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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The assassination of a beautiful mind

Even the utterance of the word 'assassination' has a profane sound to it.

Thursday morning I was sitting on my living room floor playing with my 23-month-old daughter trying to stretch out every last moment of joy left in the holiday season with her when I realized it was time for her favorite TV program on Nickelodeon. Suddenly I found my holiday joy and spirit being tempered by a feeling of nausea that descended over me. Staring back at me from my TV screen was a CNN “Breaking News” headline: “Benazir Bhutto Assassinated.” Even though I wasn’t surprised, the fact it had happened in exactly the way one would have expected it still had the shocking and sickening impact the perpetrators intended.

Other than this description of the feelings and horror I was experiencing there isn’t much more one can say about her murder in context with the current situation in Pakistan. I’ll leave that to the brilliantly informed and analytical mind of
Juan Cole. Having said that, there are a couple of observations I would like to add from a personal perspective and one of them is to ask the obvious rhetorical question the American mainstream media seems incapable of asking: where is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?

From Dr. Rice’s point of view, which always seems to be from the back of a milk carton under the header “missing,” whenever a
foreign policy initiative pushed by her goes awry, she continues to demonstrate one of the two major aspects of consistency in her tenure as head of the state department. First, she always seems to be conspicuously absent at those critical moments of failure when the world stage demands a clarification of some kind on the American position and what actions or inactions need to be taken. As for the other aspect, it is the ever present state of shock and surprise on her face whenever she does happen to appear publicly before the reverberations of one of her monumental blunders has had time to settle down to the level of normal confusion that is now standard under her tenure. After all it was the New York Times that reported on the moves initiated by her and the WH to pressure Musharraf into talks over a power sharing arrangement with the former Prime Minister. This was all due to the hope of introducing an ingredient of stability into a critical Middle Eastern ally with a fluid political environment awash in volatility from a variety of directions both internally and externally. Dr. Rice’s reverse German WWI gambit paralleling Lenin’s passage through their country to Russia as a destabilizing factor was sure to fail on its own terms considering Bhutto’s family history and legacy.

Dr. Rice’s stunning inability to read history and misinterpret its parallels with today’s international political climate continues to stagger the mind. Progressive tendencies to pejoratively compare her and the team of stumbling and bumbling jingoists that continue to serve as the arbiters of policy in the rump U.S. government of the executive branch to Machiavelli does a disservice to the cold, antiseptic, and pro-monarchist philosophy of the Italian diplomat. Though in contrast, humanizing Machiavelli's policies is quite a feat for this group.

The main reason for my shock and near sickening sadness is the fact I liked the public face of
Ms. Bhutto. I liked her intellect and seemingly fearless motives, as she acted on what she believed was the best interest of her country at the risk of her own life. I am positive the intellect she always publicly demonstrated made her keenly aware of the Deus ex machina role she was expected to play for American regional interests. Despite this handicap from the Islamic world perspective, I also don’t believe for one moment she cared what that role implied. She was an incredibly shrewd politician who found herself in a position to use the American State Department for her own means to an end as much as it was the other way around. I once saw a quote from her autobiography where she gave the reason she left the comforting world of Western stability: “I didn’t chose this life, it chose me.” These are words that could have just as easily been uttered by the likes of Robert F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, or Mahatma Gandhi. She was the first female in her family to appear in public without a burqa, which, despite Salmon Rushdie’s lampooning, was an early indication of her strong will. I like to think my affinity for the public aura she emitted had noting do to do with the prejudicial reasons indicated in an obituary from one of the United Kingdom’s online news services, The Telegraph:

“Her glamorous good looks and fluent English led to a sustained love affair with Western politicians and journalists, many of whom had known her at either Harvard or Oxford. For those with the standard Western prejudices against the Islamic world, she had the added assets of a pronounceable name and a tolerant religious outlook. She did not organize anti-American rallies or issue fatwas against best-selling authors.”

That last sentence in itself demonstrates a racially prejudicial view it seems to object to and acts as a disservice to any thinking person, no matter what region of the world they are from when considering her educational background and the fact she was grounded in sensibilities one would not otherwise expect to find in an environment of religious ideological extremism.

I’m not sure what would have been had she lived and there is no doubt she had her flaws both personally and politically. I’m only sure of what the possibilities she offered were despite the somewhat negative and sobering analysis offered from the Telegraph on the legacy she carried with her upon her return to the Pakistan:
In Pakistan she was often far less popular than her foreign press made out. To her opponents she was more English than Pakistani, more Western than Eastern. Her Urdu, although fluent, was ungrammatical, while her Sindhi, her family's mother tongue, was almost non-existent. It was also said hat she lacked a coherent political philosophy and tended to dissipate her energies on party politicking. During her first 20-month spell as prime minister, from 1988 to 1990, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation, admittedly due in large part to the constraints imposed on her by a hostile and still-powerful military. […]Her tight monetary policy produced a dramatic reduction in the budget deficit, pulling the country's economy back from the brink of collapse, and earning it a clean bill of health from the IMF and World Bank.”
Despite the White House simpleton’s black and white perspective of the world and the volatile mixture of Middle Eastern cultural, religious, and political mechanizations it’s a wonder and a miracle she survived as long as she did.

Yes. ‘Assassination’ is an ugly and profane word. Its use has always demonstrated the inhumanity of the person and individuals who employ it and overwhelm and undermine the cause they support. Though martyrdom’s plight seems to serve a higher cause for the unjustly murdered its result is always short lived when the realities of the long view set in.

As I said, I liked the public face of Ms. Bhutto. Without putting a finger on the exactness of it let’s just say she seemed be a tranquil oasis in a dessert empty of sanity and reason, whether real or illusionary.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Welcome to Truman's Conscience v2.0

On Sunday, February 12, 2006 Truman's Conscience was launched. Though I wasn't happy with the blog's initial look I felt it would suffice until I could come up with a more user friendly design within the boundries of my limited HTML abilities. After quite a bit of hand wringing and a lot of blundering around I was finally able to get a design I am happy with for the relaunch. For a novice, such as myself, when it comes to HTML code it has been touch and go. Though there are still a few bugs to be ironed out (such as the formatting of archived posts) I hope this new blog will offer a more enjoyable experience for those few of you that drop by. I have taken the liberty of reposting below my orginal inaugural post that seems more relevent now than ever before. I hope you enjoy the new format and offer any suggestions you may have for improvement. All suggestions will be considered as long as it is in my power.

As of this inaugural post, it has been fifty-three years, three weeks, two days and four hours since Harry S. Truman’s official term of office expired. As each decade passes since that moment it only serves to underline the flourishing legacy he left behind that is still with us today. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, it is doubtful a better representative of the common man with an evolving progressive mind could be found. At first, our 33rd President came out of Missouri with a parochial outlook couched in the southern prejudices of the time. With a progressive mind and a conscience that always strived for fairness one can only marvel at the evolving ideals and a sense of justice he would harness as the arc of his ascension in public life spiraled upward growing beyond his humble origins.His biographer, David McCullough, called him, "….a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character."

As the embodiment of one being faced with a world that had evolved beyond his capacity to view it with the sensibilities of a time long past he became much more than that. Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln once profoundly observed, "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present….we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." Only a progressive mind such as that of Harry Truman could understand the meaning of Lincoln’s profound sense of what is needed to face a world that seemed at the time to be so fraught with unmeetable challenges and peril. His strength of character and profound sense of self-awareness eventually enabled him to reach beyond himself and those around him in order to harness the ideas and energy that would allow him to, "….think anew, and act anew," as Lincoln prescribed. Now we find ourselves being led by the conservative mind in a post cold-war world conflicted with ambiguity and contradictions about our place and where we fit in to it. As we lurch and reach backward for tired old prescriptions that did not serve us well in the past our burden is added to as they serve to only soothe the closed mind of raw emotions driven by those that are easily angered and quick to judge. Progressive ideas are marginalized and ridiculed by a conservative mindset that prefers the simple solutions of yesterday and quick fix answers serving a consumer driven public massaged by the commercial blandness of mass consumption and the low expectations of a status quo society.Now more than ever we need new voices that call for us to, "…..think anew, and act anew."

We need new voices that ring with the clarion call for change to wash away the "dogmas of the quiet past that are inadequate to the stormy present." This blog is an attempt, in a very small way, to join that chorus and harmonize with those that feel that sense of urgency before it is too late to save the progressive ideals we fought so hard for and achieved. We need new voices that are driven by the conscience of Harry Truman and the sense of justice and fairness it embodied. Welcome to Truman’s conscience. My name is Michael and I’m the custodian of this small effort to harmonize with the voices of change and the call for justice in a political climate driven by fear and moral certainty. Come in and occasionally join us and we can sing together. Truman's Conscience will be here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Where's Our Federal Infrastructure Monies? In Iraq, Where Else?

I'm really tired of heartbreaking examples of what Bush's excellent Mid-East adventure is costing our country in lives and money. The incompetence of the man notwithstanding there is the residual effect of our federal highway maintenance funds and where they've obviously wound up. Instead of fixing and maintaining our federal infrastructure we've sent the monies overseas so THAT infrastructure can be blown up:

"The Federal Highway Administration is rescinding a total of
more than $871 million in federal aid highway funds from states. Texas is second
only to California in the amount of funds being rescinded. California is losing
about $79.2 million. The money is being diverted to other government
priorities. In its notice, the Federal Highway Administration said the funds
were being rescinded as required by the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care,
Katrina Recovery and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act,

Bush's illegal war has been rearing it's ugly head at the cost of the home front since the advent of post-Katrina incompetence and neglect. His Mid-East adventure has not only killed innocent Iraqi civilians and our troops it has been costing lives here on the home front as well. The most stunning piece of information about all of this so far lays in the fact NTS & DOT engineers knew how precarious this bridge's status was:

" Bridge 9340 [I35W bridge] was of a design known as a "non-redundant structure" by civil engineers, meaning that if a single part failed, the whole structure could collapse. It was completed
before fundamental reform of bridge safety in America in the late

As usual we have to get our news on this little tidbit from news OUTSIDE the US MSM. I can't imagine the fact this particular structure didn't get more immediate attention since it was a "non-redundant structure" as reported that would cause total collapse if it's structural integrity was compromised.

This is a travesty that can only be laid at the lap of Bush and his GOP minions. Congressional voting records simply don't lie.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Couric Still Looking For Bottom (Ratings wise that is....)

Every once in a while you get justification on something intellectually you know is just plain wrong. In this case for me it's the plight of Katie "Perky Soccer Mom Sensibilities" Couric. Putting aside the fact I simply can't stand this plastic fake of a human being I am enjoying watching CBS burn for this choice to reach out for the soccer mom sensibility demographic and change the face of network "we're shilling for the GOP" news.

And what pretell would sully and cloud my judgement about the perking cup of evening news that is now an evaporating 6:30pm demographic CBS is trying to stem? Back in 2000 during the heat of the Presidential election I had just stepped out of the shower getting ready for work when my T.V. suddenly announced to me Ms. perky girl Couric from her Today co-host chair was interviewing Dick Cheney. I don't quite remember the question she asked Cheney that elicited this reaction but I sure as hell remember Cheney's answer and Courics follow-up: "[Cheney] Well, that won't matter because Americans won't back that kind of foreign policy initiative, but the Democrats will surely put up a fight." So, you have Americans and then you have Democrats who are surely, according to Dick Cheney with that statement, NOT American. And Couric's follow up? "[Couric] Then why will the Democrats fight this?" Ah, nothing like validating a smear on half the country and smiling as you do it. Asking "Why won't the Democrats support this?" showed a tacit agreement with Cheney there are in fact "Americans" and "Democrats." I just wanted to kick my T.V. set in. Afterwards I spent the rest of the day seething, not at Dick Cheney, because one should expect this kind of vile framing from this lower case human being, but at Couric for validating it.

Now with CBS trying to bail water on this awful knee-jerk move to put Ms. Perky at the helm of Edward R. Murrow's legacy imagine my delight at reading how the backstage bickering is tearing the CBS news division asunder as they try to cut and run with this monumental disaster on their hands:

"So now Couric finds
herself tethered to what appears to be, if not a sinking ship, one taking on
water faster than anybody at CBS News knows how to bail. No wonder she's
undergone a minor image-reclamation project, suggesting in a magazine interview
that with perfect hindsight she might have balked at the challenge -- a
cry-me-a-river lament if there ever was one, coming from a multimillionaire
anchor as news divisions and newspapers hack their way toward

Heh. The advent of 24 hour news channels still has the major network news divisions shaking their heads after nearly two decades of falling ratings. They still don't get that the landscape has changed with online Internet communities bypassing their corporate biases while propping up the GOP.

Monday, July 30, 2007

John Edwards For President

In this latest video of a recent New Hampshire appearance by John Edwards he tells us the political system is rigged agaisnt the average American voter. If you include yourself in this camp you didn't need convincing, you were already there. Call this speech a populist message or whatever label you find appropriate. The average American voter has known the system's been rigged since the Reagan admininstration. Clinton still found it malleable enough to use the system to do good things. With the advent of the current occupants in the White House they took the system over the edge and made the rigging fool proof. It will be a hard and difficult fight but it's still winnable. But hurry, time is runing out.

Fritz Mondale speaks out

In the early winter of 1975 I had just finished reading a book entitled: "The Accountability of Power: Toward A Responsible Presidency" that decided for me who I would support for President. It's author, Minnesota Senator Walter F. Mondale, had decided to declare for the White House in what promised to be a very crowded field and I was looking forward to joining his campaign. Even though I was only 21 years old at the time my political views were already starting to crystallize. But before I could blink an eye he abandoned his campaign before the political season began to heat up. Though I was lukewarm about Jimmy Carter in 1976, when he chose then Senator Mondale as his running mate I became an enthusiastic follower.

There is no doubt President Carter and Vice President Mondale redefined what a Vice President's political and historical role would be from there on out. Mr. Mondale always had the qualities I admired for a public servant and when he became a the Democratic nominee in 1984 I knew my feelings about him were justified when he chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. A lot of political water has gone under the bridge since then as the former Vice President wound up his active political life with an Ambassadorship to Japan under the Clinton administration serving with distinction. Now he speaks out as only a former Vice President can regarding the crisis of leadership we are now faced with and the unaccountability of power he so eloquently wrote and warned us about over a quarter of a century ago. In this past Sunday's Washington Post he made it crystal clear in an editorial what we are faced with in a time where the GOP uses fear & indifference to accountability as an instrument for political rule:

"The corollary to Cheney's zealous
embrace of secrecy is his near total aversion to the notion of accountability.
I've never seen a former member of the
House of Representatives
demonstrate such contempt for Congress -- even when it was controlled by his own
party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every
congressional request for information has been stupefying -- it's almost as if
he denies the legitimacy of an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit
much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held
accountable by the people who elected him.
Whatever authority a vice
president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no
powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow,
not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush -- including,
apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio -- but he also pursues his own
agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.
decades ago we lived through another painful example of a
White House exceeding its
authority, lying to the American people, breaking the law and shrouding
everything it did in secrecy. Watergate wrenched the country, and our
constitutional system, like nothing before. We spent years trying to identify
and absorb the lessons of this great excess. But here we are

It isn't a lack of accountability that is so abhorrent in this "administration" that is shocking, it's the embracing of it as a tool for governance with the tacit approval of the mainstream media who fails on every level to call them on it. Former Vice President Mondale is but a lone voice in a choir of Cassandra's that have and continue to go unheeded by the Washington, D.C. punditocracy and the mainstream media. As a voter though, his warnings should not go unheeded. Head over and read the entire piece. It will be worth your time.

Haircuts and boobs, boobs and haircuts....

I am now sticking my head in an oven.

My god, where are these people's heads? First there was and still is John Edwards' $400.00 haircut and now Hillary Clinton's rack. We will now be subjected to unending articles ad nauseum about Senator Clinton's neckline and the "strategy" surrounding it. And before all this, the likes of the MSM talking heads such as Chris Matthews et al talking about Bush's manly jaunt across the flighdeck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and doing an appropriate swoon on air just makes me want to throw up. That now infamous 'Mission Accomplished' hyper testosterone photo op puts new meaning in the "Walk softly and carry a big stick" diplomacy since we've discovered this about the George W. Bush action figure that seemingly defines what was meant by a 'big stick':

"By far the most compelling confirmation of the phallic meaning of the president's aircraft-carrier cakewalk was found on the hot-selling "George W. Bush Top Gun action figure" manufactured by Talking Presidents. I originally ordered one to use as part of the cover design for this book. The studly twelve-inch flyboy not only comes with a helmet and visor, goggles and oxygen mask, but underneath his flight suit is a full "basket" --- a genuine fake penis, apparently constructed with lifelike silicone."

Somebody please wake me up from this Freudian nightmare. If Abraham Lincoln had been made aware of where political discourse would eventually lead in this country where using genitalia as a metaphor for political manipulation (i.e. the Starr report) and media coverage using personal hygiene as a litmus test for issue viability becomes standard fare he no doubt would have welcomed, if not begged, for Booth's bullet. What's media coverage of a death sentence being handed to you by your health insurance provider as opposed to the actual life threatening medical condition you suffer from compared to media coverage of tits, ass and male units anyway? Apparently, its no contest as the coverage of Hillary's cleavage crystallizes the answer for us.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Carolina Blue!

I KNEW there was a reason UNC and Duke used variations of the color blue. Over at Mydd, Jerome Armstrong picks up a nice piece from the Raleigh News & Observer about the latest voting trends and the new EC vote legislation that says buy, buy to the winner take all rule previously on the books:

Great news for the Dem candidate in '08:

"North Carolina appears
headed to becoming the third state in the nation to abandon the winner-take-all
method for awarding its electoral votes as the House tentatively agreed Thursday
to shelve the method.
In its place, according to the measure approved on a
largely party-line vote, would be a more proportional method that would reward
the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each of the state's
congressional districts.
The Senate already has passed the meaure, which
would take effect in 2008. A final House vote could come Friday, then the bill
would go to Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, just like the majority in the
Legislature, which has backed the change. The state Democratic Party also
supports it."

The Democratic candidate would be sure
to receive at least 3 EV's from NC, and probably as high as 7-8, depending on
the nominee.
on '08
points out that Dems have the trifecta in Arkansas and Louisiana as
well, where they could possibly also make this change. At the least, it ensures
that candidates are going to be coming to NC during the 2008 contest. If this
had been in effect during 2000, Gore would have been President.

Having been born and living in North Carolina for most of the 80's I can tell you that there was a rural/urban dichotomy already taking place then. I was wondering how long it would be before urban, liberal sensibilities would soon find its way into the political culture. As it turns out, longer than I had hoped. But the Tar Heel State seems to be banging on the door with this news.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Loving the troops - GOP style

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda (CD#2- D-Kansas) passes along this little vignette that personifies exactly what Digby wrote about earlier today:

“And finally, I would just like to share a
story. When I was speaking back at home with one of a very right wing
conservative talk show hosts and after, thank God, after we were off the air, I
said something that I assumed he would agree with and I just said ‘you know, I’m
really worried about these guys and gals, but mainly guys, that have gone, that
they’ve been redeployed now three and four times’ — he came back to me and said
‘you know what, they should have thought about that before they enlisted, before
they signed up.’ He said ‘it’s their fault.’ And I was so upset, I looked at him
and I said with all due restraint, and I said no respect, it’s not with all due
respect because quite honestly, I have no respect for that opinion, with all due
restraint, and I got myself calmed down and left the room. But I am very
disappointed, I would hope that General Keane would not say that. But I am very
disappointed that, where is he to get up and defend the men and women who have
so honorably served our country? Where is he and where is the rest of this
military to say this is the right thing to do? With all due respect, this
country has to come together and first and foremost deal in the reality of the
situation and find a way to come together and put these crazy partisan politics
behind us, and come up with a way forward. And maybe that’s where I should stop.
And I will yield back my time.”

There is no doubt this is how most of them feel. And how do we know? Look how many Congressional representatives have signed up to fight the most important battle for civilization (to quote Bush) in our history. Ok. As long as someone else fights it.

The GOP wingo's make me sick. (h/t to Atrios).


Over at Firedoglake TRex sets the standard for snarkiness:

Cape Canaveral Florida (CNN) — Someone
intentionally damaged a computer
intended for the International
Space Station, NASA said Thursday.

What, did he install Windows Vista on it?"


Edwards' Lead Holds In Iowa

Chris Bowers of Open Left has a very insightful post at Mydd regarding the latest poll numbers in Iowa and as usual it seems to be dead on. I'm with him about being a little reticent to wrap my arms completely around the latest numbers because the sampling numbers the poll uses are just not high enough to keep the MOE within reasonable range. In any event it's obvious that Edwards is still the man to beat there. Even more fascinating is a poll he has up at his new site, Open Left, showing how many times democratic voters have heard the names of the candidate over a selected four day period from the last three months. Edwards gets only a 2% response and yet after all the media coverage gotten by Clinton and Obama where they were picking up 42% and 22% respectively Edwards still holds his solid lead. This only portends badly for Clinton as her name recognition seems to have topped out. And this being Obama's back yard with Iowa adjoining his home state, this is not good. Yes, a lot can change over the next 170 days but this shows that Edwards' message is right on. Let's hope he can keep it up.

A G.I. Joe War

Digby, Digby, are a goddess. Go here and read this now. As a son and brother of a veteran this article made me want to laugh, cry and rant. She crystallizes the right wing's distortion as no one else can. Our troops are acutal human beings, imagine that........

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The GOP Hates Civil Liberties

I keep wondering how long it is going to take the general population to wake up to the fact that the GOP hates civil liberties. Just yesterday former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gave us an excellent demonstration in Denison Iowa:

"I support tough interrogation techniques,
enhanced interrogation techniques, in circumstances where there is a ticking
time bomb, a ticking bomb," Romney said. "I do not support torture, but I do
support enhanced interrogation techniques to learn from terrorists what we need
to learn to keep the bombs from going off."

I'm not sure how the GOP came around to the conclusion that Al Qaeda is more dangerous than Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan but that kind of a comparative is just mind bogglingly nuts. Somehow we managed to fight a two ocean war without torturing people for intelligence. Yes, we herded up and put Asian descendant American citizens in detention camps, but they were not physically tortured and some semblance of trying to meet Geneva convention standards was attempted.

There is nothing like trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator of your base. And the lowest you can get is to use fear as a rallying point for support. In FDR's lowest moment he never even thought of using fear. This administration and the GOP '08 candidates use it like a blunt instrument. In Denison Iowa yesterday Mitt Romney pulled out his club and started beating it over the heads of his listeners. I'm not sure what's more disturbing: the ease Romney succumbed to the temptation and taking the fear route or his listeners buying into that crap. Either way, it's a road the GOP is willing to lead us down.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Edwards Leading The Way

Sen. Edwards may not be pulling the sexy news stories and early poll numbers that Clinton and Obama are pulling nationally but one thing is for sure, he's the one to beat and rest of the field better realize it. As Taegan Goodard's Political Wire points out, the WSJ today talks about Edwards setting the political agenda for the road to Denver and thereby making the other campaigns react to him. John Edwards gets it. Pretty soon, this tact is going to start paying off for him in national poll numbers and money. In Iowa he's the one to beat despite it being Obama's backyard.

Update: On Wednesday, July 18th, Sen. Edwards wrapped up his 1,800 mile One America tour in Prestonsburg, KY where RFK's 1968 200 mile tour of impoverished regions in southeastern Kentucky ended. The Senator also commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 Poor People's march to Washington, D.C. with a stop in Marks, Mississippi where MLK began his crusade for the downtrodden. OneCarolinaGirl gets major props for uploading this excellent video she made of the Senator's speech in Prestonsburg. John Edwards crystalizes all the themes in his campaign into one nice tight speech demonstrating once again how he just plain gets it and keeps setting the aganda while the others scramble to catch up.

Iowa On My Mind

With 178 days left before the Iowa Caucus on January 14th, 2008 it looks like the Hawkeye State is starting to heat up with campaign activity in the past 48 hours.

Gov. Bill Richardson is predicted to win the Iowa Caucus according to the latest USA Elections Polls. This along with the news that Gov. Richardson's second quarter fund raising might be suggesting a tier position swap with former Sen. John Edwards. I'll have to wait and see on that one because the Edwards campaign did in fact meet it's target for the 2nd quarter. Gov. Richardson is also getting attention from the Des Moines Register for his call on Thursday in Des Moines to increase legal immigration: "I think we also need to raise the legal immigration numbers for those workers that we need." So it looks like the Richardson campaign is trying to make a move in Iowa now by boosting his presence there.

There is no doubt Sen. Clinton is putting major resources in Iowa with a few recent moves in the past 48 hours. The Hill's Congress Blog is reporting that her campaign is set to mail a DVD out to Iowa's registered Democrats detailing her stand on Iraq fresh off the news of her endorsement of former Ambassador Joe Wilson. The former Ambassador is included in the DVD as they discuss her views on the war. This move comes fresh of the heels of news her campaign is helping former Gov. Vilsack retire his failed Presidential campaign debts which only furthers speculation on Vilsack's potential as a runing mate.

I'm somewhat taken with the fact that Sen. Barack Obama doesn't seemed to be mentioned very much with what's at stake with him regarding Iowa. As a neighboring state with Illinois Iowa plays a double edged sword for his campaign. USA Today had an interview with him on Wednesday where he was asked whether or not Iowa could be called 'southern Illinois." This is the first mention I've seen linking how important Iowa will be to Sen. Obama.

Polling data still supports former Sen. Edwards' strength there and he is still the one to beat. One hundred and seventy-eight days is still a long way off and a lot can happen. There is no doubt the Edwards campaign is banking on an Iowa win. He needs it to stay with the Clinton campaign and Obama needs it to just stay in the race.

Welcome Back Markos

It's nice to see Markos back from his vacation, and with a bang as well. He's jumped in with both feet showing what a moron Bill O'Reilly is with his crusade against JetBlue. Markos points out that yet another FauxNews talking blowhole has misinformed us - - again.

Update: Well, looks like JetBlue caved after all and pulled their sponsorship of YearlyKos. Please head on over to Daily Kos now and send an e-mail to corporate headquarters and let them know that caving in to right wing extremists isn't good business. You can bet I'll never fly JetBlue after this. Ever.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Digby Hearts Harry Truman only Digby can.

Big Deal

Ok, so Diane Sawyer apologized for misinforming us yet again. She's still a hack of the first magnitude. The former Nixon speechwriter had loyalties that kept her with him to the very end. So apparently wiping your feet on the Constitution didn't bother her. Sorry, Diane, your mea culpa is as hollow as your respect for the constitution. You and Judy Miller can clink glasses of wine later.

Gore Watch

Though my blog is representative of the fact former NC Senator John Edwards is my preferred choice for the 2008 Democratic nomination of the declared candidates, my first choice is Al Gore who seems more politically attractive than at any other time in his career. If Mr. Gore becomes a candidate in ths race at any time I wll immediately throw my support behind him. Though the odds are against him running, notwithstanding a Shermanesque statement of denial, I continue to hold out hope against hope. Otherwise I will carry on my current support for the netroots favorite, Sen. Edwards. Hence, the reason for this ongoing blog feature: Gore Watch.

So let's get this started, shall we? I see where Linda in SFNM over at Daily Kos fills us in on yet another early primary state poll where Gore is leading the Democratic field. And it's from Senator Craig's state of all places, Idaho. It seems the former V.P. is the preference of 31% of those polled while Hillary and Obama are in the low 20's. As for Iowa, the Des Moines register seems to be getting it's share of letters to the editior from subscibers calling for somekind of action to get Gore in the race via the draft movement.

Meanwhile, I see where GoreHub is reporting that Al Gore has been named International Statesman of the Year by the UK. This ia a nice honor to go along with the other slew of honors that seem to have no end in sight coming his way. I'm glad to see the rest of the world finally catching up to the kind of human being he is.

Friday, May 04, 2007

An Artifical Foreign Policy

Recently Ambassador David Satterfield, Senior advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq, was asked a question by a German journalist on the "Ask the Ambassador" web page of the U.S. State Departments official web site where responses are given to written questions from international correspondents:

"Do you think it will be possible to leave a stable Iraq within the next two or three years?"[03/23/07]

The Ambassador's answer was the usual ho-hum glibness that passes for foreign policy out of the Bush WH for the past 4 years:

"We do not intend to leave Iraq until it is self-sufficient and secure. The timeframe depends largely on the Iraqis, themselves. The government of Iraq has outlined a path towards self-sufficiency and we are doing everything we can to help them meet their goals."

Alright, let's forget for a moment that the Iraqi Parliament has recessed itself until July and discuss something called the ICI. Today, Secretary of State Condelizza Rice was in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the International Compact for Iraq Conference. A United Kingdom based web site through the University of Birmingham and the University of Bristol: intute social sciences describes the ICI [International Compact for Iraq]:

"[.....] is an initiative of the Government of Iraq which has support from the international community. It seeks to encourage cooperation with international bodies [60 to date to be exact] to encourage the economic, political and social development of the region. The website provides information on the aims of the programme and its activities. It includes press releases, declarations and an online library of associated speeches, full text documents and reports. These provide insight into the progress of the reconstruction of Iraq in the post Gulf war period."

The original document in question detailing the ICI is 60 pages long. It usually resides at its own web site, but as of this evening that account for some reason has been suspended. I find this extremely curious. This morning I was actually in the site perusing it for about 15 minutes before I had to leave. What was striking about the parts I was able to read was it's stunning lack of detail about just what the international community was committing to.

Today's press conference in Sharm el-Sheikh was played back this evening on C-Span. From what I could watch not only was the Iraqi Parliament recess not asked about from any of the journalists present, the redoubtable Ms. Rice never even brought it up. When asked about a timetable for the ICI, it's implementation or benchmarks measuring effectiveness Rice gave the same old bromide, recycled with a couple of new words, for the pass four years when asked about U.S. military presence on the ground, [paraphrasing here] "You can't let artificial timetables impede the progress currently being made in Iraq today. We have to let the Iraqi's complete the process [emphasis mine] for stability. The process takes time."

The UN sponsored ICI, which began to come together last July, was launched with a press conference back on April 20th. According to the UN the ICI was described as a process of a larger initiative: '[.....] "aid for trade,” a strategy to enable developing countries to take a greater role in the international trade system.' The ICI was also described as an international effort to aid Iraq through a compact: "The Compact is a five-year national plan that includes benchmarks and mutual commitments from both Iraq and the international community, all with the aim of helping Iraq on the path towards peace, sound governance and economic reconstruction. "

The only thing "new" about this initiative is that it is supposed to have been introduced by the Iraqi's themselves. It's curious that on the eve of this all important conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt so critical to Iraq's future their Parliament's answer to this international commitment is a two month recess. So much for benchmarks. You have to give the Bush WH this much, the high camp factor for what passes for foreign policy seems to be achieving new heights on a daily basis. The imagery and visualizations offered to the global diplomatic community with each Bush press conference and Rice appearance on the international stage only serves to underline the surreal quality they project. This is especially so after Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, gave a blunt assessment to the same group of journalists that questioned Ms. Rice later that day by asserting that Iraq's problems stem from the fact they are an occupied country with a foreign army that is a continuous cause for the escalating sectarian strife. Ms. Rice blew off the question from the press when asked about it and continued to repeat the same thing over and over in the press conference: the US is there by invitation only. Soon after that the press conference degenerated into a discussion about non U.S. - Iranian relations. Only after Ms. Rice was drawn off the subject of Iraq did she seem animated and engaged. Otherwise she looked bored and flippant when discussing Iraq's problems.

As the latest Bushian set of reasons for continued American military presence evolves via the newest phrase du jour to date evoking the rejection of "artificial timetables" it is becoming more and more apparent each day there is no foreign policy - only a holding pattern of sorts. The UN commitment at this point is problematic at best because of the lack of security on the ground throughout Iraq. At this point implementation of the ICI is impractical. The risk factor for the other countries involved in this so called compact is negligible since the U.S. military is the one taking all the risks and responsibility for security. As the Iraqi Foreign Minister has already demonstrated with his bluntness regarding his feelings about American military presence the U.S. government finds itself in a catch 22 position regarding Iraqi sovereignty. Forcing their hand would only undermine the latest justification of our presence. Iraq's neighbors get to look properly concerned and engaged while the UN gets to look relevant. Meanwhile U.S. troops get caught in the middle while nothing happens and Bush waits our his term so he can claim he never "surrendered." This artificial foreign policy seems to serve only one purpose - preserving some notion that Bush has regarding his legacy. Unfortunately for the grunts on the ground it comes at the highest price imaginable - their lives.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Only Americans understand Iraq, right?

Though I really shouldn’t be, it is still stultifying to me that we have any international friends at all when the Secretary of State has an aide that says this regarding a question about Arab governments and Iraq via the Washington Post:

“For their part, the official said, Arab governments need to show more appreciation of the problems Maliki faces and the progress, however slow, he has made. Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, do not understand "what's really happening in Iraq," he said.”

Oh yes, indeed. Current events in Iraq serve only to underline our complete understanding of what’s happening on the ground, doesn’t it? And telling the Sunni’s in Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s other neighbors that us Americans have a better understanding of Sunni’s in Iraq than they do really reinforce our credibility in the region, doesn’t it?
(Major hat tip to for bringing this to our attention.)

Sen. Edwards discounts framing of GWOT

In an upcoming interview for Time Magazine former Sen. John Edwards clairifies his position regarding Bush's GWOT [Global War On Terror]:

"This political language has created a frame that is not accurate and that Bush and his gang have used to justify anything they want to do," Edwards said in a phone interview from Everett, Wash. "It's been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable, ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there's a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don't think that's true." [h/t Mydd]

This is a major difference between Edwards and the rest of the field. He refused to adopt the GOP/Bush framing on this issue and redefines it with reality and exposes the crassness and realpolitik of its usage.

There is no doubt Edwards has thought this out and continues to try evolve his stump speech to reflect this all important step to reject the GOP meme on this disasterous war. In the SC debate last week Sen. Edwards stood out amoung the others as he alone refused to adopt the GOP frame on this issue when he refused to raise his hand when the group was asked if they supported the GWOT. Like Matt Stoller over at Mydd, I have high hopes regarding Edwards' movement on this issue. It will be highly interesting to see where his campaign will be on this in the fall.

What's striking about this is Hillary's position adopting the GOP frame and the policy of leaving behind a significant fighting force in Iraq indefinitely.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The "Commander Guy" and his mission

In Bush's veto address to the nation yesterday he made a curious remark at the end of it that is remarkable in its incredible lack of cognizant ironies in what he is actually saying. See for yourself - its at the 1:40 mark on this YouTube piece:

Let's repeat that, shall we? "....all the terrorist would have to do is wait for the date we pull out and then plot to take over the Iraqi governemt." My question to this Bozo would have been this follow up? "You mean after we invaded, occupied and imposed our institutional model and values on them first?

Am I the only one to see the irony of this?

U.S. House of Representatives fail to override Bush's Iraq supplemental spending bill veto

As expected the U.S. House of Representatives failed to override the WH veto on the Iraq supplemental spending bill: 222-203. Since it was nearly a straight party line vote it’s more interesting to see who strayed – 9 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Let’s take a look at the nine Democrats who voted not to override. Of course they are red staters:

John Barrow D-Georgia 12th Dist.
Dan Boren D-Oklahoma 2nd Dist.
Lincoln Davis D-Tennessee 4th Dist.

Michael McNulty D-New York 21st Dist.
Jim Marshall D-Georgia 8th Dist.
Matheson D-Utah 2nd Dist.
Gene Taylor D-Mississippi 4th Dist.

And then there is Dennis Kucinich D-Ohio 10th Dist. He voted “Present” instead of a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ vote. His “explanation” is on his web site. What a kook.

For the record, there were two GOPers who voted to override:

Walter B. Jones R-North Carolina 3rd Dist.
Wayne Gilchrest R-Maryland 1st Dist.

I will send a short little missive to our red state Democrats reminding them they should have voted to override on this issue. Look at Rep Walter B. Jones in N.C. Last time I checked, North Carolina was a red state. Good for him.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Using radio to inflict pain

I don't know what it is about right wingers and their incessant need to put down a certain class or segment of our national community but there it is nevertheless. Don Imus' unceremonious exit has not even faded from our topical consciousness and the public is being greeted with another conservative radio "personality" to fill the intellectual void with even more vacuousness. We learn that MSNBC is replacing their simulcast with another Imus clone: Michael Smerconish. Media Matters gives us the bad news:

"According to an April 20 article on, the website of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The Big Talker 1210 AM morning show of Daily News columnist Michael Smerconish is to be simulcast Monday through Wednesday on MSNBC." The article noted that Smerconish will fill the slot previously held by Imus in the Morning. MSNBC announced on April 11 that it would no longer broadcast Imus [...]"

Then we are given several examples of Smerconish's "shtick." This one in particular stands out because of it's snide aside to gays:

"Substituting for host Bill O'Reilly on the April 4, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish repeatedly discussed "the sissification of America," claiming that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies." Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" is "compromising our ability to win the war on terror."

At the point it is not that big of a stretch to come to the conclusion that the only reason right wing radio is able to succeed is by appealing to the lowest common denominator of human beings. MSNBC must be aware of this formula because their search didn't take long. All they had to do was dig deeper than Imus and see what was underneath to continue that success. Congratulations MSNBC. Your probing of those depths just hit pay dirt.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gun control editorials off and running in the wake of Virgina Tech University tragedy

Well, that didn't take long. The opinion column hand wringing has already begun in light of the tragedy in Blacksburg. I could link to the roll of right-wing/conservative arm wavers already calling for "cooler heads" to prevail but I won't. Instead I'll just highlight one: Michelle Malkin.

In this morning's Florida Times-Union, Ms. Malkin's lastest Pavlovian screed is an op-ed feature entitled: "Arm Students for Self Defense." Before I get to the context of her outburst, something curious about the article's title struck me. Since the FTU doesn't have it included on their web site I did a little searching and found the same article posted throughout the net with an entirely different title: "Wanted: A Culture of Self Defense." This discreptncy in the title tweeked my curiosity somewhat. So I decided to try a little dot connection here. My guess is, very late last evening Ms. Malkin's syndicated column was posted for the morning editions on her clientele list. I can almost see the raised eye-brows over the title in late night editorial meetings. They thought better of it and softened her original title. I've not been able to find the title in this morning's FTU edition anywhere else on the net. OTOH, the other title previously mentioned is everywhere. But then again our local paper's editorial board is like no other and the legacy of Lloyd Brown that still resides in the halls on the fifth floor wouldn't question anything from the venomous pens of Malkin, Coulter, Thomas and et al anyway.

Though it is very tempting to breakdown Malkin's regurgitation of NRA views, toned down and repackaged for low-brow conservative family consumption, there is really no need to. All that's needed is one small excerpt for context before we can find a shorter version of Malkin's diatribe on You Tube. You see, all Michelle is doing is channeling Archie Bunker from "All In The Family" fame. How, you may ask? First, as promised, the excerpt from this morning's column for context:

"The back story: Virginia Tech had
punished a student for bringing a handgun to class last spring-despite the fact
that the student had a valid concealed handgun permit."
You really can't make this stuff up can you? Well, Norman Lear already did over thirty years ago:

Actually, when this episode first aired I nearly pulled a muscle for laughing so hard. Except now, its not so funny. The Michelle Malkins of the world is suggesting we arm every student. In fact why not do what the indomitable Mr. Bunker suggested for the airlines industry and turn it around to fit the classroom? Hand out the pistols on the way in like a student handout and then collect them at the end of class like homework?

Maybe the Apocalypse is upon us after all.

A "clean-cut" appearance, $600.00 and a non-suspicious demeanor get's you a Glock 9 mm in Virginia

In yesterday’s Florida Times-Union, the front page story about Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech University gunman responsible for 33 dead and over two dozen wounded, had this curious quote from the gun owner who sold the gun:

Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571.
"He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won't sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious," Markell said.

What I found curious was his contention that Seung-Hui was a, “clean-cut college kid.” Well, isn’t that nice. The troubled VTU student’s appearance was so disarming he washed away any suspicion of evil intentions. I don’t know about anyone else, but how can one not be put at ease by that shrug of the shoulders?

The laxness of the gun laws in Virginia is apparently an indication that gun retailers are responsible for the use of discretion when selling fire arms. Wow. Mr. Markell certainly failed that test. I mean it was easy to see why with this particular purchaser being “clean-cut” and all. Mr. Markell’s other contention was they won’t sell a gun, “....if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious.” I’m wondering how the need to purchase a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic couldn’t be used for anything else other than shooting someone. Not being a gun owner and very far from having any real knowledge of firearms I guess I don’t understand the cult that swirls around the ownership of these kinds of weapons.

After what happened on the Blacksburg campus this past Monday morning, I’m not sure I want to.t