Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why Running Against McCain Is Easy

I've had "some" question my judgement about believing that running against McCain would be easy.

Here ya go:

"If you've got a Hillary and McCain race, you've got a third option: That's the pistol on the bed table."

-- Pat Buchanan on MSNBC.
I rest my case.

Added: There's plenty more here. Add Coulter and Limbaugh to Buchanan list. And after reading Limbaugh, I'm really concerned that someone should call 911 and have that pistol removed ........


Runaway Spending Myth


Federal spending mythology, by Paul Krugman: One thing I’ve written about a number of times, but becomes especially worth emphasizing now that John McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, is the myth of runaway federal spending under the Bush administration. McCain has said on a number of occasions that he doesn’t know much about economics — although, straight-talker that he is, he has also denied having ever said such a thing. But one thing he thinks he knows is that the Bush administration has been spending like a drunken sailor. Has it?

Consider the actual record of spending. Never mind dollar figures, which grow because of inflation, population growth, and other normal factors. A better guide is spending as a percentage of GDP. And this has increased, from 18.5% in fiscal 2001 to 20% in fiscal 2007.

But where did that increase come from? Three words: defense, Medicare, Medicaid. That’s the whole story. Defense up from 3 to 4% of GDP; Medicare and Medicaid up from 3.4% to 4.6%, partially offset by increased payments for Part B and stuff. Aside from that, there’s been no major movement.

Behind these increases are the obvious things: the war McCain wants to fight for the next century, the general issue of excess cost growth in health care, and the prescription drug benefit.

So the next time Mr. McCain or anyone else promises to rein in runaway spending, they should be asked which of these things they intend to reverse. Are they talking about pulling out of Iraq? Denying seniors the latest medical treatments? Canceling the drug benefit? If not, what are they talking about?

The only disagreement I would have with Krugman is that Bush has been responsible for runaway spending on defense. You know, that little war? And today I heard on the radio that the next proposed budgets calls for cuts everywhere except (yes, you've got it) in defense which is slated for a 3% increase not including war spending. Nothing like having your priorities straight.


Sharp As A Hammer

Your media has, again, been jumping the gun on a story that has all the heart-string-tugging drama of a Brittany Spears story. In this case, those rag-headed, brown-skinned, blood-drinking terrarists used mentally retarded people as suicide bombers! You could just hear the public tsk tsking across the entire nation. My reaction was, ah huh, yeah right. Show me the proof.

Right on cue, from today's papers.

It's probably not true (via Slate's roundup of today's papers):

Several officials claimed the bombers were mentally impaired; one said that the severed head of one of the bombers showed she suffered from Down syndrome. The papers are skeptical of the claim.
Now, I've never seen the head of a suicide bomber after the blast, but it would be my guess that identification is tricky at best.

I was asked if it would bother me if the story was true. My response was that, indeed, it would bother me much like it bothers me to hear of a "targeted air strike" that takes out a bunch of civilians. War is hell. To be appalled at assymetrical warfare techniques when it's all they've got against the greatest military power on earth is naive.

Added: Juan Cole on the story:
Two women set off separate suicide bombs in two markets in Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 91 persons and wounding a similar number. Contrary to what this AP squib implies, the bombings suggest neither that "al-Qaeda" is running out of men nor that it is desperate. Women were used because they would be less likely to be closely searched, in a society where gender segregation and female honor and chastity are important values. The story that the women had Downs syndrome seems unlikely to be true; you wouldn't trust a sensitive terror plot to someone without their full faculties. Rather, the bombings show that the Sunni Arab guerrillas seeking to destabilize Iraq have not been defeated and are still capable of making a big strike right under the noses of the surge troops. And that is how guerrilla war is-- large conventional forces find it difficult to curb it.


Friday, February 1, 2008


Ahhh .... feeling a lot less optimistic about the Mittster these days. Running against Eisenhower Goldwater McCain will be pretty easy.


For Once, We Agree

Big Dick Cheney:

"To abandon our cause in Iraq -- especially now that we've seized the initiative -- would dissipate much of the effort that's gone into fighting the war on terror."
If, as I do, you assume that our efforts on the "war on terror" are a disaster, then leaving Iraq would be a first step towards unwinding such a disaster. So Dick? I agree.

This argument that leaving Iraq = losing = weakness is the same crap bandied around during Vietnam. Yet, we left and even "lost", but were we "weaker"?


Jobs .... Or Not

The headline:

The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, the first decline in four years and the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.

Jobs disappeared across a broad spectrum of professions, with the steepest losses coming in the manufacturing, construction and goods-producing industries.
If you read this blog regularly, I know you'll also be really shocked to learn that the year end numbers for 2007 say that the government consistently over-estimated job growth last year.

We know.


Quarterly Ritual

HOUSTON — ExxonMobil (XOM) on Friday posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company — $40.6 billion — as the world's largest publicly traded oil company benefited from historic crude prices at year's end.

Exxon also set a U.S. record for the biggest quarterly profit, posting net income of $11.7 billion for the final three months of 2007, besting its own mark of $10.71 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Ironically, as their commodity disappears, they get richer and richer. Kinda like a pimp.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big Mo'

Guess who's got it going into Super Tuesday. I continue to contend that Edwards dropping out favors Obama, which is why he dropped when he did.


McCain Romney

I've been reading quite a bit about the Republican primary. The CW seems to be that McCain is the front runner and likely to win.


We all know how well CW works, and we all know that the media just loves them some John McCain. I still think Romney will surprise and win .... the right-wing nutbars and religious right nutbars hate McCain, and most of "Super Tuesday" will be comprised of Republican voters (as opposed to open primaries).

But let's assume McCain is the one. I think beating him would be relatively easy. Those same conservative voters are unlikely to get too fired up about voting and the Democrats rest of the country is all fired up about voting for anything not-Republican. BTW did you know that the "I'm going to retire now" crowd of Republican incumbents in the House is up to 28?

The only fly in the ointment of beating McCain is the media. They love the guy and apply all kinds of B.S. platitudes toward him. You know, "he's a straight-shooter, he's bipartisan, he's got the best booze-bus of them all"! But somehow, as the campaign rolls along, McCain the crazy is going to come out (whether it does or not) and that will be good media too.


Republicans Need To Admit It .....

.... the Iraq war has caused genocide, with the Americans playing a pivotal role. Juan Cole:

A new professional poll carried out by a British firm in Iraq concludes that excess deaths from violence since March 19, 2003 through summer 2007 came to just over 1 million. Note that excess deaths from violence do not necessarily imply that they are directly war-related. Thus, murders of a criminal sort, tribal feuding, and so forth would be included. Since Bush interfered with the establishment of a strong new government after his invasion, he promoted the sort of insecurity that permitted high rates of violence, whether political, criminal or war-related. This poll tracks with the findings of the studies of Gilbert Burnham and Les Roberts, published in the Lancet and disputes lower numbers found by a recent WHO study (which, however, only ran through June 2006 and was limited solely to civilians--this British study goes to 2007 and seems to include everyone.)

The British findings are also consistent with estimates of between 1 million and 2 million widows in Iraq. These widows, many of them young, face extreme poverty without a breadwinner. As the Iraqi street has been captured by religious parties and militias, gender segregation and female seclusion have increased, which prevents single young women from going out to work in mixed-gender settings like stores and workshops. In short, Iraq is being Talibanized by Bush's war.
I watched a PBS Frontline last night on the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan. If you can catch it on rerun, it's a good catch (or you can go to the above link and watch it online). The short version of the report is that Musharraf is corrupt by necessity, the U.S. is routinely getting punked in the area by everyone, the Taliban and al Qaeda are growing in influence/power, and there's really not a damned thing the U.S. can do about it short of getting involved in a Soviet type war in the Khyber Pass region.

Unless and until the U.S. can win the hearts and minds of the Arab/Persian/Muslim world, the war on terror is lost.


Future Headline

After having having attended a church of scientology detox retreat wherein Tom Cruise and John Travolta offer their counsel, Britney Spears will talk about her recent ordeals and her destructive childhood with Baba WaWa on tonights 20/20!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quote of The Day .... With a Twist

Dianne Lieberman Feinstein:

"I do believe he will be a truly nonpolitical, nonpartisan attorney general; that he will make his views very clear; and that, once he has the opportunity to do the evaluation he believes he needs on waterboarding, he will be willing to come before the Judiciary Committee and express his views comprehensively and definitively," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, one of the six who voted with the majority for confirmation.

I'm ashamed she's from my state.



World Oil production (via The Oil Drum)

Many are claiming that we are not in peak oil because of the increases in production over the past two months. Maybe. But it looks to me like production is still hanging around a peak level and is flat since 2005, not incidently during a time of really high prices and high demand.


Too Bad

Well, Edwards is out. That's too bad but totally understandable as he was not getting any traction.

I would think that this will benefit Obama, which may explain the timing of his announcement. He can tacitly lend support to Obama without having to go public and endorse him and thus alienating the Hillary crowd. Always good to keep your options open.

Once again I've favored a candidate that doesn't seem to have a chance in hell. In fact, I think my support = KOD (kiss of death).

On the other hand. Rudy? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sometimes, Backbones Are Stiff

It looks like the Democrats may have actually been listening.

The FISA bill which would give telecoms immunity appears to have been successfully filibustered by the likes of Chris Dodd. The Democrats are offering a compromise "extension", but Bush is vowing to veto that. Digby:

It now appears to be a game of chicken. Will the Republicans allow this law to expire, will they pass the extension and have the president veto it, or will they pass the extension, let it stand and then come back to fight this again next week? And, as [Glenn] Greenwald asks, will the media try or even be able to explain this to anyone?

It's a little weird that the Democrats had to filibuster a bill when they have a majority, but at least they were able to do it. I guess that's progress?
Game definately not over on this one. I'm not holding my breath, but perhaps the Dems are learning how to play the game.



This headline says it all:

Bush Vows to Stay on Offensive
I have little doubt that this will always be true.



"'What can he say after seven years?' Leland asked. 'He's got to be the worst president ever. . . . If he just said, "I'm out of here," he would probably get the highest rankings of his administration.'"
David J. Leland, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party discussing Bush's State of the Union Speech.


The Surge

Exactly what kind of surge do we have in Iraq?:

All the papers go inside with news that five U.S. soldiers were killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. So far, 36 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month, which is an increase from the 23 that were killed in December. And yet, some insist that the "war has largely ended."


Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Getting Better!

Five American soldiers were killed during a combined attack today in Mosul. Overall, 17 Iraqis were killed and another 15 were wounded across the country. In Basra, two Arab nationals were killed during a bombing as well. Also, Sadrists are urging their leader Muqtada al-Sadr not to renew a cease-fire that ends next month.

In Mosul, five U.S. soldiers were killed died during a combined roadside bomb and small arms attack. This comes as Iraqi troops arrive there to battle in what’s believed to be al-Qaeda last urban stronghold in the country.

Al Qaeda my ass.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teen Driving

You know all those highly restrictive laws recently passed on teen drivers? Well, if you look at the data (and no one really will because perception is much more powerful to decisionmakers than reality), those laws have done nothing.



Obama won S. Carolina.

Yawn .....

The primaries that will really matter (no Democrat will ever win S. Carolina in the general) are Feb. 5th. I expect the results to be quite mixed across the various states. Meanwhile the Neandricans in Florida are eliminating Guiliani like a bad case of food poisoning.

By bye Rude!


More Read It And Weep

Not only are the rebates really just an advance on future tax refunds, but guess who gets stimulated? (chart is income groupings of five)



Charlie Pierce hits on what I find so annoying about Barack Obama. You know how Obama continually says he wants to "make Washington work" and how he can work with Republicans to "get things done"? Pierce:

Take the list of Republican congresscritters, House and Senate. Make me a list of 10 of them with whom you think you can work to achieve anything close to the progressive goals you have said you want to achieve. Give me an honest run, and I guarantee you that you can't do it. You may get "something done" but it's not going to have anything to do with anything resembling the values of the party you seek to represent. This is a party that has to be forcibly disenthralled from its lunatic base.

Now I'm sure some Obama supporters might say that his togetherness campaign is for voter consumption and that Obama would be a tough President. Maybe.