Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Michele Bachmann, agian


Well, when you tilt towards the crazy side of the bridge, you are bound to get yourself in trouble. Ya just never know when it will happen. It most often happens, to a politician, when they are trying to act sane to get elected. They can only pull it off for so long, then they have a wee breakdown. Unfortunately that reminds the voters of how really crazy the politician is. (This is the reason elections are not held annually. Voters need time to forget how nuts half of them are.)

I give you the Senator Allen and the "mecaca debacle" as an example. If "mecaca" was an isolated incident, Allen would have had less of a problem. But Allen had already spent a great deal of time defending his college day "issues of intolerance." Mecaca was just a present day example, that reinforced the college stories. It turns out that Senator Allen had not changed since his racist adolescence.

Those of us in Minnesota know Michele Bachmann is crazy. She was caught hiding in the bushes at a GLBT rally at the Capitol a couple of years ago. No, seriously! There are pictures.

Here is a little item, in a little newspaper, in a little town , that is going to keep a little story alive. Michele Bachmann is really bumming out right now.

Well, will you look at that. It just got picked up by a bigger news outlet.

I wonder where it will go next?

An opinion on the media

This person is a bit dramatic, but they have a heck of a point. If you are not paying attention you might doubt the content, but Eli has more things right, than wrong.
Here is the post.

Iranian made IEDs a hoax?

It turns out that the "Iranian made IEDs," the administration says are killing our solders, are not coming from Iran. I bet you dollars to donuts that the administration keeps pushing the Iran connection. Since when has factual information changed their story line?

Here is the link to the story.

There is another possibility. If the Administration has any credibility, it will get to the bottom of who is supplying the components, and go after them in the way they have gone after Iran. Do you think that will happen? I don't but I am willing to see how this plays out in the next few days and weeks.

As I pointed out here, this Iran thing has always been a load of malarkey. The Administration is looking for an excuse to go after Iran. If they don't have one they will make one up.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Olberman


I guess I was not the only one confused by Condi. Of course Olberman does it so much better.


You go boy!

Just a Reminder


Da Chicks still rock!

(My comments have been deleted. I just got "the look" of disdain.)

Condi Rice, huh?

OK, I am not one to criticize someone else for stretching an analogy. I do it every day. But, I have to admit, our Secretary of State lost me on this one:


"…It would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change then, the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."


Please help me with what would be wrong with either case? If Hitler's regime is gone then what would be wrong with changing a resolution, if it brought stability to Europe? I mean, I can hypothesize a bunch of circumstances where it would be a problem, but prima facie I cannot think of why the Hitler analogy works. Can you?

Sailing










>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Photo #1: These are some friends of mine blasting along at about 20mph in an E-Scow
Photo #2: This is what happens to and E-Scow when you don't pay enough attention.
For those of you who do not sail, it works better with the pointy end up.

Derek Bok: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

NFZ (Negotiation Free Zone)

Here is an interesting post from Think Progress. As most of you know, Iran wanted to negotiate with us in 2003. We blew them off because we were "strong." The Bush Administration logic was, we did not need to negotiate while we were strong. Now, the Bush Administration argues that we cannot negotiate with Iran because our position is not advantages, we are weakened because of our "wonderful successes in Iraq" ("Cheney speak" spoken here).

I am reminded of a gambling addict I once knew. I asked him why he did not stop since it was wrecking his life. He explained that "when I am winning I am on a roll, so I keep playing. I don't want to stop when "on a roll." When I am loosing I know that, odds are, my luck will change, I just need to give it time to change, so I keep gambling." I said "so under no circumstance is it time to take your winnings, or losings, and go home." He said "that's correct."

For six years the Bush Administration has inhabited a NFZ. Perhaps they are even addicted to a NFZ. We need to put them in treatment.

Two thirds through this audio clip Trita Parsi makes the seminal point.

Democrats tough on terror

It is notable that the Democrats are forcing Dick Cheney to go to Pakistan to deliver a tough message. You heard me correctly, those "weak on terror Democrats" are actually threatening to cut off aid if Pakistan does not do a better job in the war on terror.

From the New York Times:

"Democrats, who took control of Congress last month, have urged the White
House to put greater pressure on Pakistan because of statements from American
commanders that units based in Pakistan that are linked to the Taliban,
Afghanistan’s ousted rulers, are increasing their attacks into
Afghanistan."

Norm Coleman


It is interesting when a Republican, Norm Coleman-former Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, is accused of flip-flopping. Every Democrat that runs for national office gets accused of flip-flopping. Every Democrat gets accused of polling to find out what they believe in. Norm is getting a bit of a dose of "Rove" medicine as callers ask him about his votes and changes on the issues after the November election. He cannot scramble to the center fast enough. He says that his changes are based on what he has learned. He calls polling "listening to his constituents." By the way, with all that there has been to investigate over the past six years, have you heard of something Norm investigated? Think, think, think. Oh yes, he did investigate Kofi Annon in 2004.

I will remind Norm, when he runs, in '08, that his answers, to being called a flip-flopper etc., are reasonable ones for any political servant. I expect him to tell Rove to jump in the lake when Rove tells Norm to hammer Al Frankin on "flip-flopping, and polling to get the tenor of public opinion.

I wonder how long it will take Norm to stick his finger in the air and switch back to the Democratic party now that the wind is blowing that way.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Movie




We saw "The Lives of Others" last night. It was very good. I can recommend it without reservation. I liked the quiet intensity of the main Stazi character.

Andrew Young Interview





I had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Young while I prepared dinner tonight. He was wonderful. I loved his biblical and political quotes. His kindness and wisdom inspire me.

95% vs 5%

95% of our casualties in Iraq are from Sunni areas. The Sunnis in Iraq are supported by Saudi Arabia. 5% of our casualties are in Shia areas, the Shia are supported by Iran.

Why this saber rattling with Iran? Why not a peep about Saudi Arabia? It seems to me that the best way to get attacked by America today is to do nothing to it. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, all the attackers were from Saudi. We went and attacked Iraq. Go figure.

If you actually attack us we ignore you (Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Pakistan). Beware you Danes, Norwegians and Swedes. Look out Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Beware Madagascar, Kenya, and the Chagos islands. We coming to get you next. If you want to get off our hit list then perhaps you should lob a bomb our way. That is sure to get you on the safe side of the fence.

Do we need to impeach Cheney, and perhaps Bush, to drag our foreign policy from the school yard to the real world?

Interesting observation

I finished shoveling, without having a coronary event. I actually own a snow blower. I share it with my neighbor. It is in his garage. He is not home. Great planning on my part. I shoveled, and shoveled. Tomorrow is going to suck for my back.

Media Matters has an interesting observation about Patrick Fitzgerald. He was appointed by Bush in 2001 and confirmed by Congress unanimously. The Washington Post has implied that he is partisan. How is he partisan? Is it because he is prosecuting a Republican? If he were prosecuting a Democrat, would he be a Republican Partisan?

Perhaps we should compare the prosecution tactics of Patrick Fitzgerald to Kenneth Star. How many partisan leaks have come out of the Grand Jury under Patrick Fitzgerald? What was Star appointed to investigate? What was Fitzgerald appointed to investigate? Can you imagine Fitzgerald morphing his investigation, of the Plame outing, to investigating Jack Abramoff's discussions with Karl Rove? How about how the President sold his stock in an oil company 30 days before it went bankrupt, how about how he sold a minor interest in a baseball team for far more than the other partners that had larger interests? Star morphed his investigation around Clinton's financial dealings, partners, Hillary's financial dealings, etc, etc. He really just fished, on the taxpayer dollar, for four years, and found nothing. He finally got the President on lying under oath in a deposition, that had been financed by conservative Rutherford Institute , as a fishing expedition into Clinton's personal life, designed to embarrass the President. They got the womanizing Clinton in a compromising situation. Then Star stepped in to finish it off.

Now the WaPo has the audacity to imply Fitzgerald is partisan. Give me a break. He does not even register a blip on the Partisan-o-meter.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm sorry to bring this up, just read it later.

How did we get here? Perhaps you should read this on Monday and enjoy the snow for now.

Thank you very much

I do a blog to get stuff off my chest. If I don't put this stuff somewhere, it infuses my business and social life. My friends and clients are probably relieved.

I want to take this time, on a snowy Saturday night, to thank all of you that read my words. I often post in a rush, and have to go back later to edit. I ramble and mix themes. I must thank all of you for your patience.

I began blogging with no expectation that anyone would ever read it. I soon realized how important it was for me to have at least one reader out there. With the wonders of Google Analytics I can tell how many people check in regularly. For my 34 silent, consistent readers, thank you so much. I probably know most of you. I hope to meet the rest of you some day.

For Leo, who comments regularly, I look forward to your kind and insightful words. I appreciate your tips on music. Also Voyager, your pictures are beautiful.

I know we are all busy people. Things come an go in our lives. I appreciate your time while you have it to give.

Stay warm tonight,

Andy

Double Standard

Perhaps the way to solve our political problems is for all of us, on the left and right, to hold our candidates accountable for what they do.

For instance, when a surrogate does something deplorable, we need to have the candidate repudiate the surrogate and cut off their oxygen. The surrogate needs to get the message that they cannot do the dirty work for the campaign with a wink and a nod.

All of our candidates should be held to this standard. I don't want Hillary, Obama, or Edwards doing hatchet jobs, just as I don't want Guliani, McCain, or Romny doing it.

So when Edwards hires bloggers that disparage Catholics, we need to have him make a statement and hold him accountable. When Duncan Hunter does the same, we need to hold him accountable. I am not saying that these people need to resign. I am saying that they need to apologize and send a message that such remarks will work against all politicians in the future. We need not bash a persons of faith if we are voting for a person to represent us in a secular government.

The only time we need to consider a person's faith is when they infuse it into our secular government. Until then, it is their faith. Let it inform them in their spiritual life. Let them run for office in their secular life. Most rational people can understand the difference


"February 24, 2007
Meet Henry Jordan
Posted 11:10 am Printer Friendly Spotlight
Digg thisAdd to del.icio.usEmail this
In 1997, shortly after I finished grad school, I started working at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. My very first project, literally in my first week, dealt with a Republican member of South Carolina’s Board of Education, who wanted to impose Christianity on public school students. When one of his colleagues on the board alluded to concerns about religious minorities in the state, this board member said, on tape, “Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims. And put that in the minutes.”
The guy’s name was Henry Jordan. I got to work trying to force his resignation, but to no avail. I helped drum up some media interest, but the GOP establishment in South Carolina stood by Jordan, the response from local voters was tepid, and he kept his job looking out for the educational needs of children.
This week, my old friend Jordan got
a new political gig.
Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter on Thursday named … former state Rep. Tom Marchant and Dr. Henry Jordan campaign co-chairmen. Jordan made headlines nearly a decade ago for his disparaging comments about Muslims and Buddhists.
An unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor both in 1996 and last year, Jordan said in May that science does not support Darwin’s theory that man evolved from monkeys. He said students should learn “intelligent design” along with evolution. “I mean you’ve got to be stupid to believe in evolution, I mean really,” he told The Associated Press then.
Duncan called Jordan “a great, conservative Republican leader” who agrees with him on strengthening the border, national defense and protecting jobs from going overseas.
Let’s take a moment to consider this in the context of recent presidential-campaign events.
John Edwards’ campaign endured a week of negative headlines because he hired a couple of fairly low-level staffers who’d written some intemperate blog posts about religious fundamentalists. The outrage in certain conservative circles was overwhelming — what kind of candidate would want to associate himself with writers who’d said vaguely rude things about people of faith? What does this say about his judgment? Doesn’t this speak to the left’s inherent animosity towards religion?
In contrast, Duncan Hunter has given a high-level position to a man who once publicly announced his belief that Buddhists and Muslims should be “screwed” and “killed.” As far as I can tell, there’s been no outrage from Bill Donohue, religious groups, the media, or the political establishment.
As my friend Melissa, who has some first-hand experience with this issue,
noted:
Golly, after conservatives went completely apeshit over a low-level staffer’s use of the word “Christofascist,” I can’t wait to hear what they have to say about that!
Ahem.
Indeed. Conservatives seem to believe that it’s deplorable and offensive to say anything that might disparage people of faith, unless it deals with religious groups they don’t care for, in which case everything’s fine.
Put it this way: if Henry Jordan had said “Screw the Baptists and kill the Methodists,” I suspect Duncan Hunter would have some explaining to do. A political reporter might even raise an eyebrow.
Interesting double standard, isn’t it?"

20/20 hindsight. How does Obama stack up?

Pretty damn good.

No one is perfect, but can you imagine if we had had this man as President over the last six years? Also, who says that the debacle in Iraq could not have been predicted?

At the time of this interview with Obama, President Bush did not know that there were such things as Sunnis and Shia. I am totally serious. He did not know there were two main branches of Islam. This gem was recounted by an ambassador that Bush appointed to a European country. I cannot remember the specifics, but I can find them. If you need me to document this assertion, leave me a comment. I can.

Update: Leo pointed out that Bush referenced the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds in a speech in 2002. Having used the two branches of Islam in a speech, it is hard to believe that Bush did not know of them. Leo also pointed out the name of the ambassador who cast the aspersion on Bush. I stand corrected. Unless you believe that Bush used the branches of Islam in a speech and did not care about their relevance. Hummm....

Do you notice a theme

Earlier I posted on a man, in a red tie, quoting a report by a government agency. The report actually said exactly the opposite of what he told us it said. He did sound convincing though.

Now Cheney does the same thing and sounds just as convincing. This time, however, he is not quoting a report that says exactly the opposite of what he says the report says. He is quoting himself.

Here it is from The Carpetbagger:

Cheney debunks himself
Shortly after the first Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney was a little sensitive to charges that he failed to “finish the job” against Iraq. More than a few hawks thought that Cheney and the other Bush administration dropped the ball when it had the opportunity to take out Saddam but chose not to.
In a 1991 speech, Cheney delivered a rather defensive speech on the subject, noting the intense sectarian rivalries that dominate Iraqi society and the likely inability to maintain stability in Baghdad. As for replacing Saddam with a democracy, Cheney asked his audience, “How much credibility is that government going to have if it’s set up by the United States military when it’s there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for the government, and what happens to it once we leave?”
Cheney also said:
“The notion that we ought to now go to Baghdad and somehow take control of the
country strikes me as an extremely serious one in terms of what we’d have to do
once we got there. You’d probably have to put some new government in place. It’s
not clear what kind of government that would be, how long you’d have to stay.
For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the
struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strikes me as a classic definition
of a quagmire.”

The ‘91 Cheney sure was smart, wasn’t he?
To his credit, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl sat down with Cheney in Australia today for a fairly wide-ranging interview, and asked the Vice President about his remarks from 16 years ago.


Cheney’s response was not reassuring.

Karl: Back in 1991, you talked about how military action in Iraq would be the classic definition of a quagmire. Have you been disturbed to see how right you were? Or people certainly said that you were exactly on target in your analysis back in 1991 of what would happen if the U.S. tried to go in —

Cheney: Well, I stand by what I said in ‘91. But look what’s happened since then — we had 9/11. We’ve found ourselves in a situation where what was going on in that part of the globe and the growth and development of the extremists, the al Qaeda types that are prepared to strike the United States demonstrated that we weren’t safe and secure behind our own borders. We weren’t in Iraq when we got hit on 9/11. But we got hit in ‘93 at the World Trade Center, in ‘96 at Khobar Towers, or ‘98 in the East Africa embassy bombings, 2000, the USS Cole. And of course, finally 9/11 right here at home. They continued to hit us because we didn’t respond effectively, because they believed we were weak. They believed if they killed enough Americans, they could change our policy because they did on a number of occasions. That day has passed. That all ended with 9/11.

If someone can explain how and why this makes sense, I’m anxious to hear it. White House critics like to joke about the Bush gang overusing “9/11 changed everything” as a rationalization that justifies anything, but Cheney’s comments today seem to be unusually vapid.
He “stands by” what he said in 1991? Maybe Cheney is confused about what the phrase “stands by” means, but it suggests he still agrees with the remarks he made when he insisted that invading and occupying Iraq would be a “classic definition of a quagmire.” In the next breath, however, there’s 9/11.

It seems, in all sincerity, that Cheney was arguing that the 9/11 attacks justify the quagmire he predicted 16 years ago. Why? Just because.

If Cheney had said he was wrong in 1991, there would at least be something resembling coherence here. He thought Iraq would be a mess if we invaded, but we invaded, and lo and behold, everything is going great.

But that’s not what he said. Cheney argued that he was right before and right now, despite the fact that the two Cheneys appear to contradict each other.

I’m starting to think the Vice President isn’t well. "

I think the new slogan for the White House, and its surrogates, should be: "If you say it with conviction you can say whatever you want. No one will notice."

They used to be right most of the time. Unfortunately some things are getting so bad that they can not get away with it as much.

Reality strikes, whether you live in it or not.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The non-apology

Michele Bachmann has stepped in it again. Her embarrassing election, representing Minnesota, might be worth the entertainment.

On her apology, have you ever noticed that when some people apologize they do so with an implied ", stupid" tacked on the end. Here is the excerpt from the Star Tribune:

But she has issued a statement in which she says she’s “sorry if my words
have been misconstrued.”

She is sorry that people did not understand her, but she is not sorry for what she said. She is not even sorry if what she said was hard to understand or easy to misconstrue. She is saying that she is sorry we are too stupid to understand what she said.

Well let me tell you, Michelle, I know exactly what you said, and, while I may not be the smartest knife in the drawer, I know that I did not misconstrue anything. You are yet another nut that runs on the theme of personal responsibility yet never takes any personal responsibility for your blunders.

I can't wait for the next murderer to say "I am sorry if my killing her was misconstrued, I was really doing deep tissue massage, it is not my fault she died of blunt trauma.


Thanks M.

Rep Keith Ellison

Keith is my Rep. He spoke yesterday at the U of M Law School. I have been listening while doing paperwork. He is interesting to listen to.

One, of many things, he said is that he teemed up with a conservative legislator, from Lake Elmo, to pass drug sentencing reform in the Minnesota Legislature. Keith said he was interested in saving people while the other guy was interested in saving money. They teamed up, submitted the bill and it failed.

Anyway, I was struck. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding that saving people and saving money are on different sides. The common theme is that Democrats are willing to give away money and save people who do not "deserve" saving, and Republicans are only interested in saving money at the expense of saving people. This common theme is very wrong.

Saving people is saving money and saving money requires that we save people. Think about it. If you save a person you do not have to put them in prison at $40,000 per year. Hell, we could send them to Harvard for $40,000 per year! A little money up front saves us a lot of money later on. Let's invest in people at the beginning so they give us a return later on. If they need help because they are addicted to drugs, lets get them off drugs and educate them. It is a lot cheaper than sending them to Harvard for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Leiberman's power: pffft!

If Leiberman switches parties, again, nothing happens. You heard me right, absolutely nothing.

From "Political Insider"

"With Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) publicly stating he'd consider becoming a Republican if Democrats block new funding for the Iraq War, many Democrats worry that control of the Senate hangs in the balance. However, their fears are unfounded. Many think back to 2001 when former Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) began caucusing with Democrats instead of Republicans, taking control of the Senate out of GOP hands. However, the two situations - though outwardly similar - contain one important difference.
If Lieberman were to caucus with the Republicans, they would still not take full control of the Senate, despite Vice President Dick Cheney's ability to break 50-50 ties. This is because of a little-known Senate organizing resolution, passed in January, which gives Democrats control of the Senate and committee chairmanships until the beginning of the 111th Congress.
What's the difference between now and 2001? A small but important distinction. When the 107th Congress was convened on January 3, 2001, Al Gore was still the Vice President and would be for another two-and-a-half weeks. Therefore, because of the Senate's 50-50 tie, Democrats had nominal control of the chamber when the organizing resolution came to a vote. With Dick Cheney soon to come in, however, Democrats allowed Republicans to control the Senate in return for a provision on the organizing resolution that allowed for a reorganization of the chamber if any member should switch parties, which Jeffords did five months later. There was no such clause in the current Senate's organizing resolution."

Flea Brain

Like most Americans, I have the attention span of a flea. When I hear someone say something with conviction, on national television, or even in polite conversation, I tend to take their word for it. This is where I, and the American people, have gone wrong. We are, by nature, a trusting lot. We want to believe that our elected officials, and their surrogates, are telling the truth.

Take this as an example. The guy in the red tie sounds credible. He is on national television. He seems to know what he is talking about. In fact he is echoing things that have been asserted before. These talking points lend credibility to the need to go to war in Iraq.

More important, these talking points reinforce out tendency to trust our current Administration in their efforts to protect American interests in the Middle East. They have been telling us they have been doing their best to do that, thus the need to go into Iraq and potentially the need to go after Iran.

Let’s take a look at what this guy said and find out if it is true.

Here is a guy that read the report that the red tie guy refers to. Here is his analysis.

It turns out that almost nothing that this guy said was true. In fact the report contradicts all his points. You heard me correctly, the report he uses as the basis for his assertions, contradicts his assertions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I am stunned, just stunned.....not!

So it turns out that all the U S Attorneys, that were fired, were investigating, and prosecuting, public corruption cases? And this gem from Robert Novak, no less. I am actually surprised that Gonzales did not fire at least one attorney, not involved in corruption cases. You would think he would make some attempt to cover his tracks.

Again, who are the 33% that like this administration? Where are they living? I was not a big fan of everything Clinton did but, if you tried to be objective, he at least threw a bone to all sides of the political spectrum. His corruption appeared to be limited to his personal life. The current administration seems to be... well, scary.

Newscasters with opinions

I think this is an important discussion for us to have in America. I applaud Scarborough for calling out O'Reilly. I also think the clip, where a news man callsMitt Romny a flip-flopper, is a good example of poor journalism.

I want to get back to the 70s when news organizations covered hard news and keep their opinions to themselves. I think they should, at a minimum, try to be objective. I do not mind news programs carving out time for people to give their opinions but they should do it with a firewall, opinion vs. news. It is important that those reporting the news stay above the fray. Perhaps we need a definition of "news." I imagine a disclosure statement, like I find on my cereal box, stating the contents. Is it news or entertainment. If you are going to use our public airwaves, or regulated utility lines, you need to provide at least some real news. Fox "News" would be charged with false advertising. MSNBC might have the same problem.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

GOP Rep. Who Pushed Pelosi Plane Story Admits He Didn't Know -- Or Care -- If It Was True

This is exactly the kind of politics that the American people want stopped. I realize it may happen on both sides, although I can't remember the last time an entirely false story was fabricated by the Democrats. Can you?

As long as the press lets politicians get away with this, politicians will continue to do it. Putnam will pay no price for this crap. He will actually be rewarded because pushing the story, no matter how false it was, worked. Unfortunately it wasted a lot of time in the media and our government servants have better things to do, like govern.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How do you feel about the press?

Digby's observation would be historically interesting, and perhaps just food for thought, if it were not so serious.
I believe his post points to a the problem with our democracy. Although we do not elect our free press, they are critical to the democratic process. How else do we get the information to make good choices in our elected officials? Be we liberal or conservative we deserve to have good information in the information age. Perhaps press malfeasance was quaint in the 1800s. Today it is horrifying. We have enough fire power to blow up the world. Our politicians make decisions that effect millions of people. Without good information we are at a serious disadvantage. We have a moral imperative to act responsibly and lead for the good of humanity. To those of us that do not pay attention to politics, shame on you. You are the most influential generation to ever exist. How do we maintain world leadership if we cannot elect people who are capable with dealing with the complexities of reality. We can make such a positive difference. Please do not squander this chance.

Ask the press to explore the information we need. Use their great marketing skill to make complex topics interesting. At least they should probe the decisions that are being debated in Congress. They should show the various sides of the issues and point out where the compromises might be. They need to point out who might have what agenda and why. Who is getting money from who. Who was a lobbyist for what industry, or non-governmental agency, or Wall Street firm, or non-profit. The press needs to follow the money in politics. The voters need good information. I do not underestimate the American people. We can do it.

Check out from digby

TopGear from BBC. Starts out funny anyway.

Ever wonder what the world thinks?

First Clip-Brits driving through Alabama trying to be funny.



Second clip- arriving in New Orleans.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Iraq might be worse than what is being reported.

We have heard that the "liberal" media is not reporting all the good news in Iraq. It might be possible that the "conservative" media is not reporting how truly bad it is. I do not know the answer as I think the media is not reporting because they fear for their lives and cannot go out and gather information.

Here is a long video reporting on the "boots on the ground."

It is hard to watch.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Leiberman

Joe Leiberman, I-CT has always been a bit of a creep. My dad, who lived in Connecticut the last thirty five years of his life, did not like him. He did not like him despite being an inner-city Detroit raised Democrat who worked in the auto plants and put himself through college driving a bus and getting help from the GI bill. My dad knew how good government could help good people. When Leiberman was nominated to run for Vice President, my dad still did not like him.

Last Summer I had the chance to see what my dad did not like about Leiberman. He lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut and then decided to run as an independent. Leiberman knew that all the Republicans would vote for him. He also knew that many of the old time, entrenched Democrats would put him over the top.

Leiberman has no shame. He is a creep.

by digby:
"Like the wing nut he's become, the ever more unctuous Joe Lieberman threatens a "constitutional crisis" if his colleagues don't do what he wants. "

As far as I am concerned let the Republicans have him. He will be relevant for two years and then will be absolutely, utterly irrelevant for the rest of his pathetic failure of a career. Democrats will experience short term pain for long term gain. Let's see how Leiberman does running in Connecticut as a Republican. Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out Joe. See ya.

Follow-up to "What Planet?" post

Glen Greenwald has echoed my sentiment, or perhaps I echo his. Anyway, here is a quote and a link:


"As Matt Yglesias pointed out several months ago, most Americans are too busy or distracted to pay close attention to political matters, and therefore rely upon trusted pundits to alert them if things are going terribly awry or if our political leaders have become genuinely radical and threatening. Broder (like most Beltway pundits) failed profoundly in that responsibility, and plainly did the opposite: helped to build up George Bush's image as the Strong and Powerful Leader whose flaws were merely standard and outweighed by his powerful leadership. "

Glen's full post here.

Olberman brings Iran into focus

Here is a good clip from Countdown that explains the absurdity of the current run up to attacking Iran.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Frankly speaking

Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA. I have no idea why more of America does not listen to this man. I would move to Massachusetts, so I could vote for him, if I thought he would be challenged in an election. He is a national treasure.

Listen to this.

Yeah, I know, Barney Frank for President.

Democracy

Democracy is a term that the President throws around a great deal. I looked it up.

Democracy (literally "rule by the people", from the Greek
demos, "people," and kratos, "rule"[1]) is a form of
government
. Today, the term democracy is often used to refer to liberal democracy,[2] but there is no necessity that democracies be liberal (i.e. respectful of individual liberty and property) and in some cases may be illiberal democracies.

I looked up the term Republican and Republicanism.

"Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation
as a republic, with an emphasis on liberty, rule
by the people, and the civic virtue practiced by citizens. Republicanism always stands in opposition to aristocracy, oligarchy and dictatorship. More broadly, it refers to a political system that protects liberty, especially by
incorporating a rule of law that cannot be arbitrarily ignored by the government. Much of the literature deals with the
issue of what sort of values and behavior by the citizens is necessary if the republic is to survive and flourish; the emphasis has been on widespread citizen participation, civic virtue, and opposition to corruption."

How many Republicans in the last congress read this? I would wager, very few.

I love this part:
"Advocates of republicanism argue that it demands a citizenry that puts a
premium on civil virtue and opposes corruption. Most authors argue that
republicanism is incompatible with office holders using public power for
personal gain. [2] Many dictatorships have called themselves "republics," but none ever protected liberty or the rights of their citizens."

We may want to listen to these guys.

Vets speaking on Iraq

Tim Rayan, D-OH

We need this man in congress. Let's make sure he is re-elected again in 2008.

180 degrees

Have you ever noticed that the administration tends to do the exact opposite of what it says. They talk about listening to the "boots on the ground." Yet when it comes to almost all of their policy decisions they never ever listen to the boots on the ground. They go with ideology or who-knows-what. Facts are noticeably absent in their decision making process.

In 2001 they made a decision that they were not going to talk to North Korea or Iran. They will have no negotiations until these two nations begin to bow to the leader of the free world. Now they are trying to back pedal. You have probably noticed that Iran has owned us in Iraq. They have gone from being willing to play ball, after Afghanistan, to a position of power, after Iraq. The administration says that they never wanted to negotiate with us so there was never a negotiation opportunity to loose. Turns out this is another fabrication (lie).

Here is an example of this.

Why would Rove have anything to do with Iran in 2003? He was the WH political advisor. Rice, the NSA chief at the time, does not recall the Iranian overture at all! Perhaps that is because Rove had it!? Who, for cripes sake, is running this cluster f*^%k of a White House?

What planet? No, what galexy?

This goofball must be living in an alternative reality from mine. I guess time will tell.

Perhaps I am stuck out here in on planet liberal-who-knows-not-a-thing. Then again, no one pays me a dime to offer my opinion on politics. Perhaps the Washington Post should evaluate how much they pay this über-boob. It occurs to me that "too much" might be an understatement of gargantuan proportions.

Humm...

So let me see if I can paraphrase this Representative. We undermine our democracy by exercising our democracy.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK), are you saying that we should not talk about the war, unless we support it in it's entirety? If you really believe this, then perhaps you would be more comfortable with a government where people are not allowed to contradict state policy. I find it unfortunate that Arkansas elected you to represent them in our democratic form of government. If you are so uncomfortable with democracy, perhaps you should have run for something like general, or dictator, or supreme commander. Until then perhaps you should keep your dictatorial thoughts to yourself.

I suspect that Don Young is yet another example of this absurd conservative thought process: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."[25]

I pine for the day that one of these conservative blowhards thinks about"effective government" and realizes that, in America, we are all created equal. Government must work for all of us. If you want it to work for just you, then move to an isolated little island and appoint yourself Poo-Bah.

Humor, kind of.

How do these guys keep a straight face when they do this stuff (and I don't mean Jon Stewart and Co.)

First steps to becoming America

First steps to becoming America. Murtha has begun in a logical place. Begin to expect the same thing of our Government that we exect of our poor on welfare.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

33%-who are they?

Ring around the rosie. Pocket full of posy. Ashes, ashes, all fall down. The meaning of this may be oblique. It just seems to me that for those Americans paying attention lately, the Bush Presidency is in such a downward spiral. I have had people say to me, when do we take to the streets to get rid of this guy? I remind them that people have taken to the streets and nothing happened. What should we do?

I think it is very important for all of us to hold Congress' feet to the fire. In order for things to improve I feel our representatives in Washington need to methodically go about legislating for the future, while at the same time investigating what went wrong. I feel the same thing needs to be done in the press. I hold the Press as culpable as our Government. If they had done their job of reporting and asking questions we would not be as far into this mess.

When a country is attacked the world gets to see what it is really made of. All countries look good when things are going well. The world has now seen America under pressure and we have been awful. They will never again give us carte blanche as the beacon of justice and democracy. Unfortunately the damage to our reputation will continue, as the full magnitude of our insanity plays out over the coming years.

We must get back to our transparent democracy. We need to get back to working hard at making the world a better place. We need to get back to a free flow of ideas based on science and good information. The good news is that we have survived so far. Without big changes we will go the way of all former world powers. We will relegate ourselves to insignificance through our own belligerent arrogance and insecurity.

George Bush and the last Congress have taken something very precious to me. I can no longer say I am proud to be an American. They must pay a price for that. We need to work hard to earn our identify back. It will be a long, humbling, embarrassing slog. Let's begin to take our medicine, make our heart felt apologies, and pay our enormous moral and financial debts. We must begin now. I hope it is not too late.

Doug Feith

Perhaps you don't know this name. Douglas Feith is the man tasked by the Department of Defense (DOD) to run a parallel intelligence operation that Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration could control.

In 2002 the Bush administration found out that they could not adequately control the message from career CIA analysts. CIA analysts tend to be professional. They actually look at the evidence they are presented with. Their opinion on Iraq was that Hussein was contained, had no connection to Bin Laden. and was not a threat to the US.

This message was a problem for an administration that wanted to invade Iraq. So here is the need for a new intelligence operation at the DOD. As I mentioned above, they put Doug Feith in charge of this DOD operation.

Now former CIA employees are beginning to speak up.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rice misled U.S. Congress on Iran

No s%*t. I posted on her lie last week. Now Reuters has picked up on the painfully obvious. Another Bush administration official has lied to us. Lying is such a regular occurrence, for this administration, that it would be easier for us to highlight instances where they actually tell the truth. It would be easier because we would have nothing to report most of the time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy V Day

SNL Skit

Public Perception

In a world where information is so easy to propagate, how could the public be so misinformed?

See this article in at Foreign Policy. I found page six to be particularly interesting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Iran set up.

There is currently a lot of rumbling about Iran. The US Government seems intent on making a case for war. Why would they make their case anonymously? The press is allowing this to go on. Why is the press again in collusion with the US Government? It is one thing if someone is leaking a story. Yet, this is a public affairs officer for the military. Why would he be allowed to give anonymous briefings?

In the last five years we have US government agencies putting out political propaganda that we, as taxpayers, pay for. We have our government providing news stories, that they produce, to major media outlets. The media outlets pass these government produced stories off as their unbiased reporting. We have had the military form an information division to "get their message out." I find this amazing. The regular press seems so willing to uncritically put out anything the military wants. Why would the military have to create its own press.

Some right wing hot-head will read this and say "how could you think the press is supporting the military? All they report is the mess in Iraq." I say in response: how do you know that what the press reports is accurate. How do you know that Iraq is not even worse than what is being reported? The press can't even leave the green zone. It is just as possible that they are not getting the true story on how bad Iraq is. Since neither of us knows the reality on the ground, perhaps we should stick with what we do know.

The press is letting a military public affairs officer give them information about Iran anonymously. Wow.

Dixie Chicks Win Big

Congratulations Dixie Chicks. You guys deserve it.

Last year I bought two of their Cd's, went to their concert, and saw their movie. I even wear a "Chicks" dog tag. Their music is fantastic and they are a wonderful testament to sticking to your guns in the face of adversity.

Rock on Chicks!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama announces

Game on.

Barack has announced his run for President, to no one's surprise.

Get ready for the smear machine to gear up against him.

Here is what I think they will do.

Stage One: Throw spaghetti at the wall.

Stage Two: Pound the crap out of whatever gets traction in the press. They are attempting to weaken the foundation among voters that pay no attention. Some voters hear something and make an early decision as to where they will get their information. If they keep lobbing in mortars they soften up the defense, and see if a weakness develops. They also might get voters to believe some of their information. If this is done long enough they can define our candidate through shear repetition.

Stage Three: Divert voter attention from real issues by initiating absurd attacks from marginal sources. They can waste a great deal of Obama's time and energy as he has to fend off attacks. This only works if the press goes along with the unsubstantiated attacks. That is, it works and works well.

Stage Four: Accuse Obama of whatever they think their candidate's weakness is, first. For example, if their candidate tends to be a racist, they accuse Barack of racism, thus blunting any attack by Barack as a tit for tat reprisal.

Stage Five: Have their candidate skate above the fray, in calm denial of all the dirty work being done by their campaign. Their candidate pounds out the same generic message day after day. They will make sure that message is full of platitudes that no reasonable person would disagree with. For example, their candidate will say something like "I believe the world should be free and happy," or "America can only be great if people are responsible."

This accomplishes two things. First, by staking out "happiness" as their issue, they imply that Barack is against "happiness." Second, the voters, that are not paying attention, hear a platitude like "happiness" and think "hay, I like this guy because I like happiness too. I should vote for him."

Of course, running a campaign on something, every human being on the planet agrees with, like "happiness," is absurd, but it works. At least it did in the last two Presidential campaigns.



No surprise here.

Anyone paying attention knew this three years ago. The question was only whether the truth would ever come out. I am happy to report that some of the truth has come out. Unfortunately most major news outlets are not reporting it.

Reality Poll

It would be interesting for somone to do a poll, comparing people who watch Fox News with those who listen to National Public Radio, on these questions:

  1. Who sent Clark to Niger? Cheney or Plame.
  2. Was V. Plame under cover at CIA? Yes or no.
  3. What did Plame work on at CIA? Nothing or nuclear non-proliferation in Iran.
  4. Who attacked the World Trade Center? Hussein in Iraq or Afghanistan based Al Qaeda.
  5. Does the media have a liberal bias? Yes or no.
  6. Does the media have a conservative bias? Yes or no.
  7. What percentage of scientists believe that smoking causes cancer? 95% or less than 95%.
  8. What percent of scientists believe that people are causing global warming? 95% or less than 95%.

It would be interesting to see who has more factual information.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Media

You may wonder why I keep pounding on the problems with big media. Glenn Greenwald hits it right on the head.

This is why our political process has been so broken and corrupt. The worst
elements of what has become the pro-Bush right wing have been shaping and
driving how national journalists view events, the stories they cover, and the
narratives they disseminate.

What kind of government and political system -- what
kind of country -- is going to arise from a political landscape shaped by the
likes of Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Fox News, Michelle Malkin,
and their similar right-wing appendages in talk radio, print and the
blogosphere? Allowing those elements to dominate our political debates and drive
media coverage guarantees a decrepit, rotted, and deeply corrupt country. That
is just a basic matter of cause and effect.

Anger in religion

I always thought that the Christianity I see on TV is quite different from what my Grandfather, a Baptist minister, taught me as a child. Chris Hedges has written a book that I have not yet read. I did listen to this little snippet and am interested to read it now. I wonder, has anyone read it yet? The book is called "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America."

The title makes me think Chris may be prone to hyperbole. Then again, so am I.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

How to stop an investigation dead.

Replace the prosecutor with a friend of the accused. Now why didn't Nixon, Reagan or Clinton think of that? From Firedoglake:

Instead of nominating local, qualified attorneys whose philosophy jibes with the
administration (as was the traditional practice), the nomination of U.S.
Attorneys has been subsumed into the Republican Party's political machine.
Apparently the title of U.S. Attorney is just too attractive a resumé-fattener
to dole out helter-skelter. And while you're fattening the resumés of possible
future stars of the party, it can't hurt to knock out a prosecutor who was
doing considerable damage to the party.

The administration has tried to say that the US Attorneys were let go for "performance issues." It turns out that was a lie. I am sure you were all surprised by this.

Paul Wellstone

Paul Wellstone drove me nuts. I, voted for him twice, and would have a third time, if I could have. I agreed with him on many things. I also felt that many of his positions were not practical. I remember telling people that the Senate needed about five Paul Wellstones, but any more would be a problem. I still believe that. Paul was a great man. He was absolutely incorruptible. You could trust him completely, even if you were his political opposite. I believed that he was a moral compass in the Senate. I think that other Senators felt the same way.

I went to Paul's funeral and, although the second to last speech was inappropriate, it was nothing that the press made it out to be. It still pains me that we do not have Walter Mondale as our Senator. I cannot believe that Minnesotans gave up that incredible opportunity. I think they regret it now. They should.

When I was in college, Paul was a professor at my school. One of my roommates was a political science major and had a lot of his classes. He said that Paul was a relatively easy grader.

We always knew that Paul could put principal over pragmatism. In my junior year Paul was instrumental in getting the contract kitchen staff to go on strike. Our college did not allow cars so the college food service, SAGA, was our only access to meals. It was Winter, and the closest grocery store was a couple of miles away. They were not prepared for 2000 students and many of us had no way to cook food from a grocery store anyway. Thank goodness the managerial staff of SAGA stepped in to fill the gap. No matter what, Paul always looked out for the little guy. He did it 'till the day he died.

Like I said, at the time, I did not agree with him at least half the time. I think he had something to teach us all. As I get older, I find myself agreeing with him more. I miss him. Politics could use Paul again.

The plane, boss, the plane

You have to listen to the end but it is worth it. Start here.

ROTFL

I give the White House credit for putting this story where it belongs. My goodness, don't we have important things to talk about. If you clicked the link you will know that the good Representative from Massachusetts has kept it in perspective for us. If you have not had a chance to listen to Rep. Barney Frank, you need to. Whether you agree with him or not, he is a National Treasure. I am beginning to think Chuck Hagel is too, yet I don't agree with him on just about anything.

Arianna gets it right.

Two trials going on here. No wonder big media is not covering the Libby Trial. Big media is on trial also! Why would they bring attention to what an incredibly poor job they are doing?

Arianna points out that big media's credibility is at stake. I wonder if they will do any soul searching? I doubt it. For years the media pendulum has swung toward pure entertainment and profit. It has swung away from actually reporting the news. Conflict sells. Pandering to a political base sells. Human interest fluff pieces sell.

News is boring, expensive, and, most of all, risky. When big media reports actual news, they piss off 30%-50% of the country. Remember, wing-nut radio is painfully divoid of facts and full of spin. If big media reports facts, they get branded as "liberal" because the facts often contadict the BS that wing-nut radio, and cable, have sold middle America. Why piss off a snake, with the truth, when you can report spin, and make money?

Yet news is what our democracy needs so that we are an informed electorate. The people own the airwaves. How do we insure that we get actual news? Do we finance the news so that it is relatively unbiased? That is called Public Radio. You will note that Bush is trying to cut that.

In short, fact based news is critical to our democracy, but not very spin-able, for those attempting to lock up power. No wonder a trial, as fact based and embarrassing as Libby's, gets little coverage. It points out how poorly big media has served our democracy.

Pelosi's plane vs Libby's trial

How does something this stupid get any air whatsoever? Pelosi's plane is a "top story" at MSNBC. Take a wild guess where the Libby Trial shows up on their front page? You guessed it, the Libby Trial is not on the front page at all.

You might try to argue that the Libby Trial is not news. I beg to differ.

When the Vice President of the United States personally sends an ambassador to check out weapons of mass destruction; and when the ambassador reports that there is nothing to the story; and when the VP then has the President ignore this information in the State of the Union Speech; and the Secretary of State ignores the ambassador's information in his presentation to the UN; and when the ambassador brings this manipulation of information to the attention of the press; and the VP then authorizes the executive branch to out a CIA agent. Since outing a CIA agent is a crime, that is news, yet you connot even find it on MSNBC, or CBS News, etc, etc...

Bar Fight example #1

Digby says it well.

We have just lived through a dozen years of these miserable crooks stealing the
country blind. Many of them, including Burton, are under ethical clouds and
others are literally in jail for ripping off the taxpayers. The country is in
such breathtaking debt that it will take a generation to fix it, if we can. They
rubber-stamped the most unpopular, failed presidency since Hoover for six long
years until the American people finally got sick of it. And here they are
unctuously whining for hours about how they are just trying to "save the
taxpayers money" by having a hissy fit over Nancy Pelosi's travel

Hypocracy

Hypocrisy in the main streem media.

More info here.

Memory is a funny thing

Secretary of State Rice does not remember any overtures from Iran. Pardon my sarcasm, but, two things come to mind. First, how could she remember such a minor thing as an overture from Iran? After all Iran is just a country that her boss included in the "Axis Of Evil." Why would an overture from a member of the "Axis" memorable?

Second, Condi has a notoriously fickle memory. She also did not remember a briefing on terrorists planning major operations in the Summer of 2001, even though she requested that this briefing also be given to the FBI for further investigation. I am surprised she does not do the typical "high profile person" blame technique and say she needs to go to rehab.

All this from the crowd that prides itself on "personal responsibility." Have you ever wondered when they will take any responsibility for anything? I am pained to think of even one thing they have been responsible for that is negative. I can think of many things that they think they are responsible for. The robust economy, no recent terrorist attacks, falling crime rates, better school test scores, etc. There are many reasons why non of these improvements are a result of their policies. I will save that for another discussion.

Here are some things our current administration is not responsible for, followed by the reasons they are not responsible:
  1. Global Warming--does not exist.
  2. The War in Iraq--First, no one could have predicted the problems and second, it is General Casey's fault anyway. Remember we know nothing. We just listen to the forces on the ground.
  3. 9/11--we were never briefed on anything so unbelievable. Also, Saddam did it, despite 18 of the 19 participants being from Saudi Arabia.
  4. Mark Foley--No one was aware of what was going on. It was the pages that enticed Mark anyway.
  5. Unconstitutional wire tapping--It is not unconstitutional, and if it was, Congress gave us the right to do it, so talk to them.
  6. Outing a CIA agent in an attempt to protect their asses--Who us? We heard it from the press.
  7. Leaking classified material while prosecuting those that leaked classified material. We, by definition cannot "leak classified material." Once we leak it, it is by definition, no longer "classified" material. It is only still classified when someone else leaks it.
  8. Katrina--Brownie's fault.
  9. I could keep going, and going, and going........

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Bar Fight

Matt Stoller has offered some very articulate analysis. I believe this is an important discussion for political progressives to have. Progressives need to establish some ground rules. What is the progressive political movement willing to accept from people running for office. Are we going to be reactive or proactive when it comes to policy?

For a long time progressives have suffered as wimps, in their attempt to be adults. While we argued in good faith, tried to listen to both sides on complex issues, and find common ground, conservatives have been hitting us with a pool cue, hard and often.

For the past twelve years conservatives have framed the issues, managed the debate, hit below the belt, and played with an "end justifies the means" attitude about the rules of the game. It is only conservative overreaching that has allowed progressives to grab a gulp of air.

Conservatives can talk compromise all they want but, make no mistake, they believe they are in a win/lose war. You may think that our democracy is the art of compromise. Unfortunately, democracy, in these past twelve years has changed. The officials have been pulled from the football field. Now the teams are out there with a few useless rules and a winner take all, fight to the death, attitude. This is not the democracy I remember. Perhaps it has always been this way. I think that Matt may be right about how we move forward,


"Just as Reagan said he'd unify the country by pushing the liberals out of
the way, we need someone who will unify the country by pushing irresponsible
right-wing power centers out of the way. They crushed our unions, we need
to crush their talk radio, you know, that kind of thinking.

My assumptions here come from a basic love of country. I believe that there are very bad people that have destroyed our capacity to govern, and that we need not just a new President but a new set of leaders willing to neuter these bad people and
make real decisions about where we go as a country."

Good update on Libby Trial

You can just click and listen while you do the dishes, or tune your guitar, or whatever.

I was interested in what Jane said at the end of this video. Did I hear her correctly? Did she say that Fox News did not have anyone covering the Libby trial? The sarcastic part of me is not surprised. The rational part of me is incredulous. How could they not be covering this? What could there definition of "news" be if the Libby trial does not justify coverage?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

On a similar note, the CEO of News Corp, the owner of Faux News, admitted this:


Asked if his News Corp. managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq,
Murdoch said: "No, I don't think so. We tried." Asked by Rose for further
comment, he said: "We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle
East...but we have been very critical of his execution." The News Corp. CEO also
once again signaled that he sees much more change ahead thanks to digital media.
"We're in the very early stages of it," he said.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ted Haggard Cured!

I must not have been paying attention. What did he have, cancer, pneumonia, TB? I did not even know he was sick. I knew he has a bit of problem with his wife. Then again, so did our last President. Did Clinton have a disease also? Since when is having an extramarital affair a disease? If you ask my wife, it is terminal, but not a disease, if you know what I mean.

Iraq- here is the guy who was in charge.

No wonder it is such a mess. Where was the Congress during this mess? We know the President was out to lunch. Where, for goodness sake was Congress?

Why political appointments are a problem

When you replace career government employees with political appointments you begin to create problems. Our current administration has pushed their political appointments further down the organizational chart than any in history. Nepotism also is a problem. I sometimes think the current government is just one big high school clique.

Here is more on the story from Think Progress

Smells a lot like Corruption to me!

From Think Progress

"Waxman: Top Iraq Reconstruction Official Flown To Baghdad To Avoid Oversight Hearing
For the first time since the war began, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is holding aggressive oversight hearings into the billions in waste, fraud, and abuse of U.S. funds in Iraq.
On Jan. 10, when President Bush first made his plans for escalation public, he also announced plans to “appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.” The next day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named career diplomat Timothy Carney to the position.
During this morning’s hearings, Waxman revealed that the State Department has blocked Carney from appearing at the hearing, despite the fact that Carney personally told Waxman he “was willing to come.” Moreover, the Bush administration has apparently rushed him to Baghdad despite claiming that the reason he could not appear at the hearing was because he “did not yet know what he was going to do in Iraq.”
WAXMAN: So I invited Ambassador Carney to testify today. When my staff talked to Ambassador Carney directly, he was cooperative and said he was willing to come. This the State Department refused.
Their first excuse was that he had not yet filled out his paperwork. Even though Secretary Rice publicly announced his critical new position, he apparently could not talk to Congress because he had not been officially hired.
Next, the State Department said Ambassador Carney could not come because he did not yet know what he was going to do in Iraq. This seemed odd, especially since the secretary had already announced that he was her new point person on Iraq reconstruction.
Then, just last week, we were informed that the department suddenly decided that Ambassador Carney was needed in Baghdad right away. So even though he was not officially hired and, according to the State Department, had no idea what he was going to do in Iraq, he was put on a plane to Baghdad this past Friday.
Waxman added that the State Department has 'now told us that they may make him available to Congress in six months.'"

Backsliding Democrats?

There has always been a tendency in Washington to backslide. It is the nature of the political beast. Politics is based on compromise. Power and money are tightly connected and the individual voter has very little of the latter so gets very little of the former. If you want to be heard, as an individual voter, you need to speak up, a lot. Everyone should have the phone number of his/her representatives in Washington, and if something gets your attention you should also write a letter. Yes, you heard right, an actual snail mail letter.

If you have an opinion on the war in Iraq, you should let Washington know what you think. Here is Russ Finegold on the issue.

Friday, February 2, 2007

This is getting absurd

Now we need another $245 billion for the Iraq war? Or was it $275 billion. Who can remember? What is another $30 billion anyway? Chump change.

I don't know about your town, but I live in Minneapolis. We have a main library that closes at 5:00PM. There is not enough money to staff it in the evenings.

My kids go to a school without an art program or foreign language. I guess there is not enough money. They are closing small neighborhood schools because, although they are much more effective at teaching children, they are not as efficient. It turns out, it is much more efficient to put kids in a big warehouse school, and teach them poorly, than put them in a small school and teach them well.

Half the kids at our school have no health insurance. They cannot afford the $800/ month that our family is lucky enough to be able to pay.

Now I hear that I will most likely not have any Social Security when I retire. This is troubling, as I am self employed, and I pay 14% of my income in Social Security tax. It would be a shame if I had no SS benefit in twenty years.

So the President says he needs another $240 billion or so for Iraq. What the heck, consider it yours. I can't imagine what we would do with that kind of money anyway.

Minneapolis Local News

I received this note from a friend of mine. He is very perceptive when comes to how the press treats the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. After listening to David, I have also become sensitized to the poor treatment our cities often get. There seems to be an assumption, in the press, that Minneapolis = dangerous and suburbs = safe. Whenever something negative happens in Minneapolis the press links the happening to Minneapolis = danger.

Here is David's note to me making this more explicit.

"Southdale's Woes

Maybe Southdale, in the suburb of Edina, Minnesota, should take a lesson from the Minneapolis, Block E, downtown mall. Over the last year in the 30 block downtown area, including Block E, serious crime has dropped by 19% [Star Tribune 1/19/07]

Over the past few months suburban Southdale has been plagued with a gang related stabbing 5/13 /06, a shoplifting ring 11/13/06 and now a clothing store used as a front for selling drugs. The time has come to acknowledge that this kind of behavior is not limited to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Can you imagine the media hoopla had these events occurred at Bock E? It would have been front page news. Instead of the front page treatment, Soutdale's troubles were buried in the Metro Section. I think we need to ask ourselves why the difference in coverage?

Clearly poor behavior at shopping malls is a regional problem. It makes sense for all municipalities in the twin cities area to share strategies, information and resources to combat these unfortunate behaviors. For a start Edina and Southdale might benefit from the techniques Minneapolis has used to make Block E a safe place to shop, eat and go to the theater."

Exxon

Exxon Mobil made a profit this year of $39.5 billion. That is about 108 million in profit every day. A spokesperson for Exxon reminded us that they have to spend approximately $20 billion per year in exploration and development every year, be it good times or bad.

The impression this gives the average American is that profit was not really $39.5 billion because they have to spend $20 billion on exploration and development. Indeed that was my first reaction when I heard the statement.

In reality, this means that Exxon's profit would have been $59.5 billion had they not spent $20 billion on exploration and development. I am suddenly less sympathetic.

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In other Exxon news, it turns out that the American Enterprise Institute, funded in part by Exxon, is paying up to $10,000 for anyone who can poke holes in the United Nations global warming report.

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Update: It turns out that Exxon bought back $25 billion of it's own stock this year. If they had not done that, their profit stands at $64.5 billion.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Senator Norm Colman, R-MN

I heard an interview on MPR during my drive home tonight. Our Senator, Norm Colman, said he was not really thinking about Al Frankin's entering the Senate race for his seat. Senator Colman said that the message the voters gave in the last election was that Republicans and Democrats need to work in a more bipartisan manner. He said he was working very hard to reach across the isle to the "Democrat Party."

Senator Colman,

Imagine that I were to call you Normie. You would probably correct me and say "my name is not Normie, it is Norm." Imagine that I persisted in calling you Normie. Would you be offended?

When you call the Democratic Party, "Democrat Party," you offend half of voting America. Is that your intent? You are a smart guy, so I am sure it is absolutely your intent to offend at least half the voters in your state of Minnesota.

So Normie, cut the crap on the "working across the isle" lingo. If you want to work with a Democrat, perhaps you should figure out what the name of his or her party is. Until then, go back to being a lap dog.

Minimum Wage Passes 94-3

"Just moments ago, by a resounding vote of 94-3, the United States Senate passed legislation raising the Federal Minimum Wage for the first time in a decade. The legislation increases the minimum wage over two years from the current $5.25 per hour to $7.25, after years of pushing by Kennedy and Senate Democrats and, most recently, eight days of fighting with Republicans, who proposed over 100 business-friendly amendments to stall the vote."

I have to ask this question, if a bill passes 94-3, why did it take this long to bring it to a vote? It is not as if increasing the minimum wage is a new concept. In fact inflation has been only 2% for much of the past five years. That is, if a minimum wage increase was so necessary that it passed 94-3 this year, then, with inflation almost non-existent over the past five years, it should have passed five years ago. Why was it never brought to a vote? How broken is our system when a vote, this lopsided, is put off for five years. Think of the people who worked for $5.25 an hour over that time.