Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Condi's continuum

During her Sunday morning pedicure/oatmeal mask on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice defended the 2002 authorization of force against Iraq with an historical comparison so breathtakingly inane that it caused Chris Wallace to, well, he didn't say anything:
"…It would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change then, the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."

Keith Olbermann does a better job of anybody picking this one apart, and it's worth watching.

Condi claimed that stabilizing Iraq is "part of a continuum" which flows organically, much like flowers and chocolates from a Sadr City mosque, and whose genesis, nay, immaculate conception is traced to the 2002 war resolution. Ipso facto the Democrats should just butt out and let the continuum do it's metaphysical thing.

Just like the Democrats did in 1945, after Nazi Germany was defeated and the President went back to Congress for a $12.5 billion resolution to rebuild Europe. I'm sure Congress told President Truman, "Resolution? Resolution? Sheeet Harry, you don't need no stinkin' resolution! You have continuum on your side!"

Continuum models explain variation as involving a gradual quantitative transition without abrupt changes or discontinuities, according to a definition I found at Wikipedia. So Condi is saying that the transition from fabricating evidence for war, to invading a country for no reason, to precipitating the violent deaths of 500,000 Iraqis, to taking more time to pacify Baghdad than it took FDR to defeat Imperial Japan, to fomenting Civil War between the Shiites an Sunni, to spending yet more blood and treasure on a war we already lost, is a continuum, a non-stop flight to Freedomville, without an annoying stopover in Rule-of-Law-istan.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh no, not Utah!

From cartoonist Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune.

h/t Josh

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Press the meathead

"Vice President Cheney's credibility is close to zero."
- Michigan Sen. Carl Levin on Meet the Press 30 seconds ago.

Yes! Russert asked Levin about Cheney's remark that the Democrats' anti-surge resolution "would validate the al Qaeda strategy." Levin's answer was dead on. We need to see more of this. Spread the meme: Cheney is a joke, he's been wrong on everything for the last six years, and there's no reason to take him seriously anymore.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's response earlier this week doesn't cut it anymore: "I hope the president will repudiate and distance himself from the vice president's remarks." Pelosi reportedly tried to complain about Cheney to President Bush but could not reach him.

Stop complaining, Dems. You're in charge.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Great Prevaricator

There's only one thing Republicans love more than dead Democratic Presidents - tax cuts for the wealthy. And after that comes fake Abraham Lincoln quotes.

Some ink-stained wantwit name Frank Gaffney manufactures Lincoln quotes for the Washington Times, which Lincoln once called "a bastion of shallow little cowards who need two hands to wipe their noses."* Last week, Gaffney quoted Lincoln as having once said "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." Lincoln never said that.

But that doesn't matter. Soon a Republican congressman was repeating the fake quote on the House floor during debate over the war. Numerous media poodles followed, and pretty soon reanimated Lincoln was zombie walking through Greenwich Village, feasting on the brains of liberal bloggers.

But truth caught up with Gaffney, and he apologized, sort of, in the Washington Times, which Lincoln also called "a scandalous rag not fit for John Wilkes Booth's privy"*. Gaffney tells his credulous Washington Times subscribers, whom Lincoln onced called "an addle-pated flock of libidinous roosters chasing their peckers"*, that he was merely paraphrasing the Great Emancipator. Then he cherry picked out-of-context Lincoln quotes to make the same point: that Jack Murtha should be hanged for treason.
"Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier-boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert?” Lincoln wrote that the Vallandigham “arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops; to encourage desertions from the Army; and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it.”
Lincoln scholars know that Honest Abe took extraordinary, extra-legal steps only because the nation was at war with itself. He spoke often of the dangers his country faced from the "uprising" or "insurrection." He wrote, "I concede that the class of arrests complained of can be constitutional only when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require them."

It's hard to know what Lincoln, or even a Lincolnesque American President would do in the wake of 9/11. But one thing is certain - he would distinguish between civil insurrection at home, and a war of choice abroad. And he certainly wouldn't turn the nation's grief and anxiety into a power grab.


* Fake Lincoln quotes

Freedom on the March

From Time Magazine:
It has come to this: the hatred between Iraq's warring sects is now so toxic, it contaminates even the memory of a shining moment of goodwill. On Aug. 31, 2005, a stampede among Shi'ite pilgrims on a bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad led to hundreds jumping into the water in panic. Several young men in Adhamiya, the Sunni neighborhood on the eastern bank, dived in to help. One of them, Othman al-Obeidi, 25, rescued six people before his limbs gave out from exhaustion and he himself drowned. Nearly 1,000 pilgrims died that afternoon, but community leaders in the Shi'ite district of Khadamiya, on the western bank, lauded the "martyrdom" of al-Obeidi and the bravery of his friends. Adhamiya residents, for their part, held up al-Obeidi's sacrifice as proof that Sunnis bore no ill will toward their Shi'ite neighbors across the river.

Eighteen months on, one of the men who jumped into the river to help the Shi'ites says al-Obeidi "wasted his life for those animals." Hamza Muslawi refuses to talk about how many he himself saved, saying it fills him with shame. "If I see a Shi'ite child about to drown in the Tigris now," says the carpenter, "I will not reach my hand out to save him." In Khadamiya, too, the narrative about Aug. 31 has changed. Karrar Hussein, 28, was crossing the bridge when the stampede began. Ask him about al-Obeidi, and his cheerful demeanor quickly turns sour. "That is a myth," hisses the cell-phone salesman. "That person never existed at all. He was invented by the Sunnis to make them look good." Rather than jumping in to help, he claims, the people of Adhamiya laughed and cheered as Shi'ites drowned.
Who could have seen that one coming? I mean, besides the mideast experts that the Bush administration shut out of the war planning.

Wolcott on Hume

If Brit Hume gets any more vaccuous, he'll have Tony Snow's job.
Hume's lack of self-knowledge would be comic if it weren't so hateful. Like so many white conservative males, he's seething with anger and touchy superiority, yet has apparently convinced himself that it's everybody else who's being emotional. He--he sees things as they are, with rational proportion and worldly perspective; it's women and girly-men liberals and other moral weaklings who lets their sloppy feelings get the best of them. But challenge Brit's patriarchal authority and or contradict him once too often and he goes Aguirre, Wrath of God on you.

Sharks and Jets revisited

West Bank Story trailer

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Soft in the head

In geopolitical terms, soft power is a combination of cultural, financial and moral influences that that one country holds over others. There was a time when no country wielded as much soft power as the US. America was the preferred destination for the world's tired and poor. Its music could be heard in the dustiest cantina on the planet. The American way of life was a promise that better days could be had.

And then President Bush happened. Today, America is more likely to stand for Abu Graib than Elvis. Where were were once a force for stability, the US now promises war without end. American leaders where once revered around the world - now we're led by the punchline to a bad joke. Sullivan has been particularly poignant on the consequences of America's draining reserve of soft power:
Soft power can be over-hyped. It's no substitute for military prowess. But soft power still matters. Once, for all the residual anti-Americanism out there, it was a significant plus for the U.S. Bush has somehow managed to give the U.S. a soft-power deficit - in a war against some of the most barbaric, evil enemies we have ever faced. That really is an achievement. And it will take another generation to fix it. It's one reason Obama is so appealing, I think. Electing him after Bush-Cheney would amount to the strongest signal that America is moving past the Bush-Cheney era. That's a message the world is desperate to hear, and it would make enlisting more allies in the war against Islamist terror much easier.
The term "soft power" was coined by Harvard University professor Joseph Nye, who explains the term this way:
The basic concept of power is the ability to influence others to get them to do what you want. There are three major ways to do that: one is to threaten them with sticks; the second is to pay them with carrots; the third is to attract them or co-opt them, so that they want what you want. If you can get others to be attracted, to want what you want, it costs you much less in carrots and sticks.
Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and other unindicted war criminals saw only sticks. Or perhaps their macho sensibilities discounted the effectiveness of any influence that doesn't involve blowing stuff up. Could they really be that cynical?

Carpetbagger passes 10,000th post

Congrats to the Carpetbagger Report for its 10,000th post. CR is one of the sharpest political blogs in the blog o'sphere. Mr. and Mrs. CB are entering their fifth year of blogging, and the hard work shows.

Here's CB's post today on the curious exchanges between President Bush and some well-prepped citizens at a health care roundtable Q&A in Chattanooga.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Free ponies for everyone!

The British are starting to pull troops out of Iraq, and the Bush Administration is calling it a "sign of progress".

That might be true in normal circumstances, meaning one in which the war wasn't being run by incompentent buffoons. If all of Iraq was as tranquil as Basra, it would be reason to chisel President Bush's clueless mug alongside Jefferson's and Roosevelt's on Mount Rushmore.

In reality the country is in a death spiral, with no reason to believe things are getting better. There are reports that the Shiite death squads are lying low, but only President Bush thinks it's out of deference to American resolve. In truth, the militias are waiting for the US military to weaken the Sunni insurgency, so the ensuing ethnic cleaning will be easier.

Obviously, no matter how grim the news from Iraq, the administration will find a silver lining. Optimism is fine, but needs to be tempered by reality. Insurgents are now using chlorine gas bombs to exterminate civilians. Silver lining? They haven't figured out how to properly disperse the gas, since most of it burns up in the accompanying explosion. More good news? Iraq's technical schools are secure enough to train bright, innovative chemical engineering grads who will get it right.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Instapundit unleashes the poodles of war

I totally missed the decades long war with Iran.

In fact, nearly three decades. Instapundit Glenn tells us that the US has been at war with Iran since 1979, since the shameful US embassy takeover in Teheran.

Of course, Professor Glenn uses some ad hoc reasoning to arrive at this conclusion. He started by recently calling for the assassination of Iranian leaders in that right wing wank fest he calls a blog. Then another law professor, only one who knows a lot of stuff about, you know, law, took Instapundit to task for advocating violence against a country we're not at war with.

Instapundit shot back that his critic “hurts his credibility up front by saying that Iran is not at war with us — when, in fact, it has been since 1979, with the deaths of many Americans, soldiers and otherwise, on its hands.”

Basically, Glenn redefined war to win debating points. But that's OK, since lawyers are seldom specific in their language when they argue. What's that? They are specific?

Never mind.

But let's go with Instapundit's thesis for a moment. Let's say that a state of war has existed between Iran and the US since Jimmy Carter was in office. Then explain, as Anonymous Liberal asks, why Ronald Reagan sold arms to the Mullahs? Isn't that high treason?

And why did President George W. Bush reject Iran's request for dialogue in May, 2003, one month into the Iraq War? Didn't he know about the war?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Creationist logic

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

McCain recall drive underway

It's an uphill battle for recall supporters, but if the mood in Arizona is no different than the rest of the country, St. John could lose his Senate parking spot before his term is officially up. Wouldn't that be sweet?
A new recall drive targets Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a top contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

Organizers oppose McCain's continued support of the unpopular Iraq war and consider him complicit in what they perceive as the erosion of American civil liberties associated with the war on terror.

"For the most part, he's been all right, but he's supposed to be representing Arizona, and right now he seems to be just representing himself," said William Crum, treasurer of Americans for Integrity and Justice, the Glendale-based recall committee. "He's got tunnel-vision for the presidency."

The recall application filed Tuesday with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office accuses McCain of "shirking his duties as a senator from the great state of Arizona" and of having "acquiesced in his role as a member of the legislative branch to strongly check the power of the chief executive, who has for all intents and purposes become a king."

[..]The recall group faces long odds. It must collect 381,696 valid petition signatures by June 13 to force a statewide vote. That is 25 percent of all votes cast in the 2004 Senate election. Although McCain is a federal officeholder not bound by the Arizona Constitution's recall provisions, he has signed a voluntary pledge on file with the Secretary of State's Office agreeing to resign immediately if defeated in a recall election.
Let's face it, McCain doesn't stand a Sunni's chance in Sadr City of winning his party's nomination. But this has to have McCain scared, and if he tempers his stupid rhetoric even a little, or if his wingnut Senate pals see the same writing on the walls back home, then the effort will be worth it.

h/t Crooks and Liars

Friday, February 09, 2007

Child advocacy group dumps steaming O'Reilly

Congrats to John at Crooks and Liars for ruining Bill O'Reilly's day. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children withdrew a request to the Fox News wantwit speak at its Florida fundraising dinner next month. C&L and its readers were instrumental in exposing O'Reilly for the pathetic, twisted little man that he is.

O'Reilly said Shawn Hornbeck, the young man who was kidnapped, sodomized, and held for four years, was in fact having a great time of it. O'Reilly also cast doubt on Stockholm Syndrome, and said only he can call on the sum of human knowledge, which he keeps safe in his lower colon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just the fax, m'am

I think I've finally figured out the Bush Administration's strategy to avoid total collapse from scandal.

More scandal.

It's sort of like slamming a hammer on your big toe to take your mind off of the thumb that you pounded the moment before. Only in this case, it's the American public getting pounded.

In addition to 9/11, lying the US into war, ignoring the Iraqi insurgency, New Orleans, and a bunch of other crazy stuff, now it turns out that Bush told Iran that the US wasn't interested in a peaceful co-existence with Iraq's neighbor to the east, even if the Iranian government was willing to recognize Israel.

Some uppity Democratic senators just asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice about the Iranian overture, which was faxed to the US State Department through a Swiss intermediary, but she couldn't remember the details. In fact, she's not sure if the offer was ever made. Some things are so minor, so inconsequential, that they escape our memories in order to make room for the theme from Rawhide, or where Dubya keeps the keys to his pickup.
Rice was pressed Wednesday on whether the Bush administration missed an opportunity to improve relations with Iran in 2003, when Tehran issued a proposal calling for a broad dialogue with the United States, including cooperation on nuclear safeguards, action against terrorists and possible recognition of Israel.

Although former administration officials have said the proposal was discussed and ultimately rejected by top U.S. officials, Rice said she never saw it.

"I have read about this so-called proposal from Iran," Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, referring to reports in the Washington Post and other publications last year. "I think I would have noticed if the Iranians had said, 'We're ready to recognize Israel.' ... I just don't remember ever seeing any such thing."

Rice's comments add a new level of complexity to an issue that has generated debate among foreign-policy experts: Did the Bush administration forego a chance to pursue a dialogue with Iran shortly after the fall of Baghdad, when U.S. power seemed at its height?

The Iranian document, conveyed to Washington via the Swiss Embassy, listed a series of Iranian aims for potential talks, such as ending sanctions, full access to peaceful nuclear technology, and recognition of its "legitimate security interests," according to a copy that has circulated in Washington and was verified by Iranian and U.S. officials.

Iran agreed to put a series of U.S. aims on the agenda, including full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, "decisive action" against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending "material support" for Palestinian militias and accepting a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The document also laid out an agenda for negotiations, including possible steps to be achieved at a first meeting and the development of road maps on disarmament, terrorism and economic cooperation.

Flynt Leverett, Rice's former staff member, had publicly discussed seeing the proposal when he worked at the White House.

Leverett said Wednesday he became aware of the two-page offer, which came over a fax machine at the State Department, in his waning days in the U.S. government as a senior director at the National Security Council, but that it was not his responsibility to put it on Rice's desk because Rice had placed Elliott Abrams in charge of Middle East policy.

Abrams is currently deputy national security adviser in charge of the Middle East and democracy promotion. A security council spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of Abrams, said Wednesday that Abrams "has no memory of any such fax and never saw or heard of any such thing."
I'm probably making too big a thing of this. After all, if the Bush administration did follow up on Iran's offer, they would have dropped the ball.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Who would Jesus kick?

Chuck Norris (yes, that Chuck Norris) plays constitutional scholar at World Net Daily this week. To be resolved: Muslims have no place in elected office.
Rev. Daniel Fosters’ [sic] inspirational address [in 1790] to these magistrates is a must read for anyone concerned with the future of our country and criteria for properly appointed representatives…. The words he shared that day were not only stirring but reflective of a general consensus and credo of what citizens (not just clergy) expected of their legislative leaders. Its components still contain what I would call a primer for the election of the presidency or any other chosen representative. […]

For Foster and our Founders, government is a ‘’divine appointment,'’ an ordained institution of God, and ‘’an important mean of delivering us from the evils of the apostasy; and designed to prepare us for the more encouraging restraints the gospel enjoins.'’ As such, it too has Jesus Christ, not some nebulous and neutered god, as its head. […]

Unlike today, no politician then would have ever even thought of Foster’s words as religiously pejorative or prejudice, for Christianity was the only religion upon which our Republic was founded. It was clergy, not imams, who were called to speak before legislatures. Even Jefferson did not propose a separation between mosque and state, just as he could never have imagined a democracy in which its congressmen were sworn into government upon a Quran.
Barbara Streisand can never embarrass me again.

h/t Carpetbagger

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Showdown at the Sterling Family Restaurant

It's official - President Bush's act won't play in Peoria.

During his stopover in that quintessential midwestern town last week, where he spoke to some Caterpillar plant workers and threatened to flatten the press corp with a big ass earthmoving machine, Bush visited a local diner for some coffee with a side order of adulation.

At least the coffee was warm.
In town to deliver remarks on the economy, the president walked into the diner, where he was greeted with what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this. Last summer, a woman nearly fainted when Bush made an unscheduled visit for some donut holes at the legendary Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago. In Peoria this week, many patrons found their pancakes more interesting. Except for the click of news cameras and the clang of a dish from the kitchen, the quiet was deafening.

“Sorry to interrupt you,” Bush said to a group of women, who were sitting in a booth with their young kids. “How’s the service?” As Bush signed a few autographs and shook hands, a man sitting at the counter lit a cigarette and asked for more coffee. Another woman, eyeing Bush and his entourage, sighed heavily and went back to her paper. She was reading the obituaries. “Sorry to interrupt your breakfast,” a White House aide told her. “No problem,” she huffed, in a not-so-friendly way. “Life goes on, I guess.”
Heraldblog salutes the patrons of the Sterling Family Restaurant in Peoria, Illinois.