Thursday, June 12, 2008


I hesitate to even spill pixels on this. But we must stay informed!



Somehow this image conjures up more than the author intended ....



Some folks are speculating that Bush's attempt to get permanent bases in Iraq might backfire:

Ned Parker of the LAT reports that some in the al-Maliki government--and senior members of the Islamic Mission (Da'wa) Party and the United Iraqi Alliance coalition of which it is a part-- are seriously considering asking US troops to leave the country. They believe they can now handle security on their own, and that the Bush administration's demands that they surrender a great deal of national sovereignty in the proposed Status of Forces agreement are unacceptable.

But I doubt it. The Iraqi controlling interests may want the U.S. out, but they also value their necks. With the Iranians next door, the continued domestic Shiite Islamic fundamentalist movement, and with the Sunni's just waiting for an opportunity, the Shiites ability to keep the lid on is questionable. And if the lid is removed, it's likely their necks that go first. Thus the parliament will hem and haw, and maybe even avoid an permanent agreement for the time being. But anyway you cut it, the next President will be the one to decide the next move in Iraq for the U.S.


A Good Hypocrite

I ran across this excerpt of a news story today:

Cindy LaBeff, 46, drives 70 miles a day from the small town of McLoud to her job at a data processing center in Oklahoma City. Until a few months ago, she spent $40 on gas for her work week. These days it's $60 a work week - and $80 if she wants to go to church on the weekend.

She decided she can't afford the higher prices. With no public transportation in her area, she went online to form a carpool. LaBeff has been ridesharing for a week now, and she hopes to add two new members to her car. "That way, it's just a dollar a gallon," she said.

If our governor or mayor would help set up carpooling, if they would push it better, then people would think about it," she said. "But there has been nothing."
Sheeesh. Let me count the ways that this ticks me off.

Poor old Cindy. Cindy, who did you vote for in the last ten elections? If you're like any of your neighbors it was for Republicans. Cindy, do you know the stance that Republicans have taken on energy? And especially Oklahoma Republicans? And now that things are getting dicey, you want gov'mut to step in and set up carpools?

That's mighty liberal of ya.

I know it's human nature. And I call it a good hypocrite because at least Cindy is starting to think like a rational person addicted to petroleum. While it's painful, the recent price increases are apparently what it takes to get people to really deal with the problem. Unfortunately it has to be painful.

My only fear at this point is that demand destruction, increased supply (if that's even possible which is getting more doubtful) and price manipulations will bring prices "down" to a new adaptive level and ole' Cindy will simply pay the $80 to fill up her car for the stupid commute due to living in a society based on cheap fuel.

Added: Ole' Cindy isn't alone out there in the outback (click to enlarge)


You Know You're Off When ....

When even the Supreme Court thinks you're violating civil rights, you know you're way off base:

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

The justices handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The vote was 5-4, with the court's liberal justices in the majority.
What's particularly interesting is that it may not matter. Thus far Bush has pretty much ignored the rule of law in the situation. Does anyone really think this decision will change things now?

Also, this was another 5-4 decision. I don't even have to know the vote tally to know that a President McCain will move the court into full fascism with court appointments.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


There's a bunch of buzz on the internets about yet another McCain gaffe. Apparently he said that it's "not that important" when the troops come home from Iraq. Of course his campaign is claiming he was taken out of context and all the usual nonsense. Josh Marshall makes total sense out of this latest foot-in-mouth moment for McCain:

Sometimes these references by McCain are treated as gaffes but they're not. This is what McCain believes: that we should have a long-term troop presence in Iraq to guarantee the survival of a pro-U.S. government and assert power in the region. That's not a crazy position. That's the position of the current administration. That's why we're currently trying to secure an agreement with the Iraqis to ratify that goal. The problem isn't that McCain's position is incomprehensible. It's just not popular. Most Americans think reducing casualties is important too. But they'd like to do both -- reduce casualties and leave too.

The problem for the McCain campaign is that he keeps stumbling into clear statements of his actual policy, which is close to lethal since the vast majority of Americans disagree with his policy and Iraq is virtually the only thing he's running on. The context the McCain campaign keeps trying to put forward after the fact is what they wished he'd said rather than what he did. And even that, when you push deep, isn't that different from McCain's actual policy, which is that he doesn't think we should be leaving Iraq for years to come, most likely decades.
Precisely. The GOP is going to have to work quite hard to put lipstick on that pig*

*assumes no attack on Iran.


The Trend

As the old saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words. If you ever wonder why we're in Iraq, here's the answer (click to enlarge):


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


(h/t Digby, as usual)

Remember this?

I guess McCain is resurrecting images of Carter to slime Obama. And most of the gasbags seem to be on the bandwagon that Carter was a terrible President. But really. Was he?



I agree with Kevin that Sebelius is a good looking possibility. Aside from not being a Senator (Dems need all they can get), she's a she which neutralizes the Hillary situation and from a region that can swing either way. Even if it's not Sebelius, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a governor.


More Evidence

Steve Clemons, who is very far from a left-wing nutbar, writes today that it looks like the Cheney faction in the White House in ascending again, and that Iran conflict is growing in possibility.


Ari .... Baby .....

Since Scott McClellan's mia culpa book came out criticizing the press for it's lousy Iraq war coverage, the media has been doing the usual hand-wringing about it's coverage. Via Froomkin, we have this jewel from Ari Fleischer who claims that the press did a plenty good job!

Not surprisingly, Fleischer was able to fish out a few examples of aggressive questioning from the voluminous press-briefing archives for his Washington Post op-ed on Sunday. But his argument ultimately boils down to an unpersuasive exercise in self-pity.

Fleischer cites McClellan's charge that the press "failed to aggressively question the rationale for war," and responds: "As someone whose duty it was to assume the position of a human piƱata every day in the briefing room, I only wish Scott were right. . . .

"At the risk of agreeing with one of my toughest protagonists in the briefing room -- NBC's David Gregory-- the press was tough, plenty tough. I have the scars -- and the transcripts -- to prove it. . . .

"'I often returned to my office beaten down from the clashes in the briefing room.'"

Poor Ari. He doesn't seem to understand the fundamental difference between a reporters questions and the coverage that takes place in the actual outlet. Sure David Gregory can ask some tough questions, but does it make it into the news broadcast in any meaningful way? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?

Come on Ari. Don't be so conservatively literal. It's why I've contended that the White House briefings are meaningless. The press secretary's job is to get on the podium and lie spin in response to wet kisses tough questions from the media. Helen Thomas is a poster child for this dynamic. Thomas used to be typical, part of a crowd and a institutional apparatus designed to represent The People. Now she's been marginalized into a clown-like figure of fringe government skepticism.

Even when questions and skepticism abounds, the filtering by editors, producers and talking heads is so profound as to make any real reporting from the front end meaningless. That is the essence of "corporate" media. It's not that reporters don't "do their jobs", they often do. It's that the powers that be above them refuse to do the fourth estate's job out of fear and greed. It's much safer to do a hatchet job on the latests white woman kidnapper than the President.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Never Wiser

I've heard this before, but it has never been more relevant than today:


Awesome News

Looks like Elizabeth Edwards is joining Obama to work on healthcare reform!

If you'll recall, Edwards was not exactly a fan of Obama's health care plan. Personally, I think Edwards approach to health care reform is superior to Obama's. This could be an awesome change. Obama's looking better all the time.


Good Enough For Clinton ....

.... then it's good enough for McCain. Here's a piece on McCain's first marriage and it's ignominious end. Excerpt:

She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news.

But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries.

When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeons had been forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.

Through sheer hard work, Carol learned to walk again. But when John McCain came home from Vietnam, she had gained a lot of weight and bore little resemblance to her old self.

Today, she stands at just 5ft4in and still walks awkwardly, with a pronounced limp. Her body is held together by screws and metal plates and, at 70, her face is worn by wrinkles that speak of decades of silent suffering.


My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that just does.’

Some of McCain’s acquaintances are less forgiving, however. They portray the politician as a self-centred womaniser who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to ‘play the field’. They accuse him of finally settling on Cindy, a former rodeo beauty queen, for financial reasons.

McCain was then earning little more than £25,000 a year as a naval officer, while his new father-in-law, Jim Hensley, was a multi-millionaire who had impeccable political connections.
Whooooaaa! Tell me it isn't so! I wonder if John McCain is related to Newt Gingrich somehow ..... Is John McCain a maverick or some kind of stallion (or at least thinks he is)?

At least he remarried a pure and upstanding woman.




Lots of gnashing to and fro on why Hillary lost.

Let me add my gnashing. It's quite simple. She bet wrong on the Iraq war.



Have A Shot In The Foot

This is so painfully ironic I can't stand it:

While high gas prices are causing economic strain in household budgets across the country, those living in rural areas are being affected most by the increases, the New York Times says in its lead story. People in rural areas usually drive longer distances in vehicles that eat up more gas while making less money, which means gasoline is taking up a bigger chunk of the family budget and is competing with other necessities such as food and housing.
It's very very difficult for me to work up much sympathy. Rural areas overwhelmingly vote Republican, and overwhelmingly have avoided dealing with issues like petroleum dependence, global warming, and energy corporation abuses. It's a "you reap what you sow" moment and a case of people needing to be hit upasidethehead sometimes in order to figure things out.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Too True

I think this is very well said:

Chuck Todd says Sen. Hillary Clinton's first setback on the road the White House was the election of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as party chairman.

"Dean's election was a clear break from the Clinton way of running the DNC. In hindsight, it was malpractice for a political family who believes it controlled the Democratic Party to have allowed Dean and his grass-roots followers to take over."
And now, Dean has set the stage (with his 50 state strategy) for this:
WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama’s general election plan calls for broadening the electoral map by challenging Senator John McCain in typically Republican states — from North Carolina to Missouri to Montana — as Mr. Obama seeks to take advantage of voter turnout operations built in nearly 50 states in the long Democratic nomination battle, aides said.

On Monday, Mr. Obama will travel to North Carolina — a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years — to start a two-week tour of speeches, town hall forums and other appearances intended to highlight differences with Mr. McCain on the economy. From there, he heads to Missouri, which last voted for a Democrat in 1996. His first campaign swing after securing the Democratic presidential nomination last week was to Virginia, which last voted Democratic in 1964.
Gosh, do you think Howard Dean may have been right?


More On Iran

I know I'm a bit obsessed with this. But I think we all should be given the likely fallout from such an action. More evidence:

Ben-Eliezer insisted he was not advocating a preventive military strike on Iran but said "Iran should know the price it will have to pay when it begins to think concretely about attacking Israel."

The minister's remarks came a day after an Israeli deputy prime minister warned that Iran would face attack if it pursues what he said was its nuclear weapons programme.

"If Iran continues its nuclear weapons programme, we will attack it," said Shaul Mofaz, who is also transportation minister.

"Other options are disappearing. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme," Mofaz told the Yediot Aharonot daily.

He stressed such an operation could only be conducted with US support.

A former defence minister and armed forces chief of staff, Mofaz hopes to replace embattled Ehud Olmert as prime minister and at the helm of the Kadima party.
I don't care what the quote says, this guy is advocating a preemptive attack on Iran. Israel is unlikely to get the needed support from Obama. McCain is likely to lose. That leaves an attack before Bush leaves office.


Another Consequence

Here's another consequence of higher oil prices:

I had estimated that if oil averaged $115 for the year, the Gulf would add roughly $400 billion to the coffers of its sovereign funds and central banks. Just to be clear, this is money that is invested abroad; the various domestic investments of the big Gulf countries aren’t counted — even if they are done by a sovereign fund or a subsidiary of a sovereign fund. Overall official assets of the oil exporting economies might increase by something like $800 billion.

That would be roughly twice my estimate for the increase in their assets — excluding capital gains — in 2007. And $400 for the Gulf and $800 for all the oil exporters now looks like an underestimate. $450b and $900b look more likely now …

What this means is that the U.S. is exporting tons of cash to the oil exporters. TONS. So not only are we spending billions per month on Iraq, were shipping billions to various bad actors in the region .... all so pretty blondes can drive gianormous SUV's while talking on their cell phones.

The old saying, nothing exceeds like excess fits here (yes, I know that's not the old saying). Using the principle of reverting to the mean, the U.S. is in for an equally painful period of pullback at some time. The only question is how quickly and sharply the pain will come. So far it's been pretty quick. Whether we'll get a reprieve and a slow down in the pain ..... we'll see!


Why Is Oil High?

While our intrepid news media is trumpeting the new all-time high oil price, they are not reporting the likely reason:

The biggest puzzle is why oil prices keep on going higher and higher while the economy is clearly contracting and US oil demand is starting to fall. One simple explanation is the risk of a stagflationary supply side shock in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. This forum reported a week ago the views of Joschka Fischer – the former foreign minister of Germany – that such an Israeli strike is highly likely before the end of the Bush administration. Those allegations got reinforced this week by several additional factors: the Israeli deputy prime minister Shaul Mofaz (and likely future PM) stating categorically that “attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable”; the DEBKAfile report of June 3rd stating that “Limited US attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases in sight”’; all these confirming the headline in the May 20th Jerusalem Post that “Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of its term”).
If you've been reading this blog, you already know all about this. As oil prices were dropping last week I was right at the edge of my buy price for oil. I, too, am anticipating an attack on Iran and wanted to participate in the wild ride if such an attack occurred. But alas, I just barely missed out.