Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Sorry, folks -- both very busy and fighting a cold, so minimal deep thinking lately.


I won't rest easy on net neutrality until it is law (OK, not then either), but this is certainly a good sign:

Two Senators on Friday called for a congressional hearing to investigate reports that phone and cable companies are unfairly stifling communications over the Internet and on cell phones.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the incidents involving several companies, including Comcast Corp., Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., have raised serious concerns over the companies' "power to discriminate against content."


When St. Rudy of the Sacred 9/11 (just noticed that "sacred" is an anagram for "scared") announced he was rooting for the BoSox in the World Series, did he know that he was thereby rooting against God's Own Team?


Joe Lieberman meets the Sopranos.



The Judiciary Committee Dems are about to once again pull defeat from the jaws of victory. The Mukasey nomination looked like a lock. Then he refused to weigh in on waterboarding, and it looked like that might be enough to doom his chances. Brian Beutler groks what is really going on -- approving torture is a job prerequisite. And because rejecting him for that more-than-sufficient reason would show principle and spine, I confidently predict that just enough Dems (paging Senator Feinstein) will vote "yea" to confirm him, thereby not onlyfailing to stop torture, but actually approving it.

Update: even Sully gets it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Not in my world

The British Daily mail reports:

The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bullet points

The rapidly deteriorating situation on the Iraq/Turkey border, and the collection of belligerent powder kegs in the neighborhood, have Juan Cole reaching for a truly chilling antecedent: 1914.


And let us not forget that it was not that long ago that the semi-autonomous Kurds were our best friends forever. Except now our freedom-loving President will be happy to bomb them in order to help preserve their freedom.

Once upon a time, I remember that that were things that Republicans said that made sense to me. Although there are some things he says and does that are repulsive, at least Ron Paul still believes in the Constitution.

While the Democrats are caving in to Bush's demands on FISA and refusing to put a stop to warrantless wiretapping and much more, Paul is putting out bills like the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007. This bill would repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006, restore full habeas corpus requirements, prohibit the use of secret evidence under all circumstances, and end the practice of rendition to other countries to torture terrorism suspects. It also would grant standing to Congress to sue the President over any signing statement that proposes that the President may ignore any provision of the legislation for any reason.

Ron Paul polls around 2%. Which tells you all you need to know about the folks who call themselves Republicans today.

Picture of the day:

Monday, October 22, 2007


Raw Story is justifiably crowing about having scooped CBS by a year about the fact Valerie Plame was working on anti-proliferation re: Iran.

And while I cannot claim to be the very first to say it, I was ahead of the curve by a similar amount in my April 2006 speculation that she was not collateral damage of the hit on her husband, but perhaps the real target.

Joe Cannon builds the case here.

Update: Me, 2004:

18 months ago, George W. Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and delivered a victory speech before a banner that proclaimed "mission accomplished." Since then, more than 900 American soldiers have died in the chaos of Iraq, with no end in sight. If you think that is evidence of failure, you aren't paying attention. In fact, Bush could have proclaimed victory in the war he really cares about the moment the first bomb dropped on Baghdad.

If you start from the naïve assumption that the Bush Administration means what it says, you perforce reach the conclusion that the invasion of Iraq has been a failure, and that the goals of its anti-terror policies hover near a horizon too hazy to make out whether we are gaining or losing ground. But this view is based upon false assumptions. We are in fact exactly where George Bush wants us to be: endless war.

If you reverse-engineer administration policy from the consequences of its actions, this conclusion is inescapable. What are the results of being quicksanded in Iraq? Young Americans come home in boxes, of course, but we know that Bush has never lost sleep sending others to their deaths.

Seemingly unnoticed is the remarkable coincidence that the other effects created by this administration's policies are all manna to its masters. High oil prices fatten Saudi royals and American oil barons alike. The endless cycle of bombing and rebuilding in Iraq is a windfall of unprecedented scale to companies like Halliburton, who deliver munitions and reconstruction projects in equal measure.

Jim Holt, London Review of Books, last week:

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.
Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought); US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about); Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world’s oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation; and, oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about US troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns. Among the losers is Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe. Another big loser is Opec, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Di Fi So Dum

My letter to my pathetic Senator:

I am nearly speechless with disgust at what you have done by supporting the granting of immunity to the telcos for their apparent violations of FISA and the Constitution -- violations the Senate has not even bothered to investigate.

The fact that you have failed to live up to what I expect of a Democrat is unimportant. The fact that you have utterly abandoned the basic functions of a Senator, and extinguished the foundational elements of our of nation is unforgivable. Your fixation on "bipartisanship" is, simply, pathetic. Abrogation of the rule of law is not less an outrage because you join Republicans in accomplishing it -- your participation doubles the outrage.

Shame on you, Senator. Shame on you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Also, 24

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deepening unhappiness with President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress soured the mood of Americans and sent Bush's approval rating to another record low this month, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Bush's job approval rating fell to 24 percent from last month's record low for a Zogby poll of 29 percent.

Because matching Jim Otto's number is probably a statistical impossibility.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The insight that I shared recently continues to gnaw at me -- the one about the uncomplicatable simplicity (the inverse of their hobby horse irreducible complexity) of their world views. And, as with the theory of evolution, the world keeps presenting more examples that support the hypothesis. Think, for example about the TV show "24."

We know "24" is a silly, overwrought cowboy serial. We know that there is as much overlap between the real world and the simulacrum of Kiefer Sutherland's "24" as there was between Vietnam and John Wayne's "Green Berets." The authoritarian wingers -- not so much. Think about the prominent place "24" has held in the Republican presidential debates. Candidates for the nomination of one of the two major parties are actually pointing to TV characters as guideposts for their foreign policy.

The inability to distinguish between teevee torture and the real thing is not limited to fools like Tom Tancredo or my internal dyspepsia. A few days ago intelligence expert Colonel Stuart Harrington talked on "Fresh Air" about this exact problem and its effect on real events and real people.

And it isn't just "24,"of course. You might remember when Digby point out this from a February 2007 piece in the New Yorker:
Lieberman likes expressions of American power. A few years ago, I was in a movie theatre in Washington when I noticed Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, a few seats down. The film was “Behind Enemy Lines,” in which Owen Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down in Bosnia. Whenever the American military scored an onscreen hit, Lieberman pumped his fist and said, “Yeah!” and “All right!”
In isolation, this anecdote is merely a bit creepy. In the context I have been talking about, I think it is pretty strong evidence of the very mental infirmity I am talking about. It seems pretty obvious to me that these contrived Hollywood victories occupy far more real estate in Senator Lieberman's head than all the bloodshed and immorality that define the reality of Iraq.

We know that a defining distinction between Hollywood propaganda and reality is the fact that the outcome in jingostic nonsense like "Behind Enemy Lines" is never in doubt. But think about how Dubya and his crusaders talk. It is painfully evident that the possibility that the "good guys" might lose simply eludes them. They simply cannot distinguish between Hollywood and reality. They are somehow missing the filter that divides the library into fiction and non-fiction -- for them, books is books.

There's more. I think this same pathology is what is behind the way they always accuse us of hating America simply because we dare to find fault. We know that it is possible to both love and find fault with our country. But for the those who, as Jon Stewart pointed out don't have gray matter between the ears (they have black and white matter), love and criticism are simply incompatible. Our ability to simultaneously hold conflicting thoughts must seem as foreign to them as a bird's ability to see magnetic fields is to us.

Except that we are not up in arms about "Winged Migration."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why electing a Democrat matters

Not because Hillary will foreswear torture and illegal wiretapping and secrecy and renditions. Not because she will embrace the joys of checks and balances in January 2009.

She won't.

It matters because the Republican party will miraculously rediscover the Constitution the day she takes office.

And because, unlike their invertebrate Democratic colleagues, they will find ways to hamstring her regardless of the number of seats they hold in Congress.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Better him than me

Via BoingBoing, Zack Exley is going deep into Jesusland, and finding hopeful signs. He is acting as a foreign correspondent covering the movement toward some progressive values among a small but growing number of Evangelicals. His new blog, Revolution in Jesusland, is fascinating reading.

I've read very little of the Bible (I got to MEGO early in the begats), but I went out of my way a while back to read the Sermon on the Mount. I remember thinking, "Wow, this is pretty good. Somebody ought to try building a religion around this." I don't want to overstate what Zack is reporting, but it certainly sounds encouraging.

I am frankly skeptical that American Christians will ever fully embrace the teachings of Jesus (you know, that "Eye of the Needle" stuff is Kryptonite to the Crystal Cathedral crowd), but I think we have to applaud movement in that direction. Alliteration to the contrary, "religious right" is not an indivisible construction. Remember the Berrigans?

I couldn't do it, but I'm glad Zack can.

Update: God's own progressives will have their work cut out for them.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Game, Set, Match

Pelosi nixes idea of ‘war tax’

All told, the Democratic proposal for an “Iraq tax” lasted about four hours. That’s roughly the amount of time from when House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) gave life to the idea with his endorsement to when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) strangled it.

“Just as I have opposed the war from the outset, I am opposed to a draft and I am opposed to a war surtax,” Pelosi said in a statement issued this afternoon.

Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) is the author of the tax proposal, which is still being written. The tax would be intended to raise roughly $150 billion for the war and consist of a surtax of 2 to 15 percent of a person’s income tax. A 2 percent surtax means that a person who otherwise would pay $100 in taxes would pay $102.

“If you don’t like the cost, then shut down the war,” Obey said in a news conference.

Obey also told reporters President Bush will not get supplemental money for the Iraq war until he agrees to change course.

Bush has sent a request for a $190 billion supplemental spending bill.

That's it.

Game, set, match.

I hereby disown, disavow and distance myself from the Democratic Party. If you catch me using the pronouns "we" or "us" when discussing the Democrats, please slap me and remind me of my vow.

I suspect the Meme will never be blue again.

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