2.17.2007

A Comment About Comments

For some reason, HaloScan comments - despite hours of effort - remain disabled.

Unhappily, I am temporarily enabling default Blogger comments while I keep working on HaloScan.

FYI: Comments Temporarily Disabled

Sorry to do this, but for some reason, the Comments feature does not appear to be working (or rather, it's working so bizarrely after I reinstated them that I temporarily disabled them again).

I'll figure it out tomorrow and we'll be back to the usual mess, already in progress. ::cough::

2.16.2007

Paul Krugman: "The Health Care Racket"

Leading economist and Times' OpEd columnist, Paul Krugman, once again tackles a subject near and dear to many: American health care. Read it all at Rozius, but you can start with this snippet:

Is the health insurance business a racket? Yes, literally - or so say two New York hospitals, which have filed a racketeering lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group and several of its affiliates.

I don't know how the case will turn out. But whatever happens in court, the lawsuit illustrates perfectly the dysfunctional nature of our health insurance system, a system in which resources that could have been used to pay for medical care are instead wasted in a zero-sum struggle over who ends up with the bill.

The two hospitals accuse UnitedHealth of operating a "rogue business plan" designed to avoid paying clients' medical bills. For example, the suit alleges that patients were falsely told that Flushing Hospital was "not a network provider" so UnitedHealth did not pay the full network rate. UnitedHealth has already settled charges of misleading clients about providers' status brought by New York's attorney general: the company paid restitution to plan members, while attributing the problem to computer errors.

The legal outcome will presumably turn on whether there was deception as well as denial - on whether it can be proved that UnitedHealth deliberately misled plan members. But it's a fact that insurers spend a lot of money looking for ways to reject insurance claims. And health care providers, in turn, spend billions on "denial management," employing specialist firms - including Ingenix, a subsidiary of, yes, UnitedHealth - to fight the insurers.

So it's an arms race between insurers, who deploy software and manpower trying to find claims they can reject, and doctors and hospitals, who deploy their own forces in an effort to outsmart or challenge the insurers. And the cost of this arms race ends up being borne by the public, in the form of higher health care prices and higher insurance premiums.
The rest is here.

Restore Habeas Corpus And Much of the Rest of the U.S. Constitution - PLEASE!

From Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, one of four Dem authors of the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 (with a nod to GOTV blog for the link):

Please take a moment to watch the video and read the text of the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, sign on as a citizen co-sponsor, and forward the bill to your personal networks. While you and I are acutely aware of the damage President Bush has done to our country's national reputation, too many of our family, friends and neighbors have no idea how far this Administration has gone.
You may want to add Restore Habeas Corpus to your blog list!

Absolute Must Read: Brzezinski's "The Road Map Out of Iraq"

This op/ed - this copy from the Salt Lake Tribune - by former military man and Carter-era NSA chief Zbigniew Brzezinski truly is a must read (what are you waiting for, hmmm?); here's a big snip:

The war in Iraq is a historic strategic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions. It is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties, as well as some abuses, are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.

Yet major strategic decisions in the Bush administration continue to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals - perhaps not more than the fingers on one hand. With the exception of the new Defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, these are the same individuals who have been involved from the start of this misadventure, who made the original decision to go to war in Iraq and who used the original false justifications for going to war. It is human nature to be reluctant to undertake actions that would imply a significant reversal of policy.

From the standpoint of U.S. national interest, this is particularly ominous. If the United States continues to be bogged down in protracted, bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and much of the Islamic world. Here, for instance, is a plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran: Iraq fails to meet the benchmarks for progress toward stability set by the Bush administration. This is followed by U.S. accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the United States blamed on Iran, culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran. This plunges a lonely United States into a spreading and deepening quagmire lasting 20 years or more and eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indeed, a mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potential expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the war is being redefined as the decisive ideological struggle of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al-Qaida are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack that precipitated U.S. involvement in World War II. This simplistic and demagogic narrative, however, overlooks that the Nazi threat was based on the military power of the most industrially advanced European state and that Stalinism was not only able to mobilize the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine.

In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism. Al-Qaida is an isolated, fundamentalist aberration. Most Iraqis are engaged in strife not on behalf of an Islamist ideology but because of the U.S. occupation, which destroyed the Iraqi state. Iran, meanwhile, though gaining in regional influence, is hardly a global threat; rather, it is politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that the United States must respond militarily to a wide Islamic threat with Iran at its epicenter is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy. No other country shares the Manichean delusions that the Bush administration so passionately articulates. And the result, sad to say, is growing political isolation of and pervasive popular antagonism toward the United States.
Get the rest here.

Apparently John McCain's Loyal Constituents Are Getting Tired Of His Rapid Mood Swings, Too

There was a time when John McCain - and other one time moderates like former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani - would openly mock the miserable likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others who piously smile while they spew radical hate. Now, of course, John - and Rudy - can't embrace the Falwells, the Robertsons, the Dobsons fast enough - and that alone should send a very loud warning bell ringing for all.

From Max Blumenthal writing at The Nation:

Just as the presidential nomination process begins in earnest, Senator John McCain has suffered a stinging defeat in his home state. For the Republican media darling declared recently by Chris Matthews to be the one candidate who "deserves the presidency," it was an unlikely loss, and so far it has gone unheralded by the national press corps that McCain once half-jokingly called "my base." This defeat was the handiwork of his presumed actual political base--a ragtag band of local conservative activists led by a 65-year-old retired IBM middle manager named Rob Haney.

Who is Rob Haney? He is the Republican state committeeman in Arizona's District 11, McCain's home district. In the past, Haney and his fellow committee members would meet from time to time to review their annual budget, vote on bylaws and pass resolutions. If anyone represents Arizona's Republican Party, advancing the causes of faith, family and freedom, it is the folks from District 11. Yet their importance, let alone their existence, seemed to matter little to their state's famous and ambitious senior senator.

All that changed when Haney organized a revolt that hardly needed encouragement. "People would be calling in to [state committee] headquarters every week, absolutely enraged, threatening to leave the party because of some comments McCain made," Haney told me. "The guy has no core, his only principle is winning the presidency. He likes to call his campaign the 'straight talk express.' Well, down here we call it the 'forked tongue express.'"

Inside Note: Be Prepared

Now that I'm migrated this blog to the new platform, I'm going to try to fix some long standing issues with the template.

So ... uh... the Excedrin is in the top left desk drawer. Help yourself.

The Edwards' Blogger Boondoggle: When Bloggers And Politicians Meet

As I've written both here and under my other hat at All Things Democrat, I'm fairly unhappy with what happened when the Hate Creed Catholic League people went after two progressive women bloggers (Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister and Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon) hired by the John Edwards 2008 presidential campaign for what these women wrote on their personal blogs.

I remain incensed that a group like the Catholic League - so bad Jesus probably wouldn't bother to smite them because he'd get Bill Donohue cooties - which exists only to hurl invective at anyone who doesn't think like them (and think may be a charitable term for how this group operates), could foment such rage at these women. And I remain even more disappointed in John Edwards, who was willing to use these women but not stand behind them when the boat rocked a little. I also remain enraged that such different standards are applied to anyone left of center when the likes of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and Glenn Reynolds can write the worst stuff possible and be applauded.

Still, with all that said, I believe JurassicPork at Welcome to Pottersville summarizes the situation beautifully about my own feelings re: when politicians and bloggers try to co-habitate. I encourage you to read it. Kudos to JP for tackling a tough, multi-faceted issue with more skill than I could muster.

U.S. House of Representatives: Passes Resolution Against The Iraq War

MSNBC is now reporting that the U.S. House has passed its anti-Iraq War resolution (only four years or so too late, but who's counting except the Baghdad and Pentagon morgues and families?).

See my previous post for my take on these resolutions (scroll down into it).

On Empire...

Dudlee left a comment some time back to which I have been meaning for some time to respond: the basic premise is:

How do we stop the U.S.'s bloody path of empire building and
is just getting rid of Bush & Cheney enough to do so?

The answer is no. The concept of U.S. as empire did not begin with Bush or his dipshit daddy. Just ousting Bush-Cheney and electing a (Hillary) Clinton or an Obama or an Edwards won't fix this. Democratic presidents have engaged in it almost as heavy handedly as Republicans (and don't get me started on the many ways I believe Bill Clinton behaved badly, and no, I'm not talking about the blowjob or the blue dress).

At this point, I'm not sure we can elect ANYONE to the nation's highest office who does NOT carry the torch of American imperialism. To stop this wanton empire-lust, I think we need to rather radically, although not necessarily anarchistically, dismantle the American government as it currently exists and rebuild it from scratch which probably isn't going to happen any time soon.

What we can do now, however, is begin to talk more openly about this empire lust and how to combat it. How we can try to ensure the U.S. always has a good seat at the table without trying to reshape the world in our own hardly perfect image. Empire comes from lust for power as well as a deep-seated desire to remain top dog and make sure the rest of the world thinks we're the big cheese. I think we can achieve what we need far more usefully and non-destructively than through pursuing empire.

After all, history is littered with once great empires that exist as a tiny molecular shadow of their former selves (Rome and Great Britain are the two most obvious examples). Neither of them are today huge players. Empire works only so well, for so long.

Notes On Iraq, Democracy, and More

You folks have left some good comments, especially the last few days, which has my head spinning (ok, perhaps that doesn't take ALL that much effort but...).

On Odom's "Victory is Not an Option" op/ed, Karlo pegged it correctly, how the hell did we think we were going to walk in and hand them a democracy kit? It's like we told them, "OK, we're here. Bow at our feet and thank us endlessly. Now just use this democracy kit, add hot water and voile!"

First and foremost, creating an instant democracy under the very best of conditions would have been impossible for Iraq. And hell, we didn't even leave them with working electricity to heat the water to add to the Instant Democracy Soup Kit! As Karlo notes, Iraqis have no idea what either democracy or victory - which probably means something quite different to them than it does to us - looks like. How Bush & Company blame Iraqis for the mess is just beyond my grasp.

Mind you, here we are in the United States in 2007 STILL hammering out what it means to be a democracy here at home. The Red States seem to think democracy means blind obedience and shut-the-hell-upness-unless-you're-with-us mentality. And as CK accurately points out, while it's the Blue States offering resolutions against the Iraq War and amassing the highly casualties in the war (Vermont remains the state with the highest per capita death rate in Iraq - save for, of course, Iraqi civilians themselves), it's the red states making all the money off this damned war while the rest of us pay the taxes and watch our troops and Iraq's innocents die and get hurt.

As for these resolutions, well...

I'm glad the states are finally stepping up, but I STILL hold both sides of Congress completely responsible for letting Bush and Company take us into Iraq on what was already clear to many of us LONG before the invasion were trumped-up charges and the worst pack of lies I've ever heard. Hillary Clinton keeps telling us that if she's president in 2009, she'll get us out of Iraq.

Really? Hillary voted for the damned war. What is Hillary doing NOW to end it? And no, electioneering for 2009 does NOT count.

And how do we trust these ass-covering nitwits NOT to allow Bush to take us into Iraq? I'm sorry, but his assurances that the "press" is the only one planning an attack hold no water for me. He told us the same about Iraq... and now, four long years later...

Of course, Hillary is not the only person who did this (there's John Kerry and others; Obama was not yet in the Senate). But as potentially the most likely Dem nominee for president, I am gravely concerned about her positions which are far too Bush-like for my comfort.

Non-binding resolutions aren't worth jack shit.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul Blasts Bush On House Floor

Yes, it is possible for a Vermont progressive to fall in love (well, sort of) with a Texas former Republican (now Indy) - namely Rep. Ron Paul, a doctor, who - thanks to Todd at Blue State for the link to video - blasted Bush on Iraq on the House floor.

I happened to hear Ron on WGDR last Friday on Jim Hogue's "House On Pooh Corner" show and it was enlightening. (Jim's quite a firebrand in his own right, big in the Second Vermont Republic movement to get Vermont the hell out of the U.S.)

Vermont Made History Twice This Week, Actually

Not just as the first to pass a resolution against Bush's handling of the Iraq war through both sides of the legislature (Iowa followed soon thereafter), but because our St. Viagra's day blizzard was the second worst in recorded weather history (and man, walking through chest-high corridors of snow with well over my head drifts is REALLY increasing the sense of cabin fever).

I like the first record; the second I could have done without (or done, but not with continuing single-digit-at-best temps).

Yeesh.

Blah3: "I Smell Desperation"

Stranger at Blah3 brings us this:

Just out of curiosity, I clicked over to GeorgeWBush.com to see what they're saying about Congressional attempts at oversight of Bush's War (which, by the way, is their Constitutional duty), and Harold Ramis came to mind (I'll explain in a sec). Check out this nifty bit of hysteria.
    Instead of supporting the troops in Iraq, or simply bringing them home, the Democrats intend to gradually make it harder and harder for them to do their jobs. They will introduce riders onto bills to prevent certain units from deploying. They will try to limit the President's constitutional power to determine the length and number of deployments. They will attempt to keep the Pentagon from replacing troops who rotate out of Iraq. They may even try to limit how our troops operate by, for example, prohibiting our armed forces from creating and operating bases in Iraq.
One question: when you completely divorce yourself from reality, do you have to make alimony payments?

Just wondering.

William E. Odom: "Victory Is Not An Option"

This op/ed by William E. Odom (retired Army) on the Iraq War, "Victory is Not An Option", appeared on Sunday but I just happened to catch it tonight. Read it all at Wealthy Frenchman, but here's a snip:

The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.

Its gloomy implications -- hedged, as intelligence agencies prefer, in rubbery language that cannot soften its impact -- put the intelligence community and the American public on the same page. The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.

Perhaps this is not surprising. Americans do not warm to defeat or failure, and our politicians are famously reluctant to admit their own responsibility for anything resembling those un-American outcomes. So they beat around the bush, wringing hands and debating "nonbinding resolutions" that oppose the president's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

For the moment, the collision of the public's clarity of mind, the president's relentless pursuit of defeat and Congress's anxiety has paralyzed us. We may be doomed to two more years of chasing the mirage of democracy in Iraq and possibly widening the war to Iran. But this is not inevitable. A Congress, or a president, prepared to quit the game of "who gets the blame" could begin to alter American strategy in ways that will vastly improve the prospects of a more stable Middle East.

No task is more important to the well-being of the United States. We face great peril in that troubled region, and improving our prospects will be difficult. First of all, it will require, from Congress at least, public acknowledgment that the president's policy is based on illusions, not realities. There never has been any right way to invade and transform Iraq. Most Americans need no further convincing, but two truths ought to put the matter beyond question:

First, the assumption that the United States could create a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq defies just about everything known by professional students of the topic. Of the more than 40 democracies created since World War II, fewer than 10 can be considered truly "constitutional" -- meaning that their domestic order is protected by a broadly accepted rule of law, and has survived for at least a generation. None is a country with Arabic and Muslim political cultures. None has deep sectarian and ethnic fissures like those in Iraq.

Strangely, American political scientists whose business it is to know these things have been irresponsibly quiet. In the lead-up to the March 2003 invasion, neoconservative agitators shouted insults at anyone who dared to mention the many findings of academic research on how democracies evolve. They also ignored our own struggles over two centuries to create the democracy Americans enjoy today. Somehow Iraqis are now expected to create a constitutional order in a country with no conditions favoring it.
Get the rest here.

2.15.2007

Iowa Joins Vermont In Resolution Against Iraq War

As Vermont did on Wednesday, Iowa today passed a resolution that applauds the American troops for the courageous work they have done but strongly disapproves of President Bush's management of the Iraq War.

Many, many other states also have such a resolution pending. According to David Sirota and the Progressive States Network, here's the list of them (wow!):

1.Arizona
2.California (passed Senate)
3.Colorado
4.Connecticut
5.Georgia
6.Iowa
7.Kansas
8.Maine
9.Maryland (letter sent)
10.Massachusetts
11.Minnesota
12.Missouri
13.Montana
14.New Jersey
15.New York
16.North Dakota
17.Oklahoma
18.Oregon
19.Rhode Island
20.Texas
21.Vermont (passed House)
22.Washington
23.West Virginia

Not many of those Southern states, I notice. I think those Confederate flags kill brain cells or something. Not sure. ::cough::

Say hello to..

an interesting new find, an English version blog called Doxdo which features Iranian Weblogs and blogs about Iran.

And wait, before some member of the "if you say anything even neutral about Iran you're helping Satan defeat Bush and America" crew pipes up, I'm a B-I-G believer in people communicating with one another.

Normal mortals can achieve something heads of state cannot: understanding, opening a dialogue, finding common ground.

While my dad - who was a decorated WWII veteran who did many things in WWII, including as part of an elite squad that would raid Japanese POW camps to try to free as many prisoners as possible - died when I was just four (I came along 13 years after the war ended), I can remember one thing distinctly that he said:

The more I got to talk with and know the people of Japan,
the more respect for them I got.
These were incredible people.
You know, if I could've sat down with Japanese GIs
and talked out our differences,
there wouldn't have been any damned war.

And this was from a man who was almost rabidly Republican, an uber patriot.

So yeah, I'm very interested in what the people of Iran have to say, just as I have been with Iraqis and others. I'd be more interested in listening to the leaders of my country if they didn't lie to me so damned much.

Greetings From Ice Station Zebra

Or so it feels...

"Epic blizzard", "storm of the century" and "the likes of which we've never seen before" are just some of the local news headlines describing our St. Viagra's Valentine's Day Blizzard of Ought-Seven.

39" of snow fell here in less than 24 hours here and... well... you can't see anything but the tops of the taller than 40' spruces and, of course, snow. With the driveway more than 300 feet away and a lot of cubic feet to clear to get there, I'm not sure I'll be seeing the car anytime soon which is fine because there's close to a half mile of unplowed driveway.

Considering it's 3 degrees out and more than three feet of snow covers the satellite dish (which means it ain't gonna melt soon), I'm thinking it's gonna be awhile before I can commune much with the outside world.

But hey, the phone sorta works and the power, between brownouts, is going, too, so... well... uh...

I gotta go shovel white shit and with each shovel full, I think about how I'm trying to shovel away the Bush-Cheney-Neocon snowjob. Tough work.

2.14.2007

Janice Karpinski Calls Republican Senator Lindsay Graham a Coward, Donald Like Rumsfeld

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-Spineless, SC) shot off his mouth at a screening of HBO's upcoming, "The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib", including dumping on former General Janice Karpinski, whom the Bush Administration used as their favorite scapegoat in the prison abuse scandal, making her pay when Rummy and Rick Sanchez and company did not.

But unknown to Edwards, now Colonel Karpinski was in the audience, and she let him have it (and good!); from Crooks & Liars:

"Sen. Graham…I consider you as cowardly as Rumsfeld, as Sanchez, and Miller and all of them," said Karpinski, who has long claimed to be a scapegoat for superiors including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller.

Maureen Dowd: "Obama, Legally Blonde"

MoDo does Barack Obama, with a hint of "dumb blonde" thrown in for questionable measure.

Get it all at Rozius Unbound, or suffer with the snippet I offer:

Barack Obama looked as if he needed a smoke and he needed it bad.

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to make two big changes at once. But Michelle Obama’s price for letting her husband run was that he quit.

So there he was, trying to meet the deep, inexhaustible needs of both Iowa activists and the global press behemoth on his first swing across the state, while giving up cigarettes.

He was a tad testy. Traipsing around desolate stretches of snowy — and extremely white — Iowa to go into living rooms and high school gyms and take questions like “Are you willing to stand up for independent family farmers?” makes me want to sneak out for a drag, too, and I don’t even smoke.

“I’ve been chewing Nicorette all day long,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ames on Sunday, where he was getting irritated at suggestions that he lacked substance and at the specter of his vanishing privacy. And, oh yes, at the accusation by the Australian prime minister (sounding two sheep short of a paddock) that Mr. Obama’s deadline to get out of Iraq made him Al Qaeda’s dream candidate.

The Illinois senator didn’t have on an implacable mask of amiability, as Hillary did in Iowa. He didn’t look happily in his element, like Bill Clinton. But he certainly didn’t look as if he was straining to survive the Q .& A.’s, as W. did in the beginning.
The rest here.

Bush's Blustering Press Conference Today

Since I couldn't catch anything useful on TV today, I saw the president's press conference which sums up as:

"Are you people stupid? I haven't said we're gonna attack Iran and, since I'm the big cheese and the deciderer and I got the massive cojones
(and you don't or you wouldn't let me skate on a tenth of the crap I pull),
I get to say when and where.
And where do you get off questioning
ME?
What the fuck do you think this is, a friggin' democracy or somethin'?
You should damned well know better than that by now.
Oh yeah, and remember - address me as Your Royal Highness!
Failure to do that's gonna get your ass disappeared into Gitmo!
And, oh yeah, God bless me 'cos you can't spell America without me."

Right. He told us right up to the launch of the Iraq war that he wasn't necessarily going to war there either (and four deadly years later...).

Read Cernig's Newshog summary of Bush's words.

Now They Call It Treason To Debate Iraq

Frank Gaffney, one of the loudest of the neocons, has called Congress' efforts to debate the Iraq War - close to four years after we pushed into Baghdad - an act of treason. He wrote this in a Washington Post editorial discussed by Glenn Greenwald at Salon (I got right in, no ad first).

Hey, buddy, if you want to talk about treason, I'm serious that Bush, Cheney, and the neocons are certainly guilty of it! In fact, I'm investigating what it takes to have charges of treason filed. If a mere mortal can do it, I just may.

Speaking of Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell

Greg's latest Pressing Issues column brings us a hell of a story from a former U.S. interrogator in Iraq, one you really must read:

A former U.S. interrogator in Iraq confesses his sins in a dramatic Washington Post opinion column. Just three months ago, he wasn't quite willing to take that step. Who will now join him?
We need to know this stuff. We just do. What is done in our name makes us all culpable and when it's this egregious, we must take steps to make it s-t-o-p.

Thanks, Greg, for bringing it to us.

Carl Bernstein on Nixon Vs. Bush (Nixon Was Bad, Bush Is Orders of Magnitude Worse)

The excellent Editor & Publisher magazine (with a wave to the every-bit-as-excellent E&P editor, Greg Mitchell) brings us nuggets of gold from the PBS Frontline program's series of interviews with Watergate-era journalist Carl Bernstein (infinitely more a journalist than his corporate-polished former cohort, Bob Woodward) on the differences/similarities between Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush:

Q. Finally, I just want to get your reflections on the [famously contentious] relationship of Richard Nixon and the press. ... How does that compare to George W. Bush and the press?

BERNSTEIN: First, Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.

I think what we're talking about with the Bush administration is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never witnessed before on this scale.

The lying in the Nixon White House had most often to do with covering up Watergate, with the Nixon administration's illegal activities. Here, in this presidency, there is an unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies. ...

This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth. We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom.

That is an astonishing fact. That's what this story is about: the willingness of the president and the vice president and the people around them to try to undermine people who have effectively opposed them by telling the truth. It happened with [Sen.] John McCain in South Carolina. It happened with [Sen.] John Kerry. It's happened with [Sen.] Max Cleland in Georgia. It's happened with many other people. That's the real story, and that's the story that [the press] should have been writing. ...

It's very difficult, as a reporter, to get across that when you say, "This is a presidency of great dishonesty," that this is not a matter of opinion. This is demonstrable fact. If you go back and look at the president's statements, you look at the statements of the vice president, you look at the statements of Condoleezza Rice, you go through the record, you look at what [counterterrorism expert] Richard Clarke has written, you look at what we know -- it's demonstrable.

It's fact. Now, how do you quantify it? That's a different question.

But to me, if there is a great failure by the so-called mainstream press in this presidency, it's the unwillingness to look at the lies and disinformation and misinformation and add them up and say clearly, "Here's what they said; here's what the known facts were," because when that is done, you then see this isn't a partisan matter. This is a matter of the truth, particularly about this war. This is a presidency that is not willing to tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests. It's not about ideology from whence I say this.

It's about being a reporter and saying: "That's what the story is. Let's see what they said; let's see what the facts are." ...
Emphasis mine. Read it all here.

Most Apt Headline: Bush's War Is With Reality"

This headline at Buzzflash, promoting this article in the Times Union, is the best, most honest goddamned headline I've seen in a very, very (pathetically, even) long time.

Bush's most pressing war IS with reality. And it's one he clearly is unprepared ever to win.

Surviving The Migration Mambo

Dear lord, I think we migrated to the new Blogger platform without anything exploding, excreting, eviscerating, or extruding.

This is good actually, not just because I don't need a mess, but because we've got about a foot of new snow in less than 12 hours and we're due for between one and two MORE feet before this storm wraps up tomorrow morning. It's only 2 degrees, however, which makes shoveling such a... a... a.... fuckingly awful experience.

Frankly, I'm amazed we still have power (the satellite disappeared hours ago) but that may go soon.

Happy St. Viagra'sValentine's Day!

Well, today IS the day for love and great lovers, like:

Captain & Tenille
Tom DeLay & Jack Abramoff's wallet
Charlie Manson & Squeaky Fromme
Condi Rice & her husband president
George Bush & his ego
Dick Cheney & Satan
Anna Nicole Smith & half of Hollywood (Florida's) D celebrity list/90+ year old men (and no, there is no truth to rumors that either Karlo of SwerveLeft OR JP at Welcome to Pottersville is also claiming to be Anna Nicole's "baby daddy" (in popular parlance of today))

So, in honor of this great day, I now click the button to convert the blog to the new platform.

God help us all.

2.13.2007

And The (Frozen) Children Shall Lead...

While it took four (count 'em - 4!) years after first shot fired for the U.S. Senate and House to begin any serious discussion of a war Bush and Cheney lied us into (talk about pathetic surrender monkeys), the Vermont House and Senate voted today on its own Iraq War resolution. It passed, making Vermont the first state to go on record with a resolution against this action.

While IAEA Chief Warns Against War With Iran, Israel Hints It May Strike There Independently

There is one thing on which you can always count on the hawks in Israel: doing their utmost to make a tricky situation into a much worse one by trying to force the hands of another party (almost always the United States) to do its bidding against an enemy; in this case, of course, Iran.

Here's this from Democracy Now:

An Israeli cabinet minister is warning that Israel might decide on its own to confront Iran in order to halt its alleged nuclear weapons program. Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "Israel cannot remain with its arms folded, waiting patiently for Iran to develop non-conventional weapons." At the United Nations, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Chief, Mohamed El Baradei warned against any such action.

Mohamed El Baradei: "I don't see a military solution of the Iranian issue. First of all, as far as we know what Iran has now today is the knowledge. We do not know that Iran has the industrial capacity to enrich uranium. We don't know, we haven't seen indication or concrete proof of a nuclear weapons program. So I don't see that people talk about a military solution. I don't know what they mean by that. You cannot bomb knowledge, as I said before. I think it would also be completely counter productive."

Say Hello to...

Vermont Secession (the blog) which seems to be off to a rousing start.

We Who Are About To Fry Pollute You

Yeah, well, twisted phrases happen in the Bush years.

Anyhoo...

Right after midnight, I'm going to bite the proverbial bullet, click the button, and transform this blog, along with Vermont: Now & Zen, to the new Blogger platform.

I'd love to lie convincingly enough to myself - and you - to think everything will be fine post-conversion but I've worked with software too long to believe this is even remotely possible. ::cough::

So, cross your fingers (along with anything else of which you own two - except your testicles if you're male; I don't want to be responsible for any painful issues just before St. Viagra's Valentine's Day).

S'ok?

Now Here's Irony: State Department Orders Press To Stop Pushing Attack On Iran

Right... like the New York Times is planning to bomb Tehran in April (although I wouldn't put it past Rupert Murdoch and Fox Noise News!).

From TPM Muckraker:

From Sean McCormack's State Department briefing yesterday:
    QUESTION: I mean, Sean, sort of a follow-up on all these questions. In a general sense, the big (inaudible) at the moment we've seen, you know, cover of Newsweek, cover of Economist saying Iran could be next, a lot of speculation about military action. Can you give me any reaction to that?

    MR. MCCORMACK: It seems to be the news media that is whipping up that storyline, not us....
    ...President Bush has made it very clear that we, as has Secretary Gates -- Secretary of Defense Gates has made it very clear that while we don't take option -- no President takes options off the table, our force protection actions are focused on activities inside of Iraq. We have no plans to attack Iran.

    So I'll put it to you that it might be -- you might look amongst yourselves and your colleagues within the journalistic community in terms of people who are whipping this up. It's certainly not the U.S. Government.
McCormick is right, of course. It was the media that issued an order for the U.S. military to attack Iranian assets in Iraq; the media that's been raiding Iranian offices in Iraq; and the media that's deploying additional naval carrier groups to the Persian Gulf. How could anyone think otherwise?
These people should leave politics and go into stand up comedy.

Independent Jewish Voices

I find this, from Democracy Now, encouraging:

A group of prominent British Jews have launched an organization to counterbalance what they perceive as uncritical support of Israel by major Jewish institutions in the UK. The organization, called Independent Jewish Voices, or IJV, includes well-known public figures in Britain's Jewish community, including Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter and fashion designer Nicole Farhi. We go to London to speak with two of the group’s members. [includes rush transcript]

This week in Britain, a group of prominent British Jews launched an organization to counterbalance what they perceive as uncritical support of Israel by major Jewish institutions in the UK. The organization, called Independent Jewish Voices, or IJV, includes well-known public figures in Britain's Jewish community, including Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter and fashion designer Nicole Farhi.

IJV criticizes Britain's well-known Board of Deputies of British Jews for claiming to represent all Jews. The IJV Declaration states that “those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people.” Reclaiming what they call “the tradition of Jewish support for universal freedoms, human rights and social justice,” members urge other Jews to express their views about Israeli policies without fear of being labeled anti-Semitic, self-hating, or disloyal.

Hate Mongerers - 1; Progressive Ideals - 0

Color me profoundly pissed.

It's with profound sadness I report that it is true, that Amanda Marcotte, long-time blogger at Pandagon (the site is currently down although you can find a note there from her) who was asked and accepted a spot on the John Edwards campaign team for his 2008 Democratic presidential bid, has resigned.

I've written about my reaction to the nastiness stirred up by the Catholic League (see my previous post here), an organization that seems to exist solely to stroke the ego of hate-brimming nasty men like William Donohue who can say just horrible things about others but who will brook NO criticism themselves, over past personal blog postings by Amanda and fellow Edwards campaign blogger Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister. With it, I voiced my dissastisfaction with John Edwards himself for comments he made about their posts, something I would think he and his team certainly should have familiarized themselves before asking Amanda and Melissa, two extraordinary women, to join the team.

To allow Donohue and his miserable crew to "win" is too much. But I'm trying to keep my anger in check at the Edwards' side of this issue because I do believe Edwards has worked hard on poverty issues in the last few years and his position on universal health care is certainly promising.

Yet there is one more thing I want to say: I am tired of progressives/liberals/lefties and anyone else (like 85% of America and 90% of the rest of the world) who exists to the left of the most extreme right feeling obligated to capitulate to the worst of the hate-mongerers. If we truly believe what we stand for, we should not always be so willing to step aside to appease people for whom nothing but the total annihilation of those different from themselves will ever be acceptable. Such people don't want a dialogue; they just want to spew rabid monologues upon which no one is allowed to comment except to applaud them.

::kicking soapbox back under my desk but in no way pretending to be a happy camper::

Cheney Won't Testify at Scooter Libby CIA Leak/Plamegate Trial

Damn.

I really wanted to see him struck dead by God when he swore on the Bible to tell the truth.

Unclaimed Territory Gets A New (Web) Address

I frequently cite attorney Glenn Greenwald's extremely savvy and articulate writings at Unclaimed Territory. So let me take a moment and note for others who also visit there that GG's UT has moved to Salon. The new link is here.

Yes, that means you have to go to the extra trouble of subscribing to Salon or watching an ad to get a free day pass. But Glenn, like some other very good stuff Salon produces, is worth the trouble.

Free Josh Wolfe!

You know Judith Miller's name (synonymous with "mud" and "filth" for all who care about decent journalism) and about the time she spent in jail for not talking to the feds.

But I guarantee that (almost) no one who reads this will recognize the name of the 24-year-old journalist, Joshua Wolfe, that the feds have had sitting in jail for nearly six months because he would not act as an adjunct to federal domestic spying entities by turning over a video shot in San Francisco of an anti-G8 demonstration.

Learn more about Josh and his plight at Democracy Now.

You Say Global Warming, I Say We're Returning To The Ice Age

Of course, global warming is not just entirely the overall heating of the planet and its oceans; it offers wild extremes of temperature.

While Oswego, NY, has had more than 100 inches of snow in the last few weeks, we in Vermont - after a relatively mild autumn and early winter - have now spent weeks well below normal. This includes more than two weeks with single digit highs (and double digit negatives), a spate of days that never made it into positive digits at all, and it's been since before Christmas that we've seen temps as high as 20. The last week or so we applaud when it's above 10 Fahrenheit.

We were at -20 at 2 AM (and it got far colder than that; I was just too busy burrowing under blankets and comforters to look at the outside thermometer readings on the electronic weather center) and it was nearly 2 PM before we nosed, but not quite hit, zero degrees as a daytime high. Now it's darkening and the temp is dropping fast.

Right now, we're torn: a big Nor'easter could blow in which would mean warmer temperatures but perhaps a foot or two of snow. Freeze to death or shovel for days. Tough call.

This time of year, we should be nosing 30 degrees for a daytime high and 9 degrees Fahrenheit for an average low. If we're really lucky, that might happen sometime soon... say, in April.

Brrrr........

2.12.2007

Russia's Putin Warns Bush's America Creating "New Arms Race"

From Cernig's Newshog and hardly a surprise, but still sad and scary:

As Bush was famously declaring back in 2001 that he had looked Russian president Vladimir Putin in the eyes and gotten a sense of his soul, Putin may well have been doing the same with Bush and keeping quiet about what he saw there.

Not any more.
    MUNICH, Germany - Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that the United States' increased use of military force is creating a new arms race, with smaller nations turning toward developing nuclear weapons.

    Speaking at a conference of the world's top security officials, including the Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, Putin said nations "are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations."

    "One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," he told the 250 officials, including more than 40 defense and foreign ministers.

    "This is nourishing an arms race with the desire of countries to get nuclear weapons," Putin said, but did not elaborate on specifics and did not mention the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ugly America: The Death Penalty, Plus Prisons As The New Profit Center

Jeralyn Merritt, as I've noted before, is a lawyer whose work I strongly respect because she has taken on some very tough cases for people many Americans would NOT like to see represented by any legal counsel, let alone decent counsel. She also runs TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime, a fantastic and relatively long-lived blog that tackles a lot of difficult legal issues and she happens to be live-blogging the Scooter Libby trial.

Noteworthy right now, Jeralyn points us to two important stories. One is a piece this past weekend in The New York Times Magazine that discusses capitol punishment in the form of lethal injection:

The New York Times Magazine has a feature article on the death penalty, The Needle and The Damage Done.

Lethal injection challenges are now underway in almost every state with a death penalty.
    As a result of those cases, about 12 of the 38 states that have the death penalty have issued temporary bans on executions, and in one, New Jersey, a legislative commission recently recommended abolishing its death penalty altogether.
She's also got this on the "great" profit America's new corporate run prison system is enjoying (profits are easy when you serve inmates food you wouldn't feed cattle you wanted to kill and divorce the system from any notion of reform of prisoners, I would imagine):
Forbes reports that Corrections Corp. of America saw a 37% profit increase in the 4th quarter of 2006.
    For the full fiscal year, Corrections Corp.'s profit more than doubled to $105.2 million, or $1.71 per share, from $50.1 million, or 83 cents per share in 2005.
The principal reason seems to be that demand is up at both the state and federal levels. Prison occupancy rates rose to 97%.

Paul Krugman: "Scary Movie 2" Or

"The Way To Stop Worrying About Iraq Is To Start Worrying About Iran"

Oy! Read all of Krugman's latest, covering the march to war with Iran, here:
Attacking Iran would be a catastrophic mistake, even if all the allegations now being made about Iranian actions in Iraq are true.

But it wouldn’t be the first catastrophic mistake this administration has made, and there are indications that, at the very least, a powerful faction in the administration is spoiling for a fight.

Before we get to the apparent war-mongering, let’s talk about the basics. Are there people in Iran providing aid to factions in Iraq, factions that sometimes kill Americans as well as other Iraqis? Yes, probably. But you can say the same about Saudi Arabia, which is believed to be a major source of financial support for Sunni insurgents — and Sunnis, not Iranian-backed Shiites, are still responsible for most American combat deaths.

The Bush administration, however, with its close personal and financial ties to the Saudis, has always downplayed Saudi connections to America’s enemies. Iran, on the other hand, which had no connection to 9/11, and was actually quite helpful to the United States in the months after the terrorist attack, somehow found itself linked with its bitter enemy Saddam Hussein as part of the “axis of evil.”

So the administration has always had it in for the Iranian regime. Now, let’s do an O. J. Simpson: if you were determined to start a war with Iran, how would you do it?

First, you’d set up a special intelligence unit to cook up rationales for war. A good model would be the Pentagon’s now-infamous Office of Special Plans, led by Abram Shulsky, that helped sell the Iraq war with false claims about links to Al Qaeda.

Sure enough, last year Donald Rumsfeld set up a new “Iranian directorate” inside the Pentagon’s policy shop. And last September Warren Strobel and John Walcott of McClatchy Newspapers — who were among the few journalists to warn that the administration was hyping evidence on Iraqi W.M.D. — reported that “current and former officials said the Pentagon’s Iranian directorate has been headed by Abram Shulsky.”

[...]Why would the Pentagon put someone who got everything wrong on Iraq in charge of intelligence on Iran? Why wasn’t any official willing to take personal responsibility for the reliability of alleged evidence of Iranian mischief, as opposed to being an anonymous source? If the evidence is solid enough to bear close scrutiny, why were all cameras and recording devices, including cellphones, banned from yesterday’s Baghdad briefing?

It’s still hard to believe that they’re really planning to attack Iran, when it’s so obvious that another war would be a recipe for even bigger disaster. But remember who’s calling the shots: Dick Cheney thinks we’ve had “enormous successes” in Iraq.

Read the rest here at Rozius.

Giuliani: George Bush Is My Role Model For Perfect President

If you want to get scared, as in what you should expect should Rudy Giuliani make it to president in 2008, read this post at All Things Democrat. He also seems to think we should kiss Mr. Bush's shit-caked tootsies with gratitude.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Debunking the U.S. "Evidence" Against Iran

[Update: Meanwhile, as Bush ridicules those who say he's eager to attack Iran, a top Cheney aide discussed in the Washington Post and leaks that 2007 is "the year of Iran" and that war with one of Iraq's closest neighbors is a "real possibility."]

Some interesting information is coming down the pike since the U.S. government, in a largely anonymous press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, laid out its "compelling" evidence of Iranian intervention as the fault for all things bad in Iraq. Talking Points Memo appropriately calls it "intel bamboozlement" and TPM Muckraker links us to the now-infamous Defense Dept. PowerPoint IEDs presentation of "the case against Iran."

Josh Marshall also offers this:

Good catch by Newshog blog. Today in Australia, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Peter Pace, declined to stand behind the assertions of that background Iranian IEDs briefing in Iraq.
Next, check out Juan Cole's thoughtful explanation on why this case is just rhetoric to justify what President Bush has likely already decided to do. Juan Cole gets thousands of times more veracity with me than the Bushes, PowerPoint presentation (ha!) or not.

Frank Rich On Obama: "Stop Him Before He Gets More Experience"

The Times' OpEdist extraordinaire, Frank Rich, weighs in on Barack Obama and all the politicos who seem so damned afraid of this Washington newcomer whom Americans like in a big way.

Read it all here but start with this chunky nugget:

As the official Barack Obama rollout reaches its planned climax on “60 Minutes” tonight, we’ll learn if he has the star power to upstage Anna Nicole Smith. But at least one rap against him can promptly be laid to rest: his lack of experience. If time in the United States Senate is what counts for presidential seasoning, maybe his two years’ worth is already too much. Better he get out now, before there’s another embarrassing nonvote on a nonbinding measure about what will soon be a four-year-old war.

History is going to look back and laugh at last week’s farce, with the Virginia Republican John Warner voting to kill a debate on his own anti-surge resolution and the West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd seizing the occasion for an hourlong soliloquy on coal mining. As the Senate pleasured itself with parliamentary one-upmanship, the rate of American casualties in Iraq reached a new high.

The day after the resolution debacle, I spoke with Senator Obama about the war and about his candidacy. Since we talked by phone, I can’t swear he was clean, but he was definitely articulate. He doesn’t yet sound as completely scripted as his opponents — though some talking-point-itis is creeping in — and he isn’t remotely defensive as he shrugs off the race contretemps du jour prompted by his White House run. Not that he’s all sweetness and light. “If the criterion is how long you’ve been in Washington, then we should just go ahead and assign Joe Biden or Chris Dodd the nomination,” he said. “What people are looking for is judgment.”

What Mr. Obama did not have to say is that he had the judgment about Iraq that his rivals lacked. As an Illinois state senator with no access to intelligence reports, he recognized in October 2002 that administration claims of Saddam’s “imminent and direct threat to the United States” were hype and foresaw that an American occupation of Iraq would be of “undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” Nor can he be pilloried as soft on terrorism by the Cheney-Lieberman axis of neo-McCarthyism. “I don’t oppose all wars,” he said in the same Chicago speech. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war.”

Now that Mr. Obama has passed through Men’s Vogue, among other stations of a best-selling author’s cross of hype, he wants to move past the dumb phase of Obamamania. He has begun to realize “how difficult it is to break through the interest in me on the beach or that my wife’s made me stop sneaking cigarettes.” He doesn’t expect to be elected the leader of the free world because he “can tell a good joke on Jay Leno.” It is “an open question and a legitimate question,” he says, whether he can channel his early boomlet into an electoral victory.

No one can answer that question at this absurdly early stage of an absurdly long presidential race. But Mr. Obama is well aware of the serious criticisms he engenders, including the charge that he is conciliatory to a fault. He argues that he is “not interested in just splitting the difference” when he habitually seeks a consensus on tough issues. “There are some times where we need to be less bipartisan,” he says. “I’m not interested in cheap bipartisanship. We should have been less bipartisan in asking tough questions about entering into this Iraq war.”

Find the rest at Rozius.

The Libby No-Apology Apologists: Lying, Endangering Government Operatives, Obstructing Justice No Crime

In many ways, the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, once Vice President Dick Cheney's right-hand man on the right whom some say has become even wealthier since he was indicted by the feds and put on trial (strange how that works again and again for the Bush crew), has really offered few surprises.

Just as we expected, Libby and his supporters insist he committed no crime, since - to this group - lying, obstructing justice, and outing by leaking the name of a covert CIA operative (Valerie Plame, wife of the former Ambassador Joe Wilson the Bushies wanted to punish for refuting their Iraq blabber) involved in finding illegal weapons of mass destruction, is just all in a day's work for those who would protect this president.

Today, as the Libby defense began its case against PlameGate, WaPo's Walter Pincus joined others like Robert Novak and Bob Woodward in claiming someone else, like former White House spokesweasel Ari Fleischer provided the name of the Valerie Plame.

What seems to escape almost everyone is that it IS wrong what they did and just as wrong what they keep doing (and did again this weekend in making a manufactured, totally anonymous case against Iran as the responsible party for all things evil in Iraq).

It also seems to escape just about everyone that the people who should be on trial are George Bush and Cheney (and their co-horts), not just for impeachment, but for crimes against the nation defined as treason.

Good Collection of Political Cartoons

Rozius also brings us - and I bring to you belatedly - a fun collection of political cartoons here.

Maureen Dowd: "This One's For You, Joe"

Maureen Dowd's February 7th column covers not-always-so-Gentleman Joe Biden; read it all at Rozius but here's a snip:

It’s not double jeopardy exactly, but still, I’d prefer not to kill the same man twice.

And I wanted to follow William Safire’s advice on writing about gaffes and graft: Only kick people when they’re up, not when they’re down.

So I decided to do something completely radical and not pile on.

Having played a role in derailing Joe Biden’s ’88 presidential bid with stories on his overreliance on the speeches of Neil Kinnock and Bobby Kennedy, I feel compelled, now that the guy has slipped on another presidential banana peel 20 years later, to lend him a hand.

I wanted to give him a chance to wipe the slate clean and articulate his positions — without dredging up any painful memories of the words “clean” and “articulate.”

The senator called me between New York fund-raisers last night. After his rough week, he sounded a bit chastened, not at all in the mood for a columnist’s probing questions. He needn’t have feared.

“So,” I asked him sweetly, “why has everyone been so mean to you?”

“Well,” he demurred, “they haven’t been mean. The truth is, a lot of people in the African-American community were hurt by what I said. I really feel lousy about it. I got involved in politics because of civil rights.” (He said a lot more, but hey, it’s a 750-word column.) I had another penetrating question ready: “Is Delaware big enough to launch a president?” “I think it is,” he replied.

I had a tough follow-up: “Will your first act as president be to get rid of those tollbooths on I-95?” He laughed. “I get asked that a lot by people. I can’t help ’em — they’re on their own.”

That’s the straight talk I like to see. No pandering, like Hillary’s telling Iowans she likes ethanol, and John McCain’s telling Christian conservatives he likes Christian conservatives.

“People don’t seem to appreciate your verbal generosity,” I said. “Are you studying Bogie and Steve McQueen movies to become less wordy, or do you just hope people will come to see it as part of your charm?” “We’re in a political culture where everything is reduced to bumper stickers and sound bites, and it’s a lot more complicated than that,” he said. “I’m fairly candid, and sometimes I’ll cause controversy and sometimes I won’t. It’s who I am. I’m not going to change who I am.”

That’s my man. He stares controversy in the eye and chats with it.

“In one sentence, with no more than two dependent clauses,” I instruct, “tell me why you would make a great president.”

“I really believe the American people get the fact that with the next president, there’s no margin for error. He’s going to inherit a world and a nation where this guy is going to leave him in a real deep hole. The next president has to get us out of Iraq without ruining the Middle East, so Americans should be looking for the person with the most experience.”
The rest is here. I note that MoDo also didn't mention that the same day Biden made that truly unfortunate remark about Barack Obama, President Bush uttered almost exactly the same words and yet took no heat. For what Bush said about Obama, read my post at All Things Democrat.

Yeah, we expect more from a Biden than we do a Bush (hell, I expect 100x from my dog, Ben, what I do from the president), but still...

U.S. "Makes Case" for Evil of Iran...

But does so "anonymously" and in Baghdad. To see links to the LA Times story and what some are saying about the ridiculousness of it, check my post at All Things Democrat.

2.11.2007

Newsweek: "The Hidden War With Iran" As Bush Amasses Troops in Persian Gulf

[Ed. note: Cross-posted at All Things Democrat. Read "U.S. Makes Its Case on Iran as well. Also, note the Live Vote on the Newsweek piece referenced below; at last look, 57% of 17K respondents said U.S. would go to war with Iran over nuclear issues while less than half (28%) answered no; the rest (15%) undecided.]

While so much of the media is spinning around the "great tragedy" of the death of Anna Nicole Smith, it was almost refreshing - not to mention downright scary to the max - to see Newsweek cover "The Hidden War With Iran" (a/k/a "Rumors of War"). Outside the U.S., the press talks far more frequently of what appears to be an almost inevitable - thanks to our beluffed president - outright war with Iran, but this topic sure hasn't been getting much play here.

From Newsweek, which backs up what we've heard before that we've already begun to amass a serious troop/equipment buildup to prepare for what some report as a war to commence in April:

At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi's kidnapping. But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous. A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow. Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. With Americans and Iranians jousting on the chaotic battleground of Iraq, the chances of a small incident's spiraling into a crisis are higher than they've been in years.
Remember, too, what I've reported before: that Israel recently hosted an all-neocon, all Israeli war hawk summit whose main purpose seemed to be to encourage the U.S. to declare war against Iran. On Friday, new Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announced - ironically on the heels of the Pentagon inspector general's report that the Bushies did indeed cook the intelligence for going into Iraq - that the U.S. now has conclusive evidence Iran is responsible for the funding, technology, weapons, and people that have Iraq such a mess (as if the Bush management of the war and Iraq plays no role whatsoever).

Don't only be afraid, folks. Stand up, speak out, make it clear to lawmakers you will not tolerate a new war that will make Iraq look like a day at the kiddy arcades.

Paul Krugman: "Edwards Gets It Right"

Rozius offers all the Krugman column on Dem candidate John Edwards and universal health care here:

What a difference two years makes! At this point in 2005, the only question seemed to be how much of America’s social insurance system — the triumvirate of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the Bush administration would manage to dismantle. Now almost all prominent Democrats and quite a few Republicans pay at least lip service to calls for a major expansion of social insurance, in the form of universal health care.

But fine words, by themselves, mean nothing. Remember “compassionate conservatism?” I won’t trust presidential candidates on health care unless they provide enough specifics to show both that they understand the issues, and that they’re willing to face up to hard choices when necessary.

And former Senator John Edwards has just set a fine example.

At first glance, the Edwards health care plan looks similar to several other proposals out there, including one recently unveiled by Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. But a closer look reveals extra features in the Edwards plan that take it a lot closer to what the country really needs.

Like Mr. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Edwards sets out to cover the uninsured with a combination of regulation and financial aid. Right now, many people are uninsured because, as the Edwards press release puts it, insurance companies “game the system to cover only healthy people.” So the Edwards plan, like Schwarzenegger’s, imposes “community rating” on insurers, basically requiring them to sell insurance to everyone at the same price.

Many other people are uninsured because they simply can’t afford the cost. So the Edwards plan, again like other proposals, offers financial aid to help lower-income families buy insurance. To pay for this aid, he proposes rolling back tax cuts for households with incomes over $200,000 a year.

Finally, some people try to save money by going without coverage, so if they get sick they end up in emergency rooms at public expense. Like other plans, the Edwards plan would “require all American residents to get insurance,” and would require that all employers either provide insurance to their workers or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a government fund used to buy insurance.

But Mr. Edwards goes two steps further.

People who don’t get insurance from their employers wouldn’t have to deal individually with insurance companies: they’d purchase insurance through “Health Markets”: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf. People would, in effect, be buying insurance from the government, with only the business of paying medical bills — not the function of granting insurance in the first place — outsourced to private insurers.

...But America’s crumbling health care system is our most important domestic issue, and I think we have a right to know what those who would be president propose to do about it.
Read the rest here. Indeed, the total health of America depends on the health of Americans. It is our most important domestic issue.

Formatting Fixed

OK, things have stopped being LARGE and RED (except, perhaps, Kim Sun-Il and Dick Cheney).

Being A Bush Just Means Money Falls Into Your Hands, For No Good Reason Whatsoever

Posted at Crooks and Liars, yet another Bush rolls in the dough brought about by this miscreant administration:

Now to be fair, Bucky Bush has not been accused of any wrongdoing. I just find it sadly ironic that a Bush is making so much money from illegal acts by defense contractors.

LA Times:
    President Bush's uncle William H.T. "Bucky" Bush was among directors of a defense contractor who together reaped $6 million from what federal regulators say was an illegal five-year scheme by two company executives to manipulate the timing of stock option grants, court documents show.

    The youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, he is the second Bush family member whose name has surfaced in stock options scandals this month.

    He was an outside, nonexecutive director of Engineered Support Systems Inc. of St. Louis, a supplier of military equipment and electronics that financially benefited from the Iraq war. [..]In a civil suit filed Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the former chief financial officer and former controller of enriching themselves and others with backdating.

    Bush and the other board members were not accused of any wrongdoing.

    Bush made about $450,000 in January 2005 by exercising his company stock options and selling shares, his SEC filing shows. When questioned by a Times reporter about the sale at the time, he said he had not pulled any strings in Washington to win Iraq war contracts.

Barack Obama Makes It Official

Cross-posted at All Things Democrat. And yes, let's try nominating a Democratic presidential candidate who seems more like a Democratic Party type than a GOP type. Pretty please?

Here:

Well, Barack Obama made it official today. I was pleased to see this, but far less happy about a few trains of thought which seemed to predominate in the media today on the heels of his announcement.

For one, so many treat him as a man of color as quite the novelty. Please… this is 2007. Wouldn’t you have to have lived decades in a cave to truly feel like a man of Obama’s stature is a novelty?

Even if you set aside those who treated the past candidacies of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as oddities, I remember some strong women of color from my childhood - Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm among them - suggested for the nation’s highest office. [Sometimes, I wonder how many could have guessed back in 1968 or so that the U.S. would reach this deeply into the next millennium without a woman or person of color - or both rolled into one - making it to the presidency.]

A second bothersome issue for me today, cited again and again, was this notion that somehow Obama is neither black enough OR white enough to make it through the primaries. Huh?

I think I know what people who say this mean, but it’s still pretty jarring.

By that same token, we could apply a similar standard to Hillary Clinton: she’s neither Democratic enough nor Republican enough to survive, meaning that she’s frequently been willing to vote against or marginalize core values of the Democratic Party YET I doubt the vast majority of Republicans would cast their vote for her even when she’s voted more like a moderate/centrist Republican than even the party of her husband.

But when all is said and done, we really need to choose Dem candidates who reflect our goals and values as progressives/liberals/lefties rather than make the decision seemingly made too often in recent years, a decision which boils down to this:
    Republicans can put up whatever far right extremist they want but, because the far right and Karl Rove tell us no intelligent East Coast/Northeast candidate will ever be elected as president, somehow the Democratic Party has to put up someone who sits to the right of GOPers like John Warner and John McCain to be taken seriously.
That’s uh… manure. Granted, manure comes in useful for various agricultural/horticultural pursuits but do we really want to run the country on it? We’ve done so since December 2000 and it’s not gone well.

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Ivory Towerz