Frigid Air Pass Colorado wallpaper, Sometimes Progress Means Ignoring the Peanut Gallery

Frigid Air Pass Colorado wallpaper

Just a few words on this earlier post about Obama, progress and pragmatism. Brought about by this post by Glenn Greenwald who makes some good points while also being too generalized in some of the issues he runs through. Intentioned or not, whether its politics, cultural issues, a celebrity or the team quarterback there is a crowd or sociological phenomenon that Glenn, among others, might not get. Let’s take the quarterback because life is so much like high school. He might be getting criticized based on his passing percentage from one group, while at the same time another group who sees nothing in particular bad about his passing game is passing around negative comments about his personality and character. Two different camps, two different issues with the same person, but the sum total that everyone else hears is a big negative message that lacks nuance, accusations that are sometimes unfair to false. Not that they matter very much in moving elected officials, but the comment sections on news sites provide a good example – a liberal says Obama “sucks” and a tea bagger says Obama “sucks”. It’s a very disappointing level of thought and discourse on both sides. It ripples out into the national consciousness as Obama bad, any alternative is good.  President Obama does seem determined to make things tough at times for people to defend him, He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For –

Health care reform — which is crucial for millions of Americans — hangs in the balance. Progressives are desperately in need of leadership; more specifically, House Democrats need to be told to pass the Senate bill, which isn’t what they wanted but is vastly better than nothing. And what we get from the great progressive hope, the man who was offering hope and change, is this:

I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.

In short, “Run away, run away”!

Krugman’s interpretation could be off. When Obama says ” Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like”, he could mean the lack of a public option or the lack of a Medicare buy in, but we have another impression. Why, because it does have the sound of President Obama once again twisting himself backwards trying to get any kind of health care reform, even an half empty shell of reform. Someone at the White House notices and releases this response, On Next Steps for Health Reform

Right now there are a lot of discussions going on about the best path forward. But let’s be clear that the President’s preference is to pass a bill that meets the principles he laid out months ago: more stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage options for those who don’t, and lower costs for families, businesses, and governments.

Update: For more specific context, some stories floating around have claimed that the President has decided to pursue a slimmed-down health reform bill.

The “stories” are that the President will settle for are bare bones reform. The White House has only itself to blame if the President himself does not send a clearer, more concrete message. There is a small glimmer of good news. Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad is cautiously open to using reconciliation to solve the HCR conundrum. Which would only require a simple majority of 51 votes. Now is a good time to call and e-mail suggesting your Senator ( regardless of party) read Ezra Klein’s advice – include the medicare buy-in which had 51 votes and expand Medicaid. This is an echo of what several blogs have written, but why not just expand Medicare to 18 years old and up. If Democrats in either House listen to the far Right spin on Massachusetts they are going to be punished at the polls later this year and 2012. The House has already voted for reform with a public-option. Conservatives are going to going to use the ‘they were for it before they were against it’ tact in their campaigns while the Democratic base stays home. If Democrats in both Houses stick with substantial reform they will have something to battle back with. Where were Republicans on trying to save small business – they were against it. Where were Republican’s on spiraling insurance premiums – they were for it. Where were Republicans on protecting your family from financial ruin – Republicans did not care. Jonathan Cohn seems to really get the quarterback phenomenon in regards to Democrats and health-care, Dear Nervous & Frustrated House Democrat…

True, shelving the bill would end the dithering. But it would also solidify the public perceptions that are destroying you now. Listen to the complaints: You’re feckless. You don’t follow through on your promises. You don’t deliver progress. Giving up on the idea that’s been your primary preoccupation for the last year–and, by the way, a primary focus of the last presidential campaign–is not exactly a way to challenge these conclusions.

You’ll have less political capital, making it hard to deliver progress on the economy or anything else. As for reelection, well, ask the congressional Democrats running in 1994 how failing to deliver health care reform worked for them.

Remember, Republicans will blame you for this bill anyway. Unless you’re among the few Democrats who opposed it on the first go-round, you’ve already voted for health care reform. And you can bet the Republicans will let voters know that come November.

I tended to dismiss that round of speculation a few months ago about President Obama caring too much about being liked – a condition that applies to Democratic officials in general. It’s not about being liked it seems, but Democrats worry too much about what Republicans thinks and not enough about the people that get them elected think. One of the strangest bits of political zeitgeist that I’ve seen in the last ten years. Republicans are the deather, birther, INTERPOl conspiracy obsessed, black helicopter sighting peanut gallery. Democrats need to get it through their heads that the party that drove the country off the cliff and is pursuing a rabid far Right tea bagger agenda is not going to vote Democrat regardless of what health reform looks like.

This might also be another glimmer of good news as Obama looks back at his first year and reevaluates, Obama Proposes Volcker-Style Financial Reform

It looks like the political winds have shifted away from Tim Geithner/Larry Summers and toward Paul Volcker/Elizabeth Warren:

Obama to Propose Limits on Risks Taken by Banks, by Jackie Calmes and Louis Uchitelle, NYTimes: President Obama on Thursday will publicly propose giving bank regulators the power to limit the size of the nation’s largest banks and the scope of their risk-taking activities…

The president, for the first time, will throw his weight behind an approach long championed by Paul A. Volcker… The proposal will put limits on bank size and prohibit commercial banks from trading for their own accounts — known as proprietary trading. …

Regular readers probably know that if I could afford to buy Larry Summers a one-way ticket to the country of his choice he’d be on that flight this afternoon. This is the kind of genuine populism – combined with real health-care reform – that will win Democratic seats in the mid-terms. Hopefully more progressive seats.



EXPLOSIVE NEW AUDIO Reveals White House Using NEA to Push Partisan Agenda or Not

That Liberty Shall Not Perish…circa 1940s

The poster is a shocking reminder that our government has been known to promote its agenda

The current headline at a conservative site that has been hanging in the wind trying to generate traffic reads “EXPLOSIVE NEW AUDIO Reveals White House Using NEA to Push Partisan Agenda”. Only its far from explosive ( The NEA “Scandal”: That’s It?) or new, Yosi Sergant, Administration Aide Demoted: Glenn Beck Strikes Again – First Posted: 09-10-09

UPDATE: The NEA has updated their statement to emphasize that Yosi Sargent remains with the agency, but in a different position: “As regards Yosi Sergant, he has not left the National Endowment for the Arts. He remains with the agency, although not as director of communications.”  – ( Another way of saying he was demoted)

[   ]…”On August tenth, the National Endowment for the Arts participated in a call with arts organizations to inform them of the president’s call to national service. The White House office of public engagement also participated in the call, which provided information on how the Corporation for National and Community Service can assist groups interested in sponsoring service projects or having their members volunteer on other projects. This call was not a means to promote any legislative agenda and any suggestions to that end are simply false. The NEA regularly does outreach to various organizations to inform of the work we are doing and the resources available to them.”

The language that Sergant used was ironically in-artful. He was demoted. Which seems appropriate unless you’re Andrew Breitbart or Glenn Beck, who apparently are determined to whine the story to the apex of of all controversies. Unless someone from the Obama administration is tied down and given a lethal injection for these dastardly deeds we’re promised untold years of shrill cries of yet more conservative victimhood.

Some skillful satire on Beck and Breitbart here,  Conservatives are outraged over an actual outrage? Color me impressed.

Big Hollywood, conservatives are positively fuming over the Bush Administration‘s decision to funnel $2.2 billion through the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives….

Click over for the rest, well worth the time.

Some other bloggers commenting on the story, New word – “beck”( a reminder that the White House did not promise a penny to anyone involved in the conference call initiated by the arts organizations) and TGW picked up on the same meme I did. Our government has been sponsoring the arts for some time now and sometimes it has an agenda, Andrew “BIG” Breitbart Promotes “Explosive” New NEA Scandal (Yawn).

McCain-Palin Pro Environment, Bush Recycled

In case anyone hasn’t heard McCain was a POW( standard salute to his honorable service). He has stated with the usual red cheeked faux outrage,

“I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”

Respect for the military seems be a one way road for Johnny. It is all supposed to be directed his way and he’s under no obligation to retturn that respect, As Vets Take to the Streets to Protest the War, McCain Snubs IVAW at the RNC

When retired Army First Sergeant Wes Davey arrived, in uniform, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to deliver a letter to fellow veteran John McCain, it didn’t take long for him to be turned away. “They wouldn’t even meet me,” he said later, standing on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol, on what was to be day one of the Republican National Convention. Instead, the 28-year veteran of the Army Reserve and former St. Paul police officer was escorted off the premises.

The Obama-Biden campaign veteran liaison, Phil Carter meet with IVAW, the Gold Star Families for Peace and Veterans for Peace. Not McCain. Much like the rabid Right who McCain now panders to it has never been about respect for vets or the military, it has always been about respect for those that march in lock step unquestioning adulation of the Right’s policies.

“I’m not surprised that McCain is not responding,” said Rebecca Hansen, an IVAW member from Madison, Wisconsin. ” … I don’t think (Republicans) want the American people to know that vets and active duty soldiers are not in support of the war anymore.”

Wasn’t McCain just about to declare war on Russia, Russia’s MTS to sell Apple iPhone

Seriously, this is a good reason to let McCain-Palin have the next four years, Record deficit for next president

And it takes no account of the potential costs of a full-scale Federal bail-out of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who have been given a Federal guarantee in the housing bill that has just passed Congress.

McCain has no plan what so ever to do anything about historic deficits which he had a hand in creating.

McCain-Palin the recycled Bush

Bob Woodward 60 Minutes Interview: Woodward Discusses His New Book On Bush (VIDEO)

The idea of throwing another 30,000 troops into Iraq was a desperate gamble in a dark time. And only now are we finding out just how much opposition there was by the nation’s top military leaders. That’s among the revelations in a new book by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward.

Bush, after four disastrous years of letting our troops die for 935 lies, lucked out. The various sectarian factions killed off most of the people that wanted to kill off, two million Iraqis just gave up and became refugees and the Sunni leaders in Anbar decided to help U.S. troops. Now the Right declares vistory, playing their part in this neocon version of Potemkin theartre.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is not saying whether she will vote in November to send the indicted Ted Stevens back to the Senate for a seventh full term

Aaron Saunders, a spokesman for the Stevens campaign, said the governor and senator have had a “strong working relationship for many years.”

“They have been supportive of each other’s past campaigns and we fully expect that to continue this fall,” Saunders said. He added that the Alaska Democratic Party is “clearly panicking” after seeing the latest poll numbers and is resorting to “desperate, nasty attacks.”

I think I know desperation when I see as do at least a slight majority of Americans. When McCain-Palin campaign is composed of all lies all the time, that’s desperation.

Jesus was a Community Organizer

One Fifth of Iraq Funding Goes to Private Contractors

As a new report forecasts that the 190,000 private contractors in Iraq and neighboring countries will cost U.S. taxpayers more than 100 billion dollars by the end of 2008, an under-the-radar Florida court case suggests that U.S. President George W. Bush — a staunch contractor supporter — is preparing to throw security contractors such as Blackwater under the political bus.

In the Florida case, relatives of three American servicemen killed in the 2004 crash of an aircraft owned by Blackwater Aviation in Afghanistan are suing the company for damages, based in part on U.S. government reviews that concluded that errors committed by Blackwater staff were responsible for the deaths. Last month, despite Bush’s support for what he has called the critical roles played by overseas contractors, his administration failed to meet a deadline for presenting the court with any defense of Blackwater.

This is Conservatism in action. They give the illusion of making government smaller by outsourcing to irresponsible if not craven private entities that charge the American taxpayer four times what it would cost the government to do. In return we get less accountability and our children get the bill.

McCain, his surrogates and of course Fox have latched on to this nonsense, Sarah Palin as Alaska National Guard commander

“She’s been the commander of Alaska’s National Guard, who’s been deployed overseas,” Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, said on CNN in one of several recent references to Palin’s gubernatorial responsibility for the Guard. “That’s foreign policy experience.”

[  ]…Since governors have no role in overseeing Guard members federalized for service in Iraq, military experts said that should not count as foreign policy experience.

Since she has been governor she has signed off on declaring one domestic emergency (flooding) in which the guard was called, as they do in every state were called in to help. Flooding is the new foriegn polict experience.

Her deadly wolf program

In early 2007, Palin’s administration approved an initiative to pay a $150 bounty to hunters who killed a wolf from an airplane in certain areas, hacked off the left foreleg, and brought in the appendage. Ruling that the Palin administration didn’t have the authority to offer payments, a state judge quickly put a halt to them but not to the shooting of wolves from aircraft.

The science isn’t there to support this kind of hunting and the majority of Alaskans oppose it. The Republican War on Science continues.

Smalltown Autumn wallpaper

Lake Michigan wallpaper and news notes

Lake Michigan Shore wallpaper

Interesting that the Bush administration has decided that felons are no longer actual citizens, Aren’t Martha Stewart and other Felons “People”?

Alaska’s governor reminds us of the Republican contempt for science and wildlife, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Hearts Polar Bears – NOT!

Valdosta State University in Georgia has decided that students who make objections to the university’s planned parking garages are both dangerous and mentally unstable, Maybe He Shouldn’t Have Spoken His Mind

That story that many of the news services carried about Bush and the Iraqi government reversing the anti-Baathification process in a step forward in political reconciliation wasn’t exactly as advertised. Actually the new law is not exactly making the ex-Baathist happy, New Iraqi Law on Baath Worries Ex-Baathists – So the right-wing yells of mission accomplished for the umpteenth time are just another exercise in sound bite management.

Obviously no matter how loud they yell they can’t have their dear leader from going down in history and the guy that burned the house down and thought he did a heck of a job. 66% disapproval rating.

How Progressives Can Win on National Security

If not, let’s do a quick review. In 2001, Bush ignored intelligence warnings, did nothing, and America suffered the deadliest attack on its own soil in history. This president started to track down the perpetrators by going into Afghanistan, but then took a wrong turn into an unnecessary war in Iraq. Bush used the drumbeats for the Iraq War to bludgeon his political opponents in 2002 and 2004, securing a slim majority with an effective, but short-lived, public relations campaign.

The bottom began to fall out in 2005 when the reality started to sink in that we are much less safe. Americans began to witness the consequences of being trapped refereeing Iraq’s civil wars: a decline in U.S. military readiness and Osama bin Laden still on the loose. In 2006, progressives created an amazing turnaround in the mid-term elections in large part by offering a clear alternative on Iraq in support of a strategic redeployment. Progressives should learn from the failures of 2002 and 2004 and from the successes of 2006.

Maybe Conservatives are like those people that are enjoying the current popularity of horror films, or what some are calling torture porn. They’re scared, enjoy being scared and want everyone else to be afraid all the time. having any perspective on the threats that face America in the realm of national security has become sacrilege to the party that used to advertise itself as the party of serious minded level headed adults. It turns out they’re the party of never ending panic and shrill rhetoric.

More bitter lies and attacks of modern conservatives

H/T to The Horse’s MouthJoe Wilson: “Chronic Liar” Robert Novak Is “Going Straight To Hell” for the follow-up to a recent story The Hill did about Robert Novak who claimed that Joe Wilson didn’t seem to care whether Novak revealed his wife’s employment at the CIA – Novak: Wilson did not forcefully object to naming of CIA wife in column

Columnist Robert Novak said Saturday Ambassador Joe Wilson did not forcefully object to the naming of his CIA operative wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, when Novak spoke to him prior to the publication of a column that sparked a federal investigation and sent White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to jail.

“He was not terribly exercised about it,” Novak said.

Instead, Wilson focused on not being portrayed as simply an opponent of the Iraq war. Wilson also stressed that his wife went by his last name, Wilson, rather than Plame, Novak said.

Of course Republican blogs once again couldn’t get down on their knees fast enough to lap up and regurgitate Novak’s lie. The Right Wing Nut House and The American Thinker write, 10/7/2007, NOVAK DISPELS SOME PLAME MYTHS

Robert Novak, who wrote the column that exposed the Plame connection to Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger, has been trying unsuccessfully to set the record straight regarding the “outing” of Wilson’s wife for a long time.

Novak’s problem has been that the Plame narrative, created by Democrats and the media, has little room for the truth. The story began as a myth, morphed into a legend, and is only now being examined as history. That last step will occur in a vacuum, of interest only to future academics and those who seek to place truth above politics.

For indeed, most have given up trying to alter the narrative, soon to be immortalized in film as the portrayal of an evil administration, hell bent on going to war, which tried to stifle and smear the heroic Mr. and Mrs. Wilson to hide their nefarious plans.

The narrative is tailor made for Hollywood. The truth, as Mr. Novak points out in this article in The Hill, is a little less dramatic and quite a bit more problematic for the Wilsons

RWNH breathlessly tries to sell us the repackaged garbage the Right has been trying to shove down the public’s throat since day one. Moran manages to write an entirely fact free post. He can’t even get the fundamentals right:
– Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA, not Valerie Wilson as Moran asserts. Mrs. Wilson only suggested her husband to her supervisors as he had experience as ambassador dealing with people in the region. She in fact had no authority to send the former ambassador anywhere.
– The Plame-Wilson story did have a narrative. It started with Novak publishing the name of of a covert CIA operative. The CIA failed a complaint with the DOJ which was staffed by Bush political appointee John Ashcroft. The Bush DOJ appointed a special prosecutor. If this was all politics they were slanted to the far right. The “media”? Does Moran mean the same media as Novak, Fox News, all the right-wing AM radio and newspaper pundits that lied repeatedly about Valerie Wilson’s security status.
– RWNH and TAT want the whole episode involving Wilson and Plame to be a myth because the truth is that a small group of conservatives committed treason. The only reason that more heads didn’t roll was because Libby lied to protect Cheney and Rove. A jury of American citizens made that decision ( presided over by a Republican judge appointed by Bush). The betrayal of our intelligence assets was not and is not now a narrative created out of then air by the vast liberal conspiracy. Only the ever paranoid Right thinks so.
– Novak’s newest attempt to weasel out of responsibility for blowing Plame’s cover and putting Plame’s over sea’s contacts in danger is not problematic for the Wilson’s. It only further erodes the credibility of Novak and the right-wing blogs that continue to echo his fabulistic tales. Wilson hopes Novak ‘is going to confession, because otherwise he’s going to hell’

During a seminar about unnamed sources at a journalism conference Saturday, Novak said Wilson had not forcefully objected to the idea that his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, would be named.

“He was not terribly exercised about it,” Novak said Saturday.

Wilson said that is not true, stressing that he had begun seeking out Novak even before he knew there was a column. He said he had heard from a friend that Novak was telling people in random encounters that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.

He said he left a message for Novak, who then called him back.

“I said, ‘What the f–k are you doing? You’re walking around Washington blurting stuff out about my wife to people you don’t even know,’ ” Wilson said.

It was only after that that Novak turned to the business of his column, Wilson said.

“He said, ‘Can you confirm or deny that your wife works for the agency?’ ” Wilson recalled. “I said, ‘I’m not going to answer any question about my wife.’ I told him, ‘It’s not about my wife, or even me. It’s about this administration.’ ”

Wilson said procedure for dealing with inquires about his wife’s CIA status was not to get into a discussion about it, because that could inadvertently disclose improper information. After the call, Wilson said, his wife immediately alerted the CIA. Wilson said a CIA spokesman twice told Novak that she should not be named.

The attacks on the Frost family continue, When Rhetoric Meets Reality

If you look through this family’s dossier, it appears they are doing everything Republicans say they should be doing- hell, their story is almost what you would consider a checklist for good, red-blooded American Republican voters: they own their own business, they pay their taxes, they are still in a committed relationship and are raising their kids, they eschewed public education and are doing what they have to do to get them into Private schools, they are part of the American dream of home ownership that Republicans have been pointing to in the past two administrations as proof of the health of the economy, and so on.

In short, they are a white, lower-middle-class, committed family, who is doing EVERYTHING the GOP Kultur Kops would have you believe people should be doing. They aren’t gay. They aren’t divorced. They didn’t abort their children. They aren’t drug addicts or welfare queens. They are property owners, entrepeneurs, taxpayers, and hard-working Americans.

As commenters at Balloon Juice and elsewhere have noted can you imagine if Democrats went out and visited the home of every two hundred thousand dollar a year family to see if Bush was right, these people do need a tax cut. And cry me a river Malkin is talking about how poor she is and her commenters are having a contest to see who has a rougher life then the living high on the hog Frosts. What Has Happened To The Right?

Something has gone wrong on the Right. Become sick and twisted and tumorous and ugly. To visit Michelle Malkin’s cave is to see politics at its most savage, its most ferocious, its most rageful. They say they’ve spent the past week smearing a child and his family because that child was fair game — he and his family spoke of their experience receiving health care through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. For this, right wingers travel to their home, insinuate that the family is engaged in large-scale fraud, make threatening phone calls to the family, interrogate the neighbors as to the family’s character and financial state.

We have seen these flair ups before, but at least in the eyes of more reasonable conservatives like Cole and moderate Democratic blogs the reaction to the Frosts seems way out of proportion. We are not in a heated debate over whether the Isalmo-whatevers are going to kill us all if we don’t support doing away with hapeus corpus or whether to sell jet fighters to Pakistan, we’re talking about a few million dollars and a domestic health policy as it concerns children. You Think They’re So Dumb, You Think They’re So Funny

What we’re seeing here is the same tactics of personal destruction Movement Republicanism previously justified as necessary to winning The Greatest War Ever, now normalized as appropriate to handling a budget dispute. They wanted to get Jamil Hussein arrested or killed. They wanted Scott Beauchamp ruined or even fragged.

Just guessing, but part of what is setting in is that the Great Conservative Revolution has failed and is in decline. They had all the power that the Constitution allowed plus the extra they decided to take. We had one party Republican rule with a doltish frat boy calling the shots. They could have governed well and choose not to. Conservatism doesn’t work. It never will, it the antithesis of a progressive enlightened democracy. So they’re taking all their bitterness out on the Frosts, the Wilsons, and of course the media. What we’re seeing is a shot gun spray of pent up misdirected hatred. Very typical of the Right really to look for the cause of their failures in others rather then to look to themselves – Rush Smears 12-Yr Old: ‘They Filled His Head With Lies Just As They Have Some Of These Soldiers’

The real “bottom line” is: Rush propagates baseless information from a “freeper” to attack a 12-year old, fails to determine the facts for himself, and then accuses others of not being able to “rely on truth to make their case.”

When right-wingers attack soldiers who disagree with them on Iraq or kids who disagree with them on health care, that is indeed where Rush and his “hate radio” buddies “come in.” The right-wing attack machine personally assaults anyone for daring to disagree.

Pocket watch wallpaper

Pocket watch wallpaper 1280×1024

You Call That Progress? The outrageous White House report on Iraq.

According to the report, which was required by Congress, progress has been “satisfactory” on eight of the benchmarks, “unsatisfactory” on another eight, and mixed on two. At his press conference this morning, President Bush, seeing the glass half full, pronounced the report “a cause for optimism”—and for staying on course.

Yet a close look at the 25-page report reveals a far more dismal picture and a deliberately distorted assessment. The eight instances of “satisfactory” progress are not at all satisfactory by any reasonable measure—or, in some cases, they indicate a purely procedural advance. The eight “unsatisfactory” categories concern the central issues of Iraqi politics—the disputes that must be resolved if Iraq is to be a viable state and if the U.S. mission is to have the slightest chance of success.

Army report implicates Iraqi police in Karbala attack

USA Today has obtained an Army report implicating Iraqi police in a January, 2007 insurgent raid during which four U.S. troops were captured and later slain. The story notes that the new Pentagon spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, gave a briefing last week blaming Iran for the attack but neglecting to mention the complicity of the Iraqi police.

There Are Very Few Causes Worth Dying For – Iraq Is Not One of Them

Like being shot by a sniper on the western front at 10.59am on November 11, 1918, to die now as a British soldier in Iraq is its own special category of tragedy. What has he died for? Is Iraq a safer and more secure place? Is the rest of the world, including Britain, likewise? Is the Middle East more democratic, more optimistic of its future? But adjust these lofty aims: is the price of oil lower? The answer is not just that these things have stayed much the same; it is in all cases the incendiary opposite. Worse than all this futility, worse even than the bogus prospectus for the invasion that took him there in the first place, the dead soldier will know in the last days of his life that only a small number of his fellow citizens want him and his comrades to be there

the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality

Maine Lighthouse wallpaper 

Blog readership tends to drop off quite a bit over holidays so here’s wishing everyone a happy Independence Day.

For those that might have time to drop by a few links.

What scares right wingers to the bone? 

Convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy “joked” on the air about killing gays by firing them out of torpedo tubes. A typical right winger, Liddy broadcast brags about taking target practice at life-sized images of President Bill Clinton, and advised his listeners how best to kill government agents who might wear protective vests: “Head shots! Use head shots!”

There are some true conservatives whose views remain in line with historical conservatism, but even they often embrace William F. Buckley / Ronald Reagan right wing extremism.

Thanks to Buckley, Reagan, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, most so-called “conservatives” are really nothing of the kind. Right wingers are theocrats and pseudo-libertarian Social Darwinists or even fascists who embrace authority and power over the individual.

Dissent threatens right wingers’ fragile sense of security. They demand that everyone believes whatever they believe — even if that belief changes at the whim of their superiors — because. Well just because! And don’t ask questions!

Right wingers’ reverence for authority makes them believe whatever their superiors tell them to believe. Their fear and insecurity make them shun the unknown and prevents them from questioning tradition or thinking in new ways.

I’d say right wingers demand that everyone think whatever they think but right wingers don’t think. They listen and obey. Free thinking threatens right wingers. It weakens their precarious hold on their make-believe world.

CIA’s Darkest Secret 

Fred Thompson’s Rule of Lawlessness 

Cheney and the Constitution 

Consider as symptom number one Cheney’s claim to be neither lawmaker nor executive–and thus exempt from any scrutiny of his handling of classified documents. In 2003 President Bush signed an Executive Order 12958 requiring agencies and “any other entity” within the executive branch to report to a division of the National Archives on their classification and declassification activities. But since 2003 Cheney’s office has pointed to his position as president of the Senate to justify a refusal to comply. In May 2006 a Cheney spokesperson told Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune that the legal question had been “thoroughly reviewed.” And that was the end of the matter. Only now has Representative Henry Waxman’s House Oversight Committee begun to examine the Vice President’s failure to comply.

Second, Cheney’s argument makes no sense. The Vice President receives documents due to his executive policy-making role, not his position as Senate president. Not even Cheney has the chutzpah to claim he’s using these documents in his senatorial capacity: Outing covert CIA agents is apparently an executive function.

“America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.” – Adlai Stevenson

That damn small case using liberal press do they know no shame

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The Virginia race for Senate between George “macaca” Allen and former Secreatary of the Navy Jim Webb is interesting in how it defines political dividing lines. Webb is running as a Democrat, but is conservative in a way that would have almost defined conservatism 30 thirty years ago, but now he is running against the new conservatism of the Allen-Bush-Rove variety. Allen-Bush-Rove, with the help of the right-wing pundits have moved what the definition of center is so far to the Right that Webb is now on the left. Strange times.
With this shift of center to the fringe Right is also a shifting of what is reasonable or even sane. The actions that conservatives have taken and new actions which they continue to consider are so extreme that rational behavior seems to be shifting from what would once been thought of as morally repugnant to yawn, oh its just another day. Perhaps the almost daily outrages of Bush and a ultra right-wing Congress serve some ulterior motive, to make plausible those options just one notch below insanity, War Clouds, Plus — Worst Idea Ever

At this point, I think I need to bring up what one might call the Craziest Goddamn Thing I’ve Heard In a Long Time. This story came to me last week from an anonymous individual who I would say is in a position to know about such things. According to this person, the DOD has (naturally) been doing some analysis on airstrikes against Iran. The upshot of the analysis was that conventional bombardment would degrade the Iranian nuclear program by about 50 percent. By contrast, if the arsenal included small nuclear weapons, we could get up to about 80 percent destroying. In response to this, persons inside the Office of the Vice President took the view that we could use the nukes — in other words, launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike against Iran — and then simply deny that we’d done so.

My apologies to Matthew for stealing the payoff to the punchline. So they decide not to use nukes, but just use a comprehensive bombing campaign which pushes the middle-east further into chaos, causing catastrophic economic consequences for the rest of the world. After which they claim how rational they are because they had first considered nukes and then rejected that idea. This talk or chatter may serve another purpose. To shore up Bush’s poll numbers for being tough on some issue that has to do with brown people 20,000 miles away, the one area where he still has at least a marginal amount of support. Most of us find the tough talk more then a little high schoolish, but it does have a certain appeal to the raw meat crowd.

Physics was never my strong suit, but I feel obligated to read the occasional article. Kind of trying to keep up with the universe and all. I saw a special on String Theory once and was fascinated by the idea of multiple universes or at least the possibility of a mirror universe. It looks like String Theory and its supporters may be in need of some breakthrough. Some are beginning to wonder if there is any there there, String Theory is the darling of theoretical physics but there’s no way to test it. Does this qualify as a dead end?

Smolin, a theoretician at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, also takes issue with the landscape. But as a proponent of a rival theory known as loop quantum gravity, Smolin has a slightly different perspective. While string theory modifies the structure of subatomic particles—proposing that they’re stringy rather than pointlike—loop quantum gravity modifies the structure of space and time, positing that they are gnarled and tangled rather than smooth like relativity implies. Smolin, who’s worked on string theory in the past, struggles to keep his book from seeming like a partisan attack from a rival. “I can only insist that I am writing this book not to attack string theory or those who believe in it, but out of admiration for them and, above all, as an expression of faith in the physics scientific community,” he writes. However, when he accuses string theorists of “groupthink,” it’s hard to imagine it’s done out of admiration.

Since I already see the world as “gnarled and tangled”, Smolin is already playing to my prejudices.

Michelle Malkin and the Gateway Pundit are having a bad day, the poor things. It seems that without human rights, fair trials, legal representation, rules of evidence and the Geneva Convention the world is just one big hell hole. Wait…I…think I just blew a circuit, the fringe Right thinks that the rule of law is a necessary component of a civilized world, Well beyond satire

This post writes itself. For instance, I thought (from having read Michelle’s blog) that people who were concerned about due process for Terrorists are themselves pro-terrorists. I wonder what it is about this case that makes Michelle and Gateway Pundit so concerned for the Rights of Terrorists when normally they mock those who express such concern?

Some other blogs that are currently using duct tape to keep themselves from falling off their chairs laughing at the bald faced hypocrisy of the Right’s sudden embrace of human rights, The Sport of Us vs. Them, Wha???, Right Wing Bloggers Protecting Terrorists

More on M’s Unhinged Malkin, The Pulitzer Prize for Right-Wing Distortion 

1) Powerline, Michelle Malkin and the others like them have no respect for the American principle of a free and unfettered press, no understanding of what a photojournalist does or the importance that uncensored photos can play in the political debate half a world away. The bottom line is they’d like to destroy any photographic evidence of how badly their president’s lie-laden misadventure has gone in Iraq.

A bonus piece of wing-anger for the day from the comments at The Jawa Report, September 19, 2006, AP Responds to Bloggers: Cite Known Terrorist Sympathizer as Source

I’ve had a big problem with the AP ever since they first insisted on writing “war on terror” in quotation marks and lowercase letters instead of rightfully writing it as the War on Terror. That shows their own left wing bias that we aren’t really at war and Bush is just exaggerating the threat.
Posted by: Thrill at September 19, 2006 06:13 PM

That damn small case using liberal press do they know no shame.

I don’t have time to go round and round and round

fireone.jpg
There will be a lot of looking back today. There are some good reasons to look back. To remember those that are no longer with us and to learn from our mistakes.

Firefighters for whom 9-11 never ends

Don’t blame it on Bill Clinton

Clinton’s most public response, of course, were the cruise missile attacks of 1998, directed against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and the Sudan, following the terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Operating on limited intelligence — at that time, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tazikistan refused to share information on the terrorists whereabouts inside Afghanistan — U. S. strikes missed bin Laden by only a couple of hours.

Even so, Clinton was accused of only firing missiles in order to divert media attention from the Lewinsky hearings. A longer campaign would have stirred up even more criticism.

So Clinton tried another tack. He sponsored legislation to freeze the financial assets of international organizations suspected of funneling money to bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network — identical to orders given by President Bush this month — but it was killed, on behalf of big banks, by Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

Those actions, we knew about. Others, we did not, until recently. Starting in 1998, for example, Clinton gave the CIA a green light to use whatever covert means were necessary to gather information on Osama bin Laden and his followers, and to disrupt and preempt any planned terrorist activities against the United States.

As part of that effort, the CIA, under Clinton, trained and equipped some 60 commandos from Pakistan to enter Afghanistan and capture bin Laden. The operation collapsed when Pakistan experienced a military coup and a new government took over.

New York Times Rewrites Iraq War History, To Bush—and Times—WMDs were not just a ‘possibility’

In a New York Times article (9/6/06) on George W. Bush’s September 5 speech concerning terrorism and Iraq, reporters David Sanger and John O’Neil included a striking revision of Bush’s reasoning for going to war:

The possibility that Saddam Hussein might develop ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and pass them to terrorists was the prime reason Mr. Bush gave in 2003 for ordering the invasion of Iraq.

Of course, the drive to war rested firmly on Bush’s repeated and emphatic claim that Hussein had already developed WMDs, which he possessed and was prepared to use—a bogus claim that the mainstream media, led by the Times’ own Judith Miller, largely accepted as an article of faith and bolstered with credulous reports based on faulty information. (See Extra!, 7-8/03.)

Bush’s charges that Iraq concealed chemical and biological weapons were unequivocal. “Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons,” Bush told the U.N. (9/12/02).

“The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons,” Bush said in a speech in Cincinnati (10/7/02). “We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.”

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,” Bush said in a March 17, 2003 address to the nation.

The New York Times’ editorial page unskeptically accepted these claims and incorporated them into the paper’s own arguments. In a September 18, 2002 editorial, the paper declared:

What really counts in this conflict…is the destruction of Iraq’s unconventional weapons and the dismantling of its program to develop nuclear arms…. What makes Iraq the subject of intense concern, as Mr. Bush noted, is Mr. Hussein’s defiance of the Security Council’s longstanding instructions to dismantle Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program and to eliminate all its biological and chemical weapons and the materials used to make them.

After the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on inspectors returning to Iraq, the Times editorialized (11/9/02):

The unwavering goal is to disarm Iraq, enforcing a string of previous Security Council resolutions that Baghdad has contemptuously ignored. The cost of letting that happen has been diminished authority for the United Nations and a growing danger that Iraq’s unconventional weapons will be used in war or passed on to terrorists. Mr. Bush has galvanized the Security Council to declare that its orders must now be obeyed and those dangers eliminated.

Lastly a good diary from Valtin at DKos about Richard Armitage who is hardly the nieve non-partisan gossip that most of the media and the right-wing blogs have made him out to be. He is well pickled in the neocon kool-aid. The Secret History of Richard L. Armitage

This diary will detail the political history of Mr. Armitage, who is usually briefly identified as a friend and ally of Colin Powell, and an enemy of the neo-cons in the George W. Bush administration. If you follow the details below, wherein it is shown that Richard Armitage has a shadowy and dirty history in U.S. intelligence operations, including Iran-Contra, and has long been a sophisticated member of the top echelons of the U.S. government, in addition to being a prominent member of the neo-con Project for the New American Century — I think that the idea that Armitage was a gossipy and forgetful bumbler who innocently let fall Plame’s name will seem more and more unlikely.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
from the lyrics to Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks