For the Ferret Lovers, Rudy Giuliani

I know that, despite my best effort to dislodge them, a gigantic block of my readers are civilization-hating ferret-coddlers. Follow this link to hear Mayor Giuliani's thoughts on the matter, in the form of his response to a call on his radio show that he had while he was Mayor.

The amazing part of the performance is that he's so earnest in first equating a request for the Mayor to follow the law with mental illness, and then imploring the man to seek qualified medical help. For his own good. Because really, he needs help.

This guy? After Bush?

On the other hand, I would love to see him do the call in show as President!


Kerik and Rudy

Friends forever:

Awwwww. Isn't that sweet? I can identify... nothing brings out the amor in me like those chilly fall days!


Turks Freak-Out on the Democrats

Way to go, Democrats. Keeping campaign promises is good and all, but this could be calamitous:
Turkey's government on Thursday warned the U.S. that a congressional bill recognizing the mass killings of Armenians during World War One as genocide could jeopardize relations between the two countries.

In a statement, Turkey's foreign ministry said the country's government "resents and condemns this decision" and called the resolution an "irresponsible act" at an "extremely critical time."

The issue threatened to "not only endanger the relations with a friendly and allied nation but also jeopardize a strategic partnership that has been cultivated for generations," it added.

This resolution, should it be brought to the floor, actually is irresponsible. On a matter of foreign policy, the Republicans are right for once. Wow.

I really don't understand the leadership's thinking on this. It certainly isn't making it through the Senate, with their new "all filibuster, all the time" format. Will it even be brought to the House floor? Is simply bringing up the resolution in committee worth enough Armenian votes to counter the backlash of failing utterly to do something so stupid?

Of course, even if it were a political winner it would be the wrong thing to do. At a time when Turkey is threatening to engage in a Bush-Doctrine invasion of Iraq, straws are not to be applied to backs.

Although this post is critical of Democrats, I'd just like to remind everyone that it was the Democrats that correctly predicted the Turkey-Kurdistan conflict as one of the many reasons not to go to war with Iraq.


The New Chairman: Admiral Mullen

Peter Pace is out as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Admiral Mullen is in, thereby completing the purge of the Rumsfeld wing of the DoD.

From all accounts, it looks like we'll get a serious change of tone and priority from the new command:

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century".

Wow. It sure makes "Betrayus" look like weak tea.

Given that, it shouldn't have been a surprise that, although General Petraeus gave his report just weeks ago, Admiral Mullen felt the need to go to Iraq to "get his own view" on the conflict.

There are other changes in the works:
Seems the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen, has banned the use of the phrase "Global War on Terror" (GWOT) and has prohibited using it "in any future correspondence," according to a Sept. 27 e-mail from a Mullen aide.
Is he taking orders from the Edwards campaign? Doesn't he know that makes Osama jump around his little cave in glee?


Cheney on Why NOT to Invade Iraq, pt 2

Thank you for making the case, Mr. Cheney:

But 9/11 changed everything. 9/11 meant that we had to incur those costs by occupying Iraq. Why? What benefit does America derive from this obvious catastrophe? Who knows. There's only been one theory presented that isn't immediately disproved. Oil. Even Alan Greenspan believes the War was "largely about oil."



My. God... BEEEEEEES!!

That's right. The devilish insurgents have mastered the bee-bomb. Terrifying.


Giuliani's Weird Phone Call


Yet according to David Brooks, Giuliani is having a terrific week!

George Will reports that this is the third time Giuliani has taken a call from his wife during a speech. Oklahoma, Florida, and now (before a truly skeptical audience) the NRA. "And in Oklahoma he walked off the stage, took the call, and as I get the report, never came back." That's weird.

The weirdness is amplified by the fact that he wants her to sit in on cabinet meetings, another real problem for those on the right. Historically, of course, the GOP balks at having wives take such an active role in government.

Put it together, and the most brutal interpretation steps to the fore: He's whipped, big time. Maybe she's a stern woman in all contexts, and that's his fix. It only took him 3 wives to find it! Good for him - I'm all for letting your freak out, but this is just one more thing that dooms his primary attempt.


McCain Plays the Fool on MTP

Poor St. McCain, they made him eat so many of his words on his Sunday appearance:


Greenspan: Iraq War WAS for Oil

With the many reasons proffered in explanation and justification for the War in Iraq, there has never been one given which looked credible. The internal contradictions and reality-denial was almost immediately apparent in every case. We are not there because of WMDs, Saddam's human rights violations, or to spread democracy, and especially not to decrease the number of terrorists or make America safer from terrorism. All of the justifications for starting and continuing this war get beaten down so readily that even 1994-Cheney is forced to acknowledge them.

There is an out-of-the-mainstream, unserious reason, however, that does make sense and can't be dismissed so easily.

The not-obviously-wrong reason for our troops to have invaded and continue to remain in Iraq is to secure access to the sea of oil on which it sits. It's the only calculation that, despite the acknowledged horrible costs, might be in our nation's interests. From a perverted morality, it might seem that the President's "constitutionally mandated job is to Protect Americans" (italicized and bolded like a super-ability), and that part of that job entails protecting their way of life, since that is uniquely American. Sean Hannity says it all the time: "don't change my lifestyle." Like everything else in life, there's no way we Americans are going to buckle down and accept some pain until the problem stares us in the face, and by then it will simply be too late. Therefore, we need to make sure we can get our hands on enough fuel to get us over the rough patches of the transition off of petroleum. And as long as we've got the boots on the ground, let's dispense with this "market price" crap when the crude hits the fan.

Until now, no one in the mainstream, non-partisan credibility club had made the case forcefully. Now we hear it straight from the Greenspan himself:
Iraq War and Oil

In another potential embarrassment for Bush and the Republicans, Greenspan asserted that the need for secure oil supplies from the Middle East was the true rationale for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil,'' Greenspan wrote in a chapter titled "The Long-Term Energy Squeeze.''

Wow. It's sooooo hard to be Alan Greenspan! That's the sort of insight that just isn't available to us peons in the trenches!

Reading this makes me see a little movie of my head exploding when I think of people I argue with refusing to acknowledge that the party line of we're spreading freedom might not be the real reason behind our military adventurism.

Incidentally, Global Warming also helps advance our Nation's goals. By inundating the coastal lowlands of the world and creating hundreds of millions of refugees, we'll create so much chaos that no one will be able to spare the forces to contest our control of Iraq militarily, thereby strengthening our hold on the transition fuel we need.

No one could challenge us except for a nuclear-armed Iran. Therefore, we must bomb Iran during Bush's Presidency because no lily-livered Democrat sissyman ever will, and probably not even a Republican! It's Bush's duty to do the "hard work" of being President, and that means bombing the people others don't have the heavenly-mandated stones to bomb.

I'm sure people that think this way, like our friend Fred Kagan here on the right, author of the Surge policy in Iraq, tell themselves that this absolute perversion of morality is "coldly logical" when you put the interests of America alone above those of others. They're being the testosterone-pumping, true-American-Grit Keyboard Warriors they need to be for some reason. I wonder what that might be?

Maybe his brother, and fellow svelte war-monger, Robert Kagan might be able to shed some light on the motivations?

Here I offer a possible explanation, which, just like the Iraq-War-For-Oil meme, is decidedly out of the mainstream, and yet not-obviously-wrong.

Norman Podhoretz, the father of Neoconservatism, wrote this, and it is telling:
To me, at the age of twelve, it seemed very clear that Negores were better off than Jews -- indeed, than all whites. . . . [I]n my world it was the whites, the Italians and Jews, who feared the Negroes, not the other way around. The Negroes were tougher than we were, more ruthless, and on the whole were better athletes. . . . I was still afraid of Negroes. And I still hated them with all my heart. . . .

The orphanage across the street is torn down, a city housing project begins to rise in its place, and on the marvelous vacant lot next to the old orphanage they are building a playground. . . . A week later, some us are swatting flies on the playground's inadequate little ball field. A gang of Negro kids, pretty much our own age, enter from the other side and order us out of the park. We refuse, proudly and indignantly, with superb masculine fervor. There is a fight, they win, and we retreat, half whimpering, half with bravado. My first nauseating experience of cowardice. . .

Gradually we abandon the place and use the streets instead. The streets are safer, though we do not admit this to ourselves. We are not, after all, sissies -- the most dreaded epithet of an American boyhood. . . . .

That day in school the teacher had asked a surly Negro boy named Quentin a question he was unable to answer. As usual I had waved my arm eagerly . . . and, the right answer bursting from my lips, I was held up lovingly by the teacher as an example to the class. I had seen Quentin's face -- a very dark, very cruel, very Oriental-looking face -- harden, and there had been enough threat in his eyes to make me run all the way home for fear that he might catch me outside. . . .

For me as a child the life lived on the other side of the playground and down the block on Ralph Avenue seemed the very embodiment of the values of the street -- free, independent, reckless, brave, masculine, erotic.. . .

The hatred I still feel for Negroes is the hardest of all the old feelings to face or admit, and it is the most hidden and the most overlarded by the conscious attitudes into which I have succeeded in willing myself. It no longer has, as for me it once did, any cause or justification (except, perhaps that I am constantly being denied my right to an honest expression of the things I earned the right as a child to feel). How, then, do I know that this hatred has never entirely disappeared? I know it from the insane rage that can stir in me at the thought of Negro anti-Semitism; I know it from the disgusting prurience that can stir in me at the sight of a mixed couple; and I know it from the violence that can stir in my whenever I encounter that special brand of paranoid touchiness to which many Negroes are prone. . . .

There were plenty of bad boys among the whites -- this was, after all, a neighborhood with a long tradition of crime as a career open to aspiring talents -- but the Negroes were really bad, bad in a way that beckoned to one, and made one feel inadequate.

The conclusions are embarrassing, yet obvious. These men have been made to feel weak their entire lives, and they're reacting the way they can - a macho foreign policy. It's so embarrassing, in fact, that it's deemed impolite to mention the flabby nerdiness of our nation's War-proponents, just like Mr Greenspan's statement on the impossibility of commenting on the motivation for the Iraq War.

Norman's son, J-Pod, is just as much of a war-monger as his Father and has raised my ire before. The picture below is one he had associated with his account at The Corner, the National Review's hideous blog.

Last year I disqualified him from further comment on matters of substance because he so badly misunderstands the nature of the Global Counterinsurgency we are fighting. He lamented that we couldn't win this war because we were unwilling to be as ruthless as we were in World War II, despite the fact that we are now fighting disorganized forces that do not seek to control territory. Demonstrably, Total War tactics cannot be victorious against insurgencies - just ask the Soviets about their experience brutally occupying Afghanistan. "Rubblization," I believe, was the name of their strategy. J-Pod went so far as to advocate a flavor of genocide, saying:
What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?
Hearts and minds, eh? It's hard to be greeted as liberators when you're killing hundreds of thousands of their 18-35's.

I wonder, do you think J-Pod might have some of the same motivations as our friends the Kagans?

Glenn Greenwald offers elaboration here.

The Republican Nominee, Rudy Giuliani

So, TBA finally emerged, and guess what? He's a lazy Hollywood sleaze-bag who doesn't go to church and got "paid handsomely" playing Washington Lobbyist for an Abortion Rights group. Needless to say, he wasn't the sensation that the TBA-candidate could have been. Just think, 25% of the country thought it could have been Jesus. That's hard to live up to, I know, but this guy doesn't come close:

Now, it's not like Thompson's entrance totally flopped. He's second in the polls, but running against Mitt Romney, who's already strongly positioned in the same traditional conservative roll and on the way to the nomination via early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Thompson should split off some of that group, leaving Rudy to reap the rewards:

So, Thompson may have sewn it up for Mr. Whipped Cross-Dresser, the spitting image of a Republican nominee. Woops.

... Ahhh, personal attacks. The low-hanging fruit of politics. Of course, Republicans are generally wrong on the policies as well, but unfortunately, with negative personal narratives this strong, you can be sure it will have a more powerful impact on both the swing and base voter than the nuances of difference on Iraq. (ed. post for another time: because by the time of the general election the Republican will have ceded to the Democrats position of a limited presence, sadly still more than 50000 troops.)


How to Get Yourself Killed (in Iraq)

A sure fire way to get yourself blown up:

This poor guy is one of the lead Sunni tribal chieftains that have been proving American soldiers don't need to be in Iraq to fight Al Qaeda there. Please note that this "Anbar Awakening" had begun before Gen. Petraeus was even confirmed, since he testified about Anbar's encouraging developments at his confirmation hearing.

When his death was announced, his tribal allies blamed the Maliki government for assassinating him.


Petraeus' 3 Year Old Report

Right before Bush's reelection, Gen. Petraeus wrote an Op-Ed about the "tangible," real progress we were making in Iraq. Remember, at the time, Petraeus was in charge of training the Iraqi troops to accomplish our "Stand Up/Stand Down" strategy. 2005, you remember, was the Year of the Police, training them to replace us, and it absolutely flopped. In fact, it was in large part our training and equipping of these worthless, thoroughly sectarian forces that gave rise to the spike in violence we saw after the bombing of the Golden Dome. We armed and trained many tens of thousands of policemen who just stopped showing up, and General Petraeus was in charge.

I happened upon The Young Turks take on it:

It's the same happy talk we've always gotten from President Bush's generals. They know that if they don't say what the boss wants them to say, they wont be around much longer. There are many examples of this happening, despite the fact that President Bush says he's a Commander Guy. Bush tarnishes these noble generals' credibility because he has none of his own left.

Petreus Report: Crisis in Confidence

It's nice when legitimate experts - meaning those who haven't been wrong about almost everything for 5 years - agree with me. Here's a collection of non-partisan national security experts, from Reagan's Administration onward, who basically recite my previous post.

Makes me look like a plagiarist, huh? Nifty.

The White House's Verbal Report

On Iraq, we're always told that better times are right around the corner. We'd be greeted as liberators, we need to De-Baathify, we killed Uday and Qusay Hussein, we had elections, we found Saddam, we had second elections, we put Saddam on trial, we had third elections, Sadr lynched Saddam, we had a government of national unity, we killed Zarqawi, we had "Operation Forward Together" and "Operation Together Forward" (the first two Baghdad Security Plans), and of course, the "Last Throes" of the dying insurgency. If only we'd spend another six months, 500 American lives, 100 billion dollars, and clap a little harder, we're assured of "victory."

Last year we were told to wait for the "elder statesmen" of Washington to save us from the catastrophe of Iraq with their Iraq Study Group Report. "Just wait until the Baker Report," we were told, and we did, funding the troops the whole way. When the day came their recommendations of draw-downs and negotiations with Syria and Iran were rejected by President Bush, who decided on his own "New Way Forward" - the precise opposite of the recommendation - an escalation.

Currently, we sit in waiting for Gen. Petraeus' report to be delivered September 11th, 2007. An auspicious date, I know. We have been repeatedly enjoined to heed his "independent, ground-truth report" before we make decisions about how to change our strategy because he has so much credibility. He was confirmed unanimously, after all.

Now that Magical September has arrived, we find the following:
  • The Petraeus Report isn't Gen. Petraeus' report. It is being written by the White House. Gen. Petraeus human vocal cords just provide a nicer voice-synthesizer than a robot automaton.
  • The White House Report isn't a written report. It's a verbal presentation. That way there wont be any nasty details to examine, only Gen. Petraeus' credibility.
Cynical? Sure, but that's par for the course. What's worse is what Gen. Petraeus himself has been involved in - cooking the books on the so-called "success of the surge:"
  • First, the Department of Defense doesn't like the way the Government Accounting Office, my favorite non-partisan truth-teller, is calculating statistics on the violence, since they show the surge isn't working. The GAO's methodology is public, whereas the DoD's is classified.
  • Pollack and O'Hanlon, liberals academics and fierce critics of the war (who somehow manage to still support every one of Bush's decisions on Iraq, from the start to the Surge), find that the surge is working! Violence is down! Their assessment is based on 8 days in country, meeting only people the DoD provided, and citing classified statistics. My man, Glenn Greenwald, absolutely eviscerates their arguments.
  • The New York Times reports, based on classified statistics, that violence is down! Unfortunately, a week earlier they reported numbers from the Iraqi Interior Ministry showing that violence is up!
  • The Washington Post reports that, according to Petraeus, if you get shot in the front of the head, you're a victim of normal crime. Only those shot in the back of the head are victims of sectarian violence.
  • (ibid) We aren't counting violence involving our new allies, the Sunni Tribes of Anbar (93% of who think attacks on Americans are justified)
  • (ibid) We aren't counting intra-sect violence. If the Badr Brigades and the Mahdi Army have a huge battle, that doesn't count since they're both Shiite.
  • (ibid) We aren't counting the results of car bombs, since those are presumptively the work of Al Qaeda. After all, only Al Qaeda knows how to pack explosives into a car instead of under a road.
  • Finally, we don't seem to be taking the predictable seasonal rhythms of violence into account. Of course violence is a lower in August than it is in March! It's 120 degrees in the shade out there! This happens every year.
  • The Washington Post lets us know that Admiral Fallon, Centcom Commander, thinks the surge isn't working either.
General Petraeus has treated the American people as a target to be engaged in support of the mission, waging a psy-ops campaign against opinion-makers. By deceptively redefining violence, they follow the same media strategy they did with Operation Forward Together II. If your goal is simply to stay in Iraq, then lying to the American people is just about the only way to succeed.

And did you notice how all the anecdotal evidence being cited as proof the surge is working is based on classified information? Can there be any doubt that if the facts actually supported the conclusion, that we would be shown the proof? That we would know the methodology and see the raw numbers?

And please, please remember Bush's promises about the Surge, made when he announced the escalation.
When President Bush announced in January what the White House called a “New Way Forward” in Iraq, he said that Iraqi and American troops would improve security while the Iraqi government improved services. Responsibility for security in most of Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi security forces by November.

With better security would come the breathing room needed for political reconciliation, Bush said.
None of those things have happened. And yet, here we are, with the entire Republican Party asserting that the "Surge is Working."

The question, of course, is not whether we are seeing minor gains in the areas we occupy. I have always firmly believed that this war is within our ability to win - just put more troops in the country. Half a million should do it. The drop in the bucket we've provided with the measly 25,000 troop escalation may have no hope of changing the strategic dynamic of the war, but even a drop of water seems large to the ant it lands on. In neighborhoods we focus, on, therefore, we should see some improvement in security. This has never been at question, since no one thinks the astoundingly effective American military is incompetent.

The question is whether continuing this war is worth the cost. Since we will never institute a draft, and no other countries will sail to our rescue, is it worth continuing? Answering that question requires some idea of the cost in the future, so I'll refer you to Stephen Biddle, a member of the panel advising General Petraeus:
Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years — and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble."
There is our choice. 20 years of continued cost, after which it is still a long-shot, or withdrawal. Is it in America's interest to continue? I can think of one reason it might be...

Update: (via Kos and Atrios) Where will Petraeus go after his testimony? Straight to Fox News for a one hour interview.

Also, the good general has made this statement:
The top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has recommended that decisions on the contentious issue of reducing the main body of the American troops in Iraq be put off for six months, American officials said Sunday.
It's always six months more.


Rudy and the WTC Command Center

Another reason to ignore Rudy.

Unlike his poor cultural fit for the Republican nomination, this video showcases one of the real reasons he should be opposed.



President Bush on Iraqi leadership allows a glimpse of his thoughts on independence and sovereign democracy:
"[Maliki's] learning to be a leader. And one of my jobs as the president and his ally is to help him be that leader without being patronizing. At some point in time, if I come to the conclusion that he can't be the leader—he's unwilling to lead or he's deceptive—then we'll change course. But I haven't come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, his recent actions have inspired me."
Iraq is a sooo sovereign!

Obama-Oprah '08

Whoa! Oprah is taking an active role in the Obama campaign.
Oprah Winfrey, the nation's wealthiest African American and host of an afternoon television program, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in May. Now, she is in discussions with his advisers about playing a broader role in the campaign -- possibly as a surrogate on the stump or an outspoken advocate -- or simply bringing her branding magic to benefit his White House bid.
Shouldn't this do it? I mean, she sells reading, of all things. In America. It bears imagining that she could do the same for voting.

Of course, the counter-argument is that Oprah viewers are die-hard Hilary voters. I wonder.


Alberto Gonzales Wrap-up

It appears that there's been an agreement precluding recess appointments, so we can relax a bit about replacing the AG. Here's a wonderful rundown of the Gonzales moments of shame, but they don't even really hit on the numerous instances of perjury committed by the "nation's top cop," since those don't lend themselves to pithy video. Josh Marshall from Talking Points Media deserves almost complete credit for Gonzales' resignation, as the 8 fired US Attorneys would have never been a story without him.

In that video, our Attorney General refuses to give congressional testimony about the Hospital visit without giving a legal reasoning for refusal. He's physically in the seat, but he's still in flagrant contempt - you can fail to recall something or cite privilege, but you're not allowed to simply refuse to answer. Also, in questioning by the Republican Arlen Specter, Alberto's childish responses are so deserving of ridicule that he's openly laughed at by the Republican staffers.

Despite the absolute beating taken by this man, I'm still surprised he was allowed to resign. The Democrats should be able to insure an independent replacement, and that can only mean trouble for an Administration with such demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and the strictures of our Constitution.



Romney and the Straw Poll

It looks like Romney is still on course to win Iowa, with his meager victory in their straw poll last weekend. If he can maintain the lead in Iowa, he'll also win in his neighbor New Hampshire, and the nomination will be his. With the momentum created by winning the compressed schedule, I think we'll get a stampede to a nominee just as we did last cycle.

The one detraction is the fact that, despite spending millions, he still wasn't able to break 1/3 of the vote. Governor Huckabee, who I thought had the best chance of taking the traditional Republican vote (being an ordained minister), finished second with 18%, and apparently only spent around $100,000.

Of course, neither McCain, Giuliani, or Thompson showed up, so the whole affair's relevance is called into question.


Petreaus Report? Not so Much.

We all knew the Petreaus report would reflect exactly what the White House wanted - enough progress to justify our continued presence. "Duh," one might say to that towering insight. The White House only refers to Petreaus over and over again because they know they have no credibility of their own left. They have to trade on this military genius' reputation because their own is so irredeemably sullied.

The LA Times has the scoop:
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
Petreaus report? More like a White House Report that will be read aloud by someone who doesn't have a record of lying to the American people about Iraq since 2002.

IEDs and EFPs Are Easy to Make

Over and over we've heard about the "high degree of sophistication" required to manufacture Explosively Formed Projectiles/Penetrators (EFPs), the most effective weapon used against our troops in Iraq. The weapon does exactly what the name implies - rather than using the force of the explosion to kill, that explosive power is used to form a plate of heavy metal into a supersonic molten slug capable of burrowing through inches of armor. You can see a picture of an un-exploded version here.

The video below isn't the best footage for showing the projectile streaking to target, but you can see it fly up at about a 45 degree angle to the right. The projectile provides a standoff distance of up to 80 meters, making hiding the weapons much easier for the insurgents. They no longer need to set off a gigantic bomb right under one of our tanks to destroy it and kill our men.

The Bush Administration says that because of the "high degree of sophistication" required to manufacture these weapons, they must be supplied by Iran, and therefore Iran is materially participating in the killing of American soldiers. That sounds like an act of war to me.

Needless to say, I have been skeptical about the Bush Administration line on these weapons. This war boosting rhetoric seems oddly familiar. The AP gets the facts on the ground, and guess what? I was right.
The Brits and the Americans now have fancy forensic facilities, like the CSI labs on TV, to trace bombmakers. But Lamburne, who has inspected hundreds of devices, notes that the insurgents don't try all that hard to cover their tracks. About one in five leaves behind fingerprints. "It's not ignorance," he says. "They just don't care. They may believe they're going to die fighting anyway."

How do you defeat a foe who can destroy million-dollar machines with devices that can be built off the Internet for about the cost of a pizza, especially if that foe doesn't particularly worry about dying? When the insurgency began, there were about five "master bombmakers" in Baghdad, each with a recognizable style. Their model was the roadside bombs that were used in Lebanon almost 20 years earlier by the Iranian-backed group Hizbullah. Primitive versions used rudimentary triggers—sometimes just a car battery and a long wire.

Today's IED makers have inexpensive gadgets like garage-door openers and disposable phones to detonate their bombs...And thanks to the ubiquitous videos of IED attacks shot by insurgents and put up on YouTube, they will be credited with driving us out of the country whenever we do leave...

In 2005, the teams emplacing IEDs were being paid $100 for each successful blast. Now in central Iraq the payoff is sometimes as low as $40.
Can we please not go to war with Iran over another pack of lies? Iran is a deterable enemy, who is no threat to America.



YKos: Hilary Evades the Nail

I was late to the convention this morning because somehow my pass was not with me, so I had to run back home and catch the next train. I came into Clinton's session late, so I wasn't able to strategically position myself, dooming my chance to ask a question. Luckily, two of the five questions she took were about the issues of tyranny I wanted to raise... of course, they weren't as biting as mine. But she answered them perfectly.

Clinton is a very interesting candidate. She really is pitch-perfect. Despite the fact that she's already clearly running a general campaign (see Iraq War), she still gets on famously with this activist slice of the Democratic Party.

I'm at the Presidential Candidate's Forum right now, and even here, poor Senator Gravel doesn't get any questions. He's looking pissed-off over there. Edwards is tearing it up... he's really quite impressive as well. I've never been a big fan of Edwards. I don't know what exactly he lacks, so I've always just called it Voltage. Well, he's got it today. Hairs are standing on end here. Neat.

Maybe it's just that all of these people are better in person. Except Richardson.


YKos: Nailing Hilary

I'm primed for tomorrow. I got the very last Hilary Clinton pass this afternoon, right after it was confirmed that Hilary is, in fact, going to be here. I know what room she'll be in, and I'm going to camp the tables next to the microphones. So help me, my voice will be heard:
I opposed this war because I knew Saddam's decades-old WMDs were useless, because there was no articulated plan for the post-war, because the ethnic tensions in Iraq could spark into civil war, and because you cannot decrease terrorism by inflicting "collateral damage" on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. I knew these things before the war. Did you?
I think that's a pretty good question... especially when you've got Mr. Sound-Judgement Obama in the race. But then again, I am at YearlyKos, so the Iraq War will probably be well covered. How about:
Madison, one of the most conservative of our Founding Fathers, defined tyranny as the combination of executive, legislative, and judicial power in one man or office. By asserting his right to break the law by spying on Americans, and by suspending Habeas Corpus, Bush fulfills that definition. When you're President, will you repudiate Bush's precedent and return us to Constitutional rule, or will I have to call for your impeachment as well?
Maybe that would be a better use of this singular opportunity.

Blogging and Mainstream Media Panel

The Politico's Mike Allen - a new big-time muckety-muck constantly appearing on TV (and flaking continuously for Drudge) - is on a YearlyKos panel with my favorite, Glenn Greenwald. If you read Greenwald, you know that... well, let's just say that Greenwald is not Allen's biggest fan. He's written at least a half-dozen articles about the incredibly hollow and stenographic journalism that The Politico practices, with Allen as it's chief target.

Allen spoke first, and just buttered up Greenwald like crazy. At one point he essentially made the case that Glenn deserves a Pulitzer for his work with Alberto Gonzales' perjury! We're about two minutes from Greenwald's first at bat, and I somehow doubt that he'll go easy on poor Mike.

... Yup, he's going at The Politico for Edwards $400 Haircut, amongst many other things. He makes the point that in 2003 70% of Americans wrongly believed that Saddam Hussein had personally ordered the 9/11 attacks, and yet 46% of Americans can correctly identify John Edwards as the candidate with the expensive hair.

Greenwald is brilliant.

Yearly Kos

So, here I am, bathing in the red glow of hatred provided by the Great Orange Satan. I gotta say, from the inside, it doesn't look so hateful. O'Reilly can't be wrong, can he?

On an interesting note, it's amazing how bloggers type. Ezra Klein, sitting with Matthew Yglesias and I for lunch, is madly hunting and pecking with a single, motion-blurred finger. You'd think if you were trying to make this your job, you'd learn how to touch-type.


The Definition of Tyranny

George W. Bush's Presidency has largely been about overturning the conventions that have historically served our government well. One of the many confirmations of the radical nature of the Bush Administration is the fact that my case for impeachment of the President relies entirely on arguments and quotations from conservatives.

Here's another to bolster the case. Winston Churchill, who conservatives can't go more than a day without invoking, blasts the Bush Administration's tyranny from beyond the grave:
The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.
George W. Bush is "in the highest degree odious..." You gotta love Churchill.


Founding Fathers on Tyranny

James Madison, easily one of the most conservative of the Founding Fathers, defined Tyranny thusly:
the combination of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial power in one man or office.
This is a definition even talk radio hosts endorse, since to disagree is to repudiate the very foundations of America - that we are a land of checked power and of laws, not men. Well:
  1. Bush is the Executive.
  2. With the use of signing statements Bush legislates, and even more importantly, by asserting his right to break criminal law, casts himself above and immune to the duly enacted laws of the Legislature.
  3. By suspending Habeas Corpus and imprisoning Americans indefinitely on his say-so alone, Bush is the Judiciary.

In America, do we allow our President to say he is above the Law? In America, do we allow our President to ignore the courts? In America, do we allow our President to act as Judge and imprison our fellow citizens?

I've been through elementary school, and I could have sworn the answer to these questions would be "no." But here we are, with a solid majority of the Republican Party believing textbook Tyranny is acceptable.

Impeachment is our only option, or all Presidents from Bush on will have these tyrannical powers, and America will cease to be the land of the free, for you can lose the Republic on the installment plan as surely as you can in a coup d'etat.

Young Female Celebrities

Lindsey Lohan:

That's all I should have to say about that. It's not nearly as funny as the Paris situation, yet.


Angry at Gonzales? You Must be a Republican!

Here's yet another example of Fox News screenshot bias. I report, you decide:

After all, if you slam a Bush royalist like this, you must be a Democrat.

It's time to impeach Gonzales. His testimony is routinely perjurious. If we don't impeach, the precedent is set.

Kristol, just for The Record

I have had people ask why I am so dismissive of William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who we are subjected to every weekend on Fox News Sunday. "His odious spew is one of the most regular eruptions known to man," over breakfast. That sort of thing.

Although much more material could be produced if you know how to use the Google, a single gem comes to mind. Kos does the work so I don't have to:

Bill Kristol, very respectable member of the chattering class, on NPR's Fresh Air, April 1, 2003:

There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular.

That is a stupid, stupid man, who we should not pay attention to again. It is his Fox News and neoconservative ilk who created this war. Bush just pulled the trigger.


WWII Polling

A common point made by supporters of the Iraq War is that polls can't be used to drive a war, and that specifically, if the polls had been followed during World War II, we'd all be speaking German right now. Here's Tony Snow with the usual:
The president understands people's impatience — not impatience but how a war can wear on a nation. He understands that. If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare say people would have said, 'Wow, my goodness, what are we doing here?' But you cannot conduct a war based on polls.
Well, it so happens that they did do polling during World War II.

In World War II, the support of the war stayed solid throughout. In fact, the details of that poll are fascinating, and you can see them if you click on the chart. I'm sure you're all hugely surprised that America would support a war of real consequence, started for the noblest of reasons and during which the entire nation was called to sacrifice! Imagine that!

The Military Loves an Anti-War Message

Here's a shock for the conventional wisdom.

Ron Paul, the crusading Republican maverick of this presidential race and the only Republican running who showed the foresight to have opposed the Iraq War before it began, is doing far better than expected. Despite Rudy Giuliani slamming Paul at the first debate for suggesting that the Terrorists don't simply hate us for our freedoms, Ron Paul is gaining ground. You may have heard that he had more cash on hand recently than the establishment frontrunner, John McCain. We all had a chuckle at that.

The BIG surprise, however, is that in the last quarter the majority of political donations from military personnel in the Republican nomination went to Congressman Paul.

Somehow this doesn't fit into my talk-radio fueled world-view. How odd that they would mislead me. Who would have thought that the military might not like being used for wars of choice, with no national interest at stake, with insufficient resources, no exit strategy, and for ever increasing deployment lengths and ever shortening recoup times at home. Wow. That's a shocker.


NSA Warrantless Program Reaffirmed Illegal

Woo! What timing, ladies and gentlemen!

This morning, Judge Gilman reaffirmed the NSA spying program's illegality. The court did dismiss the lawsuit, because of the standing of the journalists that brought the case (a lawyerly way of avoiding the real issue, I feel). It remains, however, that the only two judges to ever rule on the program's legality have both found the program illegal. Listen, as he matter-of-factly dismisses the childish arguments for the program's legality:
The closest question in this case, in my opinion, is whether the plaintiffs have the standing to sue. Once past that hurdle, however, the rest gets progressively easier. Mootness is not a problem because of the government’s position that it retains the right to opt out of the FISA regime whenever it chooses. Its AUMF and inherent-authority arguments are weak in light of existing precedent and the rules of statutory construction. Finally, when faced with the clear wording of FISA and Title III that these statutes provide the “exclusive means” for the government to engage in electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the TSP was unlawful. I would therefore affirm the judgment of the district court.
Right as Neal Boortz was telling a lie about the legality of this very program, yet another judge was busy making a fool of him. Ohh, it's so embarrassing for poor Neal.

Updated: this was originally incorrectly attributed to the majority. Apologies

Impeachment Drumbeat

I was on the Neal Boortz show this morning at 9:45ish CST, and I presented the argument outlined below:
Joseph: If defending the Republic and the Rule of Law wasn't reason enough for you to support impeachment, I have a really good tactical reason for you. It may well be that the next President of the United States is Hilary Clinton.

Neal: I think you are probably right, sir.

Joseph: And if conservatives and Republicans don't like the idea of Hilary Clinton being able to eavesdrop on them, ignore law, and imprison them them without charge or trial indefinitely, then we need to band together and decisively repudiate George W. Bush now, through impeachment. Otherwise she will have the same powers, and I don't want that.

Neal: What would be the impeachable offense?

Joseph: The President ordered the commission of repeated felonies by creating the NSA program.

Neal: We don't know that program is illegal.
At this point we devolved in to crosstalk, since he couldn't allow a definitive refutation of his lie to be aired too soon after the telling - that would defeat the point, after all. For those in suspense, in ACLU vs NSA, on January 17, 2006, the NSA program was found unconstitutional.

This illustrates what I feel is the strongest attack on President Bush. The votes for impeachment need to come from Republicans, and scaring them with the thought of Hilary having textbook tyrannical powers might be the only thing that can push them out of their partisan stupor.


DOJ's Political Motivation Ruins Prosecutions

As if we didn't know this was coming:

Defense lawyers in a growing number of cases are raising questions about the motives of government lawyers who have brought charges against their clients. In court papers, they are citing the furor over the U.S. attorney dismissals as evidence that their cases may have been infected by politics.

Justice officials say those concerns are unfounded and constitute desperate measures by desperate defendants. But the affair has given defendants and their lawyers some new energy, which is complicating life for the prosecutors. […]

There has long been a presumption that, because they represented the Justice Department, prosecutors had no political agenda and their word could be trusted. But some legal experts say the controversy threatens to undermine their credibility.

This is why Justice must be blind. When the White House starts interferring with prosecutors, the entire system is called into question.


Secret Service gets Owned

Check this out! The adoring crowds in Albania just love George W. Bush soooo much!

In fact, they love him so much that around the 1:00 mark (or 3:15 remaining), someone steals his watch! Haha!

This whole appearance strikes me as a high risk situation. President Bush had a freaking grenade thrown at him in Georgia back in 2005, and here he is having his flesh pressed so enthusiastically that he doesn't notice being robbed. I'm hope they were well screened.


Free Paris!!!

If celebrities can't get preferential treatment, then this isn't America. Free Paris!!!

And only through patriotic vigilance can we ensure this never happens again:

Incidentally, try not to be such a whore that even Google judges you as such.

Free Paris!


Video: Anti-Mortar Point Defense

Feast your eyes on this:

That's a thing of beauty. Of course, give the bad guys three launchers and their rounds will still get through. Still, though, this sort of thing might make life in the Greenzone a little more hospitable.

Valerie Plame Was Covert

Surprise, Surprise!

Of course, this has been a known fact for quite some time, despite the constant lies about it from the right wing media.

GIs Want Out

We hear so much about the resolve of the troops to complete this flawed mission, regardless of the difficulties imposed upon them by the stultifying incompetence of their leaders. Well, rather than trusting John McCain to give us the now deprecated straight talk, let's hear from them directly, shall we? The first two sentences from this Sergeant smack of the old sentiment: "1, 2, 3, What are we fighting for?..."
...on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber's body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

"I thought, 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' " said (Staff Sergeant David) Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."

His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness.

A small minority of Delta Company soldiers - the younger, more recent enlistees in particular - seem to still wholeheartedly support the war. Others are ambivalent, torn between fear of losing more friends in battle, longing for their families and a desire to complete their mission.

With few reliable surveys of soldiers' attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in Delta Company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers over a one-week period, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop
Why are we still there, indeed, David. The very problems we seek to address are exacerbated by the aid we give. When we train the mostly Shiite police and army to quell the sectarian violence, we are arming militiamen who carry out attacks on Sunnis and our soldiers. Now that we are arming the Sunni insurgents to attack Al Qaeda, we're once again putting arms into the hands of our enemies. And even if these tactics worked at stabilizing the country, we've still vastly magnified Iran's power in the region and globally by giving it such a powerful proxy in Iraq. For those who doubt Iran's influence: Iraq's government will always be Shiite dominated, and where do you think those Shiite politicos went during the bad years of exile while Iraq was ruled by Saddam? That's right. The Dawa Party has its offices in Tehran.

We have only the faintest glimmer of hope for an outcome we could cynically call success in Iraq, and even that success looks an awful lot like failure. Staying in Iraq damages our national interests across the board, with the critical blows coming to our security. Leaving Iraq, despite the ongoing escalation from blood-puddle to blood-bath to blood-fountain it would sustain, is the course that makes America the safest. Once we are out of Iraq, we can move on to a decades-long project I can support - refinishing America's image in the world.

(h/t C&L)


Cancer and Vitamin D

Another amazing bit of science to improve our lives:
The trial involv[ed] 1,200 women, and found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error. And in an era of pricey medical advances, the reduction seems even more remarkable because it was achieved with an over-the-counter supplement costing pennies a day. One of the researchers who made the discovery, professor of medicine Robert Heaney of Creighton University in Nebraska, says vitamin D deficiency is showing up in so many illnesses besides cancer that nearly all disease figures in Canada and the U.S. will need to be re-evaluated. 'We don't really know what the status of chronic disease is in the North American population,' he said, 'until we normalize vitamin D status.'"
That's a substantial breakthrough, if further study supports the conclusion.


Short Answers

Atrios wonders:
I'm fascinated by this 72% wrong track number. I'd like to understand it more. I'm not sure I have sense of the basic reasons why so many people think things are going to hell. We can all come up with various possibilities, and there won't be one single answer, but I still think there's probably a coherent narrative to be teased out. I'm just not sure what it is.
Answer: Immigration. This poll was taken during May 18-23, and the immigration deal was announced on the 17th. This is the summary of the story at FoxNews:
A bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers and the White House struck an immigration reform deal Thursday that would grant legal status to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States ...
That's amnesty, right in the first sentence.

I think the reason behind the spike to 72% is as clear as day. We already had a high wrongtrack number before immigration, so only diehard Republicans - disproportionately Fox views according to a recent study - still believed the country was on the right track. Then the immigration deal hits, socking the Fox News viewing, talk-radio listening base right in the ragerocks. If you had been listening to talk radio, Atrios, you wouldn't have to wonder why the Wrongtrack number spiked.

Greenwald on Muslims

If you've turned on Fox News in the last couple of days, you'll no doubt have heard of a new report detailing the permissive attitude American Muslims have for attacking innocent civilians. To those engaged in a climactic struggle against Islamofascism, this serves as further evidence that they are on the side of pure white goodness, whereas the dirty ragheads engage in the most deprived barbarism imaginable. Furthermore, it simultaneously reminds them that non-white immigrants are really scary, which is an important impression to keep fresh.

Certainly, a poll of Americans would bare that opinion out, right?

First, the numbers for the dirty Muslims:

Followed by the results for America, which will no doubt be reflect a greater respect of human life:


The percentage of Americans who feel it is acceptable to intentionally target civilians (a higher standard, even, than the one that caused the uproar on the right) is more than twice that of Muslim countries. We are twice as bloodthirsty and barbaric, by the right's own metric.

Time to open internment camps for us dangerous whiteys.

More Babies

Want a treat? Here's a pair of wackos opposing birth control on Fox News because it allows women to have an active sex life without fear of pregnancy! Shocker!

To all appearances, the right's motivation on these issues is that they want to control when women have sex. Men can copulate all they want, thanks to that millenia-old foundational tradition of primogeniture. Illegitimate children are not our concern! And if a single woman gets pregnant, a pox on the bastard child and the whoreslut of a mother. Men gratify their pleasure, while women bear the price.

I'm writing this as I watch it, and man, this woman, in particular, is, without a doubt, a wacko. (Where would you go for your daily dose of vitamin-comma without me?) Wow. The video ends with cross-talk and this wacko yelling, "More Babies. Babies. More Babies. We want more babies. Babies." That's creepy.


Fly Paper isn't Important

Atrios picks out this internal contradiction in the President's position on the Iraq War.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You say you want nothing short of victory, that leaving Iraq would be catastrophic; you once again mentioned al Qaeda. Does that mean that you are willing to leave American troops there, no matter what the Iraqi government does? I know this is a question we've asked before, but you can begin it with a "yes" or "no."

THE PRESIDENT: We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.
Iraq is the battle that will determine our future security. We must win in Iraq, because terrorists want to kill your wife and children. We must not leave Iraq, because those terrorists will follow us home. But if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we'll go home and wait for the scimitar to fall. It all makes perfect sense.

The answer to the contradiction is not that we are lying about leaving Iraq if asked, but rather that we are lying about the threat our leaving poses to America. If this were actually a seminal battle of good versus evil we would have an actual national effort to assure our victory. With the way we have and continue to fight this war, it simply can't be as important as they say, since the cost of victory is only as high as "please continue shopping."


Department of the Obvious: Iraq War Good for Al Qaeda

That's right. Here is yet another illustration of that obvious fact:

U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan increasingly is being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network.

....Little more than a year ago, Al Qaeda's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles. "Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official.

We took money and resources from the effort to capture or kill bin Laden and his cohorts in order to create a fun-filled terrorist training and financing bonanza in Iraq, and we're surprised it's helping Al Qaeda? These outcomes were frighteningly likely before the war began, and we blundered in anyway. For what? There was not a single justification for the war that was still operative when the war began. We went to war because we wanted to go to war, the prototypical act of aggression.

Before September 11th, the world was different, and leaders could be forgiven their policies that helped lead to the attack. Now, everyone knows where the blame lies.


Life on Other Planets

Bam, baby.
For the first time, astronomers have discovered a planet far, far away that might be similar to Earth. This distant world, which pirouettes around a dim bulb of a star with the unglamorous name Gliese 581, may possibly sport a landscape that would be vaguely familiar to us - a panorama of liquid oceans and drifting continents. If so, there's the chance that it's a home to life - perhaps even advanced life.
If there isn't life on this planet now, there will be in a billion years. A few billion more and we'll be able to talk to them. I hope I'm still around.


Answers to Global Warming Denial

A compendium of responses to arguments against global warming is something I've been thinking about producing for a while. Seeing the New Scientist do the work so I don't have to made me sigh contentedness. Satisfying.

Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter

We can't do anything about climate change

The 'hockey stick' graph has been proven wrong

Chaotic systems are not predictable

We can't trust computer models of climate

They predicted global cooling in the 1970s

It's been far warmer in the past, what's the big deal?

It's too cold where I live - warming will be great

Global warming is down to the Sun, not humans

It’s all down to cosmic rays

CO2 isn't the most important greenhouse gas

The lower atmosphere is cooling, not warming

Antarctica is getting cooler, not warmer, disproving global warming

The oceans are cooling

The cooling after 1940 shows CO2 does not cause warming

It was warmer during the Medieval period, with vineyards in England

We are simply recovering from the Little Ice Age

Warming will cause an ice age in Europe

Ice cores show CO2 increases lag behind temperature rises, disproving the link to global warming

Ice cores show CO2 rising as temperatures fell

Mars and Pluto are warming too

Many leading scientists question climate change

It's all a conspiracy

Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming

Higher CO2 levels will boost plant growth and food production

Polar bear numbers are increasing

What do you have to say about that, Global Warming deniers?

GOP Primary First to Jump Ugly

Oh, smack. McCain shows more of his desperation by mercilessly mocking the poor varmint-shooting flip-flopper, Mitt Romney.

For the establishment GOP candidate - the long foreseen frontrunner - to be sinking to such attacks is truly surprising. Anyone but McCain would be well on his procession to coronation with the Republican nomination.


FoxNews GOP Debate Observations

The largest applause lines of the night all seemed to consist of hearty endorsements of our country's "Enhanced Interogation Techniques," even going so far as to long for the fictional Jack Bauer in Brit Hume's hypothetical hour of need. To hear the party of moral values advocating torture so enthusiastically, like the crowd at a dog fight, should cause significantly more cognitive dissonance in me than it does. Instead, the supression of human (or even Christian) decency for political expediency seems like par for the course within the Republican Party.

Also, I still can't get over Fox allowing applause. "You gotta be kidding me" was my first reaction. I liked it even less as the applause did exactly what it was intended too - create a cliquish popularity contest designed to completely marginalize any idea even slightly outside the Republican mainstream. It is a silent means of controlling the content of the debate - far more effective than outright censorship.


Hagel-Bloomberg '08

Calling all Democrats! Donate to Hagel and encourage a third party run! He's on the brink, with just a little push needed to get him to jump. Actually, given the way he ends this interview (video), I think he's planning it already. He concludes by offering an absolutely glowing endorsement of Bloomberg - the type of endorsement normally reserved for children of adoring grandparents or running mates - and then wistfully comments that it would be an amazing thing if a boy from Nebraska and a big city mayor could get together for the betterment of the country.

Hagel-Bloomberg '08, baby! Believe me. He lays it on that thickly.

From Hagel's naturally independent and yet Republican perspective, this is the perfect time to torpedo the electoral chances of his party in order to serve a greater good - that of incubating credible third party politics in this country. The Republicans overwhelmingly think they're going to lose anyway, so scuttling the effort further with a Republican independent ticket doesn't look like much of a betrayal.

So, fortunately for America, this will guarantee a Democratic victory in '08, which means that we will finally begin addressing the largest threats to America. Unfortunately for political junkies like me, however, this sucks almost all the fun out of the process, since the conclusion is foregone. Oh well. I'll take that trade.

Boxer's Boxing

Here is an excellent example of Senator Boxer beating poor Senator Graham silly after he says Reid believes the troops are losers (video). More like this, please.

BOXER: I don't know anyone who opposes this war that ever said our troops are losers. Our troopers are winners.

GRAHAM: Harry Reid did.

BOXER: Excuse me. He never said our troops are losers. Now, Lindsey, just be careful what you say. The bottom line here is, the losers are the ones who have, you know, engineered this war, made a huge mistake, Dick Cheney, we're in the last throes, the war will last six months, and all of you who have supported this escalation and have turned us away from fighting al Qaida into putting us in the middle of a civil war.

BOXER: "The loser is the Commander in Chief who has not lead our country well."

Watch the segment. It's a thing of beauty.

Interestingly, watch Lindsey carefully in the seconds after he steps in it. He can see what he's done. Look at that hard swallow and fidgeting. That's not the normal Graham we know so well. He knows he's crossed a line, given the Boxer the perfect pitch, and all he can do is sit and watch as she creams it out of the park. This is the sort of response all Democrats need to have on the tips of their tongues when Republicans try to slap us around. Hitting back carries a much weightier message than the English alone would imply.


Iraqi Oil Law DOA

It has not even reached parliament, but the oil law that U.S. officials call vital to ending Iraq's civil war is in serious trouble among Iraqi lawmakers, many of whom see it as a sloppy document rushed forward to satisfy Washington's clock.

Opposition ranges from vehement to measured, but two things are clear: The May deadline that the White House had been banking on is in doubt. And even if the law is passed, it fails to resolve key issues, including how to divide Iraq's oil revenue among its Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni regions, and how much foreign investment to allow. Those questions would be put off for future debates.

The problems of the oil bill bode poorly for the other so-called benchmarks that the Bush administration has been pressuring Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government to meet. Those include provincial elections, reversing a prohibition against former Baath Party members holding government and military positions and revision of Iraq's constitution.
This is the Hydrocarbon Law that was so ballyhooed a few weeks ago, even though it had only made it through an executive committee and not the Parliament. It was hailed as a breakthrough achievement, since oil redistribution is one of the key political concessions necessary if we are ever to achieve anything we can even dishonestly call "victory in Iraq." Now even the hope of saving face is slipping away.

Things can get worse in Iraq.



Remember the farmer family that Rudy's campaign snubbed because they weren't rich enough to demagogue the inheritance tax? You knew it would only be a matter of time before he got hit on the issue, and McCain is the one taking the swing:
Senator John McCain put in a personal call today to an Iowa woman that was
snubbed by Rudy Giuliani's campaign, asking to meet with her and apologizing to
her on "behalf of all politicians," the woman told me this evening.

"John McCain personally called me -- today, this afternoon," the woman, Deb
VonSprecken, told me. "Wow. He said, `I want to come and meet you.'"


In his call to Deb, McCain apologized to her on the Rudy campaign's behalf and asked if he could come see her, the woman says. "He apologized on behalf of all politicians," she told me. "He just apologized in general. He was really sweet. I recognized his voice from TV. He was very, very polite, funny."

In asking to come visit with her, "He started teasing me and saying, `We're doing a security check. I'm homing in on satellite,'" Deb tells me. "I said, `No, no, don't do it.' We were laughing. It was incredibly nice."

McCain, that old charmer! Shameless flirt!

If McCain, the normally preordained GOP establishment candidate, feels the need to stoop to shots like this, you know the GOP nomination process is a mess compared to the orderly procession to coronation we normally see from the authoritarian party. If he can get this attack media play, maybe it will even buoy his campaign by sinking Giuliani's.


Gibbons Typecast

Ahhh, my old foe, Jim Gibbons, Governor of Nevada and scandal magnet. Smart, Jim. Real smart:
Then-Congressman Jim Gibbons, seated, toasts with Dennis Montgomery during a March 2005 cruise. Montgomery has now accused Gibbons of accepting cash on the trip.
It's like he thinks he's obligated to get in trouble.

I can't believe we lost to that man out in Nevada. Then again, I sort of came to this politics thing only in the middle of an era of Republican domination, so being on the losing side of at least one election builds my cred in the party. Ha!

NSA Program Criminalized - Again!

The Democratic House of Representatives have passed an entirely redundant bill, and yet I applaud them for it:
As the Senate Report noted, FISA "was designed . . . to curb the practice by which the Executive Branch may conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on its own unilateral determination that national security justifies it." The Bill ends plans by the Bush Administration that would give the NSA the freedom to pry into the lives of ordinary Americans. The ACLU noted that, despite many recent hearings about 'modernization' and 'technology neutrality,' the administration has not publicly provided Congress with a single example of how current FISA standards have either prevented the intelligence community from using new technologies, or proven unworkable for the agents tasked with following them.
Of course, the program was already illegal, as FISA was already the sole governing statute on the wiretapping of American's electronic communications. All this bill does is say, in effect, "Yes, when we passed FISA by a vote of 95-1, we really did mean it. We weren't just making a suggestion. It wasn't idle chitchat. It was, and is law. Follow it."

High Crimes from Powell's Chief of Staff

Colonel Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, has bammed up the rhetoric a notch, saying that Bush has committed high crimes by taking us to war with Iraq for specious reasons. You can listen to the audio of the interview here.

That's a died-in-the-wool military Republican calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

I doubt impeachment will happen, since installing Nancy Pelosi as the President of the United States would, shall we say, challenge the optics. Despite impeachment's improbability, it is called for. This President broke the law for years with the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, and there must be accountability. Despite the overwhelming circumstantial evidence, it's hard to put together an airtight case on the WMD issue, but the NSA program is a lock. Violating this law is a felony, and they've admitted to the crime. If we are to preserve the Republic, the rule of law must be preserved.


Reasons for Blogging

The incomparable Firedoglake offers advice on how to build a successful blog.

Excellent advice, I'm sure. However, I'm not interested in those goals. I do this for other reasons. My drive is mostly bound up in a pure enjoyment I have for the writing itself, and the homologous desire to improve the skill. Really, at the heart of it is my delight in using my brain for thinking about tangly things, because it's fun, I'm good at it, and this way I get to put my money where my mouth is with predictions and the like. Of course, I also enjoy being part of the movement, and translating these intellectual gymnastics into real world change - mostly through voter registration. What I am not looking for is to turn this blog into my job, or even any form of revenue source. That would tie me down to a regular update schedule, and my life is too incredible for something like that.

As you may notice, none of those goals necessitate self-identification, hence the anonymity. Keep it that way. :)

Rudy the Farmer Hater.

Rudy's campaign has been caught in what would be a career ending gaff for a Democrat:
Last weekend Deb and Jerry VonSprecken of Olin received a call from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign office asking them if they would be interested in holding a campaign rally on May 4, after she had donated to his campaign.

“We thought it would be an honor and agreed,” said Jerry.

Because I'm citing it, you know it doesn't end well. You should read it yourself, but I'll give away the punchline: the farmers were too poor to warrant a visit.

Incidentally, they shouldn't have been surprised that this farmer's family wouldn't be covered by the Inheritance Tax, since almost zero privately owned farms are large enough to incur the tax. It really is a tax only on the very-wealthy.