Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two Yards and a Cloud of Dust!

Desperate to turn the tide of public opinion before the November elections, and seemingly bitter about frequent criticism of his war in Iraq, George Bush has started to attack the Democrats with increasing Rovian venom. During a fundraising appearance for threatened Missouri incumbent, James Talent, he had this to say:
There's a group in the opposition party who are willing to retreat before the mission is done. They're willing to wave the white flag of surrender. And if they succeed, the United States will be worse off, and the world will be worse off.
In light of the continually declining situation in Iraq, Bush’s words seem much like the football coach who runs the same unsuccessful plays over and over and over, always insisting that victory is just around the corner if the team sticks to the gameplan. But when criticism begins to mount, and fans call for a change in strategy, he lashes out at them – blaming the team’s failure on a lack of support, rather than a stubborn inability to adapt and lead.

Clearly, according to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the shape of a football (or of a peaceful Iraq), Bush is a “coach” with a losing gameplan. In a recent study, Foreign Policy Magazine and the Center for American Progress teamed up to survey more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike. The result was not pretty.
Despite today’s highly politicized national security environment, the index results show striking consensus across political party lines. A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans.
At this point, Bush can do all the whining and name calling he likes! If he keeps running the ball into the line of scrimmage without a willingness to consider adjusting his strategy, he will continue to lose support as the November elections approach. No matter how much a coach blames his critics for the persistent failure of his gameplan, it’s the fans who can get the coach (and his entire staff) fired . . . and not the other way around!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Sure Way to Boost Military Recruiting!


In light of recent efforts to boost military recruiting by increasing the maximum age of enlistment from 40 to 42 years, this story gave me an idea. Reportedly, Rep Curt Weldon (R, Penn) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R, Mich) were, at one time, eager for the opportunity to sneak into Iraq to start rooting around for WMDs to prove the war is justified.

According to former Air Force Special Investigator, John Gaubatz, the two GOP hawks were raring to go, before finally being called off by Gaubatz because it was too dangerous.
While in Iraq, (Gaubatz) acquired what he considered reliable information on the existence of WMD caches in four locations - not old stuff dating from the pre-Gulf War days, but recently produced gas and chemical weapons.
(snip)

Gaubatz said he first contacted Weldon and (Hoekstra), head of the House Intelligence Committee, to share his info and get them to prod the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to do the WMD searches in the locales.

Instead, Gaubatz said, Weldon latched onto the idea as a "personal political venture" and discussed a Hoekstra-Weldon trip to Iraq, under the guise of visiting the troops, that would detour to Nasiriyah.

Once there, Gaubatz said, the congressmen planned to persuade the U.S. military commander to lend them the equipment and men to go digging by the Euphrates for the cache Gaubatz believed to be there.

Frankly, at this point, since the GOP are so determined to head off any serious consideration of bringing home troops who desperately need reinforcements, I think we are in no position to discourage enthusiastic volunteers! I looked up their birthdates from their official bios on the federal government website, and Hoekstra and Weldon are 53 and 59 years old respectively. I say we make an exception and increase the maximum age of enlistment for members of Congress to age 60, so these two eager beavers can join up, and go dig in Iraq to their hearts’ content!

Without checking the age of every member of Congress, I’m guessing that this small change in the recruiting guidelines would increase the pool of potential recruits by at least 300 Republicans who would surely be as eager as Weldon and Hoekstra to go join the troops in Iraq so that we aren’t forced - by meager recruiting and rising casualties - to cut and run before we achieve "a complete and total victory in the global war on terror!"

(graphic from The Onion)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Who Would Have Guessed - Rush Can't Get it Up!


Ah Oh! Limbaugh caught with Viagra prescribed to somebody else. Was this more Dr. shopping?

Bernie Ward Kicks Some Right Wing A--!

Here is a great clip of (KGO) Liberal Radio Host Bernie Ward making a Wingnut look silly. The guy rips out his earpiece and quits the discussion because he can't take the heat.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Death Tax or Wealth Recycling?

I’ve been fired up about GOP efforts to eliminate or weaken the Estate Tax ever since they started floating “Death Tax” rhetoric shortly after the Bush administration hijacked The White House. The accumulate and secure strategy of Bush’s corporate backers has been apparent from day one, making repeal of the Estate Tax look more and more like the final nail in the middle class coffin.

Here’s an excellent post on the absurdity of GOP outrage over a tax on the accumulated wealth of dead people, in order to provide essential services and infrastructure for the living. Ian Welch sums it up perfectly:
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If you want a tax cut now, you pay for it later - with interest. If the rich want a tax cut now, the middle class will pay for it later, with interest. But I want to say something more about the estate tax. There is no fairer tax. If it were up to me, it wouldn’t just be reinstated to it’s full 1999 level, it’d be increased to tax even more from the richest DEAD PEOPLE.
(snip)
Taxation is a zero sum game. You can take the money from dead people - who don’t need it or you can take it from living people who do need it.
This view of the Estate Tax has me wondering why we need to bother fighting the “Death Tax” label with alternatives such as the “Bling Tax” or the “Paris Hilton Tax” when it arguably isn’t a tax at all?

A tax is really just a means by which citizens share the cost of an organized society. When you are dead, there’s nothing left for you to share! If the organized society in which you lived afforded you the opportunity to accumulate wealth beyond what you (and probably your children) could possibly spend, then why shouldn’t it be “recycled” so that the organized society can be maintained for those who remain to live in it?

Taxes are dues paid by the living, in order to have a stable economy, services and infrastructure. When you die after having taken more wealth from the economy than you could possibly spend, why not put it back into services and infrastructure and call it what it really is: Economic Wealth Recycling!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where Were You at the Moment Your Thinking Changed?

Ever the arrogant bastard, President Bush dropped the following doozie in response to a question about his lack of popularity in Europe, while at a press conference during his “diplomatic” visit to meet with European leaders:
Look, people didn’t agree with my decision on Iraq. And I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us it was a change of thinking.
While there were several other ridiculous contentions in Bush’s long-winded, bumbling answer to this single question (full transcript here), this one calls for its own response.

Mr. President,

Remember where you were when you first heard about the attack on the Twin Towers?

Here’s a reminder:


And here's a reminder of where you were a few seconds later:


And here’s a reminder of where you were about a minute and a half later:



And here’s where you were about 4 and a half minutes later:


And Just in case you don’t remember, here’s a frame-by-frame recap of where you were on September the 11th.

Kind of looks more like a “moment” than a “change of thinking,” doesn’t it Mr. President?

Of course, your change of thinking may not have actually occured on September the 11th as you were in that classroom working on your reading skills, and Andy Card whispered to you that America had been attacked. Your change of thinking may have occurred shortly after September of 2000, when your Vice President – the man whose nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen,) according to a recently released book by Ron Suskind – first made you mouth the words “New Pearl Harbor” during a secret meeting in a secure bunker somewhere in the bowels of the White House.

I’m sure it took a bit longer than a “moment” for the PNAC to develop the ideas set forth in Rebuilding America’s Defensesessentially a plan for how America could capitalize on a catastrophic attack. I’m sure it took longer than a “moment” for you to read it! Or, having read it, I’m sure it took a lot longer than a “moment” for you to muster up a change in whatever it is that you call “thinking!”

So as you were sitting there reading My Pet Goat at the very moment you should have been thinking, and acting, based on the facts of September the 11th, were you taking a moment to reflect on an earlier change of thinking? The change of thinking that ultimately led us to Iraq, while the mastermind of September the 11th was still hiding out in Afghanistan? Or were you just frozen, unthinking, in the moment?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Will The Turkey Be Pardoned Early This Year?


Now that Karl Rove seems to be off the hot seat regarding criminal indictment in the CIA leak investigation, rumblings have started about the possibility of a quick pardon for Scooter Libby, possibly even before his trial. An early Rove pardon wouldn’t have been possible, politically, because of his high profile and controversial reputation. But with the lesser-known Libby as the sole administration member in line to take the fall, the possibility of heading off potentially damaging testimony with a pre-trial pardon must seem quite tempting to George W. Bush.

And to that, I say to the President, “Bring it on!

Pardoning Libby before he is even brought to trial would essentially be the President’s admission that he knows Libby is guilty! After all, why would you need to pardon a guy who still has a chance to completely clear his name by having his day in court?

With Rove seemingly off the hook, a Libby pardon would send the statement that, in the eyes of this administration, Valerie Plame’s CIA career was worth nothing – a challenge that begs for a civil lawsuit, if only to establish some semblance of justice! In the court of public opinion, a civil suit would likely be seen as more principled and less financially motivated if Libby doesn’t even have to defend his actions in a criminal trial!

As I see it, from a political standpoint a Libby pardon opens the door to significant public support for more than just civil damages for the loss of Valerie Plame’s career at the CIA. How about a class action lawsuit on behalf of every single American for the loss of security associated with the rollup of Brewster-Jennings, the front company that was cover for Plame’s CIA activities? Or a series of wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the more than 2500 troops who were sent to their demise in a war based on the lies that the Plame leak was intended to protect?

I’m not a lawyer, so I’m just brainstorming here. My point is that President Bush has all along claimed the desire to “let the investigation run its course.” Pardoning Libby before the criminal charges have had a chance to run their course will be one more glaring example of self-serving hypocrisy that will become an anchor around Bush’s neck as he tries to keep his sinking approval ratings above water.

And again I say, “Bring it on!”

Friday, June 16, 2006

House Passes Resolution Declaring that U.S. Will Prevail in World Cup!


Despite the U.S. team's record of 0-1, and a failure to score a goal in its first game against the Czech Republic as it lost 3-0, House GOP leaders today called for a vote on a resolution declaring that the U.S. soccer team would not follow an artificial, referee-imposed, timetable for when it would stop trying to outscore opponents in the 2006 FIFA World Cup competition.

"Achieving victory is our only option," declared House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, casting Democrats as defeatists who want to retreat in the face of traditional 90-minute time limits on soccer games. Today's vote also praised U.S. soccer players for their superior skill and dedication, and labels the World Cup as part of the larger global fight to score more points in all types of athletic competition "no matter how long it takes!"


The U.S. team plays a powerful Italian team tomorrow in Kaiserslautern, Germany in a critical do-or-die match, and Republicans are trying to use this issue to show that their resolute determination to eventually score more goals than their opponents will resonate with American voters, who are tired of being soundly beaten in soccer by foreign competition. They are counting on convincing the American people that they have a bold strategy for soccer victory that will help them in the upcoming 2006 mid-term elections.


In a separate but related speech on Tuesday, Presidential Advisor Karl Rove, also berated Democrats about their lack of national spirit, as he suggested that if Jack Murtha, D-Penn had been coaching Michael Phelps during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, "he would have pulled Phelps out of the pool before he could have won 5 medals, including 3 golds!"

Also at Daily Kos.

How Stupid Are the GOP?

The House just voted 256-153 on a resolution “declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror.”

Well, I guess if they voted for it, it must be so!

Of course, this clearly represents a major strategic error since many more people will surely die between now and the time that we supposedly “prevail!” If the outcome is as simple as holding a vote on it, why not just vote all the terrorists off the island we call Earth, and be done with it?

And while they were at it, why couldn’t they have voted on a resolution declaring that the United States will prevail in the FIFA World Cup too? I’m sick and tired of always getting our asses kicked by those damned foreigners!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

There's Good News and There's Bad News!


First the bad news – New reports indicate that Karl Rove’s attorney claims to have received a letter from Patrick Fitzgerald indicating that Rove will not be indicted in the Plame case. Several of the top experts in the blogosphere weigh in on the importance of this statement here, here and here. In short, the most likely explanation is that Rove has cut a deal that will benefit Fitzgerald’s case against Scooter Libby or someone else (cough, Cheney, cough!)

Now the good news - This recent study shows that coffee may protect the liver from alcohol! I realize that this is entirely unrelated to the Rove announcement, but it’s nice to know that my drink of choice while scouring the web for news of the Plame case and other Bush administration scandals may be protecting me from my drink of choice while trying to forget how much they piss me off!

And another bit of good news – this one Rove related. A statement by Joseph Wilson’s attorney indicates that Fitzgerald’s criminal investigation may only be the first hurdle for Rove, suggesting that a civil lawsuit could follow.
While it appears that Mr. Rove will not be called to answer in criminal court for his participation in the wrongful disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified employment status at the CIA in retaliation against Joe Wilson for questioning the rationale for war in Iraq, that obviously does not end the matter. The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons.
Perhaps when it’s all over, Karl will end up following in the footsteps of O.J. Simpson - all the way to getting his own TV reality show (tentative working title – The Apparatchik!)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Arnold's Model for the Upcoming Campaign


I read the following quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger in my local newspaper today, in the wake of low voter turnout in Phil Angelides' primary victory over Steve Westly.

I think that today was a somewhat sad day for me, because we’re all supposed to go out and vote. I think it just shows that negative campaigning doesn’t work.
I guess this means that Arnold won’t be “going negative” against Angelides. No “swift boating” of Angelides by the Schwarzenegger campaign, right? Arnold will be re-elected or ousted based on his own ideas, and the confidence of Californians that they can trust him to do what he says?

Well, not according to this account, which describes his campaign as being patterned after Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and run by former Bush staffers. So I guess that means we should expect a barrage of disparaging attacks on Angelides, and attempts to suppress voting in heavily democratic areas of the state! Nice to know that Arnold is following in the footsteps of another moderate, compassionate conservative!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

American Idiot Watch - Head in the Sand Edition


I think it’s about time to get some U.S. Senate representation on the list of nominees for American Idiot. How about the guy who has been called “the dumbest senator of them all?” James Inhofe (R-OK), who got up in front of the Senate yesterday and showed a large poster of his extended family while sharing the following observation that he felt was of critical import to the nation:
My wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.
Gee, why did he have to stop with just an assurance that he’s not related to gays or divorcees? It is probably highly unlikely that there is recorded historical evidence that anyone in the Inhofe family has ever picked his nose, farted in public, or, for that matter, even needed to use a toilet! If it isn’t recorded, God knows it didn’t happen! If you are going to brag about your family on the national stage, you might as well make them sound really perfect!


Looking at the picture (larger version here), however, I’m willing to give Inhofe the benefit of the doubt regarding the apparent fact that of the many young children on display, there is one girl who appears to be black (could be adopted), and one boy who appears to eschew conventional family standards of dress by wearing a simply divine white sweater (his red shirt was probably muddy from playing football!) But none of these children appear even close to the age of determining their true sexual identity, let alone getting married and divorced.

At this point, the odds suggest that at least one of them will be gay, and half of them will be eventually be divorced. Thus, Inhofe’s boasting seems a little like the gardener who brags about never having killed a plant - before any of his seeds have even sprouted!

I suppose one should also note that Senator Inhofe lays no claim to having family members who actually like their spouses, only that they have never divorced. Of course, judging from the picture, Inhofe’s wife certainly appears less able to force a smile for the camera than the Senator does, so perhaps the omission is an honest one!

All in all, Senator Inhofe’s silly stunt in support of the gay marriage ban currently being touted by the president shows his potential to end up as the last person in America to support George W. Bush, and thus earns a nomination for the coveted title of American Idiot.

Monday, June 05, 2006

If We Allow Them to Repeal the Estate Tax, It’s Game Over.

I’ve long thought that the end game of the Bush/Cheney regime is not really world domination, or creating some sort of religious theocracy. At nearly every step of the way, this administration has really only been consistent at one thing – allowing, or enabling, catastrophic disaster, and then taking advantage by enriching themselves and their corporate cronies.

It happened in Iraq . It happened in the Gulf Coast. It happened with nearly every piece of legislation supported by the President and passed by the current Republican Congress, from “No Child Left Behind” to the prescription drug bill. It has always been about accumulating wealth, whenever possible, at the expense of the middle-class taxpayer.

This is why I believe that the real end game is to repeal the estate tax, so that they can guarantee that the wealth they have accumulated while in power can remain in their families for future generations. Along with several other issues designed to rally the GOP base, Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, will soon be pushing a Senate vote on the estate tax. Basically, it is nothing more that the ugliest, most extreme, form of predatory capitalism in which the ultra-wealthy try to force the poor and middle class “out of business,” just because they can!

They try to twist it around by calling it a “death tax,” but at a time when many families are being forced to pay the ultimate “death tax” as they lose their children to an unnecessary and poorly planned war that is now costing an unbelievable $10 Billion a month, we cannot allow the Republicans to push the estate tax issue forward even the slightest bit.

Fortunately, it seems that many are starting to see through the cynical rhetoric of estate tax opponents, many of whom, like Frist himself, have seen their estates grow significantly under their own “leadership”. Nevertheless, if there were ever an issue that the Democrats should be willing to stop by any means, this is it. Because if the Republicans win on this one, it’s checkmate!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dems: Just Follow the "Chicks"


At the risk of turning Left-Over into just a crazy fan website, let me make one more point about the "fall and rise" of the Dixie Chicks. There is a lesson here for Congressional Democrats in 2006 and Democratic Presidential candidates in 2008.

When Natalie Maines made her now infamous comment about being ashamed that George Bush was from Texas, she was articulating how she truly felt. She didn't say it to pander to the Euro crowd. She didn't say it in a calculated move to draw attention to herself. She simply spoke from her heart.

In the days and months that followed the group came under great pressure to apologize for the statement....To back down.....Give in.....Flip flop. That would have been the easy thing to do. As the recent Time article explained:

The celebrity playbook for navigating a scandal is one word long: repent. But apologies are for lapses of character, not revelations of it, and sensing that they were being asked to apologize for their beliefs as much as their timing, the Chicks decided not to back down.

After more than two years they're "Taking the long way" and this week as their new album soared to the top of every major album chart, every progressive politician should recognize that - American's respect people who stick to their beliefs. As Democrats we should never again shy away from who we are or what we stand for no matter how unpopular it may seem at the time.

I'm proud of the Dixie Chicks and I'm proud of the nearly 600,000 who braved the rath of Toby Keith and bought their new CD this week.

But most of all, I'm proud to be a Liberal Democrat!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Bush Not the Worst Ever . . . Yet!

This recent poll only has George W. Bush as the worst president in the last 61 years! That means he apparently has yet to surpass some of the older failures such as Herbert Hoover, Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce or Warren G. Harding on the consensus “worst ever” list. But Bush is rising fast. You might say he has broken into the “top ten” with a bullet an IED!

Olbermann's Latest Beat Down of O'Reilly


If you haven't seen the video of Keith Olbermann destroying Bill O'Reilly for his second misstatement of fact regarding the WWII massacre at Malmedy - you simply must. The rage in Keith's eyes as he corrects the record and defends the fallen "American Soldiers" says it all.

The victims at Malmedy in December, 1944... were Americans. **Americans** with their hands in the air. **Americans** who were unarmed. That's on the record. And documented.
And their memory deserves better than Bill O'Reilly.
We **all** do.

Another K.O. for K.O.!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Re-entry

After being almost completely cut off from the world of politics for the last three weeks, I’m finding that not much has changed since I left. Only the small details are different. The situation in Iraq is still getting worse, with another new atrocity scandal making Rummy seem more incompetent and out of touch than ever. Bush is still losing support, as he bumbles through one incoherent statement after another, while evidence trickles in from the many ongoing corruption investigations – none of it looking good for the current administration.

While I’m still slowly coming back to full consciousness about what’s going on at the national level, I was hit immediately with a different perspective on local politics. I just picked up three weeks worth of mail at the Post Office – three weeks immediately prior to a primary election, when political mailings were coming fast and furious. As I sorted through the mail, creating separate piles for various categories, I soon realized that I had a full inch and a half of glossy political mailings, with nearly an inch of it coming from one State Assembly race, where three candidates are waging a heated battle to be the democratic choice in the general election.

Normally, when political mailings arrive one day at a time, I usually scan them and toss them immediately without really keeping track of the volume. This time, while sorting 22 days worth of mail, I found that I had a total of 37 items, most several pages in length. Ironically, I found that one of the candidates, who is most strongly and repeatedly touting her environmentalist credentials, sent 10 mailings. In addition, the same PAC that paid for half of them, also paid for five more mailings attacking her main rival as “being in the pocket of developers.” Apparently it’s OK to be in the pocket of the printing industry!

And it would have been nice to at least include in one of the mailings some assurance that none of them were printed by sweatshop child labor, on paper made from old growth redwood pulp, using toxic ink, on nuclear-powered printing machines!

Another candidate thought it important to tell me, in large glossy print, that she deserves my vote because she is a breast cancer survivor. While I’m happy for her good fortune in making it through a difficult illness, I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to her ability to represent my interests in the State legislature. Neither do the dozens of large signs posted throughout the region showing her name next to the silhouette of a large bird. On the other hand, I guess if I see enough of them by the time I step into the voting booth, I can be absolutely sure that I won’t accidentally cast my vote for a reptile!

I wish I could say how good it is to be back, but at this point, all I can muster is to say that it is amusing! Maybe after the jet lag wears off . . . .