Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Seeing a mirror within a mirror within a mirror

Barring a miracle, or, more accurately, a veritable flood of miracles, the Republican Party in 2008 will end up wearing George W. Bush around its neck as igniomouslly as the Ancient Mariner wore the Albatross.

That is, unless they can find some way of distancing the Republican party from Bush and his disastrous policies....


They're already doing it. But there is more, in fact, much more to it than a simple campaign ploy. Let's start the journed by looking at this from yesterday's Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory:


This cry of victimization was the principal theme at the so-called "National Review Institute conservative summit" held this weekend, at which one conservative luminary after the next paraded on stage to lament that the unpopular President and rejected GOP-controlled Congress "abandoned" conservatism and failed for that reason.

As usual, Glenn granulate does an excellent analysis of this rather weighty subject. (Let's face it, discussing political philosophy in depth isn't exactly front-page material for newspapers these days because it actually requires "thinking" and as we all know, "thinking" is hard work.)

While Greewald notes that this theme of victimhood is becoming the favorite theme of Republicans today, that one of the early pioneers of Bush-bashing by "real conservatives" was done by none other than Conservative Blogger par exella'nce, Andrew Sullivan. Glenn takes a little excursion into a review of Sullivan's book, The Conservative Soul which eventually brings us to these points:

One of the principal flaws of Sullivan's book is that it speaks of "political conservatism" in a way that exists only in the abstract but never in reality. The fabled Goldwater/Reagan small-government "conservatism of doubt" which Sullivan hails -- like the purified, magnanimous form of Communism -- exists, for better or worse, only in myth.

He goes on here to a phrase which eventually trips a trigger with me:

All of the attributes which have made the Bush presidency so disastrous are not in conflict with political conservatism as it exists in reality. Those attributes -- vast expansions of federal power to implement moralistic agendas and to perpetuate political power, along with authoritarian faith in the Leader -- are not violations of "conservative principles." Those have become the defining attributes of the Conservative Movement in this country.

But conservatives have to perpetuate the myth, so Sullivan critiques the Bush administration in terms of its "infidelity" to "conservative principles" to wit:

Sullivan's general critique of the Bush administration, and his specific complaint that it has fundamentally deviated from the abstract conservative principles to which people like Lowry
(columnist and talking-head Rich Lowry)profess fidelity, is both accurate and persuasive. Along those lines, Sullivan cites the borderline-religious belief in tax cuts, depicted not as sound policy but as a moral good, to be pursued "unrelated to any empirical context of consistent rationale," and thus imposed even in the face of suffocating deficits and the virtually unprecedented expansion of government spending.

What seems so strange to me is that Republicans and conservatives in this country still persist in the myth of the principles of the conservative movement. It is the banner under which they rally the troops for each and every election cycle.

But the conservative principles which they profess to represent are a lie.

The real conservative principles the use of the power of government to implement their moralistic and/or religious ideals, the absolute power of their chief executive, unfettered capitalism (bordering on crony capitalism) free market economics. All of those principles would be roundly defeated by the voting populace so they have to tell the noble lie of "conservative principles" to get elected.

Deeply troubling is the concept of the noble lie first proposed by the great Professor of Political Science (and father of present day Neocons) Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago. His disciples included, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Rumsfeld, Cheney and even William Kristol. The so-called noble lie is necessary, because, obviously, if the voters knew the real conservative values, the Republicans would never get elected. Here's what Strauss had to say about "noble lies" (according to Wikipedia ):

Noble lies and deadly truths

Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether "noble lies" have any role at all to play in uniting and guiding the polis. Are "myths" needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society? Or can men and women dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche's language, those "deadly truths", flourish freely? Thus, is there a limit to the political, and what can be known absolutely? In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato's Republic that are required for all governments. These include a belief that the state's land belongs to it even though it was likely acquired illegitimately, and that citizenship is rooted in something more than the accidents of birth. Strauss has been interpreted as endorsing "noble lies;" myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society. [1] [2] [3]

So the myth of "conservative principles" is still part of the neocon culture and is being played out today in preparation for the rise of another neocon to the Presidency......another "noble lie" so we can be told more "noble lies"

Not if I can help it.....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Among other things.....

There is just so much going on in the political blogosphere that it's hard to keep up.

Fortunately there are enough bloggers out there to keep up with everything and let us "5th tier" (I only claim to be 5th tier because I don't think there's anything lower) bloggers pick and choose what we want to write about.....

I'll start with what I think is the most under-reported story of the day....Bush and his Presidential Executive Orders. The story appeared in this morning's New York Times and here is a snippet to explain it...

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

In case you haven't noticed, that's absolutely breath-taking in its scope....."each agency" will now be controlled by a political appointee as a gatekeeper to carry out the president's priorities....." And we were foolish enough to think that Bush is a lame duck.


Bush has no intention of being a lame duck. In fact, there have been other blogs reporting that Bush and Company (known in the blogosphere as Bushco) plan on spending the last two years doing the Haagar the Horrible routine on Government....Haagar the Horrible being Rape! Pillage! and Plunder!

He seems to think that he can do this because we can't touch him. We can't impeach and even if we try he can do an awful lot damage (pillage) before we get to him....I'm beginning to think impeachment may be a worthwhile endeavor.

This was under-reported (in my view) because most of the blogosphere has been focusing on the "Scooter" Libby trial. Okay. Scooter's trial is important because it is shinning a light into the dark, dark recesses of the Bush Administration and specifically into the even darker recesses of the heart (alleged heart) of Dick Cheney....

Judith Miller was on the stand today and probably will be tomorrow too. I'll have to go "surfing" to find out where I saw it, but somebody posted today about a couple of radio announcers in Africa who were found guilty in court of murder because their radio broadcasts encited violence against the Tsusti....In a way, that's exactly what Judith Miller did....she encited violence against Iraq by being a willing tool of those who wanted war under any circumstance...truth didn't matter....neither did international law...or christian values (which they claimed to possess.) I've wondered if Judith Miller knew she was being fed bs by top ranked administration officials...I know that she was trading her journalistic integrity for fame
but I have to wonder if she ever once questioned the validity of the information she was being given....he she ever thought to get a second source...a confirmation ...anything that would have lead to the truth? You think?

....and another thing...I caught Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" tonight. It was about the four examples of "foiled terrorist plots" that Bush took credit for in the SOTU...


They were all phoney!

Crooks and Liars doesn't have it yet but here's a link to the preview

breaking news...MSNBC is reporting that it has gained access to a secret Pentagon report claiming that IRAN was behing the ambush and killing of five American Soldiers last week...


they've got their f-ing GULF OF TONKIN incident/

I'm really pissed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

If you're not with us (yawn)'re (yawn) etc...

This is getting a little old.

When you're getting your annual physical from the Doctor and he takes that funky little hammer with the rummer end shaped like a tomahawk and taps your knee with it, your leg automatically kicks out. If you're blessed not to be physically or neuorologcially damaged, it's a natural response.... a reflex action. Well, our good friends in the Republican Party have developed a couple of verbal reflex actions that we can count upon with the same reliability as the doctor hitting us with that funky little hammer. Truth be told, they're getting a little tiresome and it looks like Glenn Reynolds at Unclaimed Territory is equally tired of hearing at least one of them and does a masterful job of shooting down the talking point du jour of the Republican talking heads.

I think Glenn is particularly miffed that Republicans have been painting themselves as "Churchillian" in this "epic struggle" and Karen Hughes has outright characterized her George W. Bush as such a few times in the post-9/11 world. Glenn does a far better job of documenting it than I and proceeds to tear down the RW talking point with quotes from Churchill AND Abraham Lincoln, actually from CONGRESSMAN Abraham Lincoln.

Churchill and Lincoln share a spot in the American heart for the courage they exhibited during times of great peril to their respective nations. What Greenwald points out so successfully is that they did so not by cutting off debate or (although Lincoln suspended the Chicago Newspaper obstenbibly for publishing military secrets) demanding blind, unquestioning allegiance, but by demanding that debate take place.

Churchill, for example did the most risky thing imaginable in a Parliamentary form of Government: He demanded a debate AND a vote of confidence. As we all know, a vote of "No Confidence" in such a system triggers resignations and new elections. But Churchill demanded it. And even better, in his address demanding that the debate (and subsequent vote) take place, he said this:

Therefore, I feel entitled to come to the House of Commons, whose servant I am . . . I have never ventured to predict the future. I stand by my original programme, blood, toil, tears and sweat, which is all I have ever offered, to which I added, five months later, "many shortcomings, mistakes and disappointments." But it is because I see the light gleaming behind the clouds and broadening on our path, that I make so bold now as to demand a declaration of confidence of the House of Commons as an additional weapon in the armoury of the united nations"

let me repeat myself:

"to which I added, five months later, "many shortcomings, mistakes and disappointments"..."

Churchill dealt with Parliament (House of Commons) in the most honest, straightforward manner he could muster and he won the debate AND the vote.

There is also an interesting quote from Lincoln in there where he criticizes President Polk for taking war powers upon himself. Lincoln refreshes to the logic of the framers of the Constitution in making Congress and not the President responsible for declarations of War. Alberto Gonzales should read it sometime because it makes the argument of the "unitary executive" seem small and weak by comparisom.

Greenwald's summary is priceless...and damning


The view of America as advocated by George Bush and his followers is as antithetical as can be even to the views of the individuals to whom they claim allegiance. They exploit historical events and iconic individuals as tawdry props, and they neither understand them nor actually care about their meaning. They turn them into cheap cartoons -- Churchill! Lincoln! America! -- drained of their actual substance and converted into impoverished, degraded symbols used to promote ideas that are the exact opposite of what they actually embody.

Churchill accomplished exactly that which Bush cannot manage -- namely, he convinced his country that the war he was leading was legitimate and necessary and that confidence in his war leadership was warranted. It's precisely because Bush is incapable of achieving that that he and his followers are now insisting that democratic debate itself over the Leader and the war is illegitimate and unpatriotic. One can call that many things. "Churchillian" isn't one of them. Nor, for that matter, is "American."

Over on Crooks and Liars there is another message. This one to Sean Hannity from Teddy Roosevelt. It seems Mr Hannity had his "enemy of the State" segment changed to" enemy of the week". It seems that in order to qualify to become an "enemy" of the state/week all you have to do is criticize the President or the Administration. (Are we sensing a theme here?) Here's what that President Teddy Roosevelt had to say:

Teddy Roosevelt in his own words
"[The President] should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. "

hehehehe......'nuff said.

And finally, we might ask ourselves "what is the danger in "rallying behind" the President in times of great striff or great danger? What, indeed is the danger in presenting a "unified front" to the enemy?"

What indeed?

Click on this link and let the great actor Spencer Tracey tell you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.....

Thank you Mimikatz over at The Next Hurrah!

Finally somebody is posting on what I think the most important issues are concerning Iraq.

I posted on the WoodCoDems site some time ago that maybe we (as a country perhaps but maybe as a Democratic Party) should be talking in terms of WHAT Iraq would/will look like AFTER WE LEAVE. And of course, I mean after we leave under the real circumstances, NOT the NeverLand crap that Bush says will happen if we only give him "one more last chance. "(Yes. Yes, I believe that was the title of a crappy country-western song.)

Let's get to Mimikatz's post before this turns into an uncontrollable rant.... Of course, you're free to click on the link and read the whole article but I'll give a blow-by-blow here.

Mimikatz starts out with the question we're all asking. That is, can the doomsday prophesies of Bush and Cheney about what will happen in Iraq if we pull out be true? I'll have to admit, it's been nagging at me too if, for no other reason, than because there has been such a dirth of information or informed commentary on the likely nature of Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal. But Mimikatz comes up with a couple of sources...The first by General William Odom in his prepared remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which were aptly entitled:

Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions
What Can Be Done in Iraq?

Anybody want to guess how I really feel about this?

After a lengthy preamble describing how we got into this sorry state, Odom says this:

It cannot as long as fails to revise its war aims. Wise leaders in war have many times admitted that their war aims are misguided and then revised them to deal with realities beyond their control. Such leaders make tactical withdrawals, regroup, and revise their aims, and design new strategies to pursue them. Those who cannot make such adjustments eventually face defeat.

Here's a key point:

Since the 1950's, the US aim in this region has been "regional stability" above all others. The strategy for achieving this aim of every administration until the present one has been maintaining a regional balance of power among three regional forces – Arabs, Israelis, and Iranians.

and finally this:

Any new strategy that does realistically promise to achieve regional stability at a cost we can prudently bear, and does not regain the confidence and support of our allies, is doomed to failure. To date, I have seen no awareness that any political leader in this country has gone beyond tactical proposals to offer a different strategic approach to limiting the damage in a war that is turning out to be the greatest strategic disaster in our history.

Got that now? We need to think in terms other than "Good vs Evil" or "Global War on Terror". We need to think in time-tested, successful REGIONAL DIPLOMACY TERMS.

Now, if you've read the other post you know that I've chosen to emphasize something different than Minikatz. Mini (sorry for the nickname) thought a key of Odom's presentation was that the government needed to be strong enough to tax and in all fairness to Odom, he makes a good case for it but in terms of what US policy should be, I think the above quotes are pretty much "spot-on".

But there's a second source....actaully a SET of sources gathered by today's San Francisco Chronicle.

For a variety of reasons most of the experts don't see much to the "nightmare scenarios" being proffered by Presidnent Bush and Vice-President Cheney. As General Odom surmised, the experts gathered by the Chronicle agree that the likelihood of instability decreasing as opposed to increasing is most likely for the region if the US withdraws its troops. (Again, I ask you to read the posts to get the details)

But there are other scenarios and considerations...take this one for example:

In Iraq, Mueller said, "The most likely scenario, and it's still a fairly bad one, is that the other countries would contain Iraq and there would be a civil war that would gradually work its way out. The idea of it spreading throughout the Middle East and all over the world strikes me as a considerable stretch. Not that it's impossible. But the best analogy would be the long civil war in Lebanon. Other countries meddled in various ways, but they also kept it there, as much as possible

One-by-one the panalists shoot down the "regional conflict" idea and, most importantly, they analyze the possibilities as well as the probabilities that each of the other actors (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) would or could get involved in Iraq if we withdraw.

What I think I like best about the Chronicle piece is that quite rightly states that little has been written about the realistic possibilities and options available to us in Iraq. Read this and comment if you or at Woodcodems....

Whoa...wait a minute here....

I've spent just a short time viewing the Sunday morning gab-fests, or reviewing them online and a couple of things hit me right from the start.

First, the Great Republican Wurlitzer is in full swing this morning and the talking heads have their talking points down wit:

A non-binding resolution against escalation EMBOLDENS our enemies...and this beauty from Mitch(I never met a special interest I didn't like) McConnel :

To show his loyalty, Mitch said:

I think everybody knows what the consequences are. The president doesn't have a stronger supporter in the Senate than the person you're looking at, but I repeat, this is the last chance for the Iraqis to step up and demonstrate this government can function," he said. "The message to the Iraqi government could not be more clear."

but if that praise wasn't effusive enough, he had to add:

paraphrased: The War on Terror has been a resounding success. I consider it absolutely amzaing that we haven't been attacked again in five years.

Ahhhh....I love the smell of wingnuttery in the smells,....STUPID!

Second I found the effusive praise of Joe Biden this morning to be inappropriate. He was being cheered on by some discussion boards for his comment that "dissent doesn't embolden our enemies, our failed policy emboldens our enemies."

on edit: here's the actual quote courtesy of Talking Points Memo

"It's not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It's the failed policy of this president going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely."

And to that I have to say:


Somehow or another I can't envision Osama Bin Laden dancing around in his cave saying, "oboyoboyoboy....they've got a failing policy!" What I do see is Osama (and most recently his followers) dancing around saying "I told you so."
What do I mean by that?
I mean that the one thing that gives strength to the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists who successfully planned and executed the attack on the twin towers on 9/11, it is to have their cause validated.
AQ and the rest of the fundy crazies who want to blow up anything Western, Jewish, American or the real jackpot...United States Jewish Pop Culture....believe that we Americans have imperialistic aims on the Middle East (primarily because of their oil?) and we wish to impose upon them our style of democracy, our style of society, and our CHRISTIANITY.
At the beginning of all this...I would have disputed every point made above but now I'm not so sure.
And even as I write this, people all over the middle east see American troops occupying Iraq. They see a government in Iraq styled and ruled by an edict from the Coalition Provisional Authourity (CPA ) and they see Christian Soldiers killing Muslims every day. And don't think for one minute that the current sabre rattling over Iran hasn't been heard by 1 billion muslims across the world.
All that above is shown as "proof" that America must be defeated and the longer we occupy Iraq; the more we try to impose our will on the middle east, the more we will embolden the enemy.....
The point needs to be made clearly and not obfuscated by cheap political rhetoric like we got out of Biden this morning.
I'll be back to edit and expand later....

Friday, January 26, 2007

Liberal Media???

Cross posted from WoodcoDems

I'm not going to go into all the detail but here's a comment I HAD to write on another blog this morning after reviewing reports from the Libby Trial (from Mainstream Media no less!)

I love this.

Cathie Martin confirmed what we've been saying about Russert and Meet The Press for the past six years. Here's the quote from Dana Millbank's article in the Washington Post:

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message.""I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," (extra emphasis mine) Martin testified. "It's our best format."

Russert's credibility is COMPLETELY DESTROYED.

Cathie stamped TOADY across his forehead in a big way....he owes the country an apology for impersonating a journalist.

But (as with almost EVERYTHING with the Bush Administration) the Millbank article gets worse from there.

Cathie Martin (who happens to be married to the head of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ..incest much?) confirmed some of our deepest and perhaps darkest suspicions about the handling of the media by this administration.

For instance, on some discussion boards there is a dark joke that goes around on Friday mornings about what the "news dump" will be at five o'clock. Turns out, it's no's a clip:

With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. "Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday," she said. "Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday."

So the "news dump" isn't our imagination's a time-honored technique of the Bush White House.

Next I suppose you'll tell me that there's actually favortism shown toward Right Wing reporters.


wait a minute....

On jurors' monitors were images of Martin's talking points, some labeled "on the record" and others "deep background." She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators. And when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof first wrote about the Niger affair, she explained, "we didn't see any urgency to get to Kristof" because "he frankly attacked the administration fairly regularly."

I don't know why I'm surprised.

I have assumed that ever since ABC News made the fateful decision back in the '80s that Television News was a PROFIT CENTER and not a PUBLIC SERVICE that most anchormen (and women ) had become rating whores who would (do ) sell out their integrity for "access" and they only keep that access by becoming STENOGRAPHERS and not JOURNALISTS.The only good thing is that Martin pulled back the veil and showed us the ugly process by which our information is manipulated.Read the whole article....but not on a full stomach.e

Thursday, January 25, 2007



There sure is a lot going on today.....let me try to bring you up to date:

If you haven't seen or read the transcripts from the Cheney interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday, you MUST SEE IT. It's jaw-dropping in almost every sense of the word. Click on the Link above.

In addition to that, the wonderful, wacky world of Right Blogastan is in an uproar over desertions from within the Republican ranks (Chuck Hagel in particular) and they are also swooning over the testimony of General Petraeus (the man taking Abizad's place in Central Command)before the Senate Armed Services Committee; especially the dialogue between our favorite (sarcasm)"Independent Democratic" Senator Joe Lieberman and Petraeus where Lieberman uses McCarthy-like techniques to put words in the good Gerneral's mouth. Glenn Greenwald at unclaimed Territory had a good article on it yesterday, but's become a cause celeb for Right Blogastan. TBogg has a less academic but nevertheless satisfying description of what's going on here. (Note: you might have to scroll down a bit because posts are flying fast and furious this morning. It's under the title Circular Firing Squad)

Actually one of the Commentors from Glenn Greenwald's site, Dave had some of the best comments:

Hagel's impassioned plea was refreshing and I don't know if I've ever seen a politician speak with such candor and passion.

His Vietnam experience, as well and true conservative principles, were shining through.In the past week Hagel has (1) claimed that the GOP is not the same party as the one he voted for on a tank in the Mekong Delta in 1967, and (2) made an almost tearful plea to his colleagues that to fail to honestly debate the "surge" when so many lives are at stake is to "fail" the country. While this is refreshing and entirely in line with the foundations of this country, what's troubling is this veteran's comments, rather than sparking a true debate, seem to have started a movement to purge him from the party and cut off his funding.

Like true Machiavellians, they are cutting off the head of the flower that dares to stick its head up, to set an example and quell any other "rebels."So it looks like the "surge" plan is rapidly growing into a "purge" plan: you either agree with it or we remove your command and even accuse you of treason. You ask for a debate, claiming that you don't doubt the President's motives, and we develop a Loyalty Oath against you.

Well said, Dave. You covered all of it at once....reference to Lieberman's "treason" comment, Cheney's don't debate, don't tell strategy, and finally the Republican "from Surge to Purge" plan.

Our friend Josh Micah Marshall from Talking Points Memo has a great article on the true philosophic and tactical goals of conservatives in the Washington Monthly. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. Prior to the war, the president himself never quite said this openly. But hawkish neoconservatives within his administration gave strong hints. In February, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq, the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

The scariest part? It was written in 2003!

It's long but it's the kind of brain food we need to keep our sanity these days.

Speaking of sanity of lack thereof, we are pleased to know that our favorite Republican whipping girl (don't even think that!) Katherine Harris has made another debute....this time appearing on the floor of the House of Representatives before the SOTU handing out BUSINESS CARDS! Notice: all comments will be heavily screened to keep the obvious jokes out. Pictures are here

While Republicans are practicing their own version of a "purity pledge" the Scooter Libby Trial is going on in DC. There were a few bombshells in the opening day. Like the Libby defense team stating that Libby was being made the scapegoat for Karl Rove. And that Libby was being "set-up to take the fall" by the CIA. Christy and Marcy (emptywheel) are liveblogging for firedoglake if you want to keep up with it.

I'm also pleased to announce that our good friend, Stephen C. Day has resumed regular installments of his incredible series, Last Chance Democracy Cafe. It is one of the great fictional works on the web (in my opinion) and deserves a much wider readership than it usually gets. Steve's writing is pitch-perfect for our times and deals in a disarmingly honest manner with the dilema that the progressive/liberal community faces in these times. His characters become old friends very quickly and you share their thoughts and travails as you would with your neighbors. The latest episode is here. I won't give the subject matter away. Just it.

Aside from that ....well....add your own comments....I've given you a lot to chew on....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some "reviews" from last night

First, here's Joe in DC from Ameriblog

Well, the morning after another major Bush speech that was going to sway the nation. Another speech that was a total flop. Seriously. There is nothing there. Bush was pathetic. The GOP is flailing. The Republicans stood by their man for years -- never questioned him, never challenged him. Bush and his party are bad for America.

And via that same blog, Jonathan Alter's comments:

For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union Message
overshadowed the president's big speech. Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office
only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism—with personal
touches—that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust. In the past,
the Democratic response has been anemic—remember Washington Gov. Gary Locke?
This time it pointed the way to a revival for national Democrats.

Webb is seen as a moderate or even conservative Democrat, but this was
a populist speech that quoted Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party
and champion of the common man. The speech represented a return to the
tough-minded liberalism of Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey, but by quoting
Republicans Teddy Roosevelt (on "improper corporate influence") and Dwight D.
Eisenhower (on ending the Korean War), he reinforced the argument that President
Bush had taken the GOP away from its roots


Then of course, there was our old buddy, The Rude Pundit who said (in part and HIGHLY EDITED)

"...Bush was unrelenting, though, in his whining like a little bitch
about wanting to play with his soldier boy toys: "Our country is pursuing a new
strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work." Oh, and in case
you thought anything was on the short term, Bush assured us that the war,
however big you wanna define it, is "a generational struggle that will continue
long after you and I have turned our duties over to others."

So Bush's biggest promise in the speech was 20 more years, at least, of unending war? Who wants to sign up?

If you don't like profanity, or, rudeness....don't click on the link......

During the speech last night, Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo made this observation:

What a strange man. After disarmingly gracious opening remarks about
Nancy Pelosi's speakership, the president congratulates the 'Democrat majority'
-- words most every Democrat takes as a calculated insult. The prepared remarks
say "Democratic majority". But apparently he couldn't help himself.

He wasn't the only one who caught that. I saw Tom Brokaw mention it specifically on the post-speech gab-fest on MSNBC last night.. It was a deliberate insult. There wasn't any doubt about it.

Your comments?

Okay....I was wrong

about Bush's speech....on just about everything.

And quite frankly, I'm really surprised that I was wrong. From what I've seen of the speech...I couldn't do more than one minute at a time so I've had to depend on transcripts, video clips and commentary...he managed to "control himself" pretty well last night.

Instead of lashing out, he (as characterized by others) he sort of begged to "give his plan a chance to work". That's so a matter of fact, the MSNBC on-line article actually uses the word "pleads" in describing Bush's request.

He offered another veritable "laundry list" of domestic programs but as near as I can tell, those proposed programs have already met with stiff opposition..........FROM REPUBLICANS!

What the blogosphere seems to be buzzing about this morning is newly-elected Senator Jim Webb's (D-Virginia , the sane part) eight minute response to the SOTU. (View it here) He's getting what can only be called "rave" reviews. I listened to it and thought it was done better than ANY Democratic response in recent memory. No doubt about it, Webb is a rising star in the Democratic Party.

I'm beginning to think that Rove simply wanted Bush to get out of the Chambers alive last night so he/they more or less "mailed it in".

Interesting side note to last night's speech.

While I was watching the coverage on MSNBC, Tom Brokaw was droning on and on being interrupted only by Tweety (Chris Mathews) making an occassional inane remark but the camera was following Bush out of the House Chambers...Bush was signing autographs on his way out...(The image of fans getting the autograph of the "aging Rockstar" who's on his last hurrah was almost overwhelming) but when Bush reached the hallway, there were a couple of Senators there to greet him and one of them was our own Russ Feingold. Here's a DUer account of what happened:

Once Bush had left the chamber, the MSNBC cameras caught him meeting and greeting Feingold.
They shook hands with Bush's left hand on the back of Feingold's shoulder.
Feingold then says something and gestures in the other direction with the rolled up piece of paper in his left hand, consisting of maybe 5-8 words.
Bush then says something very very snotty, and Feingold returns with something else, and escorts Bush along in the way he had been walking, with a brush of his hand to Bush's elbow.
Feingold then pivots and walks back in the other direction past the camera with a truly fiery pissed off look on his face.What was said? Any TiVo'ers able to get this and post it?

I saw the exchange and I didn't think is was that dramatic but apparently a number of other posters did. Nobody seems to have picked up on it as of this morning.

Anybody else see that? What did you think?

So what did you think of the speech?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Okay...for the "uninitiated" SOTU stands for State of the Union, which, of course is the title of the address that the President of the United States is required by The Constitution to deliver annaully to Congress. Strangely enough, The Constitution doesn't require that the State of the Union Message has to be a speech or delivered in person. Indeed, some Presidents simply sent a written message to Congress rather than appear personally before them but modern practice has been to make it a media event for the incumbent President to out outline his legislative agenda to the public and also use the support of his political party to demonstrate support to that agenda.

That's the way it traditionally works.....

But tonight is going to be a bit different.

Tonight, for the first time in his six years of office, George W. Bush will walk into a chamber that he does not control. His party has been soundly defeated in the midterm elections and as Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post put it:

After six years of striding onto the House floor like a conqueror, President Bush will arrive for Tuesday night's State of the Union Speech deeply unpopular and politically crippled.

and (snip):

The pomp of the State of the Union address and the deference given to Bush's office will prevent the night from turning into an outright rout.

But as a defensive measure, White House speechwriters are said to have crafted a speech that avoids the traditional laundry list of proposals and applause lines that would almost surely have fallen flat -- or even led to boos and groans -- given Bush's new circumstances.

Actually , I don't expect to see a "chastened" George W. Bush address Congress tonight. Nor do I agree with a lot of pundits who expect that the speech will be low-key, unconfrontational and, in a word,

Nope, I don't expect that at all. It's not George W. Bush's style.

I have to agree with the unnamed blogger who once characterized Bush's political tactics to those of a bar-room drunk who, challenges everybody in the bar to a fight and then, after he gets knocked to the floor, gets us and asks the person who just cleaned his clock, "Had Enough? Want Some More?" And that's what I expect to see tonight.

(prognostication is always dangerous, but what-the-hell, you only go 'round once, eh?)
I totally expect Bush to come out swinging tonight.
I expect he will attempt to justify the "surge" (escalation) once again, and try to a political/foreign pollicy "twofer" by blaming all the trouble in Iraq on Iran.
Glenn Greenwald over at Unclaimed Territory also expects something different, but is nonetheless concerned that villanization of Iran is a top proirity of the Bush Administration. He optomistically believes the National Media will apply more critiacal analysis to any claimes against Iran than they did against claims about Iraq. (There is also a very disturbing development in his update..may be worth an entire blog entry later today)
I am told by "experts" who have been briefed that Dubya will dedicate most of his speech to domestic issues and the early leaks indicate that he will come up with another off-the-wall health care proposal that will tax "expensive" health care programs. Here's a laundry list of his proposals on the "domestic" side.
Some other things to watch for:
Watch Nancy Pelosi tonight. She is going to be literally looking over Bush's shoulder. Historic Actually, first time EVER...the Doorman of the House of Representatives will announce (loudly)" MADAM SPEAKERRRRRRRRR! The President of the United States!"
Watch/listen to see if Bush does another "shout-out" to Lieberman. He seems quite fond of doing that. (Idoubt if he'll give another kiss although some have "recommended" itsnark, snark, snark)
on edit: Oh yeah, I forgot one more thing. Bush has used the SOTU in the past to take a little excursion into "crazy-land" (as Jon Stewert likes to call it.) Somewhere in the middle of his speech he'll come completely off the
"Mission to Mars"
"Animal-Human Hybrids"
Any guesses on what excursion into crazy-land he takes tonight?
Tune in tomorrow and see how many of these I got right. Comment....complain...chastise...whatever......

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh, Pullleeeeze! (crosspost)

Crossposted from woodcodems.....

I'm expected to take this seriously?


Frank Luntz, the man who taught Republicans how to lie so the public would believe them (he even wrote an instructional manual of words to use to "frame" the debate), is now offering advice to Democrats.

No, as he says, "Seriously".

Here's a small, small sample from his Huffington Post guest blog:


For two years the Republican Party was adrift in meaningless messaging to support meaningless reform - and have communicated absolutely nothing for the past three months. By comparison, the Democrat majority that took Congress in November was remarkably disciplined and effective in promoting change, reform, and accountability in the weeks following their historic election.

But alas, power does strange things to Democrats: put a gavel in their hands and a camera in their face and they revert to the name-calling that kept them from the majority for a dozen long years. Sure, it's easy to land rhetorical jabs on a staggering opponent - but that doesn't make it effective. The message from the electorate in November was 'work together and compromise.' You need only look at the incumbent governor of California who won a lopsided landslide in an otherwise Democratic sweep. Cooperation works. Compromise wins. But over-heated rhetoric says to the world that you are no different - and no better - than what you replaced.

If there's anything at all to admire about Luntz, it's that he's well-educated, absolutely brilliant in the arts of linguistics and propaganda. This post is a masterpiece of his works.

Remember a week or two ago I referenced a post from Digby that confirmed what I had suspected since the election. That post said that the well-coordinated message coming out of the great Republican Wurlitzer was that the elections wasn't about Republican Corruption, Rejection of George W. Bush, or even a repudiation of the war in was none of these, the Novemeber election (and subsequent Democratic Party landslide) was ALL ABOUT it?

In the Huffington post blog, Luntz "kindly reminds" Democrats of this (even if it isn't true) and then goes on to point out case after case where Democrats behaved "badly" or in a partisan manner. He skillfully draws parallels that aren't there to make stir the image, again to FRAME the topic in an unacceptable posture so you will think that the Democrats are just one vote shy of murdering our own troops.

Look a this snip and pay attention to the high-lighted sections.

"...The list goes on. Speaker Pelosi callously suggesting that President Bush is moving quickly to "put troops in harms way" is a short jump away from suggesting that the President is deliberately trying to get our soldiers killed. Likewise, Senator Kennedy saying that U.S. troops are like "police officers in a shooting gallery" smacks of sound-bite flippancy and expediency of the worst kind. We need an intelligent debate, not a sound-bite contest."

It is "a short jump away from suggesting that the President is deliberately trying to get our soldier killed." only because Frank Luntz has now told us it is so. It is a tool of his trade to place the thought in the mind; to paint an indulible image with his words to that perceptions are created and imprinted on the mind. He is doing so masterfully and under the guise of offering "serious" advice to the Democratic Party.

I also high-lighted "We need an intelligent debate, not a sound-bite contest." because the irony is so rich. Here is the man who taught Newt Gingrich and his jolly band of pirates to talk in soundbites who is now telling us we need an "intelligent debate".

I'm sorry Frank. I don't believe you.

Your faux centrist crap may be swallowed hook, line and sinker by some but as for me, I "ain't buying it".

The real message of November was "We're Mad As Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Anymore".

Democrats need to learn that message and act on it. Fix what has been broken in the last 12 years by the Republican kleptocracy and especially what George W. Bush has broken on the last 6 years. Put an end to the corruption and bring the law-breakers to the justice they so richly deserve.

One of my first political mentors chided me because I was trying to be "politic" in my approach and he hit me with the old, political maxim, "The Only thing you find in the middle of the road is yellow stripes and dead skunks!"

He was right of course. If you stay in the middle of the road, you're a coward and you're likely to get run over by those who actually have principles......Democrats must follow the words of Shakespeare's McBeth,

Lay on, McDuff! And damned be he who first cries, Hold! Enough!

I'm back....

I've been posting quite a bit on the "other" site but I think I may need to duplicate the posts over here for a while, and, maybe even make this the primary site because it is mostly my opinion as opposed to "official" party policy.

I'm quite proud of some of my most recent posts so I'm going to post links to them here.

About those "whimpy liberals:

Some perspective on the Iraq War:

Beyond Escalation?