Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Lesson In Democracy From America's Immigrant Population

More than ever before, I am mindful of the important role played by Latino immigrants in American society. Supporters have argued for years that they are critical to our economy because they perform important jobs that most Americans are unwilling to do.

As I watch scenes of passionate but peaceful demonstrations throughout the country, I am convinced that it is not just the economy that benefits from their efforts, but our democracy as well. Or at least I hope so! Looking at photos of hundreds of thousands of protesters swarming the streets of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Francisco, and many other cities, it is clear that one of the jobs these immigrants are willing to perform - that most Americans won’t - is to stand up for themselves when they are threatened by the forces of power!

What would have happened if, during the 2000 presidential elections, ordinary Americans had taken to the streets in such large numbers to protest the outcome of a fraudulent election? What would have happened if ordinary Americans had protested en masse the decision to invade Iraq in defiance of world opinion?

I’ll suggest that we would have a much different world today if we all could value our own lives with the dignity and strength and persistence that we are seeing in response to the current Republican-sponsored threat to illegal immigrants.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ha Kaloogian! [Updated]

Here is a classic example of a arch-conservative Republican who might as well be a character from Blast From The Past. Apparently, Howard Kaloogian, who is currently running to fill the House seat vacated by Duke Cunningham, is so oblivious to the world of the Internet that he thought he could pass off a photo of Istanbul, Turkey as proof that Iraq is peaceful and calm, with happy couples walking hand in hand!

Keep sticking out your chest there, smart guy! It’s a good thing you are around to tackle the noble task of moving America forward. It’s too bad you are trying to move us forward from about the 1960’s!

[Update 1] Here is Kaloogian’s response to the phony photo – blame it on a “staffer!” OK, I can buy the notion that because many photos were taken on his trip, including some in Turkey, a staffer might get them mixed up. But someone actually took the time to write and post the following caption along with the photo:

We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.

If this were truly an accidental mix up between two similar photos, then why not just switch to the right one? Couldn’t Kaloogian swap a real photo of downtown Baghdad and keep the same caption? I didn’t think so!

[Update 2] Kaloogian has now replaced the photo with another one, and added an apology followed by the same original caption that has no relationship to the new photo.

We originally posted a photograph not of Baghdad, Iraq but from Istanbul, Turkey where our delegation traveled on the way home to the United States. We apologize for this mistake. We have corrected it with a photograph we took from Baghdad.

Of course, nearly everything looks “calm and stable” when viewed from about a mile away! So what did Kaloogian see during his trip that led him to conclude that the news media is exaggerating the violence in Baghdad? And with all those pictures they claim to have taken, why couldn't they find one that doesn't look like a cheap gift shop postcard?

[Update 3] More detail on the Kaloogian flap here. The location and date of the shot is identified, as well the fact that the bluish building in the center has been blown to smithereens since the photo was taken. Oh, and Kaloogian's website has been taken down entirely. After the embarrassement of the Duke Cunningham scandal, I'm thinkin' Howard Kaloogian is not the guy to help wash away the smell of dishonesty that still lingers in CA-50.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

President Dis-Cards Chief of Staff

Although billed as an “accepted resignation,” Andrew Card’s departure as White House Chief of Staff is clearly George Bush’s decision. He wouldn’t let Rumsfeld resign – twice - so it seems likely that Card is being jettisoned for a reason, and it’s probably only a matter of time before the rest of the dominos start to fall. History suggests they will topple like this:

Card is identified as the fall guy for something Bush wants to disassociate himself from – a new Plame indictment, the Dubai ports fiasco, Katrina, or the recently rediscovered Downing Street Minutes, perhaps? In fact, Card will probably leave with as much blame as can be heaped on his back before he rides off into the sunset!

Eventually, Card is given a medal of honor.

Finally, Card is rewarded with a lucrative career as a lobbyist (his only option, since he’s already admitted that he isn’t smart enough to work in a “think tank!”)

By the way, as an aside, with the selection of replacement Josh Bolten, is it possible that Bush is trying to soften his image with fans of The West Wing by choosing a new Chief of Staff whose name has the same ring as Josh Lyman, and whose bookish spectacles and neatly parted hair are reminiscent of Will Bailey?

Probably not!

Will the change have any real impact on Bush’s plummeting approval ratings?

Again, probably not!

Monday, March 27, 2006

For My Friend

Sorry, but this may be my last blog post for a few days.

I follow the news pretty closely - read the details about the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq – see the photos of lives torn apart. I am steadfast against this war, but I must admit that I have no personal contact with anyone in Iraq. I don’t know anyone who has lost their life or been injured in the fighting. So while I empathize with those who have been affected – I can only try to imagine their pain.

Until last Saturday night, when a good friend of mine, a man whom I have known and worked with for more than fifteen years was randomly and brutally gunned down in a parking lot as he left a restaurant after having dinner with his wife.

The gunman was apparently despondent over a marriage breakup and getting fired from a job. There are reports that he may have been a meth user. He took a 12 gauge shotgun and went on a shooting spree - determined to take out as many innocent bystanders as he could. My friend Jon, as they say, was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

So now what?

Two sheriff’s officers shot the man responsible. He now lies in intensive care at an area hospital. Like with the War, I am also steadfast against the death penalty. But this may test my resolve. Today I found myself hoping that this “waste of life” would just die of his wounds. Not out of revenge, but just to save my friend's family the pain of a trial and maybe a future execution. I don't think anyone could take solace in anything this monster might have to say.

Sorry to bum you guys out. But this is obviously what has been on my mind for the last two days. Jon was a good friend and a dedicated husband and father. Everyone liked him and we are better people for having known him - even if he was a Denver Broncos fan.

Rest in peace J.J.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

How About this Feingold Watch?

Finally a mainstream article that admits that Senator Russ Feingold's Censure resolution has made him very popular among Democratic voters.

As the rest of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls try to position themselves to the center (read Hillary's anti-flag burning rhetoric). Feingold has swept in and captured the Democratic base by once again taking a principled and reasonable stand against the President. Why can't the rest of the Dems see that we want them to fight back?

Now lets hope that Feingold decides to spend his new found "political capitol". He sure looked Presidential to me on all the talk shows last week. He is smart, quick on his feet, has a command of the issues and I would venture to say - seems like a guy you might want to have a beer with.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hail to the "Chicks"

I am not a country music fan but ever since the Dixie Chicks took their public stand against the Iraq War and President Bush - I have become a big fan. I will be first in line to purchase their new CD when it is available May 23. I would urge those who have an inclination to purchase it as well (and if you like our blog consider buying it through our Amazon link on the right). Lets support those who show the courage to take a stand. The Right claims that the "Chicks" have ruined their careers by speaking out publicly. Lets prove them wrong. You can hear the new single "Not ready to make nice" at their website. Just click this link and it will play. After a week of radio airplay on only 40 radio stations the single is number 36 on the country charts. Boy would I love to see it hit number 1.

Post a comment with your favorite protest or anti-war song and I'll compile a list for a future Left-Over poll.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It Had to Be Hadley!

Living up to our name, I'm posting this one after it was truly left over from last week, when other issues overshadowed the flurry of new Plamegate news suggesting the likelihood that Bob Woodward’s source, and the first to reveal Valerie Plame’s identity, is National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley. As I suggested a long time ago, it would be an ironic twist if the guy Bush appointed as National Security Advisor was the guy who first revealed, and potentially ruined, the identity of a national security asset.

And it is interesting that the news is coming out as part of Scooter Libby’s defense against charges that he lied to the Grand Jury about revealing Valerie Plame’s identity to a reporter. Last time I looked, it was illegal to lie to a Grand Jury even if you are the fiftieth person to reveal someone’s identity to a reporter. In fact, it’s illegal to lie to a Grand Jury if you’ve only revealed someone’s identity to your dog! And it’s illegal to lie to a Grand Jury, even if the person whose identity you’ve revealed to your dog is only a figment of your imagination! If you lied to the Grand Jury, you broke the law! Period.

There’s too much speculation to keep track of all the theories that are flying around this case, but if there is a common thread to all of them, it is this: Scooter is desperate to find a way - any way - to weasel out of these charges. And that’s not good for anyone else who may have been involved.

Stay tuned . . . .

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why did Bush Travel to West Virginia?

Here is all you need to know about today's Presidential visit to West Virginia:

And here was the first question from the audience:

Q Again, I thank God you're our Commander-in-Chief. You're a man for our times. And I'm supporter of yours. And I think it's good that you come out and tell your story. And I think you need to keep doing more of it, and tell the story and the history of all this. And God bless you. And I thank you for your service.

I have seen Broadway musicals with less staging. Although some dancing girls might be nice - or maybe a horn section.

Thanks to Born at the Crest for the photo.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bush Sums It All Up!

Thanks to Giraffe, for pointing out George Bush’s most telling line from today’s press conference (with my emphasis):

And one of the reasons why it's important for me to continue to speak out and explain why we have a strategy for victory, why we can succeed. And I'm going to say it again, if I didn't believe we could succeed, I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't put those kids there.
That’s what the Iraq war is to this guy – trading someone else’s kids for a victory. Well, the chance for a victory anyway!

And what does a victory in Iraq look like? Is it an end to world terrorism? No! Is it making the world safer? No! According to Bush’s own theory that “the world changed on 9/11,” terrorism will continue indefinitely. At this point, a victory in Iraq looks like little more than the current insurgents crying “uncle” and, at least temporarily, moving out of Iraq. But they will move somewhere else, and wherever they end up, Bush’s “strategy” has only served to increased their numbers.

But hey, everybody loves a winner - even the winner of a hollow, meaningless victory. Except, perhaps, the parents whose kids were traded to get it!

And although he repeatedly talked about his “strategy for victory,” Bush basically admitted during the following exchange that it won’t actually happen on his watch.

Q Will there come a day -- and I'm not asking you when, not asking for a timetable -- will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq.

Essentially, the President has tipped us off that he really has no “strategy for victory.” His is a strategy to ensure that he is able to blame a future President for bringing the troops home, in an outcome that was inevitable from the day he chose to invade Iraq. And while our President plays “run out the clock” until the “blame baton” can be passed to the next President, he’s still willing to trade more parents’ kids!

A final quote from today’s press conference, although sounding rather inane on its own, summed up the Bush Legacy, with the addition of a short qualifier that he could have added to the end:

we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life . . . .
. . . . and use the pretext of war to get away with it!

A Clear Voice From the Wilderness

Because of the fast paced, interactive nature of blogs, there are often great comments that get lost as the discussion has already shifted to another topic. At Left-Over, there is no one better at getting in the last word than Lost Wages Joe. And I say this with equal emphasis on “better” and “last!

I’ve pulled up the following recent gem from the end of a discussion several days ago - because it cuts through all the misplaced debate over comparative political philosophies to the core of why our current leaders are failing:

I think that the bottom line is that Neoconservatism is like any other political theory; it would be workable if its practitioners were wise, benevolent, responsible leaders. You could make the same argument about Socialism, communism, even Fascism or Monarchy. The problems come up when the real world leaders reveal their human weaknesses; Stalin and Lenin were lousy communists, Hitler and Mussolini were lousy Fascists, and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang are equally bad examples of the political theories they espouse, for the same reasons; their real interest isn't some grand political theory, it's power.

Next time some anonymous conservative tries to tell me that the right has a better long-term prescription for the country than the left, I’ll remember the words of Lost Wages Joe.

And when the Democrats regain power, I will expect them to be "wise, benevolent and responsible," or I’ll be blogging in opposition to them too!

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Not a Country Half Empty (of Hope),

It's a Country Half Full (of Violence!)

I was going to call this post, “How Stupid Do They Think We Are?,” but after George Bush’s speech today on all the reasons to be optimistic about Iraq, I think we know the answer to that question!

The real purpose of this post is to share an unusual experience I had this last weekend as I watched the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. As a dedicated TIVO enthusiast, I really haven’t spent much time watching live TV, and thus commercials, over the past few years. Like many, I relish the opportunity to take advantage of DVR technology to zip right through them. But a basketball tournament, with up to five simultaneous games and frequent jumps to the most exciting game at any moment, requires that you watch it live – even with the commercials!

So here are just a few things I learned from watching the commercials during the NCAA College Basketball Tournament:

  1. Sports fans like to paint themselves up, wear stupid costumes, and act like embarrassing idiots while buying insurance, fast food, major appliances, or just about anything else.

  2. Joining the Army makes you a man!

  3. Miller Genuine Draft is beer, grown up!
Such useful information! Worried that my two teenaged sons might feel the need to prove their manhood by running out to enlist in the military, I was quickly able to head them off by cracking open a couple of Miller Genuine Drafts for them to drink as they watched the rest of the games - like grown ups!

Now getting back to Bush’s speech, which I did not hear but reviewed the transcript - before deciding to skip my lunch. Frankly, I should have skipped the transcript and retained my appetite, but hindsight is 20/20.

At this point in his declining credibility, I’m surprised that Bush is still trying to sell the Iraq war though speeches rather than by following the military and his corporate buddies into the advertising game. I know I’d be more likely to believe that Iraq was going well if, for example, I heard it from a talking gecko! Perhaps, some day soon we will hear the President announce a new deal with the NFL, in which each Super Bowl will end with the quarterback of the winning team being asked what he is going to do after the game, and announcing, “I’m going to Iraq!

Who's more Patriotic?

Last weekend I attended the California Division I State High School Basketball Championship Game. It was a low scoring very competitive game between De La Salle and Clovis West. It came down to the final seconds with De La Salle pulling out the victory 43 – 40.

Now there were many things that could have turned the game at any point. One rebound, a steal, a couple of made free throws and Clovis West would have been celebrating. But what may have put De La Salle over the top was the American Flag patch sewn above the numbers on the back of every player’s uniform.

Maybe De La Salle won the game because they are more patriotic than their opponent ....from the same State .... the same country.

Now if this were an international tournament I guess this outward display of patriotism would be understandable, but in a high school basketball game with two teams from the very same state – it was a little ridiculous. Never mind that De La Salle is a private school from a wealthy suburb of the Bay Area and Clovis West is a public school from a much less affluent city near Fresno.

I have no way to find out but I would venture a guess that more family members of the Fresno kids are currently fighting for our "freedom" in Iraq.

Now I doubt that the players were the ones who added the flag to the uniforms. It was probably someone with the best intentions in mind. I bet it made them feel good as they sewed every stitch - like they were directly helping our country's fight for democracy in the world.

You know, like the people who buy monstrous SUV’s and decorate them with those yellow ribbons that say "support our troops".

How is driving a vehicle that gets 8 miles to the gallon supporting our troops - who are in harm’s way because as our President so eloquently put it “ We are addicted to oil”?

If you really want to support the troops Mr. Yellow Hummer, try riding a bicycle - then you can plaster it with all the "support the troops ribbons" you want and they will actually mean something. Or better yet, in the next election vote for the candidate who will support veteran's benefits and who won't send troops into battle as an experiment.

Only then will you be able to cheer "Patriotism, patriotism - we got patriotism - how about you?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

To "Fiscal Conservatives" Now Distancing From Bush, What's Your Plan?

As more and more conservatives looks for ways to distance themselves from George Bush, I’ve heard many statements to the effect that “He’s not really one of us because he’s a ‘big government conservative’ who believes in running up huge deficits, and who pursues an aggressive foreign policy; while we ‘true conservatives’ believe in balanced budgets and strengthening our economy at home through deregulated markets and the elimination of government programs.”

Paul Krugman described the phenomenon well in last week’s NYT column (available free here), in which he points out the irony of Bruce Bartlett’s new book, "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" in light of scathing comments Bartlett has made about Krugman specifically for opposing the same Bush agenda against which he now rails.

Krugman’s point is that the current crop of “fiscal conservatives” now bashing Bush and claiming some sort of moral high ground are largely responsible for his election in the first place, while those who were observant enough to oppose Bush from the beginning are still considered shrill and unpatriotic.

In other words, those conservatives who are only now distancing themselves from Bush have an even greater responsibility than the Democrats to do something to mend what Bush has done to the countries’ economy and to its standing in the world – because they helped put him in power! It’s not enough to be born-again budget balancers speaking out against an irresponsible administration. They had better come up with a plan to fix things, or they shouldn’t suddenly expect to garner political support for their brand of “traditional fiscal conservatism.”

And what would their brand of fiscal conservatism suggest to repair the damage that Bush has wrought? How would they improve the financial health of the country, and regain respect and moral authority in the international community? Lets see . . . they don’t like to increase taxes, so I guess they would have to cut spending on just about everything in order to eliminate deficit spending. Presumably this would include programs to actually rebuilt Iraq, or to pour money into a seemingly endless stabilization effort.

There would be no consideration for anything resembling a “Marshall Plan” abroad. There would be no stimulating the economy with another form of “New Deal” at home. These are the big government programs they despise, although these very programs have been successfully implemented by Democratic administrations.

From what I can guess, since they aren’t telling, the so-called “fiscal conservatives” now running from the Bush legacy have nothing to offer to fix the damage but what I can only describe as “cutting and running!” That is, cutting spending and running away from Iraq! Until the new conservative Bush bashers can come up with a specific plan that promises to clean up their own mess, their newfound claims of outrage at the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush’s policies are a bit hollow!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Operation Swarmer Captures - Freshly Baked Bread? has a great story up describing just exactly what was accomplished by operation Swarmer. Billed by many news outlets as "the largest use of airpower since the start of the war" - it was really nothing more than political cover for embattled President Bush. Here are a few choice clips:

Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.

...the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.
There is nothing better than freshly baked bread, but there has got to be a less expensive way for our troops to get it.

Bush's Base

According to this NYT report, Republicans are treating Russ Feingold’s call for censure of the President as a “rallying cry to Bush’s Base!” This is apparently supposed to scare Democrats into backing away from their criticism for fear of stirring up a hornets’ nest of angry Bush loyalists who would otherwise stay sleeping in their hive during the upcoming mid-term elections.

First of all, whenever Bush seems to be in trouble, he tries desperately to appeal to “The Base” in order to buttress whatever political position he’s pushing. Lately, it’s been “the war on terra” nearly all the time, but whatever the issue, he's always looking to "The Base"for validation. However, I’m thinking that his frequent attempts to rally “The Base” are a huge recurring political mistake! After all, isn’t “The Base” simply American for “Al Qaeda? Why would he want to keep responding in a manner so reminiscent of Osama bin Laden?

Secondly, who are these people who currently make up “Bush’s Base?” And how many of them are left now that his approval rating is down to just 33%? Frankly, this rapidly dwindling group of oblivious, pea-brained robots doesn’t scare me much any more. Rather than sneak around quietly to avoid stirring up their hive, it seems Feingold finally realized that the time was right to go down to Home Depot and buy a big ol’ can of Raid! I’m with Russ! I say we start spraying, and if the few remaining hornets crawl out for the mid-term elections, we just keep spraying!

When I used to hear the phrase, “Bush’s Base,” back when he had approval ratings above 50%, I thought of a foundation on which one could build a sturdy structure, - like the square footprint on the Egyptian pyramids that have been able to withstand centuries of harsh sun and wind. Now when I hear the phrase, “Bush’s Base,” I think of the guys I occasionally see at the beach who are obsessed with the pastime of rock stacking. They delicately balance rocks on top of each other to create sculptures that stand only if they are left carefully untouched – like the Democrats have been willing to do to George Bush for far too long!

That is, until Russ Feingold suddenly realized that Bush is not as immovable as a pyramid! After five years of failed policies, irresponsible appointments, incompetent responses, and virtually no real accomplishments to speak of, the photo at right is “Bush’s Base,” and he’s just waiting to be toppled!

By the way, Firedoglake has a great tally of the Democrats who are supporting Feingold (The Lions) and those who are opposing him (The Lemmings). Both are short lists right now, but eventually all 44 Democrats will have to decide where they fit!

Also posted at ePluribus Media

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another Feingold Watch

In case you missed it. Here is a link to the transcript of Senator Feingold's press conference Wednesday regarding his resolution to censure President Bush.

His arguments are well thought out and clear. It is almost shocking to see from a national politician in our current "Culture of Corruption".

Feingold: "...And if the right wing really believes in this country that --Rush Limbaugh and others -- that they can somehow turn the president's reputation around by saying, "You're darn right he violated the law, and it's a good thing," I think they're just as confused as they are about their Iraq politics. People aren't buying it anymore.

So not only do I not regret it, I felt an absolute obligation to do it."

Censure appears to be picking up steam as a new poll shows that 46% of Americans are in favor while 44% are against.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Even Jessica Simpson is not that Stupid!

This is pretty funny. Singer/Actress Jessica Simpson refused to appear at a GOP fund raiser because she didn't want to be seen in public with President Bush.

OK I'll admit I linked to this just to be able to post a Simpson Photo. I get tired of looking at all the GWB pics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Can Bush Take No For An Answer?

Now that the President has been forced through bipartisan political pressure to face the collapse of the Dubai Ports deal, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the situation, or if he secretly tries to make yet another end run around the Congress and the will of the American people.

Throughout most of his Presidency, George Bush has had his way with an ass-kissing Republican majority, but on the few occasions where his will has been challenged, he has shown that - to use a phrase my father frequently used to describe my stubborn persistence - he can’t take no for an answer! When seriously questioned, Bush has behaved much like the child who, after being told by his mother that he she won’t buy him a candy bar, quietly slips the candy into his pocket before leaving the store.

When Bush was forced by the threat of a veto override into signing the McCain resolution banning torture, he ended up included a signing statement that he maintains holds him exempt him from the resolution.

When Bush’s Social Security Privatization tour met with little support from either side of the aisle, he chose to quietly slip funding to set up private accounts into his proposed budget.

When John Bolton was not immediately confirmed to the post of U.N. Ambassador, Bush made a recess appointment to bypass the normal confirmation process.

In fact, the only time that Bush seems to have willingly accepted any sort of rebuff was regarding his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. However, in retrospect, I would contend that accepting the withdrawal of Miers’ nomination was more like a batter taking a deliberate called strike in order to see what the pitcher is throwing than accepting the loss of his at-bat!

Regarding the ports deal, these statements by Bill Frist and George Bush suggest that the Bush administration may still be trying to find a way to secretly get what they want. Sounds like Dubai Ports World is thinking the same way.

Hopefully, Sen. Charles Schumer’s statements about looking carefully at the proposal to “transfer control to a U.S. entity” will stay on the Senate agenda.

Because Character Matters – Part II

Just a few quick links on the Claude Allen Shoplifting From Target Scandal. Digby lays it out quite nicely, while Josh Marshall explains the “evil twin” theory that is shaping up as his best defense!

I guess he could also use the newly available “Hey, at least I didn’t shoot a man in the face” defense!

Oh, yeah - Remember this?

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Maid at The Hague is Now Cleaning a Room For George W. Bush.

Some time ago, I wrote a post called Mr Bush, Meet Mr Milosevic. He’s your New Cell Mate. The main point was that under the Bush presidency, the U.S. has lost its moral authority in the world, and increasingly appears to be fighting an uphill battle just to regain moral credibility. Given our past position on war criminals like Slobodan Milosevic, we may eventually need to turn over Mr. Bush for prosecution in the International Criminal Court, in order to undo all that Bush and his cronies have wrought!

Well, it looks like when we do, Mr. Bush will be able to get his own cell, as Milosevic was found dead – under somewhat unusual circumstances. As it seems, Milosevic was arguing (as his own lawyer) that he was not getting appropriate medical treatment at The Hague, and that he needed to go to Moscow for treatment for his heart condition. In what appears to be an enormous tactical over-reaction that was typical of the man, he may have been deliberately taking medications to undo the benefits of his regular treatment – leading him to die of a massive heart attack! Josh Marshall at TPM has more.

As some of our readers know, I have a particular interest and experience with the former Yugoslavia, having traveled extensively in Croatia – including many areas that were affected by a war that was largely fomented by Milosevic using the propaganda of fear and ethnic mistrust to turn neighbor against neighbor. Consequently, I share Josh’s view of the irony of Milosevic' death. Although by dying in a prison cell, he seems to have come to an appropriate end, I feel some regret that the trial will not reach a historically appropriate conclusion.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Feingold Watch II

Senator Russ Feingold will introduce a Resolution Monday morning to Censure President Bush for his illegal NSA domestic spy program. Having had weeks to explain his rationale and legal authority, George Bush has failed to demonstrate that authority. Feingold thinks it is time to publicly rebuke this President saying on ABC's This Week:

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors"

After seeing his appearance on "This Week", once again Senator Feingold has impressed me with his principled stand and his intelligent explanation of it. As I have read others say this is a good strategic move. It sets this issue for discussion as Bush prepares to once again go out on the road and sell his "War on Terror".

The other thing this did was put Bill Frist on the defensive which we already know he doesn't do very well. Having won this weekend's Republican straw poll, Frist I'm sure was hoping for some positive press. Instead he had to follow Feingold on "This Week" and try to defend the President. All he could come up with was to call it "political" and repeat the old Republican stand-by "this sends a terrible message to our enemies".

No Mr. Frist this sends a valuable message to our citizens, our allies and to emerging Democracies around the world. It sends the message that our Constitution is the law of the land and that we are all equal under it.

Way to go Senator Feingold. We are watching!

Brokeback White House?

A couple of seemingly unrelated stories have recently converged to suggest some interesting possible connections.

In the wake of the Academy Awards and widespread publicity of Brokeback Mountain, this article looks at the prevalence of so-called “brokeback marriages.” That is - the marriage of a deeply closeted gay man to an initially oblivious woman who may or may not find out until many years later.

Although seemingly unrelated, Vanity Fair’s new article on Jack Abramoff includes a whole slew of interesting quotes, including this one:

President Bush, who claims not to remember having his picture taken with Abramoff. According to Abramoff, at one time, the president joked with Abramoff about his weight lifting past: “What are you benching, buff guy?”

A meaningless comment between friends, perhaps, but if Abramoff is really a virtual stranger as Bush has claimed, the comment sounds a little bit different. It sounds more like the comments described in this article to an aide for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Scott Reid.
Well, you got a pretty face, You're a good-looking guy. Better looking than my Scott (McClellan) anyway.
Combine that with the fact that there is ample documentation of multiple visits to the White House by noted fake journalist/gay male escort, Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert.

Combine that with the fact that, beyond a couple of photographs, it is more difficult to get information on George Bush’s days as a male cheerleader at Yale, than to find documentation of his time in the Texas Air National Guard.

Perhaps these are just an unlikely series of coincidences, but when I combine them all, I can’t help but wonder about the possibility of our very own "brokeback couple" in the White House.

Then again, I may be wrong. Perhaps Brokeback Mountain has no more relevance to George W. Bush’s marriage than Crash has to his highly publicized hobby of riding a bicycle!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Does He Finally Get It?

How does a President recover from the release of videos that show him looking small and ineffective while being briefed about the potential impact of Katrina? He puts on a goofy hard hat and rolls up his sleeves to look “more hard working” for the cameras!

Bush was back in the Gulf Coast yesterday, trying to get some of the competence of the levee reconstruction workers to rub off on him as his camera crew tried to recast him as a leader who gives a damn. But in a speech given beside the industrial levee canal, he showed that he still doesn’t get it as he discussed his strategy (with emphasis added.)

The first part of the strategy is to make sure these levees are strong, and we fully understand that if the people don't have confidence in the levee system, they're not going to want to come back. People aren't going to want to spend money or invest. I just got a briefing from the Army Corps of Engineers that said we're on schedule to repair the damage by the June 1st deadline. They're identifying and correcting design and construction deficiencies so, as we go into the start of the hurricane season, the levees will be equal or better than what they were before Katrina.

Doesn’t he remember that because his administration cut funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and pork projects diverted funds to lesser value activities, the levees weren’t good enough before Katrina? It won’t be enough to make them equal to what they were. Equal to what they were got washed away!

Well, surely he is bringing all the resources available to a powerful leader like President Bush, as he promised he would do during a speech from Jackson Square, to make sure New Orleans doesn’t have to settle for the levees being equal to what they were. Surely he is shooting a little higher than that!

Um - not according to this report, which indicates that only $25 million of the $2 billion designated for Katrina recovery has been spend so far – just 1.25% of the available funds. With the next hurricane season beginning in just a few months, what will the President’s approval ratings be if another Cat 5 hurricane ends up washing away the next set of levees because he didn’t open his purse for New Orleans, while flushing billions down the toilet that is Iraq?

Good thing there isn’t a mid-term election right after this hurricane season? Oh wait . . . .

Also at ePluribus Media

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Time for Cheney To Set An Example

This image was taken at a speech Cheney gave this week at the 2006 Saver Summit on retirement issues. Brilliant! That’s what I call framing an issue!

Particularly in light of this revelation from Chris Matthews that a “well placed source” told him off the record that Cheney essentially had tunnel vision about attacking Iraq well before 9/11.

This comes as no surprise, as both Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke said the same thing. But it does underscore the reason Cheney has an approval rating of only 19%!

At this point, instead of talking about retirement, Cheney should show us how it’s done!

Abramoff Plays to Win

The Abramoff scandal is breaking all over the "internets" this morning. An upcoming Vanity Fair Article is appearing in excerpts all over the place - and there is some juicy stuff. Here is my favorite passage so far:
Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman Rick Tyler tells Margolick that "Before [Abramoff's] picture appeared on TV and in the newspapers, Newt wouldn't have known him if he fell across him. He hadn't seen him in 10 years." A rankled Abramoff says "I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife." Abramoff shows Margolick numerous photographs: "Here's Newt. Newt. Newt. Newt. More Newt. Newt with Grover [Norquist, the Washington conservative Republican Über-strategist and longtime Abramoff friend] this time. But Newt never met me. Ollie North. Newt. Can't be Newt ... he never met me. Oh, Newt! What's he doing there? Must be a Newt look-alike.... Newt again! It's sick! I thought he never met me
There is more here, here and here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barbara Boxer Responds

Well, not to my criticism, specifically. But she just posted a diary on Daily Kos, and has responded to quite a few comments. Although not the topic of the diary, many of the initial comments were about her vote on the Patriot Act, so I thought I’d direct you to it, since it is a rare opportunity to hear a representative interact with smart, informed questioners about an unpopular decision.

For the record, I still won't donate to the Democratic Party, but I might consider continuing to support Boxer. She may not always do exactly what I want, but at least she has the guts to talk about her decisions.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Poll Comments 2

This is the place to leave any words of wit or wisdom inspired by the Left-Over Poll.

If you chose to select "other," we'd love to know the choice you had in mind and why. We'd also like to hear your rationale for selecting any choice you were inspired to choose.

Finally, we will be keeping a running list of winning selections to previous polls.

Past Poll Results

Left-Over Poll #1: Who will be indicted next?

Winner - Bob Ney
Runner Up - Karl Rove

Left-Over Poll #2: What was the real reason for Dick Cheney's recent hospital stay?

Winner - Global prayers (unusually effective this year)
Runner Up - Fitzgerald's getting close

Left-Over Poll #3: What is your favorite nickname for Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito?

Winner - Grilled Stuft Alito
Runner Up - I Can't RecAlito

Left-Over Poll #4: Lindsey Graham recently threatened to "clean the Democrats' clock." With which Democrat would you most like to see him try?

Winner (tie) - Barbara Boxer
Winner (tie) - Barack Obama

Left-Over Poll #5: Who would you most like to see made exempt from George Bush's proposed ban on human-animal hybrids?

Winner - Cat Woman
Runner Up - Manimal (80's TV hero)

Left-Over Poll #6: What will have the single most lasting affect on George W. Bush's legacy?

Winner - Fixing intelligence to justify Iraq war
Runner Up - Failure of post war plan in Iraq

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Danger of Premature Celebration

This take may be a few days late but talking with some friends over the weekend I realized that my interest in this years Olympic coverage was colored by my misgivings about the current U.S. role in the world. Everytime a U.S. athlete won a medal and reached for an American flag to drape themselves, I found it very uncomfortable. Now I am no America hater - I love this country, but while we are fighting this "War on Terra" spreading democracy by force, it is difficult to mesh that with the true Olympic Message of peace through athletic competition. Now add to that the incredible arrogance of U.S. poster boy Bode Miller. NBC hyped this guy to the hilt only to watch him fail miserably then act like he couldn't care less. For me these games were hard to watch.

There were a few bright spots - examples of unsung U.S. athletes rising to the occasion and performing at their best. But, the lasting image of the games for me was a performance in the women's snowboard cross. An event described as NASCAR on snow - a full contact race to the finish line. Lindsey Jacobellis battled her way through preliminary races aggressively avoiding contact. Then in the finals she jumped quickly to the front of the pack with flawless technique propelling her to a huge lead as she approached the finish line. But a sure gold medal slipped from her grasp because she attempted a "hot dog" "show off "move over the last jump. She celebrated too early causing her to fail miserably. Jacobellis was passed for the gold medal then compounded her poor judgment by trying to explain her blunder with a lame excuse about wind conditions.

At that moment I couldn't help but wonder what, as a nation, we've been teaching our kids? Have we set the example that it is more about style than substance and when you make a mistake excuses and fibs are the acceptable way of answering for your actions.

Gee, where would Lindsey Jacobellis get an idea like that?

The Democratic Party Can Stop Asking For My Money Now!

Every year I get about a dozen calls from the Democratic Party, along with numerous mail requests for donations. In the past, I have occasionally broken out my checkbook and provided funds as conditions permitted. But they can quit calling me now. They can save the cost of the stamps they use to mail their requests to me.

Why? 34 to 10 is why! That’s the final tally on the Democrats’ response in favor of renewing the Patriot Act. Only 10 of 44 Democrats were willing to stand up to this administration and represent my views. The complete details of the vote are listed here, and both of my representatives from California, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, seemed to cave and ignore the principled position on the Patriot Act, spearheaded by Russ Feingold and spelled out in his words here and here.

The Democrats have let me down, and Feinstein and Boxer owe me and other Californians an explanation for why their “YES” vote on the Patriot Act is in our best interest!  I looked on Feinstein’s website, hoping for an explanation. Nothing! Boxer has a brief statement where she acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, but includes very little to make me feel better about her vote on my behalf. Certainly, her closing doesn’t help:

I also wanted to show my support for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s anti-methamphetamine bill, which was included in the conference report. Meth has become a terrible scourge across our country and Sen. Feinstein’s bill will go a long way to combat the spread of the drug by restricting access to the ingredients used to make meth.

First of all, while I don’t exactly consider myself to be “pro-meth,” isn’t methamphetamine already illegal? So what, exactly, is this bill doing for me that offsets the harm of the Patriot Act? And second, what the hell does methamphetamine have to do with the Patriot Act anyway?

If they are going to stick two seemingly unrelated items in the same bill, at least weigh the harm of one against the benefit of the other before voting for it on my behalf! Don’t just stick in something that nearly everyone supports in order to justify a “YES” vote in stark opposition to my views on the underlying issue – and then expect me to keep donating money to keep you in office!

To put it more bluntly, I don’t want my representative to vote for a bill that would allow the government to plant an electronic tracking device in the skull of every American, just because it also happens to contain a prohibition on putting puppies in a wood chipper!  

So from now on, when I get a call from the Democratic Party asking for money, I will tell them that I only donate directly to the individual candidates I support, as I no longer trust the Democratic Party to represent my views. When they ask me why, I will tell them:

34 to 10!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Bush/Katrina Instant Replay!

Throughout American households, the instant replay has become an institution among sports viewers. The NFL adopted instant replay in 1999, and it is hard to imagine what professional football would be like without it, as fans have come to rely on advances in video technology to make sure that officials get the calls right. The NBA adopted a limited version of instant replay in 2003, with equally positive acceptance. Even ice skating, in the wake of judging scandals during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, adopted a new scoring method that includes video review by judges to assess critical elements of technique. At this point, instant replay through video review is woven into the fabric of our lives and there are very few people who would argue against the value of believing what you see on the videotape, rather than what someone else tells you they saw as it was happening!

This is why the recently discovered videotapes of George Bush being briefed on the possible impact of Hurricane Katrina are so important. The briefings in the video took place on August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina made landfall, and August 29,2005, shortly after the hurricane hit. Think Progress has the complete timeline here.

The briefing was followed several days later by Bush’s famous, and now apparently obvious, lie during an interview with Diane Sawyer on September 1, 2005:

I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees

At the time, most of us in the reality-based community knew this was a load of bullshit, but there was no video available at the time, so we couldn’t look at the “instant replay” in order to prove it.

Now there is!

Bush recently made the following statement, during a February 28, 2006 interview with Elizabeth Vargas:

Listen, here's the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job. One reason we weren't is because communications systems got wiped out, and in many cases we were relying upon the media, who happened to have better situational awareness than the government.

Unfortunately for the President, this time we aren’t forced to accept his “bad call” as the newly released videotape allows us to immediately review the “instant replay”. In football parlance, we can see if there is “indisputable visual evidence” that Bush was lying, and it certainly appears we have such evidence. And because we are so used to believing our eyes when we go to the videotape, I doubt there is a red-blooded, meat-eatin’, Budweiser-swillin’, conservative anywhere in the country who can argue that we are better off ignoring the videotape when it’s right in front of our eyes! (Ok, maybe a Patriots fan, but that’s another story!)

At this point, we need to make sure that everyone in the country sees this video in connection with Bush’s statements. Every liberal with a Video I-pod, a Sony Playstation Portable,

or a laptop – any device that holds digital video - should download the video (Windows Media, Quicktime)and don’t hesitate to pull it out for the “instant replay” any time the topic arises in conversation – particularly with any conservative sports fan!

The appropriate conclusion to reach is that the “instant replay” shows there is indisputable visual evidence that George Bush lied about his knowledge of the potential (and for several days, the actual) impact of Katrina. Even the NFL announcers on Fox Sports would have to agree!

Double Shot of the Truth

Not that we need any more proof that Bush, Cheney, and Rice are incompetent, But on consecutive days we have learned more information to add to the Mountain of evidence.

Yesterday's the AP released the video log of the Katrina briefing where Bush learned first hand about the threat to the New Orleans levees. He never asked a single question.

And today Murray Waas writing for the National Journal details the One page briefing that Bush, Cheney and Rice received in October 2002 discussing the infamous aluminum tubes.

Waas writes:

Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb.

The disclosure that Bush was informed of the DOE and State dissents is the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president
told the public about the disagreement among the agencies.

And yet all of them went out and stated unequivocally that these tubes were evidence of Saddam's nuclear weapons program.

We already knew that they were liars but here is a double shot of proof.

Feingold Watch - With Update!

At Left-Over we continue to appreciate Senator Russ Feingold D-Wis. See earlier posts here and here.

On Tuesday Senator Feingold continued his one man crusade to save the U.S. Constitution proving once again that he will stick to his beliefs even if they seem unpopular. On the floor of the Senate yesterday he attempted a one-man filibuster to defeat the renewal of the Patriot Act by reading the entire text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights explaining:

"In these final hours before the Patriot Act is reauthorized, I want my colleagues to hear the voices of the citizens of this country," .... "These voices cannot be stifled by votes taken here."

He concluded:

"We're capable, in this Congress and in this government and in this country, of getting the terrorists and stopping the terrorists, but also protecting the fundamental rights on which this country was founded."

Here here Senator. Thank you for your courage of conviction. We do notice even if the "retro media" doesn't.


The Senate Vote on renewal of the Patriot Act just occured. Feingold was 1 of only 10 votes against renewal. Kerry, Clinton and Biden all voted for it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where Does David Brooks Draw the Line?

During his appearance on last week’s Colbert Report, NYT columnist David Brooks glowingly referred to himself as “the conservative with whom liberals can get along.” No, David. We don’t get along with you. It’s just that your arguments are so lame that few liberals are compelled to bother taking issue with you!

Take your column (don’t bother linking “unless you’ve paid for an argument”) on the Dubai Ports World deal, “Kicking Arabs in the Teeth.” Basically, your point seems to be that we shouldn’t discriminate at all between foreign nations who want to operate in the U.S., particularly when we are willing to eat their hummus! Well, what if the foreign nation willing to pony up the billions necessary for this deal was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Kim Jong-il's North Korea? Would you still be so open-minded? I don’t think so!

It’s not a matter of whether or not we should discriminate. Under the policies of an administration you support, we discriminate all the time. We discriminate when we decide to occupy a nation like Iraq when there was no connection to the Arabs who conducted the 9/11 attack. Not only does this administration kick Arabs in the teeth - to use your phrase - it tortures them in a lot of other ways as well (warning: graphic!) Apparently while laughing, taking pictures, and probably stealing their hummus!

Few but you, Mr. Brooks, would argue that there isn’t a line at which we should discriminate, when it comes to foreign nations controlling U.S. assets with security implications. We just need to determine where the line is. Let me suggest that we keep things simple and use the same line used by this administration in determining whether an Arab should be waterboarded, or stripped naked and forced to commit degrading acts. If a foreign nation is known to have had a connection with Al Qaeda, then it does not get to manage U.S. assets where security is at stake. If that means we’ve got to find another source of hummus, so be it! In fact, here’s a recipe so that Americans can make their own damned hummus!