Where are they taking her? Where all the other bad nuts go to, to the garbage chute

We’re all under suspicion, ACLU warns of terror-watch list inflation

The American Civil Liberties Union is warning today that by July there could be as many as one million names in terrorist watch-list databases maintained by the federal government, with many of the names those of innocent people who get repeatedly hassled by additional security scrutiny…

[ ]…“At the current rate of growth, the U.S. watch lists will contain a million records by July. If there were a million terrorists in this country, our cities would be in ruins,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program. “The absurd bloating of the terrorist watch lists is yet another example of how incompetence by our security apparatus threatens our rights without offering any real security.”

Terror list inflation isn’t a new phenomenon, remember this report from 2006, Come One, Come All, Join the Terror Target List

It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”

The first excerpt from the Baltimore Sun had the nauseatingly predictable response from one of the last 25% of Americans who still support Bush , that any objection to the governments overzealousness and probable incompetence the same thing as being pro terrorist, pro getting Americans killed, etc. The idea of the government putting a million Americans on a list of suspected terrorists doesn’t phase the security first, Constitutional democracy be damned crowd one bit. How sad and pathetic that so many Americans cannot put the threats that the nation faces in some perspective. Democracy itself and all the freedoms and guarantees of due process and protections against government excess have become the enemy according to Bush and his supporters on the Right. Safety has become the new Liberty Bell, the new Bill of Rights; liberty and any checks on government power are plots by liberals to delver the entire country into the hands of radicals that will surely take away our Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendars and make us all wear burkas. Even if the threat of terrorism that originated outside the U.S. was completely halted tomorrow we’d still be facing domestic terrorists. To credit Bush with preventing any terror attacks since 9-11 is partisan and delusional brown nosing at its worse and ultimately not true. We’ve had terror attacks since 9-11, but since they were home grown and in many cases members of the Right they’re not counted, The Terrorists Who Aren’t in the News

After 9/11, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups received 554 envelopes containing white powder and messages like: “You have been exposed to anthrax. … We are going to kill all of you.” They were signed by the Army of God, a group that hosts Scripture-filled web pages for “Anti-Abortion Heroes of the Faith,” including minister Paul Hill, Michael Griffin and James Kopp, all convicted of murdering abortion providers, and a convicted clinic bomber, the Rev. Michael Bray. Another of their “martyrs,” Clayton Waagner, mailed anthrax letters while a fugitive on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list for anti-abortion related crimes.

Anti-government white supremacist guilty

Van Crocker, a farmhand from McKenzie, Miss., was arrested in 2004 after the FBI agent, posing as an employee of the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, gave him a water-filled Sarin gas canister and a small quantity of C-4 plastic explosives.

Sarin, a nerve gas, is considered one of the world’s deadliest chemical agents.

The jury heard several hours of the secretly recorded tapes, in which Crocker used racial slurs besides making terroristic threats against the government.

McCain’s election strategy is becoming clearer. Its the one he borrowed from George and Dick, elect him or you’re with al-Qaeda , Clash on Iraq Could Be McCain-Obama Preview

Speaking to 7,000 voters at Ohio State University on Wednesday, Obama answered McCain’s mocking tone with his own.

“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying, ‘Well let me give you some news, Barack, al-Qaeda is in Iraq.’ Like I wasn’t reading the papers, like I didn’t know what was going on. I said, ‘Well, first of all, I do know that al-Qaeda is in Iraq; that’s why I’ve said we should continue to strike al-Qaeda targets.

“I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al-Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.” The crowd roared its approval. “I’ve got some news for John McCain. He took us into a war along with George Bush that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11, and that would be al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that is stronger now than at any time since 2001.

“So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that’s cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars.”

It’s a circular shaft. Bush invades Iraq lets al-Qaeda in, has not sealed Iraq’s borders in the interval so foreign fighters keep coming in from Saudi Arabia and North Africa and we must stay there until….well according to McCain, a hundred years. So McCain plans to continue the Bush policy of making Iraq the number one recruiting tool and training camp for the next several generations of terrorists. Instead of ever-lasting-gumdrops we have the ever lasting self perpetuating war.

Mr. Salt: [as the squirrels take Veruca] Where are they taking her?
Willy Wonka: Where all the other bad nuts go to, to the garbage chute.
Mr. Salt: Where does the chute go?
Willy Wonka: …To the incinerator. But don’t worry, we only light it on tuesdays.
Mike Teavee: Today IS Tuesday.
Willy Wonka: [after a pause] Well, there’s always a chance they decided not to light it today…

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)


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Seattle Skyline wallpaper

My first sentence was going to be something along the line of, well some people have taken to calling Senator Obama an “empty suit”. Then two things occurred to me. We’ve had an empty suit for eight years – rich man’s brat of a son that enjoyed a the family welfare plan as he spent twenty years as a drunk and occasional coke head who narrowly escaped the draft by joining the friendly skies of the Texas Air National Guard. Then again “empty suit” isn’t the only avenue of attack Right is trying against Obama. Much of it is about ethnicity and religion.  Republicans like to play like they’re offended that people think of them as the racist or xenophobic party, but they keep reverting to that type of gutter politics when the going gets tough, The Freak Show

Time magazine political analyst Mark Halperin (formerly of ABC and The Note) has a post up dispensing free advice to John McCain on how he can attack Obama. The pearls of wisdom dispensed include:

5. Make an issue of Obama’s acknowledged drug use. 6. Allow some supporters to risk being accused of using the race card when criticizing Obama. … 11. Emphasize Barack Hussein Obama’s unusual name and exotic background through a Manchurian Candidate prism.

Halperin’s clear implication is to avoid making this presidential campaign about the issues because McCain is likely get get hammered if everyone starts acting like an adult. Forgive me for linking to The New Republic, but let’s not punish good writers just because they write for a magazine that has lost its way,The Audacity of Data – Barack Obama’s surprisingly non-ideological policy shop. Plenty moderate stuff that appeals to most Americans, though the kinds of policies that drives the fringe Right crazy. Ezra Klein notes that much of it sounds like Clinton adviser Gene Sperling. Barack only gets progressive on tech and government reform. Obama’s energy policy is greener, but only in shades. If he should be elected president hopefully he’ll take another look at biofuels – they’re a step backward. The point is that for those that haven’t already made up their mind Obama has plenty of solid if not innovative wonk to dive into. American Street describes Obama’s policies as pragmatic. I’ve got my fingers crossed for pragmatic and competent, two things sorely missed the last eight years.

Tech issues, net neutrality have been around for a while now and they’re likely to gain even more important as large corporations dig in,  Grassroots Support? Or Astroturf?

How big are the stakes in the so-called network neutrality debate now raging before Congress and federal regulators?

Consider this: One side in the debate actually went to the trouble of hiring people off the street to pack a Federal Communications Commission meeting yesterday—and effectively keep some of its opponents out of the room.

Broadband giant Comcast—the subject of the F.C.C. hearing on network neutrality at the Harvard Law School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts—acknowledged that it did exactly that.

Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury said that the company paid some people to arrive early and hold places in the queue for local Comcast employees who wanted to attend the hearing.

Some of those placeholders, however, did more than wait in line: They filled many of the seats at the meeting, according to eyewitnesses. As a result, scores of Comcast critics and other members of the public were denied entry because the room filled up well before the beginning of the hearing.

Clinton and Obama are both on record defending net neutrality.

In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled

From HuffPo in response to the non-issue in the e-mail attacks circulating that Barack Obama not didn’t show proper respect for the flag, Does This Make George H.W. Bush Unpatriotic?


Turkey ( a predominately Muslim country by the way), a long time U.S. ally and member of NATO launched an attack into Iraq, Up to 10,000 Turkish troops launch an incursion which threatens to destabilise the country’s only peaceful region

“There are severe clashes,” said Ahmed Danees, the head of foreign relations for the PKK. “Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and eight wounded. There are no PKK casualties.” Turkish television said that the number of Turkish troops involved was between 3,000 and 10,000, and they had moved 16 miles inside Iraq.

But the escalating Turkish attacks are destabilising the Kurdish region of Iraq which is the one peaceful part of the country and has visibly benefited from the US invasion.

The Iraqi Kurds are America’s closest allies in Iraq and the only Iraqi community to support fully the US occupation.

I just mention this because the media seems to be caught up in daily election fray fever and has deemed fit to largely ignore international news and the security implications for American troops in Iraq. Meanwhile Bush and Company are displaying the same ignorance of Iraqi tribal and religious that brought us MessOpatamia by arming and encouraging the next generation of terrorists, The Myth of the Surge

Now, in the midst of the surge, the Bush administration has done an about-face. Having lost the civil war, many Sunnis were suddenly desperate to switch sides — and Gen. David Petraeus was eager to oblige. The U.S. has not only added 30,000 more troops in Iraq — it has essentially bribed the opposition, arming the very Sunni militants who only months ago were waging deadly assaults on American forces. To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military has created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq’s central government. The Americans call the units by a variety of euphemisms: Iraqi Security Volunteers (ISVs), neighborhood watch groups, Concerned Local Citizens, Critical Infrastructure Security. The militias prefer a simpler and more dramatic name: They call themselves Sahwa, or “the Awakening.”

If your dad, mom, brother or cousin was injured or killed by an IED in the last couple of years near Dora, that IED was probably made by someone that is now a member of the sahwa. Terrorist is now officially a term of right-wing moral relativity. What else could one assume when you’re arming and paying off domestic insurgents that were just recently killing American troops.

But men who have taken up arms to defend themselves against both the Shiites and the Americans won’t be easily persuaded to abandon their weapons in return for a socket wrench. After meeting recently in Baghdad, U.S. officials concluded in an internal report, “Most young Concerned Local Citizens would probably not agree to transition from armed defenders of their communities to the local garbage men or rubble cleanup crew working under the gaze of U.S. soldiers and their own families.” The new militias have given members of the Awakening their first official foothold in occupied Iraq. They are not likely to surrender that position without a fight. The Shiite government is doing little to find jobs for them, because it doesn’t want them back, and violence in Iraq is already starting to escalate.

For those they are addicted to the endless analysis of the sociological side of the presidential race we have The Dude Vote,

In most cases, the Obama-McCain guys don’t prefer the male candidates because they explicitly, or consciously, want to keep the presidency an all-male club. But when they talk about McCain and Obama, they bring up characteristics that guys admire in other guys: independence, plain-spokenness, charisma, a willingness to take a stand, an ability to gain the country’s respect. They don’t object to a woman in the White House, they say. They just object to Hillary. Even though, in this election, that’s the same thing.

There does seem to an element of this in the race. Maybe Michelle Obama should rein in her pride in America’s current progressive wave if most Americans can look past race, but not gender. This isn’t meant to be a plug for any candidate. I’ve defended both Democrats against the Rightie noise machine and find the intra-party bickering very unfortunate. Just remember whoever wins leaves the looser still a prominent Democratic senator, so critics from both sides will find a time when their angry rant becomes free ammunition for people that don’t need more then they already have.

Karl Rove says he was contacted by CBS for comments on the mind numbingly corrupt rail-roading of Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D), but Rove thinks its unfair that 60 Minutes didn’t give him a head’s up that they were actually going to air the story. Rove also thinks his mom was mean for putting milk on his dry cereal. The never ending soap opera of Republican Victimitis, Rove denies 60 Minutes charges, claims he wasn’t contacted. Odd coincidence that the very segment where a former GOP dirty tricks operative was spilling the beans on Unka Karl was blacked out due to technical difficulties in stations across northern Alabama and that WHNT is owned by Robert Lawrence who has close ties to the Republican establishment as documented by Blue Girl, Red State.

In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled. ~Paul Eldridge

It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life

One of McCain’s top advisers is lobbyist Charlie Black. McCain is a member of the Senate Finance Committee which reviews legislation which might at times benefit Black’s clients who he keeps in touch with by phone  as he rides along on the Straight Talk Express. McCain has been in denial mode in a way that might well get him sympathy from people that were leaning toward him anyway, but rings a little shallow now that much of the manufactured outrage is dying down and his obviously deep ties with multiple lobbyist come out, The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists

But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington’s lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O’ Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

On the other hand McCain has a good record on earmarks, Where the candidates stand on earmarks 

In the defense bill, for example, The Seattle Times found that Clinton sponsored 66 earmarks totaling $150 million. Obama sponsored six earmarks totaling $34 million; all were for nonprofit organizations. McCain didn’t ask for any earmarks this year.

McCain has never sought an earmark in his 26 years in Congress, said his spokeswoman Melissa Sheffield.

“I believe that earmarking has led to corruption,” McCain says on his campaign Web site. “It’s like any other evil: You either eliminate it or it grows.”

The problem is that earmarks are actually a more public and known quantity as far as elected officials obviously trying to bring in money,  some cases pork back to their district. Everyone thinks everyone one else’s pork is bad and their’s is perfectly justified. As rancorous as earmarks are, we know that voters, whether they’re aware of it or not give tacit approval when they reelect those people whose campaign ads  in fact list all the things, i.e. earmarks they have brought to their state. Lobbyist on the other hand are the netherworld of Washington politics.  U.S. Airways, Dell, etc get the kind of attention to their agenda and issues that the average person could never hope for, though they might get some benefit from earmarks – like funding for weapons or medical research. If as McCain is doing, you’re running your campaign on the holier then thou Straight Talk high ground, yet your entire campaign is run by lobbyists then you would have a tougher time defending yourself then either Clinton or Obama do when it comes to earmarks. That’s the real world rhetoric which doesn’t always translate through the funnel of politics and election sound bites. Democrats aren’t going to vote for McCain anyway, but his very close ties to the underbelly of Washington insiders might scare off the reform minded Conservatives that were willing to give him a pass on some other issues.

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Good discussion here of Obama and “liberal” and “progressive” labeling. My two cents worth and only slightly related in the sense of labeling is the left/right dichotomy is that the term left is associated with liberalism and they have very little in common as far as political philosophy. I can’t stand Castro any more then I can stand Dubya. They’re both extremists ideologues. I’m a liberal. Which is around the moderate reasonable middle. Liberalism by way of fifty years of right-wing demagoguery and framing was portrayed as extreme when is was always about American democratic traditions and values. Would it be nice to have the national discourse on that level and for Clinton and Obama to push back. Sure. But for now there are more practical matters that require attention.

It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going. ~ Carl Gustav Jung

How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words

One legacy of the Bush administration and its Republican accomplices in Congress has been turning America into a banana republic. All the label flag pens in the world will ever compensate for this new era of corruption. We’ll probably still be investigating and prosecuting perps in president Clinton or Obama’s second term, Inside the world of war profiteersFrom prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S. Then there’s Rick Renzi indicted in theft, extortion

A black cloud that hovered over U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi for more than a year finally collapsed on the Arizona congressman Friday when he was indicted on 35 counts of extortion, embezzlement, money-laundering and other crimes.

The 48-year-old Renzi, once a rising Republican in the nation’s capital, now faces calls for resignation and a possible prison term and fines if he is convicted. He has already relinquished important committee assignments and announced he would not seek re-election this year.

Rep. Rick Renzi (R) is/was co-chair of John McCain’s(R-AZ) Arizona campaign. It seems that Squeaky Clean McCain wasn’t bothered in the least that Renzi was known to be under investigation by the FBI in late October of 2006. McCain still gave Rick his endorsement, McCain In Oct. 2006: Renzi Has ‘ Tenacity, Honesty, And Integrity Beyond Reproach’

I wish I had some great insights when I wrote yesterday that John McCain would ultimately benefit from the NYT story on his lobbyist connections. It was pretty elementary stuff. Following a pattern of Republicans to portray themselves as beleaguered victims of the press whenever some news outlet shows enough backbone to report on their shenanigans. It pays off in getting the base riled up, but just as important it gets the cash flowing,

In other news, the McCain campaign says the fundraising email sent out yesterday that described the New York Times story as a “smear campaign” was its most successful fundraising email to date, but the campaign declined to say how much it raised.

Senior adviser Steve Schmidt said in response to questions, “There was a lot of outrage across the country on the story and the campaign has raised a lot of money in the last 24 hours.”

McCain’s financial dealings and his votes on spending bills are getting a lot of scrutiny. After all he is running as the candidate with unquestionable ethics thus inviting people to take a closer look at his record and how he runs his campaign. McCain’s FEC Problem

First, McCain opted in to the public finance system for the primaries last year. It meant that his struggling campaign would get $5.8 million in public matching funds in March. Now that he’s effectively the Republican nominee, he wants out, because the system entails a spending limit of $54 million through the end of August. He’s almost spent that much already, according to the Post.

This would be the same McCain who challenged Obama to go completely public financing. What an odd coincidence on the timing of that challenge. McCain was running out of money and Obama’s campaign was doing extremely well. Democracy Now takes us through McCain’s work on behalf of Paxon Communication,

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust nor make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest and would favor anyone or any organization.

Iseman confirmed to the Times she sent McCain staffers information that would later form the basis of two letters in which McCain urged the FCC to reach a decision. The letters were deemed so unusual that the FCC chair at the time, William Kennard, accused McCain of interference. As chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, McCain would apparently be in violation of ex parte rules barring outside pressure on FCC decisions.

Obama’s antedote about the Army Captain was true. Once again Republican wing-nut blogs end up knee capping themselves . They do it so often with such enthusiasm some people are going to get the impression they take a certain masochistic pleasure in being wrong. Phil Carter at Intel-Dump has more, Obama and the 39-man rifle platoon

I talked this morning with two friends who led rifle platoons in Afghanistan. Both confirmed to me that they did, at times, use captured or found weapons or ammunition. One relayed the story of mounting a Soviet 12.7mm heavy machine gun (the equivalent of a U.S. .50 caliber machine gun) on his HMMWV because it was too difficult to get the spare parts needed to fix their G.I. (government issue) .50 cal.

How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words! ~ Samuel Adams

The Cost of the Surge and Oxycontin logic

The Escalation or Surge was a great success. To suggest otherwise means you’re just a cynical unamerican lefty defeatacrat hoping for the worse. Exactly what was the escalation of troop levels supposed to accomplish. Bush said that was to get violence under control and then reduce troop levels. The causality count is down, but most of the troops that were used for the escalation are still there. Before the escalation there were 130,000 troops. Now there are 150,000. Has the situation on the ground in Iraq actually changed or has the Bush administration really made the situation a case of never ending surge in order to retain a lower, yet still steady rate of violence which by comparison to a year ago makes it appear as though progress has been made, i.e. Iraq is forever on the verge of being a stable rather then failed state. No ‘Straight Talk’ on Iraq Cost

…according to a new book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and author Linda J. Bilmes. In “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict,” they warn that the war’s “true budgetary cost,” excluding interest, “is likely to reach $2.7 trillion.” Aside from the price of munitions, contractors, transport, fuel and other fixed costs, their calculations are based on the government’s continuing obligation to provide medical care and disability payments for the thousands of wounded Iraqi and Afghanistani veterans over the coming decades.

[ ]…Even in the “best-case” scenario envisioned by Stiglitz and Bilmes, with our troop presence declining rapidly, the U.S. commitment in Iraq is still likely to cost no less than $400 billion over the next several years, on top of the $800 billion or so that we have spent to date. Those figures, which don’t include veterans’ benefits, add up to $1.2 trillion. What the authors call their “realistic-moderate scenario” for a prolonged presence in Iraq will cost twice as much or more.

It is difficult for even the experts to pin down an exact number of members of al-Qaeda, estimates range from a few hundred to a few thousand actual members. Yet we’re in Iraq, a country that did not sponsor or have an al-Qaeda presence until Bush kicked out weapons inspectors. We’re not spending over a trillon dollars on stopping the organization responsible for 9-11, but to rescue a failed state that Bush and his supporters created as Afghanistan continues to fall further into chaos.

This is what Rush Limbaugh said about John McCain and Mike Huckabee just a month ago,

I understand what you’re saying. I hate to tell you this, but she’s not alone. I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it. A lot of people aren’t going to vote. You watch. (emphasis mine)

Now we have Limbaugh and every other Rightie manufacturing some indignation over the NYT lobbyist story,

Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail to Politico: “The story is not the story. The story is the Drive By media turning on its favorite maverick and trying to take him out. The media picked the GOP’s candidate, the NYT endorsed him while they sat on this story, and is now, with utter predictability, trying to destroy him.”

Limbaugh’s real problem with McCain was that the Senator didn’t kneel down and kiss the ring of the Pope of hate radio. If only McCain would have genuflected harder for right-wing shock jocks they would have taken him under their big manly wings and protected him from the press. Limbaugh’s oxycontin hazed logic makes sense until you realize that the NYT held off on the story when it might have hurt McCain in the caucuses with cultural Conservatives and helped Rush’s boy Romney.

Greg Mueller, a veteran Republican strategist, said conservatives would side with McCain against the paper they love to hate.

“The New York Times is trying to Swift Boat McCain,” Mueller said. “This is the first real salvo of the general election. Certainly, the Times cannot complain about a negative general election campaign since they fired the first shot.

One can’t help but ask where Mueller and Limbaugh were in their new found championship of fairness when Bush and Rove were spreading rumors about McCain in 2000. The NYT does an article that reports the facts that are out there and that is considered by the Right to be a under handed liberal attack, yet when Republicans pull the worse kind of political dirty tricks on their own its just politics. Take your pick, manufactured outrage, moral relativity  or just good old hypocrisy. Its all just Republicans caught being the perennial whiners they’re been for years. The NYT did Conservatives a favor and they know it. Now the Limbaughs and Muellers can save face and circle their wagons and limousines around McCain claiming that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Which most of us knew they were going to do eventually anyway. McCain is already sending out e-mails soliciting funds based on this dastardly attack by the “liberal” press.

But the G.O.P. elites aren’t mad that McCain did any of those things. They’re upset that the media is covering it. In fact, the rage is so intense that many of McCain’s harshest Republican critics are rallying around the ethically challenged Senator. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder cites reactions from arch-conservatives like The American Spectator, The National Review and Commentary, and explains:

    The Times story may have succeeded in accomplishing what politics itself could not: unifying the conservative base around McCain by way of their visceral disgust with the New York Times and its lib-ber-ral politics.

Like most liberals I could care less about McCain’s personal life. The important part of the story is his holier then thou pronouncements about being uninfluenced by lobbyists and big money when the truth is that he is beholden to special interests

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Manhattan Skyline and Moon

Manhattan Skyline and Fog 

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t want to lynch Michelle Obama unless he really has to. Bill’s Depends are probably soaked at the possibility that someone that is not a paid up member of the ‘white, Christian, male power structure’ might be president.

O’REILLY: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you’ve got to cap with a number.

Paranoid much. Its clearly xenophobic rhetoric like this that makes any level headed debate about immigration almost impossible.

Republican Brent Wilkes sentenced to 12 years in prison. Despite a unequivocal conviction on the facts of the case Wilkes not only showed no remorse for his crimes, but insisted that he was innocent.

Brent Wilkes, the Poway defense contractor who federal prosecutors contend was the mastermind behind the largest congressional bribery scheme in history, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday.

With his daughter crying behind him, he asked the court to look at his entire life and “not the picture, which I don’t believe to be accurate, which the prosecution has tried to paint of me.”

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns urged Wilkes to admit his wrongdoing, something he politely refused to do.

“Today is a day to own up,” Burns said. “A guy who cares at least about his family should come clean to them.”

The Larry Craig of Conservative corruption, in denial.

Barack Obama and Frank Marshall Davis

Accuracy in Media ( a right-wing front group) has this bombastic article up on Barack Obama, Obama’s Communist Mentor, AIM Column, By Cliff Kincaid, February 18, 2008

However, through Frank Marshall Davis, Obama had an admitted relationship with someone who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The record shows that Obama was in Hawaii from 1971-1979, where, at some point in time, he developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis, listening to his “poetry” and getting advice on his career path. But Obama, in his book, Dreams From My Father, refers to him repeatedly as just “Frank.”

The reason is apparent: Davis was a known communist who belonged to a party subservient to the Soviet Union. In fact, the 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a CPUSA member. What’s more, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations.

It didn’t take much to get on some kind of list in the 1950s. A Google search shows that some variation of this meme – Davis was a supposedly a communist and Obama’s acknowledgment of Davis as an influence of course equals that Obama is a secret commie has been floating around for a while. One of the things that should make people take pause is the newsgroup’s promulgation of an article that describes Davis as a “socialist realist”. The clever addition of three little letters makes all the difference. Davis biographers and historians refer to Davis as a “social realist”. I can find no paper by Davis or any expert on Davis that describes him as a “socialist realist”. Davis was a newspaper writer and editor in addition to being a poet. He certainly had the time and opportunity in a long carreer to spell out his thoughts. As of this writing I can’t find any writings by him that states his allegiance to communism. On the contrary he warned the civil rights movement not to move in that direction. There is also the meme that Davis didn’t join the Communist Party until the fifties and even then he kept it a secret – as of this writing I cannot find any verification of that. Even if true the implication that Obama became a secret communist simply because he knew Davis is absurd guilt by association. From The Voice of the World: The Early Career of Frank Marshall Davis 1931- 1934 by Leonard Ray Teel, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Georgia State University

The mood of protest in the early 1930s was such that some editors welcomed even the editors of the Communists Party. At the end of 1931, Carl Murphy’s influential Baltimore Afro- American applauded the “Communist program of racial equality” as a hopeful balance to the year’s deplorable events — “fifteen lynchings” and the death sentences given to eight black youths in the Scottsboro, Ala rape trial. The editors welcomed the communists as neo-abolitionists: Reds as courageous as the Minute Mne or the volunteer firemen seem everywhere ready for a demonstration against race prejudice, whether it be at hand or a thousand miles away.

Alliance with the Communist Party, even from a distance, was too radical for some black editors, among them Frank Marshall Davis. While he was as ardent as any editor against injustices — in jobs, housing, education, the laww — Davis warned against reliance upon a non-American system for solving American problems.In 1932, a year after becoming managing editor of the Atlanta World, Davis was invited to a national symposium of prominent black editors, including Murphy of the Afro-American and Robert S. Vann of the Courier. There, he warned aginst reliance on the Communist system to achieve racial justice. To Davis, the black protest movement was not compatible with the communists “crude and noisy militancy.” He saw “no fear of the rainbow brotherhood going red in wholesale numbers — at least not until white America takes long steps in that direction.”

[ ]…Davis articulated the newspaper’s conscience. In four years, he articulated an agenda of “social realism” that included appeals for racial justice in politics and economics, as well as justice before the law. He championed Negro activism, especially to compensate for social ills not remedied by white society. But he warned blacks against accepting the Depression era remedies advertised by communists.

[ ]…His own personal horror had occured in Kansas when he was 5 years old, he once told an interviewer. Some white third-graders who had heard about lynching had practiced on him and nearly hanged him.

Some other blogs that have posted on this and associated story by Lisa Schiffren writing for the Republican National Review making the utterly irrational argument that since Obama was the product of a mixed African-American-Jewish marriage he must be a communists, Is Barack Obama the Product of a Secret Communist-Jewish Breeding Program?, For Conservatives, “Race-Mixing” Still A Communist Plot, Obammunists, and Wow, are the racists Very Serious, Thoughtful people over at The Corner on a roll today.

Davis certainly showed an incredible entrepreneurial spirit for some one that was supposed to be a communist,

Davis said that he was drawn to life in Hawaii because of the islands’ multiethnic culture. He wrote some poetry in Hawaii and worked on his autobiography beginning in the early 1960s. He penned a column for a Honolulu labor newspaper. But mostly he dropped off the literary radar, starting a paper-supplies company, Oahu Papers, which mysteriously burned to the ground in March of 1951. In 1959 he started another similar firm, the Paradise Paper Company. Several times he was questioned about his leftist affiliations by congressional investigators, but by the late 1950s the anticommunist hysteria had died down.

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting

If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell’s argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics. ( Democrats Should Read Kipling, WILLIAM KRISTOL, Published: February 18, 2008)

Scott Horton on neocon prince Bill Kristol’s latest serving of warmed over droll in the NYT, Still Writing as Bad as I Can

What Kristol is busily working at, and indeed forms one of his most enduring formulas, is the Dolchstoß (”stabbed in the back”) legend. Following the tactic mastered by the German right in the violent and anarchistic wake of World War I and mimicked around the world in successive decades, any failed military escapade must be blamed on the meddling of liberals who lack faith in the virile leader and his generals. When this tactic is pulled off well, a military defeat has no consequences for those whose miscalculations produced it—rather it will provide an opportunity for them to bolster their political position. Kristol is already busy rehearsing his arguments for the fall campaign, in which Americans will be asked to choose between the heroic (in my view, genuinely heroic) figure of John McCain and the “Defeatocrats.”

Other bloggers have covered the Kipling and empire angle as does Horton in the rest of the essay. Kipling and Kristol’s cherry picking of Orwell a la Jonah Goldberg is pretty much irrelevant to the heart of the Right’s case as Kristol makes it. Kristol, a born elitist, a product of entitlement from day one wants terribly to be regarded as a deep thinker – having never competed in the marketplace of ideas Bill probably genuinely believes he is smart and has something to say worth paying for. A Conservative of heraldic order and pedigree, K-man could have written the whole column in a few lines: Conservatives are the only ones qualified to govern everyone else is chaff. That just won’t do. He has space to fill at the Paper of Record so he takes Kipling and Orwell by the nape of the neck and drags them into his fetid little turn of social darwinism. Kipling I don’t mind, but the Right keeps trying like a crazed tick to attach itself to Orwell. On destructing Kristol or anyone else at The Weekly Standard one finds nothing much in the way of substance so the game of hiding behind carefully culled bits and pieces of history has become SOP.

No, Orwell very accurately reminds us, Kipling is “not a fascist.” “He is a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Kipling’s virile defense of empire can be conjured in the image found in his works, of “a soldier beating a ‘nigger’ with a cleaning rod in order to get money out of him.” 11. George Orwell, “Rudyard Kipling,” in: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. 2, p. 184 (S. Orwell ed. 1968).

Bring back the Office of Technology Assessment

For more than a decade, Congress has essentially operated in the dark when passing science and technology legislation. It remains in the dark because of what Chris Mooney, the author of The Republican War on Science, terms “a stunning act of self-lobotomy.” As Mooney details in his book, congressional Republicans made eliminating the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), Congress’s authoritative scientific advisory body, a top priority when they took power in 1994. (For an excerpt, see the September/October 2005 Bulletin article, “Requiem for an Office” [PDF, 771 KB].)

It would nice if we had a government whose policies were more rationalism based then shot from the hip ideology.

Sheep in human clothing – scientists reveal our flock mentality

Other experiments in the study used groups of different sizes, with different ratios of ‘informed individuals’. The research findings show that as the number of people in a crowd increases, the number of informed individuals decreases. In large crowds of 200 or more, five per cent of the group is enough to influence the direction in which it travels.

Maybe I’m extrapolating too much, but this might explain why the Right’s pundits have enjoyed some degree of success. You can keep a relatively small number of people misinformed much of the time and the rest follow. Isn’t that really the purpose of the Limbaughs and Coulters, to misguide and misinform; the opposite of what pundits are supposed to do.

h/t to Main and Central for this article from Foreign Policy Forum Two Unwinnable Wars

Analyzing how wars are won has taken a back seat to measuring the level of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, as if a mere downturn in violence is the key path to victory. Perhaps one reason for this is that any proper analysis would indicate neither war is winnable, at least by the United States. That Bush administration officials and military commanders are talking about both wars lasting into the indefinite future only confirms that winning them is more than illusive. It is impossible.

Berry gets into the details in between, well worth a read, but his conclusion is,

It is not a stretch to conclude that Iraq and Afghanistan are among the most impossible countries to be politically instituted by foreign forces. And creating a functioning state is what winning is, as defined by the Bush administration. Bush even goes further by adding the element of democracy to the governments he seeks in both. The traditional, divided, antagonistic, and parochial social fabric of Iraq and Afghanistan provides infertile ground for democracy. Whatever political construct finally emerges will only come once foreign forces leave.

One way that an occupying force wins is the total annihilation of the enemy. A solution that we continue to hear in various forms from the Right. In Iraq and Afghanistan that would mean killing most of the population. Even Bush seems to have a problem with that or the surge and counter-insurgency would have meant tripling the forces in Iraq alone. As much as the Right would like to continue to absurdly frame Iraq as a necessary to stopping another 9-11 it is an occupation that requires a never ending battle with the population that we’re supposedly there to save from something – repression, Islamic radicalism. That is not what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan. We’re caught in the middle of a few hundred years of tribal revelries.

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. ~ George Orwell