We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living

In Praise of Red Tape

It was the midlevel intelligence professionals in the CIA whose expertise led them to argue that Iraq had no means of acquiring nuclear material; it was the planners and country experts at the State Department who prepared a 1,200-page document about postwar Iraq outlining in depressing detail the many challenges and brutalizing exigencies our occupying forces now face. It was professional scientists in the bowels of the Environmental Protection Agency who pushed their reports warning of the effects of climate change, only to have them censored and purged. It was concerned and conscientious spooks and cryptographers at the National Security Agency who contacted reporters to raise alarms about the warrantless wiretapping of Americans. It was a midlevel career bureaucrat at the Department of Education named Jon Oberg who spent his own time–nights and weekends–studying the student loan program and discovered that taxpayers were being ripped off by private lenders to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite warnings from his (appointed) superiors, he published his results in an internal memo sent to the entire department. He retired shortly thereafter.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of the virtue of bureaucracy came during the recent revelations of James Comey’s late-night confrontation with the President’s henchmen in the hospital room of the drugged and groggy Attorney General John Ashcroft. True, Comey and Ashcroft were both appointed apparatchiks, but ones who acted, for this moment, like bureaucrats, responsible to the integrity of their office and the rules and processes by which those offices were governed.

However many years ago that paleo-conservatives picked up the mantle of contempt for government knew how to exploit a universal grudge. In this article Hayes goes all the way back to Barry Goldwater and George Wallace. Everyone at some time in their lives has had what they believe to be a legitimate gripe with government authority gone too far, or was uncaring or inefficient. Though starting with Nixon Republicans got to have it both ways. If government did something they approved of like going to war based on misinformation and dangerous day dreams about reshaping the Middle-East into sandy versions of Sacramento, then government was suddenly so sacred that the mildest criticism became sedition. On the other hand when the self same government that Conservatives ran from top to bottom didn’t work,   as in preventing 9-11 or responding to Katrina that was fine too, after all they had be saying for years that government was inept and evil. Pretty clever trick of rhetorical magic. It is both astonishing and sad that government workers, some of them apparatchiks have had at least moments of clarity and tried to make government work while The Decider smirked and shifted blame, and a generally complacent press stood by and let the powers that be grind down a government created for the people and the common good.

Since we’re obsessed with popular opinion this week, How low can Bush go?

The Taguba revelations might seem like old news since Rumsfeld’s gone, but obviously torture continues, in our name. And while generals and even defense secretaries come and go, the commander in chief holds onto his job. Eminent McClatchy military columnist Joe Galloway writes that he hopes the Hersh piece forces Congress to reopen its Abu Ghraib investigation, as I do. What makes Taguba stand out is that … Taguba really shouldn’t stand out. He was a career military officer following orders; he was told to do a job, and he did it. While he deserves praise for his integrity and sympathy for his forced retirement, it’s worth remembering that Abu Ghraib critics like Mark Danner noted at the time that Taguba’s investigation didn’t go nearly far enough.

Even with public integrity bulldog Henry Waxman around we’ll probably never get to the bottom of who passed what orders to who. That will probably will take a Democratic president.

Alaska’s very own Don Vito Corleone, better know as Ted Stevens should start selling one of those how to get rich in real estate courses on cable, Stevens’ Friend That Testified Is Also Business Partner

Anchorage real estate developer Bob Penney, who testified before a grand jury about the bribery scandal in Alaska, is good to his friend Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

So good that he brought Stevens in on a real estate deal that fetched the senior senator a 566% return on a $15,000 investment in just five years.

An update on Haleh Esfandiari

Today is Day 44 of incarceration for Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an FP contributor, who was thrown into Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison in early May. Esfandiari, along with at least three other Iranian-Americans, has been detained in Iran for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government, an accusation that representatives for all the captives vehemently deny.

This little blog by itself can’t bring much attention to Esfandiari’s plight, but if any readers that pass by here would mention it on your blog, maybe collectively we can make enough noise to make this a story that the MSM will follow and draw attention to. Though this by no means is reason to start the Norman Podhoretz quasi-genocide campaign against Iran – Face of a psychopath

Neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz followed up his Commentary article titled “The case for bombing Iran” — excerpts of which were re-published in The Wall St. Journal — with an interview elaborating on why he “hopes and prays” that we bomb Iran and how he envisions the bombings.

Glenn has a photo up of typical Iranian people walking down the street what appears to be a like almost every other modern cosmopolitan city. A few months back I was searching the net for a photo like that and came across quite a few Iranian bulletin boards and blogs. They talked about their new tattoos, had links to downloads of American pop music, and photos of Playmates – all of which is officially banned. When Norman and the neoncons drop their bombs those bombs will not just kill the most extremist elements of Iran’s rulers they’ll kill people that embrace freedom and popular culture as ardently as most Americans. Why Podhoretz and his like minded followers are not considered insane crackpots shows how far outside the norms of decency the far right has strayed.

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” – General Omar N. Bradley

Callanish wallpaper and Summer Solstice

Callanish Stones – Scotland

In case anyone forgot its summer solstice today which means the annual report on people going to Stonehenge – Summer Solstice Celebrated at Stonehenge. To me the the Callanish Stones are prettier and they were designed to mark the passing of the seasons by the sun and moon. I guess they just need a better press agent.

Republican delusions are after all cheaper then Prozac

New Gallup data show confidence in Congress at all time low

Just 14% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

Of course the fringe Right is all over this, but as usual their take is all spin and little substance. The Right is part of the poll and of course they get pissed over whenever Senator Reid suggests that the generals that Bush chooses to run the quagmire in the Middle-East have been better at kissing up to The Decider then they have been stellar strategists. The reason many rand and file Democrats and a growing number of moderate Republicans are unhappy is the perception at least that Democrats are not doing enough to get us out of the Iraq debacle. So people aren’t mad at Democrats for what they’re doing, they’re mad because of what they’re not during. I’m sure the movers and shakers at Democrat central have seen the poll. If Congressional Democrats were afraid to be too agressive on cutting spending for Iraq, they now have the official blessing of the American people to block funds until Bush agrees to some time lines. The recent news that American troops might be Iraq for the next decade probably hurt Democrats more then Bush. Ten more years of wasted lives and tax dollars is exactly what Bush and the war dead enders want. If Democrats want to pick up a quick thirty point increase all they have to do is stonewall spending for the mess in Mesopotamia. The wing-nuttery such as Glenn Reynolds, Right Wing News, etc has to be truly delusional if they interpret this poll as meaning voters want to bring back Tom Delay and the glory days of the best Congress that dirty money could buy. The Republican Congress that guarded against investigations into Bush’s history making lies about Iraq like a gang of eager little guard beavers. The Right is welcome to continue to swallow in such nonsense if they choose, Republican delusions are after all cheaper then Prozac.

The fights on the right – This is a ridiculous column by Jeff Jacoby about how the Right is just so lively and so engaged in ideas because of some differences over Iraq, abortion, and immigration. Republicans politicians who have controlled every brnach of government for seven years have suddenly decided that its an issue and that is the only hot button issue truly showing a party fissure – its the business Right that enjoys the benefit of cheap labor from illegals versus the xenophobic Right. That family sore spot has always been there and is a large part of why Republicans have given the issue nothing but lip service for years. It’s never was an ideas issue, it was and always will be for the Right about money versus fear. Crooked Timber writing about the same article,

Let’s take it from the top: if the Republicans have got a guy who wants to spend money building a wall against Canada, that’s intellectual vibrancy. If the Democrats get someone who wants to expand health insurance or combat global warming, that’s a canary dying in the coalmine of the Democratic party’s political extremism?

It’s a nice illustration of a dilemma for Democrats. The only way they can get credit for ‘having ideas’ is by turning Republican…

Just for the record the only Republican that has any measurably different views on Iraq is Ron Paul, No Debating It: Republicans Offer No Plan for Iraq, Fail to Challenge 50 Year Strategy – June 6, 2007 

Autumn Maple – Indiana

 Autumn Maple – Indiana

YOUNG George Willard got out of bed at four in the morning. It was April and the young tree leaves were just coming out of their buds. The trees along the residence streets in Winesburg are maple and the seeds are winged. When the wind blows they whirl crazily about, filling the air and making a carpet underfoot.
George came downstairs into the hotel office carrying a brown leather bag. His trunk was packed for departure. Since two o’clock he had been awake thinking of the journey he was about to take and wondering what he would find at the end of his journey.

from Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

It is my belief that there are ‘absolutes’ in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there on purpose by men who knew what the words meant and meant their prohibitions to be ‘absolutes

In the little world they live in the rabid Right thinks they’re normal and there’s something wrong with normal people. Actor and former Senator Fred Thompson who I previously said was running for president isn’t officially running, but on the other hand if it quacks like a duck it probably is. None of the GOP candidate seem to running as themselves: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are running as recycled versions of Bush, Mitt Romney is running as a pair of flip-flops, Sam Brownback is running as Jerry Falwell and Thompson is running as either Dick Cheney or the survivor of a space alien kidnapping. How else could one explain Thompson’s depraved behavior, Thompson Links Reid To 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists, Claims He Is ‘Encouraging Our Enemies’

Reid “made his statement about General Pace on a conference call with fringe elements of the blogosphere who think we’re the bad guys,” Thompson says. “Whether he means to or not, he’s encouraging our enemies to believe that they are winning the critical war of will.”

Thompson also compares 9/11 conspiracy theories to claims that the war in Iraq was a “sinister Republican plot.” He says, “Reid has led the attack on the administration, with Nancy Pelosi, charging it lied and tricked America into supporting the war.” Thompson claims that “multiple hearings and investigations into pre-war intelligence findings” have “debunked this paranoid myth.”

I can’t find a single statement by the distinguished Democratic Senator Reid of Nevada in which he endorses any kind of 9-11 conspiracy theory. So that aspect of Thompson’s accusation tells us more about Fred’s mental stability then it does about Senator Reid. As ThinkProgress points out the administration manipulated and distorted intelligence about Iraq. Pentagon IG: White House Refused To Cooperate With Investigation Into Manipulated Iraq Intel

The Bushies propaganda campaign in conjunction to sending the nation into an unnecessary and preemptive war is a serious matter and one of the lowest moral points in our nation’s history. Everyone but the fringe Right knows that Bush administration officials ran a disinformation campaign that rivals the most unscrupulous authoritarian regimes of the last century, Democrats Tally ‘Misleading’ Iraq Statements

“Prior to the war in Iraq, the president and his advisors repeatedly claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that jeopardized the security of the United States. The failure to discover these weapons after the war has led to questions about whether the president and his advisors were candid in describing Iraq’s threat,” the report said.

Most of the statements were misleading because they expressed certainty where none existed or failed to acknowledge the doubts of intelligence officials, according to the report. Ten statements were false, it said.

“Most of the misleading statements about Iraq – 161 statements – were made prior to the start of the war in Iraq. But 76 misleading statements were made by the five administration officials after the start of the war to justify the decision to go to war,” the report said.

Contrary to Lazy Fred’s assertions Senator Reid is trying to disentangle the country from a disastrous and ultimately unproductive debacle that George and Dick manipulated the country into. That’s called patriotism. Thompson seems to have failed the first test of a presidential candidate, love of country and respect for the American people. On the Right those are considered stellar qualities, lying for the cause – the Conservative Movement has taken precedent over what is best for America for almost half a century but normal Americans tend to frown on being used and abused by over the top right-wing propaganda.

Bob Geiger has more on Lazy Fred and his view of netroots bloggers, Here’s How Fringe I Am, Fred Thompson

GAO Identifies White House Failures to Follow Congressional Mandates

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office released a report finding that, in addition to the Bush Administration’s unprecedented use of signing statements claiming unilateral authority to disregard provisions of congressional Acts (discussed in depth by Professor Neil Kinkopf of the Georgia State University College of Law in his ACS Issue Brief, “Signing Statements and the President’s Authority to Refuse to Enforce the Law”), the Administration has also followed through on such statements by refusing to execute nearly one-third of congressional mandates among those selected for study.

Whenever you hear a Republican talk about law and order you’re just listening to hollow meaningless rhetoric. It is a Potemkin puppet show where you see Bush sign the law, but in reality never obeys the law. When President Harry Truman tried to seize U.S. steel mills in a time of war, the steel mills brought suit, In YOUNGSTOWN CO. v. SAWYER, 343 U.S. 579 (1952)

(c) Authority of the President to issue such an order in the circumstances of this case cannot be implied from the aggregate of his powers under Article II of the Constitution. Pp. 587-589.

(d) The Order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President’s military power as commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. P. 587.

(e) Nor can the Order be sustained because of the several provisions of Article II which grant executive power to the President. Pp. 587-589.

(f) The power here sought to be exercised is the lawmaking power, which the Constitution vests in the Congress alone, in both good and bad times. Pp. 587-589.

(g) Even if it be true that other Presidents have taken possession of private business enterprises without congressional authority in order to settle labor disputes, Congress has not thereby lost its exclusive constitutional authority to make the laws necessary and proper to carry out all powers vested by the Constitution “in the Government of the United States, or any Department or Officer thereof.” Pp. 588-589.

Mr. Justice Black delivered the opinion of the Court and wrote.

We are asked to decide whether the President was acting within his constitutional power when he issued an order directing the Secretary of Commerce to take possession of and operate most of the Nation’s steel mills. The mill owners argue that the President’s order amounts to lawmaking, a legislative function which the Constitution has expressly confided to the Congress and not to the President.

[ ]…Nor can the seizure order be sustained because of the several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the President. In the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker. The Constitution limits his functions in the lawmaking process to the recommending of laws he thinks wise and the vetoing of laws he thinks bad. And the Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make laws which the President is to execute. The [343 U.S. 579, 588] first section of the first article says that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States . . . .”

The only course left for Congress is impeachment. Bush and some far Right radicals like John Yoo have asserted that Bush has king like powers when clearly that was not the founding fathers intentions or the court’s interpretation even in times of actual wars like the Korean conflict. The Bush administration will simply continue to assert they have powers that exceed those under the Constitution until Congress asserts its rightful legal authority. U.S. Steel actually acted against the Truman administration when Congress failed to act. As the courts noted had Steel not acted a legal precedent would have been set. It is incumbent upon our elected representatives to act even when it may not be popular or easy to do so. In regards to Bush’s signing statements there is no private entity that can step in, Congress is the only entity that force Bush to respect his Constitutional mandate to uphold laws passed by Congress.

“It is my belief that there are ‘absolutes’ in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there on purpose by men who knew what the words meant and meant their prohibitions to be ‘absolutes.’ ” Justice Hugo L. Black

“People love high ideals, but they got to be about 33-percent plausible”

The General’s Report How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties

At best, Taguba said, “Rumsfeld was in denial.” Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, which ran the war in Iraq. By the time he walked into Rumsfeld’s conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders on the report, but he received no indication that any of them, with the exception of General Schoomaker, had actually read it.

Firedoglake describes it this way, Violations

For the Bush Administration, first and foremost, it has been consistently about maintaining a public level of plausible deniability for each and every scandal that has arisen during their tenure in office. Over and over, the phrase we have heard is that an official could not look into particular charges because of “an ongoing criminal investigation.”

What that has meant, for close to seven years now, is that when a substantial problem arises in any executive agency, that problem is left to fester — for days, months, even years — while members of the Bush Administration sit back and bide their time, and allow the problem to continue unabated under the cloak of plausible deniability — unless and until someone outside the Administration begins to ask the tough questions that need to be asked.

This is a large part of what the Bushies did and they did so in relative safety as long as they had a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress. But there is an element of the Bushies lawless shenanigans that is much more straight forward: When asked, deny. When evidence suggests that they are being less then truthful, deny. When pushed against the wall, say you don’t recall. When historians and political scientists look at political movements especially in the modern era they frequently start with the question, how did this happen, how did the people let this happen. The Bushies are seen as leaders. They’re Americans. As cynical as our culture is many people across the political spectrum do not want to believe that their leaders, regardless of politics will look into a TV camera lie, distort and mislead. When the Bushies go into denial mode they offer people a thread of doubt. Many people just hang onto that thread and hope against hope that same of their fellow Americans that have been voted into positions of power and trust did not or have not betrayed them. Deny and don’t recall, its simple and it works. Throw in some static from the right-wing noise machine and you have an administration that has operated outside the realm of the law and the moral obligation to act on behalf of the common good. More here, Of Course They Knew

Bush Aides’ Misuse of E-Mail Detailed by House Committee

“It is troubling that so many senior White House officials, including Karl Rove and his former deputy Sara Taylor, were engaging in an effort to avoid oversight and accountability by ignoring the laws meant to ensure a public record of official government business,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “This extensive end run around the laws leads one to wonder what these officials wanted to hide from the public and Congress.”

On right on cue we get some plausible deniability,

White House press secretary Tony Snow declined to respond in detail but said the purpose of the RNC accounts was to make sure officials did not violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of official government resources for partisan political activities.

If you’re an average quiet suburban street Republican voter there you have your thin sliver of hope that its all just politics. But that’s the thing. The plausible part only works if you’re very partisan and have decided not to see the forests for the trees or because of the monotonous regularity of Republican scandals you’ve suffering from scandal fatigue and started tuning everything out.

The committee did not say how much of this e-mail pertained to official government business but noted it received partial inventories of e-mails from some of those who communicated with White House officials using RNC and Bush-Cheney ‘o4 accounts. Inventories from the Transportation Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Election Commission said that many of these e-mails were about official appointments and personnel matters, the report said.

CREW ASKS FOR HOUSE INVESTIGATION INTO WHITE HOUSE VIOLATIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS ACT

CREW has learned that to fulfill its statutory obligations under the PRA, the White House email system automatically copies all messages created by staff and sends them to the White House Office of Records Management for archiving. It appears that the White House deliberately bypassed the automatic archiving function of its own email system that was designed to ensure compliance with the PRA.

Tony Snow might want to explain why Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove’s former assistant Susan Ralston used three different e-mail accounts to communicate with convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Wa it to comply with the Hatch Act or was it to cover the Whitehouse tracks. If she used outside e-mail accounts during working hours on the Whitehouse’s taxpayer provided computers why was she under the impression that she should be able to conduct political business on the taxpayer’s dime and equipment.

Ironically where there is lawlessness in the Whitehouse you’ll probably find former Whitehouse counsel and our current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Not standing up for law, order and ethics, but lurking in the shadows: Investigation Uncovers ‘Extensive Destruction’ Of RNC Emails, Violations Of Records Act

– Gonzales may have known about RNC account use. According to a deposition from Rove’s former assistant Susan Ralston (pdf), in 2001, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales “may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.” The committee calls for an investigation into Gonzales’ actions on this matter.

Pakistan says Rushdie knighthood may spark terrorism

Pakistan demanded on Monday that Britain withdraw a knighthood awarded to author Salman Rushdie, as a government minister said the honour gave a justification for suicide attacks by Muslims.

Angry protesters in several cities torched British flags and beat them with their shoes in protest at the accolade for the Indian-born writer of “The Satanic Verses” and chanted “Death to Britain, death to Rushdie.”

This is the Pakistan that is run by a military dictator. Whose population generally sympathizes with Al-Queda and they’re telling a stable western democracy how to conduct its affairs.

“We demand an apology by the British government. Their action has hurt the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims.” (Pakistani Religious Affairs Minister Ijaz-ul-Haq)

Welcome to the 21st century. Free speech trumps religious dogma every time. By the way Mr. Ijaz-ul-Haq lighten up and get a little humility you do not speak for all the world’s Muslims. The guy sounds the Pakistani version of Tony Snow.

“People love high ideals, but they got to be about 33-percent plausible” – Will Rogers

should Chicken Little have an open talk with his father and clear the air or keep searching for Band-Aid solutions

Bush has managed to slip America the shaft once again. The “surge” isn’t going to be a  tactic used to quell sectarian violence. To most Americans surge sounds like a temporary situation, a series of miltary operations necssary to accomplish some short term goals. Once those goals are accomplished the surge would be over and those troops used for the surge would be returned home. Liberals and Republicans that were critical of the surge and called it what it actually seemed to be, an escalation were right. Bush used the term surge to slip another con past Congress and the American people.  Petraeus: Iraq ‘Challenges’ to Last for Years

Conditions in Iraq will not improve sufficiently by September to justify a drawdown of U.S. military forces, the top commander in Iraq said yesterday.

Asked whether he thought the job assigned to an additional 30,000 troops deployed as the centerpiece of President Bush’s new war strategy would be completed by then, Gen. David H. Petraeus replied: “I do not, no. I think that we have a lot of heavy lifting to do.”

Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, his diplomatic counterpart in Baghdad, said a key report they will deliver to Washington in September will include what Crocker called “an assessment of what the consequences might be if we pursue other directions.” Noting the “unhelpful roles” being played by Iran and Syria in Iraq, Crocker said: “We’ve got to consider what could happen.”

Into year five and Crocker thinks “we” should consider what will happen. They knew years ago that Iran’s influence in Iraq would be greater with Saddam removed and the truth all along has been that rather then come to terms with Iran the administration now wants the U.S. to stay in Iraq for some undetermined time. A time when Iran becomes a liberal democracy? That’s not going to happen as long as Bush keeps surging because just like American hardliners use Iraq and casting events there in terms of wining or losing, Iran’s hardliners use Iraq and the American military presence there as a propaganda talking point to stir up fears of American military expansion. Its a merry-go-round with neither Bush or Iran willing to stop spinning their wheels.

But since the deployment of five additional U.S. combat brigades began in early spring, the overall level of violence has not abated and in some respects has increased, according to a Pentagon report issued last week. Little progress has been reported in achieving the political benchmarks spelled out in the funding legislation as well as a revision of the Iraqi constitution to provide a better balance of regional and sectarian factions in the government.

Bush keeps saying we can’t leave because Iraq will be taken over by factions that would be a threat to the U.S. That is just plain absurd. The factions in Iraq are capable of maintaining an insurgency, but they are historically unable to field a credible military threat. Remember how fast Saddam’s “elite” Republican Guard fail after the initial invasion or how fast and decisively Israel defeated Egypt in the Six Day War.  Bush and his dead-end supporters honestly believe some of this paranoid garbage about Iraq and Iran, but much of it is part of their Chicken-Little routine. They’ve been playing the sky is falling game for so long that they don’t know how to stop or have enough humility to admit they were wrong and will continue to be wrong.

More chilling effects from the right-wing noise machine. They can’t win the war of ideas so they sue to shut-up those that track their lies and distortions, Right-Winger Sues Blogger And Wins 

Yellow Stone Falls 

Labor, Environment, Energy 

Having gathered 59 votes — one short of what’s needed to stop a filibuster — Senator Richard Bryan nearly passed legislation to raise fuel economy standards in 1990. But one year later, when Bryan had a very good shot at getting the 60 votes he needed, the environmental movement cut a deal with the automakers. In exchange for the auto industry’s opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, environmentalists agreed to drop its support for the Bryan bill. “[I]t was scuppered by the environmentalists, of all people, ” New York Times auto industry reporter Keith Bradsher notes bitterly.3

Tragically, had Bryan and environmentalists succeeded in 1991, they would have dramatically slowed the rise of SUVs in the coming decade and reduced the pressure on the Refuge — a patch of wilderness that the Republicans again used to smack around environmentalists under President George W. Bush. The environmental community’s failure in 1991 was compounded by the fact that the Bryan bill “helped scare Japanese automakers into producing larger models,” a shift that ultimately diminished the power of both the UAW and environmentalists.

Hopefully the UAW and environmentalists have learned something from that fiasco. I remember that the conventional wisdom was for Democrats not to push CAFE too hard because it would hurt unions. That wisdom has come back to haunt all of us especially auto-workers because their employers were so sure they knew what the trends in auto sales would be, an unsustainable love affair with gas guzzling trucks and SUVs.

Abby Mallard: [Smiling broadly] Runt, should Chicken Little have an open talk with his father and clear the air…
[winks]
Abby Mallard: [Frowning] … or keep searching for Band-Aid solutions and never deal with the problem?
Runt of the Litter: Pfft! Band-Aid solutions!

Chicken Little (2005)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed

Vote for me, dimwit – How the electorate is irrational

Instead, he identifies four biases that prompt voters systematically to demand policies that make them worse off. First, people do not understand how the pursuit of private profits often yields public benefits: they have an anti-market bias. Second, they underestimate the benefits of interactions with foreigners: they have an anti-foreign bias. Third, they equate prosperity with employment rather than production: Mr Caplan calls this the “make-work bias”. Finally, they tend to think economic conditions are worse than they are, a bias towards pessimism.

The thing about economics is that to a remarkable degree almost any prognostications will have some nugget of truth in it and there is a tendency to say that C happened because we did B. Correlations are frequently mistaken for cause and effect.The article doesn’t say how Caplan arrived at his conclusions, whether there was some kind of polling or sample population study.

* Maybe I’m giving people too much credit, but I think people understand that earning a living and producing profits generally contributes to a better society. People sometimes vote against better economic policies because they get side tracked by social issues – see –  What’s the Matter with Kansas? 

Frank describes the rise of conservatism and the so-called “far right” in the social and political landscape of Kansas. He finds extraordinary irony in working-class Kansans’ overwhelming support for Republican politicians, despite the fact that, in his view, the laissez faire economic policies of the Republican party are wreaking havoc on their communities and livelihoods for the benefit of the “extremely wealthy”. Meanwhile, he says, the party fails to deliver on the “moral” issues (such as abortion and gay rights) which brought the support of cultural conservatives in the first place — deepening a cycle of frustration aimed at cultural liberalism.

Also while hard to see in the age of super profits and salaries, but many Americans view the blind pursuit of money as greed ( decadence is still a vice to average Americans, while corporate America has embraced it) That pursuing money just for the sake of having more stuff isn’t a virtue. When you have the chairman of Exxon getting a 400 million dollar parachute working class Americans know on some level that no human being on this planet actually earns that kind of compensation.

* Interactions with foreigners. Probably true for working class Americans, but not so for middle-management on up. This is part of why the Right is so split on immigration. Vineyard owners, restaurant owners, landscapers, etc see the benefit of plentiful cheap labor. While many working class Americans see them as both an economic and existential threat.

* Confusing employment, prosperity and production. They draw something of a straight line between doing work in the most productive way and general prosperity. This is where economists get their ivory tower reputation. It is all too easy to look at a graph of productivity and general prosperity coordinates and say this is the way it should be. If you’re one of the let’s say loggers that was laid off because a new truck with a crew of four can do the work that used to take twelve then its not so easy to say let’s always opt for the greater productivity. Do politicians exploit that situation, Sure, but that doesn’t make the hardship any less real. This new productivity-employment gap is not something that our economy and culture excels at.

* Bias towards pessimism. Again there is a disconnect between professional market watchers, numbers on spread sheets and workers. When you have noticed the three decades long trend of manufacturing jobs going to Asia and then your white collar college educated programmer or chemical engineer neighbor loses their job to outsourcing you tend to think things aren’t going well because you fell that you might be next. So even though you still have a salary and health insurance you fell some pessimism. U.S. Losing Its Middle-Class Neighborhoods 

Overall do voters vote for the wrong people and for policies that hurt them. They have for over two centuries. One would think that with all the media and information available that voters would get up to speed on issues faster and make better decisions. My personal theory is that much of what people see, read, and hear about politics has because like white noise always present in the background and many people just tune it out. They feel a certain amount of overload.

Liberal Values has their own take on Dimwit Voters and Their Biases

Free Market Bias: Republicans claimed to be the defenders of the free market while pursuing efforts contrary to true capitalism, including corporate welfare, collusion between businesses and regulators, and the K Street Project.

Speaking of Republicans and free markets, Help with home buying revealed in guilty plea 

The housing transactions were part of a bribery scheme involving military contractors Mitchell Wade of Washington, D.C., and Brent Wilkes of Poway, according to Cunningham’s guilty plea and other court documents.

In return for numerous favors – including the purchase of Cunningham’s Del Mar house at an inflated price, the financing of his Rancho Santa Fe home and gifts of Persian rugs, antique furniture, a Rolls-Royce and free vacations – the two contractors received millions of dollars in contracts through the House Appropriations Committee, where Cunningham sat, according to federal prosecutors.

Wade has pleaded guilty in the case but has not yet been sentenced.

Senator Blocks Vote on Subpoenas Over Eavesdropping

A Republican senator blocked a vote in the Judiciary Committee on whether to authorize subpoenas to the Justice Department to obtain secret legal opinions and other documents related to the National Security Agency’s program of domestic eavesdropping. The action by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona will block the vote for a week. After the vote next Thursday, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the committee, can decide whether to issue the subpoenas or use them as leverage in negotiations with the Bush administration over access to the documents.

Kyl (R-AZ) had a simple choice, stand up for the president’s wrong doing or stand up for the Constitution and American values. Like almost all modern Republicans he put partisan ideology before country. Kyl would have fit perfectly in the old Soviet Politburo.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed” – Mahatma Gandhi

This administration’s handling of the war has been characterized by deceit, mismanagement and a shocking failure to understand the social and political forces that influence events in the Middle East

Some people are upset that Senator Harry Reid said that Marine Gen. Peter Pace has been less then effective, The Politico Fails Journalism 100

Here’s exactly what Reid said:

    “I guess the president, uh, he’s gotten rid of Pace because he could not get him confirmed here in the Senate… Pace is also a yes-man for the president and I told him to his face, I laid it out to him last time he came to see me, I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.”

So, did Reid utter the word “incompetent” in the same sentence with General Pace’s name on the conference call? Yes, he did.

Senator Reid issued this statement today in which other language is used, but amounts to the same thing, Reid: Americans Deserve Open, Honest Assessment Of Situation On The Ground In Iraq 

“The DOD’s latest quarterly report on Iraq confirms that the war is headed in a dangerous direction. Attacks on U.S. forces are up, not down. And Iraqi political leaders are frozen in a dangerous stalemate. It’s clear the President’s current strategy is not working and a change at every front is required if we are to succeed. That is why I was pleased when Secretary Gates announced his intention to nominate a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“General Peter Pace is a distinguished military veteran and public servant. Unfortunately, in my opinion he was never as candid as he should have been about the conduct and progress of this war.

Damn that Harry Reid for being honest. If the Right doesn’t pounce on this guy and teach him a lesson pretty soon he’ll be telling some more truths and then others will follow his example then its just going to be chaos. That Pace has been less then blunt about the situation is Iraq is a disservice to the military and the American public. Pace was incompetent. he got the job because of his ideological credentials – he has some wacky ideas about American culture that jibbed with Bush’s. Pace was never known as a brilliant military strategist. With the nation tangled up in a quagmire now is not the time to hedge the truth. That seems to the Right’s problem with the distinguished Senator, he’s not towing the line. Of course the usual chorus of infantile  Republican bloggers/pundits are using this to paint Reid as anti-military; strange way to characterize a man that recently co-sponsored a bill to help vets and military- Reid Cosponsors Bill To Support Troops, Veterans, And Their Families families

Note: Because of the way the questions and answers bounced back and forth between the bloggers and Reid, the Senator might not have been referring to Pace as incompetent, but rather Bush.

Of course the usual double standard is in play. It is perfectly OK for Republicans to criticize Generals, but not Democrats – McCain Hypocritically Attacks Reid For Criticizing General 

McCain’s outrage is pure hypocrisy. Last February, when Gen. George Casey stepped down as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and was nominated as Army chief of staff. McCain was highly critical of his appointment, going so far as to issue an “extremely rare public reprimand” to Casey during a Senate hearing

I checked over at the right-wing blog Capitan’s Quarters and while he reports McCain’s criticism of Reid, but of course he fails to report McCain’s hypocrisy. Let’s go with the charge that Senator Reid said Pace was incompetent. So what. That is the Senator (or any citizen’s) right and his duty as a representative of the American people to tell the truth as he sees it. The Right as usual has come to the aid of the spinmiesters, pumping this story like they caught a robber climbing through a window rather then an honorable Senator’s legitimate criticism . This administration and it’s supporters can’t stand the light of public debate and denunciation that originates from genuine concern for the mission and the men and women sacrificing their lives to carry out that mission. It’s the Right’s Big Brother obsession with controlling the narrative. Where were the right-wingers when the Bush cabal purged General Casey for the same ideological reasons they canned the U.S. Attorneys,  FLASHBACK: One Year Ago, Bush Said He Would ‘Rely Upon Gen. Casey’s’ Advice On Troop Levels 

But Casey was always an outspoken opponent of the escalation. As early as December 2005, Casey publicly warned against an increased U.S. presence in Iraq:

    As I’ve said before this is not a conventional war, and in this type of war that we’re fighting, more is not necessarily better. In fact, in Iraq, less coalition at this point in time, is better. Less is better because it doesn’t feed the notion of occupation, it doesn’t work the culture of dependency.

Again, in January 2007, Casey insisted that an escalation of troops was not necessary and could be “counterproductive.” But Bush quickly canned Casey, claiming that Casey “had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory.”

Did Captain Ed or the other right-wing bloggers come to Casy’s defense when he dared question The Decider Bush. Of course not, because the draft avoider from Connecticut said in so many words that Casey was incompetent. It was a clear choice between supporting a knowledgeable military strategist and a frat boy and the Right supported the frat boy.

Now this is outrageous, The Clinton administration has hired a state deputy political director who is actually a non-citizen. Nope, wait I got that wrong, the Republican party searched high and low for a U.S. citizen qualified for the job and couldn’t find one. State GOP goes outside the U.S. to hire top aide 

Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was hired this year as the state GOP’s chief operations officer. But neither new official has experience in managing a political campaign in the nation’s most populous state — and as foreign citizens, neither is eligible to vote.

Tony Snow is under the impression that he works for General Eisenhower or Henry V,

Q: Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?

SNOW: Yeah, the President. The President is in the war every day.

Q: Come on, that isn’t my question –

SNOW: Well, no, if you ask any president who is a commander in chief –

Q: On the frontlines, wherever…

SNOW: The President.

Tony needs to look up the word humility and then read the definition to Dubya.

Let’s remember that some of Bush’s harshest critics have been generals that worked with him and Donald Rumsfeld – Retired Generals Slam Bush’s Iraq Plan 

The President’s troop build-up — already taking political fire from both Democrats and Republicans — came under withering attack on Thursday from a panel of retired generals on Capitol Hill, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

“The proposed solution is to send more troops and it won’t work. The addition of 21,000 troops is too little and too late,” former Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar said.

Hoar once commanded all American forces in the Middle East and has nothing good to say about the war.

“This administration’s handling of the war has been characterized by deceit, mismanagement and a shocking failure to understand the social and political forces that influence events in the Middle East,” Hoar said.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who commanded a division in the first Gulf War and was consulted by the president in drawing up the new Iraq strategy said, “They’re going to try to muscle this thing out in the next 24 months with an urban counterinsurgency plan that I personally believe, with all due respect, is a fool’s errand.”

It will take political compromise to end Iraq’s sectarian violence, and retired Lt. Gen William Odom, who once headed Army intelligence, doubts it will happen.

“The Sunnis certainly are not committed to it, and I don’t think the Shiites have ever been committed to it,” Odom said.

Even the build-up’s lone supporter, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane, acknowledged that success depends on an unknown quantity — the performance of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Malaki and his government.

The Rightie blogs have also been talking a lot of pure smack about ear marks and how Democrats have failed to make reforms, When Chutzpah is an Understatement

The truth is that a lot of progress has already been made. On the first day of the new Congress, rules were adopted that:

* Prohibited the use of earmarks to reward or punish a member of Congress for any vote he or she might cast.
* Required that any member of Congress requesting a district-oriented earmark disclose in writing the name and address of the intended recipient, the purpose of the earmark, and whether the member has a financial interest in the organization or would benefit personally from the inclusion of the earmark.
* Required that all matters before a conference committee (including earmarks) must be subject to full and open debate, that a final version of a conference report must be voted on by a meeting open to all members of the conference committee, and that no item (including earmarks) may be added to the legislation after the conference committee has adjourned.

If actions speak louder than words, the clearest message was sent when the new Congress excluded earmarks entirely from the nine fiscal year 2007 appropriation bills they had to complete in January—more than three months into the fiscal year.