It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is welcomed by the Iraq government that Bush and Company put in place.

“If the US is not there to protect [the Kurds and Shiites], they have no choice but to turn to Iran. Iraq’s Shiites know that without a foreign backer, they will be massacred by Sunni Arabs. And the Kurds fear the Turks,” says Amir Taheri, a London-based analyst and journalist of Iranian descent.

In contrast to the Iraq visits of American officials, including President Bush, which are never announced for security reasons, Ahmadinejad landed here to much pomp.

At the Baghdad airport, he descended the stairs of his presidential jet smiling and waving. He was greeted with hugs and kisses by top Iraqi officials, including Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd. Hundreds of Kurdish peshmerga, considered the most capable of Iraq’s forces, were in charge of security as the convoy carrying Ahmadinejad made its way from the airport to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s residence.

Ahmadinejad did require security, he is a Shiite and unfortunately violence in Iraq seems to be on the upswing. Things may change, but for now Iraqi refugees don’t see any reason to return to Bush’s budding democracy in the Middle-East.

More Iraqis continue to flee their country than the numbers returning, despite official claims to the contrary.

Thousands fleeing say security is as bad as ever, and that to return would be to accept death.

“Return to Iraq?” asks 35-year-old Ahmed Alwan, an Iraqi engineer now working at a restaurant in Damascus. “There is no Iraq to return to, my friend. Iraq only exists in our dreams and memories.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported September last year that there are between 1.2 and 1.4 million Iraqi refugees in Syria alone.

The numbers alone do not tell the story. The ones that could leave were the Iraqi professionals like Alwan that the country needs to rebuild their country.

Karl Rove seems like so many modern era Republicans constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. Since he chooses to tell such obvious lies one must also assume that like anyone of low character he doesn’t care much, Notwithstanding Obama’s consistent support for Israel, Rove suggests that as president, Obama may withdraw funding for Israel. Maybe Rove is also trying to make up for the large block of Catholics that Republicans have lost this election cycle since McCain has embraced the worse of the right-wing christianists who is also an anti-Semite. There are in fact few groups of people that Hagee doesn’t hate.

Jonah Goldberg’s trash has made its way across the pond. Yet another American that seems determined to be a life long embarrassment to his country, Jackboots and Whole Foods 

Now that is revisionism. But for all his chapter and verse on the proletarian rhetoric that Nazis employed, Goldberg somehow forgets to mention certain other salient matters, like the fact that within three months of taking power Hitler banned trade unions – and on the day after May Day, 1933. Their money was confiscated and their leaders imprisoned. And the trade unions were replaced with the Nazi “union” called the German Labour Front, which took away the right to strike. Hitler did many worse things, of course. I single out this act because it would hardly seem to be the edict of a “man of the left.” And there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism, none of which seem to have found their way into the pages of Liberal Fascism.

So much once again for meritocracy. To make such large fundamental eras of fact, had Jonah’s book been a college term paper would have earned an F. Since he is a connected Conservative from a wealthy family his screed gets published. Reviewer Michael Tomasky states that it is obvious that Goldberg doesn’t know a thing about liberalism. Very possible, but I suspect a combination of intellectual dishonesty and willful ignorance,

However much or little Goldberg knows about fascism, he knows next to nothing about liberalism. Anybody familiar with Liberalism 101 grasps that there is something deep within liberalism, from its earliest beginnings, that prevents it from degenerating into fascism, and that is its explicit recognition that the state must serve both common purposes and individual liberty. Liberal theorists from John Locke to Cass Sunstein, with hundreds in between, have addressed this point. It is absolutely central to liberal theory and liberal practice. We do believe in such a thing as the common good, yes we do. We want more of it, and we want a democratic leader who will summon us to believe in it, who will locate for us the intersection of self-interest and common interest at which citizens can be persuaded to participate, together, collectively, in a project larger than their own success. But where that collective urge crosses the line into coercion, well, that is where liberals – I mean liberals who know something about liberalism – get off the train, and do their noncoercive best to derail it.

Tomasky might have been a little too tough on Woodrow Wilson, but otherwise a good review.

“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” ~ Dr. Carl Sagan

New England wallpaper and “So turn off the TV set”

New England Fishing Village wallpaper

The Rebirth of American Civic Life

Throughout the last four decades of the 20th century, young people’s engagement in American civic life declined year after year with depressing regularity. In fall 1966, well before the full flowering of Vietnam War protests, a UCLA poll of college freshmen nationwide found that “keeping up with politics” was a “very important” goal in their lives for fully 60 percent.

[ ]…Last month the UCLA researchers reported that “For today’s freshmen, discussing politics is more prevalent now than at any point in the past 41 years.” This and other evidence led us and other observers to speak hopefully of a 9/11 generation, perhaps even a “new Greatest Generation.” In the 2004 and 2006 elections, turnout among young people began at last to climb after decades of decline, reaching the highest point in 20 years in 2006. As we approached the presidential season of 2008, young Americans were, in effect, coiled for civic action, not because of their stage of life, but because of the lingering effects of the unifying national crisis they had experienced in their formative years.

While the Right has claimed that 9-11 changed everything to justify instilling a collective herd mentality of perpetual fear and war, maybe the herd mentality has peaked. Rather then ushering in the era of Conservative Chicken-Littleness, the Right’s shrill over reaction to 9-11 has pointed the way to a new progressive era. While it will take a full generation to undo the damage Bush and Conservatives have done to the Constitution, it is appears at this point that Bush has pushed the Conservative movement with its multitude of hypocrisies, lies, and bloated corporate welfare to the fringes of the political arena. From which they will whine and play victim, but unable to do much damage. Though as we progress we shouldn’t forget that the Right is like rust they never sleep.

As children we all knew on some level that we weren’t mature. Maturity was the mysterious domain occupied by adults. We were consoled by the fact that some day we would grow up and have access to that wonderful world where our peers were older and wiser. Many of us have undoubtedly been more then disappointed to find out that many adults seem to hit a certain age and undergo some kind of regression, becoming even more petulant and immature then the worse children, Fox News attacks Obama for ditching Fox News

The viewer’s comments, which Wallace made a conscious decision to read on air, echo Fox News chief Roger Ailes’s hysterical claim that “the candidates that can’t face Fox, can’t face Al Qaeda.”

This might explain why the semi-official propaganda channel for the Republican Party is losing viewers and why many politicians are beginning to realize that avoiding Fox doesn’t hurt them a bit. Leave it to a loyal Fox viewer to equate Fox with a loose confederation of terrorists and not realize the unintended satire.

I would consider the possibility that in his own mind at least Tim “Meet The Press” Russert thinks that he is unbiased. The reality in Tim’s case differs from his self perceptions. Not an unusual occurrence in people that make obscene sums of money and live in the Beltway bubble. That said he still needs to explain why he keeps throwing so many low curve balls At Senator Clinton.

If you live long enough you get to hear a politician say exactly what you were thinking. Something that goes against the the perceived populist wave and not get booed, Teaching

“So turn off the TV set. Put the video game away. Buy a little desk. Or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give ’em help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher.”

And his shenanigans are cruel and tragic

The Conservative blog Power Liars Power Line is, according to standard operating procedure on the Right trying to kick up just enough dust to obscure the facts about what increasingly seems to be the political persecution of Alabama Democrat Don Siegelman, An Open Letter to Powerline (And Others): For the Love of Karl Rove?

On its face, the segment is a remarkably thin piece of work from which to lob serious accusations implicating the integrity of prominent officials including Rove. Rove himself has responded to the story by asking the question that occurred to me after watching the segment: “Seeing where I was working at the time, a reasonable person could ask why I would even take an interest in that case.” (Power Line, Posted by Scott at 6:01 AM, March 1, 2008 )

The day anyone let’s Karl Rove decide what constitutes a “reasonable person” needs to report to a hospital psych ward immediately.

Yes, a reasonable person did ask and has already answered that question. Rove’s denial is the standard non-denial denial.  Here is what we know about “where I was working at the time,” as Rove says:

“Karl Rove is known to have worked with Bill Canary on numerous political races in Alabama, beginning in 1994 and including William Pryor’s campaign in 1998. Canary and Pryor both enjoyed a close political and social relationship with Rove — who went on to become a senior adviser to the president, before Bush’s “brain” resigned earlier this year.

Two Republican lawyers who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation allege that Canary and Rove also worked together on the 2002 Alabama governor’s race. One of the lawyers is close to the Republican National Committee in Alabama.

[  ]…That is at least 3 people, all Republican by party affiliated (because I know that many people first need to have the political party identified, before facts will even be regarded), and from different states who don’t know one another. All of them placing Karl Rove – despite where “he was working at the time” inside political campaigns on the state level. Surely 3 is more than 1, if I recall my math correctly? Thus far, Karl Rove is all alone in his claims.

Larisa Aalexandrovna does some more dismantling of Power Line’s sordid ramblings at HuffPo. In a previous post at PL they go so far as to question whether Dana Jill Simpson  is an actual Republican (if she wasn’t a Republican why did she campaign for every Republican President since Reagan). Aalexandrovna make several important points besides catching PL in an obvious lie, but perhaps the most pertinent one is the glaring lack of Rove’s testimony under oath. A person of integrity, that was genuinely outraged that their name was dragged into such affairs would be chumping at the bit to testify and get the facts out, but not Rove. Simpson, sorry to say for the right-wing bloggers is not the sole witness to events. They have and will continue to cast her as a liar and “insane”. That’s all par for the course, we all know how the right-wing noise machine works at this point. Never the less at the end of the day many questions remain about whether Don Siegelman received a fair trial based on the facts and not Rove and Alabama GOP power players pulling strings.  – Aalexandrovna has regular coverage of the Alabama GOP shenanigans and Unka Karl at her blog at-Largely. Its not like Karl doesn’t have a history of doing things very similar to his little hit job on Siegelman.

I’ve defended Obama from from weird and unfounded wing-nutty attacks, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make me nervous sometimes,  Barnstorming Obama plans to pick Republicans for cabinet

Chuck Hagel isn’t a completely repulsive Republican, but we see this time and again. Democrats bending over backwards to reach out and it is never ever reciprecated. There are plenty of Democrats well qualified to be Defense Secretary ( Joe Biden comes to mind) and S.O. State ( How about Bill Clinton, John Kerry – my list here could take up half a page). State needs a Democrat to repair the damage Condi the serial liar and manipulator has done if nothing else. If Obama should become president and he wants to throw Republicans a bone appoint one to Transportation.

So far Bush and his apologist’s position on amending FISA is that according to their very own words, its is better to not have those amendments and not have that extra measure of security that they claim is required because the Democrats in the House don’t want to let the telecoms have immunity from the criminal acts they have committed as requested by Bush. Telecom immunity is Bush immunity – the proof

The FISA law, which has been revised over 50 times since its inception in 1978, is prefectly capable to handle any intelligence gathering of overseas threats while at least building in some basic judicial review to ensure compliance and civil liberties protections under the Fourth Amendment.  What’s been assumed is that the phone companies were demanding amnesty for going along with Bush Administration requests to circumvent FISA before and after 9/11.  In the wake of this article, along with the news that Republicans are all grumbly that the telecoms aren’t showering them with cash for helping their cause, you can only conclude that the phone companies really don’t care whether they’re getting amnesty or not.  And they really shouldn’t.  The executive branch has proven pretty adept at shielding them from prosecution by invoking the state secrets privilege, and the courts have been extremely deferential in waiving cases due to lack of standing.

So far the telecoms have not only not sweated much about immunity, but have refused to cooperate with the FBI when the Feds didn’t pay their bills. Bush knows that his little secrets are going to come out here very shortly, but he doesn’t ever want anything on paper that says he and his administration are  guilty of wrong doing. The unhinged Right will write or rewrite his legacy much in the same way they have rewritten Saint Reagans, but judgments handed down from courts make it a lot harder, just ask Scooter the traitor Libby.

Thorny: And his shenanigans are cruel and tragic
Super Troopers (2001)

You have to think… like a mouse!

Ocean Front Storm Surge wallpaper 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki declares without irony at a gathering of Shiite Muslims that Iraqis had achieved “national reconciliation”. Which would be great if true,

The first day of February at least 99 people died in coordinated bombings here and when Shiites walked to Karbala, at least 40 died in a bombing at a roadside tent that offered refreshments to the pious walking to Karbala.

Like most Americans I’ve gotten to the pint where listening to Bush just demands too much of my patience that could be spent more productively on those more deserving of it, so I read his SOTUs and interviews. Even in transcript he sounds like he’s just recovering from a severe head injury,

“Bush: And as people are now beginning to see, Iraq is changing, democracy is beginning to tak[e] hold. And I’m convinced 50 years from now people look back and say thank God there was those who were willing to sacrifice.

We’ll never know of course how things would have been fifty years from now if America didn’t have the worse president in history at the turn of the century or how Iraq might well have evolved into a more democratic state without Bush’s perpetrating a low level genocide from which millions of Iraqi have fled. It is as though you had a pest infestation and Bush shows up to get rid of them and ends up destroying your house. Then stands in the front yard pounding his chest yelling, but I got rid of the pest. We have to assume that the tiny percentage of people that still support Bush support the destroy the house to kill a rat theory of foreign policy. There is a difference between being tough and being crazy, too bad for the almost 4000 American soldiers that have lost their lives Bush conservatism is largely incapable of that not unsubtle distinction.

Caesar the obsessive exterminator from Mousehunt (1997) : You have to get inside their mind. You have to know what they want, need. You have to think… like a mouse!