Saturday, June 16, 2007

Listen Up

If you haven't heard British artist Corinne Bailey Rae yet you are in for a treat.


A Very Good Idea

I love this idea:

Could The Nation team up with Air America and offer to sponsor a Republican debate please?
One of two things would happen.

A) They'd participate at which time a pundit panel from both media outlets could have a go at the candidates afterward or ....

B) Republicans would refuse and we'd then see the outrage, OUTRAGE of those wimpy Republicans refusing to go on a teevee show and debate.

With all this muscular testosterone driven rhetoric about refusing to legitimize FAUX Propoganda News equaling being wimpy on terrorism, it probably won't be long until we'll have pundits waxing poetically about a candidates manly man smells.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Everyone But The One Who Should

WASHINGTON — A senior Justice Department official who helped carry out the firings of eight U.S. attorneys said Friday he is resigning.

Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors.

The firings have led to congressional investigations, an internal Justice Department inquiry and calls on Capitol Hill for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Elston's resignation is effective at the end of next week. Reached Friday afternoon, he confirmed his plans to leave but would not say why.

His departure — and that of other senior Justice aides — has been anticipated since McNulty announced his own resignation last month.

Other aides who have resigned in the wake of the firings include former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson and White House liaison Monica M. Goodling. A fifth official, Mike Battle, who ran the Justice office that oversees the U.S. attorneys, left in March.


Passing Of An Era


June 15 (Bloomberg) -- Ronco Corp., maker of the Veg-O-Matic vegetable slicer and the Pocket Fisherman, filed for bankruptcy two years after founder and television pitchman Ron Popeil sold the iconic company for $56 million.

Ronco, which marketed products as perfect for ``grads and dads,'' sought protection from creditors owed more than $32.7 million. It listed $13.9 million in assets yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills, California.
Nice sale Ron. But where will I get replacement parts for my veg-o-matic?


Hey ... Rudy!

Ask John McCain about this:

Giuliani said he could support escalating Bush’s escalation, provided Petraeus believed he “need[ed] more troops to make it work in order to get Iraq to a situation where Iraq is stable.” When Cook noted that many Americans would strongly oppose such a plan, Giuliani said, “Hey, you know, leadership is about sometimes doing the things you know are right.”
Kidding aside, I wouldn't be surprised to start to see more of this CW. Afterall, we wouldn't really be reliving the 1970's without it.


It's Official

I know you'll all be shocked by this (via Froomkin):

Eugene Robinson writes in his Washington Post op-ed column: "Here's a surprise: Remember how we were told that if we just waited until the fall, we'd see that George W. Bush's 'surge' was working in Iraq? Well, now it turns out that we shouldn't expect answers in September after all.

"White House spokesman Tony Snow was purposeful on Wednesday in stomping, trampling, tap-dancing upon and otherwise giving a definitive beat-down to any expectations of a serious, fact-based reassessment of Iraq policy in the fall. Never mind that the White House raised those expectations in the first place.

"The September scenario has been a rhetorical mainstay for the administration and its supporters, a major argument for ignoring all the bad news from Iraq and giving Bush's troop escalation a chance to work. Let's wait for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the man who's now running the war, to submit his progress report. At that point, went the White House argument, the 'way forward' would become clear.

"The fog of war seems to have closed back in. 'I have warned from the very beginning about expecting some sort of magical thing to happen in September,' Snow told the White House press corps, whose collective recollection was somewhat different. 'What I'm saying is, in September you'll have an opportunity to have metrics.'"
War without end.

How about this exchange between Helen Thomas and Tony Snow:
"Said Thomas: 'I have one follow-up. . . . Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?'

"'Yes,' said Snow, 'the president. The president is in the war every day.'

"Thomas said that wasn't her question. She said she meant 'on the front lines.'

"'The president,' Snow said."
You know what's really pathetic? The sonofabitch believes it.


Another Snake At DOJ

What a piece of work.

Only good Americans need apply.


Our Old Friend

In Iraq, one of the largest obstacles to peace is settling the political differences between Sunni Baathists and Shiites. Care to guess who is in charge of this process, and who is now blocking it?

Sweeping [American backed and promoted] de-Baathification reforms have been proposed to reconcile differences in the wake of Bremer’s failures. But progress on this front was “sabotaged” by U.S. ally Ahmad Chalabi, who is in charge of the process
Chalabi was also strongly in favor of the escalation.

Wonder how many times ole' W' has to take in the .... well .... you know, before he gets the picture that this guy is a snake?


The Official Word

Is that the escalation is "complete":

The escalation is now complete. “The full contingent of new U.S. forces being sent to Iraq…was completed by Friday, with 28,500 additional troops now posted in the country.” Five U.S. soldiers died yesterday.
Does anyone actually believe this?


Unusual Senate Movement

I've heard of being dissatisfied with Congress, but this one deserves an award:

"Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected," Emily Heil reports for Roll Call. "But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical 'No. 2' found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear."

Heil continues, "On Wednesday afternoon, Capitol Police cordoned off a section of the hallway on the third floor of the Senate side of the Capitol, where at least three piles of the stuff were causing a stench — and a stir. At first, the word circulating among the staff was that a visiting child had fallen ill while in the gallery. But then the prevailing theory was that the foul stuff had come from an adult or group of adults making a yet-to-be-determined political statement."
No further comment.


Bridezilla or How You Too Can Be Paris Hilton For A Day

There's a great article in the Times today about weddings:

About a dozen years ago, an old friend of mine was told by his daughter that she was going to get married. This suited him fine, but he balked at pouring untold thousands of dollars down the drain of a full-dress wedding. "I'll tell you what," he said to her. "I'll give you a choice: You can have a wedding, or you can have $30,000 to help you get started on your new life." Without a moment's hesitation, she astonished him -- and me, too, when he told me the story -- by replying, "I'll take the wedding."

This, mind you, was no "Bridezilla," defined by Rebecca Mead as "a young woman who, upon becoming engaged, had been transformed from a person of reason and moderation into a self-absorbed monster, obsessed with her plans to stage the perfect wedding, an event of spectacular production values and flawless execution, with herself as the star of the show." No, this was a young woman of reason and moderation, a sensible person who nonetheless had been caught up in an early wave of the phenomenon that -- all unknown to her father and me -- was beginning to sweep across America: the rise of the wedding industry, "shaped as much by commerce and marketing as it is by those influences couples might prefer to think of as affecting their nuptial choices, such as social propriety, religious observance, or familial expectation."
The already out-of-control wedding thing gotten even worse. And for what?
Who got the better of my friend's deal I do not know, as it seemed impolite to ask, but he hinted that even his daughter's relatively modest wedding cost more than the $30,000 buyout he'd offered her. Inasmuch as the marriage didn't last much longer than the wedding itself, it certainly seems to have been money down the drain.
Parents are a large part of the problem. First off, offering $30K for a wedding seems a *bit* excessive. Second, why did this guy pay more than 30K for the wedding? How about, "hey, here's $xxK, have a wedding or don't.

This whole excessive wedding thing is just another example of the excesses of our bubble economy. Everyone's ego gets so wrapped up in the "things" that they lose sight of the purpose. And since we have so much cash sloshing around, it just demands being put to work.

Where will it all stop? And perhaps as important, when?


If Only ....

Juan Cole daydreams a bit:

The biggest tragedy is that any sane person would have recognized after 9/11 that the US and the Shiites had a common enemy in Bin Laden and his ilk, and the US could have made up with Khatami's Iran. If the Iraq War had not happened, and the hardliners had not won the summer 2005 Iranian elections, the US position in the Muslim world would have been potentially strong by now. Instead, those great Islam scholars and political geniuses, Richard Perle and David Frum, managed to get Bush to put Iran in a cockeyed 'axis of evil.' It has been downhill ever since.
Sure, there are a few "if's" in his thoughts. But those assumptions seem to be of higher quality that the "if's" of the likes of Perle and Frum before launching the great Iraq adventure.


Gasoline Worldwide

Want to know why the U.S. is one of the largest consumers of gasoline? (click to enlarge)


Big Inflation News!

Well, maybe not so big. Just so you know, there was no inflation except for inflation. That is, if you strip out fuel and food, prices didn't really go up much. Interestingly, a big factor in keeping the so-called "core inflation rate" (ex food and energy) was rents, likely due to many of those young house flippers becoming unexpected landlords, having to rent out their investments.

I continue to contend that, while less of an influence than at one time, there's no way you can have energy prices continue to climb and have it not permeate the economy eventually. Take that with an ultimately cooling Chinese economy (and decreased ability to buy our debt), and with our government's propensity to continue to spend like a drunken sailor on unnecessary wars, how can you not see an increase in inflation and interest rates? It may be a crawl, but crawl it will.

Update: Mortgage foreclosure hit a high not seen in fifty years!


The Translated Version

Judge Walton has been having some fun with the law "experts" who filed briefs in support of letting the Scootster scoot. One of his comments included this:

Walton also criticized a brief filed by 12 law professors, including Alan Dershowitz of Harvard, that argued in favor of keeping Libby out of prison. "The submission was not something I would expect from a first-year law student," Walton said.
Here's the layperson's translation: "You may be able to pull that shit on CNN, but not in this court".


I Told Ya

It's the old "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" syndrome:

The Hamas takeover of Gaza "could doom the long-held Palesinian vision of uniting Gaza and the West Bank into a single independent state," says the LAT in a Page One analysis. It now seems increasingly likely that, as predicted, Abbas will let Hamas govern Gaza while he controls the West Bank. The NYT talks to some Israeli officials who welcome the idea of a divided government and will increase security operations to prevent Hamas fighters from entering the West Bank. Assuming things go as planned, Israel would then push to improve relations with the Abbas government and begin giving back the remaining Palestinian tax money.
Does anyone really think that Hamas will be satisfied without the West Bank?

If so, be prepared for (catch this) a(nother) war between Israel and Hamas except this time it will be to protect Fatah! Who could have imagined ......


Ever Spill A Glass Of Red Wine?

It makes a huge mess and can stain anything. Right?

Well, how about having 7 gallons of red wine blow up in your closet?


It happened to me last night. You see, I make wine. I have quite a lot ready to bottle at the end of the month. And it was, well, hot yesterday. Now the wife and I don't run air conditioning much, so it got a bit toasty in the house yesterday.

So let's review the bidding.

A full 7 gallon stoppered glass carboy + higher than normal temperatures = ? As they say in the old song, "somethin's gotta give".

The glass blew last night and there was .... well .... 7 gallons of wine released from it's bondage. And, unfortunately, not released into a glass.

The clean-up continues.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Feel The Surge!

No, not Iraq.

Of the conservative harpies who are about to s*#t a brick over Libby heading to the can.



You may have heard/read that Harry Reid was quoted as having trashed Gen. Pace as "incompetent" during a conference call with liberal bloggers. This was reported by the ever inaccurate Politico, picked up by Drudge, with all the pearl clutching/fainting conservative bloggers proclaiming it now the end of the world as we know it due to such incivility.

All well and good.

Except now three of the bloggers who were on the conference call are saying it never happened. You know it's funny. Not funny ha ha. But funny sad that The Politico has immediately jumped to the limelight as a "credible" source, yet they've routinely gotten stories completely wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if this one isn't wrong as well.

Update: Ok, so Reid did say it, although there is still dispute of whether Reid was talking about Pace of Bush. Actually they're both true.


Slate Finally Gets It

Not many other Washington "observers" do, but Slate finally does:

Slate announces the retirement of its Gonzales death watch: "When we first launched this enterprise, we truly believed that the sun rose in the east and gravity worked. We were wrong. As we have increasingly observed, most notably on the days the AG testified before Congress, some mystical alchemy provides that the worse he does, the better his chances become of remaining in office. At this point, just about nothing Gonzales does could cause the president to fire him."



This is what happens when graphic artists get bored. And we usually have the attention spans of 4 year olds.
I love the pandas.

oooh, more here.


Without Comment

During his press briefing yesterday, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the increasing chaos was a positive sign. The new levels of attacks “fit a pattern that we see throughout the region,” he said, “which is that when you see things moving towards success, or when you see signs of success, that there are acts of violence.”



Today is Libby day and the judge gets threats.

Does Libby go straight to jail?

Update: Bu bye Scootster. Seeya, wouldn't wannabeya


Just Keep Diggin'

Remember this from yesterday?

Well this is today:

"One of the frustrations is that there is more attention on Britney Spears getting out of a car without underwear than there is about who is going to be the next president."

-- Mike Huckabee, quoted by CNN, complaining about the lack of media attention to his campaign.
Keep on talkin' Mike.


Is It Time To Dismantle The FBI?

They can't seem to do anything right:

Remember the report in March that said the FBI had frequently made errors, and potentially broke the law, while collecting personal information without judicial approval through national security letters? Well, the WP fronts an internal FBI audit that reveals the problem is much worse than initially thought. The audit found that these types of errors were made more than 1,000 times. And since the audit only looked into 10 percent of the national security investigations since 2002, the real number is likely to be much higher. Most of the violations were a result of agents keeping extra information they got from telephone companies and Internet providers. But in more than 20 cases, agents specifically requested information "that U.S. law did not allow them to have."
Just keep in mind that there is a plan afoot to create a "new" database with billions of records. As we're offered assurances that the data will be "safe", "protected" and civil liberties will "not be violated", remember this story.


Elsewhere In The Flames

The Palestinians continue to fight:

The NYT and WP front Hamas forces continuing to gain control over large portions of the Gaza Strip. Approximately 22 Palestinians were killed yesterday. The United Nations agency that gives aid to a significant portion of Gaza's population announced that it cut back its operations after two of its employees were killed. Everyone reports that while Hamas has been stockpiling weapons for months, Fatah fighters are running out of ammunition. Meanwhile, the fighting spread to the West Bank as Fatah gunmen raided a production company. The NYT says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might agree to give Hamas control over Gaza as long as he can keep the West Bank.
Wouldn't it be the epitome of irony if Israel offers military assistance to Fatah?


Does This Qualify?

Here's Petraeus on the prospect for violence due to the bombing on the mosque:

Petraeus said that although sectarian killings have been decreasing in Baghdad, "we're going to have to see what the impact of this tragedy in Samarra is on that." If there is an increase in sectarian killings, "This attack may well prove to be the nail in the coffin of the security plan," an analyst tells the LAT.
Does this headline qualify as a nail?
Several Sunni mosques in Iraq attacked
The reports suggest "relative calm" despite this attack. But the city is in a lockdown too. And Petreaus's claims of a decrease in sectarian violence are pretty thin, or at a minimum misleading. The violence is less concentrated now in Baghdad, not less over all, at least according to this report to Congress by the Pentagon:
Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.
Ever hear the term "herding cats"?

Sadr blames the U.S. for the mosque attack. Sunnis blame Shiite militias. Bush blames al Qaeda. Who do you blame?
Everyone notes suspicion immediately fell on the mosque's guards, who were detained for questioning. But the WP interviewed some witnesses who said "a special unit of commandos" went to the mosque on Tuesday night and forced the guards to leave.
Swell army they have there. "Forced the guards to leave"? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, while the U.S. media continues to carry the administration's water claiming the mosque attack was done by al Qaeda, Juan Cole gives us an update on what is likely the truth:
An Iranian embassy official in Baghdad admitted that the Samarra attack was probably the work of the Iraqi Baath Party. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had blamed the US, while the US fingered "al-Qaeda." The Baathists are the best candidate. Samarra is a Sunni Arab city with a strong Baath cell, and the Baathists are secularists who have a history of being willing to shell religious edifices for political reasons (e.g. attacks on Najaf in spring 1991). My readers who like conspiracy theorists should pay attention to this story; an Iranian observer in Baghdad would likely have some intelligence on this matter. In the first Sawt al-Iraq story cited above, Iraqi Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi also implicitly blamed the Baathists.
Bush can claim that the problem in Iraq is al Qaeda all he wants. It will never make it so. The Baathists are a powerful, well organized force that is quite capable to overturning majority Shiite rule and apparently has a strategy to do so .... despite American troops caught in the middle.

And the beat goes on ......


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let It Sink In

This is an exchange between and interviewer and Mike Huckabee, Republican nutbar for President:

Q: I read that you're against miniskirts.

A: If a person dresses provocatively, they're calling attention -- maybe not the most desirable kind -- to private parts of their body.

Q: What about a burka?

A: No, that hides everything. I think a person's hair, arms, shoulders, legs are an appropriate display of who they are. I want people to be attracted to me because they find me interesting, not because I'm wearing something ... well, I doubt I own anything provocative.

Q: How about a minskirt?

A: A thong.
Hmmmm. Let that sink in a minute.


Making Lemonade

Gen. Petraeus had a comment on the shrine attack today:

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, called today's attack on a holy Shiite shrine in Baghdad a "serious blow" to the military effort in the region and the work of al Qaeda.
No kidding it's a setback. But so far I've read that it's more likely a Sunni insurgents:
US officials blamed "al-Qaeda." But it is just the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement or rather one of its cells, which is trying to throw the country into turmoil as an insurgency strategy.
I'll believe Juan Cole over Gen. Petraeus thank-you-very-much. The Pentagon couldn't tell a Muslim from a Buddhist. But I really love this statement from Petraeus:
"But frankly, it is our hope that this can galvanize the Iraqi leaders to unite against this form of extremism," Petraeus said from Baghdad.
Hey Dave, you just keep lookin' for them magic Xmas ponies in Iraq. You're sure to eventually find one if you just look just a little bit harder.

This is also very telling:
The attack, which police said involved explosives, occurred around 9 a.m., despite a police presence at the site, officials said. There were no reports of casualties.

It could not immediately be determined how the attackers evaded the guard force...
Gee, I wonder how they managed to evade the Iraqi police in the bright sunshine of a summer morning????


Decisive Quote of the Day

"Iraq may get better; Iraq may get worse. We may be successful in Iraq; we may not be. I don't know the answer to that. That's in the hands of other people."
Rudy Giuliani, author of a bestselling book called "Leadership," explaining why he didn't mention the war in Iraq while setting forth his "12 commitments" to America Tuesday.



For your information and for archive purposes, here is a handy dandy chart on just where your tax dollars go. A lot of money goin' to defense and Iraq ......


They Came To Work

This is why I like Barbara Ehrenreich:

The punitive rage directed at illegal immigrants grows out of a larger blindness to the manual labor that makes our lives possible: The touching belief, in the class occupied by Rush Limbaugh among many others, that offices clean themselves at night and salad greens spring straight from the soil onto one's plate.

Native-born workers share in this invisibility, but it's far worse in the case of immigrant workers, who are often, for all practical purposes, nameless. In the recent book There's No José Here: Following the Lives of Mexican Immigrants, Gabriel Thompson cites a construction company manager who says things like, "I've got to get myself a couple of Josés for this job if we're going to have that roof patched up by Saturday." Forget the Juans, Diegos, and Eduardos - they're all interchangeable "Josés."

Take that, Lou Dobbs.


Battling the Dolphins

at sea so we don't have to battle them here. I guess. Our illustrious military has admitted dumping munitions and nerve agents into the ocean.


Reassuring Al

Big Al Greenspan said that there's no reason to fear China dumping U.S. debt:

Asked at a commercial real estate conference if investors should be worried about this oft-cited concern, Greenspan said: "I wouldn't be, no."
And why did Big Al feel so confident?
Still, Greenspan said the reason such a withdrawal was unlikely was that China would not have anyone to sell the securities to, hardly the sort of comfort jittery bond investors were seeking.
Swell Al. No wonder interest rates are going up.


Take a Moment

Hat tip to Itchmo. Neat video. The orca is Luna.


Oil Killed The Bear

Boy. The nets is buzzin' today.

Kevin Drum put up a great post today on the end of the Soviet Union. In that post, he postulates that it was Saudia Arabia's change in oil policy that ended the Soviet Union. When Saudi Arabia increased production, causing a perciptious drop in oil prices in the 80's, the loss of income to the Soviet Union was crippling requiring help from the West.

Sorry St. Ronnie. You just happened to be Preznit when it happened.



Needlenose makes a very good point today.

The news has been filled with stories of bridges blown up. Additionally, fuel supplies (which have been crappy for some time) have become a bigger problem in Baghdad. Increasingly hardened checkpoints, blown-up pipelines, increasing violence are also facts of life. Are the Sunni's doing a slow motion seige of Baghdad? Larry Johnson:

... the bombed bridges of Baghdad are not a quaint romantic tale, but a warning sign of potential disaster for U.S. forces in Iraq. The ongoing attacks on bridges in and around Baghdad creates significant risks and logistical obstacles for U.S. forces in Iraq. In my opinion these attacks are part of deliberate strategy to create ambush chokepoints, degrade the capability of U.S. Quick Reaction Forces, and enhance the ability of insurgent forces to cut the U.S. lines of communication.
Isn't this a logical counter-strategy to an escalation of troops into Baghdad? If you can't beat em' head on, surround em'.


Holden and Pony's

I'm not quite sure why he does it, but Atrios gives Holden (whoever he is) a new pony everytime Bush hits a new low in the polls. Holden got two spanking new pony's today.

If you want a chuckle, check out the pony's. They're always different and really funny.

There've been so many, Atrios must spend a fair amount of time hunting them up for Holden awards.



CNN's Dana Bash just reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee will subpoena Sara Taylor, who served as the Deputy to Karl Rove, in the White House political office. She's being subpoenaed in the investigation over the firing of the U.S. Attorneys.
Wake me when 1) the White House honors a subpoena or 2) Congress takes the White House to court.

Update: We'll see. Conyers:
Let me be clear: this subpoena is not a request, it is a demand on behalf of the American people for the White House to make available the documents and individuals we are requesting to help us answer the questions that remain. The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania.
Update: TPM explains how a showdown over subpoenas will likely end up in a constitutional impasse and, in practical terms, result in no release of documents.

I. Don't. Give. A. Shit.

Dems simply have to show that they are willing to go to the mat to uphold the law. I don't care if they win or lose or how long it takes. Just do it. Period.


I Think I Give Up

I've been of the mind that the economy is slowing.

Au contrair':

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retail sales in May rose at the strongest pace since January 2006, while import prices surged, adding to recent data suggesting the U.S. economy is recovering strongly from a first-quarter slowdown.

Sales by U.S. retailers rose 1.4 percent, more than twice as much as expected, as consumers shrugged off higher gasoline prices and a housing slump to spend more on cars, clothing, building materials and electronics, a Commerce Department report showed on Wednesday.
I give up. I throw in the towel. Chucky has beat me down and eviscerated my thoughts on the economy.

Where's the money coming from? No one knows.

I suspect that they key may be employment. Until people begin losing jobs they seem willing to spend whether they have the money or not. Until that particular dynamic changes, I guess the economy continues to grow based on that new plasma teevee.

(postscript) Whenever you capitulate, it usually means that things are about to go against you .... in the other way.

Update: Mish explains why this report is likely meaningless, i.e. government numbers (subject to revisions) do not match up with what the individual retailers are reporting. Could be. Hell if I know.


Gasoline Pricing

The Oil Drum has a great post up today detailing some of the longer term causes (a link is provided to another post on shorter term causes) of gasoline price increases. It a very good and in-depth discussion, put in laymen terms, of just how gasoline pricing occurs. The post also examines many of the suggested causes, i.e. oil companies controlling refining capacity.

My only comment is this. Whether you see oil company malfeasance or not, it seems to me that gasoline is finally being priced correctly. The hidden costs are being realized. For example, if you don't want a refinery in your backyard (and I wouldn't), then you're voting for higher prices in a petroleum world. That vote would increase prices for gasoline. If your behavior is not conservatory, then you are also voting for increased prices. If you don't want co2 emissions, you're voting for increased prices in gasoline. If you don't want ozone, then your voting for higher prices in the form of additives/technology to reduce those effects.

As any and all the factors negative to a petroleum economy get more prominent ... and more urgent ... the price of petroleum based products must go up to reflect the true recognized costs. That's what is happening and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. Until and unless there are 1) huge new supplies found (ain't happenin' nor is it likely to happen, and still wouldn' t mitigate the evolving recognized environmental "costs" of petroleum or 2) a decline in consumption of petroleum, expect prices to maintain a steady upward climb.


War Ownership

The Cunning Realist (I love that blog name) makes a terrific point today about ownership of the Iraqi war:

Whoever sits in the Oval Office on Inauguration Day 2009 is going to own Iraq just as Nixon owned Vietnam after 1968. To be sure, the extent of that ownership -- in both the public's mind and the history books -- will depend on what happens in Iraq after 2008. But those hoping for a dramatic change in policy may be disappointed. Occupations tend to be self-perpetuating. And remember, Nixon had huge anti-Communist credibility but still felt compelled to prove his toughness once in office. If Hillary wins, will she have any less to prove as a Democrat and a woman?
Do you remember Vietnam as Kennedy's war? Johnson's war? Nixon's war? All deserve blame for starting and maintaining our policy in Southeast Asia. Some folks may think that Kennedy was on the verge of leaving Vietnam, but we'll never know for sure. What we do know is that he was part of escalating our presence there. Have any of the three been less tarred for "starting it" or "escalating it"?

I completely agree with the quote above. To simply think that "getting the White House in 2008" and any Dem who is elected in 2008 will end the war is naive. We are back to 1968 .... or even 1972. Getting out of Iraq is going to be an incredible upward struggle against momentum no matter who's in Congress or who's in the White House. Ego's are simply too big, hubris too strong, misperceptions too entrenched.



Gee, I wonder what they did with the money?

The NYT fronts an interesting look at the history of two ships that lawmakers gave a faith-based organization through an earmark. The ships were supposed to be used for medical missions in the South Pacific, but Canvasback Missions, which does both secular and religious work, sold them and kept the money. Coast Guard officials and the lawmakers that inserted the earmark said they had no idea that the ships had been sold. Although Canvasback insists the money from the sales was used for secular purposes, the events raise questions about whether the federal government inadvertently ended up funding evangelism activities.
Yep. We've got solid church/state controls in place. Yeah we do.


Shot In The Foot

This is so sad.

Why in the world can't the Palestinians get their act together:

The WP and LAT also front the Palestinian violence and all the papers invoke the phrase "civil war" to describe the latest round of clashes. Illustrating how Palestinian leaders have become clear targets in the fighting, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Mortar shells were then fired at the Gaza offices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Neither one of the leaders was home at the time of the attacks but Fatah says Hamas forces are "planning to stage a coup." The LAT notes Haniyeh and Abbas called for a cease-fire, but it seems their influence over the militants is waning as neither side seemed ready to drop their weapons. Both the LAT and WP cite Human Rights Watch officials saying that both factions have been committing atrocities in the last few days of fighting.
What's happening in the middle east is reminiscent of Europe during the 1700's - 1800's. Loose associations of groups and regions are beginning to coalesce into actual nations after having been fiefdoms. The jockeying for power in these situations is never easy and often bloody. It's not a good place to have a defacto "colonial power" in the middle of the sort-out.


Mini Rant

Can I take a moment to rant?

I read this:

The Los Angeles Times leads with a new poll that reveals a significant majority of Americans support the idea of giving illegal immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens, which has become the most controversial aspect of the moribund immigration bill.
I'm sick of the media and pundits. I know I know, that's some shock. Right?

But really, the CW floating around is that politics is "broken", that the system isn't working and that politics is polarized. But isn't this really crap?

Take a look at immigration. Polls show Americans are tolerant of dealing with the illegal problem. Eighty percent of Democratic Senators voted for a relatively moderate bit of immigration legislation while eighty percent of Republicans voted against it. Take the war (as Henny Youngman would say ... "please"). Polls show that Americans want out of Iraq. Dems voted to get out. Republicans blocked it. Take health care, minimum wage, Social Security reform. You name it. Dems are reflecting the populace.

Isn't it time to change the CW? The system isn't broken. We have a group of conservative extremists in government .... in the White House and in Congress and perhaps in the Supreme Court ... who simply do not reflect the American public. A minority of officials are in the way of effective government. Isn't it time for the media and punditry to get it right? Isn't it time for Democratic spokespersons to meme this to death?

Just askin' ....... ya know?

Update: Great minds and all that. I ran across this later. Report summary here.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nutbar Club

I haven't been writing about the primary candidates much because it's still too early for me to give much of a rip. But (via Digby) I couldn't resist noting this:

BOSTON - Decorated Iraq war veteran Anthony Circosta seemed like an ideal candidate for a pardon from then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his boyhood conviction for a BB gun shooting. Romney said no — twice — despite the recommendation of the state's Board of Pardons.

At age 13, Circosta was convicted of assault for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB gun, a shot that didn't break the skin. Circosta worked his way through college, joined the Army National Guard and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq's deadly Sunni triangle.

In 2005, as he was serving in Iraq, he sought a pardon to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.

"I've done everything I can to give back to my state and my community and my country and to get brushed aside is very frustrating," said Circosta, 29, of Agawam, Mass. "I'm not some shlub off the street."

In his presidential bid, Romney often proudly points out that he was the first governor in modern Massachusetts history to deny every request for a pardon or commutation during his four years in office. He says he refused pardons because he didn't want to overturn a jury.
Is this nuts or what? Romney, who seems to be gaining steam among the big boys of the GOP may be more stupid and rigid than Bush! The point of clemency/pardons is to recognize changed circumstances since a conviction by a jury. I think this fellow qualifies as having changed his circumstances somewhat. Don't you? But not flip-flopping Mitty!

But you want to read the kicker? Romney says he would very much consider a pardon for Scooter.


This Is Getting Stupd

I ran across this today:

Last week, the Justice Dept. refused Leahy’s request to voluntarily turn over domestic surveillance documents for the ninth time.
This was an update to a story of Leahy subpoening further documents from the White House.

Just what does a subpoena mean anyway? If you ask, and you get a refusal, then you subpoena and you get a refusal, then what? It's crap like this that is really turning me against the Senate Dems. Nine times he's been refused? If I was in the White House I'd be laughing my ass off at Leahy for his toothless legal oversight.

I don't care how long litigation would take or what the procedures. It's time for the Senate to take this to court. Even if they lose it can't be any worse than being exposed as toothless this way?


Uh Oh

Mortgage rates are going to be going up at the worst possible time in the housing bubble deflation:

It now appears the 30 year fixed rate will move up to 6.75% to 7% this week. As an aside, I'm always amused when the article tries to explain why rates are moving.
Treasury yields (interest rates) hit five year highs today.

Ironically, I personally think that this rise in interests rates is going to be challenged, in short order actually, by weakening economic data. The headlines are all about a booming economy. But I just haven't seen data that backs that up, i.e. consumer spending which makes up 72% of GDP.

The conventional wisdom has been that energy prices just don't affect the overall economy like they used to. I think the economy may be less sensitive to energy prices, but I'm not sure how you can have a 40% increase in the cost of fuel and have it not affect prices .... regardless of economic growth.


Help Stop Drive-Through Mastectomies

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Jewel delivered more than 12 million petition signatures to Capitol Hill, urging Congress to pass the bipartisan Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2005 (S 910/HR1849). The bill would allow a woman and her doctor to decide whether she should recuperate for at least 48 hours in the hospital or whether she has enough support to get quality care at home following this emotionally and physically difficult surgery. The bill was reintroduced in 2007 with the support of 14 million signatures from Lifetime's online petition.
Sign the petition here.

This bill was originally introduced in 1997. It never even made it to the Senate floor for a vote. Shows how important women's health is in this country.



Just when you thought the Katrina stories couldn't get any worse.


Dear General Petraeus

Attaturk does some typing for Sunni insurgents:

Dear General Petraeus,

As a member of the Sunni Resistance to Al Qaeda it is extremely important that I receive the following:

1. 1 ton plastic explosive
2. 1 dozen Toyota SUVs
3. An updated map of all Shiia Mosques (y'know to "protect them")
4. Oh, and a map of major car and rail bridges
5. 100 AK-47s
6. 10 tons fertilizer
7. 1000 gallons of kerosine
8. 100 bitchin' Iraqi army outfits
9. 1 dozen, no 2 dozen water bongs
10. A two-year subscription to "JUGGS"

Thanks, and death to Americ Al Qaeda


Your Sunni Tribal Friend"


I Always Liked E.J.

E.J. Dionne shows his highness Broder and Joe Klein how to write like a pundit (via Froomkin):

In his Washington Post op-ed column today, E. J. Dionne Jr. points fingers at some of his journalistic colleagues (could they include The Post's Dan Balz and David S. Broder?) who "seem eager to declare that 'the system' has come down with some dread disease, to proclaim that an ideological 'center' blessed by the heavens no longer exists, and woe unto us. . . .

"Is Washington a mess? In many ways it is. The simplest explanation has to do with some bad choices made by President Bush. He started a misguided war that is now sapping his influence; he has treated Democrats as if they were infected with tuberculosis and Republicans in Congress as if they were his valets. No wonder he's having trouble pushing through a bill whose main opponents are his own ideological allies.

"Maybe you would place blame elsewhere. But please identify some real people or real political forces and not just some faceless entity that you call the system. Please be specific, bearing in mind that when hypochondriacs misdiagnose vague ailments they don't have, they often miss the real ones."
Thank you.

As I've written before. When I was a working psychotherapist you could always tell when we had a serious borderline or narcissistic personality disorder in the office. How? Not by the personal preening, flashy clothes, or faux charm. No. We could tell because everyone else in the office would start fighting with each other!


No Bother

I know it's an effort, but shouldn't you be doing your day job first?

Not that it would have altered the final result. But one of the reasons for the relatively low vote tally in favor of the Gonzales no-confidence resolution was that presidential candidates Biden, Dodd and Obama didn't bother to show up.


Mudcat Is Sorry

The Edwards advisor who was such a jerk in his first blog post yesterday is now apologizing.


Political Calculation

This is interesting:

Is the failure to stall the Iraq War dragging down the new Dem-controlled Congress?

A new poll finds that Congress' approval rating is at its lowest in a decade -- and that less than one-third of liberals approve of the job Congress is doing.
Good job with the optics and politics of Iraq Dems.

I wonder when the punditry and pols in Washington are going to figure out that the opinon polls on issue really do make a difference. When you have an overwhelming majority of America saying they want us out of Iraq, they mean it. And when you ignore the will of the people, it may cost you. The situation is such that in 2008, Congressional control may depend on who voters like less, not who they support.

Too bad. The Iraq war funding bill was a magnificent opportunity. I understand why they decided what they did, but I still think it was a mistake.


When China Sneezes .....

.... we get a cold:

The reason that this news [China needing to cool down it's economy due to enormous growth and inflation] is of such interest to the US is because of the implications it holds for China's monetary policy, which faces increasing pressure to cool down the Chinese economy. The classic ways to do that would be to raise domestic interest rates, and/or to allow the currency to appreciate against the dollar. Either of these steps could cause a reduction in official Chinese purchases of US bonds, thus contributing to a rise in interest rates in the US.


We're Nuts

I had read about this case awhile back and thought it was crazy. It looks like someone is trying to correct it:

A judge overturned the sentence of a Georgia man who, at 17, was given 10 years imprisonment for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old, everybody reports. The case had been frequently cited as an example of the problems inherent in mandatory minimum sentencing. Georgia's attorney general promised to appeal.
What's up with people who think that kids 1) don't engage in sex, 2) should have the book thrown at them when they do? Besides eating, sex is probably of the highest priority for a human being. Sure, kids need guidance on the subject, but I personally don't consider a ten year prison sentence guidance in anything but how to be a criminal.


Proof Of Civil War

When you can't tell the difference between the soldiers and the civilians, isn't that then called a battlefield?

LAT stringers in Iraq have witnessed 18 incidents this year in which U.S. troops have opened fire in crowded civilian areas, often in the course of responding to roadside bombings or other attacks. Although military officials claim troops are trained to exercise restraint in civilian-populated areas, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise: "They were confused and angry and suspecting anyone around. If a bird had passed by, they would have shot it," said one Iraqi man, recalling one such incident.
This is tragic of course. Yet I can't blame these soldiers. They don't know who's gonna shoot them and who's going to shake their hand. The entire country is a battlefield. To call it anything but a war is to wantonly ignore the situation.


More on Pet Food

They are still finding tainted pet food, this time it's Science Diet.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Oh Jeebus

John Edwards, please have a chat with your blogging consultant. What is it about Swampland? It only ends up with uppity "centrists" who are really conservatives"

I have bitched and moaned for years about the lack of tolerance in the elitist wing of the Democratic Party, or what I refer to as the "Metropolitan Opera Wing". These are the people who talk of tolerance but the only true tolerance they ever exhibit is for their own pseudo-intellectual arrogance.

If you want a perfect example of how this "intolerance" is helping the Democrats lose national elections, check out the responses to Joe Klein's post on Paris and Libby. To be clear, I have no problem with incivility [utter and complete BULLSHIT apparently]. After all, I'm in the political business. However, as a pilgrim in the blogosphere, I thought blogging was for exchange of ideas, not personal attacks. Like his post or not, Klein in no way compromised the integrity of the fourth estate. This was not a news story. He was simply stating his opinion. Unless fourth estate integrity has been compromised, there is no rationale for calling him a "jackass", "fool", or "elite white guy".
That's a graf from his (remember, he's a Democrat) opening blog post encouraging an open dialog.

I really wish that someone would begin a "Blogging 101" class. These idiots who are supposedily on the liberal side continually do not understand that blogging is a very very public forum where anyone, I repeat ANYONE, (including not incidently Republican trickster or "trolls" as they're known) from entering comments in whatever form they choose. To then take that very narrow feedback and paint a very broad brush of the "elite left blogospher" is really nothing short of bigotry. What's the deal. Are all these political "leaders" and "pundits" thin skinned idiots?

I wonder.

Or is all this just a thin disguise for a southern Democrat who would embrace Joe Lieberman with a big wet kiss?

Gee, I wonder how his future posts will be greeted since he offered such a warm hearted welcome to his readers.



I figured this was going to happen eventually. What a mess:

Since September 11, 2001, the U.S.'s Pakistan policy can be summed up in two words: Pervez Musharraf. But within the U.S. intelligence community, and in Pakistan, there's a growing belief that the U.S.-friendly military dictator's days are drawing to a close -- and possibly within the next few months. It may be time for the U.S. to face what it's long feared in the nuclear state: the prospect of chaos, rising Islamism or anti-Americanism that follows Musharraf.
The article goes on to say that "intelligence officials" also think that a smooth transition can occur resulting in a government friendly to the U.S. Maybe. Given the intelligence community's track record, it's hard to know what to believe. What we know is that there is a very very stong fundamentalist Islamic element in Pakistan that could easily take advantage of any power vacuums.


Good News

At least for now, until the Supreme Court gets ahold of it.


Republican Watch

I find this amazing:

As Senate Democrats prepare to push a no confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales forward, a Democratic aide in the Senate said the party did not expect to reach the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture on a likely Republican filibuster to allow an up or down vote on the measure.

"We're working under the assumption that we'll get our side and none of the Republicans," the Senate Democratic staff member told RAW STORY Monday morning. "I'm almost certain it will be a party line vote."
Olympia Snowe? Susan Collins? Chuck Hagel? Outraged calls for resignation? They're all pretty brave as long there's no real record of their intent. It's simply astounding that this close to 2008, and with Bush's poll ratings down the drain that Republicans continue to following tribal custom. I guess it's a "live by the sword die by the sword" situation.

Not that it matters. I've predicted all along that Bush will keep Gonzales no matter what Congress does. It would take an impeachment to remove him and it's clear that Dems just don't have the votes. Bush's protection racket stays in place.

Going forward, it's going to be very important for Democratic voters to remember how Congress works. The fact that Dems have a majority does not automatically translate into the ability to actually do anything. The benefit of 2006 is the ability to 1) investigate (and publicize), 2) moderate nominees and 3) stop further nutbar legislation. While I think that the Democrats caving on the Iraq war funding bill has hurt their momentum, I can understand what they're up against in terms of Congressional Republicans. They have very thick heads. It will take a stronger majority and a louder voice by American's for change to actually do something progressive. The work to build a progressive majority must continue along this vein. To count on Republican "moderates" is a fool's game.

Update: Seven Republicans voted to move no-confidence forward. As usual, the stupid ass boltin' Joe Lieberman voted with Republicans. I really really really wish the guy would leave the party. He's an embarrassment.

I believe this issue is now dead. Everyone seems to agree Gonzales should go. Republicans won't go on the record. Bush won't move him out. Dems can't even get a non-binding resolution of no-confidence past a filibuster much less move to impeach him. What's left? On the good side, politically, it's probably good he stays to continue making mistakes and being in office while revelations come out. But yet another institution, the Federal justice system, will continue to be a shambles and likely get even worse.

Update II: Here's the list of Republicans who did vote for the resolution: Coleman, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Sununu. Simply not enough.


Wanker Joe

Juan Cole points to yet another reason why the Iran war hawks, aka Boltin' Joe Lieberman, are completely out-to-lunch:

That is why Senator Joe Lieberman's call for aggressive air strikes on Iran are unlikely to eventuate. Bush needs Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council in order to avoid immediate and complete defeat in Iraq, and SIIC is very, very close to Iran [my emphasis]. Lieberman doesn't seem to understand, by the way, that Iraqi Shiites would mind the US bombing their coreligionists and would probably massacre the entire British garrison in Basra as well as interdict US fuel convoys to the north from Kuwait and Basra. His irresponsible warmongering would get a lot of US troops killed for no good reason.
Minor detail as Joe continues to get your various Arab types all mixed up. They are, afterall, all the same. Right?

In other news, Juan casually mentions that Iran is cooperating, via the use of it's military, with Turkey in pursuing Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. Is it any wonder the Kurds don't want the U.S. to leave?


Chart of the Day

I found this chart (click to enlarge) really quite interesting for a number of reasons. It shows the per capita Federal employment for various Presidential administrations:

Wow. First I was surprised to see that under GW, the level of employees has stayed quite low. Given the propensity by dub to spend money like a drunken sailor, I expected more bloat. I guess this goes to show that the money has been going to private businesses, not to government. Which brings me to my next conclusion: is it really any wonder that the Federal government is performing so poorly? You name the area of responsibility and the Federal government's quality of service has materially declined. As they say, you get what you pay for and Republicans have been seeking the goal of an impotent Federal government for some time. If Americans are unhappy with the Feds, one area they need to look at is their own willingness to pay taxes.

Finally, is Clinton partially responsible for the government we have? Certainly during his administration (and a GOP dominated Congress) there was a committment to reduce the size of government. Looks to me like they were quite successful. Perhaps they were depending on good management to make it possible to do more with less. So much for that plan.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pacing Himself

Gen. Pace was not renewed as the head of the joint chiefs. The presenting story was that he needed to spend more time with his family that his confirmation would be contentious. This is an explanation that smells to me.

Steve Clemons offers us another possibility. The short version? Pace was fired for being too political, i.e. the Libby letter and some previous comments about gays. Not to mention that his association with the mess in Iraq might have started to smell like old fish.


High Broderism

Remember, David Broder is part of the liberal media:

Despite the absence of any underlying crime, Fitzgerald filed charges against Libby for denying to the FBI and the grand jury that he had discussed the Wilson case with reporters. Libby was convicted on the testimony of reporters from NBC, the New York Times and Time magazine — a further provocation to conservatives.

I think they have a point. This whole controversy is a sideshow — engineered partly by the publicity-seeking former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife and heightened by the hunger in parts of Washington to “get” Rove for something or other.

Like other special prosecutors before him, Fitzgerald got caught up in the excitement of the case and pursued Libby relentlessly, well beyond the time that was reasonable.
That's right. There was no underlying charge .... at least none that can be proven because Libby obstructed justice!!! (and continues to as firewall in chief)

Now to be fair. I can understand how Broder might question the whole Libby prosecution. After all, Libby never even got a blow job!

Update: Does Broder read the Washington Post? Carol Leonnig has done the reporting on Libby and has done a thoroughly credible job. She writes today about the "Five Myths About Scooter and the Slammer". Care to guess which myths those would be?
3. Libby didn't leak Plame's identity.

Oh, brother, am I tired of this one. Libby wasn't charged with the crime of knowingly leaking classified information about Plame; he was charged with lying to investigators. But the overwhelming weight of the evidence at the trial -- including reporters' notes of their interviews with Libby -- showed that Libby had indeed leaked classified information about Plame's identity, even though that wasn't what put him in the dock. The jury agreed that Libby lied when he said that he'd been telling reporters only what other reporters had told him about Plame's role at the CIA.

What is unclear is whether Libby knew she was a covert CIA agent at the time he discussed her with reporters -- a key point in determining whether this was an illegal leak. But Walton said that Libby "had a unique and special obligation" to keep such secrets, well, secret.
I know using google or researching stuff for a op-ed piece is a lot to ask of the Washington weenie crowd. But couldn't he just read his own paper? I'm sure they get copies free.

Update: Rick Perlstein explains to us how Broder, the "dean" of the Washington journalists, has been a wanker since 1972.



Isn't this just typical? I really think this little vignette epitomizes the Bush administration:

The office of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt called Sen. Craig Thomas's (R-WY) office Thursday afternoon to request a meeting with the late senator, the Washington Post reports.

Thomas passed away on Monday after a seven month battle with leukemia.

"Needless to say, grief-stricken Thomas staffers were stunned."


Boltin' Joe Is Stupid

That asshole Lieberman had this to say today:

"Iraq is now the main front in the long war we are fighting against the Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. In fact 90% of the suicide bombers in Iraq today killing Iraqis and American soldiers are foreign Al Qaeda fighters. Iran is training and equipping soldiers, Iraqis, to come in and kill American soldiers and Iraqis," said Lieberman.
I'm not quite sure why I even waste the pixels on this crap. There is not a single portion of his statement that is factually correct. Nada.

Iraqi's had nothing to do with 911 (for the seven millionth time) and is populated largely by Shiites (bin Laden is Sunni and hated Saddam who was secular). Al Qaeda is a very very small portion of the insurgency and only exists because of the anarchy we've releaseed in Iraq. Iran is Shiite, al Qaeda is Sunni and they hate each other. If Iran is doing anything, it's arming Shiite militias to kill al Qaeda members as well as U.S. troops.

Lieberman is either 1) stupid or 2) mendacious or 3) both. There's no other answer for saying something so blatantly false.


George W. Soprano

Summer puts up a quote from an article showing us the similarities between the U.S. and the Soprano's:

Under our devoutly Christian leader, we are all highly moral. We have right and God on our side as we fight the evildoers. Except that, well, we’ve been feeling kind of weird. And, to tell the truth, we have a few skeletons in our closet.

Somebody whacked some of our crew, and we were scared, so we whacked Iraq. Just like Tony ordered the hit on Adriana. Steps were taken, as Sil would say. Except it turned out there were some unexpected consequences. We basically killed an entire country, and a whole lot of Americans, and people are dying all the time. And what are we doing? Nothing. We’re going to the Bada Bing. We’re having dinner at Artie’s. Same old same old. Everything’s fine. It’s just fine.
Yep. Just fine. Hey's let's go shopping for that new plasma teevee so we can see Paris when she's released!


Dose of Reality

We're stuck for awhile:

The Post makes another interesting point—even if opponents of the war get their way, a total pullout from Iraq would take almost a year to execute. According to one official, any withdrawal would have to go through southern Iraq (to Kuwait), and it would take "at least 3,000 large convoys some 10 months to remove U.S. military gear and personnel alone."
Of course, this assumes an orderly withdrawal. Seems to me that we were able to withdraw from Vietnam a lot more quickly when we had to, leaving everything behind, including those loyal to the U.S.