Archive for September, 2007

Thank you Sen. Webb

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

It may not be awe-inspiring rhetoric, but it’s truth.  And that’s what we need now above all else.

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On Fox “News” you can be anti-Bush if you’re really rich

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Donald Trump’s impressive appearance on Fox has been getting a lot of Internet play.  Love him or hate him, without a doubt he does a superb job of dissecting Bush.  But what I find interesting is — despite efforts by the Fox team to defend the pres and push GOP talking points — for the most part, they gave Trump carte blanche to say whatever he wanted.  He completely dominated the discussion.

It’s hilarious, really.  The Fox minions just can’t help themselves: they’re Republicans and as such in love with wealth.  With the exception of the “evil” George Soros, they can’t bring themselves to be too hard on a super-rich dude.  They’re constitutionally incapable of biting the hand of one of those they were bred to serve.

Some things just shouldn’t be bought and sold

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Call me a socialist, a communist (or worse yet, a liberal blogger), but I find something deeply offensive about having one of the few remaining copies of the Magna Carta sold at auction like so many pork belly futures.  This is one of the great documents in the history of human liberty.  It should belong to all of the people of the world, not just whoever happens to have inherited, earned or stolen enough money to be able to buy it as a trophy.

Hopefully it will end up in a museum.  But given the state of the world, it’s probably just as likely to adorn some pampered celebrity’s wall next to his favorite Britney Spears poster.


Question of the day: do you worry about dictatorship in the US?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Ten years ago I would almost have been embarrassed to ask the question.  Not now.

Personally, I’m not all that concerned over the possibility of George W. Bush, or someone of his ilk, suddenly declaring himself (or herself) to be the new emperor.  It’s the more insidious loss of freedom that gives me cold sweats at night.  We surrender a little liberty here to feel safer; we look the other way in response to an presidential power grab there.  Then bit by bit we stop being America.

Given how far down that road the country has already gone during the Bush years, can anyone reasonably doubt the danger?

So what do you think? 

A few words on the “joys” of flying

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I flew into Austin last night on business, then onto LA this evening.  I’ll be going home in a couple of days.  A few thoughts:

1. Wouldn’t it be good for the country to have free wireless in all airports?  As it stands now, in most places you have to pay close to $10 for 24 hours of access: but, of course, you don’t need 24 hours of access — just one or two hours while you wait for your connecting flight.  But since you feel like a schmuck forking over that kind of dough for such a short period of usage, you often don’t do it.  The amount of productivity lost to the economy because of this has to huge.

2. Why do the seats on commercial airlines seem to keep getting smaller, when Americans keep getting bigger?  I suspect the impression that airline seats are getting smaller probably has more to do with the increase in usage of small commuter jets than with an actual shrinkage of the seat size on the big birds: still, it sure feels like they’re getting smaller.

3. Why do airlines use seats that let people recline if they’re going to squeeze passengers so close together that the reclining seat ends up in the face of the person sitting behind it?

4. Why are the airsick bags so small that it’s virtually impossible to hit the target?

5. How do the airlines get away with saying you earn free travel with your frequent flyer miles when many of them now charge a fee when you cash them in?  

6. When an airline deliberately sells more tickets than it has seats, why isn’t that fraud? 

7. Isn’t there something strange about the fact that some airlines charge extra for emergency row seats (on the theory they have more leg room) when the person occupying that seat is supposedly assuming the obligation of helping the crew in an emergency?

8. Given that airport security personnel are federal employees, how are the airlines (in some cities) getting away with setting up special quicker security screening lines for first class passengers.

9. I understand airlines gave up serving meals as a cost cutting measure, but was handing out the small bags of pretzels with the pop really driving them into bankruptcy?

By the way, the guy next to me spilled an entire can of pop onto my pants during the flight to LA.  Of course, it could have been a lot worse, considering that whole it’s hard to hit the airsick bags thing.

So what was so ill-advised about the MoveOn.Org ad, asshole?

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I’m taking a little creative license here (adding the word asshole) with RJHall’s very pertinent challenge to my reference to the “infamous” MoveOn.Org ad as being ill-advised.  His comment caused me to do a little soul searching.  I found myself wondering: in describing the ad as ill-advised was I giving my honest independent appraisal, or was I just jumping on board with the conventional wisdom (like I always bitch at the corporate media for doing)?

Happily, just like the neocons who advocated the war — (Hmmm, I wonder if I really want to use that example?) — upon due reflection, I still think I was right all along.

Yes, my problem is with the ad’s title.  And, no, I don’t myself find it offensive in the least.  But let’s be honest: it should have been obvious up front that a bold headline declaring, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” was a perfect set up for the right wing noise machine to go to town with the unfair suggestion that was questioning the general’s patriotism.  And, yes, of course, the corporate media applies a double standard, routinely giving a pass to right wingers who engage in actual challenges to the patriotism of those they oppose.  But this is the world we live in and it’s the one we have to navigate in fighting for change.  

By opening the door to the bad guys to create just this sort of stink, the ad gave Bush some breathing room he didn’t deserve.

Life ain’t fair folks.  If we want to change business as usual in the Beltway, we have to be smart. 

None of this changes the fact (as I’ve said before) that the Senate’s action in censuring the ad was stupid and that those Democrats who voted that way were both gutless and politically naïve.  But while I remain a supporter of, I do think they blew it with this one. 

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When puppets bite back — again

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Uh-oh, the “independent government” of Iraq is starting to show signs of wanting to act like, well, an independent government.  For one thing, they’re not too happy about the US arresting a visiting Iranian representative.

(LA Times) Iraqi leader demands U.S. release Iranian official

BAGHDAD — — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani demanded today that the United States release an Iranian official arrested in an early morning raid in the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan this week.

“We express our resentment over this arrest without coordination with the local government. This means it is an insult and trespasses on our rights and authorities,” Talabani, who is Kurdish, said in a letter addressed to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

“I demand his immediate release to protect Iraq and Kurdistan interests and relations with Iran,” he said.

“Resentment?”  “Demand?”  “Insult?” Trespasses on our rights?”  With talk like that, it’s a good thing I know that these guys really, really love us, or I might begin to wonder about the feasibility of that long term close “friendship” between our two nations the neocons are counting on. 

Our Iraqi friends are also showing disturbing signs of refusing to play ball in sweeping that whole Blackwater killing innocent civilians thing under the rug.

(AP) Iraq: Blackwater guards fired unprovoked  

Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in a shooting last week that left 11 people dead, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case was referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

*  *  *

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi authorities had completed an investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad and concluded that Blackwater guards were responsible for the deaths.

He told The Associated Press that the conclusion was based on witness statements as well as videotape shot by cameras at the nearby headquarters of the national police command. He said eight people were killed at the scene and three of the 15 wounded died in hospitals.

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A vetoing fool — literally

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

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Thursday, September 20th, 2007

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Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to feel a lot safer in bed tonight knowing that the Senate has rebuked the evil  A Senate made up of lesser men and women might spend their time on silliness like trying to get our troops out of Iraq, rebuilding our crumbling national infrastructure and protecting our ports and nuclear energy plants from terrorist attacks.  But not this bunch.  No, sir.  These folks understand that what’s really important is passing a meaningless resolution condemning a political issue ad.

And, yes, nearly half the Democrats voted in favor of the resolution.  God, what a pathetic bunch — chicken and tone-deaf all at the same time. 

The point here isn’t the MoveOn ad itself — an advertisement that I personally think was ill-advised.  No, the real point, of course, is what the hell the Senate is doing wasting its time acting as media critic when brave young Americans are dying unnecessarily in an ill-conceived and negligently prosecuted war.

Chris Dodd hit precisely the right tone:

“It is a sad day in the Senate when we spend hours debating an ad while our young people are dying in Iraq. Now that the Senate has twice voted on this ad, it is time to move on and vote to end the war.”

Sad, indeed.

But something else that’s sad is watching so many Democratic senators reflexively peeing in their pants in fear, unable to grasp that Dodd’s position is such an obvious political winner.