Monday, December 31, 2007

more reasons not to want or expect bipartisan cooperation

I really hate the idea being kicked around that Presidential candidates should pledge up front to real bipartisan cooperation. And Paul Krugman as usual has an excellent column about why we really shouldn't expect such cooperation.

Democrats and Republicans are just too far apart nowadays, because the GOP is still controlled by the lunatic conservatives. As Krugman notes, the GOP presidential candidates (Mike Huckabee excepted) are backing to the hilt the pro-rich economic policies of the de facto Bush Administration despite the clear evidence that MOST Americans are not happy with how the economy has gone under The Decider (and that was true even before the credit crunch began).

Why? "Because the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy." Krugman concludes, "On economics, and on much else, there is no common ground between the parties."

That's true - and that alone would make cooperation difficult as long as the GOP is in its current ideological mode. Add in their political tactics of (in majority) screwing the minority and using every political and parliamentary tactic possible to pass their agenda by the narrowest majority possible (i.e., the most extreme stuff they can get a majority for), and (in minority) of obstructing anything the Democrats try to do, and again I have to ask - WHY BOTHER?


Sunday, December 30, 2007

i don't trust these bipartisan people

A bunch of politicians and retired politicians are going to meet in Oklahoma next week to try to force the Democrats and Republicans to pledge to form an administration that "seeks national consensus." And their threat? If they DON'T, this group will back sombeody - maybe New York Mayor Bloomberg - as a third-party candidate.

Let me see if I understand this. The Republicans had complete control of the Federal government and Congress (except a period in the Senate) from 2001 to January 2007, and still hold the Presidency. During that time, they made an utter hash out of everything with the most corrupt, incompetent, venal and overtly partisan regime ever seen in the United States.

And now the Democrats are supposed, going into an election campaign they are expected to win, to pledge to let some of these damn Republicans join in?

Why? Hey, I remember all that crap from the so-called experts in Washington how de facto President George Bush, having won so narrowly in 2000 (in fact, having LOST but then succeeded in stealing the election with the help of the yuppie Republican riot in Dade County, and of the meddling by the Supreme Court on partisan lines) would seek to build a consensus - to be a uniter, not a divider. Republicans took every opportunity they could to crap all over any Democrat - even luring some like Ted Kennedy into cooperating on some things before yanking the rug out on them and screwing them over.

So my question, for current and former Democrats involved in this stupid, stupid project (people like David Boren, Sam Nunn, and Charles Robb) is why the hell should the Republicans be given ANY consideration in 2008.

I see why the Republicans are involved - it gives them some hope of retaining some influence in Washington should Clinton, Obama, or Edwards win in 2008.

And of course, it holds out the prospect for a third-party candidate that could deliver a split election to Romney, Giuliani, McCain, or Huckabee. Florida 2000 would not be remembered today if Ralph Nader hadn't been running. And the way this idea is described, if the Republican candidate refuses, then they'll back a third party candidate, which could change the currently quite negative dynamic (for the Republicans) of the 2008 race.

For all Democrats involved in this idea - WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? Sam Nunn, you say you haven't decided whom to support in 2008? If it isn't automatic that you'll support Clinton/Obama/Edwards/whoever out of the Democratic party, then hand in your damn party ID card, call yourself an independent, and quit claiming to speak for fellow Democrats.

We don't need any more Liebermans.

As for the Danforths and others who are disenchanted with the Republican party, two options. Quit and join the Democrats. Or (for the non-retired ones) show a willingness to work with the Democrats in Congress instead of partisanly backing each and every Republican filibuster - the current Congress will SHATTER the record of bills blocked by a 40-plus strong minority, all thanks to the Republicans who put partisanship ahead of "national consensus." Don't trust them.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

this is the sound of george bush covering his ass for posterity on climate change

Peter Baker is entirely too kind to de facto President George W. Bush in this long article on how his views on climate have changed over the past year. Baker, relying in large part on the usual current and former White House sources who won't let their names be used because they don't want to get in trouble (or are embarrassed by their own lies), says that Bush's thinking on climate has gradually changed because he's "found the science increasingly persuasive."

But there are hints at the reality. The familiar story about Dick Cheney in 2001 reversing Bush's campaign pledge and killing any plan to require cuts on carbon emissions from power plants. Nods to the fact that it is the changing political reality - including the efforts at state and city levels of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Bloomberg and other governors and mayors, the Democrats' victory in the 2006 elections, and even the changing attitudes among many businesses about climate change - that is more responsible for Bush's change of heart (such as it is).

Because after all, any statement that the science is so much certain now than in 2001 is pure crapola. The scientific consensus has been strongly in place since well before January 2007. The only change in the consensus in 2007 has been recognition that all the bad shit we worry could come from climate change may be happening even quicker than we'd feared.

And that of course, makes the Republicans' reprehensibly irresponsible legacy of delay and denial all the more appalling and indefensible. I say "Republicans" not "Bush" here because remember that the Republican party, the party of pandering to big energy and religious zealots, has been on a decades-long war against science. Most of the war on science has been merely embarrassing for America abroad, and has "only" cost us jobs and money as we lag behind in fields like stem cell research. The Republican war against climate change could cost trillions of dollars, billions of lives, and in the worst case, jeopardizes our global civilization.

Bush's climate change adviser Jim Connaughton says, "You ask, why now? Well, the convergence has finally happened, both internally and externally. Everybody's ready for the next step."

But the real answer to "why now?" is - "oh shit, we don't want to be seen by history as colossal fuck-ups or worse, as being purely in the pockets of Exxon and Detroit and the coal industry, and we don't want the voters to hold this against us Republicans."

As I've said before, when it comes to judging the sorry history of this incompetent, immoral, corrupt, and illegal Administration, I fear the verdict will be even more scathing about its ostrich-in-the-sand stance on climate change than about Iraq, torture or our Constitutional protections.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

bhutto's assassination isn't a reason to vote for clinton or mccain

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is obviously bad news. But it's just the most dramatic bad news from Pakistan, which shows signs that it could slip into becoming our worst nightmare* - a country that already HAS nuclear weapons, ruled by a theocratic Islamic group that are far more hostile to the United States than Iran.

But it's absurd that Hillary Clinton and John McCain are trying to spin this as a reason to vote for them because they have foreign policy experience. McCain says he can pick up the phone and call Mushareff.

Well let me let you in on a little secret: anybody who is President of the United States will have a big staff that knows how to place a long-distance phone call to a foreign leader. And you know what? Foreign leaders tend to take the President's phone call, whether a grizzled vet like McCain would be, or a former governor person with no foreign policy experience, like Mike Huckabee. Or Mitt Romney. Or George W. Bush. Or Bill Clinton...

Romney was right, if foreign policy were the only criterion, we could just grab a diplomat and make him or her president. It is certainly a very important element but it's NOT the only thing we should judge a presidential candidate by.

*Well, maybe that's not as bad a nightmare as the Soviet Union pointing ten thousand nukes at us, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

give will smith a break

OK, Will Smith's comment about Hitler is all over the internet tubes. But no, contrary to some press reports, Smith didn't say Hitler was "good."

Look at the quote closely - Smith didn't use many big words, we should all be able to understand them. He said, "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'"

That is absolutely true, and blindingly obvious. Hitler was obviously a dangerous and bad man, and if "evil" can be applied to a human being, Hitler would seem the obvious candidate. But Hitler did NOT see himself as evil. He thought the stuff he was doing was GOOD.

Now, you and I and a whole bunch of European Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, and almost everybody else outside of Nazi and neo-Nazi circles disagree. Will Smith disagrees, too (and he is rightly angry about how his statement has been mischaracterized). But he was right - Hitler did not see himself as evil.

That is completely different than saying Hitler was good. Judging from the reactions to Smith's comment, you'd think he was the Democratic nominee for the Presidency.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

try out these new words

New words and phrases enter into the English language all the time. Here is a list of the 2007 debutantes, courtesy of the New York Times.

A few of the more interesting ones:

bacn - n. Impersonal e-mail messages that are nearly as annoying as spam but that you have chosen to receive: alerts, newsletters, automated reminders and the like. Popularized at the PodCamp conference in Pittsburgh in August.
Never heard that one but it fits.

e-mail bankruptcy n. What you’re declaring when you choose to delete or ignore a very large number of e-mail messages after falling behind in reading and responding to them. This often includes sending a boilerplate message explaining that old messages will never receive a personal, specific response. Although the Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig is often credited with coining this term, at best he can be said to have popularized it. Its first use was in 2002, two years before Mr. Lessig publicly declared his own e-mail bankruptcy.

I've heard of email bankruptcy. To me it's the sign of a disorganized life.

life-stream v. To make a thorough, continuous digital record of your life in video, sound, pictures and print.

What's the point?

Ninja loan n. No Income, No Job or Assets. A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.

Based on greed, stupidity, and the confidence that the de facto Bush Administration and the Fed would bail out any investors who get burned on these high-return, high-risk assets...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

tropical iceland?

Climate change is moving right along. Despite the Fiery Furnaces' song, Iceland isn't tropical yet. But things are shifting.

The residents of Castiglioni di Cervia, in Italy, suffered an outbreak of a strange disease this past summer. It was a tropical disease called chikungunya, usually found in the Indian Ocean region, a recent immigrant into Italy in the bodies of tiger mosquitoes, moving farther north as Europe's climate becomes warmer.

No reason to expect such moves won't reach the US. Maybe we can all look forward to a day again when diseases like dengue fever and malaria are found in Georgia.


Saturday, December 22, 2007


De facto President George W. Bush likes to compare himself to Harry Truman, hoping (in vain) that his popularity twenty years after his ingloriously damaging presidency has ended will be higher than it is now.

But this report about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's plan to round up 12,000 people - 97% American citizens - for special hearings purely based on suspicions they were "disloyal" shows that Hoover may be a better point of historical comparison for Bush than Truman.

Although as far as I know, Bush rarely wears dresses.

Friday, December 21, 2007

what w wants

De facto President George Bush spoke about the qualities of a good GOP presidential candidate. He said, "I just want to know whether or not somebody's got a sound set of principles from which they will not deviate."

So Bush wants a President who like him, is pig-headedly stubborn and refuses to change his thinking no matter what reality is.

Bush also said he would also ask, "What process will you have in place to ensure that you get the, you know, unvarnished opinion of advisers?"

That's particularly rich coming from an Administration that has famously REJECTED unvarnished opinion (remember General Shinseki?) and instead has molded the facts to meet Bush's preconceived notions. Having yes-men in an Administration isn't unusual, but this one has taken that to new heights.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

holy cow, gop, religion's busting out all over iowa

In the Iowa Republican presidential race (Dana Milbank calls it a holy war), Mike Huckabee, ex-Arkansas governor, former Baptist minister, and all-around godboy, is now out in front all alone, ahead of ex-Massachusetts governor, current Mormon elder, and recent convert to all-around godboy status, Mitt Romney.

Huckabee's support, based on this article, appears to be the Church Lady times a few thousand. Yes, a jump in support for Huckabee among religious women is a big part of his recent surge to the top of the GOP dogpile. Meanwhile, the allegedly handsome Fred Thompson and the rest of the pack have lost much of their support and are way way behind the minister and the elder.

Robert Novak just can't stand it. I mean, who would ever have thought that a political party that has based much of its political power over the past 30 years on pandering to right-wing evangelical Christian types could POSSIBLY ever actually VOTE for a right-wing evangelical Christian type? The nerve. Anyway, Novak is grasping at straws in pointing out how the Southern Baptist Convention leadership isn't necessarily supporting Huckabee whole-heartedly, and how Huckabee was NOT part of the "conservative resurgence" that has gripped the Baptists. (The fact that Huckabee is allegedly not part of that conservative movement shows just how extremely right-wing much of the SBC has become. Huckabee is not remotely a liberal or even moderate by any normal definition.)

And David Broder, deemed wise out of habit as far as I can tell, is also befuddled by the whole Iowa situation, with the Democrats as well as the Republicans.

To prove he is befuddled, he actually PRAISED Fred Thompson for refusing to indicate that he believed in climate change during this week's Republican debate. Broder said it was a brave effort to jump-start his stalled campaign. But I think he's wrong. There are two possible explanations, not mutually exclusive. One is that old Ugly Fred just plumb didn't understand the question and thought the moderator had asked whether any of the candidates had ever drafted a piece of legislation.

Or, Fred kept his hand down out of a desire to pander to the stupid and willfully ignorant segment of the GOP electorate - a group which, if they all voted for him, would give him a sizable win in Iowa. But I don't think it'll work; far as I can tell, the dumb vote is going mostly to Romney and Huckabee.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

have yourself a merry little christmas

Amusing/appalling story out of South Africa. Some people who live away from home decided they wanted to spend Christmas with their families.

OK. Trouble is, they are people with drug-resistant tuberculosis, and they escaped from a hospital to go visit their families.

Where they, of course, will run a real risk of infecting their love ones with drug-resistant TB. Now THAT is a gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

save your pennies

De facto President George W. Bush set out today to reassure us all about the economy. Bush said, "We've had a pretty good economic run here in the country. And yet there are some challenges."

So - Bush is saying the economy is good, but ...

Given his track record on predicting and analyzing things as President, we can expect a severe depression any day now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

more on huckabee and the gop

The New York Times Sunday Magazine had a long profile on flavor-of-the-month Mike Huckabee. None of it much fills me with confidence. Foreign policy novice (even by gubernatorial standards). Baptist minister. Conservative (very). "Christian candidate." Homophobe.

It's amusing to see Republicans like Charles Krauthammer hyperventilate at the prospect of a genuine rural evangelical Christian (not a fake one like de facto President Bush) getting the Republican nomination, and about the Christianization of the GOP. Hey, you all have been playing with this for decades. If you pander to the ultra-Christian elements of society to draw them into your party, you have to consider the fact that they might actually try to control the party - and might choose one of their own.

They don't exist merely to be foot-soldiers for neocons and Wall Street financiers.

Part of me wouldn't mind seeing Huckabee as the Republican nominee. I think he would be crushed.

But I also fear that, thru a miracle, or a smear campaign, or who knows what, Huckabee could possibly WIN in November - and I don't want this most religious of people to be President, especially as a creature of the Christianist wing of American politics.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

five myths about torture

A good article here by political scientist Darius Rejali, who has been studying torture. Read the article; if not, here is the gist of Rejali's findings:

Torture did NOT work for the Gestapo (as if we should even see that as a reason to want to use it!)

NOT everybody will talk under torture.

Torture is an unreliable method for gathering intelligence (but is actually good for getting somebody to confess to a crime, not the same thing).

We can NOT tell when somebody is lying (at least, no better than a flip of a coin).

You really can't train somebody to resist torture.


dragged kicking and screaming

It is a rare thing for somebody to be booed and hissed at an international diplomatic conference. But that's what happened to the United States at the Bali climate change talks when US representative Paula Dobriansky said the US would not accept a requirement for developed countries to give "measurable, reportable and verifiable" help to developing countries on climate change.

And finally, to my surprise, the US agreed NOT to block consensus and allow an agreement on a "road map" that includes a commitment for ALL countries, developed and developing, to reduce emissions.

Is it enough? I don't know. But it's much better than a diplomatic breakdown would have been. The de facto Bush Administration finally blinked.

The other odd thing about this? I must admit I have never heard of Papua New Guinea playing a leading role in any international event, with the possible exception of the Cargo Cult Convention.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

bush speaks out against wrongdoing!

Here is a statement from de facto President George Bush.

"I understand the impact that (public figures) can have on our nation's youth. And I just urge . . . those in the public spotlight . . . to understand that when they violate (the law), they're sending a terrible signal to America's young."

A stirring statement against corruption? No. I fiddled with this a little bit. Here's what he REALLY said.

"I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation's youth. And I just urge . . . those in the public spotlight, particularly athletes, to understand that when they violate their bodies, they're sending a terrible signal to America's young."

He was talking, obviously, about the Mitchell Report and steroids in baseball.

But gosh, just think if he applied the same high standards to his own de facto administration? Imagine if he expected "those in the public spotlight" to actually obey the Constitution and the law? Imagine if he was worried about the "terrible signal to America's young" he and his cronies are sending by condoning torture and by using US attorneys to conduct partisan witch-hunts right before elections?

I don't want to hear what Bush has to say about baseball. I wish he'd become Commissioner of baseball instead of President. Better that he screw up the sport I love than he screw up the country I love.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

surprise, surprise, they got the rocket

George Mitchell finally released his report on steroid and other booster drugs being used in baseball. It is as bad as expected.

And it seems Roger Clemens' people are upset that he has been named in Mitchell's damning report - in fact, there were nine pages worth of mentions. Clemens' lawyer Rusty "Rusty" Hardin says, "There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today."

No tangible evidence? For Pete's sake all you have to do is look at photos of Clemens at age 20, 30 and 40. He is the white, pitcher version of Barry Bonds. All the evidence you need is in his thickening neck.

But that good old boy for some reason got a free ride from much of the baseball press, while Bonds very much did not so.

Now he can stay on his damn farm in Texas and quit coming back for his half-season specials.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

two points of shame for the bush administration today

The first point of shame - UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has admitted that the proposal at the Bali climate change conference for developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40% by 2020 will fail. That's because the de facto Bush Administration's negotiating team has refused to go along with any targets. This isn't a surprise - it is just the prolongation to what will I'm sure be a full eight years of obstructionism by the Bushites.

And on the other hand, former Bush attorney general Alberto the Torturer Gonzales was named "Lawyer of the Year" by the ABA Journal. One ABA Journal official noted that Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" choices have included such lovely figures as Hitler and Stalin, so it isn't necessarily a compliment to identify Gonzales as the lawyer "who has had the most effect in the world of lawyers this year."

Congratulations Alberto. To celebrate, how about writing a memo justifying pulling legs off of flies?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

no surprise from bali

The big UN conference on climate change is underway in Bali, in Indonesia. And surprise, the US negotiating team is stonewalling. Basically, they said that they won't agree to any specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions until de facto President Bush and the rest of his junta leave office, presumably in January 2009.

I guess there is no point being surprised. Cheney/Bush have been denying, obfuscating, and delaying on climate change the entire 6-plus years they have been in office. Why expect them to change now, just 13 months before they are due to drag their sorry asses out of the White House.

As criminal as their record has been on torture, wiretapping, and signing statements, as much as they have undermined the Constitution, democracy, and our economy, for all the damage they have caused in Iraq both to Iraqis and to the reputation of our country, I fear that in the long run the long delay they have caused on climate change may be what they are most remembered and reviled for.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

a strange defense of waterboarding

A former CIA agent name of John Kiriakou has come forward to say that the use of waterboarding made Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaida break and admit to all sorts of things - although Kiriakou is careful to say that although he participated in interrogations of Zubaida in Pakistan, he wasn't there for the actual torture, excuse me I mean "enhanced interrogation." Kiriakou said that the info they got from Zubaida "saved lives." He also said that he considered waterboarding to be torture.

I wonder why he is coming forward with this story now? It just seems very curious. I mean, didn't the CIA just erase a bunch of tapes of torture sessions - not the word they would use, I guess - to preserve the identity of CIA agents to save them from reprisals by Al Qaeda? Isn't Kirakiou afraid of being identified? I mean hell, he was even on ABC-TV.

And what proof that the waterboarding saved lives? What proof that normal interrogation techniques would not have gotten to the point of making Zubaida talk?

I just find this very odd. And Kiriakou said he just wanted to get the story out there. But why now? Why like this.

And what is in it for John Kiriakou?


Sunday, December 09, 2007

THIS is how you treat a terrorist

An article today that's well worth reading. Back in 2000-02 the US had a terrorist in custody, a guy called Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl who handled payroll for Osama bin Laden. He actually handed himself in to the US in 1996, although he then began to question his decision. But the FBI interrogators skillfully played on his psyche, assured him of his safety, and over the course of time got a great deal of information related to the workings of Al Qaeda and about the attacks against two American embassies in East Africa in 1998.

Yes, he handed himself in - he wasn't captured. But this demonstrates how skillful interrogators, not just sadists picked for the job of torturing people whose main qualification is that they enjoy the work, can establish a rapport and get information out of people, willing or not. They can often get more information than the subject even realizes, and because nobody is hooking car batteries to the terrorist's testicles, the terrorist has no incentive to make up stuff just to please the interrogators to make the pain stop.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

not quite front page news

So, what is the difference between screaming headlines on Page One, and being buried on B-05? About 300 feet.

That was the distance between two jets when they passed by each other at the poorly-named Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport last Sunday. Fortunately for the roughly 200 passengers and crew, they made B-05 news.

Friday, December 07, 2007

the wails of wall street

De facto President Bush and his Treasury have announced their little mortgage bail-out deal. And the sharks on Wall Street are crying about how this will bring about the collapse of the free enterprise system as we know it, or something along those lines.

But Steven Pearlstein puts it well in his column today:
Maybe they should have thought of that before they fought tooth-and-nail in recent years against rules designed to prevent predatory lending, or impose a modicum of oversight over hedge funds and derivatives markets, or hold investment banks legally liable for shoddy underwriting practices.

If Wall Street wants to find the culprit who undermined confidence in U.S. financial markets, all it has to do is look in the mirror.
Nicely put.

But Pearlstein isn't buying into any idea that Bush is doing this out of any concern for the plight of the working man. After all, subprime mortgage owners aren't Republican voters, so who needs 'em?

Nope - this is to save the collective asses of large investors, aka the elite aka the Republican base. And as Pearlstein writes, to maybe try Democrats from trying something.

In any case, I don't know how much it will help. Many of those subprime mortgage owners, who often put no money down, are still facing the situation where the balance of the mortgage is greater than their equity (if any) plus the resale value of their house. If housing markets stay soft over the next few years, their situation won't get any better - and they'd still face that day down the road when their interest rates and monthly payments balloon.

Many of them would be better off financially just giving the keys back and moving out now, rather than making payments for a few more years that may STILL not suffice to let them keep the home, and selling then anyway.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

objects at rest tend to remain at rest

Danish researchers have found that adults who were overweight kids have a much higher tendency to having early health problems as adults - heart issues, diabetes, etc - than adults who weren't overweight as youngsters.

For some reason, they didn't have access to the weight of the survey subjects as adults, so they couldn't say for sure whether the "risk was risk was due to the effects of being overweight when young or because overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults."

My vote is for the latter. Inertia is a powerful thing. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. And we all know how hard it is to remove a few pounds once you put 'em on. But still, another good reason (as if you needed it) to cut back on Junior's Double Big Mac habit and make the kids go outside and play some football or something instead of watching American Idol.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

talk to iran? or just bomb them anyway?

One of the most surprising things I've seen in the aftermath of the judgment by the intelligence types that Iran stopped its military nuclear program in 2003 is this: Robert Kagan, hawkish neocon and a key cheerleader for the project to reorder the Middle East by war starting with Iraq, has a suggestion for the de facto Bush Administration - talk to Tehran.

That surprises me. But I agree with Kagan (a sentence I don't expect to write usually). As Kagan said, you can talk to a country while trying to seek changes, exactly as we did with the USSR back in the Cold War days. Talking doesn't mean you are condoning anything the other country is doing - hey, we talk to China too, doesn't mean we endorse single party rule and the harvesting of organs from prisoners.

But the anonymous editors of the Post, who were right by the side of the neocons like Kagan in insisting on war with Iraq, don't see it the same was as Kagan, choosing to focus on a lower degree of certainty about whether Iran has re-started its nuclear program. They see this as an "odd time" to start a dialog with Tehran. Well, it would reduce the odds of war, and the Post editorialists don't want that, do they?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

liar, again

So, the intelligence community believes Iran actually suspended its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. Very interesting. You have to believe them - you KNOW they feel strongly if they publish this estimate in what I'm sure must have been strenuous opposition from the White House and the Office of Dick Cheney Affairs. Also interesting that they actually assessed the idea that this could be a disinformation campaign - the opposite of the one Saddam's Iraq had which tried to convince Iraq's enemies that Iraq DID have weapons of mass destruction, when in fact they did not.

Presumably, this will make it harder for the de facto Bush Administration to attack Iran. But look at the timing - the intelligence types reached the conclusion that Iran does NOT have nukes and won't in the short term in the summer, and briefed the White House on that. In October, Bush said we'd have World War III if we didn't stop Iran. In other words, Bush lied to us all once again.

I'm shocked.

Monday, December 03, 2007

wedding planning 101

George Mason University has a class on how to be a wedding planner. Really. You get credit for it and everything.

But it's not all about glamor and radiant brides - it's about crisis management too, professor Maggie Daniels says.

The crises? Sick altar boys, drunk best men, toppling cakes. You know, real 9/11-type stuff.

The bigger crises in our wedding industry of course is overspending. More than a third of couples overspend their budget - and most of those budgets are Too Damn Much to begin with.

Planning a wedding? Take some advice - reconsider what you think you are "entitled" to have, or what you think you have always "dreamed about" in a wedding. (Yes, ladies, I'm talking to you. Most guys dream of their bachelor's party and just want to endure the actual wedding.)

Don't blow $25,000 or more on top end food, a big band, invitations embossed in 24-carat gold, and elaborate gifts for friend and relatives. Don't blow $25,000 to compete with Missy's wedding last spring, complete with a troop of Kazakh eagle-hunters.

Do it at home. Keep it small. Have a nice party. Use the $24,000 you save on a nice vacation and retire some of that student debt or put a downpayment on a house or buy some carbon credits.

Don't let the marital-industrial complex fool you into a big fat "traditional" wedding that only goes back to the early twentieth century. Save your cash.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

no, republicans don't respect you

It's a fact - the GOP feels a deep disdain for anybody that isn't part of their base, that is the elite. They say whatever they think will please the rubes - you know, how they will get rid of abortion for example, to appeal to the right-wing Christian types, and over 25 years after the election of St Ronald of Reagan, it's still legal (for now).

A couple of examples from this week. One is an oldie but a goodie - how cutting taxes will RAISE tax revenue. Rudy Giuliani is the latest to come out with this bit of chicanery. Even Republican Administration economists admit that it simply is NOT true - maybe at best in the long run, you get back half of the lost revenues from the tax cut. But 10% is more typical - so if you cut taxes by say $10 billion dollars, you do in fact lose $9 billion in tax revenues. Giuliani is following a long and inglorious line of Republicans who parrot this line, either to willfully deceive voters into believing they can have a free lunch, or because they are stupid. In Giuliani's case, I vote for deception rather than stupidity.

And now Karl Rove is trying to tell us that it was the CONGRESS that insisted on holding the vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq in the run up to the 2002 elections, not him. Now, I fully believe that Congressional Republican leaders were anxious to use this as another club against such weak-kneed Democrats like Max Cleland (oh wait, Cleland didn't have any knees, having had both his legs blown off while in Vietnam). But what Rove tells Charlie Rose just isn't credible. Rove says the White House wanted to wait "Because we didn't think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up within a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of it. It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad."

Do you honestly believe that? Rove has never shied away from using ANYTHING to his short-term electoral advantage. But he thinks we are stupid enough to believe his crap, too. Lying - it's an ingrained habit for Republicans. And they lie repeatedly to your face because they don't respect you.