are being shot at by both sides.
[B]oth sides now see American troops as the problem. The Shiite ruling coalition and the Sunni insurgency both believe that if only the United States were to get out of the way, they could defeat their enemies outright. That's why, in the most recent poll of Iraqis, taken in September, 91 percent of Sunnis and 74 percent of Shiites said they wanted American forces to leave within a year.
What are we doing there again exactly?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

McCain announces exploratory committee

If you were looking forward to a peaceful Turkey Day - and God alone knows there is much to give thanks for this year - you will be disappointed.

So far, we have announcements from Rudy Giuliani and Tom Vilsack that they are indeed running; Mark Warner and Russ Feingold have declared that they are not; John Edwards has announced that he will be making an announcement; and now, John McCain throws his boxers into the ring as well. Over on the side of the forces of freedom, there's a furious movement to stop Hillary.

I guess what they said about the permanent campaign is accurate; though I will take a wager that neither of the two presumptive front-runners, McCain and Clinton respectively, will make the cut. McCain is hated by his base, Hillary is not seen as being able to win.

My money right now is on Edwards and Romney.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


So it occurs to me that I may have discovered a suitable antidote should I encounter any stray republicans in my travels through the New York subway - this bumper sticker, pictured above.

Here's why: obviously, it's an advertisement for military service, of which the the ruling class is none too fond, seeing as that it may involve actual sacrifice; and second, it's in Spanish, the idiom favored by the brown hordes flooding our southern border.

I shall experiment with this new weapon, but it seems to me that it combines two critical sources of fright for the disempowered right.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Giuliani's running for what?

Ain't gonna happen.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

RIP, 1994-2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bringing the troops home, the republican way

It begins

There's no need to wait until January to start exercising some adult oversight over the republicans in Congress. The New York Times notes the newest brilliant idea of the people who brought you Iraq in the first place; now, they're trying to kill the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The reason for that is not that the work of that office is done, but that it has consistently embarrassed the junta by finding fraud, waste, abuse and bribery in some very inconvenient places. To quote:

Investigations by the Iraq oversight agency, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., have already led to convictions of American occupation officials on bribery charges and uncovered many instances of substandard construction.

Mr. Bowen’s investigations of Halliburton have uncovered tens of millions of dollars of charges for work that achieved little in the way of results, but apparently met the letter of the company’s contract with the United States to repair oil facilities. Mr. Bowen has also found that Halliburton has been using federal loopholes to impede investigations of its work by declaring nearly all information about company activities in Iraq to be proprietary, or sensitive because it could aid the company’s competitors.

So it came as a surprise to many that Mr. Bowen’s office was directed to go out of business on Oct. 1, 2007, by an obscure provision in an authorization bill that [chimperor] Bush signed last month. The termination language was quietly inserted into the bill by staff members working for Representative Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who now leads the House Armed Services Committee.

So yeah, that's over. And if republicans shut it down, because they like wasting tax dollars so much, come January, we'll re-open the office - and dare the chimp to veto that. Or the legislation that bars Halliburton from Federal contracts until it's disgorged every last god-damn penny of taxpayer money it got dishonestly.

Veterans Day

On November 11th, 1918, the Central Powers surrendered to the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne in Northern France, marking the end of what was then known as the Great War. Ever since, November 11th has been commemorated by the 1918 allied nations - the UK, France, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand – as the occasion of what was clearly understood to be more deliverance than victory.

Veterans Day 2006 finds us not in a war, but in occupation of a foreign country that rather clearly does not want us there. What was supposed to be a war, a 'war on terror', has succumbed to the usual difficulties of making war on a noun rather than a country.

Meanwhile, the men and women of our Armed Forces have been subjected to carnage in a war of occupation, without having been given the tools, such as body armor, to prevail. What they got instead was photo ops, plastic turkeys on a platter held by a smiling draft-dodger. At the same time, the United States government, run by men and women who without exception did not see combat, did not do them the simple honor of executing the occupation the military fought to achieve with anything approaching competence. What we, and they, got instead was an employment program for the hyper-ideological spawn of Washington think tanks, a laboratory experiment for the so-called 'conservative movement'. The first thing ordered by Viceroy Bremer, even before he disbanded the defeated Iraqi army, was the privatization of the Iraqi energy industry. He moved on to impose a flat tax, invite foreign investors, and stand aside as looters ransacked the museums of Iraq. Bremer opened the Iraqi stock exchange before the main hospital in Baghdad had an uninterrupted power supply. Read about it, here and here.

As any normal human being can glean from the headlines and the evening news with its maddening drumbeat of casualties, that conservative experiment has failed. The architects of this disaster have been punished at the polls. A new group of veterans has been elected to Congress, as Democrats.

What remains is this: to explain to the more than 20,000 maimed, and the families of almost 3,000 dead, why their service was required, and why their sacrifice was not treated with more respect by those in power. And yes, honesty and competence should be considered as the bare minimum of respect. As the country commemorates its veterans today, it will be thinking about those who demanded so much sacrifice, and gave in return so little honesty and achievement. Our men and women were sent into combat to prove the theories of the Project for a New American Century and the Heritage Foundation.

Commemorate that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Goodbye, President Macaca

Just as a reminder: if you want to run for President, don't be so stupid as to insult a guy who's pointing a video camera at your face.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, one word for John Kerry: toast.

(This message brought to you by the Stalin the Shark School of the Blindingly Obvious)

What to expect

Over the last few days, a ton of emails have hit my inbox, mainly expecting immediate resolution and betterment of all the ills brought on the country by the defeated republican majority. It's expected in some quarters that the Democrats will now wave a magic wand and make all the evil magically go away.

That would be nice, but it's not going to happen.

I wonder sometimes if people even grasp what a deep hole this country is in; it will take years to reverse the damage that has been done, and some of it - like the 3,000 dead in Iraq, and 20,000+ maimed - is beyond resolution.

Instead, the Democrats - who, media reports to the contrary notwithstanding, do have an agenda - will first focus on implementing the plans that got them elected. That includes a minimum-wage hike, funding stem-cell research, implementing the 9/11 commission recommendations fully, lobbying and ethics reform, getting started on energy independence, and launching a good number of targeted investigations into some Bush administration abuses relating to the 'energy policy', pre-war intelligence, Iraq contractors, and other things of considerable interest. Impeachment may or may not happen; I'm certainly open to it, but I'd advise that that is a political process above all, and some Americans still love Bush more than they love their country.

What we're not going to do is waste time on debates over flag-burning, marriage equality, or Terri Schiavo. That's over. This Congress has work to do, and they will do it.

What remains, of course, is that illegal resident Bush remains ensconced in the Oval Office, fully free to continue to soil the laws. What's blessedly different now is that a muscular and aggressive Congress is in place to stop or at least hinder his illegal depredations. That means, among other things, that no more wingnut judges will be confirmed - they will die in committee. After all the talk about nuclear options, sorry, don't expect any forbearance. We also expect that veto pen to be handled lightly; after winning an election by a 10% margin, yeah, that's kind of obvious.

The elephant in the room, right next to the dead one, is Iraq. Here, again, it's instructive to note the depth of the abyss we're in; three years of 'stay the course' - or more accurately, 'shut up and sing' - kind of limit our options. If there are any good ones left after three years of incompetence, arrogance and failure, I don't see them.

In short, things will now become much better, but not perfect. The signs are also pretty good that the Democrats aren't going to engage in payback for all the procedural pettiness of the vanquished majority, and will work to craft legislation that will garner at least some republican support. It may be that we'll see and end, or at least a lessening, of the vicious partisanship of the last decade.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stalin celebrates Democracy

We did it; Democrats regained the House and the Senate, against long odds and in the face of a withering campaign.

Interestingly, the same candidates that were being attacked just a few days ago as "Pelosi ultra-liberals" are now the vehicle for an attempt by the so-called 'conservative movement' to redeem itself. It seems they've belatedly discovered the 'conservatism' of some of our candidates; problem is, they're wrong. If this was, as some would have it, a conservative victory, then I for one would like to see many more such victories.

Be that as it may, it's over, and we won. That system of checks and balances within the government you might remember from high school civics? Expect it back. Democrats are ready to govern, and with a solid mandate, we intend to do just that. I like to think that we're not going to go down the path chosen by the defeated republicans, or embrace the hyper-partisanship that humbled them, or the blatant corruption of K Street's many, many Abramoffs. As it is, the new governing majority is broadly centrist, and since you can't govern this country from the fringes - the republicans seem unwilling to learn that lesson, but it's the oldest truism of American politics - the Democrats will work to create outcomes that even many republicans will embrace. There's remarkably little desire, as far as I can tell, for payback for the many petty slights inflicted over the last twelve years on Democrats by republicans; the new majority may surprise many by bringing back the comity that characterized Congress before 1994. But I doubt we're going to forget some things, such as this:

Remember that image when republicans start screaming again, which they will do pretty soon, I'd guess.

Monday, October 16, 2006

US Senate up for grabs

A useful tool for those obsessed with politics is the NYT's race tracker, here.

As of today, it shows the U.S. Senate up for grabs by the forces of good; this because all three contests they show as toss-ups have recent polls giving Democrats a lead anywhere from five to eight points.

Meanwhile, Virginia, which they show as 'lean republican', has Democrat Jim Webb either even or within the margin of error against George Felix Macaca Allen.

Also in the Times, an article about a GOP firewall strategy, trying to contain the inevitable Democratic gains by throwing contenders in Ohio, Rhode Island, Montana and Pennsylvania under the bus.

Not sure that's going to work.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Baker Commission draft report leaked

This just in from the worthless fishwrapper that is the New York Sun, our other rightwing "news"paper:

Baker's Panel Rules Out Iraq Victory

By ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 12, 2006

WASHINGTON — A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting [disgraceful chimperor Bush] with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, "Stability First," argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped. [Emphases added]

What? No democracy? Working with the insurgents? I thought they were all tayruhrists?

Next thing you know, they'll be saying there were no weapons of mass destruction. Or that the republicans started a war and then lost it. Or that they've been liars all along. Or that they just killed 2,759 American soldiers in their excellent adventure, as of noon Eastern.

Were the America-hating traitor hippie peacenik communists right all along after all? Naw, that can't be. Surely, moral leader Rush Limpdick will have some soothing words to reassure the faithful.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday night funnies


Bob Ney pleads guilty - surprise!

In yet another blow to the party of pedophile enablers, another scandal hits the headlines three weeks before the election. This time, it's Abramoff - they guy that bought your government from people like Doolittle, Pombo, DeLay, and Bob Ney.

Ney pled guilty today in federal court.

Inside the courtroom, [Judge] Huvelle spent nearly a half-hour asking the sandy-haired, red-faced congressman a series of questions about whether he understood the charges and agreed that he had taken money, gifts and favors in return for official actions on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

At the end she asked him how he pleaded to the conspiracy count, he replied, "I plead guilty your honor."

Asked how he pleaded to the count of false statements, he replied, "I plead guilty, your honor."

So how is John Doolittle these days?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Corey Lidle hits building, dies

Corey Lidle, a pitcher for the Yankees, was killed today when a plane he was piloting struck an Upper East Side highrise, reports the Times.

Now, for reasons that don't need to be explained, any sentence that contains the words "plane" and "crash" and "highrise" causes nervousness in these parts. The natural reaction, I'd argue, is that people think "Oh shit, not again". People who only saw it on television seem to forget how viscerally we still remember an earlier incident of this nature.

Of course, there are also the freaks. I checked one of the local right-wing blogs earlier, and noticed what amounts to giddiness; planes hitting buildings may kill people and be universally acknowledged as a bad thing, but they would tend to help republicans and are therefore, I guess, welcomed in those quarters. The letdown when it turned out to be an accident was palpable; they were saved by this as little as by their earlier rejoicing over the North Korea nuke test.

Kind of sick, but there you have it. Odds are, if it kills people or is otherwise bad for America, republicans revel in it. November 7th, is all I can say.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So people ask me how I really feel about republicans

Simple. Like this:

You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

- Winston Churchill, Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea tests nukes

In January 2002, George Bush famously labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as members of an 'axis of evil'. What was lacking was an operational framework to transform the rhetoric into a policy approach.

Crucially, when Bush first spoke of an 'axis of evil', the United States still had the full arsenal of options available to a great power: unequaled military strength, strong alliances, economic leverage, all the tools required to get a foreign government to change course.

Today, we don't have those instruments. The military is hollowed out by the twin nightmare of Iraq and Rumsfeldian transformation. At this moment, this country can't fight a war on the Korean peninsula. Nor can we pay for it, or, most likely, find other countries to fight with us. We can't pay for it, of course, because of republican tax policies; and just as an aside, because China is the foremost purchaser of U.S. Treasury Bonds (with which we finance our ever-escalating debt), we'd have to inquire as to whether or not Beijing would be supportive of such a fight on its border.

As to allies, my guess would be that the people who brought you Abu Ghraib, Katrina and the Iraq quagmire don't have the confidence of other capitals. No foreign government is going to entrust their blood and treasure to these fools.

Meanwhile, the two other members of that axis - note how the term 'axis' implies a partnership, for which proof of any sort is still outstanding at this point - have become infinitely more dangerous to this country as a direct result of administration action or lack thereof. Iraq, of course, is the festering sewer into which we have flung our army and three hundred billion; Iran is building its own weapons, supposedly, and is next on the pre-emptive war schedule. But as the saying goes, "You and what army?" - because we don't have an army anymore.

Five years after 9/11, there is still a huge empty pit in downtown Manhattan. Five years after 'axis of evil', there is a huge empty pit where there used to be foreign-policy options. It's all of a piece.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Huffington Post reports that Denny Hastert lives with his chief of staff.

Is that gay cabal inside the party of Bush - or, as I refer to them, Gross Old Perverts - bigger than anyone thought?

Heh. I think Jerry Falwell's head is going to explode.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another multi-billion dollar vanity project

The U.S. Navy today christened its newest carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush.

There is no USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There is, however, a USS Ronald Reagan. There are no plans to build a USS William Jefferson Clinton. Is there a problem here? And whatever happened to that old conservative custom of not naming things after people who are still at least somewhat alive?

When we retake the majority and the Presidency, an effort should be made to rename all of those things - ships, airports, office buildings, highways - that impudent republicans have named after men (and families) who are demonstrably worthless. The taxpayer shouldn't have to subsidize the vanity of these people, unless it's to the extent of putting mirrors in their jail cells.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Republicans cluster around Hastert

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first strike with idiocy. By that logic, the gods are hoping for a wipe-out in November, because the republicans - there's a typical one right above - are eating stupid pills by the fistful.

For example, the forces of evil have closed ranks around Denny Hastert, despite a poll showing that his retention could cost them fifty seats in the House alone.

And that he protected a child molester, despite laughable new claims now being trotted out to the contrary.

In other news, job growth has slowed; Rove's secretary just "resigned" because of the Abramoff scandal (remember that one?); Senator John Warner just joined the cut-and-run crowd; Iraq continues to descend deeper into civil war; a laxly-regulated chemical plant in North Carolina went up in flames, causing the evacuation of 17,000 people; and so on and so forth.

Have you finally, at long last, had enough yet?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More Foleys?

This is interesting. As a rule of thumb, when there's one scandal, there are usually more that explode due to the sudden publicity. The same logic may be applying around Washington, D.C., if the rumors are true.
As the scandal over former congressman Mark Foley entered its sixth day, one Republican warned that there may even be further disclosures involving other politicians. "People are very, very concerned," said Representative Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican. "They think there are going to be more disclosures."
So here's a theory: is this a GOP-specific problem? I'd say it is, this because obviously, to win, they need their snarling rabble whipped up to full hate form. You can't do that if you have gay people serving openly - sorry, Log Cabiners. As a result, these guys are deep in the closet and looking for some relief. Then, put together deeply repressed, self-loathing (but powerful) individuals and kids far away from home for probably the first time. Presto, magic happens.

Is it any wonder?

And thus, the GOP's hatred of gays now comes back to bite them in the ass.

The sleaze dividend

Harold Ford, Democrat of Tennessee:

In TN, How does Harold Ford, Jr. beat back an NRSC ad that notes he once partied with Playboy bunnies?

Says Ford: "I'm not going to take a lecture on morality from a party that took hush money from a child predator."


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"If the term "moral degenerate" has any validity..."

From Glenn Greenwald:
If the term "moral degenerate" has any validity and can be fairly applied to anyone, there are few people who merit that term more than Rush Limbaugh. He is the living and breathing embodiment of moral degeneracy, with his countless overlapping sexual affairs, his series of shattered, dissolved marriages, his hedonistic and illegal drug abuse, his jaunts, with fistfulls of Viagra (but no wife), to an impoverished Latin American island renowned for its easy access to underage female prostitutes.

Yet that is who Hastert chose as the High Priest of the Values Voters to whom he made his pilgrimage and from whom he received his benediction. The difference between Rush Limbaugh and Mark Foley, to the extent there is one, is one of hedonistic tastes, not moral level. Rush Limbaugh isn't just tolerated within the party that stands for religious piety and moral strength. He is a leader of it, arguably the leader of its most righteous wing. Is it really all that surprising that a political movement that has chosen a moral degenerate like Rush Limbaugh as one of its most revered and morally respected leaders is not all that bothered by -- and therefore actively harbors -- the Mark Foleys of the world?
Amen, brother.

Here we go again

It's instructive to look back over the last five years, especially if you have an interest in the sordid and aberrant, as I do.

Mark Foley, R-FL, is the fourth republican Congressman to resign in disgrace and under legal peril this year; after Cunningham, R-CA, DeLay, R-TX, and Ney, R-OH. Do I even need to mention Jack Abramoff? Bob Taft? Ralph Reed? Jeanine Pirro?

Unsurprisingly, every time the newest bit of depravity has come to light, the Hallelujah chorus has come out to shift blame somewhere, anywhere, but where it belongs. "Everybody does it", they proclaim, "we're being persecuted by the librul media", they wail.

At some point, you do have to wonder about the basic integrity of the members of this chorus. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely; I'd say that absolute partisanship does so as well, only more thoroughly.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The newest low

Every time I think the republicans can't possibly sink any further, they grab the shovels and deepen the gutter still further.

Witness today's interview between pedophile-enabler Denny Hastert and confessed drug addict Rush Limbaugh, via DKos:
SPEAKER HASTERT: There were two pieces of paper out there, one that we knew about and we acted on; one that happened in 2003 we didn't know about, but somebody had it, and, you know, they're trying -- and they drop it the last day of the session, you know, before we adjourn on an election year. Now, we took care of Mr. Foley. We found out about it, asked him to resign. He did resign. He's gone. We asked for an investigation. We've done that. We're trying to build better protections for these page programs.

But, you know, this is a political issue in itself, too, and what we've tried to do as the Republican Party is make a better economy, protect this country against terrorism -- and we've worked at it ever since 9/11, worked with the president on it -- and there are some people that try to tear us down. We are the insulation to protect this country, and if they get to me it looks like they could affect our election as well.

So basically, this isn't in any way the fault of the republicans, but of those pesky people making noise. Remember 9/11, and drop your pants.

What Hastert is really saying here is this: if you don't let republican Congressmen have their way with your children, the terrorists win.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Some notes on CA-04

So I'm noticing from the comments section that some people are still drinking the Doolittle koolaid. Here's a few generic observations (and no, I don't have the direct line to the DCCC's efforts in that district):

Already, four tribunes of evil - or, as some people refer to them, republican Congressmen - have resigned in disgrace this year. Next on the radar screen of the Justice Department are Mssrs. Burns of Montana ... and Doolittle of California.

The overall numbers for the forces of darkness nationwide are awful.

This is not being helped by the fact that one of their tribunes just had to resign for propositioning young boys.

As an example of how bad it is for them - or, conversely, how good for us Americans - consider that Wyoming-At Large and the First District of Idaho now lean pro-freedom, that is, to Democrats.

Representative Doolittle has benefitted directly and indirectly from the public trust. His wife takes commissions on the money he raises. He is one of the most Abramoff-tainted figures in Washington. He supports each and every failed policy of this hated regime - the war, the tax cuts for big oil, sending troops into combat without body armor, mercury in your water supply, dominionists in your child's classroom, James Dobson in your bedroom, the list goes on. Most notably, via the Abramoff connection, Doolittle supported policies in U.S. territories that are anathema to any decent human being - sweat shop labor, forced abortions, that kind of family-values stuff.

Representative Doolittle got primaried, managing only about a sixty-percent-plus share of the vote. That's extraordinary in machine-dominated contests. Now, he has a strong and well-financed challenger in Charlie Brown, who is asking whether Doolittle is corrupt or ineffective. Oh, and he's a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Air Force, not like draft-dodger Doolittle.

If you're looking for the worst in the seething mass of hypocrisy and treachery that is the current republican party, just look to John Doolittle. The man is scum - lying, corrupt scum. End of story.

I'd be surprised if CA-04 were not competitive. But it is. And remember, there will be a special election after John Doolittle gets indicted.

So go, Charlie Brown.

Going down in flames

OK, let's review:

A republican Member of the House gets caught writing way sexually explicit IMs and emails to under-age pages.

In 2001 and again in 2005.

The House leadership covers it up, just before this scandal explodes into the limelight five weekends before an already difficult election.

Bring out the butter and jam. They are toast.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Alrighty, I'm back

Well, unfortunately, the primary campaign I worked for ended in defeat. Therefore, normal blogging can resume; and I would add that defeat notwithstanding, it was really quite the experience.

New York's Eleventh District was created under the influence of the Voting Rights Act, which (to simplify considerably) guarantees the right to vote to historically disenfranchised minorities in certain jurisdictions throughout the United States, primarily in the Old Confederacy, but also in three counties of New York State: New York, Kings and The Bronx. To comply with the Act, New York's legislature carved out three districts that have a majority-minority polulation: the Tenth, Eleventh and Fifteenth districts respectively. The Tenth, in Brooklyn, is currently represented by Ed Towns, the Fifteenth, in Harlem, by Charlie Rangel.

The reason this race was different was that a white Member of the City Council, one David Yassky, moved into the district with a war chest of a million dollars. I've always taken a rather dim view of the councilman, and in this case, was aghast at his run. What happened was this: Yassky cleverly manipulated the racial tensions that exist in this district - 28% white, 61% black, partly stunningly rich, mainly devastatingly poor - to solidify white (and especially Jewish) support behind his candidacy.

Long story short, Yassky lost, and most amusingly, some people are blaming me for that; this because I have been a very public and vehement critic of his utterly cynical campaign. All amusement aside, however, this campaign revealed a depth of racism in that district I find stunning; Yassky, endorsed inter alia by the Times (!), simply declared that he was more competent than any black person could be. The problem was that many (white) people believed it; needless to say, the reaction in the black community was one of snarling fury. There were fist-fights, I hear, the night before the election, between Yassky supporters and those of other candidates. The bitterness left over from this primary is appalling; lifelong neighbors and friends are literally spitting at one another in the streets.

In any event, it's over. Now to deal with some republicans. Yum.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sharking for Congress

I haven't posted for a while, for a simple reason: I am now engaged in a congressional campaign. Not my own, alas - there are still misgivings about electing actual sharks to the legislature - but this one.

Since this campaign is taking place in a solidly Democratic district, New York's Eleventh, our general election really is the primary, which will take place on September 12th. This race has gotten national attention for a very simple reason: the 11th is a so-called voting rights district, meaning it was carved out in accordance with the ideas of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which covers the old Confederacy, parts of Pennsylvania, and New York, Kings and Queens counties in this state. Accordingly, this district has been represented since 1968 by a black person, first by Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, and then by Major Owens, who is retiring. However, the best-financed contender is one David Yassky, a member of the City Council, who happens to be white, and is running a strategy of prevailing in a four-way primary against three black contenders.

The hours, needless to say, are ridiculous, which cuts down on blogging time. I'll try to post a thing or two, but these days, whenever I paddle back home, it is really mainly to sleep a wink or two. Of course, I do encourage support of my candidate, perhaps with a donation. One thing I can honestly say is that, of all the contenders and office-holders I have ever met, Chris Owens is the best - by a mile.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lieberman defeated - Code red! Code red!

Yesterday, Kenny Boy Mehlmann goes into hysterics about, and I quote, 'Defeat-ocrats', who will, if given a majority, do liberal things like sell U.S. ports to a Taliban-friendly government or even strip 40% of the funding from terror targets, or perhaps sit on their ass for five years and leave the borders unsecured; today, we get our first-ever Code Red terrorist emergency. Never happened before. Today, it did.

Isn't it odd how the completely unexpected republican attack on 'weak Defeat-ocrats' gets this kind of incidental backup from the United States government? Wait a minute, don't they run that? And didn't Tom Ridge say that the 2004 terror alerts were crassly politicized? And aren't they looking at an election in which their fat asses will be turned out of power?

But let's not play games with national security or do any in-your-face political posturing about it. Just one prediction: we'll stay on Code Red between now and about, oh, November 8th, whereupon the threat will diminish for, say, about two years.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lamont and Lieberman: what's the meaning of it all?

I haven't really mentioned anything on this blog, but yes, I've been closely following the Connecticut Senate race, and I am thrilled by the result.

I met Ned Lamont a few weeks ago at a meet-and-greet we co-sponsored for Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, who is running for President. He was in the neighborhood, and I had the chance to chat with him for about ten minutes or so. Lamont is a good, decent, honest man, very unpretentious and humble; he's in this not to sell Connecticut to Hezbollah, but to give voice to the overwhelming feeling in his state that we have gone badly off track, a feeling shared in every state of the Union.

Joe Lieberman, by contrast, has raised whoring the Bush agenda to an art form. This kind of bipartisanship we can no longer afford; not as Democrats, not as Americans. The voters of Connecticut, who came out in record numbers for this election, agreed. Lieberman's brand of bipartisanship is the kind practiced at Munich in 1938 - appeasement. We can't have that, not with the repugs hellbent to leather on destroying the constitution, freedom and democracy.

Lastly, I don't view elections as purges. Elected officials serve at the pleasure of, and are responsible to, the people. I've always looked askance at those who claim that they ignore polls, such as Lieberman (or Bush, for that matter); what that translates to is not an aversion to the fickle mob, but a repudiation of the democratic sovereign.

And that, in a democracy, our would-be kings and aristocrats do at their peril.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Defeat Whore Lieberman

From AmericaBlog:
Lieberman said that this race is about whether the Democratic Party “will accept a diversity of opinion” on national security. He defined himself as a Democrat in the mold of John F. Kennedy, Harry S Truman and Bill Clinton – that is, one with “a real socially progressive record, and strong on national security.”

He said a victory for Lamont will send a message to the country: “In the Democratic Party, there’s no room for strong-on-security Dems.” He said that would be disastrous for the Democrats. “You can’t win in this country,” he said, “unless you assure people" that you aren’t going to compromise on national security. He said he has backed the war on terror because he never forgets about the “radical Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and want to do it again.” Oh, so folks who are unhappy with Lieberman are soft on national security and don't remember September 11.

What a self-serving, selfish, egotistical piece of Republican trash this man has become. So Joe Lieberman is claiming that everything is going great in Iraq not because he's out of touch, not because he has a seemingly inquenchable desire to pander to George Bush and defend him at all costs. Oh no. Joe Lieberman says that Iraq is going great because HE remembers September 11 and YOU don't. Because he is strong on national defense and YOU aren't.

In short, "vote for me me me, or the tayruhrists win". Isn't that normally something reserved for republicans? It's time for this douchebag to go. Let's clean up our own house.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bigots disrupt funeral; Bush nowhere to be seen

Corporal Philip Baucus, nephew of Montana's senior Senator and a recent casualty of Bush's war, was laid to rest today amid anti-gay protests at his parents' ranch.

Needless to say, national embarassment and illegal resident George Bush was nowhere to be seen; he doesn't have time for anything as real as a funeral. Rather, Barbara's baby was in Texas, clearing brush - it's vacation time again, which should make all of us very nervous.

But back to the funeral. As noted, there were anti-gay protests, despite the fact that there is no evidence in the public domain that the deceased was gay; in fact, he had been married for a bit less than a year. Well, here you go:

Baucus' status as a nephew of a U.S. senator also drew the attention of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose members picket military funerals around the country. They believe the troops deserve to die because they fight on behalf of a government that, according to church beliefs, does not adequately condemn homosexuality.

What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country today.

Friday, August 04, 2006

NYT: "100,000 March Against U.S. and Israel in Baghdad"

Ahem: From today's NYT:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 4 - More than 100,000 followers of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched today to show support for Hezbollah, denouncing Israel and the United States for the violence in Lebanon.

The protesters filled 20 blocks of a wide boulevard and dozens of side streets in the Shiite-dominated Sadr City section of the capital.

Waving Lebanese flags and posters of Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, the protesters chanted, "No, no, no, Israel, no, no, no, America,’" challenged Americans to fight them in their neighborhoods, and called on Hezbollah to strike at Tel Aviv.

The fighting in Lebanon has caused a rift between the United States and the Shiite parties that lead Iraq's new government, which feel a strong solidarity with Hezbollah, also a Shiite group. Mr. Sadr was one of the first Iraqi leaders to denounce Israel for the conflict, saying last month that "we will not sit by with folded hands before the creep of Zionism." He also accused the United States of culpability in the bombardments because of its close relationship with Israel.

More recently, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other leading Shiite figures have strongly condemned Israel for its attacks.

Gee, I guess maybe Iraq won't be such a reliable ally after all in Bush's 'war on terror'.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Max Baucus' nephew killed in Iraq

It was bound to happen sooner or later: a relative of a sitting Member of Congress has been killed in Iraq. Of course, the afflicted family is that of a Democrat, Montana's senior Senator, Max Baucus.

From the NYT:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — “We loved him dearly, and we’ll miss him more than words can ever express,” said a man from Montana on Tuesday upon learning that his nephew had been killed in Iraq.

Words like those have been uttered thousands of times in big cities and tiny towns, heard mostly by friends and relatives. But the man from Montana is Senator Max Baucus, so his words attracted more notice.

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus of the Marine Corps, dead at 28, was “like a son to Senator Baucus,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“Our family is devastated,” Mr. Baucus said after the Defense Department announced that Corporal Baucus, of Wolf Creek, Mont., was killed in combat on Saturday in Anbar province. Three other marines from his battalion were also killed there Saturday, according to the department

Of course, as the article goes on to note:

A White House aide, who requested anonymity because his information was preliminary, said Wednesday that he knew of no top Bush administration official who had a relative who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not much to add, is there?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The national interest and calculations of power

The fundamental truism of foreign policy is that there is always a gap between the desirable and the obtainable. How wide that gap is depends on the power of a given state; for this country, arguably, the apex of power came in 1945. Since then, while we have indeed grown stronger, others have grown, in toto, more so.

I mention this because certain people on the right seem incapable of understanding that there are indeed limitations on American power, which have grown more stark in the last few years, ever since George Bush threw the concept of the national interest overboard in the decision to invade Iraq.

The national interest is a curious thing; Lord Palmerston said once that "England has no eternal allies or everlasting enemies, only permanent interests". Our national interest is broadly defined as stability; this country is a classic status-quo power like 19th-century Britain. We desire, and will fight for, democratic peace in Europe and the Pacific Rim, because that's who we trade with; we desire stability, with or without democratic niceties, in the Mideast and Latin America; in the latter, we also tend to intervene when some country gets too friendly with a power we deem unfriendly to our interests, as Chile found in 1973.

This is a largely stable and self-sustaining system of what could be called informal empire; the countries in the American orbit have a large stake in remaining so, because that orbit is essentially synonymous with the developed world. Undergirding this system are multi-lateral institutions like the UN, which is very much a tool of the American interest despite the rantings of the usual suspects, the WTO, the World Bank and so on. We're also, in one of the few things I am willing to give the Bush people credit for, pursuing an understanding - an entente, if you will - with India, as a balance to China. That policy, of course, was pioneered by Bill Clinton.

What has changed in the Bush era is that the former pre-eminence of stability has been changed to one that stresses 'fighting terrorism'. Below that surface is a willingness to shake things up, as it were; hence, Iraq, and perhaps soon, Iran. The problem with this new approach is two-fold: first, our underlying interest in stability hasn't changed; and second, when we create instability, it requires adequate resources to contain and manage. These resources so-called small-government conservatism is fundamentally unable to provide; there will be no draft, for example, and certainly not a tax increase to pay for whatever we need to manage this new chaos. Nor is it at all clear that 'terrorism' requires this shift in policy; or more to the point, it is reasonably clear that instability aids terrorists, as in, again, Iraq. The same can be said for democratic change; Hamas comes to mind.

Consider North Korea. Bill Clinton had the intent and ability to strike that country; George Bush, with two thirds of the Army not ready for combat due to Iraq, does not. In direct consequence, the North Koreans saw fit to launch a rocket we had made clear we did not wish to see launched on the 4th of July. The loss of face from that is pretty drastic - for us. The lack of a response from us to an outright provocation is the clearest indication of the new limits on American power.

In terms of long-term strategy, the Bush legacy, it seems clear, will be instability that other administrations may, or may not, have the will and ability to manage. That is unfortunate, not merely for its own sake, but because of the newest challenge to confront the post-1989 system; that, of course, is China. That country is going to be, in my mind, the Germany of this century. Germany, of course, grew too strong after its unification in 1871 for the European balance of power to contain or accomodate it; the result were two world wars. What we should be doing right now and in the decades to come is not to waste blood and treasure in a Mideast that will be irrelevant as soon as the oil runs out; rather, we should be integrating China into the existing world order, and preparing to balance it simultaneously. To be sure, China has huge problems, but these problems pale next to its potential power.

The problem with focusing on 'terrorism' is this: we are not taking into account what should be the most natural basis of policy: that intentions are not capabilities. Of course Al Qaeda is dangerous and has goals that would be nightmarish if they were implemented - by the way, us liberals don't support an ideology that relegates women to second-class status, shreds the separation of church and state, and so on, just for record - but policy is never made based on intentions alone. Rather, the deciding factor in crafting policy is the ability of your opponent to implement his goals. Considering the huge imbalance in power between ourselves and a rag-tag bunch of goat herds, what the hell are they going to do? As the saying goes, you and what army? That's something this country needs to learn, instead of literally leaping from crisis into crisis.

That's the national interest of this country. Too bad this government does not have the intellectual tools at its disposal to discern, let alone act on it.

Blogging the heatwave

It is unbearably hot, to the point where I don't even want to go near a keyboard; hence the blogstinence. But here are some thoughts:

Parts of New York City have been experiencing blackouts for the last two weeks or so; 100,000 people in Queens were without power for 9 days, Staten Island is being hit with roving blackouts, and the local utility is working furiously to avoid another full-scale blackout. As a reminder, this is what that looked like in 2003:

Seen from space, note that huge hole on the East Coast:

So here's my question: why, when we had a catastrophic blackout three years ago, has nothing, or too little, been done to avoid even the possibility of another similar occurence? This town is not some hole in the Alaskan tundra, like the one where your republican government is spending $300 million to build a bridge maybe fifty people will use - we're the center of the national and global economy.

Next question: considering that this country, Europe and Asia are all sweating in the grip of a heat wave, that over 60% of the nation is in a drought, is it not maybe time to give up the semantic games on whether or not global warming is happening, and maybe, you know, begin to address the problem?

Republicans claim to have an energy policy, one that consists of bloating the bottom line of Exxon Mobil still further, and otherwise bitching about the all-powerful Sierra Club, which supposedly stops them from building power plants and the like. That's right, the enviros are more powerful than the entire unified Federal government. So are they also stopping them from investing in the grid, hmmm?

The emerging storyline of election 2006 is the wholesale, catastrophic failure of right-wing governance. Add their "energy policy" into the list.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What they're saying

Some folks of the R persuasion have slowly awakened, albeit in fits and starts, to the looming November catastrophe that seems set to engulf their little criminal enterprise.

Take, for example, Senate aspirant Michael Steele, of Maryland. Steele complained to the Washington Post that his party 'R' was akin to a scarlet letter; that letter being, perhaps, a blazing W.

Others, including Allen in Virginia and Burns in Montana, stress their ability to deliver pork - mounds of it - to their constituents. Not a word about small government and all that jazz of yesteryear.

But the prize for today goes to a writer on Nazional Review, who posted this on his contribution to the war on terror Democrats, in response to an earlier op-ed piece that had heretically claimed that the armed forces were of greater consequence than the fighting keyboarders:

There is a war of arms. And there is a war of ideas. They are not just inter-related, they are interdependent. They are equally consequential.

…Let’s take just one example: In the 1930s, Churchill fought a war of ideas. He tried to warn the world about Hitler; tried to warn Europe and America that Hitler’s hatred and ambition had to be checked. But most people did not listen. Churchill’s ideas did not prevail. They called Churchill a “war monger.”

So yes, Kathryn, you are fighting a war. And your e-mailer is ignorant about how wars are fought, about how wars are won and lost, and about the way the world actually works.

Chickenhawks, rejoice! Your keyboard-pounding is Churchillian! Meanwhile, the rest of us, who already know that Rs just don't get it, can rest secure in knowing we are right in that assessment.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stupidity piled on ignorance: Iraq

It's one of those quiet Sundays; the oppressive heat has broken, we have friends in town, now despatched to SoHomo for a glamour fix. So I have some free time to bang my head against the wall at the catatonic stupidity that is our policy in Iraq. Words are beginning to fail me at the extent of this colossal military and moral disaster; what is it? A quagmire? A morass? Mere turmoil at the bloody borders of the empire? Or a fetid sewer into which the nation has cast, in a season of madness, our blood, our treasure, our power and our honor?

Case in point: the Washington Post has a long article today titled simply "In Iraq, Military forgot lessons of Vietnam", well worth a read. It details in exquisitie detail how exactly we tumbled over this abyss, once the war had been won and this country, under leadership at once staggeringly inept and profoundly criminal, proceeded to lose the peace.

On the morning of Aug. 14, 2003, Capt. William Ponce, an officer in the "Human Intelligence Effects Coordination Cell" at the top U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, sent a memo to subordinate commands asking what interrogation techniques they would like to use.

"The gloves are coming off regarding these detainees," he told them. His e-mail, and the responses it provoked from members of the Army intelligence community across Iraq, are illustrative of the mind-set of the U.S. military during this period.

"Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from any further attacks," Ponce wrote. He told them, "Provide interrogation techniques 'wish list' by 17 AUG 03."

This was in accordance with memoranda issued by the Justice Department allowing the use of torture against "terrorist suspects". This buck goes straight to the Oval Office.

Feeding the interrogation system was a major push by U.S. commanders to round up Iraqis. The key to actionable intelligence was seen by many as conducting huge sweeps to detain and question Iraqis. Sometimes units acted on tips, but sometimes they just detained all able-bodied males of combat age in areas known to be anti-American.

In short, we picked up all the able-bodied men from entire districts and sent them to Abu Ghraib. Just a reminder: this is what happened then.

So what we - yes, we, even if you opposed this war, you're an American, and responsible for the actions of your government - did was this: we brought together harmless civilians from the bad parts of town with people who really were dangerous, and locked them all up together. Then we let dogs loose on them.

Senior U.S. intelligence officers in Iraq later estimated that about 85 percent of the tens of thousands rounded up were of no intelligence value. But as they were delivered to the Abu Ghraib prison, they overwhelmed the system and often waited for weeks to be interrogated, during which time they could be recruited by hard-core insurgents, who weren't isolated from the general prison population.

Once again, Abu Ghraib:

Let me just re-state this for emphasis: we did mass round-ups of civilians and subjected them to this. And now, we wonder why this tormented country despises us.

But did it work? Was all the best advice considered? Once again, no.

That summer, retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson, an expert in small wars, was sent to Baghdad by the Pentagon to advise on how to better put down the emerging insurgency. He met with Bremer in early July. "Mr. Ambassador, here are some programs that worked in Vietnam," Anderson said.

It was the wrong word to put in front of Bremer. "Vietnam?" Bremer exploded, according to Anderson. "Vietnam! I don't want to talk about Vietnam. This is not Vietnam. This is Iraq!"

This was one of the early indications that U.S. officials would obstinately refuse to learn from the past as they sought to run Iraq.

In Imperial Rome, a man like Bremer would have found his bloody severed head on a pike, as a punishment and a warning to others of like stupidity but perhaps more discretion.

One of the essential texts on counterinsurgency was written in 1964 by David Galula, a lieutenant colonel in the French army who was born in Tunisia, witnessed guerrilla warfare on three continents and died in 1967.

Ignored, of course, since anything French was suspect to the triumphant neocons. They had been proven right, or so they thought; all that went before by way of experience was mere dust in the bright noonday of the neocon ascendancy.

When the United States went into Iraq, his book, "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice," was almost unknown within the military, which is one reason it is possible to open Galula's text almost at random and find principles of counterinsurgency that the American effort failed to heed.

Galula warned specifically against the kind of large-scale conventional operations the United States repeatedly launched with brigades and battalions, even if they held out the allure of short-term gains in intelligence. He insisted that firepower must be viewed very differently than in regular war.

"A soldier fired upon in conventional war who does not fire back with every available weapon would be guilty of a dereliction of his duty," he wrote, adding that "the reverse would be the case in counterinsurgency warfare, where the rule is to apply the minimum of fire."

The U.S. military took a different approach in Iraq. It wasn't indiscriminate in its use of firepower, but it tended to look upon it as good, especially during the big counteroffensive in the fall of 2003, and in the two battles in Fallujah the following year.

One reason for that different approach was the muddled strategy of U.S. commanders in Iraq. As civil affairs officers found to their dismay, Army leaders tended to see the Iraqi people as the playing field on which a contest was played against insurgents. In Galula's view, the people are the prize.

"The population . . . becomes the objective for the counterinsurgent as it was for his enemy," he wrote.

Call me old-fashioned, maybe not in tune with the glittering imperial prize the neocons dangle before our eyes like a new Eastern Raj, but I'd think that those entrusted by the democratic sovereign with the care of our armies and our good name might pay a little closer attention to details. Stepping back for a moment from the fact that this war was an illegal farce from the beginning - it wasn't even well executed. They risked the good name of the United States of America, and did not even see fit to learn any lessons they might have taken; because in this new age, the one they were shaping, there were no lessons to learn. One would think that the war's supporters, the ones who were sold this bauble under false pretenses, would be shouting their outrage from the rooftops.

The Iraq war was a disaster from the start, when the neo-con cabal sold it to a willing Bush administration. They had their mandate - at the time, the country supported the effort, after a concentrated and knowing campaign of treachery and deceit. What we did not know at the time was that the people who got us in had no idea what to do - indeed, had set themselves up to not want to know what to do. There is a classic Latin word for that: hubris.

Today, the entire region is going up in flames, and for what? At what cost? The Mideast is infinitely more dangerous than it was when this war began, dangerous regimes like Iran's and North Korea's have been empowered, and for what? So America could have a lesson in the dangers of listening to extremists? To chastise us for living in fear and wilfull ignorance? To humble us in our heedlessness?

Perhaps George Bush was God's instrument after all; the instrument of a God that wants to lay low our pride.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Blogging the war

So what does this whole blogging thing really amount to? I'm not talking about the big examples, like DailyKos or ThinkProgress; they are vastly influential media channels that reachmillions of people, profoundly affecting the way they think and act. Rather, I'm thinking of smaller efforts, such as my own. It flatters me no end that people read what I write; but when all is said and done, there are things that matter vastly more.

One example is the ongoing conversation between Lebanese and Israeli bloggers. This is probably the first time in human history that civilians on opposing sides in a cinflict can freely communicate, and nobody has any idea what effect this will have.

From the link above, perhaps the most astonishing blog I've ever come across:

The internet has also been offering some surreal experiences, like the ability to have a Beirut-Tel Aviv online IM chat in real time while the missiles are falling. That's what happened to me and this blogger a few nights ago. We chatted while he was sitting on the roof of his apartment building in Beirut, watching missiles from Israeli planes fall on his city and describing it to me. He was carrying on an online conversation with another Israeli at the same time. And he was able to describe his feelings and the atmosphere in a human, personal way that no newspaper article or television news segment could achieve.

Now, given that a critical part of any war is the dehumanization of the enemy, how is that going to work when all you have to do to look at the people on the other side is log on the internets?

Much to ponder, it seems.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tom DeLay's PAC fined out of existence

Haha. Following an FEC complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Tom DeLay's ARMPAC - Americans for a Republican Majority - has closed its doors. The DeLay front group was fined $115,000 and pleaded guilty to the following:

The FEC found that:

--ARMPAC failed to report accurately nearly a quarter million dollars in contributions and expenditures during the 2001-2002 election cycle.

--ARMPAC failed to report nearly $325,000 in debts owed to 25 campaign vendors.

--ARMPAC improperly used over $200,000 in soft money to pay for federal election activity. In particular, ARMPAC improperly used over $120,000 in soft money to pay for GOTV activities in Texas immediately before the 2002 general election.

Thus ends another chapter in the long history of reactionary crime. One gets the feeling that a multitude of chickens are in the air, coming home at last to roost.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Exodus from Beirut

Katrina continued: the U.S. government's operations in extracting our citizens from Beirut continue to lag behind those of similarly well-equipped superpowers. Like Norway.

Shayna Silverstein and her friends jumped into expensive taxis and sped from Beirut to Damascus, preferring to dodge bombs and bribe border officials than wait for the United States government to evacuate them. Ann Ainslay Chibbo said she desperately phoned friends back home, urging them to contact the State Department to get her name onto an evacuation list. She said she couldn't get through by phone to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

How cute: driving to Damascus through a war zone because you can't reach the embassy. Brownie lives.