Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Papers, please

I'm glad I no longer live in Ohio:
A bill on Gov. Bob Taft's desk right now is drawing a lot of criticism, NewsChannel5 reported.

One state representative said it resembles Gestapo-style tactics of government, and there could be changes coming on the streets of Ohio's small towns and big cities.

The Ohio Patriot Act has made it to the Taft's desk, and with the stroke of a pen, it would most likely become the toughest terrorism bill in the country. The lengthy piece of legislation would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong.

WEWS reported it would also pave the way for everyone entering critical transportation sites such as, train stations, airports and bus stations to show ID.

Now I'm sure if this was a Bush bill, we'd see the right creaming their pants in excitement on the idea that security trumps civil liberties like walking around in public freely. After all, the guy who doesn't have an ID doesn't deserve to ride the bus, but rather detention and a free hooded flight to another country where he can be waterboarded and tortured so we may discover the latest plot involving riding public transportation without an ID.

Who cares if he was simply too poor to be able to afford a state issued ID card. He knows something, and we need that information. We know who he called from the corner pay phone. We just cannot tell you or him or the judge that may eventually rule on his case. Because that will reveal to Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations that we are spying on them we are planning a surprise party for them! And letting anyone know what the government is doing will ruin, um, the surprise.

I'm sure that part of this bill is aimed at scaring the hell out of protesters, too. Already we've learned the government is watching vegans and PETA, so why not make it a law that makes it mandatory to aid in the compiling of a watchlist so the FBI has an easier time monitoring you and your organization?

Taft, the most unpopular guy in the state, and most likely the world, is expected to sign the bill into law. Legal challenges are expected to start shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Llama fur

Apparently, being against llama fur is a major threat to national security:
But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After all, if you hate this, you're aiding the enemy. And naked llamas are the number one weapon in the war on terror.

Monday, December 19, 2005

With all the trouble Bush is in because of the latest NSA spying disclosures, isn't it about time for his administration to announce they've captured a high ranking Al Qaida offical?

Just askin'.

Drilling the poor and elderly... and ANWR

House Republicans, fearful that straight up ANWR drilling would fail once again, instead tucked the provision in a defense bill that provided money for tropps in Afghanistan and Iraq, a bill next to impossible for anyone seeking re-election would be prone to vote against.

So ANWR drilling will begin soon, meaning the country will enjoy about a year's worth of oil from the destruction of one of the last untouched wildlife refuges in the country. Nice work fellows. It's quite the Christmas gift for the oil companies.

Charlie Rangel sums up the budget cuts themselves:
"I don't know what the poor, the elderly, the disabled or our foster children have done to Republicans to deserve this. And I don't know why the Republicans would wait until the pre-dawn hours of the morning, just a few days before Christmas, to show just how mean-spirited they can be, but they've given us a clear view of Republican economics at work," fumed Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Blogging slowdown

So as the holiday season (what are you going to do, Bill? Put me on your list?) approaches, their will be less and less time for blogging here, meaning less and less for you to read that's new.

That's the theory anyway. I've mentioned slowdowns before, only to see robust days that follow. But I'm hoping to take this time away to think about the future of Get Your Blog Up. Not flashy design changes or changing my name to "Crunk" to bring in the younger kids. But actually looking at direction and focus.

I've done this now for almost a year and a half now, and readership is not what I had hoped it would be when I started. But there are a number of voices out there now that sound very similar to me, so I can't fault anyone for not trying. But if you can find bull riding on channels 4-15, do you really need channel 16 to show bull riding, too?

Bull riding enthusiasts aside, the answer is no. So I need to come up with a new take on things, fold in with an existing channel, or find something new to broadcast on altogether.

Suggestions always welcome. And if I don't see you again, Happy Holidays to all.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bush caves on McCain amendment

Remember at one point the President threatened to veto bills that contained this sort of thing.

If this had been John Kerry, he'd be called a flip-flopper. Instead, Bush is a guy who stands up for his convictions and what he believes.


I almost forget, congrats to the Iraq and it's people on seemingly peaceful and succesful elections.

The Washington Post has more here.

Listening in

From the Bill of Rights, Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The New York Times, December 15th, 2005:
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the [National Security Agency] has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

Guess you can add the Bill of Rights to things the President doesn't read.

Playing politics with Iraq

There is no other reason for the latest resolution that Republican lawmakers have pushed to a vote in the House. It says:
Setting an artificial timetable for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq, or immediately terminating their deployment in Iraq and redeploying them elsewhere in the region, is fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory in Iraq.

Things like this are maddening on a number of levels. First, this resolution is clearly a political ambush and nothing more. Anyone who votes against the amendment will see their face featured in ads next year with the claim that "politician 'A' voted against" and then edit all the words from "Setting" all the way to and including "with."

Next, the wording is ultimately ambiguous at best. What, exactly, is an "artificial timetable?" Wouldn't that involve any goals set by man, which would encompass just about every reason imaginable short of tying withdrawal to earthquakes or meteor showers?

What if an immediate termination of deployment was followed by bringing the troops back to America? Under the wording of the resolution, that's actually viewed as a good thing to do.

And of course, and most important to the whole debate, what and who gets to determine "victory?"

Finally, there are generals and others on the ground in Iraq who feel we need to do exactly what this resolution says is wrong. 2/3rds of Iraqis are actually for exactly what this resolution opposes. And it seems to oppose the will of the Bush administration as reported only two weeks prior:
President Bush set the stage for a major policy shift on Iraq yesterday by pinning responsibility for expected troop withdrawals on U.S. field commanders.

"It's their recommendation," Bush said of the advice he will seek from officers on the ground.

"If they tell me that the Iraqis are ready to take more and more responsibility and that we'll be able to bring some Americans home, I will do that," Bush said on a tour of the Mexican border in El Paso, Tex.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the recommendation would likely be positive.

"In 2006, the expectation is the conditions will be changed on the ground, and that conditions will permit us to be able to reduce our presence," McClellan said.

Bush himself says it's up to the field commanders in Iraq as to when the withdraw should begin (an artificial timetable), and not politicians in Congress thousands of miles away. Clearly House Republicans do not care about the wishes of the President. And we all know what it means to undermine the President during a time of war, right?

There is nothing truthful about this resolution, either. The premise put forth is not logically conclusive. There is no way to know if this course will lead to "victory" or simply result in a drawn out standstill. We all want to see a victory in Iraq. There is disagreement on how best to attain that victory. This vote essentially stifles that debate.

Depending on the definition of same

Knight Ridder:
"Some of the most irresponsible comments - about manipulating intelligence - have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence I saw and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein," Bush said on Wednesday in his most recent speech. "These charges are pure politics."

The Congressional Research Service, by contrast, said: "The president, and a small number of presidentially designated Cabinet-level officials, including the vice president ... have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods."

Unlike members of Congress, the president and his top officials also have the authority to ask U.S. intelligence agencies more extensively for follow-up information, the report said. "As a result, the president and his most senior advisers arguably are better positioned to assess the quality of the ... intelligence more accurately than is Congress."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

September lovin'

So if I read this right, Mary Bono, Republican, a party of family values, separated from her husband Sept 28, 2005. She and Florida Rep Connie Mack, who announced his divorce only a month earlier, have, according to this news report, been an item since "late September."

So that gives her a two day window, I guess.

Political misstep

Yesterday I contemplated the effects of returning dirty money to an indicted lobbyist. Other than the political gain from distancing yourself from a guy you now know is corrupt, I didn't see much point.

Montana Senator Conrad Burns doesn't even see the political gain. He's refusing to return money from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and friends because the money is already spent.

This is one reason that kos thinks Burns is vulnerable. And he's got an opponent all picked out.

Novak says what we all think

Saw this on the news today at work:
Newspaper columnist Robert Novak is still not naming his source in the Valerie Plame affair, but he says he is pretty sure the name is no mystery to President Bush.

"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."

"So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' "

I think Hardball featured Kate O'Berne from National Review, who tried to argue that Novak was an unreliable source on this one. I'm sure she'll never reference his reports again.

But it would be nice to hear someone ask him on the record if he knows. I hear Brit Hume is getting an interview soon.

I'll keep my fingers crossed, but won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Taxing priorities

Let me get this straight. The one time Republicans aren't going be able to pass a tax cut is one that will affect more of the middle class than anyone else?

That's some sharp priorities fellas. Remember this when they try and crow about increase revenue and the Bush tax cuts doing their job next year.

*UPDATE* Frist here says the Senate has simply run out of time. Funny how he had time to diagnose Terri Schavio from the Senate floor in a special session and push for tax cuts for oil companies, but couldn't find the hours to alter the AMT for the millions of Americans it will newly affect this year. Let's just pray none of them go bankrupt because of it, because I hear that's more difficult to file for some reason...

No more clandestine prisoners in Europe

We can all breathe a sigh of relief when I say the belief is we no longer have secret prisons in Europe. We moved them all to Africa once word got out:
A Swiss investigator probing claims of secret CIA prisons in Europe said his committee has evidence that supports allegations that prisoners were transferred between countries and temporarily held "without any judicial involvement."

"Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards," lawmaker Dick Marty said in a written report summarizing his investigations so far.

Marty told a news conference he believed the United States was no longer holding prisoners clandestinely in Europe and believes they were moved to North Africa in early November, when reports about secret U.S. prisons first emerged in The Washington Post.

Charting the growth

If you are looking to see the effect of people withdrawing equity from their homes on the GDP, look no further than this chart over at Calculated Risk.

It's not a good sign for the future, where equity withdrawal is expected to drop.

Democracy in action

Apparently, we still tell them what to do in Afghanistan as well:
When The Rendon Group was hired to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai with media relations in early 2004, few thought it was a bad idea. Though Rendon's $1.4million bill seemed high for Afghanistan, the U.S. government was paying.

Within seven months, however, Karzai was ready to get rid of Rendon. So was Zalmay Khalilzad, then the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and now the American envoy in Iraq, according to interviews, e-mails and memos obtained by the Tribune. The complaint: too much money for not enough work.

Despite such grumbling, The Rendon Group, based in Washington, managed to secure even more U.S.-funded work with Karzai's government, this time a $3.9 million contract funded by the Pentagon, to create a media team for Afghan anti-drug programs. Jeff Raleigh, who helped oversee Rendon in Kabul for the U.S. Embassy, and others in the U.S. government said they objected because of Karzai's and Khalilzad's opposition but were overruled by Defense Department superiors in Washington.

"It was a rip-off of the U.S taxpayer," said Raleigh, who left the U.S. Embassy in September.

The Bush "Bounce"

Zogby's latest puts the President back under 40% approval. Rasmussen shows the President bouncing between 43% and 48%. Most other recent polls have the President between 40% and 42%.

What does it all mean? Well, since most of the movement falls within the margin of error, I'd say the nation's views on the President haven't really changed all that much. He's maintained an approval rating of around 40%, and that's simply not enough for him to rise above his lame duck status and start flying high once again.

As for the latest media campaign by the White House to convince the public things are going according to plan? Well, 58% of respondents in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll still say he lacks a plan to follow, while 60% disapprove of the way he's handling things. That leaves about 40% of the country believing in a plan and supporting the President, which just about mirrors his approval ratings overall.

The President has seen his term in office hitched to the wagon of terrorism. He has made Iraq the so-called central front in the war on terrorism. And it's his doing that so far has become his undoing as well.

It's going to take more than speeches to get Bush out of the slump. People actually will have to believe things are going well in Iraq. And until they do, no amount of oration is going to change their mind. Perception speaks louder than the President's words. And I think about 60% of the country would agree with me on that one.

Returning Abramhoff's money

I'm not trying to pick on Byron Dorgan here, and I understand the political need to return dirty money.

But in reality, the deals been done, right? That money was spent years ago to keep that politician in power, the donors would've gotten the vote they wanted, and everyone came out a winner. So the returning of dirty money is little more than political showmanship. The damage has been done.

Maybe it's time for stricter laws against this sort of thing? Maybe illegal political dealings should result in a dismissal from office. That would certainly put some restraint on this sort of things. Or at least make people work harder to keep it covered up instead of scaring the Democratic process over and over again.

So what say you Congress? Grandfather all lawbreakers up to the day it's past. Give them an amnesty period to admit mistakes to the public and let the people decide. And then anyone after that date meets with a boot out the door.

Selling ANWR

Dana Milbank reports that Interior Secretary Gale Norton, a strong advocate of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, gave a speech touting the benefits of ANWR drilling recently:
"ANWR would supply every drop of petroleum for Florida for 29 years," she told a friendly audience at the Heritage Foundation yesterday, "New York for 34 years, Illinois for 43 years, California for 16 years or New Hampshire for 315 years."

That's great, but the obvious question would be, what about the overall effect of drilling in the Wildlife Refuge on the nation? Here, Gale's answer was slightly lacking:
"When you look at it for the whole country, you really get somewhat of a deceiving picture," the secretary answered. She said that's "not the way this operates," and said the question "assumes that unless a source of energy is going to meet all of America's needs then it's not worth looking at."

Clearly ANWR does not operate by meeting the needs of the nation. It does, however, operate by giving it's full oil capacity to each individual state. In other words, according to Gale, you have to take the capacity that drilling in the Wildlife Refuge would bring and multiply it by fifty, so that Illinois gets it 43 years and New Hampshire its 315. It's the only logical way to look at it, right?

And the actual answer to the above question? The administration estimates about 15 months.

But the administrations attempted snow job didn't end there:
In the afternoon, it was Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's turn. At a news conference at the National Press Club, Chao told the cameras that, according to "congressional estimates," the ANWR project could create a million jobs.

Actual job projection? 86,000 to 245,000. So Elaine's clearly rounding to the nearest million.

Makes you wish someone else had a plan for energy independence, doesn't it?

Bush as anchor, Pennsylvania edition

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election next year, Pennsylvania voters said by a 2-1 margin in a poll released Tuesday.

More than one-third of all Republicans surveyed in the Quinnipiac University poll also said Santorum's re-election prospects aren't helped by his support of the president.

The poll showed Democratic state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. leading the two-term Republican incumbent by 50 percent to 38 percent in the 2006 Senate race, compared to a 52-to-34 percent lead in Quinnipiac's October poll. Voters also said they disapprove of Bush's job performance, 59 percent to 38 percent.

Those numbers come with Santorum's approval rating up to 48% statewide, meaning that despite the job Santorum does, it seems like voters know that Bob Casey will do better.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Democrats present another plan

How long before Republicans claim this one, too:
Democrats launched a plan on Monday for energy independence by 2020 that seeks to relieve historically high oil and gas prices by cutting reliance on foreign sources of energy.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid Pennsylvania's Gov. Ed Rendell said greater use of renewable energy, mass transit and domestic fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel could cut oil and gas imports. A plan they unveiled on Monday is called Energy Independence 2020.

Bush does it better

Another record budget deficit for W:
The federal government's budget deficit rose sharply in November as spending raced ahead of tax receipts.

The Treasury Department reported Monday that the deficit totaled $83.1 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded in November.

For the first two months of the 2006 budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $130.3 billion, 13.1 percent higher than the $115.2 billion in red ink run up during the same period last year.

Brian Bethune, U.S. economist for Global Insight, predicted the deficit will hit $359 billion this year.

That would be a $50 billion dollar increase over last year's deficit for those scoring at home.

Irony, DeLay edition

Wouldn't it be ironic if the very redistricting Tom DeLay did to try and maintain a republican majority in Texas (which is also the reasons for his latest legal troubles) was overturned by the Supreme Court, which would increase the number of Republicans in DeLay's district and give him a much needed buffer as he faces re-election next year?

From Bush's speech

The terrorists in Iraq share the ideology of the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. They share the ideology with those who blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali and killed workers in Riyadh and slaughtered guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan.

This is an enemy with conscience and they cannot be appeased.

If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be leading quiet lives as good citizens. They would be plotting and killing our citizens across the world and here at home.

Funny that he points out a number of attacks since the invasion of Iraq to point out the ruthlessness of the terrorists, and then two sentences later claims we are fighting in Iraq to stop the terrorists from doing things that are on that list, isn't it?

And eventually we will leave Iraq. And that means we will no longer be "fighting and destroying" the terrorists over there, which I guess would free them up to attack us over here? Unless you want to stay in Iraq forever...

Tookie's fate in Arnold's hands

All that remains between Tookie Williams and the death penalty is Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the California Supreme Court has rejected his latest plea.

I think Arnold had been hoping that someone else would have made this decision for him so he could avoid the political land mines that came with the case. And there is no good read on what Arnold will do.

Tookie now does more good than he would were he executed. Prison rehabilitation in this instance seems to have worked, and while I feel for the families of those who lost loved ones, Tookie and his anti-gang teachings now could save more families from troubled times.

No one here is advocating releasing Williams. His crimes were severe, and he deserves to spend the rest of his life punished for them. But troubled teens do not need to see that either as a gang member or a anti gang leader, the end result will be death.

*UPDATE* Arnold says no.

Friday, December 09, 2005

What about Poland

With pressure mounting on the Bush administration to draw down troops in Iraq, being forced to make decisions like these aren't going to be easy:
Poland has asked for additional U.S. military assistance to modernize its own forces as it considers whether to extend the presence of Polish troops in Iraq next year, according to Polish and U.S. officials.

Although Warsaw has stopped short of conditioning its Iraq decision on the request for aid, it has made it clear that the two are linked, saying the $600 million it has spent on the Iraq operation has siphoned funds from plans to upgrade its own military.

Troops that Poland pull out of Iraq will be troops that America is more than likely forced to cover. That means that if Bush does not give into Polish demands, our troops will be forced to remain in Iraq longer. If he capitulates to Poland, however, then other countries could make bigger demands to keep their troops in Iraq.

The end result? The cost of Bush's decision to invade Iraq is about to cost the country even more, one way or another.

If headlines were longer and more ironic

We do not condone torture or outsource it to other noation, which in turn does not lead to faulty intelligence which would have led to false claims about an Al Qaida-Iraq connection to drum up support for a war that everyone would have wanted anyway.

Story here.

Friday Random Ten

I Just Can't Be Bloggy Today edition:
1. So What - The Cure
2. Don't Keep Me Waiting - B.B. King
3. Catch Me - Chimera
4. I Love the Valley - Ten in the Swear Jar
5. Today Knows - The Ladybug Transistor
6. Wish You Were Here - Billy Bragg
7. This Awful Room - Andrew Morgan
8. Great Paper Chase No. 1 - The Delta 72
9. Rock Me to Sleep - Sally Timms
10. Spirit - The Clientele
Sorry, folks, just not feeling it tonight. You should be out dancing, anyway.

So the GOP supports the culture of corruption?

That's the only way to understand it, I guess.

California breathes a sigh of relief

Mel Gibson won't run for Governor of the Golden State.

It's the best early Christmas gift this year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cutting and running

The Pentagon are cowards, apparently:
The Pentagon has tentative plans to halt the scheduled deployment of two brigades to Iraq and instead send smaller teams to support and train Iraqi forces in what could be an early step toward an eventual drawdown of U.S. forces, defense officials said Wednesday.

The proposal comes amid growing pressure from Congress and the public to pull troops out of Iraq. Details are still under discussion, and it would largely depend on the military and political conditions there after the parliamentary elections next week, said the officials.

A menorah? At Christmas?

First the Christmas cards don't mention Christmas, and now this:
The first lady took a few questions from her young audience at the end of the program. One young woman wanted to know, "Is there a menorah in the White House?" Yes, Mrs. Bush replied.

I think I just heard Bill O'Reilly's head explode.

Murtha responds to Bush

There's a lot to read, but here it is.

Not another actor for Governor

What's one thing I can think of that would be worse than Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California? How about Mel Gibson? Republicans in California are a little upset with Arnold right now and his selection of a Democratic chief of staff, so they've looked for another popular right leaning actor that may give them another for years of control in California.

And what do they tout as Gibson's qualification. He directed that movie a few years ago that conservative Christians loved.

Over at the site of Gibson for Governor, there is a lengthy history of his acting career, and an effort to get you to buy some of his movies, which makes me wonder if this is a real campaign, or a new marketing ploy by Mel himself to drum up more cash.

Either way, I hope this thing fizzles out as quickly as it began.

Dean on Iraq and Godwin's law

Well, it sure has stirred quite a flap, hasn't it? Howard Dean came out the other day and proclaimed very boldly that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

It's a tough spot to be in for Democrats. And while Dean is the chairman of the DNC, he is not the voice of all Democrats. Different Democrats believe different things when it comes to Iraq, abortion, etc. It's a big tent party. Everyone's allowed in.

I can only speculate that Dean meant that, in it's current incarnation, we aren't going to win in Iraq. That, and some in the military echo this, we cannot win on the ground in Iraq militarily. I think that's the point that Dean was trying to make. Much like the war on drugs or the war on crime, the war on terror will go on forever. And since Iraq is a central front, according to Bush, we will never be able to leave.

But I wasn't sure what to make of this in light of Godwin's Law. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said the following:
"It's fairly extraordinary. I can't remember any time in history where the leader of a national party . . . predicted America would lose a war we were engaged in."

Mehlman told the same San Antonio radio station, "Imagine if we had said to Hitler in 1942 that in two years we're going to pull out of Europe . . . Hitler would not have surrendered."

Aside from the historical inaccuracies, here's Ken Mehlman suggesting that Democrats, the party that led the country to success in WWII, would have surrendered to Adolf Hitler. It also suggests that Republicans feel that the current situation in Iraq mirrors a dictator who took over most of Europe while attempting to wipe out a large segment of the population. And those two things don't look so similar up close.

It was clear in WWII who the enemy was and what would be a victory - the surrender of Germany, Italy, and Japan. And by invading those countries, those goals could be achieved.

In Iraq, there is no such clear end goal. There will be no one surrendering. There is no clear "victory" to be had. And the question I don't see how to answer is, how can you "win" something when there is no way to measure victory?

Sure there are excuses to stay in Iraq. We need to fight them there so they do hit us here. That hasn't worked for the Brits, the Spainiards, the Saudis, etc. They still get hit as the War in Iraq continues. And eventually, we will leave Iraq and turn over control to the Iraqis. And when our presence isn't there, won't the terrorists and insurgents just seek us out in other places?

Getting back to Dean, it seems to me he has always felt that we needed to get out of Iraq. And no one should be surprised for him to echo those remarks again. I give him credit for stating what he believes.

People need to remember that Dean's not running for anything. He's not going to be running for anything, either. As John Murtha pointed out in a recent press conference, the Democratic Party is not in power. There is nothing they can do to change the way the war is going other than add to the debate.

Oh, and calling for the hanging of an American citizen because you disagree with him? Bad taste.

And finally, let's not forget these words from the mouth of the leader, George W. Bush on the prospects of winning the war on terror:
"I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world - let's put it that way."

*UPDATE* Just as I post, I read the new Quinnipac poll:
"Americans want to fight terror, but they don't think Iraq is the place to do it. Forty percent say 'get out now,' and another 19 percent favor a phased withdrawal," said Maurice Carroll, Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Not only is the President pushing an unpopular war, Americans think he lied to get us into it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

David Roth for Congress launches

I get a lot of traffic here from people looking for more information on David Roth, a local Democrat who has thrown his hat in the ring and agreed to take on Mary Bono for her seat in the House of Representatives.

Well, if you're looking for his official website, it's finally here. You can now take the opportunity to volunteer for his campaign and make a contribution through Act Blue.

The blog link is inactive, which makes me wonder if he's still looking for a local guy to cover his campaign (hint hint). Until then, why not slip him some time or money as the race moves forward. Mary Bono won't be easy to beat, and Roth with need all our help to put him in a new House in 2006.

The Burns-Abramoff connection

I'm not sure what this means, although it certainly doesn't look good for Burns to change a vote after getting money from a lobbyist:
Sen. Conrad Burns and his staff met Jack Abramoff's lobbying team on at least eight occasions and collected $12,000 in donations around the time that the lawmaker took legislative action favorable to Abramoff's clients in the Northern Mariana Islands, records show.

The 2001 donations to Burns, a Montana Republican, included money directly from Abramoff and a key garment company executive in the Pacific islands who was part of the coalition paying Abramoff's firm to fend off stronger U.S. regulations on the islands.

In addition, two Burns staffers had accepted a trip arranged by Abramoff to attend the Super Bowl in Florida earlier that year.

At the time, Burns served on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that was considering legislation the Marianas opposed. He also ran a Senate appropriations subcommittee that controlled spending for the Interior Department, which regulates U.S. territories including the islands.

On May 23, 2001, Burns voted against a bill in the Senate Energy Committee that would have phased out a nonresident contract worker program benefiting the Marianas' garment industry. The committee approved the bill, but it never saw action on the Senate floor. In 1999, it had moved through the same committee by unanimous consent without objections from Burns or any other member.

White House recognizes other religious, provokes uproar

Tis' the season to take offense over idiotic things, as the President's latest Christmas card fails to actually mention Christmas, causing outrage from Conservative religious groups across the land who received the unholy missive:
"This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture," said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

And thank goodness, too. You might have caught some tolerance in time for the holiday season. Or worse yet, enjoyed a happy holiday season.

This Bush White House has never sent a Christmas card with a Christmas message, however, which leads me to wonder how these religious leaders could have aligned themselves with the enemy like this for so long?

No voter fraud plot in Wisconsin found

Way to keep it undercover, Wisconsin Democrats!

That's a joke, of course.

Background here, here, and here.

Spoiling the view

The San Diego Union Tribune:
We urge that 40 percent who see a recession and the 61 percent who disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy to take a moment and consider the actual facts.

They then predictably cherry pick good news and claim it paints a rosy picture.

And for the people who actually feel the economy is in a recession, for those who don't care much for Bush's handling of it, well, your experience should not matter. Just look at those numbers!

People don't have to look at employment data of GDP to understand the impact of the economy on their own life. And because so many Americans are having tougher times now then they did when the last Democrat was in office, they see Bush's impact on the economy as negative.

As gas prices ease, I'm sure you'll see the President's numbers improve here, which will in turn boost his overall numbers.

There's not much room left for him to go down.


I'm not looking to pick on anyone in particular, it's just that two of the lamest claims both appear in this column by Peter Brookes at RCP:
The U.S. military is having significant success securing the Syrian border - previously a sieve for Iraqi and foreign insurgents/terrorists seeping into Iraq. Result: It's tougher for Syria-based Sunni insurgents to orchestrate or support attacks in Iraq. Suicide bombings are down 30 percent since the October referendum.

While suicide bombings may be down, the number of U.S. casulities remains right around 3 a day. Which means that the insurgents are killing more efficiently then they were before, which I would take to be a bad thing. I'm sure they just remain in their "last throes."

And secondly, while stopping the flow of Syrians into Iraq is a good thing, U.S. military officials claimed that most of the insurgents are home grown Iraqis. And I was reasonably sure I had found more recent reports on this, but can't seem to locate it right now.

Moving on, more from Mr. Brookes:
The training of Iraqi security forces (e.g., police, military and intelligence) is increasingly effective and (finally!) making headway.

The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.

There's more at Brookes article that can be disputed, but those are the two main arguments that seem to lack ability to hold water. I'm sure there will be more on Iraq here in the months to come.

Cheney's hornet's nest

Dick Cheney, at it again:
"Some have suggested by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq in September 2001 and the terrorists hit us anyway."

That's not what they suggest, first off. They suggest that our presence in the region has caused more terrorists then there were before we got there. Our own CIA tells us as much.

But, to talk in Cheney's language, just because the hornet's nest wasn't stirred doesn't mean the hornets did not exist nor does it mean that they were unable to sting. But stirring up the nest brings out more attackers to do more damage. And while they have yet to hit the mainland again, they are still killing Americans. I'm reasonably sure they do not care if they wear a uniform or not.

Catching up

While I was out of touch this weekend...

A Texas judge has thrown out the conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay and allowed to stand the more serious felony charges of money laundering. DeLay's lawyers have been pushing for quick action, but then proposed a number of motions that have thus negated that call. The latest ruling has 15 days to be appealed by Prosecutor Ronnie Earle, almost garunteeing the trial will not begin until next year.

A German man has sued former CIA head George Tenet and other agencies for wrongful imprisonment and torture.

The President is on the road touting a successful economy, one he claims is being spurred by his willingness to cut taxes for the wealthy. Kevin Drum looks a little deeper about who's feeling the economic bounce. It helps explain why a majority of the public remains pessimistic about the nations economy.

Apparently the CIA thinks it's okay to lie to foreign governements.

And finally, I have a feeling if the President threw himself into protecting the nation as he does partisan attacks, his approval rating would be much better, as would his hopes of a legacy. Until then, we'll have to deal with the failing grades of the Sept 11th panel.

Bush polling

Mickey Kaus:
Don't look now--Bush seems to be reviving among the robots. ... See also: RCP's pollpage, where he's 4 out of 4 above 40%...

One of the latest polls in a TIME Magazine poll. It has Bush's approval at 41%, a real bounce, right? Nope. The last TIME poll showed Bush at 42% back in September.

Another poll? Quinnipiac. They have Bush at 40%. Another increase? Nope. The last Quinnipiac poll was back in July. It had Bush at 41%.

Trying to judge Bush momentum with these two polls is a bit ridiculous, mostly due to the amount of time between releases.

There is a little movement elsewhere, and it will be interesting to see if that continues as other polls are released. If so, Republicans will be cheering because their President is a year into his second term and finally solidly above 40%.

Indiana's 8th: Hostettler in trouble

We last visited John Hostettler about a year ago when he discussed dismantling the current court system and ignoring rulings he did not agree with. Since then, he has voted against reconstruction aid for Katrina decimated areas while he has a hand out to rebuild his own.

Hostettler has managed to eke out wins the last few election cycles, garnering a vote of about 53%. This time around, it seems like Democrats in the area have found a worthwhile opponent. And it shows in the latest poll numbers:
Sixth-term Indiana incumbent Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) is trailing Democratic challenger Brad Ellsworth 41 percent to 44 percent in a recent poll, according to the Howey Political Report, a weekly briefing on Indiana politics.

Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang, the consulting firm that conducted the poll and is working on behalf of Ellsworth, contended that without the "leaners," Hostettler garners only 34 percent support.

Brad Ellsworth already has more cash on hand than Hostettler, but that's no reason not to send him a little more scratch to help keep him out in front and give the folks of Southwestern Indiana a congressman to be proud of.

So get busy helping here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Spending money with Arnold

I think I mentioned this one before, but whoever ends up opposing Arnold's proposed bond money should have a fairly easy time culling quotes from his latest campaign to pass Prop 76 about how bankrupt the state is and the financial problems it will encounter if it fails to pass.

The question is, who is going to try and prevent a $50 billion dollar bond for funding public services and infrastructure, even if it could be deadly to the state's finances?

And as a follow up, why would we believe anything Arnold tries to sell if he goes from zero to spending in a matter of weeks?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Jesus is the reason for the season

This exchange on the O'Reilly Factor really captures the holiday spirit:
Rev. Tim Bumgardner: I think they should put a Nativity scene -- be American! Hey, celebrate Christmas -- people spend more money! Jesus makes people want to spend money!

O'Reilly: I agree. I'm with you.

Me, too, Bill! Just the other day I saw Jesus selling shoes on a street corner and I had to stop and but a pair. And I didn't even need new shoes!

Praise Jesus!

Actually, I would think the idea that "Jesus makes people want to spend money" would be more offensive than a thousand "Happy Holidays." But then I never knew that Jesus was put on earth on order to open our wallets for material purchases. No wonder Adam and Eve weren't noted as shoppers.

Trouble in their house

Widening corruption scandals in Washington are heightening Republican sentiments for a GOP leadership shake-up early next year that would permanently replace former majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), according to House members and GOP leadership sources.

Many Republicans say they are troubled that DeLay's political money-laundering trial in Texas could drag on for months, leaving the question of leadership in limbo. And they are increasingly anxious that DeLay may be implicated in the bribery and corruption investigations of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.). But with few members willing to publicly challenge DeLay's return, leadership aides still give the lawmaker a strong shot at a comeback, provided a Texas court exonerates him of charges that he illegally funneled corporate campaign contributions to state legislative candidates. Much will depend on whether DeLay can get the case thrown out or win acquittal by the time Congress convenes Jan. 30 for President Bush's State of the Union address, some GOP lawmakers and aides say.

Friday Random Ten

I Feel Guilty For Finding Advance Tracks edition (idea here):
1. When You're Right You're Right (Darth Vader Bringing In His Washing Mix) - Snow Patrol
2. No's Not A Word - Richard Thompson
3. Once - Mecca Normal
4. What A Waster - The Libertines
5. It Wasn't Me - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
6. If You Want - Tom Vek
7. Goodnight New York - Snow & Voices
8. Army Of Me - Björk
9. The MP - The Album Leaf
10. Catch Me - Chimera

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The reason for the season's oddest project

I'm not sure why bombarding the ACLU with Christmas cards is going to do much of anything other than make them feel very loved and think that hundreds of Americans want them to have a Merry Christmas. But if you really want to waste a stamp or two to send warm tidings to a group you really seem to dislike, then go right ahead.

But the ACLU really doesn't care what you say to people this holiday season in your Christmas cards. As the national director of the group's Freedom of Religion and Belief program recently noted:
"People are free to worship in their homes and their houses of worship and if they rent out a hall."

Doesn't sound like they've loaded up the weapons in the so-called "War on Christmas" at all, does it?

Responding to comments

I was going to post more of this today, anyway. So for a jumping off point, why not address the comments made by William Stewart (who, by the way, is Executive Assistant to West Virginia Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse. I get quite the clientele to comment here.):
So you are faulting [Bush] for not flip flopping like Kerry and Hillary? Come on, do you really expect him to suddenly start yacking like Cindy Sheehan?

There is nothing more to be said. We'll leave when the job is finished.

First off, for Bush to change his position on Iraq and come up with a better plan that "fingers crossed, hoping for the best" would not be a "flip-flop." Admitting poor policy and working to change things for the better for America is not a "flip flop", either. It's called leadership. And it's something that I think we've been lacking in Iraq from Bush in the last year or so. So I'm not "faulting Bush for not flip flopping," but rather I'm faulting him for not finding a newer and better policy nor working once again to unite the country behind his war.

But I certainly never expected to her Sheehan's voice from Bush's mouth.

Now, I'm on the side that thinks Bush will keep us there until at least 2008, when the situation in Iraq will lead to party dominance in elections here in America. If Bush and his side are right, and the constant attacks and car bombs are a sign of a weakinging insurgency, then the GOP leads. If not, and we are still bogged down in the same position we are in now, then the Democrats will take control of the House, Senate, and Presidency in one fell swoop.

But the problem that will arise around that time is that the amount of bodies we can send to Iraq will become limited. Reports I've seen say that in two or three years, we will be unable to stay the course simply because we will run out of troops. Then we will begin the withdraw not because we reign victorious, but because reality has taken over. And I'm reasonably sure the insurgency knows this too.

Certainly by then we can hope for higher numbers of self sufficient Iraqi forces. But without them, withdraw from Iraq will occur whether it's the right thing to do or not. Iraqi's will be forced to take charge, and this argument will be render moot.

Bush, for now, seems content to wait it out in Iraq and hope for things to improve, even as the number of deaths from insurgent attacks grow.. And as the New York Times notes, the President, according to advisors, "is adamantly committed to holding tough in Iraq, even if it means disregarding the domestic political repercussions and pressure from his own party." I would also take that to mean that President will hold tough regardless of the actual reports from the ground.

And so if it takes a "flip-flop" to bring the President around, then I'm all for it.

*UPDATE* I should have pointed to this TIME article that suggests the President is wrong in some of his assertions. And I would ask Mr. Stewart (if he returns) what would be considered a "finished job" in Iraq.