Well now that certainly worked out well

June 24th, 2006 by Steve

What has 2,500 American deaths and over a trillion dollars spent bought us (among other disasters)?  Why, an increasingly cozy and powerful Iran-Syria coalition, that’s what.

In all seriousness: Could Bush and the neocons have fucked this up any worse if they’d tried?

Maybe that’s why The Boss is richer than I am

June 23rd, 2006 by Steve

After all of the huffing and puffing people like me have done about Ann Coulter, along comes The Boss and puts her away with one laugh.

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out at Crooks and Liars.  There’s some good stuff there.

Now there’s a hell of an offer

June 23rd, 2006 by Steve

This is quite an offer: Complete amnesty in Iraq to any insurgent who hasn’t committed a crime.  Maybe they’ll sweeten the deal later by throwing in free lifetime dental care for those insurgents who have already lost all of their teeth.

New amnesty plan excludes those who attacked U.S.

(06-23) 04:00 PDT Baghdad — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s new plan to promote reconciliation among Iraq’s rival factions will offer amnesty to Iraqis who have carried weapons but not to those who have committed serious crimes, according to Iraqi politicians who have read the proposal.

*   *   *

It says that the government will issue an amnesty for all those who have not committed crimes against the people of Iraq and the friends of Iraq,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, an ethnic Kurd. “Those who attack U.S. forces are not immune from legal consequences. An attack on Iraqi forces or multinational forces are seen legally … as the same thing from the perspective of the government.”

And yes, I understand the idea is to grant amnesty to those who have belonged to insurgent groups and militias, but not to those who have carried out attacks.  But seriously, could there be a more unworkable proposal?

When law becomes a bother

June 23rd, 2006 by Steve

Perhaps the greatest single consistency of the Bush presidency has been its contempt for legal process.  Given the choice between following prescribed legal steps in carrying out policy or flaunting them, Bush & Co. will almost always choose the latter.  So habitual is this contempt of law, it’s hard anymore to chalk it up to pragmatic motivations, like, for example, a cop who lies about a supposed “confidential informant” to justify searching the house of a bad guy.

No, there’s something more at work here.

Take the administration’s insistence on conducting wiretaps without court approval. It isn’t as though the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) present some horrendous burden to the government.  FISA judges have approved almost all requests for national security wiretaps; and, in any case, the terms of the Act allowed surveillance to begin even without court approval, subject only to a far from oppressive requirement that the government obtain retroactive court approval within 72 hours.

Still, the Bush Administration refused to be bothered.

No, this isn’t about expediency; it’s about contempt for the rule of law — together with an arrogant insistence upon completely unfettered executive power.

It’s been a long and ugly parade, going back to the start of the administration, but especially since the Sept. 11 attacks, an event Bush seems to believe transformed him into a de facto dictator, with complete freedom to ignore not just enactments of Congress, but the United States Constitution itself: Military tribunals created by executive fiat, foreign nationals seized and held in secret, American citizens imprisoned in military brigs as “enemy combatants,” attorney-client confidentiality breached without court order; widespread warrantless surveillance, resistance to all congressional oversight, use of  “rough interrogation” methods otherwise known as torture, issuing presidential “signing statements” purporting to exempt the president from the law of the land and on and on and on.

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Raising a Glass

June 22nd, 2006 by Staff

Dissent is Patriotic.

I saw some news about this web site …


…and it got me thinking about how we — individually and/or as a group — might honor people we can’t physically or financially support.

Lt. Watada is getting some support from CourageToResist.org, “a group of concerned community members, veterans and military families that supports military objectors to illegal war and occupation and the policies of empire.” Yet, I’m not in a position to do much more than give him a bit of publicity.

I’ll ask Steve, but perhaps we can make a regular feature out of raising our glass (if you’re not in the bar, raise your coffee mug/beer bottle/hi-ball glass) in salute and support of someone exercising their democratic principles. All you’d have to do is comment with, “Here, here” or something like that.

Steve can clarify the rules if he agrees. I guess I’ll start things while he’s out. Although, the last time I started something while he was away from the bar, the Wise men let me sleep it off in storage room until Steve returned.

But, I digress.

For refusing to participate in Bush’s illegal war on Iraq, I raise my glass to Lt. Watada.

- Greg

ps. Oddly, I’m reminded of Hee Haw’s small-town “salute,” which was comedic in intent, but said with all the country charm and genuineness one might expect from guys like Buck Owens and Roy Clark.

GOP pro-war election strategy — bring it on

June 22nd, 2006 by Steve

So the Republicans have decided to embrace the War in Iraq in the off year elections.  Utterly bankrupt, both in terms of ideas and, of course, in moral capital, they’re falling back on their old standby — using fear to divide the nation.  Scummy yes, but as the last two elections have shown also often effective.  

So here we go again.

(The New York Times) Rallied by Bush, Skittish G.O.P. Now Embraces War as Issue

WASHINGTON, June 21 — Just a few weeks ago, some Republicans were openly fretting about the war in Iraq and its effect on their re-election prospects, with particularly vulnerable lawmakers worried that its growing unpopularity was becoming a drag on their campaigns.

But there was little sign of such nervousness on Wednesday as Republican after Republican took to the Senate floor to offer an unambiguous embrace of the Iraq war and to portray Democrats as advocates of an overly hasty withdrawal that would have grave consequences for the security of the United States. Like their counterparts in the House last week, they accused Democrats of espousing “retreat and defeatism.”

That emerging Republican approach reflects, at least for now, the success of a White House effort to bring a skittish party behind Mr. Bush on the war after months of political ambivalence in some vocal quarters. As President Bush offered another defense of his Iraq policy during a visit to Vienna on Wednesday, Republicans acknowledged that it was a strategy of necessity, an effort to turn what some party leaders had feared could become the party’s greatest liability into an advantage in the midterm elections.

Congressional Democrats being, well, congressional Democrats, we can probably now count on more than a few of them going into panic mode. “The Rove is falling!  The Rove is falling!”

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Could I love a Republican?

June 21st, 2006 by Steve

(a bit of silliness for a break) 

I’m happily married to a rock-solid Democrat as well as being the father of two rock-solid Democratic sons (at ages 5 and 7 they don’t know it yet, but you can take my word for it).

So this is hypothetical.  But still I wonder: Could I love a Republican — passionately and without reservation?

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Shame on them

June 21st, 2006 by Steve

(AP) Senate Rejects Bid to Raise Minimum Wage

The Republican-controlled Senate refused Wednesday to raise the minimum wage, rejecting an election-year proposal from Democrats for the first increase in nearly a decade.

The vote was 52-46, eight short of the 60 needed.

“I don’t think the Republicans get it,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who backed a proposal for a three-step increase in the current wage floor to $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has been fixed at $5.15 an hour since 1997.

Think about it: Getting paid at a rate of $5.15 an hour times 30 or even 40 hours a week, generally without benefits.  How do people live?

But, of course, there’s always the well-worn GOP excuse (I guess they think it sells better than, “Hey, it’s our job to give corporate lobbyists whatever they want.)”

Republican critics said the minimum wage was a job killer, not the boon to low-wage workers portrayed by Democrats.

“This is a classic debate between two different philosophies. One philosophy believes in the marketplace, competition and entrepreneurship, and the second is a philosophy that says government knows best,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. He said France and Germany have high minimum wages, but also high unemployment.

Just out of curiosity Sen. Isakson: Those jobs you say the minimum wage will kill, they wouldn’t just happen to be the same ones George W. Bush says we need guest workers to fill, because no American wants them? 

Just asking.

Is Bush losing the military on Iraq?

June 21st, 2006 by Steve

This could be important.

Troops echo frustration over war in Iraq (via Huffington Post)

While Staff Sgt. Randy Myers was dodging roadside bombs in Iraq, his congressman was calling the war a lost cause.

Sixteen-term Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), a decorated Vietnam veteran and military hawk, has become the face of the Democrats’ anti-war movement since he called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops last fall. His oft-repeated criticism of the Bush administration’s war policies also has earned him the wrath of Republicans.

In Murtha’s southwest Pennsylvania district, however, many share the war critic’s views.
At a welcome home ceremony this week for Myers and other troops from the Johnstown, Pa.-based 876th Engineer Battalion, the crowd cheered when a Murtha aide welcomed the troops on the congressman’s behalf.

Myers said he backs Murtha, an opinion echoed by a number of other troops and their families. Several share his frustration with the conflict.

Now, as you’d expect, it becomes clear further into the article that support for Murtha’s position is far from universal among the troops and their families.  Still, given the culture of the military, to have this much open opposition to the war within the ranks is fairly extraordinary.

Fourth Estate RIP

June 20th, 2006 by Steve

I actually feel a little bad about piling on in this one: At least Gloria Borger was honest about the presidential press corps’ puppy dog relationship to Bush.  But for the love of Bryan . . .

(Media Matters) From the June 18 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:

KURTZ: Gloria Borger, are journalists suckers for this kind of secret trip to Baghdad stuff? I mean, Bush was there less than six hours but got an avalanche of mostly positive coverage.

BORGER: I think we are suckers. Particularly if you’re the one who gets to go on the pool, Howie, and gets to travel with the president on a secret trip to Baghdad. We do like these secret trips.

Believe it or not, we kind of like to be surprised, but I think if you’re a bureau chief in Washington, you may be asking, “Gee, why didn’t we have more information?” And when you ask that question, the answer you always get from the White House is, “Because this has to be shrouded in secrecy because this is a matter of presidential security. So we can’t tell you more about this in advance.” So you know you’re being used, but in a way you kind of like it because it’s good pictures.

KURTZ: You enjoy it.