Friday, August 31, 2007

When you dance, I can really love

To everyone coming from Crooks & Liars: Happy Holiday, and thanks. Please follow the 'Home' link at the bottom and see what my co-bloggers and I have to say about other topics.

Kevin Drum on the Gen. Petreaus vaudeville show:
Five months ago Petraeus was guaranteeing to wavering Republicans that they'd see progress in August, precisely the month when the PR campaign was scheduled to go into high gear. Today he's issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony and nine-dollar gas if we leave, circulating bio pages that let his staff know whether they're dealing with friend or foe among visiting congress members, and insisting repeatedly that violence is down in classified briefings where he doesn't have to publicly defend his figures.

If these don't sound like the actions of an honest broker to you, they don't to me either. They sound like elements of a campaign with one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers that we're making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or not. We're only seeing the results of Petraeus's PR blitzkrieg now, but it's obviously been in the works for months and it's been a smashing success. The general has profoundly outplayed the amateurs on their home turf.

Eh, not so much, Kevin. As has been pointed out many times in the lefty bloggersphere, as well as in the TradMedia, Petraeus is blowing smoke out of his ass. And the only ones buying it are TeeVee talking heads, and the BushCo 28%:

Juan Cole:
I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too.

Iraq has managed to reach only three out of 18 progress benchmarks set by the US, a draft of a key report seen by the Washington Post newspaper says.

The reported findings of the Government Accountability Office - a Congressional watchdog - contrast with a White House study saying eight goals have been met.

That's just 2 examples, one from a 'responsible' blogger, one from a TradMedia outlet doing an honest job.

Some call it Kabuki, others call it flim-flam. Others call it for what it is:

Just give me some of that toe-tappin' rhythm, foot stompin' music

The following is the recorded transcript between Larry Craig and the police officer that interrogated him regarding the June 11 incident at a Minneapolis-St. Paul international airport. Well, maybe not "word for word". But close enough:

OFFICER: Do you wish to talk to us at this time?
CRAIG: I do.
OFFICER: Okay. Um, I just wanna start off with a your side of the story, okay. So...
CRAIG: So I go into the bathroom here as I normally do, I'm a commuter too here.
CRAIG: A very manly commuter, I might add.
OFFICER: Um, okay...
CRAIG: I sit down, um, to go to the bathroom and ah, I suddenly have the feeling that George Michael is in the next stall. The one you were in. Your feet look just like George Michael's.
OFFICER: George Michael?
CRAIG: Yes. I'm a big fan of his, you know. He's a very masculine, macho singer. Women like him, so he MUST be straight, you know?
OFFICER: Well, I...
CRAIG: Anyway, being the big fan that I am, I wanted his autograph. All fans of celebrities know that the signal to get their attention is to tap on their foot with your foot. Now, I've always thought that a bit strange but, you know, who am I to argue celebrity etiquette?
OFFICER: Celebrity etiquette? Tapping on feet under bathroom stalls? I doubt that...
CRAIG: Oh yes. Oh! And did I mention that I own a pick-up truck?
OFFICER: A pick-up truck?
CRAIG: Yes. With a gun rack and NRA stickers all over it. Heh heh, I even have a bumper sticker that says "You'll have to pry my gun from my cold dead hands". All us macho types have that.
OFFICER: Mr. Craig, you also reached your hand down under the stall...
CRAIG: I was reaching for a piece of paper. You know, for George Michael to write his autograph on. I certainly didn't want him having to write it on some body part on me. That wouldn't be proper, now would it?
OFFICER: Uh, no it wouldn't, but..
CRAIG: I am not gay. I don't do these kinds of things.
OFFICER: It doesn't matter. I don't care about sexual preference or anything like that. Here's your stuff back sir. Um, I don't care about sexual preference.
CRAIG: I know you don't. You're out to enforce the law.
CRAIG: Did I mention I am Republican? You know how anti-gay we Republicans are.
CRAIG: I really love football. And hockey. None of those gay sports like tennis or figure skating.
OFFICER: Mr. Craig, let's not...
CRAIG: And fishing. I love fishing.
OFFICER: We're getting off the subject here...
CRAIG: And hunting. I shoot a lot of things. Did I mention my gun rack?
OFFICER: Yes you did, but...
CRAIG: I remember how my buddy and I used to wait behind the local gay bar and beat up queers that walked out. We called them all kinds of names. Fags. Homos. Stuff like that.
OFFICER: Mr. Craig, I can't believe you are telling me all this...
CRAIG: You can believe me... I am soooo not gay. I hate gays. They make my blood boil. Just thinking about them gets me worked up. Uh, not worked up in a gay sort of way. I mean worked up in an angry heterosexual manly man sort of way.
OFFICER: Let's get back on subject, shall we? You tapped my foot...
CRAIG: I had a song going through my head. I was tapping my foot in rhythm to it.
OFFICER: I thought you said you wanted an autograph from George Michael.
CRAIG: It was a George Michael song.
OFFICER: Now, you're not being truthful with me, I'm kinda disappointed in you Senator. I'm real disappointed in you right now.
CRAIG: Disappointed? How do you think I feel? I thought I was gonna get George Michael's autograph.
OFFICER: This is embarrassing...
CRAIG: I want your sex.
OFFICER: What???
CRAIG: "I Want Your Sex". That was the George Michael song I had going through my head when my foot tapped yours.
OFFICER: Okay, let's try to start over here. You travel through here frequently, correct?
CRAIG: Almost weekly.
OFFICER: Have you been successful in these bathrooms here before?
CRAIG: Oh yes. I got Clay Aiken's autograph recently here. He's a real macho kind of guy, too. I could picture having a beer with him at a backyard barbeque. And I heard him fart real loud from the other stall. Now, I ask you, who but the most masculine of men just let their farts ring out loud and clear, not caring who can hear it?
OFFICER: Senator, I don't care about anyone's sexuality, whether it's you or George Michael or Clay Aiken. That is not the point here...
CRAIG: Oh, but it is! I don't do those sorts of things.
OFFICER: All I know is you tapped my foot and reached down and...
CRAIG: Republicans aren't gay! Do you hear me?? I'll vote down any pro-gay measure, I'll even try to put through measures to have them all rounded up and put into camps like we did to the Japanese...
OFFICER: Please, Mr. Craig, you're only embarrassing yourself...
CRAIG: Heck, I would think the gays would like that. Then can tap the feet on anybody they like in the other stall without fear of damn cops busting us... er... them. Damn it, you're getting me all confused and flustered here.
OFFICER: I think we're pretty much done here.
CRAIG: I'm not gay!!! You hear me buster?? NOT GAY!!
OFFICER: Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes.
CRAIG: You know, we Republicans hear that a lot.
OFFICER: What a shocker. This interview is done.
CRAIG: Can I have my "50 Greatest Broadway Tunes of All Time" CD back, please?

[graphic by Dancin' Dave]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cuz the gay messiah's coming

I don't care if Larry Craig is gay. I care if he is so self-loathing that he votes against his own, and most American's interests, while still needing to cruise a crapper at an airport. On that topic, Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings says it best:
I have a certain sympathy for closeted gay men and lesbians. I think that being so deeply ashamed of a part of yourself that's so fundamental, and that you can do nothing to change, must be close to unbearable; and the knowledge that coming clean would involve not only admitting that you're gay, but also that you have lied for years to people you care about, and who trust you, would only make it that much worse. But my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did. There are limits to what you get to do to protect your own secrets, and being willing to permanently destroy gay men and lesbians' chances to marry the people they love, and with whom they have found happiness, is way, way outside them.

(For the record, I don't have much sympathy for straight people who support this idiotic and mean-spirited amendment either.)

Indeed. But there's a civil liberties issue here, something I think few have mentioned, that the Craig take-down was based on pretty flimsy evidence:
He moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot...

Creepy, to be sure. But an arrestable offense? I'm really not sure. I would be really uncomfortable if someone did that to me. But I certainly wouldn't resort to Tuckie-poo's solution:
CARLSON: I have. I've been bothered in Georgetown Park. When I was in high school.

. . .
CARLSON: I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the -- you know, and grabbed him, and -- and --

ABRAMS: And did what?

CARLSON: Hit him against the stall with his head, actually!


CARLSON: And then the cops came and arrested him. But let me say that I'm the least anti-gay right-winger you'll ever meet --

Words fail me.


Update: from the always amazing darkblack in comments:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You got to help me, I can't do it all by myself

(Photo proudly stolen from the Heritage Foundation. Bite me.)

Sometimes it just writes itself. Corporate tool and ├╝ber-mustache John Stossel says health care in the USA is really pretty good:
First let's acknowledge that the U.S. medical system has serious problems. But the problems stem from departures from free-market principles. The system is riddled with tax manipulation, costly insurance mandates and bureaucratic interference. Most important, six of seven health care dollars are spent by third parties, which means that most consumers exercise no cost-consciousness. As Milton Friedman always pointed out, no one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own.

Even with all that, it strains credulity to hear that the U.S. ranks far from the top. Sick people come to the United States for treatment. When was the last time you heard of someone leaving this country to get medical care?

So what's wrong with the WHO and Commonwealth Fund studies? Let me count the ways.

The WHO, a United Nations agency, judged a country's quality of health on life expectancy. But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That's not a health care problem.

Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

Another reason the U.S. didn't score high in the WHO rankings is that we are less socialistic than other nations. What has that got to do with the quality of health care? For the authors of the study, it's crucial. The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed." The problem here is obvious. By that criterion, a country with high-quality care overall but "unequal distribution" would rank below a country with lower-quality care but equal distribution.

Jeebus, where to start?

As conservatarians are wont to say, the "free-market" will fix all. But then he goes on:
The system is riddled with tax manipulation, costly insurance mandates and bureaucratic interference. Most important, six of seven health care dollars are spent by third parties, which means that most consumers exercise no cost-consciousness.
And life-expectancy isn't a good measure of health care? This is sophistry at its worst, an agenda-driven statement that overlooks fact. How unusual.
This is exactly what the "free-market" has given us. More about this in another post, but the free-market is about profit, not service.
The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed."

Again, this is "free-market" dogma: if you can afford it, you can get it. If you're poor, tough. And the loaded use of the word 'socialistic' is another giveaway that as usual, Stossel has an agenda and will bend any facts to fit.

Look, an agenda is OK, I have one too. I want single-payer health care for 2 reasons: We're theoretically the richest country on the planet and our citizens deserve health care, and the government-run Medicare system is teh most efficient was to deliver it with the least overhead.

Stossel doesn't give a crap about 47,000,000 Americans without health care, he cares about Blue Cross, Aetna, and all the other insurance companies making a profit.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

For Now We'll Make A Vow to Just Keep it in the Closet

Gawd, what a fool...

Update: From Mom:
Larry Craig, the senator from Idaho who got arrested in an airport bathroom is from the same area that all our Idaho relatives live in. One of Mom's cousins was married to another Craig, I believe a cousin of Larry. Those people up there are the worst rednecks I ever saw, I think they are even worse than southerners.

I'm going down, down, down, down, down

Monday, August 27, 2007

I know what I like, and I like what I know; getting better in your wardrobe, stepping one beyond your show.

(List from Proceed At Your Own Risk blog, which seems to be on hiatus)

Rick Moran at the never ironically named Right Wing Nut House continues on his personal quest to become . . . not a right wing nut:
I have made no secret on this blog of my distaste for the Republican strategy of pushing opposition to abortion and gay marriage as litmus tests for GOP candidates and as “wedge” issues to use in campaigns.

While I acknowledge there are many millions of sincere, devout Christians (and other social conservatives) who see these issues as vital to the moral fiber of the nation and thus worthy of standing them up front and center as the party’s main identity, from a personal standpoint, I strenuously disagree.

Abortion, I can understand. The religious underpinnings that can rationalize life at conception are well known to me, having grown up Catholic. But the Republic or the “sanctity of marriage” being in danger because two people in love want to get married? That’s a stretch. There may be other reasons to keep gay people from marrying but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s really no body’s business who loves who and what sex they are. There may be sticky legal issues involved but I’m no lawyer and can’t speak to them. All I can look to is common sense. And common sense tells me that gay people should be able to do anything in this free country that anyone else can do.

In-freakin'-deed. Welcome to the realization that real conservatives, as well as liberals, want personal decisions not controlled by the state. In this way, the right-wing of the Republican Party has turned into the true advocate of a "Nanny State" where Dobson et al are the arbiters of morality for you and me, and the State has to save us from terrorists with baby formula bottles on airplanes by sending American soldiers into the meat grinder of Iraq.

Except, whoopsies:
Beyond common sense, there is politics. And while I am not calling for dropping these planks from any GOP platform, these issues are no longer “wedge” issues. They are “loser” issues. They are “recipe for electoral disaster” issues. They are driving people away from the Republican party.

So you have distaste of GOP "wedge issue" framing, but please, oh please, don't drop it from the party platform. Because then it can still be so wedgie.

This is really the worst kind of pandering to the nutball base: "I don't like that you think about stuff that I think is stupid, but I want you to still think about it."

Can't have it both ways, fool. But he goes on about Sen. Larry Craig's (R-Closet) little "issue":
The point really isn’t whether he’s guilty or innocent. The point is that this sort of thing becomes a huge issue because of the way the party talks about gays and the way many GOP stalwarts like Reverends Robertson and Dobson talk about sex. The perception that Republicans are a bunch of bigoted blue noses stuck in the 19th century with Victorian sensibilities about the bedroom turns off a lot of voters – especially the young.

Damn straight. That's the way Ayatollah Dobson wants it, that's the way your Right-Wing will play it. And those with semi-enlightened minds like yours, or Andrew Sullivan's, will be marginalized and ignored on this issue, while closet cases like Craig & Dreier score points by voting against Hate-Crimes legislation for gays, and for Defense of Marriage Acts.

Because that's what it is, an act. Because they can't come to grips with their own acts (pun fully intended).


The sky is cryin....can't you see the tears roll down the street

To everyone coming over from Crooks and Liars, welcome! There is plenty of other political, as well as musical commentary here, so don't be afraid to hit the "Home" link at the bottom and read some more.

Today is a sad anniversary for music lovers. 17 short years ago, we lost Stevie Ray Vaughan:

In July, 1986, I was working for Stevie Wonder, designing and wiring a custom audio remote recording truck at his L.A. studio, Wonderland, when word came from the front desk that Stevie Ray Vaughan wanted to come by and see the place. Wonderland is private, but friends and selected others can work there.

SRV had just come off tour, and wanted to do some overdubs and mix what was released later that year as "Live Alive." He had gone to another famous L.A. studio that had just been freshly rebuilt, and he found it too shiny and new, too clinical. He wanted someplace that looked older and funkier, more comfortable, but with great technical infrastructure. A mutual acquaintance suggested Wonderland, and he loved it as soon as he looked it over.

He set up shop and got to work. Problem was, all his equipment: amps, guitars, including his famous brown Strat with the initials, were stuck on a truck in Canada because of Carnet issues. We made calls to every musician and rental company we could find for '59 Strats with rosewood slab fingerboards, Marshall 50 watt amps with the rare 8 x 10" speaker cab, pre-CBS blackface Super Reverbs, and Dumble amps.

When he found out that I played guitar and knew how to work on them, he hired me to re-string and setup many of the borrowed and rental instruments. He sat and talked with me one day for a long time while playing this guitar of mine (sadly, no camera at the time):

One night I was upstairs in the tech shop, working on wiring, and talking with Pam on the phone, when SRV came running up the stairs:

"Hey Steve, I need some batteries, some double-A ones, you got any?"

I looked, found a few, but he needed more. I unloaded the 2 in my Walkman™, he grabbed them all, said "Thanks, man" and ran down the stairs.

About 5 minutes later I heard someone run back up the stairs, SRV came into the room and started shooting me with a battery powered machine gun-type squirt gun. Hilarity ensued. It really was quite funny.

Lovely man, very sweet and nice, and to quote David Bowie: "He took it all too far but boy could he play guitar."

Here are both Stevie's playing Wonder's "Superstition" (bad video, but good audio):

Sunday, August 26, 2007

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from

Digby says this about Limbaugh's racist comments this week:
The hideous, racist assumptions in that little "analysis" are so blatant that it's startling, even from the disgusting Limbaugh. The charge that African American voters vote on the basis of African politics is so bizarre I don't even know how to deal with it. And anyway, even if it were true, the fact that the Republicans are a bunch of racist pigs who insisted on supporting apartheid until the bitter end would likely have been the motive, especially since those same Republican racists couldn't stop talking about welfare queens and running their political campaigns based on thinly veiled racist attacks. While I'm sure black Americans care about Darfur and South Africa as much as the next decent human being, they know very well that the Republican party is filled with racist haters like Limbaugh who despise them. Voting for the Democrats isn't really that complicated in light of that.

I agree. Thing is, this is how some Jewish voters will vote. Some who are socially and culturally very liberal, with all the good intentions that usually indicates, will vote Republican because of perceptions that the Right will support Israel better. And I'm not talking about ADL and Zionist types, just normal folks who would otherwise be considered part of the Democratic base.

Whether the Left or the Right is a better friend to Israel can be debated. However, in light of the current FUBAR situation in Iraq, that threatens to spread to Iran & Syria and potentially involve the whole region in completely avoidable war, it seems the Right, manifested in GWBush & Co., have put Israel pretty close to the center of some pretty dangerous politics.

Not the actions of a friend, in my opinion.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Now hear this, do not panic; Do As I Say, Do As I Say

Bushco, thy name is hypocrisy.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said this in an interview 2 days ago:
The fact we're doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die
Q. So you're saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That's what I mean.
WTF!? Exposing and debating an unconstitutional program means some Americans will die? I doubt that ... and apparently McConnell doubts that too because in that interview he exposed, for the first time, details of the program that even congress wasn't briefed about before their vote for the new unconstitutional spying law.

For the first time McConnell confirmed that the Telcom companies were involved:
The Bush administration has confirmed for the first time that American telecommunications companies played a crucial role in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program after asserting for more than a year that any role played by them was a “state secret.”
And McConnell's main concern on this issue wasn't 'state secrets,' it was the potential costs to those companies:
It is vital, he said, for Congress to give retroactive legal immunity to the companies that assisted in the program to help prevent them from facing bankruptcy because of lawsuits over it.
Gee, they should have thought of that before they broke the law. Like these 'tough on crime' rethuglicans are always saying, if you can't do the time don't do the crime ... or at least lose the money.

But you'd think America's chief spy would have higher concerns, like when he claimed Iraqis are invading our country via Mexico:
So, are terrorists coming across the Southwest border? [...] There were a significant number of Iraqis who came across last year.
Ohmygawd, the terrerists are coming, the ter ... uhhh, wait a minute, didn't he say Iraqis? Iraqis = terrerists? But I thought Iraqis were freedom loving people who would greet us as liberators? And if they 'know' Iraqi terrorists are infiltrating the US ... ohh, never mind, these people know no shame and have constantly proved they aren't above lying to stampede the sheeple into war and giving up even more civil liberties (i.e. WMDs, aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, drones of mass destruction, mobile bio labs, 'dirty' bombs, etc, etc, etc.)

And in addition to revealing the exact 'state secrets' that Bush has fought so hard to quash in the courts, and exposing his paraniod fantasies about terrerists, he also has delusions about the original intent of the FISA law.
The reason that the FISA law was passed in 1978 was an arrangement was worked out between the Congress and the administration [...] we are trying to get back to what was the intention of '78.
Sorry dude, the 'intention of 78' and the reason that FISA passed in 1978 was that the executive branch under Nixon ran wild and spied on Americans.

Exactly like now. And the intention was to stop that spying unless you can convince a court to issue a warrant, not the warrantless spying that McConnell is an advocate of.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Music knows it is and always will, Be one of the things that life just won't quit

On a fairly major street in L.A., near a fairly major intersection, in a very colorful part of town, sits a non-descript grayish-green Deco-style building. It has a security gate (surprise! in this city), and an adjacent fenced and gated parking lot.

I have spent many hours in this building, repairing equipment, and assembling the complex and complicated wiring for a custom remote recording truck for the owner, Stevland Morris.

And for the first time since sometime in the '90s, I was back there today.

Stevie is a really great guy; smart, innovative, and always wanting to try new ideas. He was one of the first in L.A. to embrace digital recording back in the early '80s, and has always kept abreast of technology and innovation. No moss growing on Stevie, that's for sure.

The first digital multitrack recorder was built by 3M. Coming out of their previous incarnation, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M-get it?), they had transcended their Scotch Tape roots and had been manufacturing analog recording tape for many years. In the mid '70s, as digital recording was being discussed and determined, 3M, who had already been making pretty successful analog multitrack machines, decided to innovate with a multitrack digital recorder.

Here is their M79 24 track analog tape machine:

Stevie jumped on the digital bandwagon early, and bought a couple of the 3M digital machines. Much of his work throughout the '80s was recorded on these machines, which, sadly, are now not working.

Hence, my trip to Wonderland. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to make the 3M digital tape machine whole again, so Stevie can transfer material he has in that format to alternative media. I accept the challenge.

More about this project later, as it develops. In the meantime, listen to Stevie:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And how many deaths will it take till we know, that too many people have died?

Bush et al keep claiming the escalation surge is working and continually point to Anbar Province as evidence. But Bushco didn't put extra troops into Anbar. And Iraq didn't put extra troops into Anbar. What the US did was arm the militias in Anbar. Hmm, arming dictators and militias has always worked so well in the past.

Baghdad, where the US has actually concentrated the 'surge,' is worse off than ever.

American deaths, regardless of the spin that you hear, remain the same from when the 'surge' began. Iraqi civilian deaths, regardless of the spin you hear, are at record levels.

So how is the 'surge' working? Only in a PR way.

Bush says the surge is working, even tho the evidence contradicts him. Dem Presidential candidates acknowledge 'there is progress in Iraq', even tho the evidence contradicts them.

Even more Americans think the surge is working, because the spin is working. A multi-month, multi-faceted ad campaign by Bushco, a constant reframing (AKA moving the goal posts) of the mission has had the desired effect:
Freedom's Watch, a conservative group with ties to the Bush administration, launched a multimillion dollar ad blitz Wednesday to pressure lawmakers wavering in their support of the Iraq war to stand strong behind President Bush and resist calls for withdrawal, a move the ads characterize as "surrender."
'Ties to the White House' is putting it mildly. But wait, there's more! Bushco learned that swiftboating works. That's why Vets for Freedom was launched. Surprise, surprise, surprise, it has major ties to Bushco.

It may seem like hubris that I claim the escalation of the war isn't working, after all, who am I to contradict these current and potential leaders?

I'm a person who doesn't live in the beltway and doesn't watch network or cable news, but I do look at numbers, and the numbers put the lie to this offensive PR offensive. I urge you to look at the numbers, follow the links, and not listen to the spin.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When their sons go to fight and lose their lives

Quote of the day, from Paul Rieckhoff on Hardball:

"Our troops are not political props, and they aren't chew toys".


Remember that Rieckhoff is an Iraq War vet, and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He was responding to the GWBush speech today to the VFW, and also to Ari Fleischer's (R-Warmonger) new war porn group.

Here's from the IAVA response to the speech:
“President Bush failed to adequately address many of the urgent issues facing veterans today. The last thing these veterans needed was a history lesson. They remember America’s wars because they actually fought them. Instead of making references to previous conflicts, we need the President to take more seriously the myriad of issues facing veterans and their families right now. There were glaring omissions in his remarks, including answering who will replace Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson when he steps down in October,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Executive Director. “Instead of offering a history lesson, President Bush should be specific about taking immediate action on the recommendations of the Dole-Shalala Commission to fix the deplorable conditions and poor care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. These are matters of life and death for America’s newest generation of veterans, but on these critical issues, President Bush came up short.”

IAVA Director of Government Affairs, Todd Bowers, attended President Bush’s address to the VFW. “While IAVA commends the Veterans of Foreign Wars for hosting such an important gathering, we were disappointed by what President Bush said, and more importantly, did not say this morning. It’s critical that President Bush place a higher priority on implementing the recommendations of the Dole-Shalala Commission to ensure that veterans receive the honor and care they deserve.”

Here's more about Ari's new play date club:
Beginning today, Freedom’s Watch, a new right-wing front group for the White House, “will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaign” to pressure Congress to continue supporting President Bush’s disastrous Iraq strategy. The group, which is “funded by high-profile Republicans who were aides and supporters of President Bush,” is headed by a familiar face from the Bush war effort: former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

Swell. As usual, zombies are those who don't have the good sense to quietly go off and die.

Update: via email from Paul Rieckhoff:

Great blog. Thanks for running that quote and for supporting our work.

Also, here's another from Think Progress wherein Paul rebuts Ari.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

There is no other place I want to be

Garrett Anderson just set the Angels' record for RBIs in a single game, with 10!

Oh, and it was against the NY Yankees.

Oh, and it's only the 6th inning.

We tell folks he's our nephew. We'd be proud if he was.

We now return you to our irregularly scheduled political blog (with occasional music treats).

The British are going, the British are going! ... or ... Reverse Revere Reviled

Military Commanders Tell Brown to Withdraw from Iraq Without Delay

Senior military commanders have told the Government that Britain can achieve “nothing more” in south-east Iraq, and that the 5,500 British troops still deployed there should move towards withdrawal without further delay.

Last month Gordon Brown said after meeting George Bush at Camp David that the decision to hand over security in Basra province - the last of the four held by the British - “will be made on the military advice of our commanders on the ground”.
American criticism of Britain’s desire to pull back in southern Iraq has recently become public, with a US intelligence official telling The Washington Post this month that “the British have basically been defeated in the south”. A senior British commander countered, “That’s to miss the point. It was never that kind of battle, in which we set out to defeat an enemy.” Other officers said the British force was never configured to “clear and hold” Basra in the way the Americans are seeking to do in Baghdad.
Yeah, I'm certain the Brits will listen to US criticism seeing as how our war is going so well.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, August 20, 2007

The things you think are precious I can't understand

Kevin at The American Street does the work so you don't have to:
With the housing bubble collapsing and the stock market in a serious correction, many economists believe the US faces a recession early next year. As I considered the actions impacting the US economy made by the Republican president, Republican Congress (in 2006, when the housing bubble collapse began) and the Fed - led by Republicans for at least the past quarter century -I began to wonder what the long term economic record was under Republican presidents. Here’s what I discovered:

Worst economy in US history: the Great Depression. Began in 1929 after nearly 9 years of Republican presidents (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover).

Worst recessions since the Great Depression: The worst was in 1982, under Ronald Reagan, which included unemployment above 10%. The second worst was in 1974, under Nixon, then Ford.

How bad is the current housing bubble collapse? The drop in national home sales and median home prices in March of 2007 was the worst since 1989, when George HW Bush was president following 8 years of another Republican, Reagan. Some analysts say if it continues, it could be the worst housing bubble collapse since the Great Depression.

Biggest previous spender, as President: Ronald Reagan, who spent more than all previous Presidents combined.

Biggest spender, all time, as President: George W. Bush, who’s spent more than all previous Presidents combined, like Reagan, and including Reagan’s record-breaking spending. The only expense that comes anywhere near the type of spending these two presidents did in all of US history was the cost of fighting World War II.

Total Aug 6 2007 national debt: $8.94 trillion, up $3 trillion from the debt Bush inherited. He never vetoed a single spending bill he received from the Republican Congress in his first six years, increasing annual spending by almost 50%.

In our current president’s first term budget requests (2001-2004), how much did the Republican Congress provide him in non-defense (domestic program) spending? $91 billion more than Bush asked for.

President Bush and the Republican Congress have doubled our foreign debt to more than $2 trillion. It took 42 presidents 224 years to build up the same level of foreign debt. For the first time ever, over half of our national debt is held by foreigners. In Fiscal Year 2006, the Republican government spent $406 Billion on interest payments to the holders of the National Debt.

Two presidents who produced budget surpluses that reduced the national debt three years in a row: Bill Clinton (1998-2000) and Harry Truman (1947-1949). The last time a Republican president came close, doing it twice: Dwight Eisenhower (1956-1957). The last time a Republican president did it at least one year: Ditto, Dwight Eisenhower (1957).

Largest unemployment increases within a one or two year period in the past 50 years:

1974-75 (Nixon/Ford): 3.6 million jobs lost
1991-92 (George HW Bush): 2.6 million jobs lost
2001-02 (George W Bush): 2.5 million jobs lost
1981-82 (Reagan): 2.4 million jobs lost
1970-71 (Nixon): 2.2 million jobs lost
1958 (Eisenhower): 1.7 million jobs lost

Americans living in poverty, 2001: 33 million
Americans living in poverty, 2007: 37 million

By playing with percentages or by counting the surplus held in the Social Security trust, Republicans often try to fudge the numbers to divert attention from these sobering facts. Yet under the Republican Congress, people earning the minimum wage waited a decade without an increase and, adjusted for inflation, minimum wage fell back to 1942 purchasing power levels before this year’s Democratic Congress finally pushed through an increase. That’s what they’ve done to the poorest workers in the country. For the rest of the country, most of the economic damage has been caused by overspending.

If every member of your household (including newborns) wrote a check today for $1,331, how much would your household write? That’s how much it costs your household for this year’s interest owed on the national debt. That’s not for a new bridge or levee, not for national defense, not for retirement, not for food to the hungry, not for education or healthcare, and not to pay down the principal on that national debt total. That’s for interest alone, paid to the people who hold our national debt. And 52% of that debt is held by foreigners now. It was less than 25% just two presidents ago.

The biggest spenders and the biggest borrowers in US history. That’s the real Republican economic record. That’s why we refer to the states that always vote Republican as ‘red states’. That red ink just leaks everywhere and is tougher than the dickens to get rid of.

It’s gonna be hard getting you and your kids and grandkids to write all those interest checks to the Japanese, the Communist Chinese government and those Saudi sheikhs, especially if job growth ends and wages don’t keep up. But I suppose you could always get a visa and go to China and India for work, where our big spenders sent so many American jobs.

Copied and pasted almost in its entirety, because it's just too good. Voting against one's own interest is an American right, sadly.

By the way, Lincoln's inclusion on the tie is truly dishonest, as the newly founded Republican Party was the liberal party during his time, and the Whigs were the more conservative party.

And Eisenhower, as represented by his timeless "military-industrial complex" quote, wouldn't recognize his party today.

And the bastards know both of those facts.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Time will tell on their power minds, making war just for fun

(picture from worldwide anti-war protests, Feb. 15, 2003)

My friend Kevin Drum takes on the war skeptics, who, as he says:
This meant that war skeptics had to go way out on a limb: if they opposed the war, and it subsequently turned out that Saddam had an advanced WMD program, their credibility would have been completely shot. Their only recourse would have been to argue that Saddam never would have used his WMD, an argument that, given Saddam's temperament, would have sounded like special pleading even to most liberals. In the end, then, they chickened out, but it had more to do with fear of being wrong than with fear of being shunned by the foreign policy community.

Perhaps. His reasoning, and further commentary about the Very Serious Foreign Policy Community, with quotes from Atrios and Steve Clemons, is pretty good.

But this:
At any rate, it would be instructive to find out who these closet doves were and invite them to a Foreign Affairs roundtable to talk about why they knuckled under to the hawks prior to the war. To the extent they were willing to be honest, it would be a pretty interesting conversation. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Dude. I was and still am a dove. Nothing closeted about me in that regard. I don't have the large readership Kevin does, but there were and still are many writers on the national stage, as well as C-Level bloggers like me who were dead set against the war.

Below is some evidence, I think, that some indeed did think that the WMD talk was greatly overblown. But before we get to that, I have one word: containment. Here's what 2 Very Serious Foreign Affairs guys said in Foreign Affairs magazine, Aug., 2004:
On the way to their misjudgments, it now appears, intelligence agencies and policymakers disregarded considerable evidence of the destruction and deterioration of Iraq's weapons programs, the result of a successful strategy of containment in place for a dozen years. They consistently ignored volumes of data about the impact of sanctions and inspections on Iraq's military strength.

Ya think? Saddam was smart enough to know that, after years of blockade, flyovers, and sanctions, the US would bomb Baghdad instantly if any WMDs were used, anywhere in the Middle East, by his forces. It wouldn't take a war-mongering GWBush to make that decision, it would have been made just as quickly by President Gore or President Kerry.

For those on the hawkish side of the Left who believed the hype (cough Peter Beinart cough), there was no real "trigger" in evidence, no "there" there. There was simply a belief that aggression was a better tool than containment and diplomacy. They were wrong. Sorry Kevin, we, the war skeptics, were right.

Here is more about the WMD sales pitch:

In 2002 David Kay, UNSCOM Chief said:
Iraq has not abandoned its efforts to acquire WMD. A recent defector has stated that an explicit order to reconstitute the nuclear teams was promulgated in August 1998; at the time Iraq ceased cooperation with UN-led inspections. There should be no doubt that Iraq, under Saddam, continues to seek nuclear weapons capability and that given the time it will devote the resources and technical manpower necessary to reach that goal.

Thing is, there was evidence before the war that Curveball, the above named defector, was feeding the US bullshit:
German officials said that they had warned American colleagues well before the Iraq war that Curveball's information was not credible - but the warning was ignored.

It was the Iraqi defector's testimony that led the Bush administration to claim that Saddam had built a fleet of trucks and railway wagons to produce anthrax and other deadly germs.

Here is a concise recount of the run up to the war from National Security Archive:
As a result of the U.S. and British campaign, and after prolonged negotiations between the United States, Britain, France, Russia and other U.N. Security Council members, the United Nations declared that Iraq would have to accept even more intrusive inspections than under the previous inspection regime - to be carried out by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - or face "serious consequences." Iraq agreed to accept the U.N. decision and inspections resumed in late November 2002. On December 7, 2002, Iraq submitted its 12,000 page declaration, which claimed that it had no current WMD programs. Intelligence analysts from the United States and other nations immediately began to scrutinize the document, and senior U.S. officials quickly rejected the claims. (Note 2)

Over the next several months, inspections continued in Iraq, and the chief inspectors, Hans Blix (UNMOVIC) and Mohammed El Baradei (IAEA) provided periodic updates to the U.N. Security Council concerning the extent of Iraqi cooperation, what they had or had not discovered, and what they believed remained to be done. During that period the Bush administration, as well as the Tony Blair administration in the United Kingdom, charged that Iraq was not living up to the requirement that it fully disclose its WMD activities, and declared that if it continued along that path, "serious consequences" - that is, invasion - should follow.

The trigger for military action preferred by the British government, other allies, and at least some segments of the Bush administration, was a second U.N. resolution that would authorize an armed response. Other key U.N. Security Council members - including France, Germany, and Russia - argued that the inspections were working and that the inspectors should be allowed to continue. When it became apparent that the Council would not approve a second resolution, the United States and Britain terminated their attempts to obtain it. Instead, they, along with other allies, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19, 2003 - a military campaign that quickly brought about the end of Saddam Hussein's regime and ultimately resulted in his capture. (Note 3)

FAIR has an overview of the media hype before the war:
By the time the war against Iraq began, much of the media had been conditioned to believe, almost as an article of faith, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was bulging with chemical and biological weapons, despite years of United Nations inspections. Reporters dispensed with the formality of applying modifiers like "alleged" or "suspected" to Iraq's supposed unconventional weapon stocks. Instead, they asked "what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America" (NBC Nightly News, 1/27/03). They wrote matter-of-factly of Washington's plans for a confrontation "over Iraq's banned weapons programs" (Washington Post, 1/27/03). And they referred to debates over whether Saddam Hussein was "making a good-faith effort to disarm Iraq's weapons of mass destruction" (Time, 2/3/03).

But here's what Scott Ritter said in Sept., 2002:
I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health! Never! Never! I've said that no one has backed up any allegations that Iraq has reconstituted WMD capability with anything that remotely resembles substantive fact. To say that Saddam's doing it is in total disregard to the fact that if he gets caught he's a dead man and he knows it. Deterrence has been adequate in the absence of inspectors but this is not a situation that can succeed in the long term. In the long term you have to get inspectors back in.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Judge, Jury and Executioner ... or ... Son, we're gonna give you a fair trial ... and then we'll hang you.

Gonzales to Get Power In Death Penalty Cases
Rules Would Expand Fast-Track Authority

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, under political siege for his handling of the U.S. attorney firings and other issues, is to get expanded powers to hasten death penalty cases under regulations being developed by the Justice Department.
Such powers were previously held by federal judges, but a provision of the USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill approved by Congress last year hands the authority to the attorney general.
Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned Gonzales's judgment about the death penalty, including his refusal to hear the concerns of a federal prosecutor in Arizona, Paul K. Charlton, who argued against pursuing a death sentence in a case in which no body had been recovered.

Charlton and several other U.S. attorneys were fired last year in part because of clashes with Gonzales and his aides over death penalty issues, according to documents and testimony.
Why, why, why would a prosecutor EVER be given the right to 'fast track' killing someone? The system of justice in this country is based on an adversarial process. DAs try to convict, defense attorneys try to acquit/mitigate and judges and jurys decide.

Not to mention that when Gonzo previously had the job of clemency petitions for then Governor Bush he constantly left out exculpatory evidence.

And with Gonzos' help Bush executed more people in America than any other natural born killer. I guess that's why they call them 'texacutions.'

And Bush's callousness involving killing folks is documented, just ask Karla Faye Tucker ... oh, that's right you can't, she's dead.

And it's not like a 'fast track' doesn't already exist:
Courts are restricted from hearing new evidence due to a 1996 federal law, intended to limit the number of appeals in death penalty cases and thereby expedite executions.

So enough of my rant, let's look at some numbers:
two out of three sentences were overturned on appeal, mostly because of serious errors by incompetent defense lawyers or overzealous police officers and prosecutors who withheld evidence.
75 percent of the people whose death sentences were set aside were later given lesser sentences after retrials, in plea bargains or by order of a judge. An additional 7 percent were found not guilty on retrial.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

You talk like a big business tycoon, you're just a hot air balloon, so no-one gives you a damn

White House Unveils New Press Secretary
Washington D.C. - In a move that confirmed earlier rumors of Tony Snow stepping down as White House Press Secretary, President Bush held a press conference to announce the appointment of Prince Frederic Von Anhalt as his replacement.
Recently Snow told conservative Hugh Hewitt on his radio show, “I’ve already made it clear I’m not going to be able to go the distance, but that’s primarily for financial reasons. I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.” He also sited his battle with cancer as a factor for his resignation.
His successor brings to the position a rather colorful background with him. Prince Von Anhalt, husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, has been a presence in the press in recent months, catching the attention of the president.
"I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to have a real live prince bringing prestige to the position of press secretary", Bush gushed. "And I really loved his song 'Little Red Corvette".
When pressed by the media to explain Von Anhalt's qualifications for the job, Bush didn't hesitate.
"Whether it's claiming a long term affair with Anna Nicole Smith, paternity for her child, being robbed and stripped by three gorgeous women, or even his questionable royal title and fortune made selling that title to others, he does it all with a straight face and complete lack of plausibility."
Smiling, Bush added, "As far as the credibility factor goes, that makes him the perfect man to spin gold out of shit for this administration."
[graphic by Dancin' Dave]

How many years can some people exist

Sometimes I'm afraid we make it all too complicated. I mean, Goddess bless my friend Jane who, among other feats of strength, dissected and annotated the Plame/Libby deal with some great friends, and Kevin who soberly confronts the illogic of Wingnuttia, and many others who fight the good fight.

But is it maybe simpler than that? Can we distill things down to more elemental issues? I mean, we still haven't answered some basic questions from pretty long ago:

Here's a nice response, from a guy often dismissed as a lounge singer, but who, in reality, was a far deeper, more complex artist:

This guy felt change was coming, and that we should pay attention:

These guys thought mindless military action might be problematic:

And these guys thought Freedom Was On The March™:

Seriously, maybe these guys have it right:

I dunno . . .

Thursday, August 16, 2007

September Song; But if you could examine the goods they bring, They have little to offer but the songs they sing

Let me me Frank with you. Remember how we're all supposed to wait for the September report from General Petraeus to see how progress is going in Iraq? Surely you remember, it was touted over and over as an example of how Bush listens to his generals, (well except for the ones he fired because they wouldn't tell him a bedtime story.)

Gee, it turns out that that report is going to be written by President Bush, (well actually his staffers, because Crayons are so hard to get off the teleprompter), and that the White House claims that's always been been the case (the report, not the crayons) ... and they might get away with it, unless you have a functioning memory or access to the intertubes:
when asked about this during yesterday's press briefing, White House spokesman Dana Perino said:

Well, let me remind you of a couple of things. The Congress asked for these reports from the President; they asked for the President to report to the Congress.
Check the link and then come back and let me know if you still think elephants have a long memory.

We'll wait for you, but in the mean time, let's look at the law:
(Sec. 1314) States that, hereafter, U.S. strategy in Iraq shall be conditioned on the Iraqi government meeting specified political, security, and economic benchmarks
And how are those 'benchmarks' going?
Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress.
Well golly, I guess that means we can leave, right ... right?

Sadly, no. General Petraeus is already saying it will take "8 or 9 years."

And while Bushco keeps saying the escalation is working, the facts are Americans' deaths are up from last year, Iraqi civilian deaths are increasing and even in Baghdad, where the 'surge' is concentrated there is less drinkable water, less sewage disposal and less electricity than before the 'surge.'

We gotta get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak


The Center For American Progress has a great Flash timeline posted about we've been told The Next 6 Months Are Crucial (TM bushco) for the last 4 years.
Iraq Timeline: The Broken Record on "the Next Few Months"

The Bush administration as well as supporters and some critics of the Bush Iraq strategy have told Americans time and again during the past four years that the "next few months" in Iraq will be the "decisive, critical period" of the war

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Well since my baby left me

From the Washington Post, Thurs., Aug. 17, 1977:
Elvis Presley, who revolutionized American popular music with his earthy singing style and became a hero to two generations of rock 'n' roll fans, died yesterday in Memphis, Tenn. He was 42.

Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco said last night an autopsy indicated Presley died of "cardiac arrhythmia," which he described as a "severely irregular heartbeat" and "just another name for a form of heart attack." He said the three-hour autopsy uncovered no sign of any other diseases -- though Presley had in recent years been treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital for hypertension, pneumonia and an enlarged colon -- and there was no sign of any drug abuse.

Presley’s body was discovered at 2:30 p.m. Memphis time by his road manager, Jerry Esposito, in a bathroom in the singer’s multimillion-dollar Graceland Mansion. He was rushed to the Baptist Memorial, where he was met by his personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, and pronounced dead.

Why does it matter? Watch the YouTube. I've written about Elvis before, but the main point is that before Elvis, no white guy had sung like that. Kids were listening to doo wop and music incredibly tame by today's standards.

Elvis changed the direction of pop music. It's that simple.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Boy, you're gonna carry that weight a long time

With apologies to the Beatles, I offer this silly song parody as we wave goodbye to Bush's right-hand snake:

The long and slimy Rove
That creeps out the door
The damage has been done
A quagmire of a war
With tax cuts for the rich
Leaves the nation poor.

The wild and crazy lies
That the right pushed on us
Has left a pool of blood
Must give our freedoms up
Don't leave us in Iraq
To fight a needless war.

Many times your dirty tricks
Has helped you get your way
Using fear and troop support
To fool us all to play.

But still we see the mess
From the long, slimy Rove
He left a pile of debt
A long, long time we'll pay
He'll leave us standing here
While he slithers on away.

Well, not the best I've ever done, but that's a hard song to make lyrics fit to keep with the spirit of the tune.

Anyway, I doubt we've heard the last of this slime bucket. His ability to pull out his bag of dirty tricks and smoke and mirrors to get a boob like Bush into the White House for 8 years makes him someone to be sought after on the right, even if done covertly. If it wasn't all so evil, one would have to marvel at his skill and ability to use fear-mongering, liberal-bashing, flag-waving, decoy issue games and utter bold lies to bring about tax cuts for the wealthy and somehow make people think a war against imaginary Iraqi al-Qaeda members stockpiling their imaginary weapons of mass destruction will all be paid for by imaginary Iraqi money as the Iraqi people gratefully showered our soldiers with imaginary roses.

And in pulling this off, he managed to silence any critics with the threat of calling them traitors for providing "aid and comfort" to the enemy and not supporting the troops, which apparently can only be done so blindly.

Even as more and more of the truth comes out to the reality of our frightening predicament - trapped in a modern day Viet-Nam, in debt to China up to our eyeballs to pay for the war and tax cuts, a huge trade deficit, porous borders where terrorists could ride on a procession of elephants to come in, warrantless wiretapping and spying on us - we still hear Bush and his radio spin meisters like Rush and Sean desperately still sticking with the less and less believable dot connecting of Iraq and the 9/11 bombers to try to justify it all. Saying that fighting the war in Iraq is protecting us from terrorists hurting us is like me saying I'll protect you from burglars by fighting burglars several counties away from you, while leaving the door to your house wide open and unguarded. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but then again, what about this administration does? Unless you happen to be a defense contractor, oil executive, war profiteer, corporate CEO, then it all makes PERFECT sense.

I could go on and on about how badly this administration - and Karl Rove - has hurt this country, the effects of which will be felt for a very, very long time, but I have a feeling I'm just preaching to the choir.

History will not be kind to Karl Rove. But, I highly doubt he, or any of those who enriched themselves on the blood of so many people, would really care in the long run. Like all thieves, there comes the point where it's time to take the money and run. Or, as in Karl's case, slither..

[graphics by Dancin' Dave]

Monday, August 13, 2007


From just about every blog I read on the net it turns out Cheney was against 'regime change' before he was for it:
Video Surfaces of Cheney, in 1994, Warning That An Invasion of Iraq Would Lead to'Quagmire'

Partial transcript

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?
Apparently Cheney now thinks 3700+ Americans are worth it.

VIA Bob Harris @ This Modern World we learn that the FCC's draconian measures on 'obscenity' apparently don't apply to KUNT. Ohh, and dyslexics of the world KCUF!

And now to the other side of the speculum spectrum: Pam and John at AMERICAblog find a deputy mayor in Italy who wants to 'ethnic cleanse' a$$f**kers. Hmm, I'm betting the deputy is getting a little behind in his work. And speaking of 'cleansing', with mayors like that who needs an enema?

And skippy follows up on an important Freedom of Speech issue that we wanted to report on, but just didn't have the time (skippy is a stand up guy, but when we tried it and the hecklers said don't quit your day job, we believed them;-)

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Headlyings ... or ... Do You Feel A Draft?

The War Czar(TM Bushco) Lt. Gen. Douglas Luke:
"And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table.
Really!? It has 'always been on the table!?'
Uhhh, no!
Thursday, July 8, 2004; Page A10

There are no plans to reinstate a military draft and the Bush administration does not support conscription, the Pentagon's top official for personnel and readiness told Congress yesterday.
The Czar and the Chimperor have a peculiar definition of 'always.'

But then, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Put me in, coach - I’m ready to play today

Baseball is such an interesting game. Maybe it's a metaphor for life in general, hell, I don't know. But it's as full of drama as any other human activity without bloodshed, and just a great example of the human spirit: to try harder, to go beyond one's self, to excel.

Being an Angels fan isn't always easy. 2002 World Series aside, they often take a bad rap: too much small ball, not enough sluggers, no "big players".

As far as I'm concerned, big players come in all sizes. From today's LATimes:
Since 2002, Chone Figgins has been an Angel in Anaheim. He was doing well, and he was ready. This would be his breakout season. Instead, what he got was a nightmare.

. . . In June? He hit safely almost half the time.

Some players climb out like this, then quickly tumble back into their slump. But Figgins got hot and stayed hot.

July? Hot.

Now, in August? The Angels are leading their division, poised for big things. And Figgins keeps spraying the field, one shot after another.

"He's just as locked in as you can possibly be," says Mickey Hatcher, the Angels' batting coach. He compares what Figgins, now hitting .339, is feeling at the plate with what Tony Gwynn must have felt during his whole career.

Right now, other than all-world outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, you can make a case that Figgins is the most important Angel. Batting second, stealing runs, covering third base, he has emerged as a quiet, dependable leader. And the guy with the hottest bat.

Watching him play has become one of the best things about a team that wins the hard way and doesn't always get its due.

The Angels don't pound opponents with home runs. They simply don't have the muscle. They win with speed and smarts and crisply hit singles -- many of them off the bat of Figgins.

Want to see how this turnaround started?

Easy. Before a game, head to Angel Stadium and watch batting practice.

Notice the bigger, taller players taking their swings, often loose, sometimes wild, blasting baseballs all over the yard. Often, it's just show.

Then watch Figgins, No. 9. Standing next to the outfielders, he's the one who looks like a kid.

But notice, there's no fanciness.

As he approaches the plate, he loses his smile. He crouches. He narrows his eyes and blocks out everything that's swirling around him.

For a moment, the bat rests on his shoulder.

The ball comes. He swings. His black-and-beige bat is a rhythmic pendulum.

Crack . . . crack . . . crack . . . crack.

Figgins keeps going, using the same, simple swing that he'll use later in the game.

Steady, contained, simple. Again and again.

There's something to learn from that.

Indeed. Something pretty special about watching a guy play his ass off, when the cards are stacked against him. And then be successful. My pick (at this time) for team MVP.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I feel good, I knew that I would now

(Graphic from

I was shocked to read Jonah Goldberg in today's LATimes and find myself in agreement with him. But then I read further and found his premise to be, well, false:
These investments in self-esteem paid off royally, according to a study, "Egos Inflating Over Time." Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and a team of psychologists combed through the answers of 16,475 college students nationwide who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey between 1982 and 2006. Their conclusion: Today's American youth are the most self-absorbed since we've studied the subject. "We need to stop endlessly repeating, 'you're special,' and having children repeat that back," Twenge told the Associated Press. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

Seems about right. Many times Pam & I have commented on the basic selfishness of today's generation, and this fits into that idea.

Of course Jonah looks far afield for the root cause:
Nonetheless, what I find fascinating is how our narcissism surplus, to some extent, is the unintended consequence of trying to use psychology as just another branch of public health. Saturday-morning cartoons during my youth were peppered with public service announcements informing kids that "you're the most important person in the whole wide world." The long-running TV show "Wonderama" became "Kids Are People Too" to reflect a new seriousness of childhood. The burgeoning "children's rights" movement -- to which a young Hillary Clinton was connected -- saw treating kids as peers to be of a piece with the new egalitarianism. Movies as diverse as "Taxi Driver," "Bugsy Malone" and "Irreconcilable Differences" fixated on treating kids like adults in one way or another.

Right. Thing is, as an older person than Jonah, I remember watching those kids shows for fun too. And nothing on "Kids Are People Too" was intended to create the kind of selfish entitlement he and I both despise. That is, until it shows up in shallow thinkers like Jonah.

The reality of that show was that it tried to foster mutual respect between age groups, by saying that kids deserve respect even as they learn what it means to become a full-fledged person. And "Taxi Driver" as an example? I can see that portraying Jodi Foster as a pre-pubescent hooker, with all the glamour and riches that brings to one's life, would be a great teaching example for youth. Sheesh.

And the gratuitous mention of Hillary Clinton, to include the "Left" in his blame group, is just a cheap shot.

To buttress his argument, Jonah says:
. . . the hand-wringing about youth's sense of entitlement can go overboard as well. Volunteerism is on the rise, not something you would necessarily expect even after discounting for the desire to pad transcripts and resumes.

Maybe in Young Republican circles it's on the rise, but in reality, not so much. Here's from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1/10/2007:
The proportion of the population who volunteered was 26.7 percent. This is 2.1 percentage
points lower than the volunteer rate in each of the prior 3 years and slightly lower than in 2002, the first year for which comparable data are available.

Persons age 35 to 54 continued to be the most likely to volunteer (31.2
percent), while persons in their early twenties were the least likely (17.8
percent). While all age groups showed declines in volunteer rates from the prior year, the largest decline was among teenagers. The volunteer rate for females age 16 to 19 fell from 33.5 to 28.8 percent, and the volunteer rate for males of that age fell from 27.4 to 24.1 percent.

More data over there shows that from '03 to '05, 16-25 year old volunteering was indeed up, but declined in '06 to a level below that in '02. Whatever.

Here's where it gets really . . . rich:
Another result is that the generation taught to share and care beyond all precedent has become the most singularly concerned in history with making a buck. A recent UCLA study found that nearly 75% of freshmen think that it's important to be rich, compared with 62.5% in 1980 and 42% in 1966.

Ya think? At least Jonah doesn't explicitly blame this on teevee, the media, or the Left. But in today's climate of Right-Wing entitlement, as presented by GWBush and his affirmative-action college degree, Grover Norquist and his tax hatred, Duke Cunningham and his cash for favors, Mark Foley et al for their homophobic posturing while living life as gay people, Romney's 5 sons serving in a Winnebago, wanting to become rich is completely normal.

Heck, Jonah wouldn't have had a chance at richness himself were it not for his
infamous mother, so he should understand about entitlement. And too much praise for kids.

Update: Jonah was right about the Army meeting recruitment goals. What he didn't tell us is that they had to bribe recruits (h/t Raw Story):

The army responded by offering 20,000-dollar bonuses if recruits signed up starting July 25 and shipped out to boot camp within a month and before September 30, said Julia Bobick, a spokeswoman at the army's recruiting command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The signing bonus and other incentives can add up to a maximum 40,000 dollars for new soldiers.