Friday, May 2, 2008

Worth Noting

The recent suicide of the DC Madam is the second suicide in the case. The other was a former call girl.

Hmmmm. That's a lot of suicidin' goin' on in a simple prostitution case.


Five Years

It was a mere five years ago that Bush did the stupid "Mission Accomplished" thing on the aircraft carrier. Froomkin puts the intervening time in context for us:

Five years ago, 139 American troops had died in Iraq. Now that number is 4,064. Five years ago, 542 American troops had been wounded in Iraq. Now that number is 29,395.

Five years ago, the national debt was $6.5 trillion. Now it's $9.3 trillion. Five years ago, your average gallon of gas cost $1.44. Now it costs $3.57. Five years ago, Bush's job-approval rating was at 70 percent. Now it's at 28.

Five years ago, Bush's appearance on the carrier was widely hailed as a brilliant PR move, imbuing the president with the aura of a conquering hero. Now, it's possibly the single most potent image of Bush's hubris.

One thing that's not so different: Five years ago, there were about 150,000 American troops in Iraq. Now there are slightly more.

By the by. Guess where that aircraft carrier (The Lincoln) is now?

That's right. Persian Gulf.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ruh Ro

Things that make you go hmmmmmm.

(CNN) -- Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the "D.C. Madam," was found dead in Florida on Thursday, according to Tarpon Springs police.

Palfrey hanged herself in a storage shed on her mother's property, where she had been staying, according to a police statement. Palfrey's mother, 76-year-old Blanche Palfrey, found the body, police said.


Number One!

Bush has finally become the number one at something, officially.


Great Dodge!

This is one of the best question dodges you'll ever see

Audience member:

This question goes to mental health and mental health care. Previously, I've been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me. Is it true that you
called your wife a (expletive)[word that rhymes with runt]?


Now, now. You don't want to... Um, you know that's the great thing about town hall meetings, sir, but we really don't, there's people here who don't respect that kind of language. So I'll move on to the next questioner in the back.
Does John McCain respect that kind of language or is he just protectin' the littl' chillin'?

Image courtesy Rising Hegemon


Avalanche Time?

Is this the beginning or something, or an isolated incident?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Hillary Rodham Clinton was jolted Thursday by the defection of one of her longtime superdelegate supporters, a former national party chairman who urged fellow Democrats to "reject the old negative politics" and unify behind Barack Obama.

"A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue" a long, self-destructive Democratic campaign, Joe Andrew added in a letter designed to have an impact on the turbulent race nationally as well as in his home state of Indiana, site of a primary next week.

"A vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain," Andrew wrote.
Hillary has to be holding her breath that others won't follow suit, leaving her no choice (although that's exactly what needs to happen).


John McCain Is Stupid

Someone really needs to start a blog keeping track of these. There are so many, and they come so fast and furiously .....


Says It All

I think Juan Cole's headline today says it all:

5 Years after Mission Accomplished;
April US Troop Toll 50 Killed;
1,073 Iraqis Killed this Month

Added. Remember, this is codpiece anniversary day!


A Good Thing

The NY Times does something good. You know how you can tell? Because they're receiving criticism from Bush:

Al Kamen writes in The Washington Post: "The New York Times has been taking hits of late for its new policy of boycotting the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner. The Times apparently has decided that the media-politician chumminess is unseemly and maybe even borderline unethical."

First, dinner headliner Craig Ferguson on Saturday had this to say: "Shut the hell up, New York Times, you sanctimonious, whining jerks!"

Then at yesterday's news conference, as Kamen writes: "President Bush took another pop at the Times. After Bush called on Times White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, she said: 'I'm still waiting for my exclusive at the ranch,' referring to ABC News White House reporter Martha Raddatz's private interview with Bush in Crawford.

"'I'm at a loss for words,' Bush said. 'If only you'd have been at the White House correspondents' dinner, I would have invited you.'"

That's proof positive that it's the correct policy.

It used to be that journalists had the stones to be chummy and tough. That's no longer possible apparently, so I guess to retain journalistic integrity journalists need to stop socializing with those they cover.


More Evidence

Is pressure building for an attack on Iran?

David Martin reported on the CBS Evening News last night: "A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf today as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. The planning is being driven by what one officer called the 'increasingly hostile role' Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops. . . .

"Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force, which directs operations in Iraq. Later this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to confront the Iranians with evidence of their meddling and demand a halt.

"And if that doesn't produce results, the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum which would tell the Iranians to knock it off - or else."

Let's see. What would be a good time to carry out such a threat? Fall is always pleasant ......

Added: William Arkin offers an alternative point of view that war may happen, but not this year. Frankly I think his reasoning is a bit weak, but it is the alternative view. And also interestingly, Arkin says no war this year while making the case that there will be a war with Iran.


Speaking Of Oil

You've just got to feel sorry for Exxon:

Exxon Mobil Corp. shares were down 2.3% after the largest U.S. company by market capitalization posted a 17% rise in first-quarter net income due to rising crude-oil prices. However, lower refining and chemical margins, lower production volumes and higher operating costs hurt the bottom line, and the company reported net income of $10.89 billion, or $2.03 a share, up from $9.28 billion, or $1.62 a share, a year earlier. The consensus, as reported by Thomson Reuters, was for earnings of $2.14 a share. Still, the results mark the strongest first quarter ever for the energy behemoth.
Ahhhhh. Poor Exxon. They only made $10.80 Billion for the quarter because of pressure on some of the margins. It's amazing when a stock tanks on record earnings because the estimates were for even larger record earnings.


Gas Is Cheap

Here's how we rate internationally on gas prices:

1. Sierra Leone $18.42
2. Aruba $12.03
3. Bosnia-Herzegovina $10.86
4. Eritrea $9.58
5. Norway $8.73
6. United Kingdom $8.38
7. Netherlands $8.37
8. Monaco $8.31
9. Iceland $8.28
10. Belgium $8.22
11. United States $3.45
And of course, gasoline is much cheaper in producing nations where it's subsidized. Still, gasoline is relatively cheap here even at the elevated levels. And when you factor in the other costs, i.e. environmental, that are subsidized by taxpayers, it's really a good deal, except it's killing the planet.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Over

Could someone please inform the Clintons?

"Capitol Hill insiders say the battle for congressional superdelegates is over," according to The Politico, and Sen. Barack Obama appears to have won the majority.

A Wall Street Journal story yesterday came to the same conclusion.

"While more than 80 Democrats in the House and Senate have yet to state their preferences in the race for the Democratic nomination, sources said Tuesday that most of them have already made up their minds and have told the campaigns where they stand."

Said Sen. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a supporter of Obama: "The majority of superdelegates I've talked to are committed, but it is a matter of timing."
I don't know if the source of this story is good or not. The Politico has made mistakes. But at the same time, it makes sense to me. It just seems that no one is telling Hill/Bill yet though. On the other hand, they may know and are just hoping for an implosion of some kind between now and when votes are actually cast.


More Evidence

Remember this?

Today's news:

(CBS) A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf on Tuesday as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the planning is being driven by what one officer called the "increasingly hostile role" Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.

"What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq," said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The evidence continues to build.


The War Continues Apace

I guess we're going to find out just how strong the Mahdi army is:

The WP fronts the latest from Iraq, where U.S. soldiers continue to get more involved in intense battles inside Baghdad's Sadr City. At least 28 Iraqis were killed yesterday in a four-hour battle that was one of the deadliest since the latest conflict flared up after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched an offensive against Shiite militias last month. The WP says American troops "are now engaged in the kind of urban battle … reminiscent of the first years of war." The U.S. military said the 28 dead were militants, but residents of Sadr City said the real death toll was at least 50, including many civilians (an Associated Press photograph shows a 2-year-old victim, and the LAT says a brother-in-law of one of its Iraqi journalists was also killed). Meanwhile, there are increasing fears that followers of cleric Muqtada Sadr will simply declare "an all-out war to defend themselves."
And the result thus far for American soldiers?
According to BBC television, AFP is reporting that Mahdi Army militiamen killed 2 US troops in northern Baghdad on Wednesday morning. US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates admitted on Tuesday that the reduction in US troop casualties in recent months had ended in the past few weeks, because of the fighting in Sadr City in the capital. Over 40 US troops have been killed in April.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wrong The Wright

I just want to add one comment on what I said earlier about the Obama/Wright controversy.

The reason I think this might work for Obama's favor is that there is going to soon be a backlash. The media is in such a lather about the whole situation that people are going to get sick of it and start to feel sorry for Obama.



If you are feeling depressed about the Obama/Hillary primary fight, just go read this.


Free At Last

My biggest question is why he didn't get the death penalty?

A Dallas man who spent more than 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit was freed Tuesday, after being incarcerated longer than any other wrongfully convicted U.S. inmate cleared by DNA testing

James Lee Woodard stepped out of the courtroom and raised his arms to a throng of photographers. Supporters and other people gathered outside the court erupted in applause.

"No words can express what a tragic story yours is," state District Judge Mark Stoltz told Woodard at a brief hearing before his release.

Woodard, cleared of the 1980 murder of his girlfriend, became the 18th person in Dallas County to have his conviction cast aside. That's a figure unmatched by any county nationally, according to the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal center that specializes in overturning wrongful convictions.
The Innocence Project strikes again, and strikes in Texas yet again (31 of their exonerations have been in Texas, highest in the nation). How in the world anyone can support the death penalty with these kinds of statistics is beyond me. You know the innocence project isn't getting all of the innocent people freed, just like you know that the courts don't get all the guilty convicted.

But hey, silly me. Don't expect to hear much about this elsewhere. After all we have the far more important issues like Reverend Wright 24/7 on cable and Miley Cyrus's back everywhere else.



Do we have inflation? I guess it depends on what ruler you use:

For example. I'm really 12 feet tall when you use a one foot ruler that's only 6 inches. But then again, I'm only 3 feet tall when you use a one foot ruler that is 2 feet long! See, I can be any height you want .... just like our inflation numbers!


King Cheney

Not sure why anyone is really surprised by this. It's completely consistent with all his behavior as VP.


Too Old

I have ....




for children. Guess that means something about me too.


Is Wright Wrong?

The right Reverend Wright:

There's plenty of criticism of Wright in the papers, but none more prominent than in the NYT, where a Page One piece by Alessandra Stanley basically mocks him for being another American obsessed with appearing on television. "Now it turns out that Mr. Wright doesn't hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice," Stanely writes. "He grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame." Overall though, Wright's recent appearances may have supported Obama's assertion that his former pastor was like a member of his family. More specifically, Wright is like "the compelling but slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention."
Is Wright simply a narcissist craving attention? Or someone who's reputation was trashed by our intrepid media's mendacious laziness. Is he using the situation for self-aggrandizement, or because of pride, wants to get the story straight?

Probably both.

Either way, the media meme now is focusing on Wright's self-centeredness, which will help free Obama from the situation.



Unlike Bush propaganda, the Iran/Iraq situation is complex:

Meanwhile, as U.S. officials are increasing their criticism of Iran's involvement in Iraq, the WSJ reveals that Americans received "back-channel messages" from Tehran that condemned the recent fighting in Basra. The Iranian messages apparently expressed concern that the fighting would get out of control and said that Tehran had no control over the Shiite militants. It's not clear why Iran would choose to communicate with Americans this way, and U.S. officials really don't know how much to believe, but they do recognize that Tehran played a pivotal role in brokering the cease-fire "that eventually ended the fighting in Basra."
The idea that Iran desires chaos on it's border is ludicrous. The current Iraq government, despite the widely reported crap, is very close to the Iran government. But Iranians also have the religious fundamental thing goin' on with al Sadr. In their own way, Iranians are stuck in the middle like the U.S. Really, the only thing they're getting out of it is that the U.S. is bogged down.


No Problemo

As Digby said, a solution in search of a problem:

The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with the Supreme Court ruling that laws requiring citizens to show photo identification before voting are constitutional.
Of all the problems in the world, this is not one of the biggest either way. But understand that behind this story is a long series of bogus claims by Republicans of "voter fraud" that is really plain old racial discrimination. The fewer voters that actually vote, the better for Rethugicans. Thus, anything that is an obstacle is considered positive to them.

The WSJ highlights that "the evidence is far from clear" on either side of the debate, since no one knows how many people fail to vote because of ID laws, and at the same time there's no proof that voter fraud is a significant problem.