Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
It Depends on How You Ask
Click image for a larger via. Image via The Big Picture

Why we didn't do this 20 years ago is a testimony to special interests outweighing the national good.

Some liberals argue against a gasoline tax because it's so regressive. I argue that getting out of our petroleum fix is not going to be without pain for everyone. It's all a matter of exactly how that pain occurs. Is it better for poor people to pay a higher tax that benefits everyone, or to pay higher gasoline prices to the oil companies and Arabs and suffer disruptions from a crisis driven changeover that will disproprotionately affect them?
This Could Get Expensive
NY Times via TalkLeft:
The federal government has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by an Egyptian who was among dozens of Muslim men swept up in the New York area after 9/11, held for months in a federal detention center in Brooklyn and deported after being cleared of links to terrorism.

The settlement, filed in federal court late yesterday, is the first the government has made in a number of lawsuits charging that noncitizens were abused and their constitutional rights violated in detentions after the terror attacks.
Some people might call it hush money.

I heard Sam Seder on the radio say that the defendent only agreed to a settlement because he's broke and sick from injuries incurred while detained. I would have loved to see it go to a jury trial. But never fear, this is only the beginning of a long long line of civil actions having to do with Bush the dictator.
Journalist Mark Danner is interviewed today in Salon. In the interview, he discusses scandals and their consequences. Unfortunately in the Bush administration, there has been a distinct lack of consequences, which is quite damaging to the country and a virtual rewriting of history:
The icebergs are floating by. I've used the phrase to indicate that a process of scandal we've come to know, with an expected series of steps, has come to an end. Before, you had, as Step 1, revelation of wrongdoing by the press, usually with the help of leaks from within an administration. Step 2 would be an investigation which the courts, often allied with Congress, would conduct, usually in public, that would give you an official version of events. We saw this with Watergate, Iran-Contra and others. And finally, Step 3 would be expiation -- the courts, Congress, impose punishment which allows society to return to some kind of state of grace in which the notion is, look, we've corrected the wrongdoing, we can now go on. With this administration, we've got revelation of torture, of illegal eavesdropping, of domestic spying, of all kinds of abuses when it comes to arrest of domestic aliens, of inflated and false weapons of mass destruction claims before the war; of cronyism and corruption in Iraq on a vast scale. You could go on. But no official investigation follows...
I think Danner has got it exactly right, and his interview deserves a full read.

I'll add this. The polls are the final location of consequences for our leaders. The polls failed at the job of accountability in 2004, which is why that loss was so disheartening to anyone who really understands politics and governing. Sure, the loss was tough for those who supported one party over the other. But there was much much more at stake as we've seen from the continuing revelations of wrongdoing, death, and international humiliation due to a lack of accountability in our government. Anyone who ever doubts that elections matter only need look at the era of 2000 to 2008 to remove those doubts.

We now have another "accountability moment" in 2006. I fear that if that next level of accountability does not hold, the institutionalization of corruption may be greatly enhanced. The temptation by politicians who gain power - politicians of either party - to abuse their power is too great for their not to be checks and balances. And the apathy that is spawned from continual and repeated victories of the corrupt is dangerous. It's been shown that a voting public that is asleep at the wheel is a very dangerous thing and that we cannot depend on the constitutional system of checks and balances alone to insure our freedoms.
News From the Non-Civil War
Glad we're still "on the brink":
The Washington Post leads with a near-banner headline announcing that "more than" 1,300 Iraqis have been killed since last week's attack on a Shiite shrine. The WP got the number, which is about four times more than has been widely reported, from a visit to Baghdad's main morgue.


As everybody notes, there seemed to be much less killing yesterday. But isn't it also worth noting that much of the violence isn't the type that's usually reported right away? Open street-fighting and bombings are easy to spot. With late-night abductions and executions, it's hard to know they've happened ... until of course the bodies turn up at the morgue.
A stealth civil war?

In other news, you can go here and here and here and here and here and here and here for further proof that the we've gone well over the brink. And of course, the regional affect is here.
Serious Overload
Enough of the serious, for a moment.

Dick Cheney is sitting at his desk in his office in the West Wing when the phone rings, "Yes, Mr. President?"

"Dick, I need your help, I'm working on a puzzle over here and none of the pieces fit. I have them spread out on my desk and none of them have straight edges and I can't find the corner pieces to get started."

"Okay, I'll be right over."

Cheney enters the Oval Office and sees the president pacing back and forth in front of his desk. "What's the puzzle supposed to be?"

"A rooster."

Cheney glances over at the desk, "Oh, for God's sake, George, put the corn flakes back in the box."

You may now return to your regularly scheduled reality.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Simple Math
2 + 2 = 4

This + McCain's recent behavior = McCain VP in 2007
Click to enlarge

I know I keep harping on this, but take a look at the chart. The "Fed" looks at inflation minus food and energy (the blue line), which they consider too volatile. Of course, you and I have to buy those things so it matters to us (the red line). When is the Fed going to understand the energy issue? As long as the economy is growing, the days of stable energy prices are gone. Economists don't like it when things aren't "stable", but that the reality.

BTW, the latest number is not on that chart. The "core" inflation rate was 8.7% per year, basically off that chart.
America: For Sale
Thom Hartmann has the best article I've seen yet on what is happening to our country. The port deal is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called "conservatives" and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.
Today, foreigners awash with our consumer dollars are on a two-decades-long buying spree. The UK's BP bought Amoco for $48 billion - now Amoco's profits go to England. Deutsche Telekom bought VoiceStream Wireless, so their profits go to Germany, which is where most of the profits from Random House, Allied Signal, Chrysler, Doubleday, Cyprus Amax's US Coal Mining Operations, GTE/Sylvania, and Westinghouse's Power Generation profits go as well. Ralston Purina's profits go to Switzerland, along with Gerber's; TransAmerica's profits go to The Netherlands, while John Hancock Insurance's profits go to Canada. Even American Bankers Insurance Group is owned now by Fortis AG in Belgium.

The article also references, which has some downright depressing information.
Froomkin's piece this morning is focused on Bush and the port deal. Specifically, he asks if Bush's lame-duck status is hurt or helped by the recent debate and negotiations. The many reports cited by Froomkin all have a cliff-hanger edge of "is the President in trouble or not?". Like good screenwriters, they have to keep the meme going to sell newspapers. As I've said, a deal will be reached, quietly, and that will be that. If this were a "normal" administration, it might actually be a tipping point. But with Rove, manipulation is ever present and looking like a whipped dog is only the prelude to a nasty bite.

Anyway, I ran across this quote from a NY Times articles are daily press briefings, and the stress it's created in the White House press corpse:
Katharine Q. Seelye , writing in the New York Times, blames the "theater of the absurd" that is the modern White House press briefing not on spokesman Scott McClellan's refusal to give a direct answer to even the simplest question -- but on the fact that the briefings are televised. And, oh yes, on the troubled, preening reporters who make up the White House press corps.

Seelye writes: "By its nature, the relationship between the White House and the press has historically held an inherent tension. And many say it has been eroding since the Vietnam War and Watergate, when reporters had reason to distrust everything the White House said and made a scandalous 'gate' out of every murky act.

"But today, those on both sides say, the relationship has deteriorated further, exacerbated by the live briefings."

There's a brief defense of the craft: " 'This is the punching-bag beat of American journalism,' said David E. Sanger, who has covered the Bush administration since its inception for The New York Times. 'And the White House itself has been skillful at diverting tough questions by changing the subject to its battles with the media.' "

And, astonishingly enough, Seelye puts forth a psychological explanation for all this.

"Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington who said she had counseled several White House correspondents, said the past few years had given rise to 'White House reporter syndrome,' in which competitive high achievers feel restricted and controlled and become emotionally isolated from others who are not steeped in the same experience.

"She said the syndrome was evident in the Cheney case, which she described as an inconsequential event that produced an outsize feeding frenzy. She said some reporters used the occasion to compensate for not having pressed harder before the Iraq war.

" 'It's like any post-traumatic stress,' she said, 'like when someone dies and you think you could have saved them.' "
I call it battered idiot syndrome.

Guilt? Damned straight.

These people are astonishing. They are stressed because the White House has been masterful as manipulating them? Did I miss the memo that says that reporters should expect the White House to take care of them? I thought it was the job of the White House press corpse to aggressively pursue the story and to recognize going in that the White House is not their friend?

The other implication is that the "feeding frenzy" with the Cheney shooting was inappropriate. Huh? The Vice President of the United States shoots a guy in the face nearly killing him and the press aggressively pursing the story is a feeding frenzy? What a bunch of bullshit. It's a "feeding frenzy" that prevents later guilt folks. The Cheney shooting was actually an example of the press corpse doing it's job. It's been so long since we've seen it, no one knows what good reporting/investigation looks like.

Message to reporters. It's very nice when everyone can have a cocktail and share some juicy inside gossip with friends, even adversaries. But that's not your job. Your job is to pursue the story and not trust anyone. Your job is to find the truth and publish it. Your job is to out-manipulate the manipulators and win the mind war that continually goes on between government and press. If you want to relax, do it with your family and peers rather than seeking approval and appreciation from those you upon whom you report.

Above all, if your stressed. Go to a therapy group and stop whining!!

Sunday, February 26, 2006
PolyBusy Weekend
I said I would blog a bit about my weekend political activities. So, like it or not, here it goes!

First, I went to a reception for Phil Angelides at Noreen Evans home, my local Assemblywoman. I was lucky enough to get an invite having given generously to Noreen's campaign, and having worked in her primary campaign (the one that matters in this Democratic dominated district). I wrote letters, made phone calls and walked precincts in that race in addition to giving money. As I said, the reception was for Phil Angelides. Phil is facing Steve Westley in a Democratic primary for the right to face Ahhhnold. Currently, Phil leads both Westley and The Terminator by rather healthy margins. I'm told by Angelides' daughter that while Ahhhnold had made up some ground from his recent polling lows, he had lost ground in the most recent data that they have (not internal polling).

Every dignitary in Sonoma County was at this event. In fact, of the 50 or so people I was one of the few unelected folks. Phil, who can at times be rather wooden, was greatly improved over his performance the last time I saw him speak. He was animated, funny, relaxed and had some good lines. Clearly his campaigning has seasoned him somewhat, which is going to be incredibly necessary while facing The Terminator's star qualities. Phil spoke briefly and passionately about restoring California's infrastructure and improving the economy, rather than continuing to live off the sacrifices of our parents.

Afterward, I wanted to ask him about the image problem facing a former movie star. Phil said he was intending on expanding on his use of the term, "the anti-Arnold", which he used jokingly to describe himself physically (Phil's somewhat tall, thin and wiry). I also spoke with him, and later his daughter who is campaigning with him, about the recent hiring of former Bush campaign advisors by Ahhhnold. They said they were ready for Rovian tactics and for a dirty campaign, and that they were prepared to respond aggressively if need be. We'll see!

The reception was followed by the annual Democratic crab feed, attended by over 700 people. I didn't go this year but will next. This event is so important to local politics that even the Republicans (in non-partisan offices) go.

On Saturday I attended a candidate training. This is a training put on by a local coalition of progressive organizations with the goal of electing local progressive candidates. Note, I didn't say Democratic coalition or Democratic candidates. The Democratic party has nothing to do with these activities. In fact, since becoming active in Sonoma County politics, I've had zero to do with the Democratic party. Jan has one experience during the Kerry campaign that was ... shall we say ... not positive? In the progressive coalition here, Democrats are seen as "too conservative". While "they" dominate many local offices in Santa Rosa, the progressives have much of the rest of the county.

The goal of this training was to increase the progressive foothold in our county, giving candidates and future potential candidates (no, not me thank you very much) the training, networking, and tools they may need to win now and in the future. I went as the database manager/volunteer for a woman who is running for Santa Rosa City Council.

The most noteworthy thing about the training was this. First, the lack of any involvment of the Democratic party. And next, just how expensive it is to be in politics. Candidates planning to run for Santa Rosa City council (pop. 150,000) need a minimum of $50,000. One candidate for Jr. College Board is also estimating a need of $50,000, for a school board! While smaller community races are significantly less, the cut-off to expense was the point when the community size prevented the candidate from having face to face contact with all of their voters. One exercise we did was to break down the contributions necessary to get to $50K. Think about it. If most people give $25 or $50, you'll need three or four hundred of those (plus a some larger ones, max $500) contributions to run a campaign. Candidates end up spending most of their time dialing for dollars, rather than learning issues and meeting voters all while earning a living. And these elected offices don't pay! Can you imagine what it's like for higher offices? You can see how only the rich, the well financed, or retired can run and how the system is so easily corruptible by special interest money.

All in all, it was a political weekend in preparation for a beehive of activity between now and November. Blogging may at times be sporadic as I get further sucked into the vortex of this campaign. But I'm having fun and hoping to have a candidate win who will vote for things like a living wage, no Wal-Mart (a current issue), slow growth, a quality environment, and other progressive causes.
One Picture .......

Image thanks to Needlenose

Happiness for a child in Iraq eh? In case you can't read the backpack, it says "Happy Time".
A Very Cunning Realist
From the Cunning Realist. And remember, this fella is a conservative - centrist blogger, really more libertarian. He's discussing the announcement by U.S. officials that Americans would help rebuild the golden mosque recently blown up:
So this is what it's come to. Ponder it for a moment. We are now in the mosque-rebuilding business in the Middle East, smack-dab in the middle of a civil war. (And yes, it is a civil war. For the past week, the phrases "on the brink" and "possibly leading to" have preceded that term. Those waiting for an American style stand-up fight with skirmish line battles a la Antietam will be waiting for a long time.) We are asking 20-year olds from Tulsa and Des Moines and Gary and Fresno to navigate hundreds of years of religious and ethnic hate and to sacrifice their feet, legs, hands, arms, eyes, and lives in the process. We asked them to remove Saddam and his regime, and they did that. We asked them to guard infrastructure, and they did that. We asked them to rebuild an entire nation's military from scratch, and they are doing it. We asked them to find WMD's, and they tried. Now, we're rebuilding mosques.
It seems to me that having the U.S. help in rebuilding Mosques is not a smart idea. First is smacks of having some responsibility for it having been blown up. Second, given how radioactive the U.S. is in the Arab world, I would guess they'll not want our help.

But never fear, in our unending clumsy handling of the Arab world, we'll blast our way into being able to help in the rebuilding.
I Told You
Keep watching gang. It's jelling as I type.
WASHINGTON - A United Arab Emirates-based company on Sunday offered to submit to a broader U.S. review of the security risks from its deal to take over major operations at six American ports.

Seeking to avert a showdown between President Bush and Congress, DP World also promised to create an American subsidiary that would function independently of executives in Dubai.

During the Bush administration’s 45-day investigation, DP World said a London-based executive who is a British citizen would have authority over the company’s operations at ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Also, an American citizen would serve as the chief security officer during this period, the company said.
Before long, there'll be a GOP/White House/Dubai agreement. The next step will be the DINO's coming out in favor, then the deal will pass with some type of pretty window dressing, and this issue will be dead.

As I've said, if there's to be a GOP rebellion against the Bush, (and that's a BIG if), it won't come until after the midterms. And frankly, the way McCain is kissing Bush's bee-hind, I suspect there won't even be a rebellion. The only exception to that will be if the Republicans absolutely get their clock's cleaned in the midterms.
I ran across this from Juan Cole, a very, very disturbing development that you probably won't read in a newspaper:
In response to these further attacks on Islamic and Shiite shrines, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called for the establishment of tribal levies to protect tsuch holy sites. He received a delegation of tribesmen from Kufa. Most of the rural clans of the Middle Euphrates are devoted to Sistani and woul[d] be willing to provide such a militia. This proliferation of militias is however extremely worrisome.
Sistani has worked diligently to use his moral authority to try and control events, particularly to eliminate violence, within the Shiite groups and Iraq at large. The fact that he now sees a need for a militia means he accepts the reality on the ground, Iraq is in a civil war. And as Cole points out, Sistani may become a victim of the enthusiasm of his own militia as events continue to unfold.

The numerous militias completely complicate the entire situation in Iraq. The presumption that the fighting will simply be between the Shiites and Sunni's is another misguided and simplistic myth that most Americans hold. There are just as likely to be battles between various militias on a political basis, tribal basis or regional basis, as there is based on religious preferences. Iraq has an enormous power vacuum that a radioactive America can't fill, and no Iraqi faction has enough power to fill. Thus, a stalemate of civil war is likely until the dynamic is shifted, i.e. Iran enters southern Iraq, Turkey enters northern Iraq, or a regional war.

I eliminate a negotiated settlement among the parties because it's a very difficult proposition, simply from the standpoint of the numbers of different groups, all having high levels of influence in their constituency, all having military forces, all having easy access to weapons, and any one of which is capable of sabotaging any deal.

On another note. It's also interesting to note that as Iraq fails, conservatives are coming out of the woodword tacitly acknowledging the failure in Iraq. But, like with Vietnam, they blame the lack of committment, troops and will to win. And like Vietnam, they simply refuse to accept that the fundamental mission was flawed from the beginning being militarily and politically untenable. This denial will sow the seeds for another war in another generation because these numbskulls never learn.
Redneck VP
I'll let this stand without comment except to say that if true no one on the left is surprised. Also nothing will come of it. Republicans have learned a lot since Watergate.
Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.

Hat tip to H.H. Patriarch Anthony
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Busy Boy
I've been immersed in politics for two days now. Less time for blogging, more work on campaigning.

Met Phil Angiledes last night who is running for governor in CA. Had an extra special meet with Ben Cohen, of "Ben and Jerry" fame. I'll blog about the weekened a bit more later.

For now, it's off to some mindless movie for awhile......
Good Doggy!

Proof that dogs can read.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Lindsey Graham vs. Us

Greyhair's post on the new detention centers brought to my attention yet another demonstration that my senator, Lindsey Graham, does not represent me. The article on alternet, which describes the new detention centers slated for construction here in the U.S., starts with this:

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration's domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the president already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."

What is the fifth column?
According to, a fifth column refers to any clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation's solidarity.

The Bush regime has consistently demonstrated that anyone who disagrees with their agenda is not a patriot, not "with us", and subject to arrest. In another article online:

Plans for detention facilities or camps have a long history, going back to fears in the 1970s of a national uprising by black militants. As Alonzo Chardy reported in the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987, an executive order for continuity of government (COG) had been drafted in 1982 by FEMA head Louis Giuffrida. The order called for "suspension of the Constitution" and "declaration of martial law." The martial law portions of the plan were outlined in a memo by Giuffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff.
In 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 188, one of a series of directives that authorized continued planning for COG by a private parallel government.
Two books, James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans" and James Bamford's "A Pretext for War," have revealed that in the 1980s this parallel structure, operating outside normal government channels, included the then-head of G. D. Searle and Co., Donald Rumsfeld, and then-Congressman from Wyoming Dick Cheney.

The article concludes by saying, "It is clear that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about martial law." It is equally clear to me that Senator Graham is right there with him.
Quote of the Day

Regarding Americans and Iraq:

"Face it: We’re all Brittany’s baby now."

Cliff in DC via AmericaBlog
Boom Time
I don't have it in me to do a lot of blogging about the economy right now. I will direct you to a couple of blog posts by Barry at the Big Picture. One talks about the inverted yield curve which continues to suggest an impending recession, and the other talking about average American income/assets and so on.

The short versions? The odds favor a recession in 2006-2007 and overall, Americans are losing ground in these boom times.
Kool Aid Kool Aid, Tastes Great ....
Tom Friedman, the poster boy for a Republican lite liberal journalist, writes a bunch of nonsense in today's editorial. The short version of his column is the dutifully reported GOP talking points about the Dubai port deal, namely that liberals are being racists in opposing the deal (he must be listening to Rush). Matt Yglesias has something to say about that:
THE RACE CARD. Tom Friedman says skeptics of the UAE port deal are "borderline racist." David Ignatius disagrees, saying we're straight-up "racist." I say bullshit. The argument being mounted is plainly contradictory. On the one hand, it's supposed to be illegitimate to worry about this because we can't discriminate between countries. On the other hand, it's supposed to be illegitimate because the UAE is a loyal ally in the war on terror. But if the second is the reason we shouldn’t worry, then we can discriminate between countries after all. And of course we can discriminate between countries when it comes to matters of national security. That's how national security is done.
So if any Iranian state owned business wanted to buy port terminals in New York, the U.S. government wouldn't have anything to do with that because to do so would be racists?

The U.A.E. is like Saudi Arabia. It's a borderline friendly state that could change in a moments notice. It's really a judgement call whether to use them or not. But Bush himself created the environment where borderline isn't good enough for the scared Americans.

My favorite description is that Bush has been trumpeting that 911 changed everything and that Democrats were living in a pre-911 world. Now some Democrats are saying that the Dubai deal is a pre-911 mentality deal. They should hammer this to death and hang it around the Republican party.
When Is a Not Joke a Joke?
Not a joke: Later today, the Pentagon expects to release its quarterly Iraq Progress Report entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq."
Hellfighters UPDATED
Like a scene out of John Wayne's "Hellfighters":
CAIRO, Egypt - Suicide bombers in explosives-laden cars attacked the world's largest oil processing facility Friday, but were prevented from breaking through the gates when guards opened fire on them, causing the vehicles to explode, officials said.

The Saudi oil minister said the blast "did not affect operations" at the Abqaiq facility, denying an earlier report on Al-Arabiya television that the flow of oil was halted briefly after a pipeline was damaged.
Eventually, if the tensions in the Middle East continue on the current trajectory, they'll infilitrate and be successful in an attack on a major oil facility.

Terrorist don't have to attack the U.S. to, ... well ... attack the U.S. A successful operation against one of these facilities would cause some serious pain for those S.U.V. drivers, and unfortunately everyone else too.

I also want to add that oil went up $2/barrel on this news and on the disruptions in Nigeria. Welcome to peak oil. Given the chronic weakness in the supply chain due to the decline in oil availability, disruptions will increasingly cause price instability and supply instability.

UPDATE: As one commenter on the blog, The Oil Drum, mentioned, "a failed attack = 3% price increase, a successful attack = ?"

Ah... yeah. Good point!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Civilly Untidy
Tristero, over at Digby's, beats me to a discussion of just what constitutes a civil war?

The media is headlining that Iraq is "on the verge" of a civil war. I contend that Iraq has been in a civil war for years. Tristero quotes various individuals in academia and their definitions. I found this quote in Tristero's post particularly interesting:
[Kenneth Katzman] "Civil war is organized violence designed to change the political structure or governance within a country, or internal conflict within a state...

This week [September 16, 2005] it’s definitely become clearer that we’ve entered civil war, but whether it’s a sustained or permanent feature, we don’t know. Also, I wouldn’t say it’s full-blown, that is, where it’s neighborhood against neighborhood...just because you don’t have one side fighting back doesn’t mean you’re not in a civil war. "
I would suggest that this is the most aggressive use of the term civil war in Iraq of the bunch. But the part of it being "sustained" or a "permanent feature" particularly intrigued me.

During the beginning of the American civil war, it was the conventional wisdom that the disruption would not last long. During the first battle, the battle of the First Bull Run just outside Washington D.C., the social elite gathered with picnic baskets on the hillside to watch the confrontation as sport. No one expected the insurgency to last, and all were surprised by what they saw. Even with the first battle, estimates continued to center on a short conflict with minimal disruption to everyday life.

Unfortunately, most of us are afflicted with history time distortion. History is taught with beginnings, middles, and ends. This solidifies in our minds that these events are distinct with bookends. Of course this is not how history works, and Iraq is a classic example.

The confrontations and tensions between Iraqis are a longstanding problem. Iraq was never meant to be a unified state. It was formed at the whim of the British who did not take into account the different ethnic and religious groups within the designated borders. Saddam dealt with the divisions with brutal military and police control. His removal, and the vacuum left due to American bungling since the end of the open war removing Hussein, created the conditions for open civil war. And as time goes by, we see the seeds of those conditions watered with the American bungling now germinating and growing into the weed of civil war.

I imagine the actual violence in Iraq will rise and fall. Again remember. During the American civil war, battles were not constant, continuous or even widespread. But the net result was still that of bloody confrontation that repeated through many years and left the country still struggling with it's differences.

I suspect the American media will continue to report Iraqi conflict as a snapshot, when in fact it's an ongoing video of civil war that will not stop until Americans leave and Iraqis decide it's time to split the sheets or unify.
There is a very disturbing article on Alternet by Nat Perry that discusses the intersection of some statements made by GOP officials and programs instigated by the administration (via Suburban Guerrilla) . In ordinary times, this would be the stuff of the tinfoil hat club. In these times, it bears investigating and scrutiny. First, Lindsay Graham:
"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the president already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."
Can someone please define a "Fifth Column Movement" to me? Quickly? Me thinks I may belong, at least according to many conservatives.

Then there's this:
Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said.

Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space."
Ok. So here's the scenario. There's another very large terrorist attack a la 911. The government swings into action, rounding up "everyone" they consider a threat to the national security, including those who have vocally opposed the administration, and anyone who has voiced sympathy for those on the other end of U.S. abuses.

Far fetched?

If you think so, just ask some Japanese American citizens who spent some serious time behind barbed wire during WWII.
No Doubt
Does anyone really doubt that McCain has been appointed ... ah ... annoited:
"'The president's leadership has earned our trust in the war on terror, and surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short,' McCain said in a statement."
If you ever doubted that BushCo intends to stay in Iraq permanently, then go read this. There are only two choices, either we're staying, or we're wasting a whole lot of money. Yes, I realize both are equally possible.
Chickens and Roosting
I was watching Bobo (David Brooks) last night on The Newshour discuss the port embroglio with Mark Shields. Over and over again, he kept making this point:
As TP flagged yesterday—and many of this morning's papers note in detail—experts say there's little substance to the qualms over the sale. The LAT has a particularly good piece offering facts to counter the fears: "Trade and security specialists said U.S. criticism was unjustified, given Dubai's support for the Bush administration's anti-terrorism campaign and its close connections to the U.S. military. Dubai is a primary staging base for the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf." Said a spokeswoman for L.A.'s port, which is already managed by fer'ners, "Who's leasing the terminals on paper is one thing, but it doesn't have much to do with who controls the day-to-day operations."
I was a little disappointed that Mark Shields only obliquely noted the obvious. But I was totally amazed by Bobo's genuine amazement about the uproar. Where has this guy been for five years?

Live by the sword, die by the sword. The Republicans have touted the threats from the Middle East through their meta-messaging for years. Sure, Bush would talk a good story about Islam and Muslim's, but we all know that Bubba got the real message ... you can't trust anyone with brown skin and a rag head.

Now the conservatives pundits are shocked, SHOCKED that everyone would be making such a big deal about a bidness deal.

Message to conservatives: Welcome to my world. Enjoy your stay.
I've been wondering about this:
Finally, an LAT analysis raises the possibility that the Shiite-Sunni fighting might not be limited to Iraq. In Lebanon, for instance, the Shiite militia-cum-party Hezbollah "warned of fitna, a term for drastic sectarian strife or civil war."
While Shiites are a majority in Iraq, Sunnis are a majority in the Middle East. You gotta wonder what will happen if Shiites continue to slaughter Sunnis, like yesterday where Shiite gunment pulled 47 Sunni protesters out of cars and shot them. Will Sunni's retaliate in other parts of the Middle East?

George Bush, World Leader Extraordinaire'.
Blog from Iraq
This blog from Iraq allows us to see what life is like over there, sans spin.
No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Email Tax
The Corporate Masters are at it again. In another attack on the last remaining frontier, AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax." Under this pay-to-send system, large emailers willing to pay an "email tax" can bypass spam filters and get guaranteed access to people's inboxes—with their messages having a preferential high-priority designation.

Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups, and even families with mailing lists will inevitably be left with inferior Internet service unless they are willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need to stop AOL immediately so other email hosts know that following AOL's lead would be a mistake.
MoveOn has a petition you can sign.
The president of the Association for Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) points out the real-world urgency of this issue:

In essence, this is going to block every AOL subscriber suffering from any form of cancer from receiving potentially life-saving information they may not be able to get from any other source, simply because a non-profit like ACOR—which serves more than 55,000 cancer patients and caregivers every day—cannot afford to pay the fee.

Our society has been deeply segregated into 'haves' and 'have nots'. I would hate to see this trend continue into cyberspace.
Haven't posted about economics much lately. The CPI is out (Consumer Price Index), and it reports that inflation is under control in everything but, like, the things everyone needs to live:
"In January, energy prices rose 5%, after falling 2.1% in December. The advance was led by a 5.5% surge in electricity costs, the largest increase on record for that component. Gasoline prices last month rose by 6.4% and natural-gas prices increased 1.7%. Year over year, all energy prices advanced 24.8%.

Food prices were up 0.5% due to sharply higher fruit and vegetable prices. Medical-care prices increased 0.1%. Housing prices, which account for 40% of the index, rose 0.5%. Prices for new vehicles increased 0.6%. Clothing prices increased 0.3%, while education and communication rose 0.4%."
If you want more details, give a visit to the Big Picture. As Barry says, "except for everything going up in price, there is no inflation".
Mosque Blast
If you haven't read Juan Cole regarding the rather large bomb that blew up a Shiite mosque in Samarra, it might be worth you while to polish up on the ramifications.

This was a rather large and possibly defining event in Iraq that happened, yet our media is largely relagating the story to the inside. The reaction from Shiites has been swift:
Shiites came out in the thousands all over the Shiite south on Wednesday to protest. Quoting Sunni Arab spokesmen, the wire services are saying 75 Sunni mosques have been attacked, with two burned to the ground and 3 Sunni clergymen assassinated, with 6 Sunni Arabs dead altoghether in the violence.

In the southern city of Kut, AP says, 3,000 protesters came out to rally against the United States and Israel.

AFP says that 10,000 people in East Baghdad converged on the office of Muqtada al-Sadr, chanting against "Wahhabis" and America.
There are reports of riots elsewhere, and revenge killings. Leaders are calling for calm, but being largely ignored.

Care to guess who's right in the middle of the mess?
The Port Thing
Well, it is a gift that seems to keep on giving.

But I still contend a deal will be worked out.

There are quite a few comments and blogs wondering about Bush's being "politically tone deaf" to the issue of security. If you stop and think about it, Bush's actions are completely consistent.

Bush and the Bush family have a long history of being in bed with the Saudi's. Nevermind that most of the royal family gives to terrorist causes or that democracy is far from present in Saudi Arabia, they have oil and money. Doing bidness in the Arab world is completely normal, particularly with the "good guys". The United Arab Emirates are merely an extension of the Saudi family and the "good guys" that you can do bidness with. It's also important to remember that UAE has been a key naval installation for the U.S. for years.

Thus, Bush is puzzled by everyone's reaction because, afterall, it's normal to do bidness with the "good" Arabs; doesn't everyone? And now, Bush can't back down because of the military strategic problems of offending the sensitive UAE leaders who might cut off access to important naval installations.

Let the blinking begin!

But it won't be in public. Whatever the deal, it will be quiet with everyone saving face and not jeopardizing the 2006 midterms. The only people left out on a limb with be the Democrats, who somehow will manage to look soft on terrorism out of the whole affair.
You Too Can Be a Dick
Just go here. (Thanks Nancy)
This is the headline from a Tom Paine article today:
The GOP's Loyalty Fetish
by Paul Waldman,

Conservatives value a simple belief in the absolute and perfect authority of George W. Bush more than personal responsibility.
The article is good as fire-breathing indictments of the GOP go. But it, like much of the other information being published about the Republicans and misses a small but very important point.

The loyalty of Republicans is not to George Bush. It's to power. It could be Lassie in the Presidency, a decided improvement by the way, and the GOP would rally around Lassie's every ... ah uh ... movement. As I mentioned in a comment on another blog earlier today, the time will come when the Republicans will throw Bush under the bus. But I just don't happen to think it will be now or over the UAE port deal. I think the big change will occur after the 2006 midterms.

Consider this. If the Republicans lose big, then tossing Bush will give them the scape-goat they need for 2008. If Republicans come out a draw or win in the midterms, then Bush has set the agenda for 2006 and a smooth transition (likely to McCain, you don't think all that McCain hand holding in 2004 came for free do ya?) can occur. If Republicans jump ship before 2006, they lose their scape-goat/agenda setter, money support from the GOP, and further jeopardize their chances in the midterms.

Remember, it's about power, not Bush. I suspect most of the GOP thinks Bush is an idiot. But like in 2000, they don't care as long as they "just win baby".
Changing the Net
Like your internet? It may be changing if enough people don't voice their concern.

When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't.

Please go over to the Common Cause site and sign the petition. Tell Congress to protect freedom and openness on the internet by supporting net neutrality. It is especially important to preserve access to information for grassroots organizations.
Not For Lack of Trying
The California Death penalty is put off one more day. But only due to the ethics of medical professionals:
"We were not able to find a licensed professional that was willing to inject medication intravenously, ending the life of a human being," San Quentin spokesman Vernell Crittendon said Tuesday evening.


Prison officials rescheduled the execution for Tuesday night after settling on the second choice — killing Morales with a single injection of the sedative. No other state executes inmates under that procedure, which would take about half an hour to work compared to about 10 minutes with the three-drug method.

Fogel approved that plan Tuesday afternoon, but said the sedative must be administered in the execution chamber by a person who was licensed by the state to inject medications intravenously, a group that includes doctors, nurses, dentists and other medical technicians.

Yet with only hours to go before the death warrant on Morales expired at 11:59 p.m., San Quentin could not find a licensed professional despite "exploring all the options available," Crittendon said.
My hats off to medical professionals who stayed true to their ethics. Society at large could take a lesson from the hippocratic oath.

But never fear. I suspect the legal eagles are burning the midnight oil to come up with alternatives. There's always converting the gas chamber back, to a gas chamber.....
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Can some explain something to me?

Bush has been using 911, terror!, and threats from the Arab world for five years to his advantage. The news media has gladly picked up the meme, jamming danger! down our throats day in and day out lo' these many years.

So why is he now confused that anyone would question the whole UAE port management issue?
Poverty in the USA
I'm shamelessly stealing a link from Desi. This is too important to just let slip by. Of course, it comes from media outside our borders.
37 million poor living in the land of plenty.

A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.

Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.

Once again, read Nickel and Dimed if you haven't. It will change your perspective on work and the poor.

Tag, You're It
You've all heard of the UAE port deal, right? Seems that the deal is not playing well in downtown Peoria. Republican Congressional leaders are suggesting the deal be scrapped. Meanwhile, Bush vows to veto (how many veto's does the guy have?) any bill breaking the deal.

To be honest, I've not followed the story closely. Apparently, there is some reason for concern that the United Arab Emirates does have some terrorist affiliations. At a minimum, it's a pretty bonehead move politically. But Bush is vowing to ram it through.

Many on the left is crowing that it may be the end for Bush's ability to count on a Republican controlled Congress for a rubberstamp. Some folks are speculating that the issue is such that the Republican Congress will stand up to Bush and say no.

I think this is hogwash. There's a very good reason Bush hasn't vetoed any bills. Not only does Bush continue to wield a lot of power for the upcoming Congressional elections, but the Republicans in Congress are spineless. You watch. A "deal" will be made such that the bill approving the Bush plan goes through ... quietly ... in an obscure piece of legislation after the uproar calms. A few bloggers will pick it up, but the media will move off the story within 48 hrs.

And that will be that.

I hate to sound so negative and cynical. But it's our history with the Bush administration.
A Must Read
This is an excerpt from an article written by a Wall Street Journal reporter, Farnaz Fassihi reflecting on her three years as a reporter in Iraq. Go read the whole thing, it's quite revealing and paints a different picture than those propagated by Joementum and Bush:
The worst stress for Babak [her boyfriend] and me was when one of us was safe and the other in harm's way. In September 2004, I was on the phone with Babak, who was out of Iraq, when a car bomb exploded outside the house in Mansur that we shared with other foreigners. The force of the explosion threw me to the floor, but it didn't disconnect the line. He heard the boom, then my scream, the glass shattering and the chaotic shouts of the staff in Arabic. Pieces of flesh and metal rained into our garden. For hours, we stayed trapped inside the house as we pondered what to do next. If we left, the insurgents could be around the corner and abduct us. If we stayed, they could storm the house or mortar it. Babak called at least once every half hour. The next day, we evacuated. [she moved eight times]


Drivers made sure our armored car and "chase" car -- which follows the first car as a surveillance vehicle -- were running smoothly. A guard loaded his AK-47 rifle and secured a handgun to his waist. Haqi, our translator and office manager, tested the walkie-talkie radios and placed the first-aid kit in the back seat. I draped myself in a head-to-toe black abbaya covering, the traditional attire of conservative Arab women, and sat in the back.

The goal was to be invisible, to not be noticed as a foreigner when stuck in traffic, behind a red light or whizzing through Baghdad streets. You just never knew who was sitting in the car next to you. Would they pull out a gun? Would they spot the car and chase you down the road? Would they drag you out? Who would sell you out? Would they have mercy on your Iraqi staff?
She was able to leave and is now reporting from Lebanon. The questions are still unanswered.
Quote of the Day
“He annoys me. I annoy him. He chews gum with his mouth open. I leave my legs lying around on the floor.”

–Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth (whose legs were blown off in Iraq) talking about her husband.
This one is just too good to pass up. Froomkin highlights it. Mary Matalin, who is one of the best, spins the hell out of a question from pumpkin-head on Meat the Press last Sunday:
Tim Russert's panel on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday included Cheney adviser Matalin. Russert asked if Cheney only had one beer. Here is part of Matalin's response:

"[Y]ou think the Secret Service would let the vice president out, tanked up, with a loaded gun, or let him be around anybody who's drunk with a loaded gun? It just defies common sense that the press would even go there. And that's why these adversarial question-and-answer periods set up the presumption that Cheney would be drunk, or having to deny that Cheney was drunk, as opposed to presuming what we all know, that he doesn't drink, he wouldn't hunt and drink, the Secret Service wouldn't let anybody around him who is drinking and hunting."
Ben Bradless called that a "non-denial denial", which in my mind ices it. Dead Eye Dick must've had hisself a few cold ones after his nooner with Pamela to calm down from the Swiss massage. Hell, the Secret Service agents were probably hauling the cooler out on the range while the big brave hunters go after those mean ole' domesticated birds!
Murder By Death
I don't know if you all have been following the machinations in the latest execution in California. It's been pretty straight-forwardly reported. You need a Dr. on hand, the docs backed out due to ethical concerns. So now, they're just going to O.D. Morales on barbituates, which will not require an attendant physician.

What is interesting is this bit, which is hidden in about the tenth graf of the story. It refers to the circumstances of another execution delay causing a need to seek another warrant for Morales execution:
Seeking another warrant could prove difficult for the state, however, since the original sentencing judge, Charles McGrath, joined Morales this month in asking Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger for clemency in the case.

McGrath said he no longer believed the credibility of a jailhouse informant whose testimony helped land Morales on death row.
So it turns out that the original sentencing judge has concerns about the fairness of Morales's trial? Well, we wouldn't want to go there, now would we? Having any further pesky issues in the way of efficient execution is sooo annoying.

Aside from the moral issues involved in state sponsored murder, our justice system is just way too imperfect to implement a penalty with no redress. I watched how the system actually operates, and it's like the old saying about politics and sausage. Executing people in such a system is madeness.
And Away We Go!
Roberts/Alito's first test is up and coming:
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion, teeing up a contentious issue for a new-look court already in a state of flux over privacy rights.

The Bush administration has pressed the high court to reinstate the federal law, passed in 2003 but never put in effect because it was struck down by judges in California, Nebraska and New York.

The outcome will likely rest with the two men that
President Bush has recently installed on the court. Justices had been split 5-4 in 2000 in striking down a state law, barring what critics call partial birth abortion because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the mother.
Roberts and Alito will now go on the record with abortion. All the prognostication about the court moderating conservatives and that both would be hard-right will be tested.

My guess? What the hell. I saw it stays 5-4 with Alito voting for the ban and Roberts against. Wouldn't it be hilarious if it went 6-3 against partial abortion.

We shall see soon enough!
Monday, February 20, 2006
Put Your Seat Belt On
David Sirota's doing it again (email me if you need a link, I refuse to publicize it).

I can't believe it. Before I "retort", here's what he's saying:
Yes, you read that correctly. A week after Hackett got out of the race, Hackett's campaign - now in the process of closing down - leaked all of its "opposition research" on Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) to the Toledo Blade - opposition research that regurgitates the same Karl-Rove-esque "weak on national security" lies that have eroded Democrats' image over the years.
Let's take a look at Sirota's charge, which is being made btw AFTER Hackett left the race and Sirota's candidate, Brown, won.

First off, Paul Hackett didn't release anything. The report says "Hackett's campaign" (whoever that is) supposedily released material negative toward Brown. Sirota' veracity on such matters is not usually good, and in this case he tries to hang Hackett with a whole lot of assumptions. The report does not name the source. Would it surprise you if we found out it was Rove?

But let's assume someone in Hackett's campaign released some consultants report in defense of Hackett's point that he would have been a stronger candidate. Does anyone really think Karl Rove isn't apprised of Brown's voting record? Could there really be anything in this story that won't be used by Republicans? And indeed, isn't it exactly what the Republicans will do? As I've been saying over and over and over, Brown's voting record is hardly a secret and will be hung around his neck at the earliest opportunity, and frequently thereafter.

Here are the key grafs from the Toledo Blade story:
Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown voted to cut intelligence funding more than a dozen times before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a record that Paul Hackett's campaign advisers called proof that Mr. Brown could not win in November.

A consultant hired by Mr. Hackett, Mr. Brown's onetime Democratic opponent for Senate, estimated the funding cuts would have totaled billions of dollars if enacted. None were. The consultant called Mr. Brown's votes on those proposals and a dozen more recent national security issues "toxic in today's political environment," according to campaign research documents obtained by The Blade.
So? There's no news here, or surprises. Sirota makes it sound like Hackett took a knife to Brown. BTW, where's the outrage from Sirota when the "whisper campaign" was implemented against Brown?

But here's the key point I really want to make. Paul Hackett left the race some time ago, last week. Yet, at ever turn througout the blogosphere it seems like "Brown supporters" continue to poke at the open wound of Hackett's knifing. This is now the second time David Sirota has used his megaphone to throw gas on a fire after he won!

Excuse me. But if Dems who back Brown really wanted to heal the wounds, or at least calm the flames, wouldn't they just shut up about the whole issue? Personally, I feel like a wounded political animal that keeps getting prodded with a stick.

To Brown Supporters:

You won. Hackett's out. Use some effective political strategy here. I know it's hard to do and doesn't come naturally, but give it a try. When you win, you become magnanimous and you let the issue drop! You don't take the bait to argue. You don't publicize Toledo Blade articles designed to fan the flames and increase circulation. You shut up, enjoy you "victory" and move on to the next fight. Leave the whining to we losers. We'll stop whining eventually (although this whiner won't forget).

Unless you prod me with a stick one ... more ... time.
Why Hackett Mattered
Digby has a great post up that, again, summarizes some of her past points about the tribalism and dynamics of the new politics.

I can't add much to what Digby says other than to say that it's exactly why Paul Hackett mattered so much. He mattered not because of his policies which were fairly conservative, or even his "star status" which can always be troublesome in a politician. No, he mattered because he's one of the few candidates in the Democratic party that "gets it". And when we have a candidate that seems to "get it", they get hacketted.
UAE and Port Security
Why in the world, I wondered, would the Bush administration turn over our port security to the United Arab Emirates, a country with known ties to the 911 hijackers and one of only 3 countries in the world who recognized the Taliban?
It all becomes clear to me now.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A day after Space Adventures announced it was in a venture to develop rocket ships for suborbital flights, the company said Friday it plans to build a $265 million spaceport in the United Arab Emirates.
The commercial spaceport would be based in Ras Al-Khaimah near the southern end of the Persian Gulf, and the UAE government has made an initial investment of $30 million, the Arlington, Virginia-based company said in a statement.

There's nothing about America that's not for sale.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Propoganda Campaign UPDATED
UPDATE: Bob responds to my post (below) in the comments sections. Please read it for a rebuttal of my diatribe.

For all of you who don't have time to follow all of the interecine garbage going on in the Democratic party right now, I thought I would publicize this comment by Bob P, and my response. Bob's comment to one of my Paul Hackett posts is pretty typical of the information campaign being waged throughout the internets to try and repair the damage done to the netroots in the Hacking of Paul Hackett. Likely as not (and Bob can dispute this if he likes), he found one of my posts via technorati and then posted the Brown defense. So, with that background, here we go:
Bob P said...

The Hackett situation, as it is being reported by the Left with a sense of righteous indignation, is filled with rumor and inaccuracies. I've spoken extensively with the Vice-Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party (a childhood friend) and have learned that the primary entity that "betrayed" Paul Hackett was his own hubris. We on the Liberal side of the fence have long complained that Democrats need to develop serious strategies for regaining some seats in Congress. And the Ohio Democratic leadership had just such a plan in place - until, that is, Major Hackett decided that running for the House just wasn't befitting his "rockstar" status.
Bob, with all due respect, your recalling of the events is nothing short of a Rovian retelling. The further smearing of Paul Hackett as being an ego-centric tantrum throwing child is nothing short of kicking a guy when he's already stepped down. Paul has already abandoned the field for Brown. What else do you all want?
The Party's strategy, if followed by a team player (which Hackett most certainly is not), could have guaranteed Democrats a seat in both the Senate and the House come November. Hackett was a virtual shoo-in to defeat Schmidt in the 2nd District. Without the turmoil Hackett has caused over the Senatorial race, Brown had full support - and an excellent strategy - to oust DeWine.
Hackett did run against Schmidt when no one else would and barely lost. He then entered the Senate race ONLY when no one else would, including Sherrod Brown, and after the Dem leadership begged him to run. Please, allow me to repeat. The same people who ultimately trashed Paul Hackett for running were the same people pleading with him to run against DeWine, because Brown (like he has done many times in the past) refused to enter the race.

I can prove that assertion and have yet to have anyone who argues otherwise to prove it. Allegations of "insider knowledge" and "I have it on good authority" have so far been unsubstantiated. The record of events is clear, and no amount of selective recall will change it.

As far as a "guaranteed" victory, I'm not sure how you can say that in either case. A guaranteed victory for a Democrat in a heavily Republican district is always an uphill fight. And a victory by a liberal Congressional member against an incumbent Republican Senator in a swing state is equally iffy. I can just hear the swift-boaters revving their engines as they search through Sherrod Brown's highly liberal Congressional voting record. Here in California, this wouldn 't be a problem. But in Ohio?
But Hackett's conceit and disingenuous comments about "betrayal" by Party leadership are doing nothing more than painting a picture in the minds of Ohio voters of a Democratic Party at war with itself. How is that good for the Progressive cause? And how is this constant carping on the "Rovian" antics of the Ohio Democratic Party doing anything to help either?
I'm calling it what it is. Your statement is a bit like Whittington apologizing to Cheney for being in the way of Cheney shotgun blast. As far as painting a picture? That is being done by the party. No me. Not Paul Hackett. And exactly what progressive cause do you speak of? What happened to Paul Hackett is not emblematic of any progressive cause to which I'm familiar.
By all rights, Major Hackett should have won his race last year against the woman who famously called John Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House. But it is a commonly held belief in Ohio that Hackett's political inexperience, specifically his referral to Bush as a "son of a bitch," cost him the election. Whether that statement was refreshing and true or not, it alienated enough veterans and undecided voters to swing the election in favor of the GOP.
Well again, given that no one else would enter the race, it was what it was. And to argue that calling Bush a son of a bitch "cost him the race" is highly speculative. I've "heard" it argued that his refreshing candor was responsible for it even being close, and that "by all rights" he would have won easily had he received more support from the DCCC rather than primarily the netroots. It's also a "commonly held belief" that Hackett would make mincemeat of DeWine while Brown will have an uphill fight, given his liberal voting record.

Unless you have some data to prove your assertion, it's just more smear and frankly bullshit.
But Hackett believes that, based on his strong but losing effort, he should be able to write his own ticket or else, is arrogant and absurd. If he had actually been committed to aiding the Progressive cause, he would have worked with Party officials to help Dems gain as much ground in Ohio as possible. And a Congressional win in the redder-than-red 2nd district would have been HUGE.
Given Hackett's record, which is not speculation, of being willing to run when no one else would in seats that are commonly considered "losing propositions for Dems, I think speaks more about his loyalty to "the party" than any of your speculation above. We have plenty of opportunistic "team players" in both the Democratic and Republican establishment. That's gotten us a long way hasn't it? To smear Hackett as opportunistic is laughable when the guy has only run in campaigns that no one else would enter.

And finally, why didn't the party stand behind Hackett when the "whisper campaign" started? Where was your indignation then?
Instead, being a lowly Congressman just wasn't good enough - and I think that exposes that Hackett's motivations aren't as unquestionably noble as the more vocal among us would like to believe. We should stop eagerly lining up to kiss Paul Hackett's ass while lambasting the Democratic Party. If there was any betrayal that went on in the Hackett affair, it was he that did the betraying - and not the other way around.
Please check out the poll numbers on the Brown "shoo-in". He's significantly behind DeWine, particularly since Hackett left the race. And the "whisper campaign", if indeed it was begun by Republicans, is further proof of who they wanted to face in the general election.

Posts such as yours are showing up all over the blogosphere in order to try and stem the damage done by the Democratic "leadership". I'm not buying and anyone else who has followed the situation closely is not buying either. Hackett's betrayal was an unwillingness to kiss the ring of the DCCC, and the DSCC. And being the honest, straight-on guy that he is, he told them to shove it.

If your impressions are what it takes to "get along" in the Democratic party, screw the Democratic party. It's these same decision makers who gave us 2000 and 2004 and want to give us 2006. I'm not playing. And neither is Paul Hackett. If that ultimately means losing. Fine. I'd rather lose with dignity than continue to lose with a calculated slide-rule campaign sticking out of my ass. As ill informed as the American voters are, they do have a high degree of perceptive ability when it comes to knowing the difference between genuine political conviction and belief vs. political calculations. The "reality based" Democrats had better figure this out before we end up with a full-fledged fascist state.
Right On Cue
From a Rasmussen poll in Ohio:
Overall, 29% of the state's voters agree with Hackett and say he was betrayed by party leaders. Fifteen percent (15%) say he was not, but a majority of voters (55%) have no opinion on the topic. Among Democrats, 31% say he was betrayed and 24% say he was not.

Following Hackett's withdrawal, Republican Senator Mike DeWine has gained ground in his campaign for re-election. DeWine now leads Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown by nine percentage points, 46% to 37%
Brown has some serious ground to gain while moving to the center politically and defending a voting record in Congress, an uphill challenge for a Democrat (as John Kerry found out).

Lather, rinse, repeat.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
The Gamblers, The Patriots
Totally stolen from Atrios (maybe he'll come spank me):
One thing I've been thinking about recently is the usual sniping about how bloggers are too stupid to know which candidates should be supported, the usual Washington Insiders Knows Best line. This is in part based on the Lump of Campaign Money fallacy, the belief that there's a fixed amount of campaign dollars to be raised and spent, which of course is ridiculous. And, generally, the insiders want candidates to be beholden to them so they don't really like candidates with outsider support.

But if the netroots spend their money stupidly what does that say about the insiders and the Big Money people? Hillary Clinton has $17 million cash on hand for her re-election which she of course doesn't need given the GOP meltdown. Who are all of the idiots giving money to her? I'm not picking on Clinton, roughly the same thing could be said for lots of big name incumbents and their donors. But huge amounts of money are flowing to campaigns which don't really need it while challengers are struggling. If more people who thought nothing of writing $2000 checks to Clinton's campaign were plunking it into Francine Busby's race or Rodriguez's race against fake Democrat Cuellar, or some more challenger campaigns in November they'd be a lot better off.

The relatively small amount of money channeled through the netroots is often mocked by Those Who Know Where Our Money Should Go. But the truth is the netroots has played a critical role in helping Democrats get elected in special elections, stepping up when not enough others would.

The real misallocation of funds is to incumbents in safe seats, not a few thousand bucks to challengers with longer shot chances. Funding challengers is a risky investment which can potentially pay big future dividends. Funding incumbents with safe seats is largely just wankery.
Cartoonish Coverage
I've been following the cartoon riots by Islamics on a peripheral level. But I think this graf from Slate pretty much sums up the coverage:
Protests continued in Pakistan over cartoons depicting Muhammad, with three dying from the violence on Friday. Ten people were killed in demonstrations in Libya yesterday. Meanwhile, a Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for the killing of any Danish cartoonist responsible for caricatures of the prophet. Officials in the Russian city of Volgograd ordered the local paper to be shut down yesterday after publishing a Muhammad cartoon.
I'm not seeing much coverage of the fact that the Abu Grahaib torture pics are being shown 24/7 in the Arab world, and that perhaps this may be playing a part?

I find it hard to believe that the uproar by the Islamic public is just because of the cartoons. If the Arab world felt that they were treated justly by the west and not subject to BushCo's Christian crusade, I suspect the outcry would have been far more muted. If so, why does the media continue to ignore the underlying story?

Death Squads
Rummy was talking yesterday about the reformation of the army, including the use of smaller, more nimble forces:
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rumsfeld said he wants to build bigger and stronger special-ops forces that can act in countries where the United States isn't at war. "The special-operations forces are capable of doing things that other forces aren't. … We are increasing their budget and we are increasing their equipment. The problem is bigger and there is more of a demand for them."
I'll bet!

In some places these would be called "death squads". Am I the only concerned that we want to send military forces into a country with which we're not at war?
Friday, February 17, 2006
Joementum Slowing?
If there's any validity to this Rasmussen poll then Liberman has something to worry about. The poll's a bit weird so I'm not sure how much can be taken from it, but when some guy who nobody's really heard of is polling at 24% already that's impressive.
Ned Lamont
Well, the Hacking Hackett campaign details continue to emerge. I haven't read the article yet, but this story from gives a flavor:
Mother Jones reports that as part of the effort to push Iraq War vet Paul Hackett from the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio, there was a "whisper campaign" suggesting Hackett committed war crimes.

"In late November, Hackett got a call from Sen. Harry Reid. 'I hear there’s a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?' demanded the Senate minority leader."
So now, Hackett will undoubtedly have to defend himself against this Rovian-like campaign AND not run for Senate. Talk about "no good deed going unpunished".

Like I said above, I haven't read the story yet. The MoJo link is not working right now. But I will read it later to get the full skinny. This whole episode is the dirtiest of the dirty and shows that Karl Rove is not an anomaly.
Tragically Funny
Iraq continues to provide unending entertainment:
The Post fronts the uncovering last month in Iraq of a death squad staffed with Shiite police.
This has become pretty commonplace. You know, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? But this makes it positively comical:
It wasn't hard to figure out what the cops were up to. Stopped at an Iraqi army checkpoint, they said they were on their way to execute a prisoner.
That's good of them to be honest that way. Perhaps integrity is being restored to the Iraqi police force!

But then, topping the honesty of the Iraqi police, an American general has the quote of the day:
"We have found one of the death squads," a U.S. general told the Chicago Tribune. "They are a part of the police force of Iraq."

Another dozen men were found yesterday bound and executed.
THAT'S why he gets the big bucks. It's quick thinking along these lines that makes Bush's great Iraq adventure such a phenomenal success!
Random Thoughts
The price of gas has dropped. The Republicans must be in trouble. Again.

China is actively working on turning themselves into the number 1 auto producer. I'm wondering how long it will be until our medicine comes from China too.

If an American corporation sets up shop overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and outsources their labor to avoid hiring Americans, what makes it an American corporation? (Aside from the fact that they routinely receive invitations to the American White House).

Do most people do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, or do they do it because they expect something in return (money, a "reward in Heaven", etc.)?

Can we instead ban certain types of pet owners rather than certain types of pets?