Sunday, April 29, 2007

Destroying the "strong on national security" meme

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

I would be shocked if much, if not all of this diary (or one similar to it) hasn't been written over the past 4 years. While I for one am beyond disbelief that the “republicans are strong/Democrats are weak” line took hold in the first place, I am nothing short of floored that this has not only stuck, but has been the biggest obstacle to the American public waking up and realizing just how outrageously amazingly ludicrous beyond any possible measure this total lie really is.

Hat tip to fellow kossack huntsu for pointing out Mike Lupica’s comment about the republicans keeping us safe. And thank-friggin-goodness we are seeing this in print (even if it is the sports section). And while Lupica’s was a one line comment buried in the middle of his column, it points out that absolute absurdity (and a tremendous opening for the Democrats) of the “only republicans can keep us safe” or “if Democrats will be elected, there will be another 9/11” memes.

While I can’t believe it worked in 2004, I can believe that there was still an enormous percentage of the American public were still completely and utterly in the dark and still whipped into a “they’re gonna kill us all if we don’t kill ‘em all first” frenzy – due in large part to the massive lying and covering up by this administration, the right wing noise machine and lazy (to say the least) nature of the press and media.

But now? Now??? This is all the republicans have left in their arsenal. They have lost everything else. Sex scandals? Check. Politicization of the Justice Department? Check. Lying to Congress by the Attorney General? Check. Lying to Congress by the Secretary of State? Check. Suspicion of obstruction of justice by the President’s top advisor? Check. Another republican Congressman under investigation? Check. Did I mention sex scandal?

That doesn’t even involve the latest disasters and spiraling out of control violence, bombings, torture and mass murders going on in Iraq since the latest national security failure in what is becoming a never ending list of national security failures that just so happened to ALL occur while the republicans have been in control of the situation of events.

Republicans are strong on national security? This statement should be laughed at with complete dismissal and the utmost of mockery. Strong HOW? Strong WHEN? Strong WHERE? And just for shits and giggles, strong WHO?

Once this meme dies the death that it should have died before it even took hold in the first place, so too will the republicans’ credibility with a larger-than-you-think portion of their remaining support (or as Stephen Colbert calls them, “the backwash”).

How have the republicans kept us safe? Are the ports secure? Are an adequate number of cargo containers being inspected? Are the air cargo holds in our planes being monitored? Can a large number of weapons or explosives be carried onto airplanes? Do we have more friends around the world than 6 years ago? Or do we have far less friends? Are our nuclear plants secure? Haven’t there been some strange situations at some plants?

When have they kept us safe? Who was the President on 9/11/01? Who ignored warnings by the French as well as their own briefings? Who was the mayor and leader of NYC on 9/11/01? Whose decision was it to put an emergency response center in 7 World Trade Center, and was mayor right after the 1993 attacks did nothing to prepare the city for another such attack on the World Trade Center? When the entire world was on our side right after 9/11, who held control of the entire Congress and the White House as bad decision after bad decision after bad decision after bad decision was being made about how to defend this country and make it safer?

Where exactly are we safer? Americans are looked more poorly upon in foreign countries now as a result of the pig headed and half-assed national security direction that the republicans (NOT just Bush) have taken us. Our friend Pakistan has been harboring the Taliban and al Qaeda. Iran, who reached out to us in 2001, 2002 AND 2003 certainly isn’t as welcoming. Here in the US, there has been a complete failure to take any true measures to keep us safe (see the “how” above). Our dependency on foreign oil is higher than it has been in the past, our economy was run into the ground by the republicans in Congress and the White House. We are at an economic and strategic disadvantage because of the billions of dollars borrowed for the completely failed foreign policy the republicans have pursued. And of course, the republicans have broken our entire military in every conceivable way (to the point that we can barely defend ourselves if need be) that it will take decades to rebuild.

Who can say they have done anything to keep us safer? Certainly not any of the republicans who have voted against armor and equipment for our troops. Certainly not those who blew off the 9/11 attack warnings. Certainly not those who didn’t keep New York City safe either. That includes you, Mr. “if I say you won’t keep us safe, maybe you will forget that I have already failed to keep you safe” Giuliani. That won’t look too good as you gear up for a Presidential run.

And we can’t forget those “strong” republicans who bravely avoided military service when called upon to actually be strong on national security. That means you, Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Dennis Hastert, Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh. That also means you, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, John Ashcroft, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, George Will, William Kristol, Pat Buchanan and Saxby fucking Chambliss. And I didn’t forget you too Mitt Romney, Fred Kagan, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay and Sam Brownback.

Of course, one need only point to the past six years to show just how horrific a job the republicans have done with national security. Or what the republicans have done with Homeland Security dollars. Or who they wanted to put in charge of National Security after 2004.

This will be very important – VERY important to keep in the foreground. It is all they have left in their “debate” about Iraq. That the Democrats are “defeatists” and don’t have the “strength”. It is all they have left in their campaign “strategy”. This is a complete farce. And a lie. A lie so big that it is laughable.

Which is EXACTLY how we should respond every single time it is brought up.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's now or never.

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

Well, maybe not “never”, but if not now, then “when”?

This was not an unexpected victory (as both houses of Congress passed similar bills and there was little doubt that a compromise bill would be passed). This was not even really a huge victory per se, but it was a huge step forward – one of many, many huge steps that need to be taken – in order to extricate ourselves from Iraq in a not-totally-and-completely-utterly-stupid manner.

But this was the easier part.

There is still little serious doubt that Bush would veto, although many of us (and just recently a retired general) have said that it would be utterly stupid for him to NOT take the money and run (and it would be), he is too stubborn and arrogant of a man to go back on his threats, feet stomping and temper tantrums. Yes, there are not enough votes to override his veto, but that isn’t really the point right now. Send back the same bill. Or one that is more tough. Binding timeframes. A shorter timeframe of funding, with binding timeframes. The public wants it. The public needs it.

We the People demand it.

We don’t care when Joe Lieberman says “In my opinion, Iraq is not yet lost.” We don’t want to hear Bush say “Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change of strategy on Iraq. I listened”. We are smarter than that. There was no change. Just the same stupid half baked non-plan without enough troops or proper body armor or equipment or rest or length of tour as the very stupid half baked non-plan that they had back in 2003.

Bush doesn’t get to talk tough anymore. Especially when his approval is at an all time low:

Of the 1,001 American adults polled online April 20-23, only 28% had a positive view of Mr. Bush’s job performance, down from 32% in February and from a high of 88% in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The current rating is his weakest showing since his inauguration.

Double especially not when his own friggin party is getting fed up with the daily death, destruction and growing civil war:
While polls have shown GOP voters are still largely behind Bush on the biggest issue of the day -- the Iraq war -- his base of support is showing signs of splintering. A Pew Research Center survey issued Thursday found that 54 percent of Republicans and voters who lean Republican want a presidential candidate who will take a different approach to the war in Iraq.

The public is screaming for Congress to hang tough and dig in. We are COUNTING on it now. 64% want a timeline. 57% say Congress should have the final say on troop levels. Only 24% think the increased troop levels are helping the situation. 62% don’t think that what the administration is saying about Iraq is accurate. And that is before this administration’s latest lies about Iraq were exposed.

The pressure will be tremendous. The consequences of folding now immeasurable, as there is already talk of the escalation (which by all accounts and measures is the biggest failure of all the failures so far.

Benchmarks are just as bad of an idea. There is barely a functioning government as is. And that was before newer reports of support for al-Maliki was eroding further. Hell, the benchmarks have already been missed.

They have had over four years of a failed policy. Every single idea has been an absolute disaster..

Republicans have supported and demanded timelines when it came to Bosnia. They must be called hypocrites for their lies of today. They are the ones who are supporting an arrogant and ill-advised decision with even less thought put in as each failure, lie and cover up is illuminated for the world to see.

There is no fix that our troops can provide. Even the goddamn General in charge RIGHT NOW says there is no military solution. A drastically different direction is mandated. An IMMEDIATE and radical change of direction is being called for by the American people. Your constituents. We want out. And soon (well, now but we know that “rightfuckingnow” isn’t really feasible).

The pendulum is swinging more and more towards getting out of Iraq every day. It has swung substantially since the supplemental bill was first debated in the House weeks ago. It will continue to swing in this direction. You MUST get our troops out of Iraq. The discussions with Bush must send an absolutely clear message that his plans are not going to happen.


He should thank his lucky stars that he even got the bill that is going to be in front of him. If he isn’t grateful enough, then that is too fucking bad. This should be the best bill he sees.

He dared the Democrats to come up with another plan for Iraq. Here is the plan. Don’t like it? Well then he certainly shouldn’t like the next plan more than this. Because if he does, then the public most certainly won’t. The public wants Congress to make the call here, not the administration. The public is with you, and growing stronger.

The public has your back. By an overwhelming margin.

Don’t let us down.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Excusing this administration shows who "hates America"

Front paged at My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

You want a talking point? Let’s talk about those who are Bush apologists. Let’s talk about those who don’t think it is a big deal to go to war under sketchy (at best) pretenses. Let’s talk about those who think that “the President can replace the US attorneys whenever he wants”, even if it is not only for political reasons, but also looking more and more like obstructing investigations.

Let’s talk about those who rally around the flag or put magnets on their cars but don’t volunteer themselves or their children for a tour in Iraq. Let’s talk about those who think that torture is ok or that it is just a “fraternity prank”. Let’s talk about those who are so quick to say that “they have nothing to hide, so what is the big deal about giving up some liberties” (never mind what one of this country’s founders said about that).

Let’s talk about those who say that it wasn’t technically illegal to leak classified information even though it destroyed this country’s ability to track nuclear proliferation. Or that it isn’t such a big deal not to provide our troops with adequate equipment and body armor, extend their tours and leave them in the middle of a raging civil war.

How does any of this show support for the basic tenets this country was founded on?

What about those who think that calling for the poisoning of a Supreme Court Justice is funny or just a joke? Or those who think that ignoring warnings about an attack against this country is, in any way, excusable. And let’s not forget those who blindly utter “stay the course”, “mission accomplished” and “withdrawal equals defeat”?

How about those who cheer the “free speech zones” or call those who dare question the motives of what our government is doing in our name (again, forgetting how another of this country’s founders talked about our rights and liberty to exercise them)? I can’t forget to mention those who think that highly questionable (at best) circumstances surrounding elections in 2000 (Florida), 2002 (Georgia) and 2004 (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and at least a half dozen other states) are just fine. As well as those who don’t see a problem with private companies with deep ties to the winning political party running our voting process in secret.

Or those who not only think it is ok to be disenfranchise minority voters, but to be rewarded with a US Attorney position (replacing a qualified US Attorney) for running such a program.

Whose actions show disgust and contempt for America?

Let’s talk about those who cheered for impeachment of a popular President for the thinnest of charges but think that warrantless wiretapping of Americans, playing games with national security and classified information, twisting intelligence, neglecting the middle class to benefit the ultra wealthy, justifying torture and indefinite detainment, secret CIA prisons and losing or misusing tens of billions of dollars in an ill advised invasion and occupation are as American as “mom and apple pie”.

And those who spread lies about war heroes who actually served, while applauding the issuance of a Presidential Medal of Freedom to three of the most unqualified recipients. Not to mention those who thought a failed land deal back in the 1980s or firing the White House travel staff were the highest of crimes but think that lying under oath or lying about Iraq’s WMDs or lying to Congress about Iran isn’t such a big deal.

Who is the “true patriot” and who really loves this country?

Enough fearmongering. Enough fingerpointing. Enough lying. Enough of this “deny, deny, accuse”. Excusing this behavior is, frankly, inexcusable. Excusing this behavior is unpatriotic. Excusing this behavior goes against the basic framework of what this country was founded on.

And I am way past the point where this behavior is not only overlooked, not only tolerated, not only cheered, but NOT called exactly what it is.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Suffering? How DARE you, Laura.

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos. Linked at

“No one suffers more than their President and I do”? Are you that vain and self centered, Laura? Have you been dipping into the pills again? Do you have ANY idea how it feels to lose a child? A spouse? A parent? A limb? To watch death and destruction every single day? Up close?

Do you live with PTSD? Do you get whatever medical care you need whenever you need it? Do you have flashbacks of narrowly dodging bullets or IEDs? Have you seen a friend killed right in front of you (oops, scratch that – you caused that one yourself)? Do you have recurring nightmares of bloodshed and bombs falling all around you nonstop?

Have you lost all of your possessions and watched your community fall apart due to a hurricane that everyone else in the world saw coming? Do you have to work two to three minimum wage jobs, just to barely pay the bills? Have you had to choose between purchasing medication for you or food for your children?

Have your children been sent on multiple tours to fight a war that was based on lies? Do you have to wait months just to see a doctor? Do you have to postpone or not get a surgery that you would need to save your life because your insurance doesn’t cover it? Has a family member lost their job because someone blew their covert status as an undercover agent working for the United States?

Have you had to take a job that paid half as much with no benefits because your old job was moved overseas? Have you lost your medical coverage because you could no longer afford it? Do you have to live in fear that every day could be the day that you are killed by an enemy in a country that you have no business being in to begin with?

Have you had to bury a child whose life was needlessly cut short? Did you ever receive a phone call from a loved one to let you know that they are stuck in a burning building with no way out? And then hear that they had to jump 85 stories to their death because it would cause them LESS suffering? Have you found out that the US Government has lied about the circumstances about a family member’s death for propaganda purposes?

Have you had to declare bankruptcy due to mounting medical bills, only to drown under the crushing debt? Have you ever had to beg for food because you were homeless? Have you had to hold your dying friend’s hand after his or her body armor failed to stop a sniper’s bullet?

Have you had a family member be rounded up off the street, flown to another country to be tortured, only to be released without charges? Have you been held indefinitely as an “enemy combatant” even though there is no reasonable cause or any charge filed against you?

Suffer? SUFFER????? You can’t even begin to fathom the immense level of suffering that your husband and his administration have caused. To this country. To the Iraqis. To our troops. To future generations.

You should be ashamed. You should be disgusted. You are a disgrace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stop. Just stop it.

Front paged at My Left Wing

Enough of this:
an Iraq veteran identified as Capt. Trip Bellard says, "Senator Reid's remarks undercut the morale of our soldiers and undermine our troops on the ground."

Enough of this:
Precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden our enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak.

These are two of the most asinine arguments that have somehow taken hold since this entire ill conceived invasion and occupation have begun. True veteran groups (not the “Swift Boat liars”) know who is full of shit and who is not. The “support the troops” meme has little meaning, or at least what it’s “intent” was.

Soldiers knew YEARS AGO what was going on in Iraq. The lack of proper equipment and body armor undermines the troops. The lack of veterans benefits and healthcare undermines the troops. The lack of a goddamn plan after the initial invasion undermines the troops. A stupid photo op that is completely against reality undermines the troops.

Not sending in the proper amount of troops initially undermines the troops. Lowering recruiting standards puts our troops at greater risk. Extending their tours and not giving them adequate rest undermines the troops. A half assed attempt at an ill conceived escalation undermines the troops. Sending wounded soldiers back into battle undermines the troops.

The truth does NOT undermine the troops.

Having no plan for withdrawal emboldens the enemy. Not negotiating or talking to Iraq’s neighbors in the region – even Iran and Syria confirm the belief that America is weak. Allowing bin Laden to still be free emboldens the enemy. Not stopping the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan confirms that America is weak.

Not finishing what was started in Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to regroup emboldened the enemy. Pig headed stubbornness and manufacturing evidence to invade in the first place confirmed that America is weak. Blowing Iran off not once, not twice but three times from 2001 – 2003 confirmed that America is weak. Not heeding the warning signs from France, intelligence agencies, the outgoing Clinton administration and the August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing emboldened the enemy.

Trying to figure out a diplomatic and political solution to a mess that is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and avoid the mass slaughter of civilians and stop the killing of our troops is NOT emboldening the enemy.

The measure of a person, a leader, an administration is not the bravado tough talk and chest thumping. It is the ability to make smart decisions and adapt. It is the ability to admit mistakes and react accordingly. It is the ability and the willingness to put country above party, to put the best interests of the many over those of the few.

It is time to stop the slogans and insults. It is time to stop the chest thumping. It is time for the adults to take over and come up with the least horrific solution.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reid to Bush: "Suck it"

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

Not only has Senator Reid issued a smackdown of Bush’s veto threat by challenging him to come up with his own alternative to this latest failure of a strategy, but he has also apparently rounded up enough support to call for a “change of course” and a timetable for withdrawal on the compromise Iraq and Afghanistan funding bill that, on the surface, makes Bush look the damn fool.

According to the articles released:

Defying a fresh veto threat, the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass legislation within days requiring the start of a troop withdrawal from Iraq by Oct. 1, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday.

The legislation also sets a goal of a complete pullout by April 1, 2008, he said.

In remarks prepared for delivery, Reid said that under the legislation the troops that remain after next April 1 could only train Iraqi security units, protect U.S forces and conduct "targeted counter-terror operations."

Now, it does remain to be seen what will happen if the compromise bill is vetoed, however Reid has been nothing short of stellar throughout these past few weeks. Of course, the fact that polls are showing an increasing support for cutting off funding altogether or to tie the funding to a timeline. Or it could be helped by the fact that it is painfully obvious that there has been a tremendous worsening of the violence, the latest “wall” idea is an absolute embarassoment not to mention the fact that the administration has already backed off it.

But in the battle to push the debate in Congress and the actions of America closer to an exit strategy, Reid has now not only hung tough in the face of blistering blathering by the right wing noise machine, the administration’s mouthpieces and the talking meatsticks. He has said that the “war is lost”. He has not backed down – calling for a tougher bill co-sponsored by Senator Feingold that would flat out call for a withdrawal of all combat troops by next year. And he has held his caucus together despite tremendous odds and factors to pass a bill (and the compromise version) which seems to be better than the one passed by the House.

In addition, the article quotes Reid today as saying:

"The military mission has long since been accomplished. The failure has been political. It has been policy. It has been presidential."

Reid said that in addition to the timetable, the legislation will establish standards for the Iraqi government to meet in terms of "making progress on security, political reconciliation and improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis who have suffered so much."

The measure also would launch diplomatic, economic and political policy changes, Reid said.


Bush "is the only person who fails to face this war's reality - and that failure is devastating not just for Iraq's future, but for ours."

Not only this, but Reid dared Bush (as the republicans have done to the Democrats so many times before) to come up with another alternative if he doesn’t like what Congress has passed, saying:
"If the president disagrees, let him come to us with an alternative. Instead of sending us back to square one with a veto, some tough talk and nothing more, let him come to the table in the spirit of bipartisanship that Americans demand and deserve."

Of course, “clap harder” hasn’t worked yet, and since McCain said that he too has no “Plan B” it is the republicans who are not only backed into a corner, defending an unpopular and failure of an occupation, but do not have any alternatives – alternatives that the American public is SCREAMING for.

To quote a great movie, “it looks like the foot’s on the other hand now”.

Bush has looked more and more like the bumbling idiot that he is since he first threatened to veto a bill that gives him all the money he wanted. As for our Senate Majority Leader – you have to hand it to him. He took the onslaught of this administration’s and country’s propaganda machine over the past few weeks, chewed it up and spit it back in their face. And even better – he is still standing and has the support of the American people. Even more than before this bill was first passed.

There is a new set of rules in Washington DC. Whether Bush likes it or not, the rules were set by the American people back in November. And the Democrats in Congress are doing, in Bush’s words, a “heckuva job” so far in trying to extricate us from this colossal disaster.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"The Wall" means the administration just doesn't care anymore.

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

The Korean Wall shows the vast difference between two halves of the same (former) country that are in stark contrast to each other. The “purported” wall has done little more than to keep half of the country under a repressive dictatorship with a poor track record on human rights.

Similarly, the Berlin Wall showed a stark contrast between one half of the country, which was in substantially better shape economically (and many would say politically as well) than the other.

We could also discuss Israel’s “security fence”, but there are a few stickier items there, so I will just leave it at that. The bottom line is that the main accomplishment and track record of creating fences and walls is that, at best, one “side” is repressed socially and economically, and nothing gets “resolved”.

The “Baghdad” wall, regardless of whether it gets built or not, is a symbol of the colossal failure of the invasion and occupation. It is yet another example of the exact wrong approach to trying to quell the massive violence that is a daily occurrence. It shows, yet again, a complete lack of understanding of the situation on the ground, the negative short term and long term impact it will have on Baghdad and the country in general, that the administration thinks that the escalation is failing, and that they are throwing up their hands.

It is not a solution – not even a short term one. It is a symbol that this administration has given up. That they do not care at all. That nothing – not even the vaunted escalation is remotely working. This signifies a tremendous failure – just the latest in a long string of tremendous failures in Iraq.

From the NY Times article (linked above):

The American military said in a written statement that “the wall is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence.”

  • Wasn’t the “Baghdad offensive” last July supposed to break the cycle of sectarian violence?

  • Wasn’t 20,000 additional troops this past January supposed to be enough security to break the cycle of sectarian violence?

  • Wasn’t a heavily fortified “Green Zone” supposed to keep the violence out?

  • Wasn’t firebombing Fallujah in 2004 supposed to break the cycle of sectarian violence?

  • Weren’t the multiple raids on houses supposed to quell the sectarian violence?

  • What about the hundreds of bodies found in the streets every single day

  • What about the increased bombings since the escalation began?

  • What about the US troops being killed at the highest rate over the past six months since the invasion began?

  • What about the Sunnis kicking Shiites out of their houses and neighborhoods and vice versa? I guess that didn’t keep each of the sects from fighting.

  • What about the curfews that were repeatedly imposed?

Nothing this administration has done has come even close to stopping the violence. And how do the Iraqis feel about this wall?
The wall has already drawn intense criticism from residents of the neighborhood, who say that it will increase sectarian tensions and that it is part of a plan by the Shiite-led Iraqi government to box in the minority Sunnis.

A doctor in Adhamiya, Abu Hassan, said the wall would transform the residents into caged animals.

“It’s unbelievable that they treat us in such an inhumane manner,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to isolate us from other parts of Baghdad. The hatred will be much greater between the two sects.”

“The Native Americans were treated better than us,” he added.

Do they NOT think that this will increase hatred towards our troops?
Do they NOT think that this will increase violence towards our troops?
Do they NOT think that our already overextended and underequipped troops DON’T know this?

This shows, yet again, that the Bush administration has no clue as to what they are doing. It shows that they don’t see the obvious ramifications of yet another tremendously stupid idea. It shows that, once again, they are not learning from history. It shows they have given up – that they are literally out of ideas and don’t even care enough to try and think of something original or with a remote chance of success.

It shows that they are doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. It shows they are insane.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's their country. They can "wait us out" forever.

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos.

Hat tip to KibbutzAmiad for a comment made a few days ago which is one of the best I have seen. This whole nonsense (which I also pointed out the hypocrisy of the “temporary nature” of the escalation) about the United States not being able to withdraw from Iraq because “the terrorists will just wait us out until we leave” has gotten to be beyond stupid.

Here is the thing, which I reiterated on this past week’s FrameWork:

The Iraqis live in Iraq. The Sunni insurgents, the Shiite militia, al Sadr and the other factions of government who we may not hold in “high regard”. It is their country. And unless we plan on OCCUPYING the country forever, they will “technically” wait us out – if we leave next week, next month, next year, in 10 years, 100 years or 200 years.

This isn’t a “should we or shouldn’t we withdraw” issue. It is a question of HOW and WHEN. This is a country with a government that is barely functioning and that is not trusted. And we are STILL hearing this blathering nonsense. From Cheney:

"It is impossible to argue that an unconditional timetable for retreat could serve the security interests of the United States or our friends in the region," Cheney said. "Instead, it sends a message to our enemies that the calendar is their friend, that all they have to do is wait us out — wait for the date certain, and then claim victory the day after."

From Bush:
It has become a standard part of George W. Bush’s litany for why he will veto a congressional plan for setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq: “Why would you say to the enemy, ‘Here’s a timetable. Just go ahead and wait us out?’”

From Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee:
On Iraq, he said if America pulls out now, the country will lose credibility, and it will tell the terrorists "they don't have to beat us, they just have to out wait us."

To them, and to all the others who make these stupid statements, all I can say is “BULLSHIT”!!

It is disingenuous and completely irresponsible to talk like this without thinking past talking points, catchphrases and other pandering statements. We HAVE to get out. Sometime. Sooner rather than later. Not as soon as we want, but pretty damn soon. To think ANYTHING otherwise is doing a complete disservice to our troops, the Iraqis, America and the rest of the world. NOBODY should be in a leadership position if they take this dangerous stance.

Getting out hastily will be ugly. But our continued occupation is a root cause of much (not all, but much) of the violence. As thereisnospoon said the other day, if we leave Iraq, people like al Sadr and the Iraqi government will have to start governing. Just like Hamas – when they were elected to power, they had to stop using Israel as the excuse for all of the damage, destruction and start to govern – otherwise they wouldn’t be in charge anymore. Now, there is still violence there, but it is a good basic example.

The debate must keep changing – the Overton Window must continue to be pushed. Talk needs to be about HOW we get out, and what needs to be done in conjunction with a withdrawal.

Obviously there are many things – as I have previously said, there are many things that must be included in any serious plan:

For starters, you need to:

  • engage with Iran and Syria;

  • have peacekeeping troops or some presence (NATO/UN?) to help with humanitarian issues;

  • negotiate with Iraqis (al Sadr, etc.) to make sure that our troops can withdraw without being targeted (as much as possible);

  • logistics of getting the equipment out;

  • involve Saudis, Pakistan, Turkey, and Europe to figure out how to rebuild and make everyone have some benefit and skin in the game; and

  • restart all Iraqi state run businesses. This will cost around $150 Million and will get hundreds of thousands back to work immediately.

But this talk about justifying staying in Iraq indefinitely and not withdrawing has GOT to stop. The people who continue to speak these lies and this nonsense need to be called to the carpet as lacking foresight, not being realistic and being disingenuous liars.

It is their goddamn country. They can wait us out forever.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The hypocrisy of "strict constructionists" laid bare

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

Time and again, we have heard Bush talk about appointing “strict constructionists” as judges and that “activist judges” should not be making laws or expanding the role of the federal government.

There is example after example where this isn’t true – whether it be all of the pork that the rubber stamp republican congress had passed, whether it was the giveaways to the drug companies through the Medicare bill, whether it was the other handouts to Big Oil, or through throwing millions of federal dollars at “abstinence only” programs which not only have proven to be failures but have gone to religious extremists and fundamentalists whose agenda has no place receiving federal funding.

And the issue of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling regarding certain abortion bans is obviously a highly emotional and personal issue for many millions of Americans. While I don’t want to really talk about the emotional or personal aspect of it here, I will say that I find it absolutely disgusting that the Supreme Court has found it acceptable to so easily put American citizens’ lives at risk and to deny a medically necessary procedure that could save such life. Especially in an instance where it is obvious that the American citizen would not otherwise want to terminate her pregnancy except in the most extreme of circumstances - to save her own life.

That being said, the entire point that republicans, conservatives and religious extremists have made with respect to why they feel that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided is that the federal government has no right to rule in this matter or to impose a federal will on something that is not specifically and expressly provided for in the United States Constitution.

Yet (as I said yesterday during Don’t Hijack My Thread!), here we are, with the same conservatives, republicans and religious extremists celebrating this decision to uphold a FEDERAL law that imposes restrictions on an American citizen’s basic rights. This is hypocrisy. This is the truth about their agenda laid bare for the entire world and country to see. This was NEVER about federalism. This was about imposing restrictions on women and asserting the federal government’s ability to impose its will on American citizens – without the consent of the American citizens. EVEN if the life of such citizen is at risk.

If the Supreme Court ruling yesterday was to uphold a state ban on such a medical procedure, then, while still abhorrent, it would at least be consistent with the argument of Federalism.

However, in arguing “federalism” as a reason to restrict the right to make private medical decisions, the exact opposite argument is being used and presented to use a federal law to restrict the right to make private medical decisions - even if the life of such American citizen is at risk.

Of course, there are so many other issues surrounding this decision, as well as the logic or reasoning behind it. There are so many issues associated with a “big brother government” dictating what people can or cannot do or what medical decisions they can or cannot make.

But right now, the completely hypocritical edifice of “logic” and reason, as well as the argument used to enforce a federal law to restrict the rights of American citizens – when there is no place in the Constitution that would provide for the restriction of such rights by the Federal government - is laid bare.

Make no mistake – there was no agenda of “federalism”. There was a very different agenda here. And while Congress certainly can enact a law that would restore the right for a woman (or her doctor) to take any necessary steps to save her live, that is really not the point. The point is that if the government has no right to impose its will on American citizens outside of what is specifically enumerated in the US Constitution, then this law that was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday also goes against the US Constitution.

This needs to be put out there as we discuss the horrific decision by the Supreme Court. This needs to be part of the discussion going forward. This undermine the entire credibility and basis for the argument that this is a state issue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What happens when the Iraqi government collapses?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

While the early thoughts were that, while al Sadr and his followers’ withdrawal (for the second time) from the Iraqi government wouldn’t have an immediate adverse effect on the overall ability of the government to function (if what the Iraqi government is doing now can actually be called “functioning”), if you scratch beneath the surface, there are a number of troubling signs that do not bode well for the Iraqi government.

With a number of conditions (whether Bush actually cares about them or not, they are there) attached to the already failing escalation plan which specifically address benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet – benchmarks that almost immediately were not met - there is a significant question that needs to be asked:

What happens if and when this already splintering Iraqi government collapses?

Back in January, even the conservative US News and World Report was asking the question What if Iraq Doesn’t Meet the Benchmarks? Of course, the answer to that is (1) nothing as far as the Bush administration is concerned, (2) continued civil war and genocide and (3) despair for Iraqis who are seeing their lives and futures continue to slip away.

And now the very last thing that the Bush administration, Maliki, the wingnuts, “true believers”, 101st Fighting Keyboardists, talking meatsticks and callous blackhearted individuals who care less about helping Iraq and Iraqis than they do “killing all them brown folk” have to point to – the very government that those “brave purple fingered Iraqis” elected – is threatening to teeter on the brink of collapse.

Today’s Christian Science Monitor has an article that everyone should read titled ”Iraq’s Shiite Political Fissures Widen”. It is not news that the Iraqi government is made up largely of Shiite factions, and a number of them (all with different specific but similar broad agendas) make up the United Iraqi Alliance.

The United Iraqi Alliance is actually made up of around 20 different groups, including al Sadr’s followers, the Prime Minister’s party, and SCIRI – the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is/was fairly popular with the Iraqis but has also been linked to Iran.

I only mention SCIRI’s ties with Iran because one of the rival factions in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Islamic Virtue Party is against Iran’s influence, and last month it withdrew from the UIA.

So what does this all mean in the grand scheme of things within the Iraqi government? Well, let’s just say it isn’t good. From the Christian Science Monitor article:

But the withdrawal of the Sadrists – who left in protest over the prime minister's refusal to set a date for the departure of US troops – highlights more troubling developments: widening fissures within the country's ruling coalition and a brewing Shiite fight for supremacy that threatens to unravel the leading political coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA).

"The fragmentation of the Shiites, and the fights that are taking place, are much more serious than what gets talked about publicly," says Hosham Dawod, a Paris-based Iraqi academic and author.

To win these fights – that have on occasion taken the form of armed confrontation and threaten to do so again – leading Shiite political figures are rallying popular support by clutching on big emotional causes.

In the case of Mr. Sadr, it's taking on the US military presence. For the rival Fadhila Islamic party, it's confronting Iranian influence and meddling. And for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) led by the influential Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, it's purging all remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Clearly, this is not something that can be depended on to run a government even in a country that isn’t ravaged by unemployment, lack of basic services, a civil war bordering on genocide, entire classes of people fleeing, an occupying force that everyone wants out (including the majority of citizens in that occupying force’s country) and pressure/influence/meddling from nearly every other country in the region.

Keeping power and a mistrust of others within your same overall umbrella “alliance” is doomed to fail since there is no agreed upon goal to work towards. It, by definition, can not succeed.

There has been no reaching out towards the Sunnis. There has been no attempt to quell the violence – in fact there are factions that have been accused of running death squads. There has been no ability to pass laws (or enforce them), to restore services, to rebuild the infrastructure, to stop the downward spiral of violence and hopelessness or to accomplish anything.

The government is not trusted by the Sunnis – especially since one of the UIA factions is dedicated to quashing any remnants of Saddam’s old regime and the Shiites are, in general, engaged in a “tit for tat” ruthless game of retribution bombings and killings. The government is barely trusted by the Bush administration who will praise them one day while bashing Maliki the next day.

We won’t hear about it when it ultimately happens. But it is already happening right before our eyes. As the violence continues to spiral out of control, as the benchmarks are not being met, as laws are not being passed, as factions are withdrawing from the UIA or from the government altogether – one thing is clear - the Iraqi government is not functioning. It is on the brink of completely collapsing.

And when it ultimately does, then what? What are our troops fighting for at that point? Who are we “supporting” in Iraq then?

This is where a serious presidential candidate needs to have a “Plan B”. This is where we all need to see the dire situation that is happening with the Iraqi government.

This is yet another reason why we need to leave Iraq.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Political Nexus: Wherein thereisnospoon and I become pundits

To be fair, right up front, there wasn’t enough room in the title to also include theKK and hekebolos as well as some of the good folks at ePluribus Media but they are all an integral part of this project.

With the problems that Air America has been through, and the general devolving of “mainstream” punditry into shouting, talking points, lies and misstatements, it is long past time for the progressive left to start getting the truth out there in as many ways as possible. This obviously includes blogs and citizen journalism but also includes the “message machine” – but very much unlike what we are used to seeing over the past decade.

With that, we are launching Political Nexus, which we plan to be an interactive, multimedia center focusing on progressive political issues.

From our site:

Taking new media to the next level, Political Nexus launches a new line of online radio and video programming. A roll out of new shows featuring some of the blogosphere's most intriguing bloggers and personalities will debut starting in mid-April with programming expanding into Summer of 2007.

Tune in for an exciting line-up of interviews, rollicking in-depth discussions and LIVE! call in shows. Be sure to check back frequently as we will be rapidly expanding our offerings and updating content.

I touched on some of this programming in a diary I did last week (although much of the discussion was about some snarky comments I made about firing “everyone” when the real intent was about the content of Political Nexus). There are two shows that we are doing on a regular basis – one called FrameWork and one called Don’t Hijack My Thread!.

We will also be doing a series of interviews called “10 Minutes With....” and will feature many of the “famous” names around the progressive political left netroots.

FrameWork is a series of 15-20 minute discussions, moderated by theKK and hosted by yours truly and thereisnospoon. Obviously (from the name), these discussions focus on the framing of debate for today’s hot political issues. A brief description from our site:

Tune in to FrameWork for a discussion of the week’s biggest political issues and examine the framing behind them. Featuring prominent guest bloggers focusing on framing issues, we’ll look at the arguments being used by both Progressives and the Right and explore their strengths and weaknesses. Plus, direct advice on utilizing the most advantageous arguments going into the week ahead. Whether you are a blogger, a lurker, a candidate or a politician, you won’t want to miss this insightful and actionable recap of the issues at hand and the arguments behind them.

The first one (recorded last week) deals with the Iraq “war vs. occupation” meme, and you can listen here. The second one (recorded yesterday) deals with the Iraq supplemental bill and you can listen here.

There will also be transcripts available for those who have trouble with the streaming or the blogtalkradio site.

Don’t Hijack My Thread! is an interactive live radio show that is a “rapid fire” discussion about a number of today’s hot political topics. Guests are invited to call in and debate or offer their opinion, and there is also an AIM chat room available under “epluribusradio”. This too is hosted by theKK, with thereisnospoon and I handling the topics. We hope to expand this to have guest hosts as well.

Last week was our first show (you can hear it here), and I must say that we had excellent participation from the likes of our very own dday, major danby, cskendrick, avahome of epluribus media and kestrel9000.

Our next show will be tomorrow, April 18th at 6:00PM Eastern/3:00 Pacific, and we encourage (ok, implore) that you listen by going here. If you would like to call in, the call in number is 718-508-9410. A list of topics will be provided at the beginning of the show. If you do call in, any of the topics we have discussed are “on the table”, but if you want to discuss another topic, that would be “hijacking the thread”, and we all know how welcome that is....

Some call in information from our site:

Don't Hijack My Thread! will be recording another live show this week and we need callers. Think you have what it takes to sit on hold for upwards of five minutes for a few moments of radio obscurity and acute political observation?

The show is scheduled to tape Wednesday, 6:00 PM (EST), though times are subject to change and update, of course! We are still in BETA testing, after all...

For those interested in calling in, the number is: (718) 508-9410

Don't Hijack My Thread is produced with ePluribus Radio, and the site is

You can stream the show live as it airs or download it an hour after air time.


  • Please turn the radio off in the background when you go on air

  • We can't screen callers or talk to you off-air, so be ready to state your name or blogger handle when we suddenly throw you live, on air with clammyc and the gang!

  • Speak LOUD and CLEAR. We are severely limited in terms of our ability to control sound volume and even audio quality. We are looking into ways of increasing production values

  • Familiarize yourself with our format and foibles by taking a listen to last week's show, linked in a previous Don't Hijack My Thread! post. Just click the media player embedded for your convenience--you don't have to download ANYTHING.

Shows are available for listening and downloading approximately one hour after they are completed.

We are all very excited about this – not only because we are doing something new and somewhat fresh (albeit a twist on what we blog about), but also because of the technology and means for distribution available nowadays. We encourage participation – ideas, comments, suggestions, feedback and hope to make this something that not only we are proud of, but also the netroots are proud of and can help grow into our own message machine – just with the truth as opposed to lies, talking points and smears.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Save face, CBS. Dump Katie.

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos.

Throughout broadcast news history, CBS has an incredibly impressive track record. Edward R. Murrow is one of the best examples of journalistic integrity and groundbreaking newsmaking. 60 Minutes is one of the most distinguished and popular television show of all time, let alone TV news show.

Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer are all venerable institutions in the world of major network broadcast news. Sure, there was the flap over Bush’s National Guard documents, but everyone seems to forget that the facts of the overall story itself were never denied by anyone associated with the Bush administration. By and large, for decades, CBS News was viewed as the place to go for an example of journalistic integrity.

And now, CBS is on the verge of throwing away over six decades of its’ good name and reputation – all based on trying to increase ratings by hiring a “personality” as opposed to a serious newsperson to anchor and be the face of its’ flagship news operation. The irony here, of course, is that within six weeks of her first broadcast, Couric’s viewership was lower than Flavor Flav’s VH1 show, and has basically been in third place consistently over the past six months.

Now, it certainly isn’t the fact that there are no women who would make excellent anchors for the evening news. Take Christiane Amanpour, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Lara Logan. Hell, even Elizabeth Vargas did a credible job filling in for Bob Woodruff. Any of these would be a tremendous step up, and I am sure there are many others who I didn’t even think of off the top of my head.

But, the “Great Katie experiment” has quickly not only become a tremendous failure any way you want to measure it, but it has also done what nothing before could do – threaten to completely ruin the CBS News brand of quality journalism and rebrand CBS as lazy journalism.

Just in the past couple of weeks, we have seen an incredible amount of puff, spin, lies, plagiarism, right wing talking points and lack of journalistic integrity from the very desk that defined journalistic integrity. A very brief recap of the more major offenses:

A longer and more damning list of her “credentials” is here at MediaMatters (hat tip to HollywoodOz for his round up of her history).

Couric is clearly not ready for prime time. She probably never was and never will be ready to be that serious journalist – the one biggest criteria and requirement to be a television news anchor. There is a place for people with her “skill set”. Network news is most certainly not that place.

FoxNews is one of those places. Some of the other cable “news” channels may also be appropriate. The Today Show and Good Morning America could also apply, although “there were many who said” Katie was wearing out her welcome there before she was offered the CBS job (how’s that for good sourcing?).

Clearly, this was a ratings ploy. Clearly, that did not go over nearly as planned. CBS is not only still in third place, but they are way behind in the ratings, and are viewed as a lightweight compared to NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Charles Gibson. CBS Evening News has ceased to be relevant – and has ceased to even be news.

Do yourselves a favor, CBS – buy out this contract, admit the error, move on and get back to doing what your news division is supposed to be doing.

Start delivering the news again.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What were you trying to hide, Karl?

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos.

The news about Rove deleting emails from the RNC server into 2005 clearly is not breaking anymore to those of us who follow politics with the, um, fervor that we do. But pretty soon, it will be breaking news to just about everyone who will be watching the news today (except maybe those watching Katie Couric..)

And while everyone else is hopefully going to be hearing about this over the next couple of days (that is if the news reporters actually do their jobs), the obvious question should be asked. Why did Karl Rove delete all of those emails from the RNC server during that time period? What was Karl Rove trying to hide or cover up when he was deleting all of those emails?

Waxman’s letter specifically talked about information already reported, as well as the RNC’s council himself indicating:

  • Rove had the ability to delete his emails from the RNC server;

  • Rove used the RNC server for around 95% of his communication;

  • Even after the hold in August 2004 (for Fitz’s investigation), there are no emails from Rove on the RNC server;

  • The RNC council says that one of the reasons for the lack of emails is that Rove deleted them from the RNC server, even after the hold);

  • Rove’s emails were treated with greater care than any other employee – automatically archiving them so he couldn’t delete them anymore.

What was going on during in this time period?

Criminal investigation that involved Rove? Check.
Criminal lobbyist investigation that had ties to Rove? Check.
Election season for an increasingly unpopular president? Check.
An increasingly unpopular war? Check.
A hotly contested election, with questionable results and exit polls? Check.

So which one is it, Karl? Did it have anything to do with your buddy Tim Griffin’s caging schemes during the 2004 election that served to purge the voting rolls of minority voters who were stationed in Iraq? Was that why you wanted to replace the very capable US Attorney Bud Cummins with Griffin?

Did it have to do with the RNC hiring a consulting firm to do voter registrations in six states but they also shredded Democratic registrations?

Did it have anything to do with Ohio, a state that was predicted to be a problem nearly a year before the election? The same state that Diebold Chief Executive and Chairman of the Board Walden O’Dell – the company whose highly insecure and very hackable voting machines were used for the election – not only gave around $100,000 to the Bush campaign but said that he was “committed to delivering Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush”? The same state whose recount could be described, at best as highly flawed and more likely fixed?

Could it have had anything to do with disgraced male prostitute and non-reporter Jeff Gannon who had carte blanche in the White House during this time period, despite having false identification, no credentials, was not signed in or out of the White House on many of his visits and certainly could be classified as a “national security risk” if he wasn’t connected to the administration through various ways and people, including many levels within the Republican party.

Was it involving any coordination with the lying liars of the Swift Boaters? There was little connection between the chief financer and chief accuser except for their relationship with Rove.

Or were you just destroying evidence and obstructing justice in the Plame investigation – destroying emails that you may have sent in order to get your stories straight with the reporters you leaked classified information to and discussed with other administration officials?

Was it about the widening investigation into republican felon Jack Abramoff? After all, it was one of your top aides that was forced to resign because she was linked to Abramoff.

Honestly, it could be any or all of these, and could just as likely be something else that I didn’t think of off the top of my head. But no matter what dirty tricks are going on, no matter what scandals hit this administration, no matter what information “goes missing” or is “misplaced” – somehow it comes back to Rove in some way, shape or form. OK – maybe not Mark Foley, but just about everything else.

One thing is certain – those emails didn’t just “disappear”. They were willfully destroyed. And with all of the questionable (and questionably legal) things that Rove was involved with - especially during that time period, this country demands to know why they were destroyed.

So, which one is it, Karl? Tell us. Why did you destroy them?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So, are we going to attack Algeria now?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Remember back in 2004 when Bush finally remembered who attacked us on 9/11?

"We have been chasing down Al Qaeda ever since they attacked us ... and we're still pursuing them and we'll continue pursuing them as long as I'm the president of the United States," he said.

Too bad that all those plans for changing the central front in the War Of on Terror from Iraq to Iran need more than just a “find/replace” of the “Q” to an “N”. Now they have to go and change the entire word to Algeria, since al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for 2 bombings that killed more than 20 people.

We also know where al Qaeda isn’t planning attacks as well as where al Qaeda IS planning attacks from. So, who is our bestest buddy (the al Qaeda “harboring” Pakistan) and who is public enemy number one (Shiite and al Qaeda foe Iran)?

Or maybe I have it wrong. The Sunnis – those who make up al Qaeda, those who are the “insurgents” in Iraq who are getting cash for weapons from wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia while the government turns its head “were” the enemy. But now, al Sadr and his Shiite army are now calling for attacks on our troops again. This, just on the heels of the geniuses on the right were crowing about how successful the escalation has been in putting them down.

And now, Algeria—I bet Bush didn’t memorize that leader’s name when he crammed for his 2000 presidential run. Ahhhhh, but silly me, Bush is way smarter than I give him credit for. He at least knows (when someone tells him) where to focus in his giant ongoing real time game of Risk™. Remember a couple of months back when a major initiative to expand the US Army into Africa was announced? Well, it just so happens that the original base was supposed to be in, yup, Algeria.

The U.S. would have wanted to place the base in Algeria but the government of that country vehemently refused and the U.S. is now scouting for another country, especially one with access to the sea.

Mohamed Bedjaoui, the Algerian Foreign Affairs Minister was yesterday reported in the People's Daily Online as having strongly questioned the motive behind the military venture.

"He questioned why no one had ever proposed for any anti-terror co-operation with Algeria in the 1990s when terrorist violence went rampant and wrought havoc?"

A smart guy, that Mr. Bedjaoui. But doesn’t he know better than to not let King George the Lesser get what he wants? Shouldn’t they have been thankful to the US (just like those ungrateful Iraqis) for what happened in 2003 with the release of the then-captured tourists who were held hostage in Algeria?
Although the United States had vague suspicions that the Sahel region of Africa might become a possible terrorist haven following its dislodgment of the Taliban from Afghanistan, the gear change was triggered by the hostage-taking of 32 tourists in the Algerian Sahara. The United States attributed their capture in March 2003 to Algeria's Islamist "terrorist" organization, the Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC). The presumed mastermind of the plot was the GSPC's second-in-command, who goes by many aliases, including El Para after his stint as a parachutist in the Algerian army.

The GSPC held the hostages in two groups approximately 300 kilometers apart in the Algerian Sahara. An Algerian army assault liberated one of the groups. The captors took the other group to northern Mali and finally released the hostages following the alleged ransom payment of five million Euros. The hostage-taking confirmed U.S. suspicions. Even before the hostages were released, the Bush administration was branding the Sahara as a terror zone and El Para as a top al-Qaida operative and "bin Laden's man in the Sahel."

The U.S. spin on these events was all very dramatic. And it was all largely untrue.

I guess El Para was just another of those number 2 men in al Qaeda (yes, it is The Onion but you know that it is true….

So now what? Based on the “we will hunt them down and kill them wherever they are” chest thumping, well, we would have already invaded a dozen or so countries, including the UK and Pakistan.

Who knows – maybe it will be just the right diversion. And the right war at the right place at the right time and with the right enemy.

Oops, scratch that. Aw hell, he’ll probably bomb them anyway...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fire everyone. WE are the new media.

Recommended at Daily Kos, Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

So, let's recap.

Fire Imus for making racially charged comments. Fire Ann Coulter for, well, just about everything. Fire Glenn Beck for being a pig headed moron. Fire O'Reilly for lying. Fire Katie Couric for being a lightweight. Fire Matt Lauer for repeating GOP talking points. Fire Brian Ross for not issuing a retraction or clarification about the anthrax "evidence". Fire Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell and Tim Russert for being too close to the Bush administration and for not being up front and honest. Fire all of FOX News because, well, they are FOX News and aren't really news. Fire the WaPo and WSJ editorialists because they are right wing shills. Fire TIME because they put bible stories on the American version of their magazine, while all other versions have "Talibanistan".

Notice a pattern here?

Let's face it, there is a change happening. And, as silly as my title sounds, we need to keep it in mind. I have written on numerous occasions about a new way that people get and discuss their news. I have discussed "infrastructure" and getting the message out. We have seen great work by the good folks at Talking Points Memo, ePluribus Media and Firedoglake at the Libby trial.

Not to be overlooked, as noted by me last week, a number of highly scientific studies show that the media is becoming more irrelevant, while the blogs are providing high quality content, are getting things done, are prodding our leaders to stand strong while supporting them when they do "right" and are moving the discussion in a different direction - we are swinging the pendulum back towards sanity.

In short, we are becoming the new media. We may not realize it now, but it is happening, and it has been happening. Back in early January, I wrote a post called We are staring at a tremendous opportunity. It is a quick read, but an important one. I talked about building an infrastructure, as well as building off of what we have here now - the discussions, the knowledgebase, the expertise, the personalities and the energy - in order to keep the pendulum swinging in our direction, and to make even more of a difference over the next 2, 5, 10, 20 years.

Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah.....get to the point

Another, and a bigger reason why I am writing this (even though I can't resist the chance to pass up making fun of the media and, well, just about everything), is to talk about this "infrastructure". Some of you have heard me preach this in comments, in emails or in person (or on the phone), and it is a project that I have been working on with thereisnospoon, hekebolos, theKK and the folks at ePluribus Media.

The project is called Political Nexus (bookmark this page), and it will be an interactive, multimedia center/portal with audio, video, blogs, chat and links to citizen journalism - all with a focus on progressive politics and the blogosphere. The content will be done by us, and will feature many of the people who post here and at other prominent political communities - national, community sites and local political blog forums.

We hope that it will become a center where people will go to get (and participate in) analysis of what is going on - the implications of it, what is important and why, as well as be able to contribute content as well. A lot of the audio will be done through Blogtalkradio (at least at first), some of which will be through eP Radio, and some under the specific segment titles.

While the site will "go live" in late April, we will be populating it over the next few weeks, and will have frequent updates with many of your favorite voices around the left blogosphere.

What type of stuff will there be?

As far as audio goes, we have at least three different "series". Yesterday, we did our first show - "FrameWork". FrameWork is best described as follows:

Tune in to FrameWork for a discussion of the week's biggest political issues and examine the framing behind them. Featuring prominent guest bloggers focusing on framing issues, we'll look at the arguments being used by both Progressives and the Right and explore their strengths and weaknesses. Plus, direct advice on utilizing the most advantageous arguments going into the week ahead. Whether you are a blogger, a lurker, a candidate or a politician, you won't want to miss this insightful and actionable recap of the issues at hand and the arguments behind them.

You can listen to the first show here, which is a discussion between me and thereisnospoon (hosted by theKK) dealing with the "War vs. Occupation meme". We hope to do these on a regular basis (hopefully once per week).

Another segment will be called "10 Minutes With...", where we will have a brief interview with prominent bloggers and people active in the political arena. We hope to have a significant number of them, and will keep you posted as we record and release them. This show is an excellent way to get to know some of the voices behind the diaries and comments that you read or behind the "actions" that are taken by those who have worked so hard in the progressive political arena over the past few years.

A third segment, and the one that is the most interactive is a 30 minute interactive radio show called Don't Hijack My Thread!! This will be hosted by me and by thereisnospoon (and hekebolos as his schedule permits) and will be a "rapid fire interactive" discussion of the week's hot political topics. In the future, we would also like to have "guest hosts" for some of these shows. There will be call in participation as well as a chat room so that people who are a bit shy can still participate.

We are taping our first one later tonight and if it goes smoothly, then it will be available for download/playback over the next day. This is one that we also hope to do on a regular basis, and we think that would be able to garner lots of good debate and discussion - and also make it fun.


I am very serious when I say that we are the new media. There is a whole lot of new technology and many new avenues for distributing a message. This is a long term process, but we are well on our way. Cable news ratings are down. Network news is becoming more irrelevant. Print media circulation is down. Political pundits are becoming irrelevant and nothing more than clowns and caricatures.

We hope that Political Nexus will help fill the void and take our movement to the next level. You will be hearing more about this, whether you like it or not....We do have a tremendous opportunity. Let's make the most of it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Just a little bit outrageous, dontcha think?

Front paged at My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

I’ll be brief.

This past week saw a lot of backslapping, handwringing and discussion regarding the first quarter fundraising numbers for both the Democratic and republican presidential candidates.

  • $26 million for Senator Clinton – a new record, we are told.

  • $25 million, but 100,000 donors for Senator Obama – twice the number as Clinton.

  • A “mere” $14 million for former Senator Edwards.

  • A “surprising” $20 million for Mitt Romney – making him the potential new “force to be reckoned with”.

  • Very disappointing numbers for Senator McCain, Governor Richardson and a number of other candidates.

  • The thought that Edwards, Obama AND Clinton all could make it to the Democratic convention with (1) enough money and (2) not enough delegates and could trigger some interesting “stuff”.

  • The “conventional wisdom” that this will ultimately be a $1 billion dollar election.

And what is missing from this picture? Substance. Issues. You know, important things..

We aren’t hearing all that much about whether Giuliani’s support for Kerik, even while knowing he was connected to the mob. Or whether Richardson’s pretty impressive resume would actually make him a good President and Commander in Chief. Or where Clinton stands on important things like, you know, “issues”.

Or that McCain really isn’t fit for office because of who he has surrounded himself with, his delusional rantings on how “safe” the streets of Baghdad are, or the lies, pandering and backpeddling he has specialized in over the past few years. No – we are hearing about his “lagging candidacy” because he didn’t raise enough money.

Yes, it has been this way for a good while now – you can’t run for office without being able to do the fundraising. But this is really out of hand. This will give you an idea on how much spending on Congressional races has skyrocketed over the past few decades:

The cost of congressional campaigns has skyrocketed, from an average of about $87,000 spent for successful House elections in 1976 (about $308,000 in 2006 dollars) to an average of $1.3 million spent on winning campaigns in 2006. Successful Senate candidates in 1976 spent an average of $609,000 (about $2.2 million in 2006 dollars), and in 2006, the average Senate winner spent an astonishing $9.6 million.

Starting the day after they are elected, House members must begin raising more than $1,000 a day to amass large enough war chests to wage their next campaign, while senators must raise more than $3,000 per day.

Regardless of whether Governor Vilsack was a viable or solid candidate on the issues, he dropped out a few months back because he couldn’t raise enough money to keep campaigning. And, while I have no way to confirm this hunch of mine, there are some very VERY good candidates who chose to “sit this one out” because of the “star power” of Senators Clinton and Obama.

Star power is one thing. That would be if they could galvanize people to follow their leadership abilities ON THE ISSUES. Sadly, this isn’t even close to the case. It is the “star power” to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to strongarm out the smaller but just as important voices of other potential candidates. Candidates who may be more willing to take a strong stand. Candidates who don’t talk out of both sides of their mouth. Candidates who aren’t so afraid of saying something that they actually mean but may not play well with their handlers.

Now, I am not saying that we don’t have some pretty solid candidates. We do. But, as I have said previously these candidates may be strong Senators but right now we need strong and bold LEADERS.

Not people who can just raise gobs and gobs of cash while not staking out any strong and bold positions, and having the strength and courage to really back those positions up. We have 2 candidates who are Senators. Let them take this chance to sponsor and rally support for bills that they feel strongly about. Let them have their “plans” be the ones pushed by Senate leadership. Let their ideas be the ones that are used in this year’s agenda.

Now is the time to show leadership. And leadership comes from making other people WANT to follow you. Not by having the ability to raise more money that is, by any reasonable or rational measure, needed to show that you can lead this country.

That holds true for both Democrats and republicans. This should be a battle of who wants to lead this country, and has the vision and the ability to do so. Not about who can raise more money so they can be “called” the leader of this country.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

When you torture, you lose the benefit of the doubt

Front paged at My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

here is exhibit 3,227 as to why torturing is really, really, REALLY bad:
An Iranian diplomat, freed this week after being abducted in Iraq, accused the CIA of torturing him during his two-month detention, Iranian state television reported Saturday.

The United States immediately denied any involvement in the Iranian's disappearance or release.

See, here is the problem – even if we are to believe that, in this instance, the US is telling the truth, the Iranian diplomat is lying through his teeth and there was absolutely no torture or “coercive interrogation techniques”, there is still a question as to who is right and who is wrong here (in terms of the facts).

Let me put it in a more sobering way: because there is so much documented evidence of torture by the United States – whether it is in Iraq, Gitmo, Afghanistan, any of the secret CIA torture prisons that were operated in Poland and Europe or any of the countries that the US rendered suspects to in order to have them tortured – because the US has participated in and condoned torture, we don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore when it comes to whether we actually did torture someone..

Needless to say, this is a horrible sign on so many levels. Because of the sadistic members of the Bush administration, there is now a cloud of doubt (and certainly no sympathy for the United States) over what may very well be an inaccurate accusation by a diplomat of a country with a leader who is just as ideologically crazy as (but much smarter than) our leader at a time where tensions between these two countries is way higher than it should be.

Regardless of what actually transpired between the UK and Iran with the “non-negotiation” and release of the 15 hostages, Iran showed that, even if it did what it did, it is still a step above the United States when it comes to diplomacy. And while that may not seem to count for much, it counts for a lot in the eyes of many countries (as well as people) around the world.

There once was a time where nobody would DARE to accuse the United States of torture. There once was a time when the CIA had documents that specifically outlined and outlawed behaviors that were most definitely considered to be torture. There once was a time when the US didn’t export torture to other countries.

There once was a time when the Executive Branch did not draft document after document after document after document trying to justify war crimes and torture. There once was a time when Congress wouldn’t pass laws that would strip people of their basic rights.

Sadly, that time has long since passed.

And now, we are left with accusations of torture by a diplomat of Iran. Accusations that may be true, they may be false. At this point, it is really the diplomat’s word against the word of the CIA, and the United States.

Because of the actions taken, documents drafted, laws changed, and lack of any meaningful ramifications against those who not only did the torturing, but authorized and condoned it, the United States is left in a very precarious position.

Most of the world either doesn’t believe that the Iranian diplomat wasn’t tortured, or doesn’t have any sympathy for the US if the diplomat is lying. Both of those viewpoints are very telling. And they show how far the United States has fallen in the eyes of the world, and the eyes of many of its’ own citizens.

This is yet another black eye to the US and its’ standing in the world community. We are no better than those regimes that the Bush administration preaches about as examples of “the enemy”.

Make no mistake, there is an enemy out there. But there is also an enemy within. And this enemy within has done far more damage to this country over the past 6 years than the enemy without has.

Friday, April 06, 2007

"Many people think" the media are just lazy douchebags

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos.

It’s true. Based on my highly scientific analysis, the talking meatsticks who parade themselves across the airwaves patting themselves on the back for how great they are, are, in reality, just useless lazy douchebags who are hurtling towards irrelevancy.

I know a lot of people. And they say that people like Matt Lauer couldn’t report their way out of a paper bag. They also overwhelmingly say how Katie Couric actually runs on 10 AAA batteries and has no original thoughts of her own.

This vast segment of society also has said that Couric’s amateurish style and lack of substance are main contributors to CBS lagging far behind in the news department. There are many sources who think that Couric is not long for the primetime news world. You want proof? Oh sorry, I can’t divulge my sources, but rest assured that they exist.

Rumor also has it that Drudge and Rush Limbaugh get their information directly from Little Green Footballs and Free Republic. My sources tell me that since they can’t bother to do any verification of facts, they just go directly to the most creative of wingnuts to get their material. Some say that they are too lazy to even make up their own lies.

On that note, I have it on good authority that many former listeners and viewers of FOX News, CNN and MSNBC are turning to blogs for their news source. The general consensus is that blogs are now rated as “more trustworthy than mainstream news” by more than a 8 to 1 margin. I can’t find the support for that right now, but just know that I read it on a number of blogs, and they are all reputable sources.

What is even more shocking is how specific “venerable institutions” and “respected TV pundits” aren’t spared. According to a recent survey (sorry, I don’t have the link but I read it somewhere at some point. Or maybe I dreamt it – but either way, I am certain it is true), Chris Matthews was rated as “shill for the Republican party” by a whopping 63% of those polled. Tim Russert didn’t fare much better, as 56% deemed him to be “too close to the Bush administration” after his testimony and involvement in the Libby case.

76% of those polled said that they believe “most of what they read or see” in newspapers or on cable news shows are “anti-Democratic party propaganda” or “pro-republican distortions of fact”, and 92% of those polled indicated that the media has an “agenda of hiding the truth and covering up lies and misdeeds of this administration”.

Quite frankly, these are shocking numbers, even more so for a poll that is as highly scientific and trusted as the one that I dreamt about the other night, conjured up right now, heard about from a number of very reliable sources.

It is amazing – how so many people can say so many damning things about the “respected fourth estate”. I mean, you never would have thought it if you weren’t presented with such definitive information as that I have presented above.

I know I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it myself or hear it from the many sources I have.