Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blagojevich is a canny bastard

I'll grant him that.


IN this case, however, I don't see any reason why the Senate shouldn't seat this man. It seems clear Blagojevich didn't sell the seat to Burris and he's otherwise well qualified.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Just a wish for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One month to go before the Obama administration takes over

And I hope it goes by quickly.

The wreckage left behind by the Bush years is really something to behold.

Blinded by partisanship, conservatives and GOPers can't really gauge the depth of the disgust of average Americans with the Bush legacy.

It turned out to be a perfect storm of incompetence and ideology. Bush will be remembered for a string of words like Katrina, torture, Iraq, 9/11, bailout, housing bubble, Terry Schiavo, WMDs, Tora Tora, Abu Ghraib and more, with little if any positive feelings associated with any of those.

Indeed, if it wasn't for the exemplary leadership of Gates and Petraeus in their respective spheres and the devotion and talent of many thousands of soldiers and civil servants at lower levels who salvaged something resembling success out of the ill-advised Iraq adventure, we would be in an even worse way.

As it is, President Obama will have no honeymoon as he works full-bore to rescue the economy frmo dire straights while recasting our foreign policy in more sensibl directions.

I, for one, don't see how sinking $10 billion a month or more into Iraq can't have a negative effect on the economy back home. Is it a major cause, no, but that represents several hundred billion dollars of money that wasn't available for dealing with our domestic issues. The nonmonetary costs have been even steeper.

I'm hopeful that the team that Obama has put in place (in record time, by the way) will be able to head off the worst, but I fear that the "better" outcome will still not be anything we'll look back with any fondess.

In particular I'm afraid that the newspaper industry will not survive the coming 12 months. My paper is less vulnerable thatn most, but everyone is at risk. Quite a few major cities may find themselves without a daily newspaper.

There's a need for news gatherers no matter what the fate of the dead-tree media is. The question is who pays for the news gatherers once the dead-tree media expires. I don't think most people undertsand how much that the electronic media, bot old and new, leeches off the print media for stories and information. I've had more than one television reporter admit to me in conversation that they get most of their stort ideas from the newspapers. Very few of the online news sites do any orginal reporting, most also rely on print media and merely aggrgate those stories. At the end of the day there has to be someone attending the meetings, r eading the reports, interviewing sources and walking the beat to generate the news. Otherwise we're left with just press releases and pundits.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The buck begins to stop with Bush

Andrew Sullaivn takes Glenn reynolds (Instapundit) to task (emphasis mine):

When that commander-in-chief has personally authorized such techniques himself, he assumes total legal and moral responsibility for those war crimes. So even if Reynolds' own skewed view of the report is accepted, his conclusion still doesn't follow. Bush is responsible, morally and legally and operationally, for war crimes under his command - war crimes for which Bush refuses to take any responsibility.
But, of course, his view is skewed, as partisan propaganda often is. As the Taguba and Fay and Jones reports found, the importation of the Gitmo techniques to Iraq was directly ordered from the very top. General Geoffrey Miller was directly sent by Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmoize" it, i.e. to transport the Communist torture techniques honed at Gitmo to a theater of war that even Rumsfeld believed was subject to Geneva. Miller was ordered to take the gloves off and round up thousands of innocents for mass abuse and torture because the Iraq insurgency had taken Bush and Cheney by surprise and they responded in the only way they knew or trusted: by violence, force and torture (which we now know were the pillars of their war strategy from the first). Does Reynolds believe that the mass round-ups of Iraqis into Abu Ghraib jail were not authorized by the commander-in-chief? Does he believe that the order to get intelligence on the insurgency was invented by a few bad apples on the night shift? Does he really think that the exact same SERE techniques authorized by Bush were replicated in exquisite detail by barely literate grunts like Graner and England by some sort of telepathy or "climate"?
Well: this is what you have to believe if you are to keep defending this administration

Sullivan makes an uncomfortable point

Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic online:

The MSM also made torture possible - especially cable news. Even PBS demanded that guests not use the word torture to decribe torture. The issue was barely present in the last campagn; and Bush has not been asked about his war crimes in any single exit interview so far. The AP and the NYT and the WaPo collude in robbing the English language of its plain meaning. This is not to bely that amazing work that many MSM reporters have done - from Dana Priest and Jane Mayer to Scott Horton and Charlie Savage. But so many of their editors seem unable to tell the truth about this country's war crimes in the past seven years.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's official: Bush authorized war crimes

Scott Horton explains:
This week the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a powerful report, released jointly by chair Carl Levin and ranking member John McCain, that received the unanimous support of its Democratic and Republican members. The report concluded that Donald Rumsfeld and other high-level officials of the administration consciously adopted a policy for the torture and abuse of prisoners held in the war on terror. It also found that they attempted to cover up their conduct by waging a P.R. campaign to put the blame on a group of young soldiers they called “rotten apples.” Lawyers figure prominently among the miscreants identified. Evidently the torture policy’s authors then enlisted ethics-challenged lawyers to craft memoranda designed to give torture “the appearance of legality” as part of a scheme to create the torture program despite internal opposition.

The Senate Report summary can be read here: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/pdf/12112008_detaineeabuse.pdf?sid=ST2008121101970&s_pos=list

Just one of the conclusions of this daming report (emphasis mine):

(U) The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Gen. Shinseki for VA!

Boy, that is poetic justice.

Obama's good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama's quiet coup

Bush may be the lamest of lame duck presidents, but there's one area where even the lamest duck president could do a lot of mischief if so inclined, Under our system there's little meaningful restraint on the ability of the president to order attacks on foreign countries under the best of circumstances (since 1950, anyways) but what restraints there are lose all their power in the waning days of an administration.

Obama has clearly taken positive steps to exert leadership on the economy, our most pressing issue, even before taking office, but he also has deftly covered his foreign policy flank by keeping Gates on as SecDef.

There are many very good reasons to keep Gates on, and I'm sure they counted most in the decision. But the happy result of this decision has been to essentially remove the ability of Bush to start trouble with Iran. While it's true that Gates still works for Bush officially, he's now also Obama's man and has every incentive to make sure that nothing stupid is done in these last 48 days to screw things up for the new team.

Another well-handled move.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reqium for a Maverick

Excellent Rolling Stone piece on the election


The Most Civilized Holiday

A nice essay about Thanksgiving and why it's the best holiday of them all:

This is not journalism

Apparently some "newspaper" person placed a tracking device on Simon Cowell's car. His lawyers warned the press in general about harassment, and I have to say that I think this steps well beyond any bounds of reasonable journalism.


Now, Simon Cowell is a subject of legitimate public interest, but that interest stops well short of stalking the man. He has less expectation of privacy than the average person, but that doesn't mean he has no expectation of privacy at all. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone thought this was a good idea. That, of course, is the problem today in many media circles, a lack of judgment about what is newsworthy and what is now.

At the same time that we have celebrities like Cowell being stalked we have serious problems such as the financial mess, the erosion of civil liberties by the government and unexamined questions about war and terrorism. Important stuff gets ignored and we have media overattention to trivia. Really, in the grand scheme of things are Simon Cowell's movements worth tracking by anyone? Who could possibly care?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gates stays on

This is exceptionally good news.

Secretary Gates has many good qualities, but one in particular that holds promise for the future is his willingness to hold people accountable. In this he has been almost a singular figure in the Bush administration, which otherwise can only find reason to fire people when they offer honest opinions that are at variance with the official line.

This suggests that Obama, too, will be willing to value candor over toadying and competence over connections.

Gates has done an awful lot of good in his tenure so far. It's a pity that Bush stuck with Rumsfeld so long.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Riots in Iceland!

Something I never thought I'd see:


But maybe not the last place.

The last time we had a depression some very unsavory movements resulted. I don't think human nature has changed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More McCarthy foolishness

McCarthy admits the obvious, but then lapses into excuse-making again at The Corner:

It seems pretty clear that the Bush administration did not help matters here. Nearly seven years ago, the President publicly claimed the Algerians were planning a bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Last month, however, the Justice Department suddenly informed the Court that it was no longer relying on that information. We've seen this sort of thing happen too many times over the last seven years, and the effect can only be to reduce the confidence of the court and the public that the government is in command of the relevant facts and can be trusted to make thoughtful decisions.
All that said, though, Judge Leon concluded that “[t]o rest [combatant detention] on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation.” That is puzzling. There is nothing in the training of a judge that makes him an expert in military matters. In our system of divided government, the question of who is an enemy combatant should be committed to the executive brach — specifically, to the military professionals waging the war. If there is any evidence supporting the military's wartime decision to detain (and, to reiterate, Judge Leon said there was sufficient evidence to hold these men for intelligence purposes), the court should defer to the military judgment.

It takes very little imagination to think of many ways in which evidence sufficient to detain someone for intelligence gathering purposes would be completely inadequate to justify indefinite detention. In a civilian context similar things happen with material witnesses, police investigations and even protective custody.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kathleen Parker tells the truth

I guess she "got religion" so to speak and her eye-opening exposure to the Wingnuts has set her free.

So here she nails the GOP problem: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/18/AR2008111802886.html


The pirate problem, unaddressed, naturally gets worse: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e10892ba-b4a8-11dd-b780-0000779fd18c.html

There's a lot of hand-wringing going on right now and eventually action will be required.

And everybody already knows what that action will have to be.

Intercepting pirates on the high seas is a stop gap measure and one very limited in effectiveness. It's better than doing nothing, but is no solution. The ocean is too big.

Since Roman times every maritime nation dealing with piracy has found that the only permanent solution is to clear out the pirate bases. If there's no power strong enough or with enough will to do the messy work then the pirates will flourish. Sooner or later the Somali coast will have to be cleaned up and the pirates suppressed at the source. The best solution would be for local authorities to do this, but it's been a generation since Somalia had a real government and there's slim prospects for any change on that front. So it will have to be the maritime powers, and especially the U.S. Navy doing it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And so the wheels of justice slowly begin to turn

Scott Horton explains how the wheels of justice are slowly beginning to turn on Ameircan war crimes:

Quoting Judge Patricia Wald, a former judge on the Serbian war crimes tribunal:

Indeed, I was struck by the similarity between the abuse they suffered and the abuse we found inflicted upon Bosnian Muslim prisoners in Serbian camps when I sat as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, a U.N. court fully supported by the United States. The officials and guards in charge of those prison camps and the civilian leaders who sanctioned their establishment were prosecuted—often by former U.S. government and military lawyers serving with the tribunal—for war crimes, crimes against humanity and, in extreme cases, genocide.

There should be no confusion about what is being said here. One of America’s most prominent judges–and one of our few judicial experts on war crimes–is saying that the factual basis exists to charge officials of the Bush Administration. The test is fairly simple: is the United States now prepared to apply to itself the same legal standards that the United States applied to political leaders in the former Yugoslavia? It is in the end a simple question of justice. And a question of whether the United States is prepared itself to live by the standards it imposes on others.
Full site:


Friday, November 14, 2008

How to be a cartoonist

From an Army pub in World War II

Pardon moi? Bush considering blanket pardon on torture

Or so Salon reports ... http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/11/13/torture_commission/

While prosecutions would be nice, I'm not sure they're likely to happen. But pardons may actually help get this sordid affair behind us by making it impossible for perps and participants to refuse to testify about what they did and knew.

One question that I don't think is clear is whether the president can pardon himself -- although I suspect he can, there being no real limits on the power. Indeed, a sufficiently mischievous man could empty the prisons and there would be no power to stop him. (I wonder of President Lex Luthor ever considered such a step?)

Anyway, one aspect of mass pardons I haven't seen addressed is how they could backfire. While it's true that a presidential pardon would absolutely bar any domestic prosecutions, I don't see how it could stop foreign authorities from pursuing war crimes trials. Indeed, it may provide them evidence! The potential defendants could be compelled to testify in U.S. proceedings and those public record proceedings could then be used by international courts for their prosecutions.

The crimes alleged to ave occurred are, in many cases, recognized as crimes against humanity internationally. As such they can be prosecuted anywhere in the world and have no statute of limitations. President Bush, VP Cheney, John Yoo, Addington and many others may never eb able to set foot outside the U.S. again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Way cool ...

I'm a big fan of Stuart tanks and therefore always enjoyed the old Haunted Tank series from DC, so I'm excited to hear it's coming back, even though the tank this time is an M1 Abrams.

Check out the cover and we see the possibilities ...

Great Photo Essay on Obama

Check them out: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0810/callie-bp.html

P.J. O'Rourke on how conservatives blew it

Long, but worth the read: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=15791&R=13CD722B2E

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

And right on schedule right wingers rediscover the virtues of limiting government power

Georgia Rep. Broun worries about a "dictatorship" by Obama because of some remarks that perhaps some national security tasks ought to be handed over to civilians instead of being militarized.

Read it here: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iRxZox4GFoIweckPDP1oRhKBlHOwD94CCDU00

Now how Broun sees any brownshirts in all this is hard to say. I don't think a reasonable person would interpret Obama's comments that way, but we are talking about unreasonable people, here.

Obsiadin Wings makes a good point

There's a story going around about how Treasury essentially repealed, perhaps illegally, a part of the tax code resulting in a $140 billion tax windfall for banks.

Like the Obsidian Wings poster, I don't have the legal understanding to know if this was legal, nor the economic background to know if it was a good idea. But it sure doesn't smell right, so Treasury had better explain why this was a good idea. As Obsidian Wings noted:

Third, giving banks a huge unilateral tax break is the sort of thing that might as well have been designed to deprive the bailout of whatever popular support it might ever have had. We live in a democracy. People's opinions matter. The Treasury should remember that, and act accordingly.

Greenwald on the responsibility of the elites for the Bush horrors

Greenwald is rarely succinct, but here is one of the highlights:

As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this: how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance? Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong. We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of "war crimes".
Our Government turned the NSA apparatus inward -- something that was never supposed to happen -- spying on our conversations in secret and without warrants or oversight, all in violation of the law, and then, once revealed, acted to immunize the private-sector lawbreakers. And that's to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people we killed and the millions more we displaced with a war launched on false pretense. And on and on and on.
Prime responsibility for those actions may lie with the administration which implemented them and with the Congress that thereafter acquiesced to and even endorsed much of it, but it also lies with much of our opinion-making elite and expert class. Even when they politely disagreed, they treated most of this -- and still do -- as though it were reasonable and customary, eschewing strong language and emphatic condemnation and moral outrage, while perversely and self-servingly construing their constraint as some sort of a virtue -- a hallmark of dignified Seriousness. That created the impression that these were just garden-variety political conflicts to be batted about in pretty conference rooms by mutually regarding elites on both sides of these "debates." Meanwhile, those who objected too strongly and in disrespectful tones, who described the extremism and lawlessness taking place, were dismissed by these same elites as overheated, fringe hysterics.
Some political issues, including ones that provoke intense passion, have many sides, but not all do. Not all positions are worthy of respect. Some actions and policies require outrage and condemnation, to the point where it becomes irresponsible to comment on them without expressing that. Some ideas are so corrupted and dangerous and indefensible that they do reflect negatively on the character and credibility of their advocates, on the propriety of treating those advocates as though they're respectable and honorable. Most of all, elites who seek out an opinion platform have a responsibility to accept that their ideas and arguments have consequences and they should be held accountable for what their actions spawn.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whither the GOP?

While some of the more intellectual conservatives are starting a promising examination of where conservatism and the Republican Party may be going in the wake of Tuesday's stunning rejection, there's very little evidence that any of that thought is making it down to the Wingnut Base.

Indeed, judging from the blogs, talk radio and some of the GOP leadership (Boehner) the prevailing mood seem to be that all the GOP needs to do is be more conservative.

There's a lot of talk about how the U.S. is a "center-right" country, which may ore may not be true, but even granting that it's broadly correct the Wingies seem to be forgetting that the key word in that compound modifier is the CENTER. Moving more to the RIGHT by definition means moving away from the center.

This really makes no sense, whatsoever, but the Right has been suffering from mass delusion for quite a while now. While most see that Iraq was a mistake, Bush a failure and Palin an embarrassment, the Right remains out of step with the rest of the country to an alarming degree. I mean, we have people buying guns because they're afraid that Obama will take them away and putting ads on Drudge about joining the resistance!

I mean, really, Obama hasn't said anything about taking guns away and, indeed went out of his way to reassure gunowners. Even if he were so inclined, it's hard to imagine him spending any political capital on a futile, divisive and ineffective gun seizure plan when he's got a war to end, a war to win and an economic crisis to solve.

On top of all that, it would have been nice for all these gunowners to have been more concerned about the Bush administrations erection of a regime that claims the power to throw anybody it deems an enemy combatant (even citizens) in jail without judicial review for as long as it wants and, oh yeah, torture them. If these fools think they little guns will protect them from that kind of power then they haven't been paying attention. Remember Waco? No private party can hope to defend itself against the federal government by force of arms alone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama economic meeting

Fascinating and impressive list of participants.

Obama seems to have a kanck for getting talented people want to work for him.

If he can keep the egos in check enough for these sorts of folks to work together then we may see some very good things come out of the next four years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's speech

Pitch perfect:


McCain's best speech

He was eloquent, classy and conciliatory. He silenced the boo-ers and extended what truly seemed to be a sincere olive branch.

While I wish more of this McCain had been in evidence during the race, I am glad he went out on such a good note:


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Worst case scenario for Lieberman

Is if the Democrats pick up less than what they need for 60, like enough to get to 57, say. Then Lieberman is not needed for the filibuster, yet they also are comfortably over 51 and don't need him for control, either.
In that case they may just cast him loose, wish him luck with his GOP buddies and plan to knock him off with a real Democrat next time he's up for re-election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not enough room in the GOP big tent, or is it a pup tent now?

Gun company president forced to resign by Internet hate because he revealed he was voting for Obama in a newspaper interview. Mostly because of the war, he says.

Os is the Republican "big tent" now a pup tent?


Friday, October 31, 2008

A comment on Afro-mercial

I left this comment on http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2008/10/lil-obama.html?cid=137189631#comments in response to Riehl asking if anyone saw the "Afro-merical" on TV.

And after calling it an "afro-mercial" you expect:

1) To be taken seriously

2) To recruit non-white people into the conservative movement someday

3) Someone to believe your self-delusion that it wasn't a racist remark

Well, I know it's completely fruitless to tell you this, because your blindness is impenetrable, but it is, indeed, a racist remark. The fact that you can't see it is no evidence that it isn't actually racist, merely evidence that you don't understand.

Given that the country is inexorably becoming more diverse by the minute, consvervatives are going to have to come to terms with the question of race and ethnicity if conservative philosophy is to survive in American politics.

There's nothing inherently racist in a conservative politics, although its particular history in America on that score is not a happy one. There are left-wing racists and many individuals from minority groups have conservative personal philosophy and conduct. If conservatives became self-aware enough about racism to purge it from their polotics they may find it possible to connect political conservatism with the personal conservatism of many minority people.

Instead we have a black Republican women in tears because her Party mailed out "Obamabucks" with images of watermeleon and fried chicken and the party official professing ignorance of its racial implications.

If she was, indeed, ignorant (giving her far more than the benefit of the coubt) than she needs to educate herself. Ignorance is a poor defense on this topic.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mills of God

From this post: http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=34961

But in full: Though the mills of God grind slowly,

Yet they grind exceeding small;

Though with patience He stands waiting,

With exactness grinds He all.


After 60 yrs, justice is now. In '48 when Truman, though facing sweeping defeat, decreed a robust civil rights plank for the Dem platform and Humphrey intoned that we must, in Lincoln's words, "do the right, as God has given us to know the right," the racists decamped. A body formerly known as the Party of Lincoln gave them succor, crafted a cynical "southern strategy," and perennially prevailed.

This unholy union has now corroded into a mash-up of Old Dixie, prairie gunslingers, anti-tax fetishists, end times Rapturists, militiamen and Millenarians, jingoists and misanthropes, survivalists and cranks, and the odd secessionist witch doctor. Soon there will be a reckoning between the cerebral cons (who've been long content to pal up with vermin) and the wingnut residuum that has found its avatar in Bible Spice.

Meanwhile, the Dems have a nation to rebuild. Pretty that this came to pass through the strivings of an unassuming black American, a legacy of what Truman, Humphrey, and numberless others went to their political graves for. Thanks, God, you’re ok after all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top 10 C reasons for Obama

Sullivan lists 10 reasons why conservatives should vote for Obama: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/the-top-ten-rea.html#more

Last Week

I'm cautiously optimistic at this point that things will come out alright on election day.

A lot can happen in a week, of course, but every day provides less chance for something dramatic to occur that will change things. Indeed, at this point, with so many people having already voted, it's possible that a late event will not change things enough to make a difference.

That said, there are powerful forces at work that will not go quietly.

Obama, despite being a fairly conventional politician, represents a real danger to some of the people who have been a disaster over the last eight years.

One suspects that there is a lot of crony capitalism that would be in danger of exposure and prosecution by a professional and depoliticized Justice Department. One knows that there are many individuals who have a real exposure for war crimes prosecutions in the wake of the torture regime. And there's no telling what vile secrets may lurk in the secret surveillance programs, but I think it would be a truly shocking development if an administration that has shown so little respect for law and limits in everything else had turned out to be restrained and scrupulous in this one area.

Friday, October 24, 2008

B stands for bull

There's not too much to say about the McCain campaign worker's hoax attack. Even Malkin smelled a rat. It didn't make it into my newspaper yesterday because it had HOAX written all over it in my opinion and I didn't think it rated any ink.

Of course it was a hoax, after all, but now it appears some official state-level McCain people were pushing the story: http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/mccain_aide_gave_reporters_inc.php

And they wonder why people believe the McCain effort is sleazy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My open letter to the RNC

I got a mail solicitation from the RNC today. While I didn't send them any money, they kindly provided a postpaid envelope and I decided to take advantage of this to share with them why I won't be sending them any money.

Here's what I wrote:
Dear RNC

Thank you for your invitation to contribute to RNC Victory 2008. I will decline.
The Republican Party has lost its way.
The party I supported for most of my adult life is gone, replaced by one that supports unrestrained spending, unwise warring and ill-disguised hostility to science, education and a substantial number of its fellow citizens because of their race, ethnicity and family relationships.
I won’t spend space here with a detailed critique. You can catch the gist of it from conservative folks as diverse as Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Larison, George Will, Colin Powell and even Pat Buchanan.
I do want to highlight one issue however, and that is American torture and the Republican party’s explicit and implicit support and complicity in the policies that made it a practice.
For more than four decades whenever I have held a ballot and I did not have a good reason to vote for someone else my default vote as been for the person with an “R” next to their name. That is over.
Until such time as the Republican Party vigorously repudiates American torture and remembers its ancient support for the rule of law my default vote will go to the “D” adorned candidates.
This year, after being a registered Republican for 45 years, I changed my party affiliation to unenrolled.
The Democratic Party has little to recommend it except that it is not the Republican Party. That will have to do.
How long it will have to do depends on you people.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The photo that moved Powell


GOP sleaze ads

So now there's an ad claiming Obama wants to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens and shows a picture of Obama with a photo of 9/11 Hijacker Mohamed Atta.

Nice, slimy stuff, that. Of course, it just so happens that Atta was not a fracking illegal alien so it's also meaningless.

Atta's license was revoked a couple of weeks before the attack because of some traffic infractions, but the attacks happened before the bureaucracy could catch up enough to cause him any complications.

One can only hope that the end result of the race isn't particularly close. The country will be much better off with a clear result this time.

It's interesting that the last Democrat to win the presidency with more than half the popular vote was Carter! It illustrates how divided the country has been ever since Nixon's "southern strategy and LBJ's civil rights legislation stripped the whites out of the Democratic party in the South.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Geesh, He's not even a plumber!

And now the AP reports that Joe the Plumber doesn't even have a plumbing license.

You know, if you're going to try smoke and mirrors you ought to have a mirror.

Joe the Plumber or Joe the Plant

So Daily Kos is all a-twitter over the holes in "Joe the Plumber's" story.

Details here: http://www.dailykos.com/

Evidently he's had tax issues.

Evidently he's actually a Republican.

It's even alleged he's got at least a Bill Ayers'-style connection to the Keating folks.

It's also noted that the McCain campaign had his phone number, although they swear they didn't give him "media training."

For the record, it sounds suspiciously like another inept GOP dirty trick.

Someday they will rediscover the value of actual values (you know, the kind you live by, not just talk about). Once (and if) they do, they will start to recover. The Democrats will always be vulnerable on that score.

Meanwhile Drudge has still failed to make note of the Palin abuse-of-power-probe,

Meanwhile PBS is balking at airing a documentary that shows how the Bush torture regime came about.

Oh, and meanwhile the economy is going to absolutely to hell.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Drudge STILL ignores Palin Troopergate report

Palin and (McCain campaign chair) Davis lie about what the report said in a way that would do credit to a Lewis Carroll poem, but Drudge simply IGNORES it entirely.

This is pretty blatant, even for Drudge.

And, frankly. may even be dangerous for his agenda-setting power. If opinion makers and newsrooms and pundits can't even ink to all important stories (Drudge's spin isn't as much of a problem, as most opinion makers, newsrooms and pundits can see through the crap) then they will eventually go elsewhere.

Up until now Drudge has been a useful tool, even though his partisanship is on open display because he was fairly good about providing links to stuff that you know he didn't like. But to completely ignore the TrooperGate report threatens to remove his usefulness.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Drudge simply IGNORES Palin report

The Drudge Report is a useful resource, but hardly an unbiased one. While finding room for a Washington Times story alleging some Obama thing or other with the Iraqis he completely ignores the report that found that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from being a state trooper.

The report is here: http://community.adn.com/adn/node/132565

Evidently you won't get linked to it off of Drudge.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rich Lowry on Obama's "genius"

Rich Lowry (Of Palin "Starbursts" fame) on Obama tonight:

Just got off deadline for a New York Post piece on the debate. I thought McCain was good. It's as passionate and well-informed as he's ever been on domestic policy. His debate briefers did their job well. I think he repeatedly scored points in the first hour, but they were jabs rather then crosses—blows that Obama could absorb. If McCain were running in a year when his party wasn't getting crushed by a series of calamites, he might be winning this race. But tonight obviously wasn't enough. Obama, meanwhile, just has to appear plausible and he did. In fact, he's a kind of genius at appearing plausible. If the Nobel committee had a prize for appearing plausible, he'd win it every time. He carries himself with confidence, he never appears flustered, and he has mastered his material. If he's losing these debates on points (as I think he is), it doesn't matter. Every day the race drifts in the same direction it is now is a day he's closer to becoming president.

My emphasis

Monday, October 6, 2008

So the market tanked for most of the day

Only to recover much of the lost ground this afternoon.

I'd find little solace in that recovery, however, because there's no indication that things are improving. Indeed. there's every indication that things are about to get substantially worse.

We didn't get into the mess overnight and I see no reason to think that anything useful will happen until sometime next spring or summer after the new administration takes office.

IF this is just a regular downturn, albeit a little worse than most, we'll know it by then. There will be many indicators that things are starting to get better. Typical recession last 9 months to a year and next summer will be outside that time frame.

If. on the other hand, things are getting worse they'll most likely be really bad by then and the country will be ready for some drastic action.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A tiny voice of reason

From the American Conservative site blog Eunomia:

I rehash all of this not to dwell on Palin’s problems, which are increasingly irrelevant as McCain heads towards defeat, but to implore conservatives to stop ignoring reality just because they happen to like a candidate’s personality and biography. Besides being bad for the quality of conservative thought, it embraces the caricature that conservatives are indifferent to knowledge and have no use for expertise, which has become an all too legitimate critique of how conservatives have responded to the misrule of the Bush administration. That was not always the case, but if conservatives insist on making elaborate arguments that understanding and knowledge are not significant criteria when choosing our top elected officials they will lose whatever credibility they may still have. More than that, they will be crippled by their embrace of cheerful ignorance when it comes time to oppose the policies of the Democratic administration that is surely about to be elected.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rep. Brad Sherman explains why the bailout IS a bailout

We know that the Bailout Bill allows million-dollar-a-month salaries to executives of bailed-out firms, and it allows hundreds of billions to be used to buy toxic assets currently held by foreign investors. But we are told: "don't worry, this $700 billion bill won't cost us anything. We will get it all back next decade through a revenue bill."

I. Section 134 of the Bailout Bill merely says that the President must submit a revenue bill to Congress in 2013 that recoups from the financial industry the taxpayers' net losses.
a. If the President has any revenue ideas he actually likes, he would submit them to us anyway.b. If the President submits revenue ideas only because he is forced to by Section 134, he will send it to us with a note saying that he believes they are bad for the country, and reserves the right to veto.c. The Bailout Bill does not automatically enact any revenue increases, nor protect a revenue bill from filibuster or veto.

II. Congress is unlikely to pass a tax increase bill of hundreds of billions of dollars in 2013.
a. Tax increase bills are anathema to many.b. 41 Senators can block the plan. We're giving Wall Street enough money to hire 4100 lobbyists.c. In recent years, Wall Street has easily defeated every attempt to close every loophole that they exploit, no matter how pernicious-even the abusive use of Cayman Island tax havens by hedge fund managers, who thereby pay zero tax.

III. Any tax on the financial industry would make the good banks pay a huge tax so we can recoup what we gave to the bad banks.
a. Section 134 says the tax will be on "the financial industry." It does not provide for a tax on just those firms that received bailout payments.b. A bank that doesn't get a bailout payment still pays the tax.c. Community banks and perhaps credit unions will also be subject to the tax, so we can recoup what we gave to Wall Street.

IV. It is impossible to draft a tax that hits only those firms that received bailout payments, and even more impossible to draft one that taxes each bank in proportion to how much money we lost on its toxic assets.
a. There are no provisions to even keep track of losses on each asset purchased as it is managed over the years. Assets purchased from several banks will be pooled, managed, and sold together, and we can never know how much we lost on assets purchased from any one bank.b. If three banks in the year 2013 have the same income and size and operations, they will all pay the same tax-even if one got no bailout payments, a second got a million dollars, and a third got a billion dollars.c. Many bailed-out firms won't exist in 2013.
1. Some will go under.2. Some bailed-out firms are only shell companies. Example: Assume the Bank of Shanghai has $30 billion in toxic assets. It will sell these to the tiny subsidiary it has incorporated in California. The subsidiary will then sell these to the Treasury in 2009, and will be dissolved long before 2013.3. Many bailed-out firms will still be unprofitable in 2013.4. Some bailed-out firms will move offshore before 2013.
d. The whole purpose of the bill is to improve the balance sheets of the bailed-out firms. If particular bailed-out firms owe us the money they receive, they would have to list this as a liability, and the bill would fail to improve their balance sheets.
In 2013 we will not pass a tax bill that imposes hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes on the financial services industry, including those banks that got no bailouts, community banks, and credit unions. A tax bill imposed only on those entities that got bailout payments is impossible to draft, and contrary to the purposes of the Bill.
If it were easy to pass a bill to recoup hundreds of billions of dollars through taxes to be imposed in 2013 and thereafter, then provisions imposing such taxes would be in today's bill.

Wall Street gets their money now, and we get it back never.

The Vote

I'll admit I was a bit surprised that the "bailout" bill failed, but not shocked. I've felt that the chances that something would be done this time were slimmer than the conventional wisdom suggested. Not based on any analysis, of course, just on a gut feeling that they were going to the well one too many times.

The entire unfolding of this crisis has caught most of the mainstream figures by surprise, although there have been no shortage of voices in the wilderness warming that trouble was ahead. Checkout http://housingpanic.blogspot.com/ for example.

While the exact course of things has been hard to predict, there has been one constant, and that is whatever the government says and does will be too little and too late. This "bailout" seems to be just another chapter in that story.

I don't have the expertise to judge the plan on its details, but if past performance is any guide, time will prove that this plan will be inadequate.

It's certainly possible that there is nothing the government can do that would actually stop the meltdown, of course. It may be that some future Bernanke-like scholar will determine that the last chance for effective intervention passed many years ago.

Friday, September 26, 2008


The spectacle of the FBI director and Acting AG rushing to the bedside of the seriously ill AG to head off the White House Chief of Staff and White House Counsel sounds like the kind of overwrought drama one might expect to see in the TV show"24" than in real life.

Yet the drama is critical to what may well prove to be the most explosive issue of the whole Bush administration over the long haul. While there are myriad disasters that can be laid at Bush's feet for the judgment of history such as War in Iraq, torture, budget deficits, financial meltdowns and more -- the secret wiretapping program may be the one that finally puts Bush in the Nixonian category.

This Atlantic online article is highly disturbing : http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200809u/gonzales-investigation

But, if true, it will show that Bush betrayed his oath of office.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can McCain escape the blame?

I'm sure it's not so simple as this, and there's plenty of blame to go around, (and I'm not even sure that McCain and the Republicans may not be right) but it sure looks like everything was all sort of set for The Big Compromise to be struck and everyone look like did something good (at least until the next shoe drops -- BTW WaMu bit the dust) and then McCain rides into town and screws it all up.

If the market tanks tomorrow because the deal they expected has gone belly up, how does McCain escape the blame?

McCain's gambit

I'm long past being completely objective about this race. My disappointment with Republicans in general, and McCain in particular is too profound to claim a dispassionate viewpoint.

My observation, however, is that whatever might have been left in the benefit-of-the-doubt reservoir seems to have run dry for the GOP and I doubt that McCain's attempt to get out of Friday's debate will work to his credit.

Likewise, I think Bush's squandered credibility will mean that tonight's address will have little impact.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ben Stein NOT being funny


Ben Stein NOT being funny


George Will on McCain being ill-suited to the presidency

As always, well said:

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

The Reich stuff

Robert Reich on the Bail Out


Monday, September 22, 2008

As usual, Balkinization has good coverage


As usual, Balkinization has good coverage


Bailout appears unconstitutional on its face to me

As written this bailout bill seems to me to be completely unconstitutional, as it delegates legislative powers to an executive agency while denying review to the courts.

More details to follow, but I have to say this looks like just another awful, rushed Bush administration power grab.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wise men recommend a new RTC

Details here:

AIG is done

And just like that, another huge firm pops and the Taxpayer is on the hook:


At this rate the governmet will own everything. We're turning into communists!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now this IS funny -- Black comic introduces McCain

Check it out


The Flood

It was flooding.

As the flood waters were rising, a man was on the stoop of his house and another man in a row boat came by. The man in the row boat told the man on the stoop to get in and he’d save him. The man on the stoop said, no, he had faith in God and would wait for God to save him.

The flood waters kept rising and the man had to go to the second floor of his house. A man in a motor boat came by and told the man in the house to get in because he had come to rescue him. The man in the house said no thank you. He had perfect faith in God and would wait for God to save him.

The flood waters kept rising. Pretty soon they were up to the man’s roof and he got out on the roof. A helicopter then came by, lowered a rope and the pilot shouted down in the man in the house to climb up the rope because the helicopter had come to rescue him. The man in the house wouldn’t get in. He told the pilot that he had faith in God and would wait for God to rescue him.

The flood waters kept rising and the man in the house drowned.

When he got to heaven, he asked God where he went wrong. He told God that he had perfect faith in God, but God had let him drown.

“What more do you want from me?” asked God. “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

More of the same

Gee, this sounds familiar:

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.


Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

From the New York Times. The whole story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

More of the same

Gee, this sounds familiar:

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.


More of the same

Gee, this sounds familiar:

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.


More of the same

Gee, this sounds familiar:

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lehman death watch

This is really a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

It's like being trapped in a blazing inferno in a high-rise. You can stay and burn to death or jump and die from the leap.

Likewise the Lehman crisis provides the government a similar awful choice. It can let the firm fail and see a major financial collapse. Or it can bail the firm out, and delay the financial collapse until the next giant firm gets in trouble, like Merrill Lynch or Goldman Sachs.

Frankly, if it's going to happen they might as well get it over with. The bubble will have to be pricked and delaying it merely increases the eventual pain.

We should know if a few hours.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Media has had it with the lies

Just read an AP story that spelled out no less than six different untrue or misleading McCain statements. That's six in one story -- and that was a regular campaign story, not some expose.

As a former reporter myself, I know nothing is more aggravating than to have someone lie to you to your face and expect you to print it, even though you know it's a lie, they know it's a lie and they know that you know it's a lie.

It's bad when even the ladies on The View are calling you out as a liar.

The definitive list of McCain course reversals

76 and counting so far: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/flipflops

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zero Tolerance For Common Sense

Every year we're treated to stories of school systems run by people with advanced degrees have no common sense and less moral backbone and therefore they feel obliged to give some poor kid an awful day that they will remember for the rest of their lives just so the educators can follow some rule.

The latest one from South Carolina:

Some kid uses a broken pencil sharpener and the teacher decides the little blade is a "weapon" and makes a federal case about it.

You know, how about some common sense and a little damn love for the poor child here. Evidently this was not a trouble-making child and there's no question that it was simply a kid using a broken pencil sharpener, Now the child is going to be suspended for two days. A teacher with some common sense and real concern for their student (as opposed to being primarily concerned about No. 1 and getting in trouble for not following the rule strictly enough) would have simply pocketed the blade and sent it home with the child at the end of the day, perhaps with a little not to mom and dad asking that they replace the broken tool. I have no doubt that every day, across America in thousands of classrooms most teachers are exercising just that level of common sense and love for their charges dealing with similar cases that don't make the news.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black enough?

A good word: http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/09/obama_and_the_onedrop_rule.php

The disappointment of John McCain

Andrew Sullivan sums it up:
So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil. When he knew that George W. Bush's war in Iraq was a fiasco and catastrophe, and before Donald Rumsfeld quit, McCain endorsed George W. Bush against his fellow Vietnam vet, John Kerry in 2004. By that decision, McCain lost any credibility that he can ever put country first. He put party first and his own career first ahead of what he knew was best for the country.
And when the Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to condemn and end the torture regime of Bush and Cheney in 2006, McCain again had a clear choice between good and evil, and chose evil.
He capitulated and enshrined torture as the policy of the United States, by allowing the CIA to use techniques as bad as and worse than the torture inflicted on him in Vietnam. He gave the war criminals in the White House retroactive immunity against the prosecution they so richly deserve. The enormity of this moral betrayal, this betrayal of his country's honor, has yet to sink in. But for my part, it now makes much more sense. He is not the man I thought he was.

The rest is here: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/mccains-integri.html

I, too, am disappointed. Of all the GOP candidates I liked John McCain the best. I thought he was a man of honor and I expected, for a change, that we would be treated to an above-board, issues-based campaign between these two men.

Instead we're getting the Rovian politics that have robbed the Republican party of its soul in a Faustian bargain for power. It's evident now that it didn't matter who the GOP picked (with the possible exception of Huckabee), the Republicans no longer even know how to campaign on issues. The Reagan era is dead. Issues no longer matter.

For the good of the party, (not to mention the country) McCain must lose. Perhaps, out of that wreckage someone can rebuild the party based on some authentic conservative values. Maybe it will be Huckabee, with his populist and faith-based but optimistic vision. Maybe it can be Petraeus, who will be a bona fide war hero and is apparently a "Northeastern Republican" (a nearly dead breed, but one that could actually win over independents) in the mold of Eisenhower. Perhaps there is some Obama-like young Republican who can take the party in a new direction.

Being driven away in disgust

As a life-long Republican voter, the last few years have been agonizing for me as I've found my political world turned topsy-turvy. Between torture, war, spending and lawbreaking it's been harder and harder to find anything worthwhile left about the modern GOP.

At least I thought McCain wasn't too bad and he'd run a reasonably honorable campaign, but even that forlorn hope has been dashed.

You know, I am heartily sick and tired of the government lying to me. I'm not naive enough to think that the government will never lie, nor even that there are times when the government should lie. But lies should be rare and when discovered repented of. Not doubled down.


A campaign built on lies cannot be healthy for the country.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Force protection is somewhat of a mantra in U.S. military policy, and as the beneficiary of that policy, I feel I need to tread carefully in being too critical of it.

But the fact remains that airstrikes and other uses of heavy firepower carry enormous risks for bystanders in the area.

The controversy over a recent airstirke that reportedly killed some 90 people in Afghanistan, including as many as 60 children, shows no sign of abating. New video evidemnce has emerged that suggests that the U.S. reports of no mor ethan seven dead civilians is incomplete.


I'm not sure why the military is having such a hard time pinning down the truth here. The U.N. and Afghan authorities seem to have information, one wonders if it's simply not accepted by the military as valid.

The bottom line, however, is that firepower is of limited use in counterinsurgency and is no substitute for numbers on the ground and presence. This has been, all along, the fatal flaw of the Rumsfeld strategy for war in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are many reasons why Gen. Petraeus has seen some success in Iraq, but foremost among them seems to have been changing the deployment of U.S. troops from centalized bases to forawrd positions among the population. This carried risks, of course, and initially casualkty rates did climb, but eventually they fell and now Iraq is safer for U.S. forces than ever.

A similar thing nees to happen in Afghanisatn, where, really, the overall situation should be more favorable. A cost of the Iraq venture has been in preventing the U.S. from having reserves avaikable to influence the Afghanistan fight.

Petreaus is moving up to Central Command and one expects he will apply his talents to redressing that deficiency.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Just how stupid do they think we are?

So supposedly Rep. Westmoreland, a true Son of the South, had no idea that "uppity" had racial connotations.

This really falls in the category of pissing-on-me-and-telling-me-it's-raining.

I mean, come on. If you're going to lie at least make it a half-way believable lie.

Background and amusement from Jack and Jill : http://www.jackandjillpolitics.com/2008/09/completely-hilarious-retort-to-westmorelands-uppity-comment/

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A small point that sums up the GOP's problem

Reality Based Community notes this during McCain's speech:

One of the ordinary people he's going to work for is someone who "lost his real estate investments in the downturn." Not, of course, someone who lost his house.

Some words that are really needed

Roger Simon "apologizes" on behalf of the emdia for daring to do its job this week with Palin: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13143.html

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No words needed

To Serve and Protect

The Richland County, S.C. , sheriff has an M113 APC with a .50 caliber MG.
This makes sense, right?

Other ways to measure Olympic success

The BBC noted that China liked to count how many gold medals were won (which put it first) and the Americans liked to count total medals won (which put them first) but there are other ways to look at medal success, and by several of them Jamaica lands right near the top.:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Of course the GOP believes in the free market, certainly and without a doubt

Unless, of course , the free market would disadvantage the big corporations.


The General

Here's an interesting New Yorker piece on one of the few top leaders involved in the Iraq affair who appears destined to have his reputation enhanced, instead of trashed.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Is it a McCurse?

This whole Sarah Palin choice thing can't help but remind me of 1972 and McGovern's ill-fated choice of Thomas Eagleton.

Will the GOP really actaully be satisfied with this pick?
Sure, she'll appeal to those who simply can't bear to actually think and therefore believe that the Bible dictates the answer to every question in life, science and politics, but those folks aren't wanywhere enough to win win.

She appears to be utterly unqualified to be president, and let's face it, the main job of the VP is to be president-in-reserve should anything happen to the president.

And she's going to bring front and center the question of McCain's age.

This is so bad a selection that I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't make it out of the convention on the ticket.

McGovern ended up dumping Sen. Thomas Eaglton after reports surfaced that he had undergone mental treatments.

McGovern ended up winning just two "states" -- Massachusetts and D.C.

McCain may pick up just a couple from the deep south, Idaho and Alaska at this rate.

An Alaskan talks about Palin

Reading this I can't help but believe tht McCain has made an epic blunder here by picking Palin for VP.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fools come n both optinist and pessimist flavors

John Derbyshire is a curmudgeon, an entertaining and useful sort of person to have around, but it's useful to rmember that great things are not achieved by curmudgeons.

His words here: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MWIwNDFkZWE5MThmNTZhYzkyZmZmYmI4OTlhMzhhMzE=

I'm not sure America sufers from an excess of optimisim -- certainly not right now.

There was an America once that was optimistic enough to to the Moon.

Lieberman and McCain and screwing with the Dems and the media

So we got rumors swirling around that McCain may announce his VP pick in competition with Obama's speech.

First, it's really a cheap stunt to do this sort of thing and what little civility remains between the parties will be sorely tested by this kind of thing. The Democrats went first with their con because that's the understanding that has grown up over the years. If the GOP takes unfair advantage of this then we can expect all sorts of screwing around with convention dates in the future.

Lieberman. Ooooh, I hope it's Lieberman. I can't imagine a bigger disaster for the GOP. (Well, maybe Romney would be close). They say the first rule for a VP pick is do no harm.

Lieberman's betrayal of the Democratic party would be complete and would energize every party loyalist -- even the Hillary folks.

At the same time, GOP stalwarts would be appalled. While Lieberman has been a big supporter of Bush's foreign follies, he's otherwise a standard Liberal. Pick Joe, pleeasse.

Obama nominated

Win or lose, a historic moment.

But winning is important -- and not for symbolism's sake. We really need a break from the past.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Not Bayh

It's funny how the media allows itself to get played.

So the latest line seems to favor Biden. Solid choice, if a little staid. Still, Obama provides the sizzle, as they say.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is it Bayh?

Drudge reports that a Kansas TV station is reporting a local company is printing Obama-Bayh campaign materials.

Source: http://www.kmbc.com/politics/17267009/detail.html

If true, it's a fairly conventional choice for Obama, although probably a safe one.

This is more evidence, I think, that Obama will be much less radical than opponents fear and supporters may want. In his head, the guy is definitely a liberal, but in his gut, he's a cautious, deliberative and basically conservative man. He really is the Anti-Bush.

If true, I'd expect an announcement earlier, rather than later.

Done With Mirrors On Hiatus?

No details provided, but Done With Mirrors is suspending his/her blog, at least for now.

McCain's houses

On one level the whole thing is part of the silly kind of politics that Obama is trying to move beyond, but on another level it's important because until and unless Obama can give as good as he gets in this sort of thing there's no chance of moving beyond it.

So long as the Republicans think that negative crap works, they will keep doing it. It's a lot easier than actually debating the merits of things, after all. Obama will actually be doing the GOP a favor if he can de-fang the crap-style politics enough that they decide to return to actual issues. (There will never be a complete end to negative campaigning -- it's like Evil, you can't permanently defeat it.)

Conservatives actually do have many valid points on many issues. Unfortunately, under Bush, the conservative movement and the GOP generally have, in the immortal words of Charles Barkley "lost their minds."

Until they return to actually trying to beat liberals with real arguments, they will come out on the short end of things. Because, at the end of the day, being as ass is not enough to win arguments with people.

So, does it really matter that McCain doesn't know how many houses he has?No. But then it didn't really matter that Obama wasn't a big fan of flag pins, either.

But trying to paint Obama as some sort of elitist is not the place the McCains want to go. Obama got into Harvard on his own merits, made his own money, grew up raised by a single mom, etc. McCain, meanwhile, got into Annapolis as the son and grandson of admirals, married wealth, etc. Should it be held against McCain that he's rich? No, but it's also not a reason to vote for him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Death of the Cruiser

It seems evident the United States will be building no more warships called cruisers, and, as the U.S. Navy is about the only one building many large surface combatants of any kind, it seems likely that the cruiser, as a class of warship, will be joining the battleship as a relic of an earlier age.

There's been no formal announcement that the Navy won't have any more cruiser, but applying a little analysis to the current state of Navy ship-building leads to the conclusion that there won't be any more cruisers, ever.

The difference between "cruisers' and "destroyers" has been eroding for close to 50 years, as destroyer classes have continued to grow and destroyers have evolved from special-purpose escorts into general-purpose surface combatants, which used to be the role of cruisers. The re designations of "frigates" "destroyers" "destroyer leaders" and "cruisers" over the years has been evidence of this process. The last large class of cruisers built for the U.S. Navy, the Ticonderoga class, was built on the same hull as the large Spruance class destroyers. And the Arliegh Burke class destroyers are about the same size as the Spruances and Ticonderogas.

The newest, Zumwalt-class destroyers, are slated to displace about 14,000 tons, which makes them larger than all but the largest classes of World War II-era heavy cruisers and larger than the vast majority of post-war cruisers. In fact, I think only the nuclear cruiser USS Long Beach had a larger displacement among U.S. Navy cruisers built since 1950.

It's been politically expedient for quite a while to build "destroyers" instead of cruisers because destroyers sound like smaller, cheaper warships than cruisers to ignorant congressmen and the public. This won't be the first time the Navy pulled a fast one on Congress with semantics. (The Nineteenth Century Navy got more than one new warship by persuading Congress to pay for "repairing" an old one.)

But, with destroyers weighing at 14,000 tons or more in there's simply no longer any room for a "cruiser" in the scheme of things. There are no larger surface combatant warships planned. Ships larger than 20,000 tons displacement are generally aviation ships such as attack carriers, amphibious ships or those new Japanese "destroyers" that look like small aircraft carriers.

The only navy to build a class of very large surface combatants was the Soviet Russian navy with its Kirov-class nuclear battle cruisers. While impressive looking, the actual utility of such vessels is unclear and there have been no similar vessels built by anyone.

So logic dictates that there will be no more cruisers. The term "destroyer" no longer means an agile, small and expendable escort vessel. Those are "frigates" and "corvettes" now. Today a destroyer is a large, multi-purpose major surface combatant. Tactically there's no difference in role between a Ticonderoga-class Aegis "cruiser" and the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis "destroyer."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic swimming records

It seems like every medal is being won by a world record time.

Here's a strange thought -- has anyone, other than te Chinese, actually neasured the pool to make sure it's actually 50 meters? If it were a couple inches short that would be enough to affect records without being detectable to the naked eye. right?

Second chance for Arar

According to a Canadian news report:

In a rare move, a U.S. appeals court has decided to reopen a failed legal challenge launched by Maher Arar, reviving hope for the Syrian-born Canadian that he will win justice in the United States for his 2002 deportation to his birth country.
The unexpected decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York to rehear Arar's lawsuit against U.S. authorities follows a ruling in June that the courts have no jurisdiction over the case because the Syrian-born Canadian was never technically in the U.S. when he was arrested at New York's Kennedy Airport en route to his Ottawa home after a vacation.
"This is good news for him," said Maria Lahood, his lawyer with the New-York based Centre for Constitutional Rights.

This is good news, as it really seemed like an awful situation that the U.S. could do this to someone without any consequences.

It's very rare for the court to do this, and it's highy likely that a majority of the full panel disagrees with the 2-1 decision by the small panel, or they wouldn't take this unusual step.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good run down from the War Nerd on Georgia

Meaty link


Bainbridge on the Calvo case

Conservative blogger Steven Bainbridge takes note:
The Calvo case, however, had several other factors working for it that I think help explain why it got so much media attention. Mayor Calco and his wife are white, middle class progressives, who live in a two-story, red-brick house in a Washington suburb. In addition to being a part-time mayor, Calvo works at a nonprofit foundation that runs boarding schools. His wife is a state finance officer. All of which suggests they’re in precisely the same demographic as most MSM reporters. The Washington Post or NY Times reporters look at this case and immediately think: “It could happen to me!” So the story gets saturation coverage--even in Great Britain!
Meanwhile, the MSM ignores the plight of African-American and Latino minority communities caught in the War on Drugs’ crossfire between paramilitary SWAT stormtroopers and gang thugs. How many brown and black families per year are terrorized by cops erroneously executing no knock warrants on the wrong premises? We don’t know because the media only pays attention to collateral damage from the War on Drugs when it happens to people like Mayor Calvo.
What happened to Calvo and his dogs is inexcusable. But the real tragedy is that the same sort of thing happens every day in places like South-Central Los Angeles and nobody cares.
It’s time to declare a cease fire in the failed war on drugs. It’s time for a rational program of legalization and regulation. It’s time for common sense.

What I do for a living

A good post on copy editors


Monday, August 11, 2008


I can't begin to comment on the deep-seated grand political intrigues of the Caucasus, so anyone wanting more on that front is welcome to read folks such as this: http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2008/08/georgia_on_my_mind.html

But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is more consequences of our misadventure in Iraq. If we had kept our eye on the ball and finished off the Taliban in Afghanistan with sufficient force instead of frittering it away with an ill-advised and poorly-conducted war in Iraq we (the U.S.) would have both the military force to have options and the credibility that success would have brought so that military options wouldn't be required.

Instead we have over-extended, over-committed and worn down the military so that we have no realistic military options at all. AND, instead of appearing strong and no one to trifle with the limits of U.S. power have been exposed for all to see in their naked glory because of the way we allowed ourselves to get mired in two long wars without apparent victory or end. (Bushite comments about how things are better in Iraq now display their cluelessness -- the damage has already been done. "Winning" now, whatever that means, doesn't rebuild the reputation that we had for decisive effectiveness we enjoyed before Iraq. It's too late for that.)

Endgame, 1945

Despite reading books about World War II ever since I could read, some 47 years now, there's still aspects of that epic struggle that are completely new to me.

Endgame,1945, an impressive new (2007) book by historian David Stafford sheds light on an aspect of the war I'd never really considered -- what happened as it ended.

It's touched on, here and there, in other histories, but, as Stafford notes in his introduction, most histories of the war end with VE Day. But, of course, the armies didn't disappear overnight and the enormous social and physical wreckage of the war didn't suddenly give way to normal life.

Indeed, there were millions of displaced person, surrendered soldiers, victorious allies, dying camp victims and individual stories strewn throughout Europe. Stafford's book illuminates the big picture by following the stories of about a dozen of these people. Some are soldiers, some are civilians. His perspective is restricted to stories accessible to the Western Allies and those Germans who fell into their hands, so it only tells half the story.

Still, it's a story little told and many of the accounts he mines are previously unpublished or little known.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it relevant to today's issues as well. President Bush is fond of comparing the Iraq war and occupation to the postwar situation in Germany and Japan, but reading the book shows that all was not simple, easy or peaceful in the aftermath of VE Day. No, it was all confusion, tragedy and an appalling mess. Perhaps more attention to what really happened in 1945 would have given the Bush people a better sense of how ill-prepared they really were.

It's am excellent book and highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The McMaster Promotion board

Kaplan has a good article in slate about something that's real important, but usually flies well under the radar of the Media and the public. He notes how the latest Army general officer promotion board may represent a very important seismic shift in the Army's leadership: http://www.slate.com/id/2196647/

The guy at the top always matters, for good or ill. In the case of the ill, for example, we can't really expect a major across-the-board improvement in the U.S. strategic situation so long as Bush is president.
But, to the extent that lower-ranking officials have quality they can make improvements within their sphere. There may be no clearer example of this than the Department of Defense. The shortcomings of Rumfeld are made starkly evident by the dramatic improvements under Gates, who may be one of the most important and effective SecDefs ever.

Gates has brought back to the Pentagon something that has been sorely lacking otherwise in the Bush administration -- accountability. Gates has been willing to fire failures. And now we are also seeing that he's interested in rewarding successes.

Unhappy with the kinds of decisions being made by the all-important Army one-star general promotion boards he brought back Gen. Petraeus from the war zone to oversea a promotion board. This alone can't help but send a powerful message how important Gates considered this board.

One of the biggest scandals of the last few years was the failure of two successive promotion boards to promote COL H.R. McMaster. There's hardly a more famous -- and justly so -- O-6 in the Army and it's failure to give him a star was nothing short of scandalous. Anyone who has been following McMaster's career has little doubt that he is one of the most outstanding officers of his generation -- bearing comparison with luminaries such as George C. Marshall and Creighton Abrams.

So Gates filled the board with the kind of outstanding successful combat officers the Army needs. Officers who had managed to rise to the top despite the system, but who could now reform that system to promote like-minded juniors in sufficient numbers to make a difference, as Kaplan points out.

I sure as hell hope the Navy names an aircraft carrier after this guy someday.

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica