Friday, May 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

"We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party."
Dick Cheney.

And don't forget it Dick. We love watching you and dubya take the party right over the cliff. Here's the corollary to Cheney: 67 % of Republican Congresspeople will still not support withdrawal after September.


Retail Sales

When I posted on retail sales yesterday, I didn't realize that these numbers were the worst since reporting began in 1970. That's quite a feat! And remember, while gasoline consumption has not fallen with rising prices, the rising prices boosted retail sales numbers. So in reality on an apples vs. apples basis, retail sales were actually worse than reported.

The consumer is referred to by some bloggers as "chucky", a reference to the "consumer that never dies". Well this latest reports suggests that, at least for now, the only consumers still twitching out there are the rich ones.



Kevin Drum hits on a point today that I think is central to understanding the damage done to the country by the Bush White House:

One of the great discoveries of the Republican Party over the past decade or two is that an awful lot of the rules we take for granted are, in reality, just traditions. Like redistricting only once a decade, for example, or keeping House votes open for 15 minutes. And what Republicans have found out is that if you have the balls to do it, you can just ignore tradition and no one can stop you. It's that simple.

Alberto Gonzales has learned this lesson well. Normally, cabinet officers who have been caught in multiple obvious lies have to either resign or else seriously try to defend themselves. But Gonzales realizes this is just tradition. Unless House Democrats have the votes to impeach him, he doesn't have to do anything. He can just mock them to their face and there's nothing much they can do about it.

That's at the heart of the Republican party. Lee Atwater invented it and Karl Rove (and many others) have perfected it. It's being perpetuated in young Republicans as I write and will go on for generations unless there is some accountability.

Much of the success of the U.S. has been dependent on the goodwill and beliefs of people in positions of power. There is no way you can legislate or regulate all aspects of liberty in a republic. Those who chose so can do violence to the system by simply refusing to "play by the unwritten rules". Those unwritten rules have been written over several centuries of blood, sweat and tears, but are vulnerable to those of evil intent.

Kevin Drum finishes his post with an apt demonstration of exactly what that contempt looks like:
In Thursday's testimony, Gonzales made it clear that he just doesn't care what anyone thinks. After all, if Democrats don't like it, what are they going to do? Roll their eyes at him?
Exactly. And unless Congress actually puts some teeth behind the current traditions, the Bush administration will simply allow Abu to be the decoy/firewall that protects the real prizes, Rove and Bush. And the precedents will then be available for future leaders .... a new set of traditions.


Breaking Jihadist News!

Somehow, I don't think this will be a headline story tonight. Josh Marshall on the Fort Dix attackers!:

Well, seems they made a jihad training film featuring themselves. But they couldn't figure out how to burn it to a DVD. So they went to a Circuit City and asked the clerk on duty if he could do it for them.


I guess that means these guys probably needed remedial terrorist training.

There also seems to be more than a hint of entrapment in the role the government informant played in helping arrange the planned attack. Back in November one of the plotters called a Philly police officer and told him that he'd been approached by someone [i.e., the government informant] "who was pressuring him to obtain a map of Fort Dix, and that he feared the incident was terrorist-related."
These guys turned themselves in! I think Josh is understating it a bit when he says there's a "hint of entrapment".


What Digby Said

Yep, another edition.

In this one, Digby does the best write-up of exactly why the beltway pundits have lost touch with any sense of "real" America, instead substituting some 1950's version from teevee. I hope that Broder and Klein, in particular, will read it. Not that it will make a difference.


Iran Watch

I saw in the news today that Cheney is out flappin' his gums about Iran. Iran has sort of been out of the news lately, and certainly the predictions (including my own) of an attack on Iran have not materialized. I wonder why?

My first thought is that those predictions were just wrong. What I mean is, that there never was an intent to attack, just sabre rattling. But a part of me thinks that there was indeed a plan to bomb Iran that has been twarted by the 2006 elections, failure in Iraq, and cooler heads. We'll likely never really know.

No matter what the reason, it's a good development for world peace and stability. The problem of nuclear proliferation will continue but hopefully international cooperation can dominate the solving of the problem rather than unilaterial cowboyism.


Friday Music

How about a little Maroon 5 this morning?
Cooooool, man.


The Good American

Scott Ritter takes the glove off.

It’s a shame for these Legionnaires that the Iraqis couldn’t have turned out to be blond, blue-eyed Germans who looked like us, and whose women could be wooed with chocolate and nylon stockings by the noble American liberator and occupier. Or, short of that, passive Japanese, who freely submitted their women to the massage parlors and barracks of their American conquering heroes while their men rebuilt a shattered society. The simplistic approach of many of the American Legion’s most hawkish advocates for the ongoing disaster in Iraq seems to be drawn from a selective memory which seeks to impose a carefully crafted past experience dating back to the last “good war” (i.e., World War II), expunged of all warts and blemishes, onto the current situation in Iraq in a manner which strips away all reality.

His article explains nicely the thinking behind those who still support Bush and the "war on terror".


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Withheld Emails

I know this is going to shock you, but Murray Waas is reporting that the White House has withheld emails that implicate Rove in the Dept. of Justice probe:

The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The withheld records show that D. Kyle Sampson, who was then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, consulted with White House officials in drafting two letters to Congress that appear to have misrepresented the circumstances of Griffin's appointment as U.S. attorney and of Rove's role in supporting Griffin.
Yeah. I know. I'm shocked too.


A Good Point

Angry Bear makes a very good point in this post. Has anyone really noticed that the attacks in the "safe" American Green Zone seem to escalating? This escalation in attacks seems to be occurring even as we're escalating the military presence around the green zone. Aren't the attacks supposed to decrease with more soldiers on the ground?


Quote of the Day

Barry Ritholtz on retailers blaming bad weather for crappy sales numbers:

To remind y'all about some past exusage, it was "Too warm in January, too cold in February, too much static cling in March. The fear for May is the emergence of the 17 year Cicada, which will interfere dramatically with ongoing retail promotions. Also of major concern: German U-Boats off of the coast of New Jersey will be interfering with the Memorial Day sales. (We last looked at these less-than-believable excuses in Through The Retail Looking Glass)

I demand that if you are going to bullshit me with absurd and moronic excuses, at least have the god-damned courtesy to make them entertaining.


Changed Position

The media is trumpeting a "change" in Bush's position on Iraq. The reports suggest that the Preznit is now willing to accept a bill with benchmarks.

I don't know. It all has a feeling of genuine administration shift. But we also know Bush well enough (and his addictive tendencies) to know that this could simply be another promise to stop drinking. Put another way, Bush may simply be playing for time, "bargaining" in AA parlance.

If I have to guess, I'd say it a play for time or Bush is hoping that, through negotiations with Republicans, he can sabotage any bill with language or ambiguity that let's him continue on his merry way. Frankly I cannot think of a single occasion where a "hopeful sign" from Bush actually materialized. I believe I'll stay in the "I'm from Missouri crowd" and need to actually see evidence of a real change before accepting the spin. I think Pelosi has it about right:

Pelosi said the president's remarks were meaningless unless he was willing to impose consequences.

"The president has long said he supports benchmarks. What he fails to accept is accountability for failing to meet those benchmarks," she said.
In the meantime, Republican watch continues. They are clearly feeling the heat. CW is that September is the latest they can still get out from under voting pressure in 2008. I'm not sure I agree with that as the displeasure with Republicans goes quite deep, deeper than just Iraq, although Iraq is the poster issue for that dissatisfaction.


The Market

The stock market isn't having a good day today. But this is following a nearly straight up trajectory. The big news is lousy retail sales. The bears are suggesting that consumers are finally pulling back because of falling wages, the housing bubble pop and rising energy prices. The bulls say retail sales slowed because of lousy weather and it's a one time blip. Of course, we shall see.

I find it interesting that Wal Mart is reporting the worst April ever. I'm sure weather played a part. But to be setting records on bad weather defies logic.


Abu Update

Yeah, Abu Gonzales is appearing before Congress again today. And still lying. Nothing new here. Just more revelations of wrongdoing, politicization and cover-up.

Oh. And in case you weren't aware of it, there have been a few more U.S. attorney's added to the fired-for-political-reasons list.



I. Have. Never. Seen. Colbert. So. Nervous. Something you'd never see conservatives do.

Go watch.


Baghdad Blog Watch

I haven't done one of these in awhile. I read these every day and it's important to remember that these stories are repeated by the thousands, daily, all over Iraq. This is from a blog written by an Iraq employee of McClatchey. The writer is talking about a taxi driver he ran into:

He has three sons… the elder one is Akram and two other kids.

Akram was killed with other civilians in one of the car bombs in Fallujah.

The second son went to his secondary school and never came back.

The third son, he is 16 years old, lost one of his eyes as he was buying something to his family from a mini-market not far away from his house and a passing by military convoy were targeted by a road side bomb and shrapnel injured the kid in the eye.

The real tragedy is the mother… he says she keep thinking when ever the door knocks especially after sunset that her missing son is coming back… she heard from someone that kidnappers usually release the hostages at night. The driver had to inform all his neighbors not to knock the door after sunset, his wife health deteriorate after she run to the main door and she finds out it is not her beloved missing son.


The Rest Of The Story

Boy, I sure miss J. Edgar Hoover. When he was in charge he knew how to thoroughly trump up a threat that no one could assail.

Oh, but for the good old days.

Now, whenever there's a "plot" is uncovered (or any revelation by the administration for that matter), you know it's going be a bunch of bullshit. And the Fort Dix arrests this week follow the script.

The NY Times is publishing a story today on the "informer" inside the "terrorists cell". It turns out that the group, certainly guilty of stupidity and perhaps some vague intent to do some harm, was essentially led by the informer from the get:

That moment, recorded on tape and submitted in federal court this week in Camden, N.J., as the authorities charged six Muslim men in the plot, captures something of the complexity of using informers in terror investigations. The informer, sent to penetrate a loose group of men who liked to talk about jihad and fire guns in the woods, had come to be seen by the suspects as the person who might actually show them how an act of terror could be carried off.

Indeed, over the months that followed, as the targets of the investigation spoke with a sometimes unfocused zeal about waging holy war, the informer, one of two used in the investigation, would tell them that he could get them the sophisticated weapons they wanted. He would accompany them on surveillance missions to military installations, debating the risks, and when the men looked ready to purchase the weapons, it was the informer who seemed to be pushing the idea of buying the deadliest items, startling at least one of the suspects.
Now I'm not saying that these bad guys didn't deserve attention, or that they perhaps didn't break a law. But it just goes to show how serious the threat of terrorism really is. These were a bunch of idiots with very vague nefarious plans that were likely to go absolutely no where .... sorta like the guy who was going to take down the bridge with a blow torch. That is go no where until the FBI terrorist expert joined the cell as a plant.

If this is the state of threat from international terrorism, I'm far more worried about the safety of car airbags.


Republican Watch

Apparently there's a story out about how some House Republicans confronted Bush on the war, vowing that support for him can't last much longer.

Yeah right.

I say put up or shut up.

Anyway, this also caught my eye:

During the meeting, one of the lawmakers asked Bush to stop the Iraqi parliament from going on vacation while "our sons and daughters spill their blood," reports the Post. The prospect of the parliament taking a two-month vacation has riled lawmakers in Washington. But, as the LAT reports inside, even when the parliament is in session (meeting three days a week) it frequently has trouble getting started because of such things as electricity shortages and roadblocks that prevent lawmakers from getting there. Although no final decision has been made on the vacation, some Iraqi politicians aren't too happy the United States is trying to dictate their schedules. And even if it's decided that lawmakers shouldn't take a vacation, there's no guarantee they'll listen.
The Iraqi parliament usually can't get a quorum even when they're "in session". This certainly isn't a new story.

Isn't it kind of telling when the U.S.,with billions in aid and with well over 250,000 total troops (enlisted/contract) stationed inside Iraq can't even get the parliament to agree to stay in session through the summer? And you know that even if they agree to stay in session, there will be huge resentments at the U.S. intervention in the entire affair. It's just another rather minor example of how the U.S. is now radioactive in the area and an impediment to real progress.

But. Never underestimate Bush's inability to learn that hitting his head against a wall is damaging.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bible School

Here's the latest challenge by the religious right nutbars:

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas schools would be able to offer elective courses on the Bible under legislation tentatively adopted Tuesday in the House.

The measure, which was approved by a voice vote, was a watered-down version of Republican Rep. Warren Chisum's original proposal. That plan would have required Bible courses to be taught as an elective in all Texas high schools rather than making it optional.
I'm really ambivalent about this. First off and just on principle, religious training has no business in the public schools. On the other hand, I have no problem with religious education in the schools provided that all religions are taught. I don't know it for a fact, but I doubt that this bill is religious education. On to the Supremes if the governor signs it.


Political Undead

Is it just me, or are the administration personnel starting to look like this? Isn't that Abu Gonzales in the back there?


Pic of the Day

Please. Pardon my french.

But what is that fat-fuck doing with a bullet-proof vest on? Why did he go to Baghdad in secret? What an asshole.

On another point, how long has it been since you've heard anything from anyone about the training of Iraqi's to take over their own defense?


Habeaus Restoration Project

It appears that there's a chance that Dems will try and restore Habeaus Corpus via and Armed Services committee bill. Right now, Dems are trying to decide if the timing is right to put this bill forward. If you're of a mind, go here and find the appropriate rep and give em' call!


Of Note

Parents and the media are all atwitter over stories like this one:

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for taking nude photographs of her self and posting them on the Internet, police said.
I've read of other instances of teens arrested for videotaping sexual acts as well. Combine new technology with our confusing culture, and you get this type of acting out.

But really. What do we expect? When the corporate media extolls the lifestyle's of over-indulgence, greed and avarice you're going to see it affect popular culture and particularly kids. With the likes of Paris Hilton getting more pixel time than any real young hero's or substantive content, it's inevitable that a lot of kids are going to try to be kool too. And in typical American Puritan reaction-formation style we'll then throw them in prison for life for this shocking behavior.


Quote of Yesterday

In the light of this, Susan Collins statement last night on CNN is particularly interesting:

"And I do believe that there comes a point in September where if it's evident that the new strategy is not successful and it's not going to succeed, that we do have to change course. And that means looking at all the options, including a plan for withdrawing."


Drugged Up Payola

Pardon me, but in the olden days it seems this was called payola?:

One practice received $2.7 million for prescribing $9 million worth of Amgen's drug. Critics say the payments could encourage doctors to give out potentially unsafe doses of the drugs, while the companies counter that the money offered is merely a reflection of a competitive marketplace.
Jan and I were taking one of our more rare foray's into commercial television last night and were astounded at the drug commercials. Whatever happened to the good old days when those pushers drug companies weren't allowed to advertise?


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Roast or Toast?

David Corn has a great post up about the Queen and her response to Dubya. The short version? She praised everybody in American history but Bush.

Can you imagine what it was like for her to have to suffer through and evening with that dolt?


Republican Watch

Do you suppose this will affect her voting in the next coupla years?

Six-term Democratic Rep. Tom Allen of Maine's (sic) 1st District ended weeks of speculation about his plans to challenge two-term Republican Sen. Susan Collins, making it official today in a recorded statement on his newly launched Web site.


Some People Never Learn

Froomkin today is highlighting the CW deadline of September for the President's surge. As I read his take, and the published reports of other journalists and pundits, I'm struck by the level of naivete. Let's start with Froomkin himself:

But this timetable could be for real.
Cumon Dan. You of all people should know better by now.
Jonathan Weisman and Thomas E. Ricks write in The Washington Post: "Congressional leaders from both political parties are giving President Bush a matter of months to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner, with September looking increasingly like a decisive deadline. . . .

"'Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September,' said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). 'I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me.'
Oh please. The quoted Congress critters are the same idiots who have said all this before. What makes us think it's any different this time? What, because they're saying the magic word "September" instead of "several months" they're supposed to be resolute?

First of all, everyone with half a brain knows that when the time comes for evaluation, the knuckleheads in the White House and Pentagon will cite all kinds of evidence of improvement, i.e. twenty new schools painted, taking a stroll in Baghdad with only a brigade protecting you instead of two brigades, electricity being available an hour and a half instead of only one hour per day, blah blah blah. We've heard it all before and will hear it again. I contend that Republicans are still in heavy denial, what I'd call the bargaining phase (i.e. ok, this is the last last time you get a chance to clean your room or you're going to be in trouble for sure!!!! followed by ... and I mean it!).

Second, and more practically. In order to override a Presidential veto, the House must have two thirds (~288 votes) and the Senate needs 17 Republicans to defect against the President. I sincerely doubt that this will happen. There are simply too many Republican nutbars who will refuse to go against the President.

So we're left with four possiblities come September. One is that President Bush comes to his senses and decides to pull troops out (LOLOLOLOLOL). Two is that Republicans defect in large enough numbers to overrride a veto (yeah, right). Third is that the Democrats allow funding to expire, forcing a withdrawal due to running out of money (are you tough enough?). And finally, that the Congress continue to point it's finger and Bush disapprovingly, but give him enough money to keep er' goin' (most likely).

So tell me. Just which of these possibilities do you see materializing?


Wind Up The Wulitzer

You're going to hear a whole bunch of pearl clutching-headline screaming crapola tonight on the teevee about terrorist being caught in an attempt to attack Fort Dix. Like all such stories of late, it's the gang that couldn't shoot straight:

Let me get this striaght: these guys dropped off jihadi videos at a local store, talked to Philly cops about getting a map of Ft. Dix, were still trying to procure weapons after 17 months of planning, and practiced for the attack by playing paintball.
I agree with Kevin. These guys must be a bunch of Jon Stewart plants so he can liven up his show. However, it is awfully reassuring to know that our crack law enforcement officials were able to penetrate this cell and catch these bad guys!!!


Madam Supertanker

Ya'all remember the big "oil for food" scandal? That huge scandal that was going to take down all the Democrats who were so willing to help Saddam thwart those sanctions? Remember?

“Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators. … At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company. Ms. Rice resigned from Chevron’s board on Jan. 16, 2001, after being named national security advisor by President Bush.”
Well, I don't know of any Democrats who've gone down. But it sure looks like Madam Supertanker should ... ah ... go down. But of course, IOKIYAR.


A Few Short

Despite the CW that House Dems would sit on their hands and let the Senate figure out the war funding mess, House Dems are coming up with fresh ideas for short term funding that imminently make sense. Yet, Senator Reid has signaled that any such legislation is DOA. Why? I think it's quite simple. He just doesn't have the votes.

Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, said he would be reluctant to support it unless it attracted enough bipartisan support to offset criticism that it was shortchanging American troops.

He and others said they would prefer that negotiations between the White House and Congress focus on reaching agreement on a measure that would pay for the war through Sept. 30, with the legislation including a set of benchmarks by which to measure the Iraqi government’s progress. Talks between lawmakers and senior White House officials were tentatively set to resume Wednesday.
Like it or not (and I don't), there is a significant contingent of conservative Senate Democrats that hold the balance, much like the few centrist Republicans in the previous Congress. It's gonna take more polls, more deaths, more voter feedback to get these guys off the dime.



I wrote the other day about some nonsense comment made by a Democratic pundit about Congress. In essence the commentor said that Dems had better get some legislation through or else. I pointed out that this is idiotic as a narrowly split government with a nutbar President can block virtually any legislation is chooses. Well, here's exhibit "A":

Senate conservatives “effectively killed a measure that would have let Americans buy prescription medicines from foreign suppliers, which sponsors said could have saved consumers billions of dollars.” A ‘poison pill’ amendment from Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) passed 49-40 in a “major victory for the pharmaceutical industry.”
This will ultimately be a Congress without a lot of legislative successes. It's success will be in stemming the bleeding from a nutbar President and his minions. It will not be until there is Democratic leadership in the White House that anything can really be moved forward.


Heckuva Job Bushie

I saw this on last nights news. While not shocked, I certainly found it depressing:

“The chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster than anywhere else in the world since 1990,” according to the group Save the Children, which “placed the country last in its child survival rankings. One in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching their fifth birthday in 2005.”



I've had a couple of thoughts rattling around in my head lately about the current irrationality in the stock market.

The U.S. stock market seems to be on a rocket trajectory upward. No matter the news, stocks just continue to go up. Many are speculating that this rocket is propelled by Chinese fuel. As proof, it's offered that while the U.S. market does well, the international markets are leaving U.S. in the dust. The thinking goes that with the Chinese growing at well over 10% per year, they're a fueling and international stock market bubble.

I really believe there is much validity in this argument. And the downside is that the Chinese government is trying (without success thus far) to slow things down. A sky-rocketing Chinese economy is fueling excesses in their economy, most notably inflation and a stock market that makes ours look like it's flat. It appears that Chinese central bankers are continuing to try to slow things down with higher interest rates.

Suppose they're successful?

It would seem to me that the end of this particular stock market party will occur when the Chinese economy slows. And if it slows down significantly, look to the U.S. stock market to begin a bear phase .... perhaps a long one. Isn't it interesting that if all this is true, the U.S. has now gone from the preeminent world economy to a passenger in the backseat of a Geely?

Update: Evidence:

"China is on its way to becoming the superpower of the 21st century, and will play the same role that Britain and the US did in the 19th and 20th centuries," stock-market guru Jim Rogers is convinced. To profit from China's ascent, you should invest in commodities, he says, but he tends to advise against buying Chinese equities during the bubble periods.


Selling America

One road/bridge/turnpike at a time:

In the past year, banks and private investment firms have fallen in love with public infrastructure. They're smitten by the rich cash flows that roads, bridges, airports, parking garages, and shipping ports generate - and the monopolistic advantages that keep those cash flows as steady as a beating heart. Firms are so enamored, in fact, that they're beginning to consider infrastructure a brand new asset class in itself.

The referenced article is down the page a little, under Roads to Riches. Democracy was a nice idea while it lasted.


What Government

I know these guys are always posturing, but somehow this has a more genuine feel to it:

In an interview with Nic Robertson of CNN, Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, has laid down an ultimatum. He said that he would pull the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalists) out of the al-Maliki "national unity" government if [Shiite] militias are not disarmed and revisions to the constitution aren't begun by May 15. He said he was ready to admit that he had "made the mistake of a lifetime" in agreeing to participate in the government if no progress were made by that date on these issues.
Sadr and his deputies have already abandoned al Maliki. The further loss of these MP's would seem to indicate that Maliki's government would then be toast. I suspect, at best, Maliki can make some window-dressing type concessions, but there's no way he'll abandon his support of the Shiite militia's. At best the infighting continues. At worst, the government collapses.


Alamo Update

Yep, the U.S. army is building them to carry out Gen. Paetraes' plan of getting out among the natives and mingling. The plan is that by having troops in the hoods', they can do neighborhood policing and improve security. Except for once itsy bitsy problem:

The WP's off-lead takes a look at how the small outposts in Iraq that were set up as part of the new security plan are becoming increasingly fortified. Although the plan was meant to get American and Iraqi troops out of large bases and closer to regular civilians, the U.S. military is finding that more barriers are needed for protection. The story is also a good look into the harsh living conditions that U.S. soldiers have to endure in these outposts.
I wonder how those walls, barriers, and barbed wire will go over as landscaping in the hoods'?

The time is long past for such a plan to work. Maybe ... MAYBE ... right after initial hostilities, such a plan might have had a chance. But at this late date, it's just a matter of time before the Americans leave. And the insurgents know that. Implementing such a plan at this late date is immoral in how it puts our soldiers at risk. But of course, when the Alamo's fail, Republicans will proclaim that no one could have predicted their failure. And the beat goes on.


Classic Alanon

I continue to marvel at the dysfunctional dynamics playing out on the national stage. It's taken Democrats six long years to move through their addictive/grief process to finally recognize that Bush is .... well ... Bush, and an addict that cannot be trusted .... period. Now the Republicans continue on their journey:

The Washington Post leads with a look at how September is shaping up to be a critical month for the Iraq war, as congressional leaders of both parties are pushing it as a deadline for evidence that the new efforts are showing results.
When September comes, progress will be proclaimed by the White House no matter what is reality. Republicans will, once again, be faced with the intransigence of Bush's addiction. They've been in a combination of depression and bargaining for the time being but are quickly speeding towards another letdown. And like the confrontation of any addict, Republicans will have to "hit bottom" before being able to repair their party. At this point and as a part of my ongoing "Republican watch", the only question is how badly will the party be damaged until it's members join Alanon?

Update: Great minds .... and all that ....

Update II: Kevin Drum:
But political progress? There are virtually no positive signs right now, and after 18 months of stalling it's unlikely that 18 more weeks are going to make a difference. What's more, I'm inclined to think that there are at least a handful of moderate Republicans who are genuinely serious about abandoning Bush this time around. This time, it looks like six months might really mean six months.
LMAO. Send that boy an Alanon card.


Chainsaw Management

Story tip stolen from MiaCulpa.

Spinning the revolving door between government and business as never before, the White House has handed more than 100 top environmental posts to representatives of polluting industries. The author provides a biographical sampler–and describes a devastating rollback of three decades of progress.

I can't imagine we have had a more destructive administration than this one. To those of you who voted for Bush, will you please listen to us progressives the next time around?


Monday, May 7, 2007

Fun With Tweety

My my. Tweety looks a little exasperated as a wingers tries to use a GOP talking point about Congress setting war policy:

Go get em'dude!


That Lamb Is Being Dressed

Now with Monica Goodling likely heading for testimony before Congress (with full immunity), the White House has a new plan. Looks to me like she's going to be set up to take the fall:

Newsweek reports that the Justice Department has “confirmed it’s investigating whether [Monica] Goodling improperly assessed the political loyalties of applicants for career assistant U.S. attorney posts.” The probe began “after Jeff Taylor, the interim U.S. attorney in D.C., complained that Goodling tried to block the hiring of a prosecutor in his office for being a ‘liberal Democratic type.’”
Wonder if this little intimidation investigation will piss her off enough to actually tell the truth?


The Next War

This is no surprise. It's been reported for some time:

The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States are working with other states in the Middle East region to sponsor covert action against Iran, according to a report in this month's edition of The Atlantic. The report also suggests that covert attacks may occur against Iran's oil sector.
Make no mistake. We are at war with Iran already. And Iran will not sit idly by while these incursions occur. Plus we get the added benefit of using U.S. resources to train, equip and arm a whole new generation of terrorists. After all, what is the name we now give to the Mujahideen who fought the Soviets with the aid of U.S. training, equipment and arms? That's right. Al Qaeda.

Before things settle down again, there will be a regional war in the Middle East pitting Sunni's against Shiites. Iraq is just the current battle ground.


Remember. Up Is Down

How's this for setting the table in a favorable way to the administration:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military announced the deaths of 11 U.S. soldiers killed in combat along with an embedded journalist Sunday, and Iraqi officials said 163 civilians were killed or injured across the country.

But still more carnage is likely over the next three months as additional U.S. forces arrive in Baghdad under President Bush's troop "surge" because "we're taking the fight to the enemy," a top U.S. military commander warned.
So let's review the bidding. We have more troops in Iraq. If we're "successful" our military leaders are predicting that it will be evidenced by more dead soldiers. Yes, indeed. Taking the "fight to the enemy" will result in more death. But isn't this the essence of the entire error of the plan? And just how are we going to be measuring success if not via the key measure, less violence? Is success going to be the ability of Paetraus to walk down a street with a full military escort without being attacked?

The conservative approach is simple minded, clumsy and stupid .... to take a problem and to beat it to death. The miscalculation is that there is an unending supply of "enemy" in Iraq. Until there is a solution that stops the flow of new enemy, the status quo can only be maintained by a similar unending flow of new soldiers. And trust me on this, we are no where even close to stopping the flow of new insurgents.



It appears that the, for now, final troop deployment of the escalation is on it's way:

BAGHDAD — The final troop contingent in President Bush's controversial plan to improve security, a brigade that includes 152 attack and transport helicopters, will arrive soon in the Iraqi capital, a U.S. commander said.

With the arrival of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., the addition of 28,500 troops begun in mid-February will be complete.

The brigade will be based at Camp Victory near the Baghdad international airport, Maj. Gen. James Simmons, deputy commander of multinational forces, said in an interview Friday.
My first thought is, yeah right. I'm guessing there will be many more troops sent in before any come out. More importantly, with this deployment the nutbars can no longer claim that the escalation isn't in place yet. It's there. They're getting killed in larger numbers and the Iraqi government is no closer to a political solution.

Conventional wisdom is a very powerful thing. And the current CW is that the Preznit has until September to "show results" (whatever the hell that means). I'm afraid that I have to agree with what Atrios has said (among many others), never doubt the power and strength of the Friedman Unit Generator.


Relative Gains

Barry Ritholtz puts up an interesting set of charts today (click to enlarge):

These charts show the the value of the S&P 500 stock index vs. various commodities. Put another way, these charts show the amount of various assets it would take in today's dollars to buy the stock market.

First it's interesting to note that in dollars, the stock market is just getting back to 2000 levels. But more interesting is how poorly stocks have done against other assets. This gives you some idea of just how pernicious inflation can be. For example, it takes a whole lot more corn equivalent dollars to buy a stock than just a few short years ago.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Meanwhile, Over There ....

BAGHDAD - Roadside bombs killed eight American soldiers in separate attacks Sunday in Diyala province and Baghdad, and a car bomb claimed 30 more lives in a wholesale food market in a part of the Iraqi capital where sectarian tensions are on the rise.

In all, at least 95 Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide Sunday, police reported. They included 12 policemen in Samarra, among them the city's police chief, who died when Sunni insurgents launched a suicide car bombing and other attacks on police headquarters.

The deadliest attack against U.S. forces occurred in Diyala, where six U.S. soldiers and a European journalist were killed when a massive bomb destroyed their vehicle, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded, the military said.



I've referenced this before, but it bears repeating, expanding and exploring. The situation is summed up very well by a reader at Josh Marshall's place regarding one of the prosecutors fired by Abu Gonzales:

I've read TPM for years, and appreciate your work. I email you because I read something today about the firing of John McKay that finally put me over the edge.

Apparently during Comey's testimony today he said that one of the reasons McKay got himself in hot water with the DOJ heavyweights was because he was pushing for additional resources to investigate the murder of Tom Wales, who was an Assistant US Attorney in Seattle. Tom Wales was shot and killed in 2001. What nobody has talked about, and what you may not be aware of, is the fact that Tom Wales was extremely active in attempting to get tighter gun control laws passed here in Washington.

Think about that for a second. A pro-gun control federal prosecutor was shot and killed. John McKay was agitating for more resources to bring his killer to justice. That pissed off DOJ, who apparently thought that McKay should spend his time going after bogus voter fraud prosecutions rather than solve the murder of a guy who was in favor of gun control. If you don't think the fact that Tom Wales' political views weren't taken into consideration by the higher ups at DOJ when they decided to punish McKay for fighting to find his killer, you haven't been paying attention to the way these guys have operated for the last 6 years. Every single thing they do is about politics, and the political views of those they help or hurt.

The bottom line of this whole McKay firing could be summed up in this way: try to catch killers, you get fired. File BS charges of voter fraud, you keep your job.

It's a slap in the face to every prosecutor in the country. It's our job to seek justice for those that aren't able to seek it for themselves. None of us should give a damn what the political views are of the victims we try to protect. It's beyond reprehensible for them to punish McKay for doing this. But for this administration, it's par for the course.
You know what? A more cynical greyhair might suggest that this could indicate a conspiracy. One plus one still equals two. Has Tom Wales' killer been found? Did DOJ try to shut it down for a reason other than their own stupid political self-interest?

There is no evidence of a conspiracy to do anything other than push the U.S. attorney's to pursue the White House political agenda. And that's bad enough. But still, isn't it a sign of the times that a tinfoil hat conspiracy is the first thing that pops into my head?


Reverse Fly Paper

There were a bunch of headlines the other day about al Qaeda's number two guy announcing, or denoucing, the Democrats plans for a timeline to leave Iraq. His reasoning was that he wanted the U.S. to stay bogged down in Iraq so it could be drained of it's resources and destroyed.

Juan Cole makes the point that this is essentially the "fly-paper" strategy ..... in reverse! Kind of an interesting thought, but it's true that if you put fly paper in place by actually, like, grabbing the fly paper yourself, don't you get stuck too? Except in this case, al Qaeda has a lot less to lose being stuck in a death struggle with the U.S. in Iraq.



Charlie Pierce writes a letter to Eric Alterman about the Republican debates. It's a great read and a quality take on the entire affair. Here's an excerpt:

This is a field with the gallows in its eyes. They all know full well that, for six full years, they had the chance that Reagan never really had. They controlled all three branches of the government, and they cowed the elite press far more thoroughly than did Mike Deaver and that bunch. And now they realize to whom they handed the keys of the kingdom, and they're all standing there surrounded by bills that are coming due almost by the day. "Movement conservatism" -- which takes Reagan as a secular icon even though he largely saved it from many of its own excesses -- is an empty shell. It always was a bunch of resentments pretending to be an ideology, and it always contained within itself the poisons that would leach out and kill it.
I never really thought about it much, but the pics I've seen are just that ... like a bunch of white boys going to the gallows. The only candidate I've seen that even seems to really have a chance is Fred Thompson. Unfortunately I suspect that if he gets serious about running, his health problems will sink his chances. Everyone is playing all nicey nicey about his cancer for now, but if he gets serious expect there to be a lot of raised eyebrows about having a Preznit with the big C in the White House.