Monday, December 31, 2007

This effort appears to be one very significant move (of likely many to come) towards shoveling dirt over Karl Rove's tactics and legacy. The list here includes quite a few influential people and by all accounts they've had enough of the craven, some-would-say-criminal shenanigans old Shit Blossom had been able to get away with for far too long.

With any luck, when we finally get GW out the door, hopefully exiting with him will be every cancerous form of "governance" he and Karl ever introduced into the process. And yes, fortunately some see the need to start the purge and cleansing now.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bhutto said Osama bin Laden is dead, that he was murdered. Is that why she was killed (or at least one big reason)?
Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about how the GOP was splintering in large part due to its incessant search for the next Ronald Reagan. Yes, this inane quest for reliving the past and finding the next Gipper has further thrown the party into electoral chaos. I say "further" because let's be honest, GW's nightmarish legacy has not done this party any favors. However, it's all just deserts since these clowns have supported this goon for the last several years, and they continue to support him.

As a result, we could ultimately end up seeing the Republican nomination process linger until their convention in early September. If so, and assuming the Democrats don't succumb to the same fate, it would allow the Dems to unify early and focus on the general election. Meanwhile, the Republicans would still have to attack each other through the summer months, wasting valuable campaign dollars on fighting each other and not the Dems.

Oh wouldn't that be poetic justice.
With Brooks already on board, the idiot duo is complete. Time magazine's "loss" is apparently the NY Times' gain.

Abbott meet Costello, Laurel meet Hardy, Dumb say "hello" to Dumber....

(Get ready for Krugman to blow a gasket).
The next time some right-winger snarls about how environmental measures will cost us in economic progress and undue added expenses, remind them of this:
In July, the World Bank (along with SEPA) released a report saying that pollution costs China US$100 billion a year, or 5.8 percent of its gross domestic product (that's about half of China's own first rough estimates). When it was released in China, however, Chinese officials had succeeded in stripping the report of a more sobering number: 750,000 -- the number of premature deaths in China per year due to air and water pollution.
And note the World Bank used data from China's own EPA. Here we see where pollution has a monetary cost in the many billions, but also a cost in human lives. The right-winger may exclaim, "yeah, but that's China, not the U.S.," which would mean what exactly? The larger point is pollution has tremendous costs, no matter in what country it occurs.

Recall way back when the auto industry warned that the cost of installing seat belts in every car would be hugely expensive and jeopardize the rate of cars sold. Didn't happen. If anything, reports show that the non-use of seat belts costs this country more than $25 billion per year "in medical care, lost productivity and other injury related costs." Same running principle as with the environment, but only myopic, narrow thinking refuses to see the whole picture. For shame.
The NY Giants put up a valiant effort, but nonetheless the New England Patriots prevailed, becoming the first undefeated NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Congrats to the Pats, they were certainly the best team this year, if not in NFL history.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This past Sunday, Frank Rich wrote the following in his NY Times column:
We can only imagine what is going on inside John McCain’s head when he contemplates Mike Huckabee. It can’t be pretty. No presidential candidate in either party has more experience in matters of war than the Arizona senator, and yet in a wartime election he is being outpaced by a guy who has zero experience and is proud of it.

“I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy,” Mr. Huckabee joked to Don Imus, “but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.” So much for the gravitas points earned during a five-and-a-half year stay at the Hanoi Hilton.
So let me understand this, Huckabee had the temerity to make this light-hearted comment, directed at a former war vet who happened to be tortured for years in a Vietnamese hotel. This statement could very well be more below-the-belt than the Swift Boat lies aimed at John Kerry.

For whatever reason, Huckabee felt the need to poke fun at McCain's harrowing "stay" at a hotel -- what does this tell you about Huckabee's judgment, about his temperment? Even if he didn't mean to mix metaphors with Holiday Inn vs. Hanoi Hilton, what kind of a moron would even go there? We already have a class-A dunce in the White House, do we really need another joking, smirking idiot for the next four years? With Bhutto's tragic death, it should be fairly obvious that the world is becoming increasingly more dangerous and complex and the last thing that is needed is a United States leader who is clueless and worse yet insensisitive and willing to toss out the ill-advised one-liner, hoping it buys him some time. Again, we've had eight years of this kind of "leadership" -- enough!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Paul Krugman has some refreshing and sober words of advice to liberals: IT'S TIME TO TAKE OFF THE GLOVES!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A few days ago, Dick Polman wrote the following:
One durable Republican staple is the alleged commitment to "small government." I've heard this repeatedly during the GOP presidential debates. The candidates declare that the feds should butt out, that "one size fits all" policies enacted by Washington would burden the states. On everything from guns to abortion, the GOP politicians say that states should be allowed to come up with solutions that reflect the will of their own people. This is supposed to be a cornerstone of the conservative ethos.

But it's really just pap for the stump. In reality, and for a fresh insight into contemporary Republican hypocrisy, let us behold (yet again) the Bush administration in action.

A couple days ago, the Bush team - acting through the Environmental Protection Agency, in violation of the law that created the EPA, and in defiance of federal court rulings - decreed that the state of California, and 16 other states, would not be permitted to act on their own to reduce global warming emissions from automobiles. The EPA explained that it favors a "national solution" (i.e. one size fits all), over what it calls "a confusing patchwork of state rules."

The catch, of course, is that the EPA - once considered a protector of the environment, before the Bush team go ahold of it - has no interest in a "national solution" to cut the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. The Bush EPA fought the idea for years, claiming that the 1970 Clean Air Act failed to specify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. They haven't budged in that belief, even though, back on April 2 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the '70 law gave the Bush EPA plenty of authority to regulate those emissions.

There's another key feature of that '70 law (which created the EPA, and which was signed by Republican President Richard Nixon): It allows states to set their own clean air standards in the absence of federal action, as long as the feds give their permission in the form of waivers. Over the past four decades, California has sought 50 waivers from the feds, and it has received 50 waivers. Until now. The EPA administrator’s Wednesday ruling overrode the advice of his own legal staff.
In general, the GOP is for states' rights -- but not when it comes to air pollutants. When it comes to spewing such toxins into our atmosphere, apparently what various states wish to do is considered a no-no. Unlike gay rights or abortion laws, when it comes to the air we breathe, this administration has decided to defy the efforts of individual states to bypass the inaction of the federal ("large") government. No, in this case Republicans side with big government because it sides with industry, plain and simple.

Nothing here is shocking. The GOP only wants small government when it fits their political agenda, meaning when it doesn't work against corporate America and their big donors. But never believe that BS line about starving the beast; the GOP did a pretty good job of fattening said beast over the last few years.
Some very truthful words spoken by the man who would've been President:
So today we dumped another seventy million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow we will dump a slightly larger amount.
After all, it's not as if the pollutants dissipate into outer space. No, they're with us for life (or death), having nowhere else to go but in us.

But imagine this stooge in the White House saying these words.... Yeah, on a cold day in hell....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hold on to your hat but apparently the situation in Afghanistan has worsened over time to the point where it's in jeopardy of becoming a lost cause.

Let's not forget that Afghanistan was supposed to be the war, not one of two. Afghanistan harbored terrorists and was the country most responsible for 9/11 -- not so for Iraq on both counts. Yet we deployed the bulk of our military resources to invading the non-9/11-responsible country and now we can't properly secure the country that was the source of terrorism against us in the first place.

However we also must remember that first and foremost all of the military moves in the last several years have been about one thing: oil. Iraq has lots of it, Afghanistan has little if any at all. Nuf said.
Former CIA agent John Kiriakou revealed that the illegal act of waterboarding was used on terrorist suspects and as a result the CIA has launched an investigation against him.

No one should be surprised by what amounts to an act of retribution. Valerie Plame knows full well how this works. It's what they do.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bill O'Reilly predictably took his "War on Christmas" hysterics to Massachusetts, or what the wingnuts love to regard as the home of Ted Kennedy, oodles of liberals, and high taxes. All for the sake of stirring up the intolerant juices with the religious right -- his core viewing audience.

But meanwhile in the lovely red state of Georgia, where they voted for GW in 2004 by a sizable 58%-41% margin, we have this story. School football coach John S. Hayes, 42, "loaded several middle schoolers into the back of his pickup truck, and drove them around after dark and damaged Christmas displays. Christmas displays were smashed and slashed. The group even positioned several homeowners’ displays in X-rated configurations, including placing reindeer in sexual positions."

Yikes! Wouldn't you expect O'Reilly to be all over this heinous news item? I mean reindeer placed in sexual positions, this is just awful! I assume he's sending a TV crew down to Georgia ASAP to show his audience how such deviant acts against Christmas can occur even in a Bush state.... But then I'm not holding my breath. Yawn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dick Polman writes about Romney:
And when Russert asked yesterday whether he believed that life begins at conception, he revealed his true self. From the transcript:

“I do. I believe, I believe, from a, from a political perspective that life begins at conception. I, I don’t, I don’t pretend to know, if you will, from a theological standpoint when life begins.”

Wait...Did he just say that he believes life begins at conception “from a political perspective?” No wonder so many grassroots Republicans don’t trust this guy. They want somebody who hews to that belief for theological reasons – not somebody who goes on TV and admits to the entire nation that his stance on life is “political,” and therefore just an exigency of the campaign.

I sense that Romney is basically a moderate Republican (as his father was), and it’s embarrassing to watch his incessant attempts to retrofit his convictions, all the while claiming that he is doing no such thing. There’s a reason why his lead in Iowa has evaporated, despite his expenditure of $7 million; conservatives smell an opportunist.

(Worse yet, an opportunist who makes stuff up. At one point yesterday, he stated that, while running for governor in 2002, "I received the endorsement of the NRA." The factual reality is that he did not receive the endorsement of the NRA. The gun lobby didn't back anybody in that race.)
What? Suddenly conservatives have a problem with an opportunist -- one that lies no less? Why now? And why start with Romney?

They've been backing such flip-flopping, lying opportunists for as long as I can remember. Recall that GW was exactly such a speciman in 2000 and continues to be.

Is it possible conservatives have finally reached their tipping point with such charlatans? If so, then who do they have left to support?
After years of Republican-controlled government, what do we have to show for it? Among many other unfortunate repercussions, we have more than $9 trillion in debt:
In a new report released last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that the federal budget is on an "unsustainable path." The reason: The government is spending more and more for healthcare programs and for interest payments on the federal debt, now topping $9 trillion.
The CBO estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost $2.4 trillion over the next decade. Nearly $700 billion of that cost will be interest on the debt to finance the wars.

It's a cost that's largely invisible to the public now, but will be much more evident as interest rates increase.
Recall Bush is the biggest spending president in the last several decades. Makes one wonder what all that "small government is best" stuff was about. And perhaps the most worrisome item to the exploding debt: our healthcare system. Yet the Republicans want nothing to do with reforming it, instead remaining a slave to insurance and pharma lobbyists, maintaining the status-quo so the rich get richer on our tax dime. Oh, and let's not forget the wars without end, with the CBO estimating at a cost of $2.4 trillion -- when all is said done, likely to be well north of $3 trillion.

Our kids future be damned. Absolute madness.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interesting. In the poll I mention below regarding Huckabee, the Republican presidential candidate who appears to give the Dems the most trouble is none other than John McCain.

Whereas months ago, McCain did plenty of damage to his campaign by cozying up to Bush and making nice-nice with the likes of Jerry Falwell, he's been able to hang around and remain viable -- thanks in large part to his woeful, quite pitiful competition. They've turned out to be a bunch of unelectable, scary prospects. And their willingness to say and/or do anything to win over their kooky base makes McCain's earlier panderings look tame in comparison.

In light of these flip-flopping suck-ups, McCain once again gets to project himself as the stalwart, straight-shooting maverick (although you and I know much of that is just bunk).
Apparently Huckabee believes we're all huckleberries (read: fools). It's fairly well-documented that most of America either was informed of the fact or had come to realize during the mid-1980s that AIDS could only be transmitted through sexual contact or in a manner entering the bloodstream (drug needles, etc.). In other words, the general public understood it could not be passed on by way of kissing or casual contact. (Note that the NIH mailed information concerning this matter to every household in the U.S., and this occurred in May 1988).

Yet, in 1992, we have Mike Huckabee making statements about how he believed AIDS patients should be "isolated" from the rest of the population.

Of course, he's quickly backpedaling now, throwing out all kinds of excuses for his idiotic statement, but it's all a charade. Odds greatly favor that he was doing then what most Republicans do regularly: tossing red meat to his hate-mongering, intolerant base. You can just imagine how they'd love a point of view like that, to endorse the locking-up of those inflicted with AIDS. After all, recall what Rev. Falwell said: "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

But then again, Huckabee could really just be another dumb-ass Republican. Yeah, that's what this country needs, another clueless, faith-based leader that makes things up as he goes along, winging the BS as he pleases and hopes the media never questions him on it. Lovely. Oh, and anyone who believes Duncan Hunter "is extraordinarily well qualified to be Secretary of Defense" has at least one bolt loose.

Fortunately, the Dem front-runners would crush Huckabee in the general election. Whew!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Did the order to torture come right from the top? Yes, according to former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who has been making the media rounds and discussing torture that has indeed occurred.

NBC's Matt Lauer asked him if the White House was involved in the order to perform torture and Kiriakou replied, "Absolutely. This isn’t something done willy nilly. It’s not something that an agency officer just wakes up in the morning and decides he’s going to carry out an enhanced technique on a prisoner. This was a policy made at the White House."

Just where and when do the lies stop, Mr. President? I suppose this guy is lying too?

More continues to come out about how the intelligence community and some other top-brass figures have apparently decided to reign in the madness of Bush/Cheney. Now we learn that several "intelligence career seniors" were fully willing to go to jail if the NIE report was not released.

Wow, threatening the White House with blackmail?! It's come down to this?!! And who would've thought that these folks would be saving us from further descending into a banana republic-type existence?
How did the intel community discover that Iran had halted its nuke program? A big reason has to do with a CIA-backed program called "Brain Drain," which was to entice well-placed Iranians to defect.

Kevin Drum comments further about the stepped-up efforts to obtain good info on Iran:
And why did we need a "major intelligence push" in the first place? According to Miller, it's because Bush dismantled the Iran Task Force set up during Bill Clinton's administration in order to focus all his attention on — surprise! — Iraq. "When Bush came in, they were totally disinterested in Iran," said a former CIA official who held a senior position at the time. "It went from being a main focus to everything being switched to Iraq."
How about that, Bill Clinton was on top of it way back then and of course Bush and his band of neocons had to disassemble it -- most probably because it was simply associated with Bill Clinton.

Well, we can file this genius move with the outing of Valerie Plame since she was hard at work spying on much to do with Iran's nuclear ambitions -- that is until Cheney and his buddies took care of that.

Monday, December 10, 2007

As I've written here before, perhaps the most worrisome repercussion stemming from the serial lies this administration peddles (only to be eventually caught and forced to eat crow) is their credibility is completely gone and as a result any threats or dangers actually facing us, requiring serious scrutiny, are likewise treated with scant belief, a case of baby tossed out with bath water.

In effect, real and growing geopolitical risks do not get the mature, sober consideration they merit due to the narrow agenda perpetrated by these partisan, maniacal neocon clowns. A country as dangerous as Iran is allowed to escape or get a reprieve from worthwhile international pressures, and heck even look good (or better), thanks to the idiotic, deceitful, Three-Stooges-like bungling of Bush/Cheney.

It's this continued trashing of our country's global standing and the willingness of other nations to believe in our statements that has exposed the United States to more danger, not less. These crackpot thugs have made us less safe by allowing their repeated screw-ups and reprehensible lies to sidetrack what are the true, real threats facing us, thus taking the focus off these threats as we instead focus on the hair-brained screw-ups and lies.

For us to be safer in this day and age, it's not so much a matter of weak vs. strong in leadership, but rather competence over dumb, clueless, cheap maneuverings that equate to sheer insanity. Enough!

Thankfully the intelligence community certainly understands this imperative, and with the release of this report despite being delayed and scuttled for over a year by the Dark One, they too have decided enough is enough. They fully understand that this loose-cannon rhetoric, riddled with nonsensical fabrications, makes us and the rest of the world less safe. It will be one of the lasting ironies of the past eight years.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It wasn't too long ago when we heard the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt admit that they were water carriers for the GOP. As if to confirm this fact applies equally to right-wing bloggers, former Bush counselor and adviser Dan Bartlett had this to say recently:
I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
Yup, the White House has to just feed them the lies (i.e. talking points) and they'll make sure to "catapult the propaganda" to their witless internet readers. See, it all works.
From GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell: “Unfortunately, most of our friends on the other isle are having a hard time admitting things are getting better; some days I almost think the critics of this war don't want us to win. Nobody is happy about losing lives but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers."

Proof that McConnell doesn't just look and sound like a heartless tin robot, by gosh he is one.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Amazing. Steve Forbes is willing to forgive Barry Bonds over what appears to be perjury, and yet I don't recall Steve being so gracious when it came to Bill Clinton's problem....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I wrote in my most recent posting, "The facts are the following: either Bush/Cheney knew about the NIE intel and decided to lie and fan the flames of fear anyway as only they know how, or they didn't know about the intel and then it (further) makes the case that these ignorant morons do not deserve to be the leaders of our country."

Well it looks like it was the former. Bush/Cheney knew about this intel but instead chose to -- yes, you guessed it -- lie. A real shocker. At this point, we should assume everything they say is a lie until proven otherwise. Their credibility is nonexistent and they have only themselves to blame.

BTW, did you have the chance to see or hear Bush's press conference on December 3rd, when he "answered" questions about the NIE report? Here's the transcript, but it's even better if you can find a link to at least hear it. Bush has descended beyond just laughable and embarrassing to quite sad and possibly insane, literally.

In response to this report, Bush's ploy is to shift the language away from Iran actually having a nuclear program to the mere fact that they have the knowledge to potentially build a nuclear bomb ("Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."). So apparently the threat of Iran is no longer that they actually were physically building the infrastructure to create a bomb -- nah, skip that now that the NIE disproved it. Now the threat comes in the form of Iran simply knowing how to do it.

Come again? I'm sure Iran is not the only country on the face of the planet that has the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb but not the materials or equipment, and yet does that make those countries likewise fair game to be bombed by the U.S.? Prior to this recent shift in wording, wasn't Bush and Cheney's focus directed at eliminating all physical remnants of the nuclear program? I believe so, and yet even if Bush/Cheney were to strike Iran and successfully eliminate all evidence of a program, it would not eliminate what Bush is now claiming to be the real danger: the knowledge.

So which is it Mr. President? Because if as you say the real danger is the knowledge, then that means destroying the infrastructure is not the true goal since the know-how will allow them to rebuild it. But see, you never mentioned the knowledge angle until this NIE report made things very difficult for you. And what you're now suggesting with your new focus on just the knowledge is we'd have to destroy not just buildings and equipment but also people and documents. We have to remove from existence in Iran any person (or item) who might possess the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb, else there is the chance the program can come back to life.

Hopefully you can see the Dr. Strangelove insanity in the above line of thinking. It's so nuts it's scary. They lie, the truth (with any luck) eventually comes out, they dance and scurry, a new line of attack is quickly trotted out, of course it's filled with illogic and nonsensical items but so be it. Amazingly this is how the U.S. has been run for the last 7+ years. Granted Bush/Cheney have indeed inflicted serious damage that is in desperate need of repair, but it's a testament to our country that it's actually not worse off than its current state given the reckless machinations and aims of these madmen.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

About the NIE report on Iran, Dan Froomkin writes:
By concluding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, the national intelligence estimate released yesterday undermined a key element of President Bush's foreign policy. It raised questions about whether the president and vice president knowingly misled the public about the danger posed by Iran.
Doesn't this sound all too familiar? Hasn't the NIE enlightened us before, then as now contradicting Bush/Cheney statements and views?

One would think there's no way at this point that war with Iran is possible, at least not in the next several months, right? Well, at least that would apply to most reasonable, sane people....

Baker and Wright make a good point, "President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program."

Did Bush already know about the NIE revelations before once again choosing to scare the bejesus out of the American electorate, this time blaring "World War III" over and over? Nah, our president would never do that.

The facts are the following: either Bush/Cheney knew about the NIE intel and decided to lie and fan the flames of fear anyway as only they know how, or they didn't know about the intel and then it (further) makes the case that these ignorant morons do not deserve to be the leaders of our country. Period.

Oh, and thanks to Mike Malloy for catching this startling Orwellian double-speak during national security adviser Hadley's press conference. The question was asked about Bush cranking up the threatening rhetoric and Hadley responded:
MR. HADLEY: Two things. One, when the President was told that we had some additional information, he was basically told: stand down; needs to be evaluated; we'll come to you and tell you what we think it means. So this was basically -- as we said, this is information that came in the last few months, and the intelligence community spent a lot time to get on top of it.
The follow-up question came, "The President -- you said the President was told to stand down on that --" and Hadley stated:
MR. HADLEY: No, I said just the opposite. I said the President was told, we have some information, we have some new information not to stand down -- said, we have some new information; give us some time to analyze it, and we will come to you and tell you what we think it means.
Go to the official link and read it for yourself. (I can't believe they didn't edit it out, like they've done before). Hadley literally says the President was told to "stand down" and then thirty seconds later, after a reporter logically asks a follow-up question regarding this "stand down" comment, Hadley suddenly reverses course and cancels what he had just said seconds prior, "No, I said just the opposite...not to stand down..."

Look, it's obvious they can't get their story straight on this latest caught-in-a-lie predicament. And a reminder: they're in charge of securing our country! We're talking psychopaths, serial liars. Absolute madness, sheer insanity.

I guess the one saving grace is someone(s) within the NIE felt the need to get this report out ASAP. In the past, we would've expected such a report to be held up, delayed, and then redacted, edited, with massive political pressure applied to get the report to say what the administration wanted it to say. Amazingly, that didn't occur here, which could mean that many in the intel business have had enough, are proactively initiating change, and frankly looking to steer off what could be another war started on false pretense and bogus information. We can only hope.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I've been trying to catch-up with articles set aside for future reading. One that I found to be quite interesting is from those "bad boys" of environmentalism, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger.

Some passages:
Increasing energy use is the primary cause of global warming, but it is also a primary cause of rising prosperity, longer life spans, better medical treatment, and greater personal and political freedom. Environmentalists can rail against consumption and counsel sacrifice all they want, but neither poor countries like China nor rich countries like the United States are going to dramatically reduce their emissions if doing so slows economic growth. Given this, the challenge we face as a species is to roughly double global energy production by mid-century while simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half worldwide (and about 80 percent in the United States), so that we can avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

How could such a massive undertaking be achieved? Not, as environmental leaders insist, by limiting human power but rather by unleashing it. In terms of birthing a new energy economy, regulation is important—it’s just not the most important thing. The highest objective of anyone concerned about global warming must be to bring down the real price of clean energy below the price of dirty energy as quickly as possible—most importantly, in places like China. And, for that to happen, we’ll need a new paradigm centered on technological innovation and economic opportunity, not on nature preservation and ecological limits.
This year or next, China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. And yet, the average Chinese still consumes less than 20 percent of the energy consumed by the average American, meaning that the Chinese contribution to global warming is going to grow tremendously. After all, neither the Chinese people nor the Chinese government will accept any solution that does not allow energy consumption comparable to our own. The only way to double global energy consumption while cutting global warming emissions in half is by developing new sources of clean energy.
Recall the Malthusian thinking that we'd all starve to death due to an exploding population outpacing the supply of food. Didn't happen, mainly thanks to science, technology and man's ingenuity. The same can, and must, happen for the environment.

Recall also that we had our industrial revolution, when our rate of change for advancement and progress was off the charts -- with nary a wit paid to any resulting harm inflicted on the natural world. Can we really now begrudge China the desire to undergo their own industrial era? Who are we to say they can't have what we had, leading to our unprecedented prosperity?

The key difference between now and then is that indeed we now have the science and technological advances we didn't have then that can help not just the Chinese to grow more cleanly, but to also benefit us and the entire planet. Their pollution is our problem too.
The regulation-centered approach to global warming fails because it depends on doing something highly unpopular: raising the price of energy. Fears of political backlash will prevent lawmakers from raising the price of carbon (and thus the price of electricity and gasoline) high enough for clean energy to become cost-competitive. It is for this reason that virtually every congressional proposal to regulate carbon emissions gives industry an “out” if compliance with the law becomes too expensive. The regulation-centered approach is thus doomed to fail in one way or another: Price carbon too high and risk economic consequences and political backlash; price it too low, and dirty-energy sources will not cost enough to make clean energy cost-competitive.

The concern over higher energy prices has plagued European efforts to comply with the Kyoto treaty on global warming. EU nations issued too many emissions credits. Thus, neither the regulations themselves nor the resulting low market price for carbon has lowered emissions or raised much money for clean-energy technologies. Little surprise then that, late last year, the United Nations quietly announced that, since 2000, the emissions of the 41 wealthy, industrialized members of Kyoto had gone up, not down, by more than 4 percent.
[C]ontrary to conventional wisdom, private firms rarely initiate technological revolutions. Indeed, government has always been at the center of technological innovation, and most of America’s largest industries have benefited from strategic government investments in their development. Farm land was granted to early American frontier farmers, and agriculture has been publicly subsidized since the early twentieth century. Before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was best known for his aggressive advocacy of publicly funded transit infrastructure: canals, roads, and railroads. During the cold war, government investment was essential to the aerospace industry’s development.
I recently echoed this sentiment regarding the vast majority of technological innovations originating from public, not private, funds. All too often private firms take from government-sponsored research and simply create usable products for profit.

And the GOP has always desired to shrink government, or this massive engine of innovation; imagine where we'd be today if they got their wish many decades ago.

Another apparent reality check is it's better to rely on solutions that depend less on the spine of politicians.

I would urge reading the entire Nordhaus/Shellenberger piece. You don't have to agree with all of their points, but they correctly zero-in on several aspects of modern-day environmentalism that need to be re-examined. To repeat the much-heard phrase, the fate of the planet depends on it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The "Walter Mitty" Biz Channel

For those who rely on Fox for fantasy news on all things political, now you have them as a source for your fake business news. The channel is a little over a month old and yet it already has been caught churning out the fiction (two examples here and here).

It's bad enough to have your political opinions shaped by the fabricated BS of Fox, but it's quite another to "shape" your 401k and other investments based on their questionable-at-best business reporting.

Also, if companies get caught fabricating numbers or misleading investors, they can get sued. How would it go in this case?
Karl Rove is now blaming the Democrats for the Iraq war. This twisted attempt at rewriting history is astonishing even for these psychopaths.

Understanding its full implications, how can any sane person on the right -- assuming some remain -- tolerate being on the same side as this guy? Has Rove gone from being simply shameless and diabolical to full-blown insane and perhaps requiring professional help?
Rumors continue to pick up steam about Michael Bloomberg throwing his hat in the ring for a November08 run.

If he does join the fray, the question I have is which party will suffer more? Will he siphon off more votes from the Democrat or the Republican? Or will he take votes equally and simply suppress the overall number of votes needed to win?

My bet would be on the latter most scenario, which if Hillary is the Dems candidate would put her in somewhat of a similar spot as her husband when he ran versus Bush Sr. and Perot. We know that Nader clearly hurt Gore, taking votes from him that would've went to the Democrat, however the analysis is less clear about who got hurt most by Perot's run and many have concluded it was shared pain. Nonetheless, with Perot getting nearly 19% of the popular vote, Bill Clinton could win with "just" 43%, or less than a 50% majority.

Bloomberg would have the same effect, though I'm not sure he would fare as well as Perot. Outside of the Northeast, Bloomberg is less known whereas Perot was becoming quite the kooky sensation when he ran, to the point where he became fodder for SNL -- a testament to his celebrity. Also, the novelty of a third-party candidate was treated more seriously at the time with many voters willing to cast a ballot towards the unconventional to make a point. Given the nightmare we've had to endure for the last 7+ years thanks in part to Nader's need to run, the public will be much less inclined to pull the lever for a third-party alternative this time around.

It will be interesting to see what Bloomberg decides. Clearly it appears he does have every intention to give it a go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of course news from Iraq of the recent decline in violence is wonderful, but is it lasting? David Ignatius cautions against premature celebration, stating that a Syrian analyst believes insurgents are simply laying low and regrouping. "This will be known as the era of deception," warns the analyst.

Offering further credence to this belief is Bush's suspiciously restrained rhetoric concerning this respite in violence. It's just not like him. You'd think he'd be crowing loudly, chest thrusted out, about this item of good news.

But then one has to wonder if Bush has intel supporting the analyst's contention that this period is just a regrouping phase of the war, that it's in fact too soon to proclaim victory or that the tide has finally turned in Iraq. At this point even Bush realizes it would be a huge mistake to appear overly optimistic only to see the violence re-erupt in full force. He'd look like a bigger fool than usual, with the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco repeating itself but worse. The end result would be a public 100% against the war, not "just" 70% against.

Speaking of Iraq, Kevin Drum reminds that like the phrase "It's the economy, stupid," the surge has always been about expected political progress in Iraq (stupid).
Political progress has always been the justification for the surge. When he announced it last January, President Bush explicitly said that the point of reducing violence in Baghdad was to give the Iraqi government "breathing space" to move ahead with political reconciliation. Political progress wasn't just a fringe benefit, it was the whole purpose of the surge: "If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises," he said, "it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people."

The reduction in violence in Iraq is great news. But it's not a "shift" to say that political reconciliation has always been the real goal of the surge. It has always been the real goal of the surge.
To sum up, the decline in violence is an excellent development, but 1) is it lasting or just a temporary reprieve, and 2) when will signs of political headway appear?
Randi Rhodes recently asked the question: to win elections, should we encourage and urge our side to be more like Karl Rove, i.e. to play dirty and do whatever it takes to win so as to effectively fight against the Rovian, GOP apparatus?

Rhodes votes no, imploring we would lose the moral high ground, becoming as scummy as they are and thus no better, and then what have you actually won?

That's all well and good but others say the contrary is to allow them to win via the dirty play and as a result we never get to effect change. If using filthy tactics is what it takes to win elections, thus matching hardball with hardball, then it's ultimately for the long-term good of the country, if not the world. Otherwise Republicans will continue to triumph and we're left bitching.

One may ask what good is the moral high ground if it means we're ultimately on the road to ruin? However if we instead become them, what have we done? What's worth saving at that point?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

At this point, how desperate is McCain? He'll accept the help of a guy who fabricated abhorrent lies to trash his family name? But I thought McCain was all about hardcore beliefs and principles, one who had tremendous pride and was not your typical politician?

Yeah, right.
First Tony Blair, now Howard of Australia. The Bush/Cheney sinkhole sucks up another victim. Who will be next?
In the last debate, Hillary declared with a simple "No" that she was against the granting of driver licenses to illegals. Prior to that, she had stated a less definitive position on the matter, one that saw her Democratic opponents jump all over her for being what they felt was less than forthright.

I say both of her answers were appropriate and just fine for different reasons.

Her first, less definitive reply to this issue was understandable because not all issues are black & white in nature. How many times must I write that some if not many political topics are very complex, complicated and with much nuance. It's not every issue that has clear-cut resolutions; many inherently are just not easy to address -- this illegals and driver licenses a perfect example.

It gets back to the title of my blog which acknowledges that there's not always black & white clarity and obvious right or wrong to every issue, rather there's much grey area for difficult situations. Hillary was trying to recognize and speak to the tough aspects of what Spitzer was facing with this issue, but she was immediately accused of flip-flopping and saying both yes and no to the question. Nonsense. She simply admitted Spitzer was trying to make better a very difficult problem by proposing at least one, imperfect solution to it. She wasn't necessarily for it politically but she she understood what he was trying to do.

As for her more recent "No" answer, that too was appropriate given the fallout of her first answer, and given the unfortunate realities of the political game. She was forced into making a contrite, black/white declaration on the matter, to not elaborate but instead just offer a blurb and move on. Predictably, when she did make this brief reply in the debate, her foes just moved on. (Groan)

Notice with Hillary's first answer the right-wing attacked, not just because they hysterically decry anything Hillary has to say about anything, but in this case they foamed at the mouth because they must have black & white. Absolutely no nuance allowed, ever. They can't stand or tolerate at all the grey area. They demand to have easy answers to every issue or their heads will explode.

And Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly et al oblige this demand, having made this inflexible, definite thinking their bread and butter. Their listeners and the Republican base do not allow for "wishy washy" wonkery speak or reasonable discourse. They only want sound bites that are quick to digest and memorize, making it a simple task to repeat the talking points to friends. They also want brief blurbs that sound right -- even if they make little sense in actuality. It's why when they're in government and have the power, things often go awry. It's an unfortunate fact that much of life is complicated and doesn't yield to their desire for clap-trap solutions. It's called reality.

By the way, equivocating is a different matter. Equivocating is not giving a straight answer to a simple, black and white question. Example: do you like chocolate ice cream or not? A much different matter than addressing a complex dilemma that cannot be properly considered or vetted via the use of near primitive verbiage or thinking.

Speaking of simple and neanderthal-like, do we really need four more years of "fighting-them-there-so-we-don't-have-to-fight-them-here" or "bring it on!"?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Recently Charles Krauthammer was fretting over the possibility of Hillary in the White House, specifically that it would mean "we would literally be getting two presidents" ala her famous spouse.

And the problem is...?

If there's one thing the last 7+ years has proven it's that "two presidents" would be an improvement and a welcome relief to the 1/2 of a president (if that) we've endured for too long.

And we're likely going to need the help of many presidents to clean-up and fix the massive damage done to this country thanks to the Smirk and Darth show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh that bad, bad, big federal government, being all responsible for much of the medical research and breakthroughs that has extended our survival rate:
The single biggest source of medical research funding, not just in the United States but in the entire world, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Last year, it spent more than $28 billion on research, accounting for about one-third of the total dollars spent on medical research and development in this country (and half the money spent at universities). The majority of that money pays for the kind of basic research that might someday unlock cures for killer diseases like Alzheimer's, aids, and cancer. No other country has an institution that matches the NIH in scale. And that is probably the primary explanation for why so many of the intellectual breakthroughs in medical science happen here.
Yes, the fact is the cutting-edge, innovative medical research that Republicans and the like believe is occurring primarily by private health care companies is instead being funded publicly, by our government. What the private companies do is to borrow or take from NIH's voluminous research output and look to create drugs or procedures for profit. But again, a majority of the breakthroughs that we can be thankful for did not happen in a Merck or Pfizer lab, but rather was first made possible via government-sponsored research. We taxpayers help pay for the research that serves as the fuel for private health care company profits. (And recall that pharma firms often bemoan that the exorbitant price on drugs is due in large part to recover research costs.... Uh, not exactly true, and a good deal of the costs = marketing, not research).

It's too bad the current administration chooses to cut back on NIH's budget in favor of things like tax cuts for the rich:
There's no reason why this has to change under universal health insurance. NIH has its own independent funding stream. And, during the late 1990s, thanks to bipartisan agreement between President Clinton and the Republican Congress, its funding actually increased substantially--giving a tremendous boost to research. With or without universal coverage, subsequent presidents and Congress could ramp up funding again--although, if they did so, they would be breaking with the present course. It so happens that, starting in 2003, President Bush and his congressional allies let NIH funding stagnate, even though the cost of medical research (like the cost of medicine overall) was increasing faster than inflation. The reason? They needed room in the budget for other priorities, like tax cuts for the wealthy. In this sense, the greatest threat to future medical breakthroughs may not be universal health care but the people who are trying so hard to fight it.
So Bush et al will continue to scare the public about universal health care, much of it based on lies and distortions, and meanwhile they'll slash funding for what has been the engine of health care breakthroughs over the last few decades. Give some extra cash to a select few now and sacrifice medical progress that could benefit many down the road. Yeah, that sounds about ass-backwards right for this cabal of nitwits.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I thought this news item was interesting:
Army desertion rates up 80% since 2003

Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80% increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003...and a 42% jump since last year....Military leaders — including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey — have acknowledged that the Army has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the combat....[T]he military does little to find those who bolt, and rarely prosecutes the ones they find. Some are allowed to simply return to their units.
Amazing that the military frequently doesn't bother to track down AWOL soldiers (is this because they can't blame them? Or because the military is so strapped and stretched thin that they don't even have the manpower to hunt down deserters?). And when soldiers are found, they often just get sent back to duty -- no punishment or discharge.

I think this latter point speaks volumes about the state of our fighting forces. We've known that the military has been having a very difficult time attracting new recruits and as a result they've lowered the standards to qualify for service. Therefore it's not surprising to learn that the top brass often look the other way regarding this once unforgivable sin of AWOL.

And where are the Republicans to slam these deserters as traitors, to condemn this practice of returning these "yellow bellies" to their units with no repercussions?

Also, a primary reason for the increase in desertions is due to strain and the relentless durations of deployment -- exactly the problem Sen. Webb's bill was to address but the Republicans felt otherwise.

To have our military populated by once-deserters, doesn't this compromise the safety of other soldiers and weaken the overall morale of the units? Where are the McCains and other vocal Republicans to call this out? My guess is that there are many soldiers who haven't deserted and yet understand and empathize with those who have, and they likely quickly forgive those who took flight.

Given all of the above, the Iraq war has worked to eviscerate the strength and quality of our military. As many military leaders admit, our forces are at a breaking point and yet additional geopolitical risks loom in earnest (Iran, Pakistan, Syria, etc.). In many ways, we face more potential threats today than ever before and yet we're less prepared, less ready, less safe.

But I thought Bush/Cheney were all about making us more safe? (Or is it just more afraid?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kevin Drum remains baffled by the continued, inflamed level of CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) in this country. He writes, "Disliking the Clintons for one reason or another: sure, that's easy to grasp. But during the 90s I never got CDS. I just flat never got it."

Frankly, I never have either. Somewhere along the way in the early 1990s, the right wing stoked up the hatred flames and directed them full-force at the Clintons. You would think they embodied the anti-Christ. Whatever. It never made much sense then and still doesn't.

I've simply come to conclude that the far right absolutely despised seeing someone even mildly liberal be so successful. Prior to Bill, they were very accustomed to a more bumbling and less skilled politician who symbolized the left as they liked to see it. Of course I'm referring to Jimmy Carter. But all of that changed with the extremely competent, well-honed machine put into action by Clinton/Gore. How dare a liberal be in the White House during one of the most prosperous decades this country has ever experienced.

Come to think of it, knowing the right's insane, festering desire to hate, to scorn anyone who doesn't agree 100% with them and to obliterate all foes who are popular, perhaps the reasons for rampant CDS are not so confounding after all.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

As I did last week, likening much of the Pakistan clamp-down to Bush/Cheney tactics, Frank Rich does so in his column today. A taste:
Even if Mr. Bush had the guts to condemn General Musharraf, there is no longer any moral high ground left for him to stand on. Quite the contrary. Rather than set a democratic example, our president has instead served as a model of unconstitutional behavior, eagerly emulated by his Pakistani acolyte.

Take the Musharraf assault on human-rights lawyers. Our president would not be so unsubtle as to jail them en masse. But earlier this year a senior Pentagon official, since departed, threatened America’s major white-shoe law firms by implying that corporate clients should fire any firm whose partners volunteer to defend detainees in Guantánamo and elsewhere. For its part, Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department did not round up independent-minded United States attorneys and toss them in prison. It merely purged them without cause to serve Karl Rove’s political agenda.

Tipping his hat in appreciation of Mr. Bush’s example, General Musharraf justified his dismantling of Pakistan’s Supreme Court with language mimicking the president’s diatribes against activist judges. The Pakistani leader further echoed Mr. Bush by expressing a kinship with Abraham Lincoln, citing Lincoln’s Civil War suspension of a prisoner’s fundamental legal right to a hearing in court, habeas corpus, as a precedent for his own excesses.
The column is a must-read. Rich discusses the permanent harm this administration has inflicted on America, with Mukasey's approval just another sign of how far we've fallen as a country. Rich writes:
In the six years of compromising our principles since 9/11, our democracy has so steadily been defined down that it now can resemble the supposedly aspiring democracies we’ve propped up in places like Islamabad. Time has taken its toll. We’ve become inured to democracy-lite.
Again, a must-read.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Go Ahnold!

California is suing the federal government:

California took its global-warming dispute with the Bush administration to court Thursday, demanding that the federal government act on a request filed nearly two years ago to let the state limit motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases.

"California is ready to implement the nation's cleanest standards for vehicle emissions, but we cannot do that until the federal government grants us a waiver allowing us to enforce those standards," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a Sacramento news conference.
Eleven states that have adopted laws modeled on California's statute, three states that are considering such laws, and eight conservation groups sought court permission to join the case. The states will be allowed to enforce their laws only if the EPA approves California's waiver.

"The Bush administration, apparently not content to block progress (on global warming) at the federal level, is trying to hold back states' progress, too," said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth, one of the organizations seeking to intervene. "If the federal government isn't going to take the lead, the least it can do is get out of the states' way."
Thanks to the inflexible, off-the-rails positions of this administration, states have been increasingly forced to take matters into their own hands. And yet whereas many of the GOP candidates favor this new federalism, endorsing state's rights when it comes to issues such as gay marriage, abortion, or stem cell research, where are they when it comes to this real-life, pressing example? What does Giuliani, Romney or Thompson have to say about the Republican governor's lawsuit? (crickets)

So they'll side with states-knowing-best on some difficult social issues -- where in reality the candidates are simply choosing to dodge via a punt, but they'll remain silent when it comes to issues like pollution or global warming. Have to love that trademark consistency.
Rudy: the company he keeps.

Vote for The Mayor and get ready for four more years of highly questionable cronies and hacks.

UPDATE: Rev. Pat Robertson endorses Rudy. Oh, so now I understand, if you're pro-choice, an adulterer, and a Democrat, that's god-awful bad; if you're pro-choice, an adulterer, and a Republican, that's A-OK and darn right endorsable (because Jesus would forgive only those in the GOP, apparently... who knew?). The heck with Huckabee -- I mean after all he's a former minister -- but rather go with a front-runner. After all, even for the religious right it's all about politics, never mind what they'll proclaim or try to make you think. A complete comedy show.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The following is from Dick Polman, about Giuliani's underwhelming showing at that family values gathering in Washington (it's about a week old but still relevant):
Rudy Giuliani is still (rightly) perceived by the religious right as being a New York liberal on abortion. In his Saturday speech, he tried to sell his unpalatable beliefs as a character asset, as proof that he is a man of conviction: “Isn't it better to tell you what I really believe than to change my positions to fit the prevailing winds? I believe trust is more important than 100 percent agreement." The problem with Rudy’s argument is that these people really aren’t interested in disagreement, particularly on an issue (abortion) that they deem to be a deal-breaker. Rudy wound up with 1.85 percent of the total straw poll vote.
Think about it, what chance does Rudy have come November 2008? Let's see:

1) Christian right voters don't like him. They comprise a solid bloc in the party base, and worse yet for Rudy as a group they always make the effort to show up and vote. However with Rudy as their choice, perhaps this time they just stay home.

2) He symbolizes, embraces and proclaims four-more-years of Bush. If that mantra proved bad in the 2006 election, we're talking deathly toxic in 2008.

3) He's bald and not exactly tall (don't underestimate physical appearance).

4) Temperment. Kevin Drum has written at least a few times about how in 2008, when things start to get down and dirty, be prepared to see Rudy become unraveled. In fact, the Dems should do all they can -- yet much short of Swiftboating -- to get under The Mayor's skin. It's thin and he'll go off the rails, and it'll be over.

5) Legit "dirt" on him will get full airing, literally. Needless to say, he's got tons of baggage.

6) He's bat-shit crazy.

Also about a week ago, Kevin Drum pointed out the latest untruth coming from Giuliani, this time involving health care. Drum succinctly writes, "You will be unsurprised to learn that Giuliani is full of shit."

If there's one thing that is mandatory with Rudy it's that everything coming from his mouth must be fact-checked. He literally just makes stuff up on the fly, or worse yet purposefully lies, and reporters are (surprise) dropping the ball.

Does this sound familiar? Yes, if you want four more years of distortions and lies, vote for Rudy. Why stop now with the gradual move towards fascism....

Sunday, November 04, 2007

OK, you have to admit, at least some of what's occurring in Pakistan sounds and/or looks very Bush/Cheney-esque, no? Disdain for "judicial activism," mocking the rule of law, playing to the hilt the threat of terrorism as reasons for displacing or ignoring the Constitution, warning the media to not "ridicule" the President, harsh crackdown on dissidents and those who dare oppose, etc.

And yet this seeming declaration of martial law is not enough of a wrong for us to immediately terminate military aid to Pakistan. Apparently the Bush administration finds this dictatorship-like move a bit embarrassing and puts them in an awkward spot, but in the end it's not that big of a heinous act. I mean let's not get crazy, right Junior? After all, this country has been harboring the guy responsible for 9/11, has nuclear weapons, has more/less had a military dictatorship as its governing structure, and now we're seeing it plunge into what could be considered looming chaos. Is this initial crackdown a one-time thing or will several fissures follow?

It's obviously a very complicated and important situation, but wouldn't it be nice to know that we at least had an administration who has shown some adept ability at dealing with delicate, tense foreign outbreaks and problems? You know, as opposed to one whose sole solution to geopolitical risks has been a preference to use a hammer before a brain cell, to strike first and figure things out later -- when the problems only get worse. Given their track record, what hope is there that Bush & Co. will successfully help to resolve this crisis in Pakistan?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

On October 13th, I wrote:
[L]et's spend a minute reviewing the physical appearance of these GOP candidates. With this past debate, I looked upon the stage and saw two tall guys (Romney and Thompson) amidst a bunch of shorter ones. Many of us know, or should know, about the track record of the taller candidate; since the TV age, it's been near undefeated (it held up until Bush/Rove vs. Gore and Kerry). The likes of Perot, Tsongas, Dukakis, Nader, and Kucinich never have/had a chance for this reason. To that end, it favors Romney more so than Thompson because the former at least looks alive and energized as compared to the latter who appears lethargic and listless, with unsightly bags under his eyes.

Interestingly, it's Giuliani who loses big-time when it comes to appearance. He's not particularly tall and in fact he seems to have poor posture with a crouched-over, droopy presence. In addition, when was the last time a bald guy has done well running for the White House?

Yes, of course, all of this is superficial, but who said the voting public is above being superficial?
Boo, hiss, how dare I accuse Americans of being a shallow, imperfect bunch of less-than-cerebral reactors.

Look, it is what it is and we are who we are. Very human, behavioral tendencies play a part in every decision we make, for better or for worse. Whether it be shopping at the store, the buying and selling of stocks, or voting for political candidates, our final choices are derived via imperfect inputs, reasoning, and habits. It's up to each of us to guard against giving in to nonsensical, yet very human and therefore understandable, reactions based on little fact or logic. But it's not easy.

In fact, about a week ago, reported on a study concluding that voters frequently make judgments based on just split-second responses to things like a candidate's appearance -- just what I was writing about on October 13th. The study found that instantaneous reactions to candidates matched the final choices of voters at the polls a whopping 64% of the time. It seems appearance and looks trump policy and positions in importance, sadly.

So if the above holds true, should we expect to see Romney vs. Edwards in November 2008?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Although Sen. Leahy announced he would vote against Mukasey, TPM reports:
According to CNN, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will vote for the confirmation of Michael Mukasey as attorney general.

The move by the two Judiciary Committee Democrats all but assures that the nomination will make it to the Senate floor where confirmation is expected.
As I guessed, the wet-noodle Dems would cave. King George wins again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's bad enough David Brooks' columns are wafer-thin, hastily-written exercises in superficial clap-trap, but for him to have to steal or borrow lame ideas for his lame column from other lame thinkers is inexcusable.

Read this (re a Michael Medved column) and then take a gander at Brooks' column yesterday. Pathetic.
It should be clear that Mukasey's silence on waterboarding dismisses him from further consideration for AG, with his mushy, no-comment stance inferring he does not wish to weigh in on something that is so obviously illegal.

So what's the gamble here, if he rightfully condemns waterboarding then he likely violates any prior agreements he made with Bush on the subject and he's out. Or he can say nothing about it, obfuscate, and assume wet-noodle Democrats will approve him anyway, believing he's at least better than Gonzo. (Yes, our top legal department has been decimated to where we're happy with the lesser of the two evils).

But come to think of it, good gamble, the Dems will cave.
The examples of just how bad this administration is never stop appearing. We've recently been treated to the fake FEMA press conference, and now we learn of the top official in Washington whose job is to protect the consumer has been imploring Congress to not pass legislation that would strengthen her agency.

Yes, Nancy Nord has more than once requested that Congress reject increasing funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- this despite the rapid rise in product recalls given issues with China. Wow, a government person rejecting increased funding to expand power -- how admirable.

I suppose it has nothing to do with her prior life at Eastman Kodak, where she looked out for that company legally. Yeah, she's not looking to protect the corporate backers of this administration. No, I believe what she says, that the additional money would "get in the way" of her agency's ability to do its job.

Exactly. More people, more enforcement, more fines, more protection for the consumer, i.e. all things she believes are not the job of the agency.

How many more days of this administration must we endure?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

With Halloween tomorrow, who knew that our colleges and universities were collectively regarded as one of the scariest, most dangerous things in America (as ranked by an outfit called Family Security Matters). Yes, our higher-learning institutions are apparently more of a looming concern to the country than even these well-known, knee-shaking threats: and the ACLU.

Be very, very afraid.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

For as long as I can remember, it's been a commonplace device for many pundits and talkingheads on the right. Rather than spend the bulk of their precious time discussing meaningful, nontrivial topics of the day, they frequently devote their attention to the mundane and almost absurd. Why wrestle with Iraq, health care, global warming, etc., when there's a teacher refusing to let a child pray in a classroom or a gay character in Harry Potter to fret over.

In this spirit, yesterday none other than that pillar of intellect, David Brooks, devoted his column to how he's fallen deeply in love with his car's GPS satellite system.
Like many men, I quickly established a romantic attachment to my G.P.S. I found comfort in her tranquil and slightly Anglophilic voice. I felt warm and safe following her thin blue line. More than once I experienced her mercy, for each of my transgressions would be greeted by nothing worse than a gentle, “Make a U-turn if possible.”

After a few weeks, it occurred to me that I could no longer get anywhere without her.
For how long has this guy been a shameful embarrassment to the NY Times? When does someone over there finally get rid of this cotton-head?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recently Jonah Goldberg conveyed some truths (no, really) about Ronald Reagan:
Reagan had numerous conservative critics, even in his first term. Richard Viguerie, the New Right’s direct-mail impresario, routinely denounced Reagan’s alleged betrayals of conservative principles. Conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet, one of my intellectual heroes, was bitterly disappointed by the Reagan presidency. By Reagan’s second term, critics on the right were everywhere. It’s not that conservatives stopped loving him, but few thought he walked on water at the time.
[I]f you listen to the crowd yearning for another Reagan today, you’d never guess that he’d signed a very liberal abortion bill as governor of California (he came to regret it). You’d be shocked to learn how many times he signed on to the Democratic Congress’ hikes on gas, payroll and other taxes during the 1980s.
Reagan also met with Soviet dictators, on the condition that they could live long enough to make it to a summit. Many conservatives worried at the time that Reagan wasn’t nearly hard-line enough on the commies.
Reagan signed an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Today, John McCain’s similar but tougher stance on immigration has all but disqualified him among people looking for another Reagan.
I've written here several times before about Reagan's "liberal" tendencies. Modern-day Republicans do not so much yearn for the days of Reagan's conservative ways -- in large part because the Gipper would be considered a moderate by today's standards -- as much as they long for his widespread appeal and popularity.

The fact is Reagan was the last Republican beloved by most of the country, something that clearly cannot be said about any prominent politician in the GOP over the last 10+ years.

Indeed, Reagan was not then the conservative of today. I wonder if he would actually want anything to do with the inept, corrupt clowns that now populate his party. Reagan didn't particularly like his own VP, so it's a stretch to believe he would approve of Bush II's embarrassment of a son.
So much for a $1 trillion price tag for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars:
The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade, or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled for release Wednesday.

A previous CBO estimate put the wars' costs at more than $1.6 trillion. This one adds $705 billion in interest, taking into account that the conflicts are being funded with borrowed money.
Yes folks, the original estimate on the cost of these wars has increased by almost 50% due to one thing: interest. The miracle of compound interest works both ways and this credit-card-seduced, consuming public should surely know the insidious nature of interest on debt. If not, our kids will surely know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paul Krugman comments on the lack of spine in the Democrats:
[T]hey have been burned badly on national security in the past...They’re afraid to take on Bush, even though this is a massively unpopular war, because they’re afraid that it will somehow, you know, backfire on them...Now they’re afraid. So, they’re basically trying to keep possession of the ball, and they’re afraid to do anything that might upset things...They’re afraid that, one last time, Bush will pull the national security thing on them.
The last time Bush (and Rove) pulled "the national security thing" and it succeeded was in 2004, or what will be four years ago. Given the state of things now vs. then, that's eons ago. The odds are greatly diminished it would succeed again in 2008, and the rock-bottom approval ratings of Congress -- due in large part to their refusal to take on Bush -- support this contention.

The fact is if the Dems don't start giving Bush a reason to use that tired national security threat, then it will hurt them, not help. Times have changed, greatly.
Bush is the biggest spending president in the modern era:
George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he's arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ.

“He’s a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.

The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group.

“He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.

That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch.
And recall that for the bulk of his reign Bush had a GOP-controlled Congress, so can't blame the Dems. Just goes to show all that blather about small government and tax-and-spend liberals is just BS. Republicans like to tag Dems with the big government label but notice Bill Clinton is not in the top-5:

Another $46 billion allocated to Iraq. We're nearing the $1 trillion mark. And yet we can't afford an extra $20 billion for children's healthcare (S-CHIP). And meanwhile so much inside our country is left unprotected from terrorist attack: chemical plants, our ports, nuclear power sites, etc.

Add one more on to this list of potential threats: insects. The Boston Globe had a truly frightening article on the possibilities for using the little critters to spread massive havoc.

Yes, scary stuff. But can we truly protect ourselves from every kind of threat? Shouldn't we make a prioritized list and allocate precious funds accordingly, remaining sensible and using logic? As opposed to the current administration which makes no list, uses not a wit of reason, instead opting for just tossing scary rhetoric at the public like spaghetti against a wall. Oh, and to send hundreds of billions of our dollars to continue a war overseas that is going nowhere, just money and lives down the drain.
Accidental escalation

With regards to Iran, "accidental escalation" is exactly what Bush/Cheney want. They'll first try very hard for the accidental -- raising rhetoric, inciting unrest, etc. -- all the while taking small, gradual steps towards war. It's all in the same direction -- no diplomacy, just threats, and then war.

In a recent LA Times editorial, the "madman theory" was discussed:
There is speculation that the Bush administration could be trying out its version of the madman gambit by advertising Vice President Dick Cheney's alleged desire to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and Revolutionary Guard targets, in hopes of scaring Tehran into submission. The problem with the madman act, however, is that it presumes that the Iranians will react sensibly. But who wants to stake U.S. foreign policy on the wisdom of Iran's mullahs and its titular head, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a paranoid who can beat us at the madman game any day of his choosing?
Just wonderful, we're now pitting madness vs. madness (Cheney vs. Mahmoud). Our geopolitical policy has now reached the point where we're playing a game of chicken as opposed to employing a tad more sophisticated methods or tacts, such as talks, summits, brokering deals, etc.

Dr. Strangelove anyone?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thomas Friedman's column focuses on a real mind-blowing concept: to effect change, start with your leaders (and this guy gets top-dollar for this stuff?). All of your environmental conservation efforts amount to a hill of beans when compared to the amount of damage a few non-green leaders can do with their legislative power-pens.

The real truth being you need to do both, what you can in your personal daily existence but then also to insure that the bigger, more macro problems are also tackled. First and foremost, bought-and-paid-for dunderheads like Bush must go, ASAP.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stark honesty

Peter Stark (D-CA) on the House floor:
First of all, I’m just amazed that they can’t figure out — the Republicans are worried that we can’t pay for insuring an additional ten million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you gonna get that money? You gonna tell us lies, like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war?
This bill would provide health care for ten million children and, unlike the President’s own kids, these children can’t see a doctor or receive necessary care. Six million are insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and they’ll do better in school, and in life. In California, the President’s veto will cause the legislature to draw up emergency regulations to cut some 800,000 children off the rolls in California and create a waiting list.

I hope my California Republican colleagues will understand that if they don’t vote to override this veto, they are destroying health care for many of our children in California.
They claim we can’t afford health care. They say the bill will socialize medicine. Tell that to Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley and Ted Stevens, those socialists on the other side of this capitol. The truth is: [The] CHIP program enables states to cover children primarily through private health care plans. But, President Bush’s statements about children’s health shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up… in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear such Stark honesty from other wet-noodle Democrats?

Meanwhile, a whopping 80% of Americans are in favor of expanding S-CHIP, or in other words completely opposite Bush's stance (what else is new?). In addition, "the poll finds that only about one in five Americans (22 percent) approve of the president’s handling of health care. That's lower even than his approval rating on Iraq (26 percent)."

Wow, first we heard worse than Nixon re Bush's popularity, now we have worse than Iraq (re healthcare) -- GW just keeps racking up the dubious honors on the new-low categories.

The bottom line is the Dems better use this S-CHIP issue and respective congressional voting record next year heading into November. If they don't, then they truly are patsies.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Markets can be incredibly accurate, and often, in discounting the future. The New Yorker's terrific financial writer, James Surowiecki, wrote a book about this phenomena.

With that in mind, the trading of Iraqi bonds does not offer good news about the surge. The bond prices have declined and Michael Greenstone of MIT says this decline signals a “40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default...This finding suggests that, to date, the Surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.”

But then this market is probably being driven by the Democrats, right?
Some questions:

Given how quick the Republicans were to condemn the ad about Gen. Petraeus (an ad that was accurate), can someone tell me why not one Republican has publicly condemned the despicable treatment of 12-year old Graeme Frost by Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin -- this after learning of all the lies involved? It's been deathly silent.

In his abruptly-called press conference, Bush said about Putin, "You know, nobody likes to be talked to in a way that may point up different flaws in their strategy." Uh, isn't Bush really talking about himself? A little bit of projection going on here me thinks.
Michael Medved looks at polls and claims Americans are confused when really it's just he who is confused.

In a USA Today piece, the sub-heading asserts, "America’s public gloom contradicts people’s enduring, if private, confidence," with Medved stating, "It's no wonder that Americans feel so deeply disconnected from their elected leaders when their contradictory opinions show them similarly out of touch with themselves."

He can't fathom how Americans can be both disenchanted with Bush and Congress and yet also be very satisfied with their own lives. Medved regards these seemingly befuddling outcomes as "laughably inconsistent." Not really, which I'll soon illustrate, but likely what's going on here is Medved approaches this entire exercise with a preconceived agenda, desperately wanting to prove a larger point (that Americans really don't dislike Bush and what he's done) and he does so by adopting a confined, black-and-white view that he's determined to prove holds true.

To shed some light, let me just answer some poll-like questions and see what we have.

Am I basically satisfied or even happy with my life? Yes.

Do I disapprove of Bush? Yes.

Do I disapprove of the way Congress is handling national affairs? Given this question typically refers to the Iraq war, and the Republicans continue to support Bush's misguided urgings and the Dems have not stood up to Bush (in large part the reason for their November election wins), then yes, I disapprove.

So where's the lie or "laughable inconsistency"? There's nothing incongruent in the above, with the answers to each question being perfectly reasonable when viewed collectively. I can be satisfied or happy in my personal life and yet not approve of the President, elected representatives, or the general state of the country. It's laughable to believe that people can't have the above opinions. To some extent, is this the right-wing once again making clear how they view people, that they must be two-dimensional, robot-like lemmings as opposed to complex, nuanced, and at the same time consistent?

I suppose when Bill Clinton was in office Medved was not pleased with this fact and was likely not pleased with the direction of the country, and thus must have been miserable in his personal life -- for eight years. Uh, okay.

Medved is just trying to spin negatives into positives. A tiny bit of me feels for him since Bush's job approval rating just hit a new low at 24% -- the same figure Nixon had when he left office. Ouch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We've seen the right stick with their Swiftboating ways in their abhorrent treatment of a 12-year old boy. Nothing is beneath them.

Well, get ready for the Swiftboating of Hillary. This will just be the first of many attempts to slime her. Hmm, I wonder if Mr. Rove has spent any of his idle time contributing to this effort? Such a noble, solid, upstanding American he is.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wow, Tucker Carlson is a real smarmy a-hole, one of those ex-bowtie wearing prep school, from-money snots who believes he knows more than every other schnook in the room, and worse yet believes he's fair and compassionate. He likes to imagine he's with the beyond-the-beltway crowd but who's he kidding? This guy wreaks of St. Elmo's Fire.

He was on Bill Maher's show this past Friday and concerning the right-wing bashing of 12-year-old Graeme Frost, Carlson said it was the fault of his parents for "injecting him" into a political debate. Come again? His parents hoisted Graeme into this sh*tstorm of depraved, inaccurate commentary?

It's funny but I don't recall Carlson making the same point regarding the ad and General Petraeus. You know, when Bush put Petraeus into the line of fire to make the case for the continued surge, i.e. making his General a part of the political theater and thus a target. But no, the ad was admonished as shameful, and yet Carlson makes no such similar condemnations of the attacks on Frost -- all of which were based on lies.

What's most hilarious is throughout Maher's show, Carlson kept uttering that he was not on one partisan side or the other, that he was just trying to be fair, to play the middle. What fool believes this crap? There's not a shot in hell this guy would ever credibly defend anything liberal, not a shot.
Apparently many of the high-up people in government had decided to leave this losing presidency early:
With only 15 months left in office, President Bush has left whole agencies of the executive branch to be run largely by acting or interim appointees — jobs that would normally be filled by people whose nominations would have been reviewed and confirmed by the Senate. In many cases, there is no obvious sign of movement at the White House to find permanent nominees, suggesting that many important jobs will not be filled by Senate-confirmed officials for the remainder of the Bush administration....While exact comparisons are difficult to come by, researchers say the vacancy rate for senior jobs in the executive branch is far higher at the end of the Bush administration than it was at the same point in the terms of Mr. Bush’s recent predecessors in the White House....“You’ve got more vacancies now than a hotel in hurricane season,” said Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University and one of the nation’s best-known specialists on the federal bureaucracy. “In my 25 years of studying these issues, I’ve never seen a vacancy rate like this.”
Grover Norquist once referred to shrinking the size of government as "starving the beast". I guess Bush has stumbled on one way of achieving this objective: be so incompetent and unpopular as president that no one in their right mind will want the jobs associated with you, thus crippling the effectiveness of government. However, given the horrid performance of prior top people in this administration (Gonzales, Rumsfeld, "Brownie"), these faceless, interim appointees will likely do splendidly in comparison. It simply can't get any worse (fingers crossed).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I've written here many times before about how this administration resembles the mafia. They apply pressure to gag those who may squeal or speak truths, expect complete allegiance to "the family" and nix or smear those who don't cooperate, work shady if not illegal dealings to benefit "the family" at the expense of others -- the list goes on.

The latest example of this Sopranos-like tendency is Chris Matthews' assertion that he was pressured to keep silent about a few things:
After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.

“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials — especially those from Vice President Cheney’s office — called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared.

“They’ve finally been caught in their criminality,” Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred.
It's a bit ironic that of all the media talking heads Cheney decides to lean on he picks Matthews, a lightweight blather-head who quite often has advanced this administration's agenda with his lack of rigorous reporting or inquiry. Matthews is by no means a Keith Olbermann.

What does it say about these thugs when they begin to target the moderately-compliant water carriers?