Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cornered dogs, Part 2

And with rabid dogs, sometimes you have no choice but to put them down (Crooks @ Liars video).

The text of Keith's speech is at his blog here.

More on Keith Olbermann channeling Edward R. Murrow by dmsilev at DailyKos.

Kudos to Keith Olbermann who has truly earned the right to use Murrow's famous sign-off.

My letter to the PTB at MSNBC:

If you believe, as do I, that the press serves no higher purpose than when it speaks truth to power, then Keith Olbermann has fulfilled that duty with his brave and unflinching expose this evening of the intellectual and moral corruption that permeates the current administration.

On rare occasions what I view on the news moves me.

But never have a newsman's words moved me to the extent that Keith's did tonight.


Good night and good luck.

Cornered dogs

With recent polls showing an ever increasing possiblity that the GOP will lose one or both houses of congress this fall, it's not at all surprising that those most endangered by this shift are becoming a little desparate in their attempts to defend their indefensible behavior.

And at the top of the GOP's endangered imcompetent list has to be Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

And though his latest remarks are little more than the usual BushCorp™ "with us or against us" formulation, his rhetoric clearly reflects his increasing desperation:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.

Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies."

-snip-

"I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.

"Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" he asked.

"Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America _ not the enemy _ is the real source of the world's troubles?"

Ah yes, appeasement, fascism. Two hot button words designed to put those who oppose BushCorp™'s disastrous policies on the defensive.

And quibble's about the admin's inaccurate use of the historical term fascist aside (Bushies seem to think it's a synonym meaning "bad people": imagine that, Bushies ignoring history!), the appeasement accusation is as insulting as it is plain old wrong.

Last time I checked no-one was suggesting sending Osama bin Laden a fruit basket in the hopes he would then just go away (though we could perhaps try setting him up on a date with Whitney Houston, hey it's worth a shot). Such an assertion is simply a typical BushCorp™ strawman misrepresentation.

What Bush's opponents really argue is that Bush's continued black and white, "stay the (wrong) course" policies, and especially Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq adventure, have left the US in a weaker position to fight terrorism.

And Rumsfeld knows this.

He also knows that if Democrats win either the house or the senate he (as will many BushCorp™ lackeys) will spending 2007 and 2008 on Capitol Hill in front of congressional committees trying to explain just what the f**k went wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Buffoons

Why spend any time excoriating the press as sensationalist corporate hacks when they do such a good job proving it themselves?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What Bushworld Is Really Like

Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles nails it:

You don't need any other reasons, but, in case you'd forgotten:


  • Iraq
  • Aghanistan
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Katerina
  • Health care
  • Wage gap
  • Neo-cons
  • Cheney
  • Rumsfeld
  • Corruption
  • Incompetence

BushCorp™ and its enablers in congress have ceased to be a disaster waiting to happen.

They've happened.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Self-fulfilling prophesy

Why, oh why would one ever even bother reading neo-con pundits like Charles Krauthammer as they beat their drums for war with Iran?

Seriously, when every prediction the man (and neo-con fellow travelers like William Kristol) has proved not just wrong, but disasterously wrong, why waste your time?

Such folk, you may recall, served as the braintrust (such as it is) behind the BushCorp™ misadventure in Iraq.

Let's take a quick peak at just how well that's going (and this is just from today's paper).

Sadr's Militia and the Slaughter in the Streets
:

BAGHDAD -- In a grungy restaurant with plastic tables in central Baghdad, the young Mahdi Army commander was staring earnestly. His beard was closely cropped around his jaw, his face otherwise cleanshaven. The sleeves of his yellow shirt were rolled down to the wrists despite the intense late-afternoon heat. He spoke matter-of-factly: Sunni Arab fighters suspected of attacking Shiite Muslims had no claim to mercy, no need of a trial.

"These cases do not need to go back to the religious courts," said the commander, who sat elbow to elbow with a fellow fighter in a short-sleeved, striped shirt. Neither displayed weapons. "Our constitution, the Koran, dictates killing for those who kill."

His comments offered a rare acknowledgment of the role of the Mahdi Army in the sectarian bloodletting that has killed more than 10,400 Iraqis in recent months. The Mahdi Army is the militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful figures in the country.

Great, an army of Shi'ite Judge Dredds. (Actually one wonders if, typing away furiously amid stacks of comics in their mother's basements, the cheetoh stained denizens of the 101st pee-stained keyboarders are actually pleased by this thought.)
Disavowed by Mahdi Army, Shadowy 'Butcher' Still Targets Sadr's Foes:
BAGHDAD -- In a dirty war where shadowy death squads claim victims daily and leaders on all sides deny blame, there's one killer to whom Iraqis can attach a name, if not a face.

Abu Diri, or Father of the Shield, is the nom de guerre of a Shiite Muslim man. Sunni Arabs of Baghdad also know him as "the Butcher." Like countless other killers in Iraq's capital today, Abu Diri and his followers dump their victims in the streets bearing bullet wounds and sometimes the smaller holes made by electric drills.

But U.S. military officers, Sunnis and even many Shiites say they believe Abu Diri kidnaps and kills Sunnis and other rivals with a zeal that has made him notorious, even in Baghdad's daily carnage.

How bad do you have to be when even the Shi'ite Judge Dredds are aghast at your violence?

British Leave Iraqi Base; Militia Supporters Jubilant:
BAGHDAD, Aug. 24 -- British troops abandoned a major base in southern Iraq on Thursday and prepared to wage guerrilla warfare along the Iranian border to combat weapons smuggling, a move that anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called the first expulsion of U.S.-led coalition forces from an Iraqi urban center.

"This is the first Iraqi city that has kicked out the occupier!" trumpeted a message from Sadr's office that played on car-mounted speakers in Amarah, capital of the southern province of Maysan. "We have to celebrate this occasion!"

Well, the British may have been Bush's lapdogs, but they ain't stupid.

But back to Krauthammer.

Why should we heed his rants about the inevitability of war with Iran?

Because, judging from their behavior, the chickenhawks of BushCorp™ still do.

The current US policy of "diplomacy" by ultimatum has no more chance of success for all that it seeks UN cover.

Iran, I must point out for any history-impaired readers, is the latest incarnation of one of the world's oldest and greatest civilizations.

And if you don't know that I can guarantee the Iranians do.

And we won't even talk with them?

But talks are only a delaying tactic while the Iranians pursue their own nulear development programs, right?

Maybe.

The problem is, we don't really know:
A key House committee issued a stinging critique of U.S. intelligence on Iran yesterday, charging that the CIA and other agencies lack "the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments" on Tehran's nuclear program, its intentions or even its ties to terrorism.

And incredibly GOPers are using this lack of intelligence as a reason to go to war.

Quick question: Does anybody else recall any recent experience where going to war based on faulty intelligence has proved, um, unfortunate? Quick show of hands please.

Thanks.

And so, yeah, talking with Iran might be delaying inevitable conflict.

But it also might be delaying another disastrous engagement that might also be quite avoidable.

We don't know.

But as we talk one thing is certain. Nobody's dying.

And that's for sure.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

CRIMINAL!

[x-posted at DailyKos]

Yesterday's ruling (text here) that BushCorp™'s warrantless wire tap schemes violate both the FISA statute, as well as the constitution comes as no surprise to anybody passingly familiar with the aforementioned legal documents. But has that been Bush's worst crime?

From the ruling:

"Article II of the United States Constitution provides that any citizen of appropriate birth, age and residency may be elected to the Office of President of the United States and be vested with the executive power of this nation.

"The duties and powers of the Chief Executive are carefully listed, including the duty to be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and the Presidential Oath of Office is set forth in the Constitution and requires him to swear or affirm that he 'will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'

"The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.

"We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."
[Enphasis mine-SK]

And aside from such specious reasoning, even most of BushCorp™'s ardent apologists (including Tony Snow, including Bush himself) can't seem to dispute the ruling in legal terms.

All they really seem capable of is arguing that following the law and the constitution they took an oath to defend make the Glorious War on Terror© more difficult.

But why sould freedom be easy?

History books are filled with pages upon pages of stories of tyrants who took the easy way, tyrants who ignored their own laws when push came to shove facing a violent enemy, tyrants whose road to security was paved with the liberties and corpses of laws and citizens crushed beneath the steel-shod boots of fear. Nothing is more common.

And it is little to be wondered that when faced with a threat George the Unimaginative would seek to take the easy way out, he has done so all his life.

Those of us who truly believe in America's greatness, its uniqueness in history and among the family of nations, must understand from whence that greatness arises: our dedication to the rule of law and the freedom that law protects, even in the face of crisis.

And while a willingness to put aside those laws and freedoms is understandable in time of crisis, to do so violates all that makes this country the beacon it had become. It makes America common.

And that George W. Bush and his enablers are so eager to do just that is perhaps their greatest crime.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

George Allen is a rascist

Let's not mince words here: George Allen is a rascist.

For those of you not familiar, George Allen is a US Senator currently running for re-election in Virginia. Please note, he also has serious presidential ambitions.

Here's the video:


Here's the story in the Washington Post:

"MY FRIENDS, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present [S.R. Sidarth]-- and proceeded to ridicule him.

After repeated denials by his campaign manager that he had anything to apologize for, Senator Allen has, of course, apologized:
Reached Monday evening, Allen said that the word had no derogatory meaning for him and that he was sorry. "I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he's offended by that. That was no way the point."

Oh, all right then, nevermind. Right?

Well no, not all right. In fact this an example of precisely the sort of rascism that permeates America.

This is not the "Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations".

This is the unconscious rascism of privileged Republicans.

Keep in mind, Allen's remarks were public, designed I would guess, to elicit a chuckle from his all-white (except for Mr. Sidarth) audience, which it did.

Who knows what he says in private, and God only knows what he believes in his heart.

But I strongly suspect that Mr. Allen, his wife, friends, acquantances would swear on their mother's graves that Mr. Allen doesn't have a rascist bone in his body. And they would (and I expect will) do so quite honestly, believing in the truth of their words.

But they would be wrong.

One of the main effects of the civil rights revolution has been to drive obvious rascism underground, especially among the educated, and very especially among politicians. And so, those pols muzzle themselves, falling back into a kind of code, a wink-wink, nudge-nudge that indicates to white audiences that a politician isn't referring to "our" kind of people. As Mr. Allen might put it "real (white) Americans". Chuckle, chuckle.

And the worst thing is, they do this unconsiously, not even admitting to themselves the rascist attitudes behind their words.

Try this syllogism on for size: Rascists are bad people. I am not a bad person. Therefore I am not a rascist.

The only way to stop such insidious behavior is to call it by its name.

So let us not mince words: George Allen is a rascist.

And so are millions of Americans.

Whether we admit it or not.

[UPDATE: Mr. Allen's words may not have been quite as innocent as he claims]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ah, yes, that darn liberal press

Here's a pop quiz.

A pro-arab photographer fo a major news organization doctors photos to enhance their emotional impact. A news anchor for a major news organization fabricates "news" to imply a Democratic politician is pro-al Qaeda.

One has been fired.

Can you guess which?

I knew that you could.

Arianna has the call.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A New Direction in the GWoT©

I don't post as much as I used to over at DailyKos (though I give it a look daily). When I first started blogging Kos was a great place to try out my writing chops, get feedback, and develop my own voice. And it still serves as a great place to get a feel for up-to-the-second progressive thought. But too much of the discussion there is of the echo chamber variety to be useful for a real clash of ideas.

So, for a while now your CaliBlogger has been of late wandering about the web. One of the best places for relatively reasonable discussion is over at Joe Gandelman's site, The Moderate Voice which, incredibly, attracts posters from both the right and left.

In light of the recent clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, the UK transatlantic plot, and the unending undercurrent of disaster in Iraq, the discussions over at TMV have been, shall we say, quite lively.

One recent discussion questions whether it would be fruitful to re-examine some of our assumptions about fighting terror.

And though too extensive navel-gazing can have a deleterious effect, paralysis by analysis, given the continued threat of terror, and our relative inability to do much about it 5 years after 9/11, perhaps it would be wise to wonder whether the apparent flaws in our current efforts are based on incorrect assumptions about the nature of the threat.

One of the major mistakes I believe BushCorp™ makes, at least in its public statements, is the conflation of all those who use the tactics of terror, when it seems to me that most of the groups using such tactics have, each of them, unique characteristics which need to be addressed in different ways.

An Iraqi Shi'ite who blows himself up at an Iraqi Sunni funeral has, I would posit, very different motivations than a British national of Pakistani descent who conspires to blow up a transatlantic airliner.

As has been said over and over again, terror is a tactic, not an ideology.

Continuously portraying the Glorious War on Terror© as a fight against that monolithic bogeyman, the terrorist, may be good for electing Republicans, but it deludes the public as to the true, diffucult and multi-faceted problems we are facing around the globe.

I strongly suspect that truly addressing the threats posed by those who use terror as a tactic can not be addressed by the neo-con's grand imperial schemes, neither can it be eliminated building a wall around Fortress America.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Modest Plan for the War on Terror

Many, and frankly not just GOPers, wonder out loud what Democrats would be doing differently than BushCorp™ to fight terrorism.

Now you can suggest 7 point plans and all the grand strategies you like, but let me sum up my feelings as to what Democrats can do to improve on the President's performance.

For one thing we stop doing stupid things. From Reuters:

U.S. Muslim groups criticized President George W. Bush on Thursday for calling a foiled plot to blow up airplanes part of a "war with Islamic fascists," saying the term could inflame anti-Muslim tensions.

U.S. officials have said the plot, thwarted by Britain, to blow up several aircraft over the Atlantic bore many of the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

"We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group.

"We ought to take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims," he told a news conference in Washington.

And be clear, I'm not just complaining about BushCorp™'s lack of ethnic sensitivity, though that, I suspect is why he says such bonehead things.

My point is this: our most important potential allies in the GWOT are the millions on Muslims who are not terrorists.

Witness the latest UK bombing plot: (Buried in a CNN article, but of critical importance):
Pakistani officials said the arrests of two British citizens and five Pakistanis last week directly contributed to terror arrests made Thursday in Britain. Intelligence sources identified one of the British citizens as Rashid Rauf.

The original information about the plan came from the Muslim community in Britain, according to a British intelligence official. [Emphasis mine-SK]

Given that the weakest link in the US GWOT is a dearth of human intelligence, one of our best hopes for discovering these plots come from the good, honest Muslims, among whom the terrorists choose to hike,

Instead of alienating Muslim communities we should be embracing them (and not just rhetorically) as brothers in arms in this fight.

You want a plan? How's about that for starters.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Code Red

Now let me be clear.

In now way am I denigrating the work of British police who have apparently broken up a plot by al Qaeda style terrorists to bomb US bound airplanes.

(Though I will point out that this is exactly the kind of police and intelligence, as opposed to military action, that the wisemen of BushCorp™ scoffed at when proposed by John Kerry).

But let us for a moment consider the timing.

We haven't seen an alert of ANY color since the 2004 election cycle. And now, just a few months before midterms the much mocked code system has yet again raised its particolored head.

Coincidence? Let us assume so.

For though Rove's marching orders are for GOPers to continue to howl in the same vein as the last two election cycles, all terror all the time, the situation on the ground is hardly the same.

In 2002 the electorate was still aching over the tragedy of 9/11, and GW hadn't (publicly) demonstrated the level of his incompetence.

And while in 2004 that incompetence was well evident to some, the Iraqi invasion had yet to reach its current level of chaos.

But in 2006, and ignore them GOPers might, facts on the ground are finally impacting American perceptions of this administration, as well as America's place in the world.

So today's news is rather more a mixed bag for the Bushies who couldn't shoot straight.

Sure it helps their usual message: be afraid, be very afraid.

But, after 1.5 seconds of thought, it also raises this question: Why, five years after 9/11, is al Qaeda still operational?

Why is bin Laden still wandering the hills of Pakistan?

And how, exactly, does our continuing misadventure in Iraq do ANYTHING to alleviate the real terrorist threat?

And if we're "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here", shouldn't we be invading England?

Today's terrorists were, after all, British citizens of Pakistani birth (perhaps we should invade Pakistan?), who were recruited after, and quite possibly because of our invasion of Iraq.

In Iraq, in the Levant, and araound the world, BushCorp™'s "policies" are worse than ineffective. Thank God Americans are finally beginning to stand up and take notice.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Be careful what you ask for

For the last few weeks I've had the distinct feeling that BushCorp™ is doing Israel no favor by giving them free reign in Lebanon.

As has been increasingly the case, Billmon, I believe, has the right of it:

At some point very soon the IDF is going to have to deliver on the threat of an all-out offensive, and deliver it with overwhelming force. Otherwise, the world will assume that Hizbullah has successfully called their bluff, at which point they can kiss their "Boss Man" image goodbye. At this point, I'm not sure the Israelis, or their enemies, are ready to deal responsibly with the consequences of such a profound psychological shift.

In other words, what the Israelis, and the Lebanese, and the world desperately need right now is for someone to step in and call off the fight -- while the Israelis are still in a position to beat their chests and talk big talk about how badly they would have creamed the other guy if they'd only gotten a chance.

But the only ones who could possibly stop it are America, Syria and Iran, and the former isn't willing to talk to the latter two, much less ask them to make a deal. (Even if Bush were willing to bargain, it's not clear at this point that Sheikh Nasrallah answers to Damascus or Tehran any more. Things may have gone too far for that.) [Emphasis mine-SK]

As long as the US continues to feed Israel plenty of rope (and laser-guided bombs) Israel has no excuse to fail against Hezbollah except its utter inability to do otherwise short of the absolute destruction of Lebanon, if then.

And while this may be something that US neo-cons, cheering bravely from their air-conditioned offices, do indeed welcome, I do not believe that outcome will be anything near a good thing for the US or for Israel.

The best thing BushCorp™ can do for Israel is to demand Israel stop its doomed course of action and let Israel claim it would have finished the job if only the US had let them take the gloves off.

The General goes above and beyond

Braving the horrors of neo-cons, Ann Coulter, and (gasp) College Republicans, Jesus' General spends a night in Joe Lieberman's bunker.

Part 1

Part 2

The horror, the horror.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reality check?

There's been a weird trend in the news over the last few day. And perhaps it's just coincidence, but have you noticed that as the news around the world gets worse and worse, the news on domestic politics seems to get better and better?

Here's what I mean:

World:

  • Iraq continues to drown in civil war.
  • Ahghanistan continues its relapse into Talibanism.
  • Israel promises a broader offensive while Hezbollah's rockets continue to fall.
  • And let's not even mention the latest evidence for global warming.

Meanwhile in the US:
  • US military shows signs it might actually acknowledge the Iraqi debacle for the disaster it is.
  • Kansas voters reject ID proponents' run for the state school board.
  • Progressive, anit-war senatorial candidate Ned Lamont continues his startling run at the seat soon to be vacated by Fox News Democrat Joseph Lieberman.
  • And Tom Delay will continue to be a poster-child for Republican corruption.
So what's going on?

My theory is that, finally, things have gotten so bad that even Americans are starting to pay attention to the realities surrounding them.

And reality, as Steven Colbert famously pointed out, has a decidedly liberal bent.

Or it could just be coincidence.

But a guy can hope.