February 28, 2005

Fun with Cheney

Found a fun little tidbit from Yglesias tonight:

Bush is going to start suffering from crippling case of lame duck syndrome very soon unless he can at least implicitly designate a successor. You can't keep your ducks in a row if the only thing the ducks no for sure is that you won't be leading the pack for very long. Things will only get worse if various White House aides start peeling off to go work for rival primary candidates. Bush needs a successor and, realistically, Cheney is the only viable option.

While I agree that Bush does need a successor, I couldn't dream of Dick Cheney getting the Republican nomination for President. The bottom line is personality. Bush gets away with all kinds of crap with the American people because he is likeable, sunny kind of guy. Dick Cheney is not likeable. Even the most blatant GOP spinner will never try to portray Cheney as having any kind of personality worth having. Trying to sell the Bush years in 2008 with a Cheney snarl and not a Bush grin will be a train wreck. Which hopefully means a "crippling case of lame duck syndrome" will be coming soon.

Quote of the Day

Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on ‘em and I’ll make one pass. We won’t have to worry about Syria anymore.

Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas)

Bloody Monday

Things are not getting better.

In the deadliest single insurgent attack of the Iraq war, a suicide car bombing killed 125 people Monday in Hilla where police recruits were waiting to get physicals, Iraqi government and health officials said.

February 27, 2005

Link, Don't Write

Got to go watch some Oscars so be content with Suburban Nomad taking shots at tax funded abstinence programs. Matt Yglesias calling for no retreat, no surrender on SS. And a really long, really good bigthink post from the Decembrist. I link, therefore I blog.

February 26, 2005

Bush Saves Souls, Not SS

Great stuff from Salon on the "Bait and Switch" that Bush has pulled on Religious Conservatives. The poor suckers thought they were saving the soul of the country but:

But there's another reason red-state voters may be upset about the Social Security plan: It isn't what they thought they were pushing for when they joined Team Bush. Among social conservatives, the popular explanation for Bush's handy victory in November is "moral values": Bush didn't win because people appreciated his plan on Social Security but because he stoked the passions of the pious and the prudish with his call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. While that theory has been pretty well shot down by people outside the religious right (foreign policy and economic issues, most analysts say, were probably more important to voters than moral-values issues), the conservative movement's leading lights still maintain that Bush won only because religious people put him in office. Some of these leaders don't seem pleased that the president is now spending his political capital on Social Security reform rather than on a crusade to reform the American soul.

If Social Security goes away it will absolutely hammer all those lower-middle-class church goers that put Bush into office. The question is will they take that, just to keep the Gays from getting married? My guess is a wave of elderly poverty will put two guys kissing in perspective:

The disaster could come when social conservatives, people who've been duped into voting for the GOP on the assumption that it was the party of morals (rather than of money), might finally see the truth. If, as some economists predict, Social Security privatization goes badly for working people, with traditional benefits cut and stock market gains diminutive, wouldn't family-values voters realize that the Republican Party has diminished the value of their checking accounts? Couldn't Republicans possibly lose some elections over it?

Of course, I rather not have the SS reform pass in order to get some Dem gains. A failed attempt to end SS can be used to beat the Republicans about the face and neck just as well.

February 25, 2005

ER in Iraq

Half of last night's ER episode took place in Iraq. One of our dashing young doctors is serving duty in an Iraq field hospital. This is something we really need to see. We can't let people forget what is happening in Iraq. Over 14 million households watch ER. Today 3 U.S. soldiers died in a roadside bomb along with 4 Iraq civilians, including a little girl. That's just a headline. What did it look like? What did it feel like? Sometimes fiction can be better than news ER is drama. A fictional recreation can have emotional impact the nightly news just can't do. If it were up to me the only way war would ever be depicted would be from the hospitals. Then we would fall out of love with war real fast.

More Good Gunner Palace buzz at Intel Dump.

February 24, 2005

Blogging Around

Blogging Around. Even the UN has a blog now. Sound bites as rap. Really I got nothing today. What's new with you?

February 23, 2005

Off Message

At a Rick Santorum SS town hall:

Before the event, Philly DFA began chanting "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Rick Santorum has got to go!" Local college Republicans, who are just about the only Republicans in West Philly, responded with a chant that beautifully was captured live by CNN: "hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!" I love it when the other side does your campaigning for you!

The college Republicans did get the memo on Social Security. Bush is about reform, not destruction. Kids these days.

UPDATE: We got Video.

February 22, 2005

Quote of the Night

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

Hunter S. Thompson

Let Hear it for Objective Reality!

I knew there was a reason I put TNR on my perma-links. Jonathan Chait has a real gem up. You have to love a article that start like this:

Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy.

I really am a nerd for likely this stuff.

We're accustomed to thinking of liberalism and conservatism as parallel ideologies, with conservatives preferring less government and liberals preferring more. The equivalency breaks down, though, when you consider that liberals never claim that increasing the size of government is an end in itself. Liberals only support larger government if they have some reason to believe that it will lead to material improvement in people's lives. Conservatives also want material improvement in people's lives, of course, but proving that their policies can produce such an outcome is a luxury, not a necessity.

Liberals are practical people. I don't want to regulate the market for golf clubs because that wouldn't help anything. I do want to regulate health care because...Well you tell them Jonathan:

Consider the conservative view of health care. Conservatives repeat the mantra that the United States has "the best health care system in the world"--a formulation used endlessly by President Bush. That isn't true by almost any objective measure. The United States devotes a far higher share of its economy to health care than any other country. Yet, according to the most recent World Health Organization study, the United States ranks just 37th in overall health care performance. These massive inefficiencies derive in part from our huge numbers of uninsured. The uninsured end up forgoing treatment until they arrive at the emergency room. Basic preventive care, of the sort universally available in every other advanced country, would avert such disasters--at less cost to the economy and with less suffering and fatality for patients.

Government intervention can lead to positive results. There I've said it. Prove me wrong. Oh wait, it doesn't matter what the facts are, that's the whole point of modern conservatism.

The New Republic. If I had money I would subscribe to this magazine.

Let them eat pommes frites

President Bush's platitude-filled foreign policy adjustment towards Europe this week came with a plate of Texas-style diplomacy:

After the lobster risotto with truffle sauce and alongside the filet of beef with bordelaise sauce was a side dish of potatoes. Mr. Bush announced that they were "French fries," one participant said. No longer would thin slices of potatoes cooked in oil be "freedom fries."

May I just say "wow". Could it be that the NY Times has identified an event of the same level of significance and subtlety as Nixon's sending an official American Ping-Pong team to mainland China? Could it be that Mr. Bush's hamhanded words actually indicate a shift in American politics towards the Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys?

Or could it be that there was nothing substantial suggested with respect to policy changes in Bush's "warming of relations with Europe"? And instead they had to report on his dinner menu.

February 21, 2005

Gunner Palace

Let's see if we can't generate a little movie buzz. The movie in question is Gunner Palace, it opens March 4th and is in serious need of buzz. It's a documentary on U.S. soldiers based in an old palace of Saddams. Go watch the Trailer. Then tell your friends. Regardless of where you stand on the war this is something you need to see. We all need to see it. The Washington Note has seen it:

Michael Tucker, the Director, has an interesting product in this film because I'm convinced that while he is giving his viewers insights into the realities of soldiers who are on the front-line patrolling nasty Baghdad neighborhoods, those who see this film will see their biases reinforced. With my head wired to be a pro-Bush, pro-war American, I saw brave soldiers doing what needed to be done for an idealism worth dying for (and some of them did indeed die).

But as someone opposed to this war from the beginning, I saw a clash of cultures and objectives that was never going to be softened and an enormous chasm between troops who were heavy in armour and guns and the Iraqi population heavy in complexity, religion, and opaque social norms. I felt terrible for some of the Iraqis in this film whose homes were destroyed when the soldiers had to break in -- but you could see in their eyes a powerful sense of disdain for the Americans and a confidence that the Iraqis, no matter what their plight, would be there long after the Americans were gone.

Hunter S Thompson

My tribute to Hunter S Thompson is this: Because I read Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail and Better Than Sex, I will never have to take any serious drugs because I learned all I needed to know from those books. There was some politics in those books too, but realy it was all about the mind of Thompson. I had a creative writing Professor during my undergrad who I hated. He said writers had to write to get thoughts out of their heads or else they are going to kill themselves. I'm afraid he might be right.

February 19, 2005


CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference, the greatest consentration of Right-Wing nutty you can find outside of...nowhere. It's the gift that just keeps on giving:

It's a good thing I went to the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Otherwise I never would have known that, despite the findings of the authoritative David Kay report and every reputable media outlet on earth, the United States actually discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, vindicating all of George W. Bush's pre-war predictions. The revelation came not from some crank at Free Republic or hustler from Talon News, but from a congressman surrounded by men from the highest echelons of American government. No wonder the attendees all seemed to believe him.

Go read and know who is in change. Then worry. A lot.

February 18, 2005

Chant Supreme

Chief Justice Rehnquist will not be on the bench when the Supreme Court opens:

The 80-year-old Rehnquist, battling thyroid cancer, plans to skip the two-week cycle of oral arguments that starts Tuesday, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. He will continue reading transcripts of the arguments and voting on decisions, she said.

Rehnquist has been working mainly from home since Oct. 22, when he was hospitalized and then underwent a tracheotomy to help him breathe. He made his first public appearance last month at the presidential inauguration, appearing fragile as he delivered the oath of office.

Supreme Court nomination fight coming up next.

In other Supreme Court news, the Nebraska Supreme Court has spared the life of a dog:

The state Supreme Court granted clemency Friday to a dog sentenced to death for fighting with a neighbor's pet.
The high court ruled unanimously that Murphy, an Alaskan malamute-shepherd mix belonging to Doug and Lorele Dittoe, should not be killed for causing "relatively minor injury" to the other dog after slipping out of the couple's fenced-in yard in 2001.

Murphy had been deemed dangerous by the county sheriff, and a judge ordered her destroyed.

A great victory for anti-dog death penalty activists everywhere. I know there are some somewhere. Oh, here they are.

February 17, 2005

John Negroponte

President Bush nominated John Negroponte to be national intelligence director which is a new post to oversee all of US intelligence that was created in the wake of the 9/11 commission report. All you need to know is this article from TNR. Not a nice man:

Midway through a foreign service career that began in the mid-'60s in Vietnam and continued through a stint in Mexico in the '90s, Negroponte served as ambassador to Honduras. It was the early '80s, and the Honduran government was killing and "disappearing" political opponents by the dozens. Most close observers, including some who served within the U.S. embassy, insist America knew about the abuses. And they accuse Negroponte of turning a blind eye. Says one human rights lawyer, "A guy like that is not going to be a very credible spokesperson for American principles on human rights."

Keep in mind this guy has been U.N. Ambassador, Ambassador to Iraq and now Grand Spy Master. Bush can pick them.

February 15, 2005

Era of Big Government

Over at NewDonkey I came across this brilliant point:

A big, fat federal government that tries to do too much is arguably a bad thing. But a big, fat federal government that fails to meet all the big national challenges, and hardly does anything well, is far, far worse. And the trajectory of Washington in the Age of Bush is the worst possibility of all: a big, fat government that hardly does anything other than paying off debt and serving the interests of the nation's wealthiest and most powerful citizens.

For all the Republican rhetoric about the size of government Bush has grown government massively in his term. But it is growth that doesn't get anything done. Please see the missile defense test in the last post. The whole Bush approach to government can be summed up in that damn missile test.

Another Day...

Another failed ballistic missile shield test:

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said it could not complete the planned $85 million repeat of a failed December test after the interceptor missile failed to launch from its base in the Pacific Ocean.


But the failure to launch clearly spelled more bad news for a program that failed to meet the Bush administration's goal of declaring the system operational by the end of 2004.

Why not just declare the thing operational anyway? It not like these guys work based on the truth. Just say have a super missile defense "laser" and stop spending the money. Why spend 85 million a test for no protection when you can just lie and not spend the money for the same amount of protection.

February 14, 2005

Die Middleman Die

Check this out via DailyKos:

Jazz composer Maria Schneider took home a Grammy on Sunday for her album "Concert in the Garden," without selling a single copy in a record store.

Schneider, 44, financed her Grammy-winning album through a Internet-based music delivery service called ArtistShare that opens the financing of production to dedicated fans.

No more middlemen! Grammy award with no record lable. No record stores. If you're in the middleman buisness get out now. Your days are numbered.

February 13, 2005

Dust Settles

So a week later and we have some details of the outcome. The religious Shia (United Iraqi Alliance) seem to have won big. Not being as a skilled election analysis when it comes to Iraq, I will rely on Juan Cole's Informed Comment. Most notable (besides the communists picking up a couple seats) is the following:

The system is set up so that a two-thirds majority is necessary to form a government. The United Iraqi Alliance needs to pick up 18 percent or about 50 seats to go forward. The easy place to get those 50 seats is from the Kurds, who have 70 or so. This step will require that substantial concessions be made to the Kurds, who want the presidency, a redrawing of the provincial map of Iraq to create a united Kurdistan province, and substantial provincial autonomy or "states rights."

If this ends up happening we could some really bad results - The Shia get hardline Islamic law and the Kurds get Semi-independence. Which means a not-very-free-Iraq and regional war as Turkey jumps in to prevent their Kurds from joining up with Iraqi Kurds. Wait and see, wait and see.

February 12, 2005


Great Stuff in TPM on the stakes involved with the Social Security debate. The most interesting point - the stakes are gigantic for both the White House and democrat's in general. Republicans in Congress, however:

They've got a good thing going -- seemingly durable majorities, K Street disciplined and incorporated into the DeLay Machine. Sure, many Republicans, all things being equal, believe in privatization. But if it happens it'll be the president's victory, not theirs. It won't expand their majorities or bring them campaign cash they don't already get. A win on this issue, in the most hardboiled terms, is really pretty much a wash. There's just not much in it for them.

Losing, on the other hand, all comes out of their hide. Though a defeated president might be weakened, he'd still be president. Some of them would be out of a job. Their very majorities could be in danger.

A few years ago the congressional Republicans may have had enough ideological fire to yearn for this fight and run the risk. But no more.

The President is playing for the history books. Tom Delay not so much. It's been noted in many places that the Congressional Republicans are in desperate need some Dems to sign on for political cover. Cutting SS could really hurt come 2006. That's why TPM has be doing such good work on finding out where the Dems stand. Where does your Congresscriter stand?

February 11, 2005

Here Comes the Weekend

All the news that's fit to link to

Great stuff about a fake report that the WH let into briefings and Bush's news conference on AmericaBlog and Salon.

Arthur Miller, whose achievements include Death of a Salesman(written in six weeks), The Crucible (My favorite) and Marilyn Monroe (Really my favorite) has died.

Dean is The Man once more.

Poll Show Drop in Bush's Job Approval. A little late there, American People.

February 10, 2005

Oh Crap

Today's Oh Crap moment brought to you by the Government of North Korea which today announced that it has nuclear weapons. They also decided to walk out of disarmament talks for good measure. So we will not tolerate Saddam Hussein even thinking about trying to start getting nukes, but North Korea shouts to the world it has them and:

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on North Korea to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the talks or risk further isolation.

Rice said the North Koreans, by leaving negotiations, would be "deepening their isolation because everyone in the international community, and most especially North Korea's neighbors, have been very clear that there needs to be no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula in order to maintain stability in that region."

"Risk further isolation" What? A member of the Axis of Evil says it has nukes and Rice says that the most isolated Nation in the world might be further isolated? OOOO big talker.

February 9, 2005


I would like to say that the Knight-Ridder newservice is doing some great reporting and I'm not just saying that because a Knight-Ridder paper featured me in a story about blogs and politics. I also find stories like this from them:

The explosion brought Iraqi deaths from insurgent attacks in a 48-hour period to about 50, and rattled the sense of well-being that came after national elections Jan. 30. Many Iraqis had hoped that the enthusiastic election turnout would blunt the insurgency.

But with violence having picked up again, U.S. and Iraqi officials are trying to puzzle out whether the voting had any significant effect.

Election did not solve the problem. Knight-Ridder also did some great work on how Iraq took the White House and the Media for a ride on WMD. The rest of the media should take notes. Yes I'm talking to you Brain Williams.

February 8, 2005

Babe = Hits

To the surprise of absolutely no one the GoDaddy.com Superbowl commercial featuring a hot babe in a shirt barely big enough to fit the Godaddy logo was a wild success:

The company had 140,000 visitors Feb. 6, compared to a normal Sunday rate of about 30,000.

On Monday, amid news reports that Fox, the Super Bowl broadcaster, had yanked a second planned commercial after National Football League officials complained, traffic rose more than 250 percent above normal levels. GoDaddy.com Typically gets 160,000 visitors on any given Monday. Yesterday it drew 590,000 visitors.

In other news, the Craigorian Chant public relations department is looking for a hot babe to wear a Craigorian Chant T-Shirt. The good news is that CraigorianChant.blogspot.com is much longer than GoDaddy.com so the shirt will be larger. The bad news is the Chant's public relations budget doesn't have the money for a T.V. spot. If we pass the hat around the office we might have enough for the T-Shirt.

What are We Fighting For?

In this week's Time Charles Krauthammer, the Neo-Con I love to hate, does his best to hype the Iraqi elections. It all builds up to this:

We would never have invaded Iraq to depose Saddam without 9/11. After 9/11, we finally understood that helping build decent, representative, tolerant societies in the Middle East is ultimately the only way to prevent endless generations of young Arab men from finding fulfillment by crashing airplanes into buildings filled with infidels. Europe has a similar interest, having suffered, with the train bombings in Madrid, the kind of fanatic nihilism that visited the Twin Towers.

First I would like to point out the complete absence of WMD both from Iraq and from Krauthammer's column. We invaded Iraq because of WMD. Don't forget that.

But the real heart of Krauthammer's argument is that to prevent more 9/11 and Madrid style attacks we must dispose of dictatorships and create democracy in the Arab World. There is just one small problem: America props up dictatorships in the Middle East. The dictatorships that produced the 9/11 hijackers - Egypt and Saudi Arabia are major U.S. allies that receive massive military aid. We keep these dictators in place and everyone, except maybe Krauthammer, knows that. The same people who want to throw down the Saudi Princes want to throw down the U.S. because we support the Saudi Princes.

Finally we are not creating a "decent, representative, tolerant society" in Iraq. We are creating a theocracy:

In Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, where one of Ayatollah Sistani's closest aides has enormous influence, Shiite religious parties have been transforming the city into an Islamic fief since the toppling of Mr. Hussein. Militias have driven alcohol sellers off the streets. Women are harassed if they walk the streets in anything less than head-to-toe black. Conservative judges are invoking Shariah in some courts.

Is that what we are fighting and being killed for?

February 7, 2005

Hard to Please

Man you people are just harsh:

A year after the FCC logged more than 500,000 complaints over Jackson's exposed breast at the Super Bowl halftime show, the governmental watchdog had received exactly two complaints by Monday afternoon over McCartney's fully clothed set.

In both cases, viewers complained of being "bored" by McCartney's 12-minute, four-song showcase of Beatles and Wings classics, including "Hey, Jude," FCC spokeswoman Rosemary Kimball said Monday.


My favorite definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Which brings up to David Kay, weapons inspector on Iran:

There is an eerie similarity to the events preceding the Iraq war.

Here we go again. Madness.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran would be a grave danger to the world. That is not what is in doubt. What is in doubt is the ability to the U.S. government to honestly assess Iran's nuclear status and to craft a set of measures that will cope with that threat short of military action by the United States or Israel.

February 6, 2005

Things that make you go Wha?

Um, Yeah, Patriots? I never doubted you for a minute? Yeah, um, Boston? New England? Anyway, I kind of wonder what some of those ads were selling. What was MC Hammer selling anyway? I would like to say that I recently registered a domain with Godaddy.com and it was fast and easy. They were also one of the few to use breasts to try and sell themselves, which counts for courage in these troubled times. The funniest ad in my opinion is the "let me try and explain" scene with red sauce, a cat and a big knife. Burt Renolds getting kicked in the groin never gets old, but can anybody tell me what they were trying to sell?

The World Is Not Black and White

Max Schmeling died this week at 99. Schmeling is best known for first beating and then being beaten by Joe Louis in the "The undercard of World War II." Between the two fights Schmeling briefly became a Nazi poster boy and his 124 second defeat was the closest thing to a real setback that the Fascists got in the 1930's. But here's the thing: Max Schmeling was no Nazi. He had a Jewish promoter and during Kristallnacht he hid two Jewish kids in his hotel room. He was just a man, doing as best he could. So the next time someone tells you that something is simple remember Max Schmeling and know that it isn't that simple.

P.S. Go read the NY Times obit. Much better version of the story.

February 4, 2005


Can't stop beating Bush on SS here and here and here.

Dean on a role for DNC Chair.

N.Y. Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Struck Down.

February 3, 2005

Screw Your Grandchildren Act

Must Read from Slate:

His plan would allow the current generation of retirees and near-retirees to keep the current system, the one where they receive far more money than they put in during their lifetimes, while requiring the next generation to subsist on their own earnings for retirement. This isn't the equivalent of parents saving for Johnny's 529 plan. This is Mom and Dad asking Johnny to invest part of his allowance so that they won't have to bother with paying for college. You could call Bush's idea the Screw Your Grandchildren Act.

This is act the Joe Lieberman clapped for and Olympia Snow did not. Clapping is one thing, but how will they vote?

February 2, 2005


I really should take this opportunity to preview the upcoming State of the Union and the Superbowl, but my heart just isn't in it. These are both big shows that my guys didn't make it to. I have to pick New England mainly cause Terrell Owens is an ass and I don't want him to be an ass with a big fat ring. I'm not really sure what I should be hoping for from the SOU. A stumble? A formulation of social security reform that is doomed to failure? Does anybody have any hopes from Bush?

February 1, 2005

Freedom, Dictators and Kings

Is freedom on the march? Besides Iraq:

Unless there is a major change in course, Iraq is on track to become another corrupt, oil-rich quasi-democracy, like Russia and Nigeria.

What about the rest of the world? Well, U.S. Ally Egypt just arrested a pro-democracy dissident. Read Tapped for the thunderous non-response from the Bush administration.

Also, the King of Nepal is making a grab for power, dismissing his Prime Minister and ruling directly. A freaking King? Kings are a particularly worthless form of dictator. They don't even have the ruthless competence of your average despot, after all most dictators have to sieze power. All a King has to do is pick the right family to be born into. I say we take him out. What's that you say? Too hard? No exit strategy? You want to the poor people of Nepal to be ruled by a King? I guess you want to bring back King George III in Amerca, don't you? Anti-American scum!