Friday, December 7, 2007


Swopa has a great post up outlining a key problem in Iraq.

While the U.S. has been arming and training Sunni's, and encouraging them to work with the government, the Shiite dominated government seems less than enamored to have the Sunni's involved.

So what happens when the Sunni's are all trained/armed-up and are rejected by team Shiite?



Here's everything you really need to know about the Mitt-sters speech yesterday on religion. The short version is that Romney is merely feeding the beast that is trying to chew his leg off.


Israel And Iran

I've contended in past posts that I think Iran is a non-issue unless the Israeli's feel threatened enough to do something. Well it appears that Israeli intelligence completely disagrees with the U.S. intelligence estimate about Iran's ability to make a bomb.

I wonder.

Israeli intelligence used to be gold. Under the current conservative administration in Israel they've been more prone to the kind of errors made by Bush. But given this, I still think that Israel's actions will be a "tell" about Iran and represent a real threat to stability in the area. If Israel does attack Iran, does anyone really think the U.S. interests won't be just as vulnerable as if American's had attacked?

The heat may have been turned down within the U.S. But given this analysis, you've got to wonder if the unintended consequence isn't that the heat has been turned up in the area?


Rosemary Woods Moment

Ok, so the CIA has admitted destroying tapes of torture interrogation to protect themselves against prosecution, even though it's legal. But watch out! Senators are so outraged!!! that they are threatening to, to, to, HOLD HEARINGS!!!!

Update: Senator Dick Durbin is calling on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate possible obstruction of justice. There's a saying about pigs and flying that comes to mind.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mortgage Bailout

Well, today's the day that Bush/Paulson roll out the mortgage bailout program. As expected, this plan is much more about helping the banks than helping borrowers.


Are We Out Yet?

Atrios reminds us of today's anniversary:

It was just one year ago today that the Iraq Study Group report was released. What would we do without bipartisan commissions of elder Villagers to save us?

Or a media to tell us what it all means.

Approximately 980 US troops have been killed since the world-changing report was released.
If it wasn't all so freaking tragic, it would be funny.


Energy Bill

Congress is about to vote on a new energy bill. It has some good elements, and some poor ones. But the biggest weakness of the bill is summarized here:

The problem, as I have said before, is that we have no consistent, long-term energy policy. If we are going to get a new energy bill every other year - in which tax breaks are granted and then repealed - it makes it difficult to execute long-term projects. Imagine that two years ago you started in on a five-year project, based the project economics on the rules in place at that time, and then half way through the project the rules are changed on you. You have basically created a climate that discourages investment in the U.S., because the rules are apt to change at any time.
If anyone ever argues that the U.S. culture is socialist driven, energy is a poster child counter argument. We've known since the 1970's that energy was going to be a big problem. BIG problem. Yet government has done nothing preferring to let the marketplace decide on what's to be done. And that trend continues.

This is why I've advocated a gasoline tax to pay for an comprehensive energy program for some time. But instead, the marketplace is now imposing a "tax" in the form of supply shortages that may finally spur innovation. You know the old oil filter commercial: "pay me now or pay me later". The only question remains is just how quickly the "energy problem" grows and what the costs are of allowing the marketplace to spur innovation. We know a portion of the cost of not proactively solving the energy problem is this little embranglement we've got going in the middle east. Who knows what the ultimate costs will be.


Corporate Profits

As you may know, I regularly read a number of economics blogs. In a post outlining the elements of an upcoming economic slowdown, this blogger put this chart up on corporate profits:

Yes, year over year profits are falling. But geez .... look at the level of those profits! In fact, corporations have done quite well during the Bush administration and a little growth slowdown is overdue, doncha think?


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More On Iran

Josh Marshall provides us with a great brief documentary on the Bush crap on Iran:

They lie as easily as they breath.


What Digby Said

In this edition, Digby takes us through recent U.S. history showing how conservatives have consistently, and I mean consistently, over-estimated the security threats to the U.S., much like they are doing now with Iran.

The short version is that they have NEVER been right about the actual threat.


A True Message

But will it fly?

"And we can say as long as we get Democrats in, everything's gonna be O.K. It's a lie. It's not the truth. Do you really believe if we replace a crowd of corporate Republicans with a crowd of corporate Democrats that anything meaningful's gonna change?"

-- John Edwards, in a new television ad running in New Hampshire


How We've Adapted

It's funny. No funny ha ha. But funny sad.

A story like this eight years ago would have been huge. The fact that Bush can take the national intelligence agency's report on Iran and say that it confirms that Iran is a threat is eye-popping in it's up is downism. Yet today, I barely gave it a notice. The lying by the Bush administration, and unfortunately setting a new standard of lying for future Presidents, is so complete, brazen and chronic, that it barely even penetrates any longer.



Something happened today that I think is quite significant, but not for the reasons you may think.

OPEC met and decided not to boost oil production. Their stated position is that there is plenty of oil and the elevated price is due to speculation. And there may be some truth in that. Within OPEC, the battle over production quotas was between the likes of Venezula who wanted to maintain production levels to keep prices high, and Saudi Arabia who "wanted" to increase production to ease prices (the don't kill the golden goose approach).

Ok, so why is this a story? Because it's hard for me to believe that Saudi Arabia would give-in to Venezula if they really wanted to increase production. After all, the Arabs are the 300 ton elephant in OPEC. So why would the Arabs fold like a cheap tent in the face of minor OPEC players?

Because they don't have the extra production.

There's been a debate raging about whether Saudi Arabia has peaked out or not. Since other OPEC producers are already at max production, any increase would have to come from the Saudi's. I see this as evidence that Saudi's, despite their public comments, simply don't have more to produce. And that my friends is a very significant bit of news.


The Short Version

Do they? Or don't they?

That seems to be the big story these days. Does Iran have a program to make the bomb. Our intelligence agencies say no. Experts I've read say that it's highly unlikely because of the technology and difficulty. The nutbars say they do (that's evidence they don't btw).

My take on it is very much like the way I felt on Iraq. If Iran has anything going on, the Israelis will know and will do something. Their intelligence is better, they're geographically proximite to the "problem" and they've never been shy about using force to inflict their will.

So, if and when Israel attacks Iran, I'll start to wonder if they have nukes.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh NO!

Now he's done it. I'm sure that Bush is shaking in his Texas boots:

"That's why I want to be very clear: If the President takes us to war with Iran without congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment. I am dead serious. ... I'm saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the president from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration."

-- Sen. Joe Biden, quoted by the Des Moines Register.


Monday, December 3, 2007


Here's a terrific article on why solar is the answer to our energy problems.


News You'll Not See Published

Please remember this every time you hear administration nonsense (particularly over the next 6-8 months) about Iran:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be explosive in the middle of tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program, and in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”


Independent Attorney General?

Remember all those pledges of Michael Mukasey to be "independent" of the White House?

I guess we'll soon find out because Rep. Henry Waxman is asking Mukasey to allow Patrick Fitzgerald to testify before Congress.

Care to take a guess on what Mukasey will say?


Regime Change

Hedrick Hertzberg, in this short essay, details how the Bush policy of regime change has actually worked.


Putting Ideology To The Test

There's an old saying (paraphrasing)

"When a borrower can't pay back a million dollar loan, it's the borrower's problem. When a borrower can't pay back a hundred million dollar loan, it's the bank's problem".
The current administration is chalk full of free marketers believing that the market is right and should be left alone.

Until the big money boys get in trouble.

Treasury Sec. Paulson is working fast a furious on a bailout plan for homeowners who are defaulting. Do you think he's doing it because of the pain of the average borrower? Look for a plan to come out soon that will be sold as helping average people keep their homes. Of course, we all know better.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ritzy Rudy

(Pictured in their Hamptons summer home)

Just a brief reminder that Rudy and his mistress wife are blue-collar hardhat type folk.

Oh. And just for context:


Something You'll Not See In The News

Every once in awhile I like to post this roundup that is regularly available via Reuters news service. You'll not see in in the mainstream media because,..... well,..... you just won't:

BAGHDAD - One U.S. soldier was killed and three wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD - Five bodies were found in different areas of Baghdad on Saturday, police said. . .

BAGHDAD - A bomb left in a taxi wounded the driver and another person in the New Baghdad district of the capital, police said.

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded three police commandos when it targeted their patrol in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police said. . .

MOSUL - Gunmen killed a policeman in front of his house in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - Three bodies were found in different areas of Mosul, police said.

GHALBIYA - Four tribal sheikhs were wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Ghalbiya near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. The attack targeted the convoy of the Khalis police chief but he was unhurt. . .

BAQUBA - One U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb which struck his patrol near the city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, on Friday, the U.S. military said.

SALMAN PAK - A suicide attack killed one civilian and wounded five others in Salman Pak, 45 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said . . . '
Lots of dead people ..... check
Lots of violence ..... check
A corrupt government that is stealing everyone blind ..... check.

Yep. Things are going quite well in the Eyeraq war.


Give Er' The Chair

Only in Amurika:

The Post goes above the fold with a profile of Elizabeth Whiteside, an Army reservist who faces court martial after attempting suicide while serving in Iraq; the prosecutor dismissed reports that she had a severe mental disorder as "psychobabble".
Your enlightened military. Watch her be convicted and sentenced to death.



I know you'll be shocked by this. I know I am:

The NYT off-leads on reports that corruption has reached epidemic proportions in Iraq: Bribery and petty crime are a way of life, and virtually everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market. Meanwhile, U.S. officials say one-third of what they spend on Iraqi contracts and grants goes unaccounted for; an estimated $18 billion has gone missing from Iraqi government coffers since 2004. "Everyone is stealing from the state," says one Shiite leader. "It's a very large meal, and everyone wants to eat."
I'm so far past outrage it's pathetic, especially when I get into an online argument discussion with a conservative about using taxpayer dollars to bail out homeowners facing foreclosure.


Can You Picture This?

I found this kinda humorous:

The New York Times leads on news that business lobbyists are racing to win approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor, and economic measures before the end of George Bush's presidency, spurred by concerns that the next tenant of the Oval Office will be less sympathetic to their causes.


Fearing that Democrats could sweep the board in next year's elections, business groups are rushing to persuade the Bush administration to pass rules covering everything from mountaintop mining to medical leave. "There's a growing sense, a growing probability, that the next administration could be Democratic," says one senior lobbyist. "Lobbying firms have begun to recalibrate their strategies." The so-called "midnight regulations" passed by outgoing administrations can prove difficult to reverse; the Supreme Court has ruled that new presidents cannot arbitrarily revoke rules that have passed into law.
When I read this, it conjures up an image of German military folks burning important papers as the allies descend on Berlin during WWII.