Friday, January 26, 2007

Link of the Day:

Jump The Shark.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Filed Under "Yikes"

Yikes.

Cool.

I wish my Dell did this.

The sad thing is, the thing will probably be considered Legacy in one to two years.

YCMTSU

You Can't Make This Shit Up.

We've Heard This Tune Before

First we have this from Think Progress:

Six months ago, Harper’s Ken Silverstein reported that “in spite of pressure from CIA analysts, intelligence czar John Negroponte was blocking a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.” National Intelligence Estimates present the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. Despite pressure from Congress, the administration insisted it could not complete the NIE until January 2007.

Last week, however, an administration intelligence official told senators that the report is still not complete. According to Silverstein, Senate hearing attendees “believe that senior intelligence officials are stalling because an NIE will be bleak enough to present a significant political liability.”

Yesterday, NPR host Diane Rehm may have revealed why the NIE remains so politically sensitive. On her national radio show, Rehm said:

It’s my understanding that the National Intelligence Estimate is going to suggest that adding troops is the wrong way to go, that it’s not going to improve the situation. CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO


Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and the House and Senate intelligence committee chairmen wrote President Bush “urging prompt completion of a national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iraq first requested by Congress six months ago.” Read the full letter HERE.

Followed by this catch from Kos:

Sorry. This doesn't make me feel better.

In an interview, Pelosi also said she was puzzled by what she considered the president's minimalist explanation for his confidence in the new surge of 21,500 U.S. troops that he has presented as the crux of a new "way forward" for U.S. forces in Iraq.

"He's tried this two times — it's failed twice," the California Democrat said. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.' "

Asked if the president had elaborated, she added that he simply said, " 'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is."

Apparently, Iraq is a mess because Bush hadn't gotten around to telling the generals it "had to" work. But now that he has, all's well that ends well.

Now shut up and clap louder
!

The people with the statistics and a vague understanding of military and colonial history are against the surge, and the politicians and keyboard commandos who have been wrong about everything are for it. It's 2003 all over again. What's the saying about the definition of Insanity again?

White Power!

Shorter White Picket Fence: Jews suck. Niggers suck. Arians rawk!

Spocko vs. KSFO

FDL has the latest.

Budget Spin vs. Budget Reality

The CarpetBagger Report:

I saw a surprising number of headlines yesterday about the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s budget estimates, and how the federal government really is on track towards balance by 2012. It’s probably worth taking a moment to remember that it’s completely untrue.


The federal budget deficit will fall to $172 billion this year and $98 billion next year, then disappear completely by 2012, according to a report released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office. But virtually nobody — not even top CBO officials — believes it.

That is because the CBO, the nonpartisan office that supplies Congress with cost estimates, is required to make some whopping assumptions, including: that all of President Bush’s tax cuts will expire on schedule in 2010; that the alternative minimum tax will be permitted to ensnare millions of additional taxpayers; and that the war in Iraq and other military operations will never cost much more than the $70 billion that has so far been approved for the fiscal year that ends in September.

Back in the real world, even Democrats want to extend at least some of the Bush tax cuts. Even the White House wants to halt the expansion of the alternative minimum tax. And, as for global war efforts, the president is calling for an additional 21,500 troops to be sent to Iraq and is expected to ask Congress to approve an additional $100 billion for this year alone.

In other words, all of the “good” news we heard yesterday is a bit of a sham.

Moreover, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
explained this week, the CBO also considered “alternative scenarios” for the next several years, including a more realistic set of expectations regarding tax cuts and the war. With these numbers, existing budget policies are expected to add as much as $3.4 trillion to the national debt.

The president said in his State of the Union that he can keep all of his tax cuts and balance the budget “
within the next five years.” Frankly, I’d love to see him try. Even the CBO acknowledges that Bush can move towards balancing the budget or he can fight to keep his tax cuts — but he can’t do both.

Read on for some suggestions on how Democrats can handle this politically.

Forget Raising the Minimum Wage

...how about eliminating it?

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO)... went for broke this week and introduced a bill that would have eliminated the Federal Minimum Wage entirely and left the wage rate for the lowest-paid workers to each state.

*

In Kansas, this would mean that workers would revert to the state-mandated minimum wage of $2.65 per hour, which is currently superseded by the federal minimum of $5.15.

*

So, according to Allard, employees in all states should expect that the good-hearted nature of business would compensate them in a way that's fair and just -- yeah, that notion has worked out well for us in the past. He also contends that it's unfair for the federal government to mandate a whopping $7.25 per hour when those people in Kansas know damn good and well that they can support their families on just $2.65.

Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and Allard's disgusting legislation was killed, but with 28 Republican Senators voting in favor of no federal oversight of the lowest wage an American worker can be paid.

Check out the list of those 28 Republican Senators who voted in favor of this bill. Any of those names look familiar? Any of those names running for President in two years?

National Spincurity

Jonah Goldberg stays true to the Twelfth Commandment of the Republican Party ("Thou shalt smear Democrats as undermining the national interest"):


The 11th Commandment for liberals seems to be, "Thou shalt not intervene out of self-interest." Intervening in civil wars for humanitarian reasons is OK, but meddling for national security reasons is not. This would explain why liberals supported interventions in civil wars in Yugoslavia and Somalia but think being in one in Iraq is the height of folly. If only someone had thought of labeling the Korean conflict a humanitarian intervention back then, we might not face the horror and the danger from North Korea today.

You may remember similar arguments being used against -- among countless others -- Wesley Clark. The most obvious idiocy here is the contention that sacrificing many lives and immense resources to replace an (admittedly awful) secular dictatorship that posed no threat to the United States and had no substantial relationship with anti-American terrorism with an Islamist quasi-state was somehow in the American national interest (an implausible enough claim in 2003, and bordering on the insane at this late date.) And it's particularly rich given that, when their scaremongering about the dire threat posed by Iraq turned out to be wholly unfounded, the war's apologists began pretending that it was really a humanitarian campaign all along.

Admittedly, Goldberg is certainly right that the sectarian near-anarchy predictably created by the policy he advocated so vociferously is contrary to the American national interest. But in terms of defending an open-ended commitment to Iraq, this is neither here nor there unless there's some reason to believe that an ongoing presence in Iraq with a minor increase in troop levels can actually produce a strong, stable state. Goldberg doesn't actually have an argument about why we should believe this, which is not surprising since there is in fact no reason to believe that this is viable. It's true that the situation in Iraq is bad for the Iraqi people and bad for the interests of the United States, but this was a reason not to start the war, not a reason to continue it indefinitely when it shows no signs of producing a good outcome.


--Scott Lemieux at Tapped.

Just because you're paranoid...

...dosen't mean they're not out to get you.

When money is no object

Roger Ailes highlights this blurb from Warren Bass [no link]:

[Dinesh] D'Souza, the author of the bestselling Illiberal Education, has no particular expertise on terrorism, which may explain why he writes twice that there are U.S. troops in Mecca (someone should probably alert Bob Gates) or why he thinks that President Reagan's 1986 airstrikes on Libya "convinced Qadafi to retire from the terrorism trade," despite the bombing of Pan Am 103 by Libyan agents two years later. But D'Souza's inexperience doesn't explain why he so badly misreads bin Ladenist ideology, despite the peppering of jihadist quotes that he uses to lend the book a sense of authority.
To which Roger asks: "Is there any amount of incompetence of dishonesty which will deny a book contract to a right-winger?"

If you want an answer to that question I recommend David Brock's Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. It's full of informative little anecdotes about how little is needed for a right-winger to secure a book deal. Factual accuracy is not as essential as one might think (or hope). Personally, I can't wait until this one is released.

[Update] I was not recommending you actually purchase either book. You can always grab them at your local library; no need to give either of them one dime if you don't want to.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Priorities

In a display of savage corporatism, Senate Republicans are filibustering the minimum wage increase until Democrats lard the bill with tax cuts for businesses. Over the last six years, of course, businesses have gotten, literally, hundreds of billions in tax breaks. Congress hasn't raised the minimum wage in a decade.


-Ezra, posting at Tapped.

One commenter complains Ezra is being hypocritical, complaining about tactics by Republicans that the Democrats have been using for the previous six years. Whether Ezra is complaining about Tactics or Substance aside, Ezra's point is valid: the Corporate aspect of the Republican party seems hell-bent on ensuring that businesses endure absolutely no risk whatsoever. At point are you simply rewarding businesses for failure and bad business practices? At what point are you removing any motivation for businesses to do business well?

Link of the Day:

Hell's Handmaiden.

"I think you're out of line"

... so sayeth Dick Cheney to Wolf Blitzer's question about his lesbian daughter's pregnancy:


BLITZER: []your daughter, Mary. She's pregnant. All of us are happy she's going to have a baby. You're going to have another grandchild. Some of the — some critics are suggesting — for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family, "Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn't mean that it's best for the child." Do you want to respond to that?


Well, Dick, and I use that word with all possible connotations intended, you are head of a party that in no way considers itself out of line to make decisions about the family make-up and sex lives of the rest of America. In fact, your party specifically targeted those who consider themselves the moral authorities on such subjects, and consider it a priority to reshape America into their vision, a vision which does not include your daughter's lesbian lifestyle, much less her venture into lesbian parenthood. Oddly, traits which are demonized in liberals and democrats are rarely commented on negatively when found in conservatives and republicans (aka - The Base).

Let us also not forget that Mary Cheney is in no way a private citizen. She has been active in GOP politics for quite a while. She made the choice to be a public figure. One might think the GOP heavyweights would have much preferred she keep her lifestyle quiet, but such thoughts imply a notion that republicans consider hypocrisy to be a bad thing. Instead they wear it like a badge of honor; thus we have people like Ted Haggard and Mark Foley, living double lives in order to please their base and hold on to power.

Sorry, Dick. You wanted the fundie vote. You got it, and all that comes with it.

Why do they hate us again?

In the mind of the President (or at least in his words - I don't know which is worse to be honest), the terrorsts hate us for our freedoms. I have to wonder which freedoms specifically the President believes we are hated for. It certainly isn't the freedom to question your leaders or elected officials. That apparently is giving aide and comfort to the enemy. How can the terrorists hate us for our freedoms but be emboldened when we exercise them? I doubt the terrorists are sitting around watching CNN, waiting for Jack Murtha to give them the motivation to strike.

In a "time of war" however such questioning of officials is of bad taste, if not traitorous we are told. Of course Congress seems to have given the White House the go ahead to unilaterally define the scope of war, and based on a recent interview of Chuck Hagel (R-NE) by GQ Magazine, they had
very big ambitions. The Domino Theory has been put to rest by reality but the White House still insists that they and they alone know the best direction of the United States foreign policy, Congress be damned. I would argue however that "times of war" are when it is most appropriate to question your elected officials. When someone is out killing in your name, you might find yourself with an opinion or two on the subject.

I can't help but wonder at what point Joe Lieberman truly jumped the shark however. I would not be surprised if he was promised support for a Vice President run in '08 if he eased off pressure on the White House. Thus we have him
declining to hold hearings on the Bush Administration's Katrina fumbles, as well as his chiding of opponents of the Surge (or at least those who voice their opposition publicly - emboldening the terrorists and all). Glenn Greenwald says what I couldn't figure out how to put into words:


Whether Lieberman accused "surge" opponents of giving "comfort" to the enemy or merely "encouraging" them (and it looks increasingly like it was "encouragmenet," though still nothing truly definitive), Chuck Hagel's impassioned response applies just as potently -- not only to Lieberman, but to all of those war supporters who think that what is one of our country's greatest strengths -- the fact that we debate important issues, rather than meekly submit to the Leader's will -- is something we should suppress because the Terrorists are emboldened by our disagreements.

For people who consistently argue the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, they sure do get upset when we exercise those freedoms. Why do President Bush and Joe Lieberman hate our freedoms?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Christian Creeps

With all the talk of phantom Liberal Elitists by the millionaire thinktank intellectuals and billionaire oil dynasties in the Republican party I sometimes think the actual Liberal Elitists don't get their fair share of attention. I speak of course of James Wolcott, whose latest post discusses the phenomenon that is the Supposed Christian Conservative:

There's a subset of conservative bloggers that I've come to think of as Christian Creeps. Not the most elegant or endearing epithet, but there it is, the best I can do under the circumstances. These are bloggers who profess their faith in God and the efficacy of prayer and, once they wipe the piety off their upturned faces, turn around and fantasize about environmentalists dangling from nooses, taking up arms against rampaging Muslims, and unleashing nuclear genocide on Arab lands. Dorothy Day they're not. You can probably figure out who I'm talking about.

Yes James, we sure can.

About every hundred posts or so they remember they're supposed to be Christians and wander out of the Old Testament just long enough to forgive the Godless Liberal bloggers and commenters who attack their faith with such tools of the Devil as statistics and facts. That penance apparently frees them up to unleash the standard Fire and Brimstone in the remaining 99 posts. Such are the benefits of being God's chosen bloggers I surmise.

Go read the whole thing.

I suppose Brownie is lying too

The list of "former disgruntled Bush Administration officials" is getting longer. We can now add former FEMA director Michael Brown to the list. Apparently, taking a bullet for the Bush Administration isn't as easy as Scooter Libby makes it look.

Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.

Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"

Say it with me now: Shocked. SHOCKED!

This just in: Hillary.

Links later.

This is a Test

This is a test of the Emergency Blogcasting System. It is only a test.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

YCMTSU

You Can't Make This Shit Up.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Twilight of the Right-Wing Blogs

It doesn't take long in bloggerland to come across the reoccuring names: the two David Sirotas, for example, or my favorite, the two John Coles. Juan Cole is an expert in middle east studies, while John Cole is a professor of some sort (I've never found out his subjects). John Cole is also a republican, one of the few on the net who have come to criticize the GOP (and in a fierce way). Naturally, John has received no small amount of criticism from various factions of the right-wing blogs who have yet to put down the kool-aid and go into detox.

John Cole's
latest catch is the Senate Republicans killing the ethics reform offered by Democrats by attaching poison pills (among them the line item veto found unconstitutional in the 90s) to the ethics reform package, which they knew the Democrats would never pass.

Last night in the Senate, and for the second time in a week, Republicans scored a victory for spending restraint when they forced the majority Democrats to object to a vote on an earmark reform amendment. The amendment to S.1, The Ethics and Lobby Reform Bill, was offered by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and would incorporate the “A Second Look at Wasteful Spending Act of 2007” into the legislation.

***

The fact is that Democrats object to the Gregg amendment and the DeMint amendment because they aren’t really against earmarks. They only wanted to campaign on the issue, not actually do anything substantive about it. Now that they are in the majority, they want all the perks of office; and that includes easier access to taxpayer dollars for their constituencies and their re-election chances. But feisty Senate Republicans are not letting them have their pork and eat it too. So, Sen. Reid, Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Democrats are obstructing their own bill and explaining. And, as we know in politics, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.

In the fantasyland of Red-State (and the post above is a perfect example), every word they put on their blog will be taken at face value, and no investigating of the world will be undertaken of any kind. No one will ever take 30 seconds to read that rag the Washington Post for example:

Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists’ influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.

The bill could be brought back up later this year. Indeed, Democrats will try one last time today to break the impasse. But its unexpected collapse last night infuriated Democrats and the government watchdog groups that had been pushing it since the lobbying scandals that rocked the last Congress. Proponents charged that Republicans had used the spending-control measure as a ruse to thwart ethics rules they dared not defeat in a straight vote.

The low level of respect with which the bloggers at Red-State hold their readers is astonishing. The assumption that their readers will never see through such falsehoods, never tire of such blatantly childish political games, and will never read or watch another news outlet that will reveal Red-State's version of events to be the flat-out lie that it is, borders on the delusional.

John Cole has a suggestion for his fellow republicans (and his fellow bloggers):

So rather than be a petulant chilkd (like the Senate Republicans), I would accept I am not in the majority anymore, and vote for the ethics reform they are advancing. While not perfect, it is better than what is out there now. Instead, the GOP has chosen to block it and has delivered us:

NOTHING.

They, however, have an issue and rightwing blogs can now babble incessantly (as Red State already as) about how the Republicans are the real reformers. How do they get the title of real reformers? By blocking the reform package.

Up is down. Black is white. You don’t need to worry unless you are doing something wrong.

The inability of the right-wing to address such issues honestly is but one reason the Republicans lost control of congress in November. Sticking to such messages as Stay the Course worked fine when it was only the dirty hippie godless liberals showing concern. It doesn't exactly help on voting day however to be calling your own constituents traitors and questioning their patriotism. When Republicans started showing concern over the Iraq war that strategy fell apart, and thus we have Tony Snow trying to tell the nation "we've never been Stay the Course" with a straight face.

(and if you want to know how the republican tactic of saying anyone who opposes illegal warrantless wiretapping is a traitor worked out, just ask
Alberto Gonzales).

This is where the reality-based blogosphere runs into one of its hurdles: how to tell between the right-wing bloggers who are purposely lying, substituting propoganda for facts, and between the right-wing bloggers who are batshit insane. The former are pathetic and desperate, while the latter are sad and dangerous. While the ones who simply sell their souls for power can be proved wrong with 30 seconds on Google, the ones who are batshit insane operate from a position of considering themselves to be always correct on an issue. Any attempt to disagree with them in any meaningful way is defined by the crazies as pure partisan hackery. What's to discuss, when you're obviously so completely, utterly right on an issue?

Take a look at this reaction from
Blogs for Bush, after a round of commenters winning arguments ended up being banned (right after a post complaining about Democrats and censorship no less):

Lefties:

This is, as I'm sure you're aware, BLOGS FOR BUSH.

There are plenty of places out there where you can post overwrought appeals to emotion and hatred of Chimpy McSmirk Bushitler. We here at Blogs for Bush, however, have a moral obligation to not allow the spreading of lies - so don't bother trying to post lies (as a handy reminder: if what you are about to try and post makes it out that President Bush is the spawn of Satan, then it is a lie...remember, Bush is not Satan...you can disagree with him, but you shouldn't hate him...if you do hate him, you're probably either a progenitor of lies, or someone gullible enough to fall for them).

We also have a deep and abiding respect for President Bush - Blogs for Bush wasn't started up by people who thought that President Bush was a so/so kinda President. We really do think he's quite good - if we wanted to read an endless stream of insults to the President, we'd go over to Daily Kos or DU.

Finally, you ain't paying for this blog - this blog is provided free of charge to all who wish to participate, but participation is on our terms, not yours - this is not a free speech zone...America is, but this blog ain't. If you want to be absolutely able to say whatever you please, then pony up for your own blog and you will find B4B right in your corner defending your right to speak your piece. On your own dime, not ours.


There is no room for dissent with bloggers of this mentality, and there is no room for progressives in their version of America. They do their best to restrict the reality of those who disagree with Bush into two, and only two, categories: Liars or Fools. The true reality of Blogs for Bush is it is in no way a blog. It is propoganda, and propoganda inevitably fails, as do all political movements based on it. The right-wing will continue to decline until it replaces sound-bites and ideology with reality-based policy.

I'm in no rush to see this decline end however. Though a cornered animal is a dangerous animal, it is still a cornered animal, and it will be ended. Meanwhile, the 2008 outlook is great for Democrats in no small part to the conservative meltdown, so take as long as you need (through 2008 would be great).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hey Iraq...

"...I know I said we were coming to Iraq to find WMD, disarm Saddam and return the country back to its people, but we've decided to stay a little longer and use your country as a battlefield. You see, we want your country to endure all the terrorist attacks, the bombings and the killings, and we want your streets to be lined with blood so our streets can remain pure and untouched. I sincerely hope you appreciate this, and will in no way be motivated to start a counter-insurgency. Thanks!"

-George W. Bush, when saying "We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Maybe Condi LIKES being single? HeLLO.

Oh My God! Barbara Boxer told the world Condi's dirty little secret... she's not married! She doesn't have any children! How could Boxer bring up such shameful aspects of Condi's life? Don't you think Condi's already ashamed enough? To be her age, and still without a good man, a bun in the oven, and a picket fence? I mean, I'm sure if it were Hillary Rodham in that position the fundies would be just as upset about such shameful airings of her personal life.

Does this remind anyone else of the Mary Cheney incident? Liberals stating facts about conservatives that conservatives are supposed to be ashamed of? Did any of these conservatives bother to ask Condi if she's not happy being a single woman with no children, or if Mary Cheney is happy living her life as a gay woman? Of course not. These are things to be ashamed of, and to be denounced in full when Democrats are guilty of them. Thus we have the Mark Foleys and the Ted Haggards living double-lives to please their base.

I don't think Condi is ashamed of her life or considers Barbara Boxer's factual statement to be anything other than just that. It's the fundies who deal in shame, shaming Americans for not living traditional conservative value lives, while excusing living examples of their contempt in their very own ranks. Hillary Clinton is no different than Condi in terms of ambition, except that Hillary Clinton is a wife and a mother. It's just that she is also a Democrat and therefore must be destoyed, hypocrisy be damned.

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