Friday, November 9, 2007

The Mukasey Vote

There's a bit of a kerfuffle developing over just how it was the Mukasey came to be voted on by the Senate. Here's a story on the background. It looks to me like the fix was in, i.e. a deal was made between Reid and McConnell. What, if anything, Reid got in exchange is unknown. But it better have been good.


Something You've Been Waiting For

You can always tell the holiday season is upon us when Bill O'Reilly initiates his annual "war on Christmas"!

Oh Joy.


We Can Only Hope

Craig Crawford: "Rudy Giuliani has gotten a reputation with Iowa political pros for ending up with the worst of both worlds -- not doing enough to win and yet doing too much to write off a loss if it comes in the Jan. 3 caucuses. And a loss that counts could severely damage his image as the party’s frontrunner for the nomination."



Have you tried to buy a helium balloon lately?

If so, it likely was either hard to get or more expensive. Why? Because there is now an international shortage of helium. There is virtually no important element that is not undergoing a similar fate as the rest of the world seeks a standard of living similiar to the U.S. China's growing helium demand (it's used in a number of industrial and medical uses) is growing exponentially, putting pressure on supplies and prices.

Get used to it.



You've likely heard that the very popular Benazir Bhutto has been arrested in Pakistan by Musharraf.

This is a very important development and in the wrong direction. I'm not really sure what else to say about it other than it adds fuel to the fires in the Middle East and continues to strengthen the Taliban, who has a very strong foothold in Pakistan/Afghanistan. Right now it seems that Americans can do little more than watch the place go up in flames.


Big Talk

Do they mean it this time?

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are planning another veto showdown with President Bush on the Iraq war. And this time, they say they won't back down.

The House planned to vote as early as next week on a $50 billion war spending bill that would require Bush to begin withdrawing troops. The measure identifies a goal of ending combat by December 2008, leaving only enough soldiers and Marines behind to fight terrorists, train Iraqi security forces and protect U.S. assets.

In a private caucus meeting on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats the bill was their best shot at challenging Bush on the war. And if Bush rejected it, she said, she did not intend on sending him another war spending bill for the rest of the year.

"It's a war without end," Pelosi, D-Calif., later told reporters. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We must reverse it."
Talk is cheap ... we shall see.


Medal Of Freedom

This waittress deserves a medal of freedom:

In a story on Sen. Hillary Clinton's new Web site dedicated exclusively to issue rebuttals, the NYT mentions that yesterday's "mini-scandal" was whether Clinton had left a tip at a diner in Iowa. The NYT talked to the waitress and she was simply dumbfounded the whole thing had become such a big deal. "You people are really nuts," she said. "There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now—there's better things in this world to be thinking about than … who got a tip and who didn't get a tip."
That's a big Amen.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Going Mainstream

Sure am hearing an awful lot in the mainstream media about that funny economic phenomena, "stagflation". Next they'll be saying that "we never could have anticipated ..... " Other than that little, expensive war going on, huge budget deficits, prolifigate consumer spending and over easy credit of the last ten years, there's really no reason for there to be any problems like stagflation.


Nearing the End

Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Hoyer, step out of our way.

There is no possibility of the US remaining in the Middle East for a half century. The dollar and US power are already on their last legs, unbeknownst to Democratic leaders Pelosi and Reid who are preparing yet another blank check for Bush's latest request for $200 billion in supplementary war funding.
There isn't any money with which to fund Bush's lost war. It will have to be borrowed from China.

The Romans brought on their own demise, but it took them centuries. Bush has finished America in a mere 7 years.


Cheap Tent Time

Some time back I speculated whether the religious right leaders would cave-in and support one of the current slate of Republicans, or run a third party candidate. I still believe a third partier will show up. But isn't it interesting how Pat Robertson came out for multiply married abortion loving gay marriage supporting slick Ruddy yesterday saying that "abortion is just another issue". Ole Pat is much more worried about the little brown people attacking his mansion.

Like my wife said, "everytime I hear Pat Robertson speak I feel like I need to go wash".


Eat Your Kucinich

Eat Your Kucinich. He's Good For You.

Listen to the man and don’t waste his time and trivialize him with questions of little green men. Maybe he’s trying to write checks that he can’t cash. But if you’re going to fall for someone hook, line and sinker, why bother trusting someone who promises to extend the war in Iraq by another year or four, someone who's accepted more money from more people and corporations in the last year than Jerry Lewis in the last 40?


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blog Discovery

Today's blog discovery: Les Check 'em out.



I don't have time to comment on it just now, but here's one journalist who has studied the religious right who sees the movement as cracking up.

The big irony is that the "strength" of the religious right was largely a fiction perpetrated by George Bush, Karl Rove and the media.


Your Media At Work

Have you noticed a distinctly different type of coverage of Congress under the Democrats? If you have not, you should have:

The Republican minority has obstructed as much before one half of this Congress is over with than the Demcoratic minority did the entire previous Congress.

Rovemort's strategy is working. Republicans are blocking the will of the American people. And they're managing to saddle Democrats with the blame. Bob Borosage predicted it exactly. But the mainstream media simply doesn't get it. Jay Leno jokes about the Democratic Congress's four-day work week—but the previous Congress only worked two days a week! NPR quotes retiring Republican Congressman David Hobson: "I don't think they're learning from our mistakes." They're "trying to ram their bills through instead of finding a compromise." But the SCHIP bill, with 18 Republican Senate votes, and the FISA bill, crafted to precisely fix the technical problem the White House complained about, already were compromises. The Republicans blocked them nonetheless. "It would seem to me that reaching out and working together is what the public wants," they quote Hobson. But that's exactly what the Democrats have been doing.
If you're a Democrat, you lose in the media either way.


Your Government At Work

Via Paul Krugman:

The FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
America the courageous, or let's go off the deep end with fear .....


The Latest On Oil

Anyone notice that gasoline prices are rising again? Or how about the fact they are rising at a time when the don't normally rise? Here's why:

The final factor that may contribute to a larger than anticipated draw is the one that analysts have factored in: Refineries will be coming out of turnarounds. However, utilization rates have been lower than expected, primarily due to low margins. As I have mentioned before, if margins are poor, you aren’t exactly scrambling to process as many barrels as you can. So the utilization patterns of the past couple of years may not be a good guide for this year’s utilization pattern. Utilization should come up, which would lead to downward pressure on inventories, but it's not a sure thing.
Allow me to translate. When oil input prices are through the roof and speculative, oil companies lose money processing their cheap oil inventories into gasoline. So what do you do to keep Congress off your back for gouging consumers with immediate price hikes on their cheap oil inventories? Slow down the refineries to increase prices at the pump. If input oil prices then decline, then their profits can go through the roof (again). If oil prices don't come down, then they can make up the losses by getting more money at the pump due to slower gasoline production. Heads they win, tails they win! Either way, the consumer is screwed.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Digby has a great post up about the stupid Washington Village and it's incestuous relationships. Go give it a read. It offers a window into the nonsense that is social Washington and one of the reasons we're so screwed up. Here's a concluding graf:

Capitol Hill hasn't become the laughing stock of the nation because of its partisanship. It's become the laughing stock of the nation because the Republicans have spent the last seven years diagnosing brain injuries from the floor of the senate, molesting high school boys, stealing the country blind and starting wars for no good reason (all of which the Republicans seemed to "get done" very handily.) In the eight years before that they spent the entire time obsessing about phony scandals and semen stains. If we don't laugh we'll never stop crying about what they've done to our country.


And This Will Only Be The Tip

Your American values, on the march!

In a CIA sub-station close to al Libi's jail cell, the CIA's "debriefers," who had been talking to al Libi for days after his return from Cairo, were typing out a series of operational cables to be sent Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 to the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va. In the view of some insiders, these cables provide the "smoking gun" on the whole rendition program -- a convincing account of how the rendition program was, they say, illegally sending prisoners into the hands of torturers.

Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.")

But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."

Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).

Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.
Swell information you got there.


Earthquake In Kentucky?

I might be tuned out or something, but doesn't this suggest that a Democrat is now the governor of Kentucky?


Last I looked, Kentucky was a pretty red state wasn't it?


Fat Cat Oprah

Were you aware that Oprah Winfrey doesn't employee union writers?

While the late-night talk shows -- as well as NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" -- are the first to go into reruns, right behind them will be the daytime talk shows, such as "Ellen," and the soap operas, which will quickly run out of scripts. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" doesn't employ union writers and will continue uninterrupted.


I Knew He Could Do It

Bush beats Nixon’s disapproval ratings.

Sixty-four percent of Americans disapprove of the job President Bush is doing, and for “the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they ’strongly disapprove’ of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.”


A Virtual Non Story

I know this will shock you:

Democratic leaders in Congress are quietly preparing to give President Bush essentially everything he wants to keep the Iraq war going for at least another six months without forcing any change in course.

Swept into power on the votes of war-weary Americans last year, Congressional Democrats have so far failed in all their attempts to curtail Bush's war efforts. As they consider the president's latest request for $200 billion in supplementary war funding party leaders have pledged not to hand over another "blank check."


More. Better. Democrats.


Rubin In Pakistan

Barnett Rubin is an expert on Pakistan and has been there during the recent coup. His blog is worth a read if you want to know what's going on. This post is all about the Pakistani reaction to the U.S. during the Musharraf coup. Excerpt:

The most common feeling toward the U.S. I have encountered is a kind of anger mixed with disappointment. Pakistanis are angry at the U.S. and consider it hypocritical because it has consistently supported dictatorship in Pakistan. Many are also baffled and furious because they see clearly the complicity of part of the Pakistani security forces with the Taliban on both sides of the border and cannot comprehend U.S. continued support for that same military.
Anyone with with half a brain (which would leave out administration officials) can see that we get played like by people like Musharraf all the time (Chalabi anyone?) The rest of the world sees it as well which would explain a very large part of the international anti-Americanism. Extremists play this quite well, using it as a recruiting tool. The world is a far more dangerous place now than when Bush took office. Heckuva job Bushie!


Quote Of The Day

Juan Cole on Musharraf in Pakistan:

If Bush and Cheney are ever tempted into extreme measures in the United States, Musharraf has provided a template for how it would unfold. Maintain you are moving against terrorists and extremists, but actually move against the rule of law. Rubin has accepted the suggested term of "lawfare" to describe this kind of warfare by executive order.


Monday, November 5, 2007

The Worst Of Both?

Quote of the Day from Digby:

I'm finding myself more and more obsessed with the Giuliani campaign because it really appears to me that the Republicans may just nominate someone dumber than Bush and crazier than Cheney. And without the morals of either of them. How is that even possible?
I certainly agree with her assessment, but I'm not quite as obsessed with the guy. I think he's an empty suit that will never be elected by Republicans. I think the fix is in for Romney personally.


YEeeearrrghhhh !


That hippie guy Dean must have done something right with health care policy when he was governing Vermont - its people are now the healthiest in the U.S.!

Guess which states are on the bottom? "Texas came in 37th place. Mississippi and Louisiana are No. 49 and 50. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee round out the bottom five." How's that faith-based public health policy working out for y'all?


John's Making A Run At It

"Senator Clinton is voting like a hawk in Washington, while talking like a dove in Iowa and New Hampshire."
-- John Edwards, in a blistering speech targeting Sen. Hillary Clinton's "double-speak" when it comes to foreign policy.



Needlenose made a good catch (click to enlarge):

McClatchey has normally been in the forefront of good reporting on the Bush administration. It's a little surprising and perhaps a coincidence that this particular ad was next to this particular story. Or not.


Did You Know?

I know this will shock you, but did you know that the U.S. gives Musharraf Pakistan $150 million per month in "aid"? And after he arrested the Pakistani Supreme Court and anyone else who dares speak out against him, the U.S. had a very stern response?

Musharraf apparently knew he had nothing to fear from the Americans, and the NYT notes that, according to government aides, no senior U.S. official has so much as placed a call to him after emergency rule was imposed.
Freedom on the march.

Of course the larger issue is how this particular puzzle piece will fit in to the regional picture. As I mentioned before, it can't help the U.S. in the Middle East and will certainly strengthen more radical elements. At least the U.S. gets the benefit of a stout ally in the war on terra .....
For all the talk of how Pakistan is such a critical ally in the fight against terrorists, the truth is that Musharraf's government has made few strides against the rising presence of al-Qaida and the Taliban. The LAT fronts a look at how Musharraf has spent much of the $7 billion in U.S. Military aid to bulk up on equipment and weapons that "are far more suited for conventional warfare with India." This means the force that has been tasked with pursuing al-Qaida "remains underfunded, poorly trained, and overwhelmingly outgunned."


Green May Be In Trouble

So I'm sitting there last night enjoying a Sunday Night Football Game. I should say trying to enjoy. The inane commentary and smug right-wing Al Michaels are quite annoying .... but I digress.

At halftime, the commentators come on sitting in darkness. It's all part of pushing a Today Show bit this week on global warming. They claim that having the lights off in the studio is saving enough electricity to power a whole bunch of homes.

Swell. Only in America.

I guess this falls in the category of any exposure is good exposure, but I'm not sure. It was obviously a stunt and the sports types all seemed to be making more fun of the whole thing than making any kind of serious appeal.

That'll play well with the under thirty testosterone laden types that watch the NFL.

As green moves into being the new cool fad (I can just see Paris Hilton running around with "green" sunglasses soon), I'm going to have to hold my nose a lot. Like a lot of fads in America, the popularization of a topic often is the beginning of it's passing. An issue like global warming and CO2 emissions is not a short term fad issue. It's a long haul that will include some (who knows just how much) economic pain and a whole lot of lifestyle change. And trust me, these changes will be a bit more dramatic than Bob Costas joking in the dark at halftime of an NFL game.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wet Flag

The next petro war?

On August 2 of this year, asserting a symbolic claim to almost half of the Arctic Basin, a Russian submarine with two parliamentarians on board planted a corrosion-resistant titanium flag more than two miles down directly under the North Pole. In its international implications, the flag-planting anticipated a second epochal event when, on August 21, it was officially announced that the Northwest Passage, emerging at last from millennia of ice, was navigable and open to commercial shipping, removing as many as five thousand miles from long world voyages by way of the Panama Canal. A week later, on August 28, came the latest reports of a scarily accelerating loss of Arctic sea ice attributed by most scientists to global warming, a loss that on September 5 would be confirmed as the greatest on record.
You see, global warming is good! More available ocean floor is now available for oil exploration! And trust me on this, there will be a conflict over such a move.


Snark Alert

Freedom on the march!

Looks like the U.S. continues to pick losers in the P.R. war on terrarrism. I swear, before George Bush is finished, there will be an Islamic Republic running from Syria to Pakistan. You'd almost think Bush was being paid by Bin Laden.

You go to bed with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

Update: Here's a good point. Musharraf appears to be more deferential to China than the U.S. Could it be the several trillions of dollars that the Chinese have to throw around? Ironically, between China's WalMart dollars and petro dollars, the U.S. is doing a great job funding our demise.