April 29, 2006

Quack Quack


I'm off to attend the Great Sutter Creek Duck Race. Tons of fun.

Stay Cool this Weekend.

April 28, 2006

Member of Congress

Ah, it always gets down to sex, doesn't it?

According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Mr. Wade told investigators that Mr. Cunningham periodically phoned him to request a prostitute, and that Mr. Wade then helped to arrange for one. A limousine driver then picked up the prostitute as well as Mr. Cunningham, and drove them to one of [two] hotel suites, originally at the Watergate Hotel, and subsequently at the Westin Grand.
...
[I]nvestigators are focusing on whether any other members of Congress, or their staffs, may also have used the same free services, though it isn't clear whether investigators have turned up anything to implicate others.


Naturally the Watergate hotel is going to be involved. It's a karmic magnate for scandal.

April 26, 2006

Iraq and Darfur

Interesting debate on Darfur and Iraq and Liberal Hawks. First up Lawrence Kaplan, TNR resident Super-Hawk, arguing that only US military intervention can stop the Genocide in Darfur, and that liberal-not-hawks who call for withdrawal from Iraq and intervention in Darfur are hypocrites and whatnot. Enter Mark Leon Goldberg with a response, basically that there are several options to help in Darfur short of the all-out invasion that Kaplan is so fond of, and that Liberal-Hawks shouldn't try and regain the reputation that they lost in Iraq in Darfur.

I myself am pretty sympathetic to liberal hawk ideas, if not Lawrence Kaplan's rather harsh version. My formative years thinking about foreign policy were the 1990's when the debates were about stopping genocide in places like Rwanda and the Balkans. I am very sympathetic to The New Republic's project to reconcile liberals and the use of military force. The point that Michael Moore always looses me in his movies and books is when he veers into a kind of shrieking pacifism where no US military power is ever good and all we can do with the next humanitarian disaster is watch.

That said, Liberal-Hawkery took a real hit by backing the Iraq invasion. There was a case to made for humanitarian intervention in Iraq. But that wasn't Bush's case. His case was for a preventive war to stop a weapon's program that didn't exist. After the fact Bush has claimed it was all for Democracy and puppies, but that wasn't the case going in. On top of that, the Bush administration has made a complete hash of Iraq, whatever the justification for war.

Liberal Hawks are going to need to distance themselves from the Iraq disaster or else they will never convince the left (or the Country) of the need to act in places like Darfur. The fact that Iraq is making it so much harder to help Darfur is just one more sin to lay at the feet of the Bush Administration.

Fun In the Snow

It was rumor and now its fact: Bush has tapped Tony Snow, Fox News "personality" to be his Press secretary. Now the fact that someone can move directly from the studios of Foxnews to become the primary spokesman for the President pretty much writes the jokes themselves. (John Dickerson: He should get back pay! Neil Gabler: Same work, different job title!)

This is going to create a whole new dynamic. The White House press corp is a ravenous best regardless of Administration. Now faced with a Press secretary with a celebrity of his own, the confrontation will be epic. The morning press briefing was already getting pretty famous. Poor Scotty would just get eaten daily. The poor guy just couldn't lie effectively. But Tony Snow is an A grade liar, um effective spokesperson and advocate. He is very, very smooth on TV. The press corp will just be aching to take him down a notch. There are a ton of issues in play. Get the popcorn.

April 25, 2006

Victory Lap

Ok, so the King of Nepal has now agreed to reinstate parliament. The street protests have now become street parties. Its not like all the problems of the County are solved. There's a Maoist insurgency that refuses to stand down, and the County is still in desperate need of an economy, but still. Time to take the win.

Threshold

I just paid 3 bucks a gallon for gas. My problem is that I always wait too long to fill up my tank and am never able to look around for the cheap station. I was having some fun with this site to try and find cheap gas near Craigorian Chant World Headquarters. Of course, most of the time, this is only going to be useful once I get a car with wi-fi and a heads-up internet display. Or how about a car where I can just ask "KITT can you find me some cheap gas?"

I would also recommend this Billmon post on politics and gas prices and oil and foreign policy.

April 24, 2006

32%

Look at the person to your left. Look at the person to your right. Only one of you still approves of the job the President is doing.

Play the Game

A few weeks back Michael Kinsley wrote the following:

When the United States should use its military strength to achieve worthy goals abroad is an important question. But based on this record, it seems a bit theoretical. It's like asking whether Donald Trump should use his superpowers to cure AIDS. Or what George W. Bush should say when he wins the Nobel Prize in physics. A more pressing question is: Can't anyone here play this game?

I was thinking about this with last night's episode of West Wing. Turns out the fictional President and President-Elect were playing the geo-political equivalent of Good Cop/Bad Cop to deal with the (fictional) confrontation between Russia and China in Central Asia. Very clever stuff. There are lot of theories and ideas about when and where and how US strength gets used abroad. But none of those ideas matter if you can't play the game. Which brings us to Bush and Iran. I could make the case, backed up by lots of international relations theory, that the best play would be some US saber-rattling combined with a strong diplomatic effort to stop Iran's nuke program. Only it's become very clear that the Bush administration can't play the game. The same course of action could have been followed in Iraq. Bush threatened Iraq. The weapon inspectors were allowed back in the county. Saddam was backing down. But instead of taking the win, Bush blundered into war. The same thing could easily happen again in Iran, with even worse fallout than before. Bush comes up the brilliant move of "limited" airstrikes agaist Iran and triggers a wider regional conflict. The debate on US power is just going to have to wait till we someone in office who can play the game. Till then we are in damage control.

April 23, 2006

Time for a Rave Review

The deserving flick is Brick. The movie that has restored my faith in the movies, after a long, cold season. The concept is classic hard-boiled film noir, set in that more dangerous of places, high school. It sounds a little off at first, but once you get in it, who makes a better femme fatal than the head cheerleader?

The hero of Brick, Brendan Frye, is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who you will not recognize as the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun. He may not look like much, but the ice-cool blood of Sam Spade runs through his veins. This is a guy who will face down a pack of stoners with the line

"You wanna take a swing at me, hash-head? Huh? I got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you."

You wish you were this cool in high school. You will not be able to look away as he tears through the clicks of his school, in a quest to out the people behind the murder of his ex-girlfriend and the people behind them. Like any good noir hero, he will beat-on and be beaten-on, and talk to lovely women who aren’t to be trusted. And the talking is great. This movie has it own slang, some of which I've heard before like "Duck Soup" for easy and "gat" for gun but also some stuff I think the film invented like "scape" for patsy (i.e. scapegoat) and "heel" for walking away. They hand out a little glossary on your way into the theater, just to help you keep up. There are also exchanges like this between the Brendan and Ass. VP Gary Trueman, who plays the flat-foot to Brendan's gumshoe:

Assistant VP Gary Trueman: You've helped this office out before.
Brendan Frye: No, I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.
Trueman: Fine. And very well put.
Brendan: Accelerated English, Mrs. Kasprzyk.
Trueman: Tough teacher?
Brendan: Tough but fair.


Great stuff. Go see it if you can.

April 22, 2006

Covered

With one easy link I can cover politics, movies and my Earth Day blogging obligations. I present to you Al Gore's upcoming movie about climate change An Inconvenient Truth. The trailer alone is enough to scare the crap out of you. Go forth and try not to produce too many greenhouse gases.

April 20, 2006

Now We are Getting Somewhere

Movement in Nepal as the King has agreed to give up absolute power:

Under pressure to act quickly, King Gyanendra of Nepal told his nation Friday that he would return executive power "to the people from this day forward."

His renunciation of absolute power came in answer to the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets around the capital, Kathmandu, to demand he restore democracy.

Gyanendra called upon the striking seven-party alliance to suggest the name of a prime minister candidate.

It was not immediately clear whether his announcement would satisfy his political opponents.

Earlier, the U.S. ambassador to Nepal on Friday warned that King Gyanendra "will lose his kingdom," if he doesn't quickly end political crisis.

"His time is running out," Ambassador James Moriarty said in an interview with reporters. "Ultimately the king will have to leave if he doesn't compromise. And by 'ultimately' I mean sooner rather than later."


Now the details have not yet come out and the Country has a list of problems longer than my arm, but it good to see something happening.

UPDATE: This blog from Nepal seems very unimpressed with the Kings speech.

Public Service

An official Craigorian Chant seal of approval for Matthew Yglesias, who has done a tremendous service and put together the best written, most to-the-point argument against going to war with Iran I have yet to see. Go read it. Print it out and keep it on hand. In the dark days to come, it will be used often.

April 19, 2006

Shaky

We are now officially in the middle of a White House Shake-Up. The next to go is WH Press secretary Scott McClellan. (That's CJ's Job for the first 5 seasons of West Wing for those of you who need the pop culture reference)

McClellan has been done for a while now. His reputation never recovered after he swore up and down that Rove and Scooter had nothing to do with the CIA leak case when, in fact, they were neck deep in it.

Speaking of Karl Rover, he's still in the White House but has been subject to a meaningless loss of title. He is no longer 'policy coordinator.' He will still head up the WH political operation, so don't worry, the puppet master will still hold the strings.

Fixing Old Trama Through Cable News

Jack Shafer, media critic for slate, finally captures what is so compelling about the Olbermann-O'Reilly feud:

As if set on an elementary-school playground, the Olbermann-O'Reilly feud sets the sassy class wit against the bruising class bully. Nicholas Lemann's recent piece in The New Yorker pegs O'Reilly's height at 6-foot-4, and the big mook probably weighs in excess of 225 pounds. Often when interviewing guests in the studio, O'Reilly leans into them from across his table, squinting like Clint Eastwood and finger-jabbing in the direction of their chests as if his next move might be a punch or a thrown brick. He browbeats, accuses, dismisses, and intimidates like a young ruffian.

Olbermann is big, too, bragging about his size 14 feet on the air. But it's his wit and his eyes, not the threat of a sucker punch, that do the damage. Cutdown artist supreme, he has said of nemesis O'Reilly, "If he didn't do personal attacks he would be a mime."
...
In O'Reilly, Olbermann finds the perfect target of his sarcasm and sadism: somebody bigger and more powerful; somebody who takes his bait and runs every time he casts a line; but also somebody who can't fire him or make him miserable enough to quit. That O'Reilly and Olbermann compete in the same time slot is pure gravy for Olbermann. That his ratings are up in recent months is a maraschino cheery on top of the gravy.


Who doesn't want to see the bully taken down? Its a basic need that I aquired sometime in Junior High. Why shouldn't my news-watching help heal old pains? Shows that do more than inform, they heal.

April 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

[The event] "injected enormous excitement into the Roulstone campaign. It brings total cache to the campaign. He really fires everyone up and this will be a shot in the arm. This is my upset special for a Republican taking out a Democratic member of our delegation."

State Republican Chairwoman Diane Tebelius, remarking upon a campaign visit by Dick Cheney.

Prizeworthy

The Pulitzer prizes were handed out yesterday, those of the top awards for newspaper people. I would note that the staff of the San Diego Union-Tribune got one for the reporting that uncovered the corruption of Rep. Duke Cunningham. So I would urge the Sacramento Bee to get off its butt and start getting into this John Doolittle thing. We all know he's dirty, fabulous prizes await those who prove it. Ok, looks like they are on it.

Turns out there is a Pulitzer for commentary. Commentary! That's a prize I can win. I comment on stuff every day. Reporting is hard, but commentary I can do. This year the prize went to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. He got the prize based on his writing about the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Turns out he didn't just sit back and comment, he did a lot of original reporting and traveled to the region many times.

Anybody want to pitch in and help send me to Nepal? There is some serious stuff going down there. My Pulitzer awaits.

April 17, 2006

Tax Day

To the surprise of absolutely no one, I have taken my full allotted time to pay my taxes. The deadline is midnight tonight, I figure I should have everything done by by about 11:47 or so. Seriously, I'm all done, I mailed mine off just now. Because I'm a political nerd, I turned on CSPAN. A bunch of anti-tax groups were doing their yearly whine about taxes. It's kind of soothing to have that on in the background when you are working on a tax worksheet that gives you back the same number you started with after seven steps. Today is the day to complain about taxes. Tuesday we will go back to using all the things that taxes pay for. The roads, the cops, the schools, the stuff I do for my day job, whatever it is that Tyler does for his day job and so on. So, today complain about the costs and tomorrow resume reaping the benefits.

April 16, 2006

Instant West Wing Feedback

It's like those DVD commentary tracks, only written. And much shorter. And not done by someone who had anything to do with the creation of the West Wing.

They did right by Leo tonight.

I've made my peace with the show ending, I think that they are doing it at the right time, but when Santos offered Amy Gardner a job in the new administration, I had a moment of real sadness that I wouldn't be able to watch a new season in that White House.

Two political lessons from tonight. First, the need to screw your friends. Screwing people who are your enemies, who screwed you in the past, that's easy. When the time comes and you have to go against your friends, when it's so important that you must go against your friends, that's the true test.

Second, no Yes Men. At one point tonight Josh tells Santos that he can't be Santos' Yes Man. To which the official sister of Craigorian Chant replied, "That is what Bush needs. Bush don't have anybody to say "That's a stupid idea, sir."

April 15, 2006

Missed Voting opportunity

I often harp on voting here at Craigorian Chant, but it turns out I missed out on a chance to vote, myself. It turns out that I could have voted in the Italian national election that was just held. The ruling right-wing party devised a plan to allow Italians living abroad to vote. But rather than just allowing ex-pats, or Italian citizens living abroad, the rules allowed for anyone of Italian descent to vote in the Italian election:

The "Italians abroad" voting scheme was designed by Mirko Tremaglia, the 80-year-old Minister of Italians in the World. An unapologetic defender of the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, Mr. Tremaglia is said to have modelled the scheme after a Fascist scheme that defined Italians as a race.

Under Mr. Tremaglia's new electoral law, eligible voters are defined as anyone with a continuous line of male descendants going back to a man born in Italy. The voter needs only to register with an Italian consulate, and does not have to speak Italian, have visited Italy or even have parents who were born in Italy.


I have to go check the family archives, but I'm pretty sure that we have records of Baraccos going back to the Mother County. If you think about it, these rules mean that anybody with an Italian last name could vote. After all a "continuous line of male descendants going back to a man born in Italy" is pretty much proven by an Italian last name, right?

The final punchline - Berlusconi, who's party came up with this idea, lost due to the votes of Italians living abroad:

He was especially critical of the voting of "Italians abroad," who elected 12 seats in Italy's lower house and six seats in the senate. Four of those six seats went to Mr. Prodi's coalition, and a fifth, independent South American victor announced that he would also back Mr. Prodi.

That means that the "Italians abroad" determined the government, since Mr. Prodi's coalition won control of the Senate by only two seats, a margin of 158 seats to 156. Mr. Berlusconi's anger and scrutiny is now focused tightly on these votes, especially in the riding that represents North and Central America, in which Canadian votes proved decisive.


Story link came from Americablog.

April 14, 2006

Keeping you Safe From Ninjas

Your Federal Government:

If there's one thing Jeremiah Ransom is sure of, it's that he'll think twice before dressing up like a ninja at the University of Georgia again.

And he can thank agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for that.

On Tuesday, Ransom — a sophomore from Macon, Georgia — was attending a "Pirate vs. Ninja" mixer at the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist on-campus group, when he got hungry and decided to go grab a bite to eat at the nearby Snelling Dining Hall. The only problem was he was still wearing his homemade ninja costume — a pair of black sweatpants, a T-shirt and a red bandanna tied around his face.

According to university police, around 12:30 p.m., Ransom jogged from the Wesley Foundation to Snelling when a group of ATF agents — on campus to teach a Project Safe Neighborhoods workshop to local law enforcement — decided he was acting in a suspicious manner and sprung into action.

"The agents were on a lunch break, and they noticed Ransom coming through the area dressed in all black and wearing a mask. An agent claimed that he heard sirens in the distance and said that he saw Ransom holding a gun," University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson told MTV News. "They gave chase and ordered him to freeze. And then, with guns drawn, subdued him and began to search for weapons."


But it turns out that the guy only had throwing stars and num-chucks on him and the ATF can only arrest you if have firearms. Or alcohol. If the guy had had some cigars on him, he was going down. But they had to let him go. Seriously, can you blame these agents. I see a Ninja, my first guess would be that he's up to no good. Of course, if Ransom was a real Ninja, the agents would have never seen him in the first place. The ninja art of invisibility. And who knew the Methodist were so cool as to hold a "Ninja vrs Pirates" events. Do you think the ATF would arrest a guy in a pirate outfit?

Who would win a the fight between Pirate and Ninja? I would guess it depends on the terrain. At sea the pirate is clearly going to win, but if its on land, at night, I have to go with the ninja.

April 13, 2006

General Mayhem

There are many negative vibes coming from US military Generals these days. More accurately, there is a rash of former Generals who now decry the Iraq war. The movement is well-documented by Fred Kaplen in Slate:

Some of the most respected retired generals are publicly criticizing Rumsfeld and his policies in a manner that's nearly unprecedented in the United States, where civilian control of the military is accepted as a hallowed principle. Gen. Anthony Zinni, a Marine with a long record of command positions (his last was as head of U.S. Central Command, which runs military operations in the Persian Gulf and South Asia), called last month for Rumsfeld's resignation. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who ran the program to train the Iraqi military, followed with a New York Times op-ed piece lambasting Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically," and a man who "has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his Cold Warrior's view of the world, and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower."

But the most eye-popping instance appears in this week's Time magazine, where retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, the former operations director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not only slams the secretary and what he calls "the unnecessary war" but also urges active-duty officers who share his views to speak up. Newbold resigned his position in late 2002—quite a gesture, since he was widely regarded as a candidate for the next Marine Corps commandant. His fellow officers knew he resigned over the coming war in Iraq. The public and the president did not.


The rapid shift that one's attitude undergoes once you leave the service is well documented by TNR:

We've got great Iraqis who are patriots, committed to a free and democratic Iraq.

--Major General John Batiste, then-commander of the First Infantry Division, November 14, 2004


Iraqis, frankly, in my experience, do not understand democracy. Nor do they understand their responsibilities for a free society.

--Retired Major General John Batiste, CNN, today


Well, which is it? If the General was right the second time, WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING THERE?

April 12, 2006

Rain!

Normally, I'm a fan of some rain. I like a good walk in the rain. Washes the world, makes it clean and new. It's romantic even. But enough is enough. If I wanted this kind of weather, I would go live in Seattle. Even the meteorologists are down:

"Rain," sighed Diana Henderson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, when asked for the latest forecast. "We're looking at rain or a chance of rain through next Tuesday."

Did you catch that sigh? One more week of this. I've grown so pale I'm practically transparent. The levees are creaking and both the official Day Job of Craigorian Chant and the Craigorian Chant World Headquarters are not in as secure of locations as I would like. I'm not yet gathering up two of every animal, but I really do think we've gotten enough rain.

April 11, 2006

Around the World

Italy, official Country of origin of Craigorian Chant, just finished a nail-biter of an election. Looks like Center-Right Billionare Freak-show Berlusconi seems to have lost, barely, to boring Center-Left economist Prodi:

Final returns showed Prodi winning the lower Chamber of Deputies by one-tenth of a percentage point — 49.8 percent to 49.7 percent. Under Italian electoral law, 55 percent of seats are awarded to the overall winner regardless of the scale of victory, giving Prodi's forces at least 340 seats in the 630-member lower house.

All eyes were on the Senate, however, which Prodi also needed to win to form a government.

According to official returns, Berlusconi's conservative allies held a one-seat advantage in the Senate, with 155 seats to Prodi's 154. Six seats chosen by Italians living abroad were being counted Tuesday and would decide the election.


Look at that margine again. That's a difference of 0.1% and turnout was 84% in Italy. Berlusconi vowed to give up sex for the length of the campaign. My guess is he should have given up something else. Like the crazy:

The colorful leader made headlines throughout the election with his remarks, comparing himself to Jesus and Napoleon and branding those who would not vote for him "morons."

In Nepal, the revolution continues:

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepalese police battled protesters shouting "Down with King Gyanendra!" as officials clamped a curfew on the capital for a fourth day to foil demonstrations which have left three dead.

Demonstrators fought security forces with stones, pickaxe handles and bamboo poles while police fired tear gas rounds and rubber bullets and pushed back at least 2,000 protesters with batons, injuring dozens.


Down with King Gyanendra, indeed.

April 10, 2006

Case for Hope

For all those who just can't let go of their pessimism (Larry) or just think that democrat's are helpless babes (Erin) I highly recommend Not as Lame as You Think by Amy Sullivan, which makes a pretty good case that the Donkey are learning to use their teeth. Case in point - Bush's social security privatization program didn't just die on its own. It was murdered:

Most of the press corps expected the debate to be a painful defeat for Democrats. Not only were moderates predicted to jump ship and join with Republicans to support the president's plan, but Social Security-one of the foundational blocks of the New Deal social compact-would be irrevocably changed. But then a funny thing happened. Reid and Pelosi managed to keep the members of their caucuses united in opposition. Day after day they launched coordinated attacks on Bush's "risky" proposal. Without a single Democrat willing to sign on and give a bipartisanship veneer of credibility, the private accounts plan slowly came to be seen by voters for what it was: another piece of GOP flimflam.

As the privatization ship began sinking, Republicans challenged Democrats to develop their own plan, and when none was forthcoming, pundits whacked the minority party for being without ideas. But not putting forth a plan was the plan. It meant that once the bottom fell out on public support for Bush's effort which it did by early summer Democrats couldn't be pressured to work with Republicans to form a compromise proposal. It was a brilliant tactical maneuver that resulted in a defeat at least as decisive as the Republicans' successful effort to kill Clinton's health-care plan.


And now the immigration debate has blown up in the streets for the GOP. Now I have typically been pretty down on the effectiveness of street protests, but the sheer numbers of people who have come out are making everyone take notice.

Again?

So over the weekend Sy Hersh and others put out stories about how the US is planning for an attack on Iran. I'm with Drum, the big deal isn't that we are planning to attack Iran. The Pentagon is full of war planners. Whole rooms of people just thinking up new and interesting ways to attack countries. I'm sure we have dusty plans to attack Canada and less dusty plans to invade Mexico. I think the North Korean and China plans get updated more often. Iran is a major trouble spot, we should have plans. I'm a fan of planning myself, of course I'm more about building it up, rather than blowing it up.

The big deal is that it seems that the same PR campaign that brought you the Iraq War is gearing up again. There are a lot of people who would love to sell the country on an attack on Iran. Or sell this President. A plan is fine. Using those plans would be a massive catastrophe that I will run out of words trying to describe.

April 9, 2006

He Died

Weekly West Wing blogging continues, I think it will become a regular feature here. Not too regular, cause the show is going off the air, but more regular that the "quote of the day" or Craig's helpful 16 part guide to entitlement reform (still waiting on part 1, come to think of it)

So fiction finally caught up with reality tonight as Leo McGarry death reflects the death of John Spencer. Its really hard to watch really good actors reacting and know that they aren't acting. As if a down-to-the-wire election night wasn't emotionally draining enough draining enough. I actually found the parts when the lawyer types were discussing the legal issues and election-night lawyering. It helps get the mind off the actual tragedy of the moment.

Do you notice how important that concession phone call has become after Florida 2000? That election night Gore famously needed to take back his concession call. Kerry didn't call Bush until well into the next day, when it was clear that no recount was possible. It used to be the concession was just one of those little niceties that we do. Now it really means something. It means "I won't contest the election."

I will leave the speculation about the fuure episodes to Mike Tomasky, who's the Editor over at TAP. Last week he came up with the idea that Santos will pick Vinick to be his VP:

Right? This is perfect television politics: A national unity administration. Santos shows the kind of bold leadership that yada yada yada, and Vinick, for the sake of this great nation, decides that yada yada yada. They even end up seeing eye to eye on nuclear power!

The wingnut woman adviser to Vinick, who keeps pestering him to campaign in the South and forget these swing voters in these pusillanimous purple states, is put in her place (as a stand-in, of course, for the America she represents); Ron Silver probably gets a piece of the action, but he has to report to Bradley Whitford. America is healed.


The more I think about it, the more I believe that's where the show is headed. A nice warm, fuzzy ending.

UPDATE: News story in the NYTimes about how the election result came about. The original plan was for Vinick to win the election, but after John Spencer's death, the plan change to spare the viewers the emotional one-two punch. They didn't think we could take it. They would be right. Also, Martin Sheen turned down an offer to run for Senate. Read all about it.

April 8, 2006

Down with the King

One type of good time we miss out on in the modern era is the chance to overthrow tyrannical Kings. The royal families we deal with are mainly figures of fun - case in point:

Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, celebrated the end of his military training with a visit to a lap dancing club, British newspapers reported Saturday.

Harry, 21, watched dancers at the Spearmint Rhino nightclub in Slough, southern England, during celebrations marking the end of a year of study at a military academy, the Daily Mirror said.


I wouldn't be too hard on the guy, after all:

He will serve in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry -- one of the British army's oldest and most prestigious units -- and be eligible for future service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He is putting it on the line for his country, which is more than you can say for the children of the ruling class in this country.

So while the British royalty is a mix of noble obligation and tabloid fun house, the King of Nepal is a straight-up tyrant:

Protesters in Nepal postponed a demonstration planned for Saturday after the king imposed a curfew and ordered violators shot on sight.

The current King of Nepal - Gyanendra, took power when a Prince flipped out and shot most of the Royal Family. He then went on to seize power and roll back all the democratic institutions in the country. The revolution is coming to Nepal. For more updates from the country, give this blog a try.

April 7, 2006

When Bad Things Happen to Bad Bills

Looks like the much discussed immigration reform effort has gone off the rails in Senate. Read all about how "a bill doesn't become a law." I would have to say this is a good thing. Even a compromise bill passed in the Senate would have to then be mixed in with the evil House bill, which would result in a bill that was at least 3/4th evil. (Roughly speaking, calculating the exact outcome when evil and not-evil legislation comes together is always tricky, something to do with pH levels and the absolute temperature of the space were Bill Frist's soul would reside, if he were to have a soul)

Better the bill just die.

April 6, 2006

Revealing

Today's shocking Bush revelation is, despite going on and on about the dangers of leaking classified information, the President personally authorized the leaking of classified information:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.


Well my faith in the Bush administration is just crushed.

Seriously, this is the Bush administration finally getting caught at a game that they have gotten pretty good at. They leak classified information that makes them look good, such as a foiled bombing plot, and attack anyone who reveals embarrassing classified information, such as the warrentless wire-tapping program. Now Bush has been caught at this game, which will make it hard for him to denounce the next embarrassing leak as a threat to national security.

Migration Mitigation

Just a bit of follow-up on the illegal immigration subject, mainly riffing off what was said in comments.

There are two kinds of "guest worker" programs. The first, I'll call the "bad" type, offer the chance to work, but no chance at citizenship. This is the typical European model and the kind that Bush is proposing. The "good" kind of program offers a road to eventual citizenship. Erin in comments has pointed out the difficulties of immigration to Europe and Fareed Zakaria makes the case here:

These people must have some hope, some reasonable path to becoming Americans. Otherwise we are sending a signal that there are groups of people who are somehow unfit to be Americans, that these newcomers are not really welcome and that what we want are workers, not potential citizens. And we will end up with immigrants who have similarly cold feelings about America.

While I can and do make the case that we should steal the European model for health care, we should not under any circumstances steal the European model for immigration.

A good discussion on the struggle Bush faces on the issue, between his better and worse angles (yes he does have better angles, at least on this issue.) The one commendable thing about Bush is his move away from the old racial-baiting tactics of the GOP past. Of course, he replaced it with patriot-baiting tactics, so let's not give him too much credit.

April 5, 2006

Get it Done or Get Out

Man walk on road. Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk down middle, sooner or later, get squished just like grape. Same here.

Mr Miyagi

John Kerry today:

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.
...
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.


Right now in Iraq we are walking right down the middle. We aren't leaving and we are not making things any better by staying. It's our troops that are getting squished.

So the time has come: Win or go home. Time to force the issue.

April 4, 2006

Case Closed

I have often made the case that whatever our failing on election day, liberals will always remain cooler than conservatives. I believe that I have located difinitive proof. I present to you The Right Brothers singing their hit song Bush was Right.

Case Closed.

Word of the Day

schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun:

A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.

DeLay is Done

Tom Delay, former Republican House Majority leader, will not run for reelection. He is announcing that he will resign from Congress. For a guy as combative and angry as Delay to give up the fight means that he must be in profound legal trouble. A whole string of Delay staffers have been pleading guilty and agreeing to testify, and as we all know from Law and Order, these things move up the chain, and Tom Delay is at the top. There will be some games to be played in Delay's Texas district, as he has to be replaced on the ballot, Salon has details.

Delay remains defiant. From Time:

Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.

His speaking and organizing campaign not going to be very aggressive, because he's going to have to conduct them from prison. I'm sure every Republican candidate in the Nation is now going to pretend that they never new the guy.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it's going to be a good day, I can tell already.

April 3, 2006

Debatable

The protests have happened, the right wing gas bags have spoken, and now it's time for some good old fashioned legislating. The interesting thing about the issue is that it splits the parties. The GOP is divided between business interests who want to keep a supply of illegal workers that they don't have to pay jack, and the element of the party that is, well, kinda racist. Or at the very least, "law and order" types who want all the lawbreakers deported. A third element is foward thinking strategy types who don't want to get crushed by Latino voters in the future.

Dems are divided as well, between working class voters who are hurt by low-wage immigration and middle class voters who benefit. Not to mention that most Latinos (outside of the Cuban community) are a pretty solid democratic voting bloc, one that Republicans would very much like to steal.

So the proposals now being debated are various forms of "get tough" enforcement, or some form of guest worker program to help illegals work legally. Personally I think the calls to "protect our borders" add up to load of crap. There are thousands of miles along our southern border and there is no way we are going to spend the money to fence it all and put border guards on every inch of it. The truly effective way to prevent illegal from working in this country would be to crack down on the people who hire them. But if the GOP has one guiding principal these days, it’s never, ever cause any trouble for big business.

So the two bills we have in progress now take completely different approaches. The House bill is classic "get tough" stuff. It makes helping illegal a crime, makes being an undocumented worker a felony, and does a whole bunch of stuff that brings hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets for protest marches.

The Senate bill, a product of the meeting of the minds of Senators McCain and Kennedy, allows for a process by which illegals can get legal. Not to outline the whole process, but you pay a fine, do your paperwork, keep on the straight and narrow and many years later voila you're legal. Needless to say, this is a very different approach from being convicted of a felony and sent back to your county of origin.

This week we see "How a Bill becomes a Law" plays when you have very different bills fighting to become law.

April 2, 2006

More West Wing!

There are so few West Wing episodes left before the end, I'm feeling compelled to blog at each of them. One of the many fun things about West Wing is that it exists in a parallel universe which is exactly two years out of alignment, which means you can watch the show for all the excitement of an election when, in reality, we are two years away. It’s like methadone for political junkies.

Of course, who can talk about elections with all the sex. Donna and Josh, finally. Plus a bunch of other people just for fun. I would just like to note the magic Hollywood bed sheets, which are waist high on the guy, but arm-pit high on the girl.

Now, the death of Leo was of course, coming, and not without precedent. Dick Cheney had a heart attack, his fourth, in the middle of the Florida recount. At the time, it was spun as a "very slight heart attack." This is kind of like being slightly hit in the head with a bat or being somewhat pregnant.

Tonight's great what if of history is:

Would history have turned out different if Dick Cheney died of a heart attack in November of 2000? How would history be different?

Discuss.

PS All the West Wing you could ever want, can be found here.

PPS Slate has an excellent round-up of long awaited TV hook-ups.