Archive for January, 2007

January 17, 2007

A few couple bits of news in the wonderful world of party infighting. First, from the Republicans:

The week after the Republicans were handed a series of devastating election defeats, the White House announced that Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) would take over as RNC chair. If recent history held, there was no appeal in the process — the national committee has historically rubber-stamped sitting presidents’ choice for party chairs.

But not this time, not with this president, and not with Martinez, who was immediately a controversial choice. The Republican base labeled him the “Harriet Miers of RNC chairs” and went to work in opposition to his selection.

A lot of this apparently has to do with Martinez’s lenient stance on immigration, although the “Harriet Miers” crack implies some fairly blatant cronyism afoot here. It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops, and what happens if the GOP ends up with a chairman who’s further to the right than Martinez.

Now, in the interest of fairness, it’s time for the Democrats:

Landrieu in 2008 will be running under a new federal election process that scraps the state’s unusual November open primary in favor of a more conventional primary and general election structure. Landrieu could face a direct primary challenge, possibly from former Rep. Cleo Fields (D), now a state senator who sponsored the bill changing the primary process.

Good. Louisiana is still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and as far as I’m concerned Landrieu lost much of her credibility when it comes to competently representing her scarred state when she supported Lieberman (whose oversight of FEMA has been horrendous at best) in the CT Senate race. It’s going to take years to revitalize New Orleans and the surrounding area and during that time it’s going to be extremely important that Louisiana have strong representation in Congress.


January 16, 2007

So Barack Obama has announced that he’s going to announce whether or not he wants to run for President. Commence with the excessive media infatuation, the giant cult of personality and the increasingly strained attempts to subliminally equate him in the American mind with Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and possibly the Green Goblin.

That isn’t all that interesting in of its self, though. Personally, I’m bored with Obamamania, and his coyness about whether or not he’s going to run (Hint: he is) is start to get kind of strained. The only thing really worth noting about this is that it’s the same day that it got liked that Al Gore isn’t running for President. AHHH! Everyone panic!

Oh, except for about an hour later it came out that he hasn’t ruled it out yet. Oh, okay.

Al Gore isn’t considering running for President. He’s already running for President, and he just leeched some media off of Obama by out-coying him. Because Obama may be good at this, but let’s face it, Gore has been doing it for a hell of a lot longer.

It’s January 2007, and the 110th Congress just went into session. Apparently now is the time to talk about who will be signing the 111th’s bills.

January 15, 2007

Spazeboy reports that a law is being considered that would democratize Senate vacancies in Connecticut.

This strikes me as a good idea, and not just for political reasons. Certainly it could make the CT Senate delegation more Democratic in the future, but that’s really a side issue – I really don’t foresee either Lieberman or Dodd vacating their seats mid-term, anyway. The main concern is that direct election of political representation strikes me as generally being a good thing. This bill, therefore, is a good thing. Good.

George W. Bush: Timecop
January 15, 2007

In the small subgenre of speculative fiction known as alternative history, arguably the supreme master is Harry Turtledove. Unfortunately, our president is a far inferior writer of alternative history.

Take for example a couple excerpts from his recent 60 minutes interview. First there’s the one where be brilliant sums up alternate universe America’s concerns regarding the Iraq War:

BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we’ve endured great sacrifice to help them. That’s the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that’s significant enough in Iraq.

Goddamn Iraqis. We invade their country, destroy its infrastructure, plunge the entire country into a civil war, and the general populace is expressing insufficient amounts of gratitude. Flowers would be nice.

Things get even weirder from there. From Josh Marshall:

Asked whether the invasion has made the Middle East more unstable, the president responds: “Our administration took care of a source of instability in Iraq. Envision a world in which Saddam Hussein was rushing for a nuclear weapon to compete against Iran.”

Well, yes, imagine that.

See, if we hadn’t invaded, then it is definitely within the realm of possibility that Iraq would have become a threat at some point in the future. We had no choice!

With that in mind, I’m going to advocate that we declare war on the UK right now. Seriously, haven’t you seen V for Vendetta? They’re totally going to be fascists in the future, so we’d better nip that in the bud right now. America cannot wait for the salvation of a shaven-headed Natalie Portman!

Hell, in Children of Men they apparently lay siege to Seattle. This must not stand! We must avenge the vaguely-alluded to possible future invasion of Seattle.

January 13, 2007

Speaking of Lieberman, if you’re wondering what the newly untethered “independent” looks like, it looks like this.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the only Democrat to endorse President Bush’s new plan for Iraq, has quietly backed away from his pre-election demands that the White House turn over potentially embarrassing documents relating to its handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

It’s not enough for Lieberman to continue to support this disastrous war. He seems to be genuinely opposed to any sort of oversight of the executive branch. New Orleans is still decimated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and because it might damage the Bush administration, Lieberman is not even slightly interested in any kind of public accountability.

It’s no small source of embarrassment for me that it was my state that sent this man back to the Senate.

January 13, 2007

Escalation is a disaster in every single possible way. It’s a tactical disaster, it would inevitably be a massive, senseless waste of human life, and even on the home front it’s a political disaster. That last one we can be thankful for, because hopefully it means that the Democrats will be able to prevent it.

Numbers? We’ve got numbers. According to Rassmussen, two days after Bush’s primetime address regarding escalation his approval dropped nine points to an all-time low. CNN has a slightly sunnier view of Bush’s prospects, but not by much: they report that the speech didn’t change anyone’s opinion on either Bush or the war at all.

The funny thing is, I think the White House, or at least their communications department, knows this. That’s why they banned photography during the speech. It’s an admission of weakness, an attempt to keep the story as tightly controlled as possible. It’s essentially the equivalent of plugging a hole in the side of your ship with your finger because you can’t do anything about the gaping torpedo wound on the starboard side.

McCain is using escalation as a political solution because he knows he can’t get tarred with it, and whatever happens he’ll be lauded for his “principled” stand. Lieberman’s using escalation to position himself as a moderate as well, but this is also a nice opportunity to just buddy up to McCain (future running mate?) and the President as aggressively as possible.

But what does Bush get from all of this? It won’t win the war, and God willing the Democrats will destroy the idea before it even goes into effect. All it does is further stall the moment when Bush finally has to admit defeat and begin to withdraw troops.

Catastrofuck, Part Deux
January 12, 2007

I disregarded the part in Bush’s speech a couple nights ago about Syria and Iran, because it seemed to me like pretty much the same tough-guy posturing that the administration has always done in regards to those two countries. There’s been buzz before about gearing up for war with Iran, but I’ve always figured that the American military is so entrenched in Afghanistan and Iraq right now that if we can barely muster up 22,000 more troops to put in that mass the administration has to know that we would never be able to sustain a prolonged war in Iran. Besides, Congress would never approve military action in Iran. Hell, I don’t think even the previous Congress would have.

But Steven Clemons, who I tend to defer to on all matters of foreign policy, seems to think that its credible that the Bush administration may be trying to provoke Iran into going to war. That wouldn’t be the first time something like that has been attempted, even in recent history – in December 2002, the administration jacked up airstrikes in Iraq, presumably in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into kicking off the war.

And here’s a scary thought: as Glenn Greenwald, whose excellent How Would a Patriot Act? I just finished reading, points out, the Bush administration might very well go to war with Iran without congressional approval.

I’m choosing to remain skeptical of this. For one thing, I don’t think Ahmadinejad would take the bait. For another thing, if Congress does successfully block funding for escalation (which I think is likely), that would pretty much nix any other crazy invasion ideas Bush was having. And for yet another thing, going to war with Iran without congressional approval is a huge, obscene leap, even for this White House.

January 12, 2007

I’ll start with a bit of good news today – as I predicted yesterday, it looks like there might be enough votes to overturn a potential filibuster of the legislation blocking escalation. Even Republicans who don’t want to be on record voting against funding for it could probably be swayed to at least try to bring it to an up or down vote, which it would then probably pass.

Whatshisface ‘08!
January 11, 2007

So our very own Senator Chris Dodd announced his candidacy for president today, inspiring citizens across the state to say, “Really? Uh, alright,” shake their heads and go back to whatever they were doing.

It’s not that I dislike Dodd. I think he’s a decent Senator, at least grading on the extremely low curve we have right now. But I really haven’t seen anything during his time in the Senate that truly distinguishes him or makes him look like presidential material. His platform isn’t exactly all that inspiring, either.

From the article in the Courant:

His message in every state where he stumped was the same, and it’s expected to remain that way in the early stages of the campaign: that he has two young daughters who deserve a safer, more stable world, and he has the unique blend of experience and collegiality that can promote the kind of policies that move the country in that direction.

He also has a basket full of kittens, and rainbows are pretty. And his haircut is very nice, thanks for noticing. He just got it cut yesterday.

By the way, he announced his candidacy on Imus in the Morning. Classy.

Escalation: The rare magical policy that’s as unpopular as it is stupid
January 11, 2007

President Bush’s speech last night was pretty much what I expected it to be, but what a shoutout that really shouldn’t have been all that surprising. From the transcript:

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration. It will help strengthen our relationship with Congress.

There might well have been other members of Congress pushing that idea, but if there were, our very own Senator Lieberman was apparently the only one deserving of proper noun status. Lovely.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the speech, everyone except for a tiny handful of people are fleeing the idea of escalation like the plague. Out in the real world, escalation is extremely unpopular. Unsurprisingly, however, Congressional Republicans (and Lieberman) seem for the most part to be sticking to the plan, with a few exceptions which could signal a rift in the party over this. One of those exceptions is not the new Senate minority leader, who plans to filibuster any bill that opposes escalation. An odd position for the party that, when they were in power, wanted to annihilate the filibuster.

I suspect the votes are there to overrule a filibuster, even with Lieberman undoubtedly jumping ship. Let him. Breaking up a filibuster will expose these people for the fringe zealots that they are.

Speaking of fringe zealots, Senator Sam Brownback has become the first Republican presidential candidate to speak out against escalation. He’s one of those exceptions I was talking about earlier, and this is actually a pretty good example of why Brownback scares the crap out of me – this guy is a true believer, not some Republican lackey. A lot of Republicans recite some extremist nonsense to appeal to the Christian right, but this guy believes every word that comes out of his mouth, and that’s why when he actually does differ with the rest of the party he speaks up about it.

2008 is still a long way off, though. We’ve got a crisis on our hands right now, and if we can get more Republicans like Brownback on our side for the time being, wonderful. Congress needs to cut this thing off.

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