Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Greenwald on Pollack and O'Hanlon


[HT: Anonymous]

Oof! Bif! Zwap! Sok!


As I said a day or so ago: it's not like I trust Ken Pollack...

And it's not like his abysmal record proves that he's wrong this time...but it does show that we'd be stupid to listen to him.

As I've said many times before, if these pro-war conservatives were really serious about this, they'd quit lying about it. By habitually lying and cherry-picking, they rob themselves of all credibility. So even if they ever do get it right, only the pathetically gullible will believe them...
"We Have To Fight Them Over There So We Don't Have To Fight Them Over Here"

I've gone off before about the immorality of this policy--fighting in someone else's country in order to spare your own from the ravages of your war--but that's not what I'm going to do here. I'm also going to refrain from pointing out that "they" (al Qaeda) weren't even there when we invaded. I'm also not going to point out that the only ones of them that we're fighting are ones that were manufactured by our invasion...so we're only swatting flies that we ourselves bred and raised.

Instead I'm going to suggest a slogan that actually gets at the truth of the situation better. It should be something like:

We Have To Fight Them Where They Are Strongest So That They Don't Have to Fight Us Where WE Are Strongest


We Have To Fight Them Where They'll Only Kill 18-35 Year Old Working Class Folks, and Not Important People Like, Ya' Know, Wall Street Corporate-bots

Brilliant f*cking strategy, eh?
In Violation of Federal Law, Ohio's 2004 Voter Records Are Destroyed Or Missing

At Alternet, via Metafilter.

Um...I had concluded that the dust-up about Ohio was much ado about nothing...until now. Apparently the law feels the same way: according to Cliff Arnebeck, and Ohio attorney involved in the case: "
...the rule of law says that when evidence is destroyed it creates a presumption that the people who destroyed evidence did so because it would have proved the contention of the other side."

Schumer Regrets Not Filibustering Alito

Well, I appreciate your candor on this Chuck. I really do. It's difficult to admit your screw-ups, and I admire people who can do so.

But I really, really wish you'd had this revelation earlier.

That'll teach you to trust the Bushies.

I wonder whether we'll see the following headline in three or four years:

Pelosi Regrets Not Impeaching Bush


Monday, July 30, 2007

Kurdish Woman Raped Before Her "Honor" Murder

This, at Reuters, is just off the scale insane.

Here's a test case for you anti-death-penalty types...shall we give these brutal SOBs...community service?

And "honor killing" is too close to being a euphemism. It's a murder, not merely a killing. Some killings are justified. This is flat-out murder of the worst kind.

Egad, is "honor murder" too much like "homicide bombing"?

Speaking of Metafilter, and getting high...ever heard of jenkem?


As it were.

Now, as we know, the government hates hates HATES it when people cop a buzz...unless it's on substances like booze or tobacco...you know, sources that the middle class is comfortable with and that are made by large corporations.

So riddle me this: how will they make it illegal to er...snort...take...breathe...whatever...jenkem?

Maybe they'll just let the inherent ickyness of the stuff do their job for 'em. But if it were to catch on, you can bet that they'll be on it.

Several jokes come to mind here, but I think I'll try to maintain what little good taste remains on this blog and just end this now.
What Punishment for Illegal Abortions?

Well, here's a peculiar thing. Via Metafilter I found this at YouTube. It's a video of a guy asking a bunch of anti-abortion protesters what the punishment should be for having an abortion if the procedure should become illegal. Every one of them stops and thinks and says that she doesn't know. The interviewer then mildly berates them and acts as if this is a stupid answer, and that they should have given this more thought. The thing has a clear gotcha tone.

Now, I'm anti-anti-abortion; that is, basically pro-choice. I actually think the abortion question is a tough one, and that we don't really know the answer. That's why I'm fairly strongly inclined to think that the choice should be left up to the pregnant woman in question. Without fairly strong reasons for believing that the fetus is a person, there are no good grounds for prohibiting a woman from exercising freedom with regard to her own body. But, unlike some liberals, I don't think that being anti-abortion necessarily makes you a wacko or a bad person. In fact, I know smart, good, humane, reasonably liberal people who are anti-abortion.

But anyway, this video is strange because it's supposed to show how stupid and/or unreflective anti-abortion protesters are, but, so far as I can tell, it does no such thing. It's a tough question, and at least they're sharp enough to admit that they don't know the answer. The interviewer acts as if punishment for violations is the sine qua non of legal prohibitions, which--though it's not my area--doesn't seem true to me. I think that highly addictive drugs like crack and meth should be illegal, but I don't know what the punishment should be for possession. I mostly want the cops to have the authority to shut down dealers and manufacturing sites and take it away when they find it.

Anyway, though I think that the anti-abortion movement is largely deluded, this video, despite its pretensions, does nothing to prove that.
More Arms For the Saudis

Is it just me, or is anybody else out there tired of propping up Bush's buddies the Saudis?

They're tyrants, they support anti-Western extremists like al Qaeda, and they hate Israel. Frankly, it seems to me, in my relative ignorance, like we'd be better off making nice with Iran. There the populace seems ready to liberalize, and if we started treating them civilly they might just overthrow the theocrats.

Incidentally: if we'd have listened to Jimmy Carter, who was right about so many things, and worked toward energy independence, we wouldn't even be discussing this kind of thing. Stop me if you've heard this one before...
Are Liberals Becoming as Dogmatic as Conservatives Regarding the War?

Ever since the invasion of Iraq became more than a twinkle in Bill Kristol's eye, American conservatives have supported it dogmatically--as they have supported almost all of Bush's endeavors. It's no secret that dogmatism is the plague of politics, and that it is even more prevalent among conservatives than among liberals...but the tenacity with which conservatives have defended the indefensible in Iraq is genuinely astounding. There are, you will note, still those who will even try to defend the administration's duplicitous case concerning WMDs.

Liberals--as is so often their way--spent a longish time just being rolled over by the force of conservative certainty. But finally the liberal anti-war movement began gathering steam, and it now seems to be barreling along with a fair amount of momentum.

My question is: are liberals now in danger of becoming as dogmatic as conservatives concerning the war? Or is this just the kind of lame-ass, quasi-skeptical worries that...well, make it easy for the force of conservative certainty to roll us over so much of the time?

I ask this for a couple of reasons. Among them are:

The administration now says that it needs until November to produce a proper assessment of progress in Iraq. Some liberals are screaming "no more Friedmans!", whereas I'm inclined to say: this is important. If the can make a case that they really need until November, then they get until November. But that's a hard deadline this time. NO EXTENSIONS.

And now pieces like this, by Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, have started popping up. Not that I trust Pollack, of course. But it does make me wonder.

The worst possible outcome, it seems, would be to endure five years worth of botched war and then pull out on the eve of victory. Decisions here are difficult, of course, given that the deliberations of those of us who are serious about this war must take place against the deafening background noise of perpetual conservative cheerleading, and non-stop propaganda and disinformation coming from the administration. But that doesn't relieve us of the obligation to be as rational about this decision as possible. It would, of course, be easier for us to be rational about this decision if conservatives, including the administration, would get serious about it. But since that is not likely to happen, we have to persevere under the prevailing conditions.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bushenkoism: Doing Lysenko One Better

So, the Bush administration is well-known for its Lysenkoism...but this story in today's Post reminds us that its not only science that's the target of the administrations little interventions. There are also policy decisions associated with these findings, and the Bushies also seek to use the corrupted science to, in turn, corrupt policy.

These are very bad people.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Illegal Immigration Insanity

So, in today's Post, we learn about a resolution in Prince William county which would
seek "to deny some public services to illegal immigrants and allow local police officers and civilian officials to question people about their legal status, if there is probable cause, and notify federal immigration authorities."

Gosh...deny some public services to people here illegally, and question people about whether they're here illegally in cases in which there is probable cause?

The mildest of all possible proposals, you might say. Short of chartering buses to actually help people come here illegally, I'm not sure how one could do any less.

But in the article we learn of outrage in response to the bill, protests, a planned boycott of--get this--all non-immigrant businesses...and we are told by one Richard Juarez that
"This law is built on hate and racism."

Seriously, I'm on the verge of getting completely fed up with this crap. There is nothing wrong with having reasonable immigration laws and taking at least minimal steps to enforce them. Unless you think that the very idea of the nation-state is immoral, and that nations have no right whatsoever to enforce their borders, none of this bullshit makes any sense. With every new wave of irrationality on this front I get a little less sympathetic with the people in question. And I've gotta say, ungrounded accusations of racism aren't helping matters any.

NTodd's Pelosigram Campaign
With Comments on Impeachment

Below, Jim points us to this by NTodd.

Apparently Conyers says that he'll start pushing for impeachment again if three more members of the House sign on. NTodd suggests that we send snailmail to Nancy "Impeachment Is Off The Table" Pelosi in order to urge her to change her peculiar position.

The Dems seem to be treating this issue in purely consequentialist terms, arguing that there's insufficient public support for impeachment, and that there are other things Congress could be doing. But, first, this issue isn't purely about consequences: if someone commits a crime, then they deserve to be punished. This is about obligation and desert, not about consequences. But, second, even if we were to think in terms of consequences, I think there's a strong case to be made for impeachment. I suspect that if Jim Wright had gone ahead with the impeachment of Reagan for Iran-Contra, the current bunch of criminals might have thought twice about Iraq. We need to think of the long-term good of the American system of government. The Dems will probably suffer politically if they try to impeach Cheney or Bush...but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Though Experiment for Liberals and Conservatives: What If the Tables Were Turned, 7/27/07 Edition

So, it's surprising how often the simple table-turning test your mother taught you comes in handy--if you're at least moderately intellectually honest.

So...the question for both liberals and conservatives is:

How would you regard the president and the issue of impeachment if, say, Ted Kennedy were president and doing things that were similar to the things that Bush is doing?

The answer I predict most liberals will give:

"I'd be equally outraged!"

My prediction about this matter:

That's about right. Few liberals would still be supporting a liberal president who was even half as dishonest and incompetent as Bush.

The answer I predict most conservatives will give:


See, as I started writing this I suppose I expected my hypothetical conservatives to say "I'd support Kennedy had he done what Bush has done!"

My prediction, of course, is that this would be false. Not only would conservatives NOT support a liberal president who had lied us into a war and then conducted it incompetently (not to mention who had fired U.S. Attorneys for political reasons, etc.)...but, to tell the truth, I actually think that a liberal president might very well have been assassinated by now. Needless to say, I hope I'm wrong about that, but that's a recurring worry of mine.

Anyway, in the actual writing I found it hard to believe that even the most unreflective conservative would really even say that he'd support a liberal president who'd been so dishonest, partisan, and incompetent. I really think that if the Bush dead-enders would just perform the table-turning test they'd do themselves--and the country--a world of good.

As you know, I think that liberals tend to have lots of failings, but give 'em credit for this: their support for Clinton flagged after the Lewinsky scandal. The scandal, of course, was the result of a long campaign by conservatives to bring Clinton down, it was blown as out of proportion as such a thing can be blown, etc., etc...but Clinton did, after all, lie under oath. He probably didn't deserve to be impeached given the prevailing standards...but it was good that liberals responded to his (quasi-)lies by at least supporting him less strongly.

The scary thing about the current insanity is that it's becoming clearer and clearer that there is nothing (short of being insufficiently conservative) that Bush can do to lessen his support among a certain segment of conservatives. He can be the biggest, lyingest asshole in the long, sad history of lying assholes...but as long as he's a really, really conservative lying asshole, these conservatives will back him.

This fact tells us something frightening about that segment of conservatives...and it acts as a cautionary tale about fervent political commitments in general...including or own.
The Gonzales Gambit

O.k., so by now it's clear that Gonzales is lying, and the smart money is on the conclusion that he's committed impeachable offenses. (More evidence of lying in today's Washington Post, in case anybody really still needs it.)

So what gives? Why hasn't he resigned?

Most people seem to think it's just Bush saying 'f*ck you' to Congress (and the constitution, and the country) again.

My guess: it's a gambit to protect Cheney and Bush from the threat of impeachment.

Goes like this:
If Gonzo just gave up and went quietly, as is the convention in Washington, that would free up Congress to turn its attention on the big fish. But impeaching Gonzo will take a long time and lots of political capital. And--succeed or fail--that impeachment will make the impeachment of Cheney and Bush less likely, because their partisans will, undoubtedly, come up with some mantra like "out of control congress" or "culture of impeachment" or "Congress overturning election results" or whatever...that is, they'll use the impeachment of Gonzales for leverage to thwart any attempt to impeach Bush or Cheney. So Gonzo is going to make them impeach him.

This is just a refinement of the strategy of the Reagan administration, which apparently realized that, if you do a FEW illegal things, you're likely to get in trouble...but if you do LOTS of them, Congress won't have the time or energy to get you for all of them.

Once again, the question for us is: are we going to sit back and let this happen, or are we going to work to save our form of government?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

AQI and Bush's Latest Deception

Why is Bush stressing the existence of al Qaeda in Iraq? In part to drum up support for staying, but that's not all.

My guess is that this is just his latest attempt to mislead people into thinking that al Qaeda was in Iraq before we invaded. When he claims that the enemy in Iraq is the enemy that attacked us on 9/11, he hopes to trick the uninformed into thinking that his decision to invade was justified. And I'm sure this gives a little thrill to the dogmatic partisans who, in their heart of hearts, will always believe Saddam was in on 9/11 no matter what the evidence.
Once More Into the Beach

Off to Bear Island, N.C. (approximately my favorite beach anywhere) for a coupla days.

Here's hoping that we don't have a full-blown dictatorship by the time I get back...

John Yoo, Partisan Scumbag

At Greenwald's digs.

All arguments are possible once you leave the reality-based community...
Impeach Gonzales

More on the case at DailyKos.

At this point, Gonzales isn't even trying to say anything even vaguely plausible.

In my opinion, this is all a clever test set up by the Founders. Gonzales and Bush are Decepticons, built by Ben Franklin and put in a time capsule in order to put the democracy to a test. The question is: how much unmitigated bullshit will Americans put up with before they cry "bullshit!"? Turns out the answer is apparently: all of it.

It really couldn't get much more absurd. These guys are proving Richard Pryor's claim that it doesn't matter what you say in response to an accusation, as long as you say something. I'm just waiting for Tony Snow or one of these guys to say "who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"
Conservative Crybabies: The Newest Liberal Outpost? The CIA!

So, somebody needs to come up with a catchy tag for the following fact I'm wont to harp on:

If an institution is not overtly conservative, conservatives will whine that it is liberal.

Liberals, of course, have an analogous inclination, but it seems to be a much weaker one.

In some cases conservatives seem to have a point (re:, e.g., academia); in some cases many of them know they're wrong, but they keep pushing the point for political reasons (re:, e.g., The Liberal Media). In many cases, however, I'm sure they really do believe their conspiracy theory.

The newest Librul Threat? Why, the CIA, silly!

Yup. The CIA is sooooooo librul, and they hate Dear Leader--the bestest and Churchillianest and two-fistedest president OF ALL TIME--so much that they are even willing to intentionally throw the War on Terra in order to "get" him.

Bleeding-heart weenies. I should have realized this when they were insufficiently gung-ho about torturing...er, I mean advanced interrogating techniquing...those prisoners...er, I mean enemy combatants.

So, which institution will be the next to be identified as packed to the gills with librul bias?

My guess: the military.

First, it's just bout the only institution left that hasn't already been denounced as liberal, and, second, that'll be a handy way of explaining why they lost W's war.

Damn liberal pantywaist soldiers...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mark Kleiman: Gaming Out the Confrontation

This by Kleiman is pretty damn sweet. I don't know enough about congressional rules to play red team here...not that I'd make such tactical advice public even if I did.

This is the kind of serious, smart hardball that seems completely beyond the capacity of these Democratic leaders. They seem to be stuck in whiny/bitchy/shrill mode. But we can dream...
Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War

By Adam Cohen, at the NYT.

This is an excellent little Op-Ed--a must-read. One great point: "Commander-in-Chief" does NOT mean anything like "guy in charge of running the war," but, rather, something more like SCAEF or SACSEA. But the main excellent point: the Founders intended for Congress to keep the president on a short leash with regard to war.

It's time for Congress to show King George XLIII who's boss in this regard.

[HT: Statisticasaurus Rex]
Mohsin Hamid: Why Do They Hate Us?
With Reflections on America the Cocky

This is worth a read, if only to remind you of what you already know: both the America-is-infallible right and the America-is-despicable left are wrong.

At one point Hamid uses an analogy that I've always thought was particularly apt: America is like the richest, toughest, most powerful man in a small town. First, no matter how humble and pure of heart he is, many will hate and resent him. Second, we're neither as humble nor as pure of heart as we ought to be.

This is largely the fault of American conservatives, fond of screaming about America's near-perfection at every opportunity, and of pushing around anyone who won't do exactly what we want them to. If, that is, they're weak. We don't, for example, push China around. American conservatives like to speak loudly and carry a big stick...though they're hesitant to use it on anyone who might actually fight back.

As the biggest and toughest--and in many ways most successful and admirable--nation in the world, it wouldn't hurt us to quit yelling this in everyone's faces. A little humility would win us many more friends. Something we're sorely in need of these days.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mona Charen: Democratomyopia

Republicans have, of course, been wrong about everything about Iraq thus far. But conservatives do not admit error. The Bush dead-enders are still trying to defend every single one of Dear Leader's actions. He is, to hear them tell it, guilty only of--if anything--caring too much.

So it's beyond tedious to hear these immoral, incompetent, dogmatic morons carp about the Democrats' lack of perfection with regard to Iraq.

Problem is, they do have some points. Mona Charen makes a few of them here--mixed in among boilerplate conservative nonsense.

It IS hard to believe that Dems don't think that it's likely to get worse after we leave. It might not--and God knows we all hope that it doesn't--but odds are that it will. If you're not having nightmares about Cambodia, perhaps you should be.

And, as Charen points out, it's rather puzzling why Dems are arguing that our presence in Iraq is a catalyst for violence--but our presence in Afghanistan is not.

But it IS hard to take the Bushies seriously when they continue to deliver their partisan lines with super-dogmatic confidence even when they've been wrong about everything up to this point. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and I wish Dems would take some of these points more seriously. Of course if Republicans had an ounce of intellectual integrity, a modicum of humility, or the sense that God gave a goose, and if they really wanted people to listen to them, they'd admit that they are the ones responsible for screwing this particular pooch beyond all recognition, ask for some measure of forgiveness, and then try to make their case with something at least vaguely resembling a civil tone. But NRO-style Republicans seem incapable of saying anything in any tone other than one of smug, self-satisfied infallibility. And those who take such a tone are obviously not taking the debate seriously. So I think the rest of us might be excused for not taking them seriously.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Kills God?

Figure this out and 'splain it to me. Apparently since J. K. Rowling doesn't mention God in any way in the Harry Potter books, she kills God.

To quote Lev Grossman from Time.com:

"If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God.

Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind. He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn't. Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.

What does Harry have instead of God? Rowling's answer, at once glib and profound, is that Harry's power comes from love. This charming notion represents a cultural sea change. In the new millennium, magic comes not from God or nature or anything grander or more mystical than a mere human emotion. In choosing Rowling as the reigning dreamer of our era, we have chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred."

Such is the bias in favor of Abrahamic theism: not mentioning it is being against it. Either you're an enthusiastic proponent, or your the enemy.

I've not read a word of the Harry Potter series, so I don't have a dog in this fight; I don't like the books, I don't dislike them. Though I am actually all in favor of books that try to pry young minds free from the grip of theism...but I hardly see that not mentioning the theory at all is a very good way of doing that.

For a touchstone here we might think of C. S. Lewis's Narnia series. The best parent I've ever met--the guy really is the Paradigm Parent, I'm not kidding--is hoping his daughter won't read Narnia because, he says (and I agree) it's basically a crypto-Christian fable that aims to help reinforce Christian templates in young minds. Compared to that, at least, no mentioning the theory of Abrahamic theism one way or the other seems...well, pretty darned neutral

When it comes right down to it, I really don't have a big problem with sensible versions of theism sensibly held; but this kind of ridiculous insistence that everyone who doesn't actively proselytize for the view is out to kill it is the kind of thing that gives me a low opinion of Abrahamic theism and many of its proponents.

Friday, July 20, 2007

OBL + GWB Sittin' in a Tree


"For the United States, the world is now, as a result of the Iraq war, a more dangerous place. At the end of 2002, what is sometimes tagged "Al Qaeda Central" in Afghanistan had been virtually destroyed, and there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq. In 2007, there is an Al Qaeda in Iraq, parts of the old Al Qaeda are creeping back into Afghanistan and there are Al Qaeda emulators spawning elsewhere, notably in Europe.

Osama bin Laden's plan was to get the U.S. to overreact and overreach itself. With the invasion of Iraq, Bush fell slap-bang into that trap. The U.S. government's own latest National Intelligence Estimate, released this week, suggests that Al Qaeda in Iraq is now among the most significant threats to the security of the American homeland."

Timothy Garton, in the L.A. Times

W is the best de facto ally al Qaeda ever had. He gave the "dead or alive" speech, then unleashed just enough force to make OBL's escape look spectacular to credulous observers. Then he re-directed our efforts against OBL's worst local enemy, eliminating that enemy, degrading our forces, and providing a huge recruiting and training opportunity for al Qaeda.

It really is fairly difficult to imagine a worse president, or one who would have handled this situation more ineptly.
A Government of Men, Not of Laws

Which last straw are you waiting for?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CNS and Instapundit Are All Over The Looming Threat Of Eco-"Terrorism"

Yes, this is a big threat alright. I'm sure that any day now the ELF is going to blow up the Sears tower...

It's not that I agree with these people, it's just pretty funny to see them held up as a big threat. Most of them aren't even terrorists at all, though there are, apparently, some death threats now and then. Blowing up a lab is usually not the right thing to do...but if you're only trying to destroy the lab you're a criminal, not a terrorist. Terrorists are, inter alia, trying to, ya know, spread terror. None of this should be seen as an expression of sympathy with the eco-baddies.

But Insty and CNS "news" are all over it.

Oh, and as for the guy whose Hummer was trashed...well, I think the perpetrators are serious assholes who should go to jail. But just incidentally: owning a Hummer makes you an asshole, too, and I can't say I'm really going to lose any sleep over this one. It's hardly--contra Insty--a sign of a coming envirofascist 9/11. (Best parts of the story: the guy is living with his mom, but buys a $38,000 car; his neighbor wonders whether the vandalism is a "hate crime.")

Man, is it just me or is the right like a bunch of little girls when it comes to terrorists? Those guys seem scared by their own shadows. Again: they're terrorist force multipliers.
Can Petraeus's Assessment of the Surge be Trusted?

Glenn Greenwald: no.

This is really, really too bad. And it preempts a suggestion I was about to make: instead of pushing prematurely for a troop withdrawal, Dems should push to (a) insure that Petraeus gives us the straight dope and (b) insure that we prepare to leave if things haven't improved significantly.

I certainly hope Greenwald is wrong...but it doesn't look good. (e.g.: choosing Hugh Hewitt as an interviewer...hardly a good sign...)
George Bush is a Failure; Bill Kristol is a Fool; David Corn Documents the Atrocities

Dunno whether you saw Bill Kristol's latest bit of nonsense, in which he claims that the Bush presidency will (and here I quote) "probably" be a successful one because we're probably going to win in Iraq. Yes, he actually wrote probably. I suppose that, really, this is as close to an admission of uncertainty--or even defeat--as we ever get from dogmatists. Kristol usually writes as if his moronic opinions were necessary truths. To folks like him, in this context, 'probably' probably means something like "well, it's a non-self-contradictory logical possibility..."

David Corn stomps Kristol to dust here, giving detailed proof that Kristol has been wrong about everything when it comes to Iraq. And yet somehow the man is still taken seriously. It must be nice to be so utterly terrible at your job and still to be not only taken seriously but considered a star.

Yet I think that Kristol is right about a few things here. If, through some miracle, Iraq turns out to be less of a tragedy than it currently seems like, OR the GOP wins the presidency in 2008, Bush will be considered a success by the GOP, and that means that they will probably be able to spin the conventional wisdom in that direction, too--as the did with Ronald Reagan. Conservatives have decided that Bush is a hero, and, though future Bush-based political defeat might change their mind, mere disastrous policies never will.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cthulhu: The Movie

Will it suck?

It's virtually obligatory for all movies based on H. P. Lovecraft stuff to suck.

But hope springs eternal.

Kinda like great Cthulhu his ownself...

WaPo: New Intelligence Report Further Undermines Bush's Case for War

Thank God the Post is finally starting to just tell it like it is. Rarely do we find such clear refutations in politics and international affairs as we do in the case of this war. As more and more facts come in about what's happened in Iraq, fewer and fewer (sneaky, irrational, despicable) rhetorical paths remain open for the administration.

Of course in politics one never has to admit error. It's always possible--if you're dishonest enough--to continue laying down rhetorical smokescreens forever. But the fact is that, after a certain point, such tricks only fool those who want to be fooled--and those who are very, very stupid.

The debate about the wisdom of the Iraq war is over. Bush and his supporters were wrong. It was a stupid thing to do; it made al Qaeda stronger, America weaker, and the world less stable. Even if a miracle occurs at this point--and we all hope one will--that can't count toward an assessment of the wisdom of the war. It was, as reasonable people realize--one of the biggest strategic blunders in American history, and it will remain so even if David Petraeus can somehow pull our fat out of the fire in the eleventh hour.

If you're not clamoring for Bush's (and Cheney's) resignation or impeachment, you're not paying attention.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Finally...An Actual [by which I, of course, mean merely potential...] Iraq-al Qaeda Link In An Act Of Terrorism In The U.S.?

Well, after years of lying about Iran's Iraq's links to 9/11, Bush may finally be on his way to being right about an Iraq-al Qaeda link in connection to an attack on the U.S.

The problem for Bush is that this team-up didn't cause us to invade Iraq; rather, it seems to have been enabled and caused by our invasion.

CNN.com reports that, according to a government intelligence report, al Qaeda may be planning to use operatives from Iran Iraq in an attack on the U.S.

As if another nail were needed in this coffin, here's yet another one for Bush's claim that the invasion of Iraq made us safer by hitting al Qaeda. Instead--just as opponents of the invasion predicted--it actually strengthened al Qaeda (both by taking the pressure off them in Afghanistan and by acting as a recruiting advertisement), gave them a training ground, and weakened the U.S. If al Qaeda now uses its new Iraqi assets directly in an attack inside the U.S. one would think that even this administration will no longer be able lie its way out of the political consequences.

[Note: JQ tells me she's already heard administration operatives trying to argue that this vindicates them, because it proves an Iraq-al Qaeda link...presumably hoping that people will infer that al Qaeda was in Iraq all along. Lying bastards.]
Mitt Romney Pays $300 for Make-up (From a Company Called "Hidden Beauty")

Via Oliver Willis.

Let's see whether the rock-'em, sock-'em two-fisted he-men of the Fightin' 101st Keyboard Kommandos give Romney the business for this. Given their reaction to Naomi Wolfe's fashion advice to Gore and John Edwards's expensive haircut, presumably they'll really give Romney the business for this one. Right? Right? I mean, consistency demands it, no?
The Best Nixon Document Ever?

At Slate.

Oh, man, that guy was quite the psycho. You've gotta love some of his attempts to cite evidence that he's actually a minimally human being, especially his reference to "the calls that I make to people when they are sick, even though they no longer mean anything to anybody."

Jesus, what a bleeding-heart pansy.

And don't forget: many of our friends on the right who are still defending W are the kinds of people who would still be defending Nixon if this were 1974. Hell, for that matter, many of our friends on the right who are still defending W are still defending Nixon in 2007. Don't forget, Nixon had around a 40% approval rating during Watergate. A large percentage of the right is nothing if not intensely tribal; mere facts are usually insufficient to shake their allegiance to their (usually ill-chosen) heroes. The only way they can lose the support of their dittohead followers is by being insufficiently conservative. Mere injustice and incompetence won't do the trick.

Monday, July 16, 2007

or: Toolmetal

Funny. Don't miss the second page, with reader submissions.

Taking yourself very seriously is bad enough. But doing so while going far, far out of your way to act like a complete nimrod is a whole 'nuther level of tooldom.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Neo-Tribalism (Is) For Dummies

Oh fer chrissake.



Even aside from the fact that tribalism is one of the great forces for evil in human history, and aside from the fact that this alleged movement apparently takes its inspiration from Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, possibly--by which I mean almost certainly--the worst book I ever read (and this includes The Deathworms of Kratos), this is a damned stupid idea. Many folks seem to have too much time on their hands.

[Clarificatory addendum:
It's not dancing around the fire and singing ooga-booga that's angrifying. Hell, that's fine. But the bit about developing idiosyncratic customs, forming little tribes and all of that... Jesus, it's just nationalism writ small. Tribalism is just conservatism on steroids. Put me down for cosmopolitanism over this kind of turbo-communitarian crap.]

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wikipedia Too Reality-Based For You? Try Conservapedia!

Yep. A conservative Wikipedia. In case you're interested in which marsupials Noah took on the ark, which mental illnesses Hillary Clinton probably has, or conspiracies to make the Earth appear more than 6,000 years old, Conservapedia is the disinformation source for you.

And here's an article on this train wreck of a site at the L.A. Times.

And here's RationalWiki, a site that aims, inter alia, to yank Conservapedia's chain.

Ever notice how everything that's not radically dogmatically conservative has a "liberal bias"? Funny.
Bush: Still Lying about al Qaeda and Iraq

I suppose it's no longer necessary to point out that Bush is lying about something. As the old joke goes, we know he's lying because his lips are moving...

At any rate, he's now gone from lying about al Qaeda Saddam being behind 9/11 to lying about the importance of al Qaeda in Iraq, and about the relationship of that organization to bin Laden's group. As usual, many of his lies are lies of exaggeration, misdirection, and omission...so if we wanted to get technical we'd call many of them 'deceptions' rather than lies. But I'm tired of getting technical on that subject.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hero Rats: Because Land Mines Stink and Rats Smell Good*

Hero Rats are rats that sniff out land mines so they can then be dug up and disposed of instead of blowing up small children. Here's a link to some info from Metafilter. Here's HeroRat.org, where you can read all about it. Here's how you adopt a rat (ours is named Rosie).

Philosoraptor: saving the world one wee rodent at a time.

(* Cool yr jets, grammar cops.)
More Cheney-Bush Lysenkoism: The Surgeon General

Still more evidence that this is the most politicized administration in recent memory.
Obama Sort of Stands Up To Teachers
And: The Disaster of Education Majors (Or: To Improve Education, Eliminate Ed Schools)

Ruth Marcus on Obama's not-completely-wimpy stand on education, in today's Post.

Although I started off indifferent to Obama, the guy is starting to impress me. Taking even these tentative steps to stand up to primary and secondary school teachers on the merit pay issue is yet another good thing.

Now, merit pay is a vexed issue, and I'm not necessarily a big fan...but it's a not-unreasonable partial solution to the train wreck of public education in this country.

A better solution would be to eliminate schools of education and force teachers to actually specialize in a major. Currently you can't even teach primary or secondary school in most states unless you have an education degree. But education majors (the major program itself, not the individual students) are--as virtually anyone at a university outside the ed school will tell you--a joke.

I hope I don't have to make it clear that I had some great teachers, and I really respect anyone who can put up with the bullshit associated with becoming a really good primary or secondary school teacher. So that's not what this is about.

I started off as an education major myself (before I knew there was such a thing as graduate school), but the major was too lame and I, like so many others, quit. You spent all your time taking ridiculous classes on teaching (people would call them, e.g., "Intro To Bulletin Boards" or "Overhead Projector 101") and there was virtually no time left over to, ya know, learn anything.

As it stands now, go to virtually any university in the country. Look at the grades broken down by major. You'll find that education majors have one of the highest GPAs. Ed schools like to say that this is because they get the best students in the university, or because the screening process for their majors is so rigorous. But it isn't true. Ed majors are among the weakest in any university. If you doubt this, go check out LSAT and GRE scores broken down by major. Ed majors are always near the very bottom of the list. Weak students plus a weak, frivolous program plus astronomically high grades...well, these things are not going to generate top-notch teachers.

How are we going to solve the education problem in this country? My solution is to eliminate the education major and schools of education. History teachers should be history majors, math teachers should be math majors. Call me crazy. Maybe there's a place for some kind of teaching major for really young kids...but by the time they hit junior high what they really need is someone who knows the subject matter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bill O'Reilly: Lesbian Gangs With Pink Pistols On The Rampage

Dave Neiwert is on this story at Orcinus: Bill O'Reilly claiming that "lesbian gangs on the Rampage" are raping young girls, "converting" them to lesbianism, and attacking heterosexual men. Sounds like Monsieur Falafel's extremely active imagination has been working overtime on this one. Maybe he's been watching too much late-night Cinemax or something.

Anyway, as is so often the case, O'Reilly and his guests are, in fact, simply making shit up. Oh how they'd love for to be true--I mean, imagine so many political and sexual fantasies coming true at the same time! But, alas, it isn't.

So maybe O'Reilly could turn instead to the, ya know, actual problem of violent men harassing and attacking women? Not likely.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Simon Wilentz: Mr. Cheney's Minority Report

This in the NYT is eminently worth a read.

If you're an overly reflective and overly self-critical liberal like me, then several times a day you probably think something like "I KNOW Bush and company SEEM criminal no matter how I look at it...but maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I'm being partisan."

Well, the Wilentz piece will help put your mind to rest on this score. Cheney never met a (Republican) presidential abuse of power he didn't like. Not only did he defend Nixon's actions in the Watergate fiasco, but he was also on a committee that produced a minority report defending the Reagan administration actions that precipitated the Iran-Contra scandal.

The guy really is an authoritarian crackpot.

In case there was any doubt left in your mind about that.

[HT: Statisticasaurus Rex]

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Broken Army?

According to Joe Klein, our 20 combat brigades in Iraq will be reduced to 15 by August 2008 pretty much regardless of what Bush or anyone else wants. Apparently we just don't have the manpower to maintain current troop levels. The army, in short, is virtually broken. This link and some others here, at Metafilter.

I'm not a big fan of pointing to the alleged inevitability of defeat in Iraq. I've always thought that it was possible to win this war. I've also thought that many on the left have been defeatists because they were opposed to the invasion. Many on the left have been saying that we can't win because they don't like the war. They didn't have sufficient reason to actually believe that we couldn't, but they basically didn't want us to, so they vociferously asserted that we couldn't. Many conservatives, on the other hand, believe (or at least assert) that anyone who voices opposition to or skepticism about the war is a defeatist--that is, someone who is unjustifiably asserting that we'll lose. This, needless to say, is false. But conservatives are fond of attributing the worst motives to their political opponents...and the left is fond of supplying a steady stream of kooks and morons. And conservatives tend to then attribute the views of the lefty kooks to all liberals.

As a non-kooky opponent of invasion, I was strongly against going into Iraq but I thought we needed to win once we were in. And for a long time I thought that the information available to us was consistent with a reasonable possibility of winning. But by this point, the likelihood of victory seems to be diminishing every day. It's probably good if we as a country continue to talk victory until the end...but I think we must recognize that victory is unlikely.

And, on a more domestic note, we have to start gearing up to answer the inevitable charges that the country was "stabbed in the back" by liberals. This task would be easier if reasonable liberals had been harder on the defeatist left from the beginning...but that's a fairly minor point. So far as I can tell, most liberal opposition to the war was about as principled as popular positions ever are in politics. Sure, lots of liberals opposed the war for dumb reasons--but lots of conservatives supported the war for dumb reasons. But our dumb reasons were not as dumb as their dumb reasons, our smart reasons were smarter than their smart reasons, and, of course, we were right and they were wrong.

(And, with regard to the issue of the winnability of the war, by "we", of course, I mean most of you guys. Although the fact that we're probably going to lose doesn't mean that the war wasn't winnable it seems to give at least some support to the claim.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fred Thompson, Mole for Nixon

Apparently Fred Thompson illicitly revealed significant information to the Nixon white house while he was on the Senate Watergate Committee. Obviouisly this isn't as bad as getting a blowjob or an expensive haircut...
Crazy Conservatives, 7/6/2007 Edition:

Liberals can be pretty nutty themselves, but conservatives have been leaving them in the dust in that regard for most of my life. Here Steven Benen notes that Jerry Bowyer (editor of NRO) is helping to keep conservatives way out in front. Not content just to point out the dangers of a big bureaucracies, Bowyer has to make a lunge at the whole enchilada: bureaucracy causes terrorism. Bowyer might be an idiot, but in all probability, he's intellectually dishonest. Few people are really dopey enough to honestly believe this kind of crap.

Conservatives' attempt to link everything to the terrorism trump card reminds me of the PC kooks back in the early '90's. With those folks, the trump cards were rape and genocide, and the way to win a big rhetorical victory was to assert that something was a kind of one of those things--environmental genocide, cultural rape, etc. Conservatives now seem to be using terroism in roughly the same kind of way. It's not bad enough for something to be bad...for it to be really bad, it's got to be a kind of terrorism, or lead to a kind of terrorism.

Jeez, these people.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ann Coulter, Great American
Duncan Hunter: Stupid Asshole

These people seem to be getting crazier and crazier.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fitzgerald: Contrary to Bush's Claim, Libby's Sentence Was Not Excessive

Excerpted here, at Daily Kos.

Perhaps what the statement from the White House meant was that Libby's sentence was excessive for one of their toadies. For, ya know, a regular prole it would have been o.k. But as we know, the normal rules don't apply to these folks.

On some of the righty blogs much of the chatter goes roughly like this: this decision by W-The-President is Good and Wise because Clinton was evil and remember Sandy Berger. Brilliant stuff really. Cutting-edge jurisprudence.
Bush: Your Puny Laws Do Not Bind Me...Nor My Minions
Or: Bwa Ha Ha

Well, as you probably know by now, Bush commuted Libby's prison sentence. Apparently commutations cannot be challenged.

Personally, my favorite part of all of this is that, in the announcement of the commutation (linked to above), the white house actually lists the arguments both for and against commuting the sentence. Some talking heads were saying that this was unusually even-handed for this administration. So, when it's a close call, or when merely the majority of reasons are against them, they pretend like the evidence is obviously in their favor. And when the VAST preponderance of reasons and evidence are against them, and they don't have a leg to stand on, they act like it's a close call that a reasonable person could see going either way. And then that counts as being even-handed.

These people are shameless.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Right's Iraq Delusion

No matter what disaster your plan precipitates, it's always possible to claim that the alternatives were worse. Of course most of us aren't shamelessly dishonest enough to make such claims when we've been conclusively proven wrong...but many on the right aren't burdened by the ravages of intellectual honesty.

Today's example, Peter J. Wallison at Tech Central Station, quoted to approvingly by--you guessed it--Instapundit. I suppose there's no need to enumerate the components of the Iraq disaster, but perhaps it wouldn't hurt to just mention the low points: by focusing on Iraq, we strengthened al Qaeda (by, e.g., allowing bin Laden to slip away at Tora Bora, by helping their recruiting campaign, etc.); we alienated our allies and made new enemies; we've expended blood and treasure in quantities we have not even been able to accurately quantify; we have ground down our military; we have put ourselves in a position to lose the war in Afghanistan, too; we have destroyed the extraordinarily useful illusion of American military invincibility. And those, again, are merely a few of the low points.

Iraq has been a disaster that has been called, even by prominent conservatives, the greatest strategic blunder in American History. The alternative--leaving the brutal sonofabitch Saddam Hussein in power--was an unattractive option to say the least...but the probability that this alternative would have been worse is near zero. Although the world is a volatile and difficult-to-predict place, there is almost no chance that we would be worse off if we had refrained from invading. Anyone who, knowing what we now know, honestly would not choose a different course if given the opportunity is--and let's make this completely clear--an idiot.

Now, Wallison may be an idiot, but he is probably just dishonest--like most of the remaining dead-enders on this point. I find it difficult to believe that Walliston would actually push the invasion button if transported back in time and given the opportunity. Writing an op-ed of this kind is a political act, helping to generate the smokescreen that obscures the extraordinary dishonesty and incompetence of the Republican administration that got us into this mess. It's expedient to say that the alternatives were worse, but no sensible person actually believes that.

Wallison writes:
In short, it would be difficult to construct a scenario in which the ultimate outcome of events in Iraq today would be as negative for the United States as a world in which Saddam remains in control of Iraq. So, while we are justifiably dismayed about what is happening today in Iraq, we should not allow this to obscure the central point—that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam is out of power. Looked at this way, we have already achieved a lot; what remains now—as the President and Senator McCain have said—is to steady ourselves and see it through.

Although the last point might be right--that our best course of action now is to steady ourselves and see it through--the former points are obviously false. It is in no way "difficult to construct a scenario in which the ultimate outcome of events in Iraq today would be as negative for the United States as a world in which Saddam remains in control of Iraq." As a matter of actual fact, it is almost impossible to describe an alternative possible situation in which (a) we refrained from invading Iraq and (b) we are likely to be worse off either now or in the long run.

If Wallison really does believe what he writes, it merely shows that he is bad at thinking about alternative possibilities, or bad at judging probabilities, or something of that kind. He's probably confusing distant possibilities with likely alternatives.

But, of course, he probably doesn't really believe what he writes, and, if magically transported back in time, he would probably advise against invasion. Here he's just doing his bit to blow smoke for the Republican smokescreen. Even the most implausible obfuscation allows the true believers to avoid the embarrassment associated with publicly admitting error. "There's a distant possibility that we would have been worse off it we hadn't invaded" can, with a sufficiently inattentive or willing audience, be spun into "we'd probably have been worse off if we hadn't invaded," just as "there's a distant possibility that Al Gore would have turned out to be a worse president than George Bush" can be spun into "Al Gore would probably have been a worse president than George Bush." Little tricks like this help people avoid publicly admitting error even when they recognize it privately. And if they don't have to admit it publicly...well, in the fullness of time, they can eventually convince even themselves, once again, that they were really right all along.