Saturday, May 05, 2007

L & O 

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Tiffany Chase for Civil District Court Judge 

My attorney friends know and recommend her, so I'm trusting their judgment and voting for Chase. Here is some info. I know some juicier stuff, but can't share it.

Vote on May 5th.

I might have an update tomorrow with some inside information on the race. But for now it's off to Cuvee to party with Ratboy's gang.

Update: See comments for more info.

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"Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only." 

Michael pointed me to this article about Iraq:

Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight-- that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.

The Iraq parliament's recess, starting this July, would likely come without Baghdad politicians reaching agreements considered key to easing sectarian tensions. Examples include regulating distribution of the country's oil wealth and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because of Baath party membership.
Talk of the adjournment in Iraq comes amid a heated debate in Congress on the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.
More than 3,350 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. April was the deadliest month for the military this year.
On Monday-- the same day Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., issued a statement urging the Iraqi politicians to reconsider their summer break-- the Iraqi parliament called for a ban on U.S. troops near a holy Shiite Muslim shrine. Protests were led by the radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc after U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted a raid near the shrine.

Nassar al-Rubaie, from the al-Sadr Shiite bloc in the parliament, said in a phone interview that there is a possibility that the recess could be put off or limited to 15 days.

"We support abolishing this vacation whether the (U.S.) Congress demands it or not," said al-Rubaie. "However, Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only."
So, let's review: Iraq's parliament may recess for 2 months without making much-needed political process, but not before warning our troops that they can't go NEAR a Shia shrine. This comes after Prime Minister Maliki "vetoed" certain security tactics the U.S. army was employing in Baghdad. Yet, Bush insists on an open-ended commitment in Iraq, as our armed forces get shot at while their Parliament dilly-dallies, and contemplates a long summer vacation. And when our Congressional leaders are rightfully angered by this planned holiday, Iraqi parliamentarians have the gall to tell us that "Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only".

Read that again: America is told to butt out, because "Iraqi issues" (like security) are not "our concern". Think about that. "Iraqi issues are the concern of Iraqis only". Are you kidding me?

Well, if that's the case, then I think it should be unanimous. Everyone should say "Fine-- have at it, Iraq. Sorry to interfere with your Parliament's handling of Iraqi issues. We have better things to do than occupy a civil war-torn country we barely understand. Guess we'll be going, then. Good luck. Buh-bye now."

(And yes, if we leave that means Iraq becomes a rickety client state of Iran... but that's the likely outcome of this tragic misadventure anyway, even if we occupy Iraq until our army breaks. I mean, at this point exactly what endgame scenario are you envisioning? This? )

So, again, it appears we must review:

The Iraqi Prime Minister tells the U.S. how to fight, and that's fine.

The Iraqi Parliament tells us where to fight, and that's fine.

But it's not fine for the U.S. Congress to say we should redeploy out of Iraq next year. That's crazy talk.

Bush refuses Congress' attempts to curtail his vanity war, and he's certain that al Sadr's puppets will make the political progress necessary for Bush to realize his panglossian dream of "victory" in Iraq. We're relying on the same folks who are telling us to "butt out". How can this possibly work? Americans are disgusted by Bush's Iraq misadventure and our army is tired. Even the people we supposedly liberated want us out of there. But Bush is resolved to try this (third) "Surge strategy". Why will it work this time? "Because", Bush says, "I told them it had to".


See, this time, the Surge will work because Duhbya told Maliki it "had to" work. That's why it will work. So brilliant, so simple-- we should of tried that earlier! (I suppose if your name is Beavis and you're from Vancleave, Mississippi, then you might be comforted by that logic. But that circular reasoning is not good enough. And neither is this absurd "puppy dog" rationale.)

Seriously, at this point, continuing to "hope" that Bush's faith in Maliki (and therefore Al Sadr) will "pay off" is not patriotic... it's self-delusional. Hope is not an exit strategy, Republicans. Ask yourselves honestly: How have your "hopes" for Bush paid off thus far? How bad does it have to get before you abandon this sinking ship?

The majority of Iraqis want our troops out within a year. The majority of Americans want our troops out within a year. Congressional majorities want our troops out within a year. But Bush clings to this idea that our military will stay in Iraq until "victory" is achieved-- but not one day longer. He doesn't talk about the fact that his notion of "victory" is tied to his faith in Maliki and Company. We're betting our blood and treasure on al Sadr's puppets and Bush refuses to hold them to account. They're making vacation plans while our men are dying trying to manage a hornet's nest of sectarian micro-wars! Has it really come to this?

A new commercial straightforwardly asserts that "To keep American soldiers in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, being attacked by an unidentifiable enemy is wrong, immoral and irresponsible.

I must agree.

But Conservatives look at this situation and decide that Democrats who strive for accountability in Iraq are the real enemy. As the 2008 elections near, these same conservatives will come around and decide benchmarks and accountability are not necessarily treasonous positions. They'll come around... eventually (after much more blood and treasure are wasted, of course).

Imagine if a Democratic president led us into a costly nation-building quagmire, and some foreign Prime Minister told us where and how we could fight... the howls from conservatives would be deafening! They'd talk about this moment for decades! But if a Republican does it, then it's ok. After four years of deluding themselves about phantom "progress" in Iraq, they have started to frown on Bush... but they won't do anything about it. They won't oppose him. In fact, they'll support Bush's plan to throw more troops at the problem, and they'll soothe themselves by watching videos of Sanjaya dressed as a cheerleader mocking the "Defeatocrats". Eight months from now they'll be supporting the same proposals for "benchmarks" and "redeployment", but then it will be OK to hold those positions.

So, instead of telling Iraq that THEY have "one last chance to get it right", Republicans are telling Americans that "Bush deserves one last chance to get it right". But why does Bush's awful management of this war merit another chance? Why should we put more blood and treasure into this morass on some far-flung hope? Because Bush says "we have to"?

An editorial in The Daytona Beach News Journal summarized the situation well:

Let's be clear. The bill Congress sent Bush fully funds the troops, and funds them at a higher level than Bush had requested. But with spending comes accountability. Bush has refused to provide that accountability. Congress is providing it for him -- and for the American public and its troops.

What Congress was reacting to was last November's election, which sent a clear message: Voters want to be done with Iraq. Iraqis, too, want to be done with the American presence. The latest poll by the Washington, D.C.-based World Public Opinion research group shows 58 percent of Americans wanting troops out of Iraq. Among Iraqis, 71 percent want American-led forces out within a year.

Congress was also reacting to the Bush administration's endless confusion about what it's doing in Iraq. The administration has no exit strategy at all. It barely has an in-country strategy....

Against all the administration's confusion, Congress is at least providing a strategy: Give the Iraqi government one last chance to seize control of its capital and armed forces, give the government all the assistance it needs to train its armed forces and police, but beyond that, leave.

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Brief thoughts on the GOP Debate 

I was impressed with the performance of the top tier GOP candidates, and thought Romney and Huckabee had the best night. I think President Bush's name was mentioned once, which is still more attention than the recovery of the Gulf Coast received. Here's a quick summary:

McCain: Don't think I'm not spry enough to follow Bin Laden to the gates of Hell, and get back in time to invade Iran before dinner's ready!

Giuliani: I crow about reducing crime in NYC during the Clinton 90's, when national crime rates plummeted. Unfortunately I don't equate being pro-choice with infanticide, so despite my crime-fighting credentials many in the GOP will still think I'm soft on babykilling.

Romney: When I smile and don't say stupid things, people forget that I'm a Mormon who has gone hunting fewer times than Rudy's been married.

Huckabee *: Yes, I'm still using my exploratory committee web site named , which I'm proud to say is now back up and running!

Thompson: My reaction when they asked me about whether an employer can discriminate against gay employees was priceless. I was thinking "How do I not alienate the homophobes?" My answer was a shameful blunder, which my campaign quickly retracted. My only hope now is that voters will confuse me with Fred Thompson.

Paul: I'm an authentic conservative who doesn't pander and therefore has no chance to win.

Brownback mountain *: I'm your smiling values candidate.

Hunter: At every opportunity, I will talk about the military and mention the growing China menace (which endangers Panama).

Tancredo *: If you don't favor rounding up 12 million brown illegal immigrants and shipping them back to Mexico... you support amnesty.

Gilmore: I've been very consistent and would be deeply honored if someone-- anyone-- thought I had a chance of winning. I am not Rory's grandfather.

* = candidate doesn't believe in evolution


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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pray for Bush on National Pray Day 

President Bush recently took some "questions" from supporters while several journalists observed. One supporter asked the President "I would like to know why and what can be done about we, the American people, receiving [more good news about Iraq] from the media."

Bush answered: "Information is moving-- you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it’s also moving through the blogosphere, and through the Internets."

Then, another supporter asked the President "What do you pray about? And how can we pray for you?"

Bush replied* "Did you misplace your A Christian's Duty in a Time of War pamphlet? Be sure to order another one or borrow a pamphlet from one of the Christian soldiers returning from Iraq. Many of them have fulfilled their religious duty to pray for me, because, you know, I'M the one who needs THEIR prayers. But in the meantime, you can hop on to the Internets and join my Presidential Prayer Team, and participate in National Day of Prayer events, including the Online Prayer Rally for me. The Online Prayer Rally for me is wonderful because it encourages Christian Americans like you to unite in prayer... for me. The rally 'allows you to be praying with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ simultaneously' which is 'the most effective and powerful prayer possible!'

"So, the short answer, sir, is: Pray for me, and the troops who are praying for me. Pray for mental peace for me and painful boils for Pelosi. And do it through Christ... and preferably in English.

"Now, you also asked 'What do I pray about'? Well, before I pray I retire to my dark closet, and then I meditate on the Nazarene's words. You know, stuff like this:

You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

"Then I reflect on the Nazarene's words, and read excellent essays which help me to understand Biblical topics. Doing these things helps me improve my judgment so that I can wage a more Christ-like War on Terror. And don't forget that I couldn't do this without supporters like yourself. Thanks a million. Or, better make that: thanks a trillion."

A White House spokeswoman chided the reporters who were there for "rolling their eyes and smirking" during the questioning. Then she said a prayer** for the media.

* The last quote is fake. Bush actually just answered: "Wisdom and strength, and my family, is what I'd like for you to pray for."

** Again, not really.

Update: Rove won't be taking part in Pray Day.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Does Sen. Webb read the Cunning Realist? 

Sen. Webb (D-VA) on the president's veto: "We won this war four years ago. The question is when we end the occupation."

Cunning Realist 4/27/07:
I'm seeing "occupation" appear with increasing frequency... This is a good thing.
Harry Reid's remark that "the war is lost" was a terrible (and easily avoidable) mistake. He should have said that the war was won four years ago. But by continuing to play by Bush's rhetorical ground rules, he got burned. If the Democrats and others trying to effect change keep using words like "war" and "front lines," they'll keep stumbling into the same trap that snared Harry Reid.

Message to Dems: redefine the basic terms of the debate.


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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"All of your calls is important to us..." 

... kill me.


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Crony Capitalism on stilts. 


Also: Donations towards better infrastructure and government can go here.

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"I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks!" 

Back in college my friend Karie saw a nine year old boy riding his bike along the road loudly yelling to the world: "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage!"

Imagining that scene always cheers me up.

One of the very many things I adore about David Bowie, as an artist, is that he offered to open for the Smashing Pumpkins on their "Infinite Sadness" tour. Like little wankers, they refused.

I went to see the Pumpkins at the Sunken Gardens theater in San Antonio in '93. It was across the street from my college, and if you were willing to quickly climb down an old quarry wall, you could sneak into the show for free. I did that several times to save money and feel really cool. One of the better shows I saw was the Black Crows opening for Roger Plant, which seemed like a big deal at the time. [Actually, I think Robert Plant made a surprise guest appearance at Tip's recently.]

In any event, I definitely would of paid to see Bowie.

Oh yeah, speaking of quarries, Moz has scheduled a tour date in Dallas later this month. Three years ago, Morrissey expressed some unkind wishes for our beloved President Bush, and I worried for the Moz's safety the next time he toured Tejas.

Of course, that was three years ago and a lot has changed. Now, even a majority of Texans disapprove of Duhbya.

And this memory has become a hideously bad joke.


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Monday, April 30, 2007


Apparently, the concerns of Angela from Hahnville are widespread. Hilzoy points us to this news report from GOP convention in central Utah:

Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants.
Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention, Larsen told those gathered that illegal immigrants "hate American people" and "are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won't do."

Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

Republican officials then allowed speakers to defend and refute the resolution. One speaker, who was identified as "Joe," said illegal immigrants were Marxist and under the influence of the devil. Another, who declined to give her name to the Daily Herald, said illegal immigrants should not be allowed because "they are not going to become Republicans and stop flying the flag upside down. ... If they want to be Americans, they should learn to speak English and fly their flag like we do."
Larsen was allowed to finish the debate with a one-minute speech.

"If the Democrats take over the country, we will be dead, and we will have abortion and partial-birth abortion and the Republican Party will go into extinction," he said. "Nancy Pelosi and the ACLU would oppose this (resolution)."

It never fails. The Democrats and liberals are always in league with America's current mortal enemy, whether that enemy is the terrorists, the illegal immigrants, the Gays, the Marxists, the Satanists, the Abortionists, the gun-takers, the Communists, the Clenis, the atheists, the scientists, the pacifists, the media, the muslims, the uppity blacks, the conspiratorial jews... etc.

How can the Dems be so good at... being so bad? It's really remarkable how they're everywhere the GOP wants them to be. A convenient connection to every enemy. It's like a well-worn script!

Nothing unites folks like a common hate, right?

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If you believe... 

The Cunning Realist's point, here, is a central one.

Bush and Rove don't worry about "winning" policy debates on the merits. Instead, they prefer to control the context of the debate, so that they can't ever lose. They create a narrative context by repeating carefully crafted words and phrases, and this context frames a hopelessly slanted "policy debate". They use false choices to justify and support their actions, and they believe their actions will "create new realities" before anyone can call them out on the previous ones.

The Cunning Realist cites recent examples of the Administration not using the words "escalation" or "civil war", because that created an undesirable political context. For a long time in the Summer of 2003 and into 2004, the Bush administration wouldn't even use the word "insurgent". They didn't like how that sounded. Back then, Defense Sec Donald Rumsfeld bristled at the notion that we were facing a growing "guerrilla war".

Too often, Democrats will play by the Bushies' slanted "ground rules" and debate the "reality" Bushco has created. Let's dispense with empty talking points like "victory is the only exit strategy" and "freedom isn't free" and "if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us home".

Here are some real questions "Surge" supporters (like Rep. Jindal and Sen. Vitter) should answer:

Do you share President Bush's trust that "victory" is possible while Iraq Prime Minister Maliki is in office?

Do you approve of Maliki's decision to order our military to cease recent efforts to secure Baghdad neighborhoods from terrorists and death squads?

Do you think Maliki will ever really crack down on his buddy Cleric Al Sadr (and Al Sadr's militias and death squads)? Or do you think Maliki will lay off his chief political supporter, and try to fool us with some empty talk?

Should we rebuild the many costly Iraqi construction projects that have been neglected and fallen into disrepair, or should we let them rot and get looted?

Should we risk "breaking our army" on Iraq? Do you think it will take months, years, or decades before Iraq can transform itself into a united, peaceful, secure country? Should we bring back the draft so more Americans can participate in our nation-building mission in Iraq? Should we raise taxes or borrow the hundreds of billions needed to pay for our continued presence in Iraq?

Here are a few more queries that are a little less polite:

If we break our army in Iraq, does that make America safer or more vulnerable?

Do you believe nation-building begins at home?

Should we send our armed forces to secure Iraq's borders, or should we secure our own first?

Are Iraq's police and military hopelessly infiltrated?

Should we replenish Louisiana's wetlands, like we did Iraq's?

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

The U.S. pumps funds into the Iraq morass, while declining money for the Gulf Coast 

Read Oliver's links.

I really don't know what to say.

We pour hundreds of millions of tax dollars into Iraqi nation-building projects that quickly become inoperable, all in the name of reconstructing a divided country that views us as occupiers, wants us to leave, and thinks its ok to kill our troops.

And then we refuse hundreds of millions of international donations to Americans on the Gulf Coast, who suffered from devastating hurricanes and a Federal Flood.

Sure glad we could restore Iraq's wetlands, while "studying" Louisiana's.

Sure glad that, after the flood, we declined Greece's offer to provide cruise ships (which could have been used for free "as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents") and instead paid a quarter billion dollars for Carnival Cruise Lines' vessels.

Update: More here and here.
Update: 2

As the links above demonstrate, Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen has done more to uncover American waste and fraud in Iraq than anyone else. His inspection team uncovers the facts and audits the numbers. They have provided much needed oversight to the slow, unproductive reconstruction effort in war-torn Iraq thus far. More importantly, Mr. Bowen understands that American corruption and waste HURTS THE MISSION in Iraq. For example, here's what I previously wrote about Parsons Corporations' shitty construction of a police training center in Baghdad:
This sort of poor workmanship and war profiteering is wasteful, bad for morale, un-American, and gives aid and comfort to the terrorists. It means our troops will have to stay in Iraq that much longer.
Incompetent nation-building actually feeds the insurgency. Yet, last November, Presidential aspirant Rep. Duncan Hunter snuck "termination language" into a bill, trying to shut down Stuart Bowen's Inspection office. Luckily, there was bipartisan resistance to this extremely bad idea.

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