Friday, June 29, 2007

Immigration bill bites dust

Other than as yet another sign that Bush is now doomed to irrelevancy, the death of the immigration overhaul is not a good thing.

Yes, it was flawed. Among other things the proposed guest worker program, offering no avenue for permanent residence and citizenship, could have the effect of creating a permanent underclass similar to those troubling England and Europe as a source of radicalism bred from hopelessness.

But the failure to address and normalize the status of the purported 12 million undocumented workers currently residing in the US accomplishes much the same thing on a far vaster scale.

So, since it becomes ever clearer that the GOP represents the fraction of the US that is ever given to resentment and fear of the "other", the only possible solution is to elect Democrats.

But you probably already guessed that.

Jump Al, Jump

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 18, 2007

With God on our side

One of the enduring paradoxes of current American politics is the question of how, in the face of overwhelming evidence, George W. Bush can continue policies so widely viewed as destined for failure?

And even more exasperating, how can 29% of Americans still support him in that effort?

In his new book, now available to pre-order at Amazon, Salon contributor and CaliBlogger must-read, Glenn Greenwald, posits a fairly straightforward explanation:

At the heart of this process lies a binary moralistic view of the world, one which seeks to define every conflict and political challenge, both foreign and domestic, as a battle of Good versus Evil. The crux of this mindset is the continuous identification of an Enemy, one which embodies Evil and which must be stopped, typically destroyed, at all costs. No competing considerations, no rational arguments, no counter-balancing objectives, not even constraints of reality or resources, can compete with the moral imperative of this mission. The mission of destroying Evil trumps all.

And the converse then also falls comfortably into place: those who seek to destroy Evil -- whether it be America, or President Bush, or the right-wing political faction that has supported the Bush presidency -- are, by definition, the embodiment of Good. Thus, whatever steps they take, whatever instruments they employ in service of their mission, are intrinsically justifiable because, by definition, they are employed in service of the Good.

Your CaliBlogger has long held the belief that portraying the world in terms of Good and Evil enables those who would think of themselves as Good to commit, or at least abide, the most unspeakable acts. Thus the collective yawn with which most Americans seem to greet news of torture and murder, all committed by our government, and in our name.

So, discerning reader, please be ware of any polemicists characterizing world events as a struggle between good and evil (or its secular counterpart, madness). Either they are deluding themselves, or they are trying to delude you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dogs of War: New York Times

One of the worst failures leading up to the invasion of Iraq was the unwillingness of the nation's media to question BushCorp™ assertions about the need for war.

Especially egregious was the New York times whose front-page placement of stories by warmongers such as Judith Miller lent the prestige of the US' "paper of record" to the neo-con line of bullshit.

So, it is especially troubling that, despite its mea culpas on its Iraq coverage, the Times is doing it again, this time transcribing, and therefore giving credence to administration assertions about our next target, Iran:

Even beyond its nuclear program, Iran is emerging as an increasing source of trouble for the Bush administration by inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in Gaza, where it has provided military and financial support to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip.

But as Glenn Greenwald points out:

Note that the numerous claims here are presented not as assertions, not as arguments, but as facts. And they are not even accompanied by the qualification that these were asserted by the article's anonymous "administration officials." Rather, they are simply stated, by the Times itself, as unquestionable facts. And they are obviously inflammatory "facts," as they depict Iran as, more or less, at war with the U.S. in multiple countries, arming and funding groups directly at war with our military.

I recommend Mr. Greenwald for a point by point break down of the inaccuracies and fallacies behind the Times' assertions, but the key point is this, when administration lies go unchecked and unquestioned by the MSM, the only victors are the dogs of war.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A third party run for Ron Paul?

While most talk on the web concerned with possible third party candidates for the 2008 presidential election focuses on that dying species, the liberal Republican, mostly in the form of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, I'd suggest keeping an eye on another type of Republican altogether, once (and future?) Libertarian Ron Paul.

Why, you ask, does your CaliBlogger think the still obscure Texas congressman might make a flanking run at the presidency?

First, of course is that Paul's consistently libertarian views put him at odds with Bush's Republican party which is increasingly authoritarian, Christianist, and interventionist. Paul doesn't just mouth platitudes about small government, he actually believes that government has no business meddling in foreign countries, has no business spying on its own citizens, and has no business monitoring what people do in their bedrooms, and who with.

Secondly, Paul, unlike Ross Perot whose Reform Party was more personality cult than political organization, would presumably be running under the auspices of an existing party, the Libertarian.

And while small compared to the major parties, the Libertarian Party is the largest of US third parties, and most importantly, consistently shows the ability to put a candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

Finally, perhaps because of his libertarian leanings, Ron Paul is an even rarer bird than the liberal Republican, a Republican with actual grassroots support.

While Republicans are typically funded through astroturf groups that are funded by just a few wealthy individuals or corporations, Paul is getting support and interest from that most democratic of modern amalgamations, the Internet. From the Washington Post:

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."

And someone who just speaks his mind would be a refreshing change for Republicans who are more adept at fear-mongering and feigning the sort of flat-earth ignorance that appeals to the knuckle-draggers that form the party's base.

Now to be clear, your CaliBlogger is far from enamored of some of Paul's rather extreme anti-government stances (eliminating the Department of Education), but someone who also advocates the repeal of the Patriot Act and the liquidation of the Department of Homeland Security, is at least demonstrating an appealing level of unaccustomed intellectual consistency.

And the fact that a Paul candidacy would continue the destruction of the crumbling Republican party is only and added side benefit.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bush: the bizarro Midas' touch

One of the key features of BushCorp™ policy making is becoming increasingly apparent, its penchant for governance by unintended consequences.

In North Korea Bush's dissolution of Clinton era accords led to Pyonyang's unsupervised development of nuclear capability.

On the Gulf Coast, Bush's hack appointees combined with the Republican penchant for the privatization of government responsibilities led to the exacerbation of the devastation by Hurricane Katrina.

And in Iraq...well 'nuff said.

So Hamas' recent takeover of Gaza should really come as no surprise to anyone watching the unfolding of BushCorp™ policy in the area.

For a good overview of this sorry situation you might try this Washington Post article, but let me break it down for you.

First the US, typically, blindly backed Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza leaving a power vacuum in the area.

Then Bush, drunk on his own pro-democracy rhetoric, if not NA beer, encouraged Palestinian elections on the assumption that US backed Fatah, despite its record of incompetence and corruption (wonder how Bush missed that?) would win handily.

Funny thing though. Hamas, whose consistently anti-Israel rhetoric and behavior, as well as its more effective humanitarian activities (relative to Fatah anyway) makes it popular with the Palestinian street, won the election and took over the government. Hey, Hamas might be fundamentalist terrorists, but at least they get things done.

And, in an unsurprising betrayal of its pro-democracy rhetoric, rather than recognizing the need to talk to Palestine's democratically elected government, Bush organized a global effort to cut off support for Palestine in hopes of toppling the regime in favor of US backed Fatah.

Another funny story. It turns out that Palestinians, on seeing their already desperate plight worsened, apparently are focusing their hatred, not on their own elected government, but on Fatah, a group now seen not only as incompetent and corrupt, but also as a US/Israeli collaborator.


You know, if five years ago you had asked me whether the Israeli/Palestinian conflict could get any more hopeless, I'd have been hard pressed to envision a situation worse than the cycle of violence which already gripped the region.

Then again, five years ago I didn't know then what I now now about Bush's bizarro Midas' touch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Defeat in Iraq

President Bush has claimed that the only way we can lose in Iraq is if we leave.

But what if that assertion is no more accurate than any other assertion he makes?

What if the US Army, for all its might, stays in Iraq and is defeated none-the-less?

James Wolcott puts into words an idea that's been rattling around your CaliBlogger's brain for some time now:

On the op-ed pages and the pundit panels and in the presidential debates, the onus is put on those who advocate withdrawal, even wimpy, slow-mo, phased withdrawal. They're put on the defensive as the questions are posed, "What happens if the US withdraws? What would that do to American credibility? Are you prepared to take responsibility for a bloody aftermath?"

But the counter-question also needs to be asked:

"What happens if the US stays--and loses? How prepared are you to deal with that eventuality?"

Mr. Wolcott's article should be read, as always, in full to appreciate the depth of his analysis, but especially this time for the citations from William S. Lind, Larry C. Johnson, and Timothy Garton Ash, which flesh out the increasingly real possibility of American military defeat.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dogs of War: Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman (I-BushCorp™), fresh from his fact free fact-finding trip in Iraq, now has some sage and sober advice.

With the conquest of Iraq moving along swimmingly despite the continued efforts of a few bad apples, it's time to move on to our next conquest: Iran.

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman said. "And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."


"We've said so publicly that the Iranians have a base in Iran at which they are training Iraqis who are coming in and killing Americans. By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers," Lieberman said. "Well, we can tell them we want them to stop that. But if there's any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them."


But before we follow blood-soaked Joe's advice, perhaps we should look more closely at his justifications.

I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.

Perhaps it's a conspiracy of silence by the ever controversy averse (ahem) MSM, but I don't recall reading about or hearing any evidence about Iranians killing Americans, in Iraq or anywhere else. Saudis, sure, Jordanians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Yemenis sure. And let's not even get into the whole Iraqi civil war thing, please, let's not.

But Iranians?

And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.

Good evidence? But then, if you're a BushCorp™ toady yourself I suppose anonymous leaks by other BushCorp™ toadies is good enough.

We've said so publicly that the Iranians have a base in Iran at which they are training Iraqis who are coming in and killing Americans.

Hey, if "we've said so", gosh it must be true. After all, BushCorp™ is widely well-known for the truthful and open approach to the facts, especially when it comes to matters of war.

But if there's any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them.

No, how could we think that talking could help. After all these years of open fleeting moments of limited dialog between Washington and Tehran, what more could talking possibly gain us?

Like I said, brilliant.

But what do you expect from the dogs of war?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dogs of War: a reading tip

As the Bush administration continues its efforts to distract Americans from the disaster in Iraq by drumming up support for an attack on Iran, it's well to keep in mind some of the lessons from its previous efforts to manipulate a compliant media.

Today's case in point, an article by Robin Wright in to day's Washington Post breathlessly describing Iran's purported efforts to supply weapons to both Shia insurgent groups in Iran and the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. Just read the first paragraph and see if you can spot the problem:

Iran has increased arms shipments to both Iraq's Shiite extremists and Afghanistan's Taliban in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to pressure American and other Western troops operating in its two strategic neighbors, according to senior U.S. and European officials.

Catch it? Let's try that again with highlights:

Iran has increased arms shipments to both Iraq's Shiite extremists and Afghanistan's Taliban in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to pressure American and other Western troops operating in its two strategic neighbors, according to senior U.S. and European officials.

And why do these "officials" need to go un-named? Why should they? The article certainly doesn't tell us.

Since they are talking about (not showing, mind, but merely describing) evidence of Iranian malfeasance, it seems unlikely that the anonymous officials are in danger of running afoul of higher ups, the usual reason for anonymity.

The likely reason said officials seek to remain anonymous is that they don't want to be publicly caught in a lie.

That being the case my advice is this, the history of BushCorp™ lies and deception being what it is, save your self a few minutes in the day and just skip any article that refuses to name names.

Life is to short.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bush's autocrat ally

For someone whose self-proclaimed mythology portrays himself as dedicated to his ideals to the point of obstinacy, President Bush has shown a remarkable ability to betray those ideals for political expediency.

This has been most clearly obvious in the support that an administration purportedly dedicated to spreading democracy shows for some of the worst tyrants in the world.

Take Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf...please.


Musharraf has ruled Pakistan since 1999, when a military-led coup toppled the democratically elected civilian prime minister. The country is due for elections later this year, but Musharraf has said he wants the outgoing parliament to give him another five-year term before the public votes. He has also indicated he is reluctant to shed his role as head of the army, as the constitution requires.

Musharraf is allegedly a crucial ally in the GWoT, though, when he's not cutting deals to cede Pakistani territory to terrorists, seems mostly useful in capturing one of the seemingly limitless numbers of No. 3 ranking al Qaeda honchos when Bush needs a political boost here in the US.

So one must wonder what BushCorp™'s stance will be in the face of increasing pro-democracy challenges to Musharraf's dictatorship? So far the silence is deafening.

Fighting them over here

If nothing else, the one thing the current administration is good at the memorable catch phrase.

But a good catch phrase doesn't make it true.

A case in point is the president's repeated assertion that "we're fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them here", or the equally catchy, and its equally misguided cousin, SecDef Gates', "It's important to defend this country on the extremists' 10-yard line, and not on our 10-yard line".

As witnessed by today's news of a home-grown plot to blow up the jet fuel lines to JFK airport, fighting the civil war in Iraq is hardly helping.

In fact I would call Iraq irrelevant to such plots except for this: it serves to further inflame and bolster the wills of those who hate American behavior both around the world and, as we see, here in the US.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It was 40* years ago today...

You'll be reading the above headline on many an article today as we mark the 40th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest, and most talked about albums in pop music history, the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Talked about? How about obsessed over? From Rolling Stone:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

From the comments section comments section:

To remove Sgt. Pepper from the context in which it was originally released can only hurt it’s reputation. The Beatles put together albums full of stronger songs both before (Revolver) and after (Abbey Road) it’s release, but Sgt. Pepper has to be their masterpiece simply because nothing else approaches the ambitious, sweeping, sonic majesty of it all.

From the opening murmurs of an expectant crowd on the title track to the crashing piano chord at the end of ‘A Day in the Life’ thirty nine minutes later, the album pays tribute to almost every musical influence Paul McCartney ever had and John Lennon ever dreamed (from english dance hall on ‘When I’m 64′ to LSD hallucinations on ‘Lucky in the Sky with Diamonds’).

Calling it a ‘failed’ concept album (Lennon said they stopped caring about ‘Sgt. Pepper’ by track three), is missing the point. An album that should be taken as a whole, not a couple hit songs plus filler, was the point. And it was understood immediately, as Sgt. Pepper was the first album radio stations played in full.

The Beatles took everyone who ‘bought the ticket’ to places where popular music was never intended to go. A symphony for a young girl leaving home. Making the boredom of the morning a frantic mix of guitars and animals. An ode to a meter maid.

It was new and different, and because of that it was taken up as a representation of the social and political changes of the sixties, even though all it was and all it intended to be was a great set of tunes.

Or this from the Washington Post:

A hundred years from now, musicologists say, Beatles songs will be so well known that every child will learn them as nursery rhymes, and most people won't know who wrote them. They will have become sufficiently entrenched in popular culture that it will seem as if they've always existed, like "Oh! Susanna," "This Land Is Your Land" and "Frère Jacques."

But whatever your take on what RS named as the greatest album of all time (and I suppose your take may well be generational depending on whether you're a boomer of a member of generations x, y, or z), the tunes still sound great.

*And by the way, as a correction to all those headlines, it would be 60 years ago today that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play as the band was putatively 20 years old when the album was released.