Friday, January 18, 2008

Blah blah blah .... blah blah blah

Feeling some heat Tweety?


Quote of the Day

"I could promise you this. This president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example."
-- John Edwards, quoted by NBC News, responding to Sen. Barack Obama praise of Ronald Reagan in a recent interview.



Charlie Pierce summarizes my feelings about the Clinton's perfectly. Anyone notice that Bill seems to be losing it lately?

The Clintons appear to have forgotten that, when Bill got his ass impeached for being a priapic idiot, a lot of Democrats supported him because the alternative was utterly unthinkable. Now, it seems to be fast dawning upon them -- and particularly upon Clinton pere -- that there are a number of Democrats who either a) are too young to remember the golden era that was the 1990s, or b) are old enough to remember them all too well as the years of an overly punitive welfare-reform bill, the Defense Of Marriage Act, the several dozen new federal death penalty offenses, and those elements of the Patriot Act that had their birth during the Clinton administration, particularly in the 1996 Antiterrorism act. This seems to be causing the Clinton campaign no little consternation, since it can be assumed that Senator Clinton signed on to the Iraq war out of a similar level of political calculation. Unfortunately for him and her, we now have a Democratic primary electorate that sees such calculation as unseemly at one end and as cowardly at the other. The Clintons are unable at this point to triangulate the circle. Meanwhile, Bill's losing his sh*t to reporters and Hill's resorting to cheapjack electioneering that's getting laughed out of the federal courts. And, it should be noted, that the born-again non-triangulator who was Bill's vice president was right about the war, loudly and publicly, and he was ridiculed for it while Senator Clinton was still working with the protractor trying to fashion a position whereby she could argue that she wasn't really handing the armed forces over to the whims of feckless vandals. The day is past, I think.



I think the media is making a mistake. I know I know, that would be a shock now wouldn't it.

All the discussions about rebates to jump-start the economy have got reporters are mentioning the 2001 "rebates". If memory serves me correctly, in 2001 we all got checks from the government, but they weren't rebates. They were advances on our tax returns. In other words, the "rebates" was later deducted off our tax returns.

I haven't done the research to back up my memory, but then that makes me darned near a journalist now doesn't it!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reagan Mythology

Obama is starting to get to me.

It seems that now he's invoking St. Ronald:

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
To quote a favorite character from the movie "Fargo", "I think I'm gonna barf".

Digby puts into words the reasons for my retching:
But to long time liberals who lived through this period as an adult, it's like waving a red flag in our faces. Reagan ran explicitly against the left(and in the process normalized the kind of indecent talk that made Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter millionaires.) Because he won big in 1984, leaders in both parties accepted this omnipotent Reagan myth and have run against liberalism ever since --- and have ended up, through both commission and omission, advancing the destructive conservative policies that brought us to a place where we are debating things like torture. It would be helpful if ending the era of Democrats running against the liberal base could be part of this new progressive "trajectory."
As Digby earlier points out, Bill Clinton already tried catering to the DLC type boilerplate nonsense of Reaganesque bipartisanship and all it got him was an impeachment. Liberalism is not a dirty word, it's the fundamental ideal underlying out country ferchristsakes.


Afpakistan Is A Mess

William Arkin:

The surge is about to hit Pakistan. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East says that the deteriorating situation in the country and the increased violence in the frontier area have prompted Islamabad to accept plans for U.S. forces in the country for the first time since early 2002. Meanwhile, a top counter-terrorism diplomat says the situation has become so dire, the United States cannot afford to wait.
Cummon Bill. Let's call it what it is. We're escalating the war in Pakistan which will play beautifully into the hands of the fundamentalists. Musharraf made a bunch of noise about not wanting American troops in Pakistan, but the bottom line is we're going in. The conventional wisdom is that we need to go in. I disagree.

Everywhere the U.S. goes the situation turns to crap. A limited number of insurgents/fundamentalists will suddenly become a movement with occupation by the U.S. military. Pakistan is fragile as it is, now we're going to put an American face on Musharraf's dependence at a time when the U.S. is hated throughout the region?

We're going to have to go back to square one in the "war on terrorism". Withdrawing American troops and working to support the average Arab citizen (perhaps not supporting suppressive, dictatorial governments?) is the answer, not more troops.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Act for Net Neutrality

Comcast blocking of online content is the canary in the coal mine for corporate efforts to gate-keep the Internet. The FCC must send a stern message to stop other phone and cable companies that want to follow Comcast's lead and control our Internet experience.

Tell the FCC: Don't Let Comcast Off the Hook

Blocking our access to the Internet should never be tolerated. The longer the FCC waits to punish Comcast, the more companies will continue to invest in technologies to censor and manipulate what we can do online.


A Nice Summation

Via Digby, here's a nice summation by Rachel Maddow of the difference in the three top Democratic Presidential candidates:

Hillary believes the thing that needs to be changed is that Bush needs to be out and the Democrats need to be back in there. Edwards believes the thing that needs to be changed is that the moneyed interests and the lobbyists need to be taken out of the political game. Obama believes that what needs to change is that he needs to be the president because he is a personally unifying character...Democrats are being asked whether they believe in party, in which case they should be for Hillary, if they believe in power they should be for Edwards and if they believe in personality, they should vote for Obama.
Well put.



Here's a excerpt of a story about Democrat Robert Wexler:

Last night, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) took to the House floor to urge the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment hearings into Vice President Cheney for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Wexler, who has already acquired nearly 190,000 supporters through his website, explained his next steps
I think both Bush and Cheney need to be impeached. It's an accountability issue, despite the fact that their terms are nearly over.


As I read these stories, they're getting more and more out-of-synch. Voters are focused on the primaries and the next President, not on Bush. The current moron-in-chief is seen as just that by 80% of the American public. The only real legislative power he has is due to the weakness of Congressional Democrats. Having the likes of Wexler continue to hammer on impeachment sounds a bit out-of-touch, behind the curve. And that's not good political theater.


Cloned Meat

You likely heard in yesterday's screaming news that cloned animals have been approved for consumption, including their products such as milk. Some people are still concerned that these products are in some way dangerous.

I have a question for those who worry about it. Is there something wrong with humans who are reproduced via in-vitro sterilization? Or how about twins, are they "freaks"?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Will Michigan Republicans raise the Mittster from the dead tonight?

I've contended from the beginning that Mitt Romney was the Republican party favorite and I still think he's the annoited candidate. Even if he doesn't win Michigan (I think he will), remember he can win the nomination without winning a single primary.


Oily Oppulence

Via Froomkin:

Michael Abramowitz writes in The Washington Post: "When President Bush showed up Sunday to meet United Arab Emirates President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, he was presented with the biggest bling Secret Service agents said they had ever seen: a giant necklace set with hundreds of rubies, emeralds and other precious stones, holding a medallion that included a hand-painted enamel American flag.

"It was just one example of the kind of lavish wealth on display as Bush makes his way through Persian Gulf countries bursting with oil money.

And this from a pool reporter on the trip with Bush:

For journalists, going on international trips with Bush is typically not an enviable task. But the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva blogs about his night at the Emirates Palace: "[M]y room was running somebody 1595 USD a night, and the amenities include a PDA to control all of the entertainment. The NEC flat screen, I am estimating 60 inches. . . .

"Red and yellow rose petals were strewn, or actually arranged on white towels, on the floor of the bathroom, and I was doing my best to navigate around them so as not to spoil the effect. . . .

"However, I have it from a highly credible junior administration official that I was staying in the UAE equivalent of maid's quarters."

Gee, I wonder where all that wealth is coming from?

And we wonder why the average Arab on the street is angry with the west?


Racists Primary

Don't you find all this "racists" talk about the Democratic primary boring?

In looking at who said what when, it appears to be much more of a media story than anything else. Perhaps surrogates from Hillary or Barack tooled the media, perhaps not. But the political gasbags have sure had a bunch of fun with it. And like much of the silly season's jousting, it's pretty much meaningless in the bigger picture.

I'll certainly be glad when the primaries are over.


Dying For An S.U.V.

Did you know that people are literally dying to maintain their dependence on oil?

No, I'm not talking about the wars even though it's true there as well. I'm talking about food prices.

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Corn rose to the highest ever in Chicago, gaining the maximum permitted by the exchange, on speculation that global demand for feed and biofuel will exceed production for the seventh time in the past eight years.

World inventories of corn will fall to the lowest since 1984 on Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Jan. 11. Inventories in the U.S., the world's largest producer and exporter, will be 20 percent smaller than forecast last month, the USDA said. Prices have jumped 49 percent in the past five months, even after last year's record harvest.

"The decline in supplies was a shock to people that have to use these commodities," said Jeff Beal a consultant for Strategic Marketing Services Inc. in Rockford, Illinois.
The only thing wrong with that quote is the last paragraph. The growth in corn prices, and indeed all agricultural commodities, is and has been forseen for some time.

The big drive to use corn for fuel is stupid on so many levels. It's not only inefficient, it's reducing the world's food supply significantly. I thought oil was going to be an inflation driver, but it looks like grocery store prices are going to be right up there at the top.


Monday, January 14, 2008

By The Way

Remember that new welcome-mat that the Iraqi's are putting out for ex-Baathists? Check this out:

Essentially, this law forces a Baath Party member who wants a job in the government to appear before a judiciary board in public view and announce that they are an ex-Baathist, in a time where Shiite militias and death squads still operate. This is a death sentence that appears to be more about rooting out Baath Party members than anything else.
Now tell me. If you were a Baathists, part of the party that committed genocide against Shiites, would you stand up and declare yourself in front of the entire nation?


Awakening Alright

Who in the world could possibly forsee such a possibility!?

U.S. military commanders point to the "Sunni Awakening"—when Sunnis broke with al-Qaida and began working with America—as the most important cause of the decline in violence in Iraq. Now, says the LAT, the United States wants to shift those militia—dubbed concerned local citizens, or CLCs—to the responsibility of the Shiite government. The Iraqi government, however, is highly resistant to the former insurgents, causing the U.S. military to fear that the window for this opportunity might close. "If it doesn't embrace it, you could have the different Sunni Awakenings coming together as a Sunni army that tries to overthrow the government, pushing the country into civil war," a military aide said. "It's possible."
I'd say it's probable.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


Did Hillary cry on purpose in New Hampshire?

Nobody knows for sure. But she does get advice from Bill Clinton. And she did it again in Nevada. She's either a highly calculating politician who's responding to focus groups opinions about her, or she's getting really emotional lately. What do you think?


Political Progress!

The Iraqi legislature apparently has reached an agreement allowing the dreaded Baathists back into the Iraqi government. The media is trumpeting this as a very big step towards reconciliation. But Juan Cole has a question:

If the new law was good for ex-Baathists, then the ex-Baathists in parliament will have voted for it and praised it, right? And likely the Sadrists (hard line anti-Baath Shiites) and Kurds would be a little upset.

Instead, parliament's version of this law was spearheaded by Sadrists, and the ex-Baathists in parliament criticized it.

Somehow that little drawback suggests to me that the law is not actually, as written, likely to be good for sectarian reconciliation.
Good question.

Go read Juan for the details. In a nutshell, it turns out that the details of the legislation specifically require ex-Baathist to be prosecuted (if they committed crimes) or retire (if they did not commit crimes) and prevents them from holding sensitive ministry position. In fact, the law was sponsored by Sadrists who hate Sunni's.

But don't expect the American media to look at the issue any deeper than whatever they're told by the administration. Afterall, they've got deep cover work to do on Jamie Lynn Spears and dead white girls.


Pay Me Now .... Or .....

The economy seems to be slowing. How much is anyone's guess at this point. I'm really ambivalent about the solution and I think this guy has it right:

The trouble is that the economy's not in trouble because interest rates have been too high. Quite the opposite has been true: the price of money's been too cheap for too long and the excesses that flowed from that state of monetary affairs are correcting. The idea that the Fed can keep consumers spending at a sufficient rate to keep GDP from sinking seems a bit far-fetched. Then again, don't underestimate the power of the central bank. We may yet see a fresh season of zero-percent-financing deals and commentary that fuses helicopters with monetary policy.

It's any one's guess is Joe Sixpack can be convinced to keep spending as if the economy's booming. No doubt the Fed will try. But it's tougher this time and Congress may have to lend a fiscal hand too. A fresh round of tax cuts, any one?

Even if all this works to keep the U.S. out of a deep recession, the cost is likely to be steep in terms of future inflation. Somewhere, somehow, some day, the bill must be paid. The warning signs are certainly clear: a falling dollar; rising prices for gold, oil and other commodities; and consumer prices that are moving higher as well, to name a few. Of course, this is an election year and short-term gain will be sacrificed on the altar of long-term pain. It's an ancient tradition, and it's not about to stop here.
Another point not often mentioned by econ writers is the war. The huge amount of spending on stuff that contributes nothing to society is an enormous drain. Government deficits eventually must be paid back, one way or the other. At some point, there will be a huge economic correction. Will it be this time? Who knows.