Monday, August 27, 2007

What is it with the right-wing closet cases!

Note to anyone going to any GOP conventions: Stay out of any public mens rooms!

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)pleads guilty to looking for love in all the wrong places.

Gonzales Resigns



Attorney General Gonzales resigns: NY Times.

Wow. Why now? There were rumors months ago when Gonzales was first on the hot seat that the admin was shopping for his replacement. The NYTs reports that no replacement has yet been chosen, but my guess is they have found someone.

This could be very interesting.

UPDATE: Josh is on to something here that would answer the 'why now' question. A recess appoint, presumable of some hack who will follow orders and kill any inconvenient criminal investigations .

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The War as We Saw It

I was in Chicago this weekend watching the Cards get beat and missed this NYTs OP/ED from 7 enlisted members of the 82nd Airborne about to rotate home after 15 months in Iraq.

War supporters Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack began their now infamous NYTs OP/ED championing the war and surge, "Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal."

Responding (mocking actually) to O'Hanlon and Pollack, the soldiers of the 82 Airborne wrote,
Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.
This really is a must read. These two paragraphs explain exactly why we need to get the hell out,
The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It was a bit rude....

Bill Plante of CBS news is in the dog house.

The official rules for the farewell announcement of Karl Rove on Monday at the White House were 'no questions'. As emotions peaked and Bush and Rove embraced, Plante bellowed, "If he's so smart, how come you lost Congress?"

When I saw the tape, I laughed out loud. And I think all the Bushie rules designed to keep the President from ever being questioned off the cuff are total BS.

I don't mind Plante having shouted out a question -- screw them and all their rules. But that was a really lame, snarky question.

WTF!

A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said.

The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show.

The owners of C&D Distributors in Lexington, South Carolina -- twin sisters -- exploited a flaw in an automated Defense Department purchasing system: bills for shipping to combat areas or U.S. bases that were labeled ``priority'' were usually paid automatically, said Cynthia Stroot, a Pentagon investigator.

Rethinking Hillary

Rove was on Rush's show yesterday asserting the impossibility of Hillary being elected POTUS with her negatives polling in "the high 40's".

So the Caucus blog at the NYT's fact checked Mr. Rove and found him a little off base and reported some interesting facts,
....contrary to what Mr. Rove said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, her unfavorable rating is about 10 points lower than where he thought it was and her favorables are higher than her unfavorables, although barely.

His point was this: “There’s nobody who has ever won the presidency who started out in that kind of position.”

In fact, Mrs. Clinton’s husband was in that very position and did win. And Mrs. Clinton’s numbers are better than his were at this point in his first campaign for the White House.

In April 1992, only 26 percent of voters had a favorable view of Bill Clinton, while 40 percent viewed him unfavorably, according to a Times/CBS poll. By June 1992, his favorables had plunged further, so that only 16 percent had a favorable opinion, with 40 percent still unfavorable.

After Mr. Clinton won the nomination and after his convention, his favorable rating began to rise. By October 1992, his ratings had become about even, with 34 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable.
Is Hillary too polarizing to be elected? I've always thought so, and said so here many times. But we've never seen an election like the one to unfold next year. And Hillary has literally shined on the campaign trial and in debates.

If there ever was a time when Hillary, or even a black Democrat, could be elected POTUS, it's 2008.

Developing.......

UPDATE: I screwed up. I came back from a weekend in Chicago and found a number of comments on this thread with a few spams. In trying to delete the spam I inadvertently deleted some comments and I sincerely apologize. I do not screen my comments and do not delete comments with which I disagree. It was a total accident.

The following were my victims: Kelly Garrett, Rachel Jackson and Melanie. I'm very sorry for this screw-up.

53%

of Americans don't trust the so-called Petraeus' report coming out in September. They think it will be to rosy. Must be the old 'fool me once' thing finally kicking in on about fooled me 652 times.

Most interesting is that this number is before people have had time to realize that the White House will actually write the report.

Rudy's "loopy" foreign policy

I apologize in advance, but I can't seem to enough of this.

Fred Kaplan is stunned by Rudy's loopy foreign-policy statement, and gives a lengthy smack-down. It's a pretty humorous read.

Kaplan begins,
Rudy Giuliani's essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, laying out his ideas for a new U.S. foreign policy, is one of the shallowest articles of its kind I've ever read. Had it been written for a freshman course on international relations, it would deserve at best a C-minus (with a concerned note to come see the professor as soon as possible). That it was written by a man who wants to be president—and who recently said that he understands the terrorist threat "better than anyone else running"—is either the stuff of high satire or cause to consider moving to, or out of, the country.

The article contains so many bizarre statements, it's hard to know where to start,
Kaplan than proceeds to respond to each bizarre point.

You can read it yourself if your so inclined, but I wanted to share this one response of Kaplan to Rudy's call for "Constellations of satellites that can watch arms factories everywhere around the globe, day and night, above- and belowground ... must be part of America's arsenal."
Yes, and while we're at it, let's build anti-gravity machines, mind-reading robots, X-ray-vision telescopes, speed-of-light transporter-beams, time-travel kits, and intercontinental heat-seeking bullets....
What I haven't seen yet is a positive review, although this could easily be explained by who and what I read.

Anyone aware of a positive review?

The neocon world

Matt makes an interesting point about the neocon agenda which doesn't see Pakistan,
This, though, is the neocon two-step we've been living with for years. Despite the talk of "The Terrorists' War on Us" the folks Giuliani has associated himself with don't care about al-Qaeda terrorism. Before 9/11 they mostly wanted a war with China, and then secondarily wars with Iraq, Iran, and Syria. These days, it's more like they primarily want a war with Iran and Syria (they already got Iraq) with China and maybe Russia as second-tier priorities. Fighting al-Qaeda isn't even a close second -- it's just not on the map.

Travel to Cuba

I've been dying to go to Cuba for several years now. I want to go before the embargo is lifted and there is a McDonalds on every corner and the cruise ship crowd reduces the island to a mass of "I [heart] farting" t-shirts (see Key West).

Looks like Travelocity won't be any help. Travelocity fined $183,000 for booking trips to Cuba.

The brother of an aquaintance is huge bass fisherman and I'm told in the competitive bass fishing world (yes, such a world exists) it's widely believed the next world record will come from Cuba. So, this brother had made several legal trips to Cuba under a Treasury license. He would collect medical samples from doctors all over town and take them to Cuba on "an humanitarian mission" that included lots of bass fishing. It's my understanding that the Bush administration, dancing to the tune of the Miami Cuban crowd, has cracked down on these licenses.

30 years ago today,

the king literally fell off the thrown.

And I still remember where I was when I heard the news.

Whose Report?

The country has been waiting for the much ballyhooed September report of Gen Petraeus for the definitive, objective report on the real state of Iraq.

Then we learned that the report would actually be written by the White House with "input" from the General.

Now we find out that the WH wants to make it the Rice / Gates report with Gen Petraeus being relegated to a "private" (no press, public or TV please) briefing to Congress.

This tells us all we need to know about the state of Iraq.

"Quagmire"

So prophetic it's creepy. Apparently, this clip was on the Daily Show last night. I heard it on the radio this morning.



Cheney in 1994.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Padilla Jury to Start Deliberations

I haven't the faintest idea what the jury will do, but this could be very interesting if the jury acquits.

Invisible

Hillary is sticking it to Gdub, who appears to be as thin-skinned as ever.



Bush's reaction is exactly what the Clinton campaign wants as Mark Rosenberg explained.

Grim news from Iraq

The confirmed death toll from four coordinated truck bombings in northern Iraq passed 250 Wednesday, as rescue workers used bulldozers and bare hands to recover bodies in two isolated communities near the Syrian border. The deadliest attack of the war in Iraq.

Gays for Giuliani

Newt may be a bigot, but not Rudy.

"Gay's for Giuliani" is going on the air in South Carolina.

Gingrich is a kook too


Newt Gingrich is getting way too much positive and fawning press. While he is clearly a very bright guy, it also a major flake:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday he is "sickened" that President Bush and Congress went on vacation "while young Americans in our cities are massacred" by illegal immigrants...

Gingrich said that the "war here at home" against illegal immigrants is "even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Now my Republican friends are quick to defend Newt. They say that he is not a kook of flake, but just a run of the mill racist and bigot who must lie and demonize brown people if he hope to win votes from the GOP which is made up of racist and bigoted white people who are terrified of all brown people.

They're probably right.

Why would anyone believe anything they say?

McClatchy Washington Bureau,
U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim.

The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to the McClatchy statistics, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same.

An important question

Kevin asks an important question about Rudy's world view,
In a way, this essay is a test for the bipartisan foreign policy community that's taken so much abuse in the blogosphere lately. I mean, Rudy is plainly nuts. No one closer to the center than Charles Krauthammer should take this as anything more than the incoherent burblings of a national security naif. But will they say that? Or will it be considered a serious addition to the foreign policy discussion? Any bets?
No bets here.

Charlatan or simpleton?

Conservative blogger James Joyner wrote that "Giuliani was my favorite of the 2008 candidates." Having read Rudy's Foreign Affairs essay, Joyner has reconsidered,
I must concur in Matt Yglesias' judgment: "this man is batshit insane."

....The more I hear and read, though, the more I think Giuliani is either a charlatan or a simpleton. Either he's lying to us and we therefore have no idea what his foreign policy will be or, worse, this is what he really thinks.

....Essentially, he wants to massively increase a defense budget that already spends more than the rest of the countries on the planet combined so as to buy more submarines and anti-missile systems to protect us against a land-based guerrilla movement. We’re then going to use that military to go in, apparently, to topple every regime we don’t like and to wipe out every instance of non-democratic badness and spend decades occupying those countries. All, of course, while winning friends and influencing people.

We’re going to have a diplomatic policy that finally lives up to the caricature of Bush policy. We’re not going to talk to anyone unless they already agree with us. Our diplomats are simply going to be propaganda instruments from now on. And our media, too! And we’ll win the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere by allying ourselves even more closely with the Israelis while punishing the Palestinian people....

We should learn the one lesson from Vietnam that no serious student of that war has learned: We were THIS CLOSE to winning!
And finally Joyner does us the favor of pointing to this great quote from Jim Henley:

You will not enjoy a day of peace so long as Rudy has anything to say about it. Peace is something we will “achieve” in the distant future when the lion has been clubbed senseless with the lamb.

GOP hatred of Hillary her secret weapon?

I'm not so sure, but M.J. Rosenberg thinks so. He argues that the GOP vitriolic hatred of Hillary Clinton has the effect of rallying Dems, independents and especially women to her support.
Yes, she has high negatives. But watch THEM drive her negatives down. Being the #1 target of the most despised administration in history (and of their strident right-wing acolytes) is the one asset no one can take away from Hillary.

They will never hate anyone as much as they hate her. The irony is that their hatred will, if she is nominated, elect her.

Nice.

This has to be a crime

Alaska Congressman Don Young changed the language of a bill in 2005 to revise an earmark after the bill passed both houses in final form and was awaiting presidential signature.

Rudy Giuliani is a madman

The blog world is all abuzz with Giuliani's Foreign Affairs essay.

Matt Yglesias has the best take-down I've seen.
He believes Bush abandonned "a decade long -- and counterproductive -- strategy of defensive reaction in favor of a vigorous offense." Counterproductive is key here. Giuliani thinks that "we must understand that our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness" so any expressed desire to cut deals actually undermines our safety and invites attack.

The result is a chilling vision of a world where peace can only be achieved through American military domination....

This has been the kind of thinking that's animated the Bush administration at its very worst moments. You get the immediate problem that America's military edge can be countered by nuclear weapons. So it becomes very important to prevent countries from getting nuclear weapons. This can't be done through the UN-backed process of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international law, or even through diplomacy more generally, because that would signal weakness. The only tools available are coercion -- military and economic. Of course, signaling an American desire to invade lots of countries only makes other countries more eager to get nuclear bombs. What's needed, then, is a credible threat to fight a whole series of wars. This, in turn, becomes one of the motives for trying to do Iraq and Afghanistan with super-light forces. We want to signal that we're ready and willing to do this again and again and again until all countries submit to our will.

Needless to say, this approach has already been put to the test and failed....
Matt has much more and it's worth the read.

My constant concern is that Democrats awful message machine and a fawning, lame-ass MSM will make this kook seem legitimate.

Petraeus' September Report

Was anyone who reads this blog ever so naive as to believe that Petraeus' September report would be objective?

If so, here is a chance to snap out of it and save yourself further embarrassment.

The report will be written by the White House.
....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.
_____

The Defense official skeptical of the troop buildup said he expected Petraeus to emphasize military accomplishments, including improving security in Baghdad neighborhoods and a slight reduction in the number of suicide bomb attacks. But the official said he did not believe such security improvements would translate into political progress or improvements in the daily lives of most Iraqis.

"Who cares how many neighborhoods of Baghdad are secured?" the official said. "Let's talk about the rest of the country: How come they have electricity twice a day, how come there is no running water?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"We Are All Americans"

Given all that has transpired since September 11, 2001, it's easy to forget the solidarity of the Western world following the attack on the United States.

From Le Monde, Paris France, September 12, 2001,
In this tragic moment, when words seem so inadequate to express the shock people feel, the first thing that comes to mind is this: We are all Americans! We are all New Yorkers, just as surely as John F. Kennedy declared himself to be a Berliner in 1962 when he visited Berlin. Indeed, just as in the gravest moments of our own history, how can we not feel profound solidarity with those people, that country, the United States, to whom we are so close and to whom we owe our freedom, and therefore our solidarity? How can we not be struck at the same time by this observation: The new century has come a long way.
As long as I live, I will never forgive GWB and Karl Rove for their response to September 11. Julian Sanchez does a wonderful job of summing up Karl Rove's legacy.
...it is astonishing sometimes to think what an extraordinary opportunity the 9/11 attacks presented—an opportunity to rally not just the country but the whole of a sympathetic liberal West (and anyone else who was game) in affirmation of the shared values that distinguish us from fanatical theocrats: pluralism, freedom of speech, secular government, democracy, reason, the rule of law.
_____

And then, before we could catch more than a glimpse through the window, it snapped shut. The administration took the spirit of terrified solidarity that emerged in Congress as a sign of weakness to be exploited. The great uniting tragedy was unceremoniously reduced from an icon to a blunt cudgel, with which opponents were to be bludgeoned as frequently and mindlessly as possible. To the nations turning a sympathetic ear, we screeched our contempt. It was the inversion of Karl Rove's infamous sobriquet: Tiny flowers struggling up from a sea of shit, abruptly smothered in it again. And at least some small measure of the invoice for all this grotesque waste must come due at the door of the man so rapt in his "big picture" dreams—his grand vision of a great political alignment, a permanent Republican majority—that he could not see, in the historical moment he occupied, how profoundly petty an aspiration that was.
Indeed.

An honest flat tax?

Matt Yglesias plugging Jonathan Chait's forthcoming book, The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics got me thinking about something I've thought about for years.

I won't be able to read the book, because like Matt, the dishonesty of the selling of right-wing crackpot economic schemes and the medias fawning coverage literally upsets me so much that I loose sleep. I just can't stand stupid people.

But I started thinking about the flat tax again. The problem with the right-wing flat tax cons that have popped up ever few years is that those who propose them make sure they pay little or no income tax. Flat taxes from the right only tax wage income exempting the wealthiest from all income taxation while at the same time bankrupting the government. Those who make millions or even billions in the markets or real estate, for instance, would pay no income tax on their income.

But what would an honest flat tax look like that taxed all realized income, wage and non-wage equally, and without exception or limit?

Eliminate all deductions including the mortgage interest deduction. Keep only per person exceptions -- specifically targeted to protect the working poor (like 10 or 12k per person so a family of 4 paid no tax on the first 40 to 50k of income) -- but everyone would receive regardless of income. (I would exempt gains from the sale of a primary residence placed into another primary residence within a reasonable period of time, but that's it. Sell an investment property or stocks netting a gain and you would pay taxes on the gain even if you rolled the gain into other property, etc)

For the purposes of this discussion, forget the realities of getting this trough Congress. What would the tax rate have to be in order to adequately fund the government (not current funding which is hundreds of billions short of spending)?

I couldn't begin to figure this out, and I may be wildly naive. Perhaps such a tax is not workable under any circumstances. But If by actually taxing all income we could reduce the actual tax rate to something less than 20% we would have meaningful and revolutionary tax reform.

Surely someone out there knows of a paper or article where this calculation has been attempted?

Rudy's Five Big Lies About 9/11


I'm admittedly late to this story but wanted to make sure I posted it here if for no other reason than I would be able to later find it.

It seems that everything you read from New York journalists who covered mayor Giuliani indicates that they think he is a medicated loon.

Wayne Barrett has a lengthy piece in the Village Voice detailing Rudy's Five Big Lies About 9/11. Jonathan Chait at the New Republic wrote that, “If the facts in this article were absorbed by the public, or even campaign journalists, Giuliani's presidential campaign would be over.”

Here are the lies according to Barrett:

1. 'I think the thing that distinguishes me on terrorism is, I have more experience dealing with it.'

2. 'I don't think there was anyplace in the country, including the federal government, that was as well prepared for that attack as New York City was in 2001.'

3. Don't blame me for 7 WTC, Rudy says. This was the NYC crisis command center located in the WTC by Rudy after the first bombing.

4. 'Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.'

5. 'Every effort was made by Mayor Giuliani and his staff to ensure the safety of all workers at Ground Zero.'

Vio con dios Karl Rove

Karl Roves departure is all the buzz this week, and it's interesting to hear what everyone has to say about it.

Some see Rove forced out by an increasing assertive Congress. Not I. I think the truth is just as Karl Rove says, it was time. What role does he serve with the last election behind this WH? I'm surprised he stayed on this long.

Suggestions that he was hounded out by Congress are amusing at best. Clearly, this WH fears nothing from Congress and Congresses repeated capitulations to the WH give them nothing to fear.

Yesterday, as the news broke, all those who knew the announcement was forthcoming had there 'Karl Rove is genius' bs ready to peddle to the lazy and eager press corps. But as the news settles in look for lots of Republicans to start stabbing Karl in the back.

An objective assessment will find Rove to have been a failure.

Here are a few points. First, Rove lost Bush's first presidential election having Bush arrogantly campaign the last week in the lost state of California instead of Florida.

I heard one Rove apoligist yesterday claim that Rove was the brilliant mastermind to Bush receiving the largest vote for President in history. What was not said was that Kerry could also make that claim. In fact, despite having been in the midst of a war, Bush was re-elected POTUS by the smallest margin of victory in US history.

And upon re-election what does Rove do? He decides to dismantle Social Security!

And there there is the fact that Rove attempted to politicize literally every branch of government. The GOP might not care much about this, but history will.

And perhaps the biggest reason Rove will find the GOP quickly stabbing him in the back is the fact that Rove has demanded that the GOP go down with Bush's ship, repeatedly refusing lifelines to his own party. The result was a disastrous 2006 election and a 2008 election that will likely be worse. It is clear that this WH cares only about itself and could not care less about its party.

I can't see how any objective assessment of Rove could conclude that his time in national politics was a success. While he set out to create a lasting GOP majority, what he may have actually done is the exact opposite. But of course on this latter point, never underestimate the Democrats ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ironically, if anyone saves GOP for what Rove hath wrought, it will be the Dems.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conservative demands on the GOP

Ron Brownstein
writes about the electoral problems facing an increasing very conservative GOP.

The conservatives in the party stamp out any member who shows any sign of moderation which them makes the party candidates increasingly unpalatable to suburban moderates who might otherwise vote R.

Ron uses the excellent example of Lindsey Graham,
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is an ardent, unwavering supporter of the Iraq war. In the House of Representatives during the 1990s, he served as a manager of the Republican majority's impeachment case against President Clinton.

Yet for Marty Eells, an emergency medical services training officer here, Graham is an insufficiently reliable conservative. Eells is angered by Graham's criticism of President Bush on issues like the treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism.

"He's made remarks and comments he doesn't have any business making," Eells said.

Other conservatives in this dependably Republican state are unhappy with Graham for supporting the failed Senate effort to legalize illegal immigrants and for his role in the 2005 bipartisan compromise that preserved the right of the Senate minority to filibuster judicial nominees. In the midst of this unease, several local Republicans -- including the lieutenant governor -- have floated the possibility of challenging Graham from the right for the GOP Senate nomination next year.
And while it's hard to imagine that the Dems could pick up a senate seat in SC these days, Chuck Hagel is another matter. He has a serious challenger from the right and in this environment a good Dem candidate could snatch that seat up. House member Chris Shays is the last remaining Republican house member in New England, and he faces a challenge from the right.

And as conservative as the Republicans in the Senate are becoming, the House is already there. "In the House, for instance, only 20 Republicans (out of more than 230) voted against a majority of their caucus even as much as 15% of the time during the last Congress."
...the Democrats today are much more of a coalition party than the Republicans: Polls show that only about half of Democratic voters consider themselves liberals, while three-fourths or more of Republicans call themselves conservatives. That means to win elections, Democrats depend more than Republicans on the votes of moderates -- which compels them to accept more dissent from party orthodoxy.

The question for Republicans, as they try to dig out from the collapse of Bush's second term, is whether they can rebuild a majority coalition without tolerating more dissent and diversity as well.
The Democratic left really faces the same question. Will they accept moderates for the sake of winning national elections or encourage third-party candidates? It's hopeful to see that the Big 3 for the Dems are all moderate despite how Republicans try to cast them.

Correction: Maura from My Left Nutmeg corrects me on Chris Shays. He doesn't have a primary challenge from the right. His problem so far is Democrat Jim Himes. Sorry for the screw-up and thank Maura for bringing this to my attention.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Denise!

My sister celebrates her birthday today. I won't say how old she is, but lets just say that Barack Obama gives her the first chance in her life to vote for someone for President who graduated from high school the same year as she.

Have a great day Denise!

Oh the heat!


What's wrong with this picture?

Phoenix Arizona 4:20PM CDT: 102 degrees and 25% humidity.

St Louis MO at 4:20PM CDT: 102 degrees and 23% humidity.

At last, some rationality on nuclear weapons

Joseph Cirincione is the Director for Nuclear Policy at the Center for American Progress and has written extensively on the subject of nuclear proliferation and disarmament for several years.

Cirincione has an excellent post up at CAP that is getting a lot of buzz. It was 62 years ago that the US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. The cold war is over and it's past time to rethink nuclear arsenals.

The world is a very different place than it was during the cold war. There are opportunities for real global leadership.

And some very serious former cold warriors have some great ideas,

There is now a flurry of efforts crossing party and ideological lines to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the number of nations that have nuclear weapons. Most prominent is the appeal this January from Democrats William Perry and Sam Nunn and Republicans George Schultz and Henry Kissinger for “a world free of nuclear weapons.” These veteran cold warriors strongly supported the nuclear build-ups of the past. Now, their action plan includes many of the elements of the early Truman era: deep cuts in existing arsenals, a global ban on nuclear tests, a halt in production of new weapon materials, and international control of the entire uranium enrichment process, including the formation of an international fuel bank for nuclear reactors. Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei urges similar steps, as do projects from a dozen research institutes. And some members of Congress and presidential contenders have picked up parts of these proposals.

Our path six decades ago was circumscribed by the looming threat of Soviet power, but today’s political climate allows for considerably more freedom of movement. We may be at a new moment that will finally permit us to heed the warnings echoing from the beginning of the atomic age.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cowardice on FISA

The cowardice of the Democratic leaders is Congress makes my blood boil.

First, and foremost, the FISA modifications go way to far.

The second reason is said best by Robert Novak who reports, “With congressional Republicans’ morale in a steady decline, the adjournment for the August recess found the GOP in high spirits thanks to winning the anti-terrorist eavesdropping bill. That trumped Democratic passage of an energy bill in the final House session last Saturday night. The importance is that Democrats still flinch when they come face to face with President George W. Bush on terrorism.”

So says the US Air Force

A US withdrawal from Iraq may be ‘impossible to resist‘ unless violence against civilians falls substantially,” a new study funded by the Air Force warns. “The US commitment to Iraq should not be open ended. … If US forces cannot reduce the violence in Iraq, their continued presence and the further expenditure of US treasure and lives will prove unsustainable, even if their presence is achieving other objectives,” the study

Obama and Pakistan

Josh did a great job of explaining what is going on in the gang-up on Obama. Go read it.

From Hillary's perspective, the point is to get Obama to admit a mistake and thus set the tone from this point forward that he her junior on all such heady international matters.

From the GOP perspective the point is to make all Dems seem reckless children on the world stage.

In sum,
The unspoken truth here, I suspect, is that Obama has struck on the central folly of our post-9/11 counter-terrorism defense policy -- strike hard where they aren't and go easy where they are. I think everyone can see this. But Obama got there first. So they need to attack him for saying it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bush killed the deal

on an update of FISA according to Spencer Ackerman. And I couldn't be happier.

We all heard the sound bites yesterday of Bush chastising the Dems for not getting him everything he wants in a FISA update.

A key Democrat in the negotiations, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), says that a deal had in fact been reached with McConnell, who has been busy lobbying Congress on a FISA update all week. "We had an agreement with DNI McConnell," Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Bernards tells TPMmuckraker, "and then the White House quashed the agreement."

A bill that House Democrats put forward today does not require the National Security Agency to seek warrants for surveillance of persons inside the United States -- only that the Attorney General will issue "guidelines" as to how collecting the communications of U.S. persons should operate.

My response to the 'deal' is WTF! You can read here about the broad powers granted by this bill.

I'm speechless that the Democratic leadership would give any Attorney General, and especially Gonzales!!!!!, the power to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance under any circumstances. Unbelievable.

FISA is broad enough granting any administration the power to conduct warrantless foreign surveillance of 'foreign powers' outside the US and a long record of granting secret warrants to every administration that fall outside the 'foreign powers' definition.

Judicial oversight is critical for any administration and never more so than this administration.

Without getting too technical, to the extent that the Act needs to be amended to broaden the definition of "foreign powers" (as I understand the Act, presently limited to foreign governments) to include non-state foreign terrorism organizations (which the Act already defines) that is fine and would represent a more current and practical world view. But if you give this administration an inch, they will take a yard. Call me old fashioned, and I'm sorry, but if the US government wants to spy on US residents, they need a warrant and a judicial oversight, and on this, there can be no compromise.

If the Director of National Intelligence cut a deal with the House and Senate Leadership (and note that neither the DNI nor the White House has denied the deal) and the WH nixed it, you really have to wonder why. And with this WH it is fair to think the worst.

UPDATE: In the face of WH resistance, The Democratic Leadership caved.

It's no wonder the American people don't think that Dems can protect them. They're all a bunch of gutless cowards.