Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jane Harman to Blogoshere: “Got a Better Idea?”

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Obviously George W. Bush isn’t the only petulant, childish, simpleton running around the Capitol these days. In fact, he might not be any worse that what the Democrats have to offer! The following exchange recently took place on Daily Kos, beginning when Drational criticized some of the Democrats pushing hardest to accede to Bush’s demand for retroactive immunity for the Telecom industry, including Jane Harman (D-Capitulation).
Jane Harman was removed from her position on the HPSCI after the Congressional changes in November 2006, yet according to a WaPo article today, she is engineering a Democratic capitulation on retroactive immunity behind closed doors:
And as Democratic leaders push their own legislation to rein in the wiretapping program, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has been quietly exploring avenues of compromise with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee. Centrist Democrats hope those talks can dovetail with the Senate intelligence committee's own bipartisan measure on surveillance of suspected terrorists.
Harman then responded with her own post on Daily Kos that included the following classy rebuttal:
What rubbish! For those like me who insist that the President’s domestic surveillance program must comply fully with the Constitution and the 4th Amendment, the only way for Congress to get there is with a veto-proof majority. That's why I'm working with Republicans. Got a better idea?
Naturally, this led Kagro X to not only rip her logic to shreds (including the highlight below), but opened the floodgate for hundreds of comments, many of which contained better ideas and a better understanding of how the whole “constitutional democracy” thing is supposed to work! (my emphasis)
In fact Rep. Harman appears to conclude that the Constitution will from this point forward forever be hostage to the necessity of a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress, because that's what it will take to overcome the newly-minted version of the president's "inherent powers" that he has been permitted to accrue. The president can authorize anything he wants to, in the name of "national security," and the Congress will only be able to stop him by passing a law that says he's wrong, and overcoming his veto of it.
How can it be that the average pseudonymous progressive blogger or commenter (not that I consider Kagro X "average," by the way!) seems to have a better grasp of how the government is supposed to work than many of the people elected to run our country? And can we please, please, please replace Jane Harman with someone who “has a better idea?”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Which is More Frightening?

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George Bush recently made the following, highly disturbing, statement:
"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," he said. "So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Dick Cheney followed a few days later, with this one:
“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences,” Mr. Cheney said, without specifying what those might be. “The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
This leads me to wonder!

If you are one of those other nations Dick Cheney says the United States is joining with, what would frighten you the most:

Iran having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon?

Or Dick Cheney having control of a whole bunch of actual nuclear weapons?

Any of our many international readers care to weigh in on that question?

Friday, October 26, 2007

If Elected, Hillary to “Give Back” Executive Power?

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Sometimes you hear something you just can’t believe, no matter how much you want to believe it:
I think I'm going to have to review everything they've done, because I've been on the receiving end of that," she said. Ms Clinton stated it was "absolutely" conceivable that, as president, she would give up executive powers in the name of constitutional principle.
I guess that’s why her recent actions seem to be enabling a “surge” of executive power – so she can eventually follow Bush’s lead by reducing executive power to “pre-surge levels” and taking credit for a reduction that really isn’t?

Just a wild-arsed guess!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Islamo (Fear-Mongering-to-Promote-American) Fascism Awareness Week!

After reading and hearing Josh Marshall’s commentary on this latest goofball effort to “rock the nation with the biggest conservative campus protest ever,” I noticed there was an affiliated noontime event at San Francisco State University, featuring former TV weatherman and current right-wing talker, Brian Sussman. Wondering how, exactly, the guy known for calling Barack Obama a “Halfrican” would provide a “wake up call” for the students at SFSU, I decided to jump on MUNI and go see for myself.

I arrived a bit late to find that there was an admission charge for non-students, so I chose not to contribute to what was essentially a fundraiser for the College Republicans - particularly since I would be compelled to join what appeared to be well more than half of the audience standing in silent protest with their backs to the speaker.

Undoubtedly, those willing to pay attention to Sussman’s speech heard enough to keep them scared shitless, and convinced that the best thing America can do to improve the lot of the poor, oppressed Muslim women is to start bombing Iran! Of course, all of the Muslim women I saw in attendance appeared to have proudly taken their place as part of the protest in back of the room!

As I sat on a bench near the entrance to the hall, eating a plate of Filipino food I had purchased from a table in front of the multicultural student activity center, I did get to watch a couple of guys enter the hall looking like the quintessential College Republican dorks they obviously were. I guess somebody had to show up to provide token applause to simulate the sound of students being rocked with a wake up call!

(You’ll have to settle for this visual approximation from the archives, as the light was too poor to get a decent shot with my Treo!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Rare Chance to Spar with a Conservative Critic!

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It’s been a while since I got to debate with a genuine conservative commenter on this site, so I can’t pass up the chance to make sure his (anonymous) voice “sees the light of day,” along with a few points in response. Here is the completely unedited comment (to my post on Al Gore):
So what is your DU name? You sound like enough of a moonbat to be from Democratic Underground. Ypu want Gore to run AGAIN? You really do like the public ridicule of backing a loser like AlGore. Yeah I know this will never see the light of day. You libs always either moderate every single word of anyone that disagrees with you or edit their post in a lame attempt to make them look silly. Oh well, Democrats are not known for being very tolerant to other beliefs anyway.
OK. Here goes:

• Al Gore is 3-0 in presidential elections where he was on the ticket, so I didn’t have to edit your reference to him as a “loser” to make you look silly!

• Not only am I not a member of Democratic Underground, I’m not even a Democrat. I rarely visit DU, and I have never posted or commented there.

• I’m completely agnostic on Gore’s potential candidacy. I’ll vote for him against any of the current GOP loonies (and without plugging my nose like I would for Hillary), but even if Gore threw his hat in the ring, I might not vote for him in the Democratic primary (which my State allows for voters without a political party) – particularly if Obama ever decides to start drinking what Chris Dodd’s been drinking!

• I completely agree with you that “libs” are not very tolerant of those who believe in discriminating against gays, brown people, non-Christians, and children who can’t afford health insurance!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Don’t Know if Gore Will Ever Enter the Race, But . . .

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I’ve just got to make this preemptive strike anyway, particularly considering that he is now currently leading a Democracy For America “Pulse Poll” as a write-in candidate.

Remember the lunkheads who brought us this evil bit of deception?

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Yeah, that was back in the “good old days,” when the worst thing about Al’s choice of running mates was that his name sounded like “Loserman!”

Well, if Al Gore does somehow end up as the Democratic nominee, you can bet that the same right-wing nut jobs will be looking for a way to slime Gore once again. It may be a more difficult task this time, but they will certainly seize on anything they can use to try to make him look bad.

If Al’s name rhymed with “Betray-Us,” you can bet someone would take the childish, name-calling approach to the new Nobel laureate, but I’m guessing they would again wait for him to name his running mate, who could quite likely end up being Barack Obama.

In fact, there’s already an organization formed to push the pairing as “The Dream Team,” as they sell T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers promoting a Gore-Obama ticket. If their efforts prove to be prophetic, I can only guess what the anti-Gore psychotics will come up with to try to convince their weak-minded colleagues to fear a Gore presidency.

So I’m going to get there first:

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If I end up seeing anyone trying to make a buck selling this logo, they are liable to get a little visit from Left-Over Security! That’s right. To borrow another phrase from Bill O’Reilly, try to slime the Dream Team with a mean-spirited, ugly lie like this logo, and Left-Over’s legal team will be “comin’ to your house! WE’RE COMIN’ TO YOUR HOUSE!!”

Disclaimer: I am actually aware of the fact that I probably can’t copyright a political slogan. However, if you do end up seeing some article about how “Joe Wing-Nut” came up with such a clever slogan (shown above) that it’s selling like hotcakes at church bazaars, Klan meetings, and corporate boardrooms, please send the author my way, so I can at least prove that these idiots are as predictable as, well, Republican incompetence!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Best Daily Trivia Fun Fact Ever!

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Two nights ago, I rented and watched the movie, Death of a President, which tells the fictional story of a future assassination of GWB, and what might happen in its aftermath. It is a fascinating movie that I highly recommend. Focused primarily on the events before and after the shooting, the film is brilliantly edited to be extremely realistic without being gratuitous.

Also, it was not lost on me, as I watched the beginning of the movie, that the hypothetical date of the movie’s namesake event was today, October, 19, 2007!

I wonder if that made it into a Presidential Daily Briefing!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Republicans Hate the Sick Kids! OK, Now What?

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Conservatives like to say that the United States has the best trained military in the world. I won’t argue with that characterization, and I will certainly say that they are much better trained to deal with their predicament in Iraq - than America’s sick, uninsured kids are in dealing with their afflictions!

So, the Republicans (and 2 Dems) chose to stand behind Bush’s veto of SCHIP, heading off health insurance for a large number of lower income children, all because our Jackass-in-Chief thinks it’s too expensive to provide the sick, untrained kids with the support they need to be safe!

Clearly, then, our highly trained military can deal with any inconvenience caused by Congress heading off any funding not directly related to bringing them home from Iraq! At least as well as the sick kids Bush and the Republicans were so eager to keep from having health care, right?

At this point, Congress should simply refuse to provide any more funding without an immediate phased withdrawal, and any time Bush whines that “the Democrats don’t want to provide the money needed to keep our troops safe,” Democrats should simply ask him this question:

Who is better able to handle a necessary restriction of funding: our highly trained military, or the sick kids you just cut off from being able to get health care?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Also posted at Daily Kos

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scariest Halloween Decoration Ever!

My neighbor just decorated for Halloween.
If this doesn't scare you - Nothing will!

Who Do You Choose to Honor?

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In the small town where I live, citizens got together and pooled a large number of small donations in order to put up a bronze statue of a local accordion player who founded a popular festival that still continues over 10 years after his death. The Festival, and the man we honored for starting it, both epitomize an eclectic, fun-loving, warm and humorous nature that, in many ways, defines the character of our town.

This is just one small, personal, example of how a decision to honor someone can speak volumes about what you stand for as a community or an organization. There are many others I could chronicle, but that is not my intention here.

The profound importance of choosing someone worthy of honor is a reason that I’m fascinated, and a little shocked, by the decision of Southern Methodist University to host the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Apparently, progress on the library is moving quickly, with the aid of some high profile Bush promoters apologists.

This is an institution of higher learning, with a stated commitment to “freedom of inquiry,” choosing to honor a President who not only doesn’t believe in science, but promotes policies detrimental to scientific knowledge and scientific research.

This is an institution touting a “focus on leadership,” choosing to honor a President who knowingly lied to start a war that has resulted in thousands of needless deaths of both American troops and Iraqi citizens, and who actively labeled those who questioned his policies as unpatriotic.

This is an institution with an open policy on “human rights,” choosing to honor a President who has deliberately eroded civil rights for Americans, and sanctioned the systematic abuse of others, in violation of some of the founding principles of our nation, and of international laws.

I didn’t really know much about SMU before – only that they were located somewhere near Dallas, TX, that their sports teams compete in the Conference USA, and that their mascot is a Mustang.

Now that I see who they are choosing to honor, I think I know how I will think of them in the future:

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Image of accordion player from Michael Amsler of the North Bay Bohemian (formerly The Independent.)

Image of SMU Tee from my demented imagination (and perhaps soon to the Left-Over On-Line Store near you, or not.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Some Media Expert!

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For a guy who makes his living as a so-called “media critic,” Howard Kurtz seems a bit of a dunce when it comes to using the media to promote his new book, The Reality Show, which is billed as “a freewheeling, intimate account of life atop the media pyramid.”

When he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Kurtz trotted out a laughably simple-minded attempt at praising the major network news organizations for their gallant efforts (after about four years of complicit cheerleading) to buck political pressure and show the violence actually occurring in Iraq!

A more detailed critique of his arguments is found here, but I want to highlight a story he told at the end of the interview (with my emphasis to simulate his tone of voice):
Here‘s another quick example for you; CBS‘s Lara Logan, who just won an Emmy, in fact, for her tough coverage in Iraq; she was asked by her CBS boss ifs she could find some lighter stories or some more positive stories from Iraq. She was actually asked to do a piece on whether female soldiers were keeping cyber-pets online. She emailed back saying, I would rather stick needles in my eyes than spend one second of my time on that story.
You can watch the full interview below, or simply take my word that he really thought he wowed Keith’s viewers with his dramatic punch line! OK, it was a good story. I’m not sure he proved much with it, but it was a good story – certainly one that most “non-media-insiders” wouldn’t have heard, and I figured, with six books to his credit, he’s probably got a million of ‘em!.

Howard Kurtz’ new book
Howard Kurtz’ new book

So later that evening, I’m watching The Daily Show, and who turns up as a guest but Howard Kurtz? He gives a similar argument about the network news media to a skeptical John Stewart, before quickly changing the subject at the end so he can finish with a dramatic flourish that will close the deal on anyone wondering if they should run out and buy his book.

You can watch that flourish below, or simply take my word that it was the same exact Lara Logan story, practically verbatim and with the same practiced vocal inflection, that he told Keith Olbermann just a few hours earlier!

Now here’s my question: If you are presenting yourself as the Ultimate Media Insider, wouldn’t you be expected to know that many of the same people who watch Countdown would be tuning in the The Daily Show, so if you are making the rounds, you won’t get the same bang for your buck with the same “get a load of this” punch line?

Instead of looking like an “in-the-know” expert, Kurtz ended up looking like the guy who memorizes a single joke and then tells it to everyone he meets for the rest of his life no matter how many times they may have heard it . . . from him!

Any bets on whether he included the same story in his book?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Party of Closeted Homophobes

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Last week I suggested that the Democrats should put the Republicans on the spot over the Larry Craig situation by forcing them to vote on the issue of discrimination against (suspected) gay Republicans. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to both highlight Republican hypocrisy and show that the Democrats are willing to act with the empathy they accuse Republicans of lacking - toward a very confused and disturbed man!

Consequently, it was nice to see Howie Klein thinking along similar lines in this overview of the whole closeted homophobe scene that has become an enduring image of the Republican Party leading up to the 2008 elections.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Republican Wives Club

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Is it just me, or do the spouses of all three leading Democratic candidates seem smarter and more articulate than any of the actual leading Republican candidates? And do the spouses of the four main Republican candidates seem pretty much relegated to being seen and not heard?

While the Democratic spouses are substantially engaged in the respective campaigns, we rarely hear a peep out of Cindy McCain or Ann Romney (though both were involved enough to contribute their favorite recipes to their husbands’ campaign websites!)

Meanwhile, Fred Thompson’s website barely even mentions he has a wife, named Jeri – with an “I,” but not with her own biography. Apparently, she was simply born as Fred Thompson’s wife!

And Rudy Giuliani’s wife (Number 3), aside from interrupting his campaign speeches with calls to Rudy’s cell phone, seems to be kept as far from the actual campaign as possible, perhaps because of a reputation that led her to be called “The Princess Bride” in this article from Vanity Fair. As for her background, the article notes:
It seemed that she had gone to Pennsylvania State nursing school, as The New York Times once reported, but she had not. She completed two years of nursing school, but left hospital work before a year was up.
Not surprisingly, that doesn’t stop Giuliani from puffing up her credentials on his campaign website:
In 2006, Mrs. Giuliani was awarded New York University College of Nursing ™ “Humanitarian Award” in recognition of using her nursing identity for humanitarian work and charitable endeavors as well as for being a powerful voice that enhances the visibility of nursing and elevates the profession.
Sounds like Rudy thinks Mrs. Giuliani’s “nursing identity” is something akin to Clark Kent’s “reporter identity!”

I suppose, in some ways, mate selection can be seen as a metaphor for the difference between a Democratic and Republican administration. With a Democratic administration, you get people with intellect providing competent and articulate counsel to the President. With a Republican administration, you get people who may look good in a photo op, but serve only to stroke the President’s ego (or something!)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Larry Craig: Still Guilty, Still in the Senate, and Still “Not Gay!”

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Apparently, Larry Craig is willing to take his chances that Mitch McConnell doesn’t really want an ethics investigation into the secret hidden sex lives of Republicans!

With his guilty plea to “disorderly conduct” upheld, Craig finds himself in the situation that as long as the Senate doesn’t investigate him, he really can’t be found any more guilty, and he probably can’t be any more embarrassed. So why not try to stick it out?

The Democrats should be so happy to have Craig remain as the current poster boy for Republican hypocrisy that they should, just for fun, propose legislation that would make harassing calls for resignation and job discrimination by removal from key committees based on suspected sexual orientation, qualify as hate crimes.

Of course, Larry Craig would probably vote against it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mitt Romney Is His Own (Not So) Secret Admirer!

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Apparently, a nice head of hair and a strong jawline aren’t as much of a campaign asset as a fat wallet when it comes to the Mitt Romney campaign! To quote T-Bogg:
Romney has discovered that Republicans don't understand the finer points of tithing and so he is dipping into his private stash to keep up the illusion, much like sending himself flowers at work, that he is desirable.
I’ve long been fascinated with the way the mega-wealthy and mega-successful Romney always seems like kind of a putz, showing no noticeable intellect or genuine charm that would explain his rapid rise up the economic ladder; and which, in turn, has enabled him to buy his way onto the political ladder!

However, I think I understand now, after reading the amazing book, “Fooled by Randomness,” which could have included Romney on its cover! The opening sentence by one reviewer captures my epiphany about Romney:
In Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professional trader and mathematics professor, examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill.
In a particularly interesting observation, Taleb describes how people who consistently mistake their own good fortune for skill, while riding a wave of fortuitous circumstances and claiming credit for randomly occurring trends, tend to become prone to careless mistakes that, when fortunes change, cause them to “blow up” spectacularly!

“Burning” millions of his personal fortune on a hopeless Presidential run might not qualify as a complete blow up, but if Taleb’s theory holds, Romney is likely to attribute the loss to “bad luck,” rather than the fact that most voters don’t think he knows his ass from a hole in the ground! And, therefore, an even bigger Romney "blow up" will remain a good long-term bet!