Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspans Book

Alan Greenspan, former Fed Head, is about to publish his memoirs. Excerpts are leaking out everywhere in which he blasts Bush while embracing Clinton.

What I've found most interesting thus far is his proclaimed cluelessness about the subprime meltdown. He claims that he didn't think all those borrowers who were getting "liar loans" and no income loans or any of the other shenanigans involved in the recent lending bubble were of any real concern.

As the former leader of the world's economy, he's either shockingly and disturbingly stupid or he's lying.

There's no other way.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Quote Of The Day

It's a doosy:

It's become clear in the last few years that right wingers are psychologically unfit to lead the nation. Vast numbers of them are "conservative" not due to philosophy but to cover up for serious personal issues with sexuality, masculinity, oedipal complexes and worse. In fact, it's so pervasive that one must now assume that conservative political leaders are driven by a complicated desire to compensate for psychological problems rather than the usual political mix of ambition, ego and drive to power. There are just too many examples of disturbed, neurotic, secretive GOP hypocrites out there. It's a feature not a bug.
Digby discussing the rumors of Condi being gay.



Knowing as I do that most of Congress reads my blog .... I thought I'd pass on this bit of wisdom by Mark Kleiman (via Digby)on what Congress should do now with the Iraq war:

Anything that can be ridden on the Defense Appropriations bill (or on a continuing resolution) doesn't need 60 votes in the Senate. It needs 51 votes in the Senate, or 218 in the House, that will stand firm.

Take, for example, the Webb Amendment, forbidding troops from being required to serve tours in Iraq longer than the spells between tours. If passed, it would force a troop drawdown by spring.

The Democrats should offer the Webb Amendment when the Defense Appropriation comes up. If the Republicans want to filibuster, fine. Don't pull the amendment. Just let them keep filibustering. As long as the amendment is on the floor, there can be no vote on the bill itself. Keep calling cloture votes, one per day. After a few days, start asking how long the Republicans intend to withhold money to fund troops in the field in order to pursue their petty partisan agenda.

If the Republicans in the Senate hold firm, it's their stubbornness that's holding up the bill. If they fold, and the bill gets to the President's desk and he vetoes it, then pass the same damned bill again. And start asking how long the President intends to block funding for troops in the field in order to pursue his petty partisan agenda.

As of October 1, there's no money to fund the war. So the usual move is to pass a continuing resolution, which keeps the money flowing until the appropriation passes. Fine. Pass a continuing resolution with the Webb Amendment attached. If the CR runs into a filibuster or a veto, ask how long ...
Please note that none of this requires a filibuster proof vote. A simple majority can pass amendments to the appropriations bill. All this strategy takes is confidence, cohesiveness and messaging.

Cumon Congress. Show some guts.



More corraboration of the Lancet studies that gazillions of Iraqi's have died .... many more than is admitted by the U.S.

But nevermind ... move along.


Economics and Iraq

Fubar has a great post up at Needlenose on an economics principle applied to Iraq:

Economics professors have a standard game they use to demonstrate how apparently rational decisions can create a disastrous result. They call it a "dollar auction." The rules are simple. The professor offers a dollar for sale to the highest bidder, with only one wrinkle: the second-highest bidder has to pay up on their losing bid as well. Several students almost always get sucked in. The first bids a penny, looking to make 99 cents. The second bids 2 cents, the third 3 cents, and so on, each feeling they have a chance at something good on the cheap. The early stages are fun, and the bidders wonder what possessed the professor to be willing to lose some money.

The problem surfaces when the bidders get up close to a dollar. After 99 cents the last vestige of profitability disappears, but the bidding continues between the two highest players. They now realize that they stand to lose no matter what, but that they can still buffer their losses by winning the dollar. They just have to outlast the other player. Following this strategy, the two hapless students usually run the bid up several dollars, turning the apparent shot at easy money into a ghastly battle of spiraling disaster.
Fubar asks the inevitable question, who is Bush's competing bidder? It's a killer question with the answer being a phantom al Qaeda meanace. Bush and the American leadership are in a bidding game with their own ego's, using a straw man to keep the stakes growing.


Marketing 101

These types of things seem as phony as a three dollar bill to me, but they seem to work on a lot of voters:

WASHINGTON — Eight months after President Bush made public a plan he hailed as the "New Way Forward" in Iraq, he's announced a new plan, this one called "Return on Success."

The new plan was reminiscent of last year's "Operation Together Forward," which called for U.S. troops to secure neighborhoods in Baghdad and hand them over to Iraqi security forces. It bore similarities to an even older plan commonly articulated with the catchphrase "as they stand up, we'll stand down."
Sheesh. Which one are we in now?


In A Nutshell

This is an excerpt from an AP report on the impact of Bush's policy on Iraqi politicians:

BAGHDAD (AP) — The debate in Washington over troop numbers is intense. But in Baghdad, there's been little sense of alarm or urgency among the Iraqi politicians who would have the most to lose if the United States decides to begin a major pull back.

Both Sunni and Shiite leaders have been largely convinced for weeks that President Bush would press to keep forces in Iraq until he turns the White House over to a successor.

That has set up one of the grand ironies of the troop build-up that began early this year.

Washington threw more personnel and firepower into Iraq to give the Iraqi leadership more room to settle disputes and adopt U.S.-backed reforms.

But the signals this week of just modest troop withdrawals ahead — perhaps back to pre-surge levels of about 130,000 — mean the Shiite-led government feels little pressure to accelerate work toward true political reconciliation.

Instead, they are focusing their energy on shoring up their positions: outflanking political challengers, leaning on more-radical Shiite factions to behave and flirting with Sunni sheiks to build personal alliances.
This seems about right. Think about it. What is the constituency for a withdrawal? I submit there isn't much of one. A very few leaders in Iraq can use the extra time to siphon off more money while continuing to position themselves for an inevitable American withdrawal.

In a larger context, the Sunni's can use a continued presence to recruit, train and equip fighters for a coming battle for power. They have the leadership history, the technology and the command/control abilities. Shiites can use a continued presence to also recruit, train and equip using the Americans as their posters for recruitment. Shiites have less of the technology to fight, but they have the numbers. Internationally, our enemies love seeing us bogged down in Iraq. It takes the heat off them.

Put in this context, there really isn't much of an Iraqi constituency for a withdrawal. The majority of American voters want a withdrawal, but they are apathetic enough to allow our own leadership to continue to bathe their ego's in denial. Thus, the war continues and the people continue to die for nothing but the fact that people powerful enough to stop it simply don't.


The Withdrawal Picture

So simple, it could be drawn by a child:

H/t Mark Thoma.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Let It Ride

H/T Needlenose


Message Sent .....

BAGHDAD - The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.
But was it received?



I have found a terrific site. The Sunlight Foundation as a page of what it calls Insanely Useful Web Sites. Stop by and check it out. People like this give me some hope that we can take our government back.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Friedman Boy

John "six months" McCain!


I Wonder

Ever wonder why Petraeus testified instead of his boss, Admiral Fallon? Maybe this is why:

Fallon told Petraeus [in March] that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickensh*t” and added, “I hate people like that”, the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.
Fallon may not like that, but Bush loves him some ass-kissing chickenshits.


Sum Up

I'm back.

The whole Petreaus kabuki was exactly as predicted eh? Headlines on the radio news were screaming that Petreaus was calling for a reduction in troop levels! Yeah right. Back down to the previous occupation levels.

Congress. Balls in your court!


Terrible News

Two of Seven Soldiers Who Wrote 'NYT' Op-Ed Die in Iraq:

The Op-Ed by seven active duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq questioning the war drew national attention just three weeks ago. Now two of the seven, Omar Mora and Yance T. Gray, are dead. - September 12, 2007 7:25 AM ET


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Truth

No wonder most Americans now question the official story of 9/11. Some of the most highly educated people in the country certainly do.




Monday, September 10, 2007

Just Shoot Me

From Cokie this morning on NPR, another nugget of beltway wisdom: Democrats better not go after Petraeus because the military is the only institution the American people trust.



Now I know it's safe to go away and not listen to the news much.

Petraeus is going to ask for ...... wait for it ....... longer ..... another Friedman Unit!

It's all so unpredictable!



I'm gonna be incognito for a couple of days. But before going, I couldn't help but notice how Fred Thompson is trying to be Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Thompson, I knew Ronald Reagan. He was a friend of mine. You're no Ronald Reagan.


Who's on First

"When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won."—Newsweek, September 10 issue.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Battle of Statistics

A graph prepared by the Pentagon that Petraeus won't refer to:

Insurgent attacks against Iraqi civilians, their security forces and U.S. troops remain high, according to the document obtained by The Associated Press. It is a conclusion that the well-regarded Army officer who is the top U.S. commander in Iraq is expected to try to counter when he and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, testify before Congress on Monday and Tuesday.
This is the fly paper strategy in reverse.

Like Bob Schieffer said, if you have to ask if we're winning then we're not.


Behind The Curve

I've been making the case lately that there may be a sea change in the body politics in 2008. Glenn Greenwald makes the case why:

In one sense, it is quite unhealthy in a democracy for such a large majority of Americans to so distrust the political and media establishment that they even believe in advance that war reports from our leading General will be nothing more than self-serving and misleading propaganda. But in another, more important sense, when a democracy's political establishment becomes as rotted and deceitful and corrupt as ours has become -- enabling the most unpopular President in modern American history to continue what is so blatantly a senseless war for years and years, in complete defiance of what Americans want -- the one encouraging sign is that a majority realizes how corrupt our establishment is and has stopped believing anything they say.
Glenn, in his post, cites the data that supports this proposition. Things can change between now and 2008. But if the current dynamic stays in place, there are a whole bunch of Democrats who are facing a tough election, not just Republicans. These polls numbers support a "throw all the bums out" mentality for 2008. Many voters are already voting with their clickers and newspaper subscriptions. We'll see what they do at the polls.


Oly Olson

God help us if this is true:

Ted Olson a likely nominee to replace disgraced outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


AP Stupidity

No wonder voters are confused about Iraq:

From Associated Press, a graf that is revealing:

Anbar has transformed from an insurgent haven partly run by al-Qaida to a chunk of Iraqi heartland safe enough for the president and his war Cabinet to spend the day. The turnaround has much to do with calculated choices by Sunni chiefs fed up with al-Qaida excesses and has little to do with affection for U.S. forces that residents still call occupiers.
Does Gearan, the reporter in this piece, understand that Bush visited a military base with a 13 mile security perimeter? Does she realize that seven American soldiers died the next day in Anbar?



Marry Our Daughter ... Please

You've got to check this out. Be sure to click the "About Us" link.

And no, this is not a joke.

I like this one in particular, 16 year old Cheyenne:

We’re a Christian family and Cheyenne has had trouble with unchristian desires although at heart we know she's a good Christian girl. She needs a husband with STRONG Christian values who will provide her a STRONG Christian home and help her to live a godly life.
Damned Cheyene. How dare she have "unchristian desires" and be so troublesome such that she's only going for a measly $6000 compared to 16 year old Marissa:
Marissa likes to put on airs and thinks she’s better than all of us here and who knows maybe she’s right. She’s looking for a smart, sophisticated man who knows “art” and “culture” and “style” and who can understand her better than we can.
She's going for $80,0000.

Or you can shoot down the middle for 14 year old Katelyn:
Our own Little Mermaid Katie Lynn swims like a fish and isn’t happy unless she’s getting wet! She got her SCUBA ticket at 12 and she can pull more than her weight as crew on any kind of boat or ship. She tells us she’s tired of dry land and that’s she’s looking for a husband who works on, by or in the water.
Likes to get all wet eh? How would they know. Well, I guess this beats raiding a dockside bar, knocking out some gal and dragging her by the hair to the boat.

Just to note, these must be fire sale prices because one was listed as "engaged" during the time I wrote this post.

OH. And don't forget to begin filling your quiver! (This is NOT a joke)


The Right Question

This is a must watch. It's only a minute and a half, but it summarizes with a great deal of wisdom the situation in Iraq, and General Petreaus:

Now. Take a minute and a half and compare it to this piece featuring Bill Kristol:

In three minutes, you have a summary of the contrast of the state of media leadership in our country .... a view of the changes since Walter Cronkite.