Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
A new book by David Brock and Paul Waldman.
Over the course of a career, most nationally prominent politicians, particularly those who choose to seek the White House, can expect ups and downs in their treatment by the press. While some are looked on more favorably than others, most of the key figures in national politics will see times when they are hailed as victors and praised for their strengths, and times when they are derided as losers and pilloried for their weaknesses. But in recent years, there has been one exception to this rule: John McCain. While other politicians are examined with a cynical eye, McCain and his admirers in the media have cooperated to construct a shimmering image of the senator from Arizona, one that has propelled him to the heights of American politics. McCain, as he has been presented to the public, is a straight-talking maverick, a war hero standing astride the parties and untroubled by political calculations.
...But calling McCain's coverage positive does not begin to convey the complexity of his singular status in the media. In a hundred ways, the rules are simply different for McCain. Indeed, when writing about McCain, journalists offer a unique brand of praise.
Those words were spoken by our intrepid leader on May 1, 2003, and we all know how it's turned out so far. Five years later, 3,862 more US troops have been killed (that's 97% of the casualties) and tens of thousands wounded since that claim, along with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
That comment along with "the surge is working" always makes my blood boil. After 15 months of the escalation of troops called the "surge," all you have to do is look at some headlines from yesterday and today to see how well it has worked.
U.S. Planes Attack Militia Strongholds in Basra Fighting
One killed, 14 wounded in Baghdad Green Zone attack
Stay Low, U.S. Warns Those in Green Zone
Thursday: 225 Iraqis, 1 US Soldier, 3 US Contractors Killed; 538 Iraqis Wounded
Of course, when the shit hits the fan, you better find a reason for the rapid destabilization over these past few weeks. We wouldn't be silly enough to realize that Muqtada al-Sadr's militia ending their cease fire is a likely cause for the sharp rise in violence when the Bush boys have the chance to fan the flames of war against Iran.
The most senior US general in Iraq has said he has evidence that Iran was behind Sunday's bombardment of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.Lethal accelerants. Combustible mix. Scary words. That's easy enough to state now that CENTCOM Commander Admiral William Fallon, the only vocal opponent of a possible attack on Iran, is now out of the way - forced into retirement by Bush and his band of war mongers.
Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets.
He said Iran was adding what he described as "lethal accelerants" to a very combustible mix.
But sure, let's keep our collective heads in the sand and say that the surge is working, we're winning the war (which has "largely ended") and tune in to Dancing With The Stars to see the latest has-been who got booted.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This is awful.
A Wal-Mart employee got into a truck accident – then sued the trucking company and won. But now, wheelchair-bound and brain damaged, she’s being sued by... WAL-MART! It turns out there’s fine print in the company health plan to sue for any settlement received from an accident covered under their policy. This is height of corporate greed and simply disgusting.
Hillary Clinton on sniper fire:
"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
"...I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke — I didn’t say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire —that’s not what I was told. "
"If I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire..."? You mean like running with your heads down to get into the vehicles? Clinton "misspoke"... about getting shot at. I suppose when it happens so often, you tend to forget where or when.
From Clinton's campaign website:
"From her time in Arkansas when she improved rural health care to her successful effort to create the SCHIP Children's Health Insurance program which now covers six million children, Hillary has the strength and experience to ensure that every man, woman and child in America has quality, affordable health care."The truth:
Boston Globe: ...the Clinton White House, while supportive of the idea of expanding children's health, fought the first SCHIP effort, spearheaded by Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, because of fears that it would derail a bigger budget bill. And several current and former lawmakers and staff said Hillary Clinton had no role in helping to write the congressional legislation, which grew out of a similar program approved in Massachusetts in 1996...
"I do like her," Hatch said of Hillary Clinton. "We all care about children. But does she deserve credit for SCHIP? No - Teddy does, but she doesn't." ... Hatch, a longtime Kennedy friend, said he didn't want to criticize Clinton, but felt that the record should be set straight about how the SCHIP program was developed.
...Asked whether Clinton was exaggerating her role in creating SCHIP, Kennedy, stopped in the hallway as he was entering the chamber to vote, half-shrugged.
"Facts are stubborn things," he said, declining to criticize Clinton directly. "I think we ought to stay with the facts."
To top it off, some lawmakers and staff members are privately pissed at Clinton's exaggeration of her role and the claim that she "helped create" SCHIP, especially after missing the November 1st vote to extend it, as did Barck Obama, Chris Dodd and John McCain, while they were out on the campaign trail. It passed even without their votes.
Hillary Clinton on peace in Northern Ireland:
When asked by National Public Radio whether she had been in the "centre of the room" during Northern Ireland peace talks, she said: "What I was was part of a team and that team included obviously the principal negotiators under the direct authority of my husband.
"I wasn't sitting at the negotiating table but the role I played was instrumental. I guess it was in December when Ian Paisley [Democratic Unionist Party leader] and Martin McGuinness [Sinn Fein leader] came to the United States.
"I think they met with the leadership of Congress, with the President and with me and they thanked me publicly for the role I had played."
...This month, Terry McAuliffe, Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman, told CNN: "We would not have peace today had it not for Hillary's hard work in Northern Ireland."
...Mrs Clinton's version of events has been challenged by Peter King, an Ulster Unionist Party negotiator at the Good Friday talks in 1998, who said: "Hillary Clinton was totally invisible at the actual negotiations.
"As far as I am concerned, Mrs Clinton was as relevant to peace in Northern Ireland as Tony Blair's wife or the ex-wife of Bertie Ahern [the Irish prime minister]."
...Both Unionist and Nationalist negotiators told this newspaper that while Mrs Clinton's work with women's groups was positive her overall role was peripheral and she played no part in the gruelling negotiations that took years.
Clinton says she was publicly thanked. Show me the transcript or video or audio; something that shows Hillary Clinton being publicly thanked and we can put this one to bed.
Just yesterday, one of Clinton's campaign surrogates (I can't remember who) was defending her peace in Northern Ireland claim to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. When Mitchell addressed Lord Trimble's quote that Hillary's claim was a "wee bit silly", said Clintonite dismissed Lord David Trimble as a "crankpot" but was quick to use Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's name and tried to change the subject. Mitchell, being on the ball, immediately pointed out that Hume shared the prize with Trimble!
Hillary on Family & Medical Leave Act:
Again, from the Clinton campaign website:
As First Lady, she helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act and helped found the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancies, which established and achieved a goal of reducing teen pregnancies by one-third between 1996 and 2005.Really? The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law on February 5th, 1993, just 16 days after Bill Clinton took office. Did she give Bill the pen? Was she whispering how to spell his name while he signed it? The FMLA legislation was vetoed twice and took over seven years before it was passed. Senator Chris Dodd introduced FMLA in 1986. Did Dodd call Hillary Clinton to help draft it while she was in Arkansas?
Now, she may have helped in extending it once she became a Senator in 2001, 15 years after the legislation was first introduced and 8 years after it was signed, but to imply that you helped passed FMLA when in fact it already passed though Congress before your husband even took office is completely misleading. Just because you support something doesn't mean you helped pass it. Hell, in that case even I helped pass FMLA.
I could go on about how she claims to have negotiated with the Macedonian government to open borders for the refugees of Kosovo even though the borders were already open, or the whole NAFTA-Gate thing, but you get my point. When you're basically running on experience, and then embellishing and exaggerating that experience, you undermine campaigning on experience. And although there are solid experiences in Clinton's background, the fact that she feels she needs to lie to make them better than they were, adds doubt to their validity.
Hillary Clinton: Ready to Mislead on Day One
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
NY Times: Richard Widmark, who created a villain in his first movie role who was so repellent and frightening that the actor became a star overnight, died Monday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 93.
The Pentagon on Friday ruled out including Adm. William Fallon as a witness before Congress when the top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Baghdad testify next month on the way ahead in Iraq. Adm. Fallon was in vocal opposition regarding any military action in the current run up to attacking Iran. Is it any surprise that a dissenting voice of high ranking stature in the military is being silenced?
In declaring that Fallon would not join Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker as witnesses before Congress next month, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the decision had nothing to do with Fallon’s views on Iran or the reasons for his unexpected resignation and retirement.Sure it doesn't.
“I know there have been requests, in fact, from members of Congress to have Adm. Fallon testify with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, and I can tell you that Admiral Fallon will not be testifying” with them, Morrell told a Pentagon press conference.
How do these guys sleep at night? Here's what conservative activist and lobbyist Grover Norquist said regarding the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which President Bush signed into law last December, slowly raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to a paultry 35 MPG by 2020:
The government itself has calculated that around 2000 people a year are killed because of those CAFÉ standards and our cheerful government has just voted to increase them, to make cars lighter, smaller. And more people will die. I mean 2,000 people a year die because the environmentalists think that you should be in a smaller car because it offends their sensitivities that you’re using gasoline.
Fuel efficiency is killing us! Go out and buy those Hummers everyone. Use those stimulus checks to buy a tank of gas at $4.00 per gallon!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Very rarely, if ever, do I agree with David Brooks, but this time he's speaking purely within the Democratic circle and he's getting it right.
Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance.
...When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.
Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?
...The only question is whether Clinton herself can step outside the apparatus long enough to turn it off and withdraw voluntarily or whether she will force the rest of her party to intervene and jam the gears.
If she does the former, she would surprise everybody with a display of self-sacrifice. Her campaign would cruise along at a lower register until North Carolina, then use that as an occasion to withdraw. If she does not, she would soldier on doggedly, taking down as many allies as necessary.
Okay, we've all seen the Obama Girl (very early on in this campaign) with her sexy moves and her Barack crush. She's come out with a new video asking Hillary Clinton to stop the attacks for the sake of the Democratic Party. Fun video. Watch.
Now compare that to The McCain Girls, showing once again that Republicans have no talent, no imagination and no sense of humor. Sigh. Watch the video if you dare, but I am adding the disclaimer that I am not responsible for bleeding ears at the end of a very long 2½ minutes.
Holy shit! Is this some sick American Idol rejected audition tape?
"I'm gonna go out and let myself get absolutely John McCain"?!?!?! BRILLIANT!
During a speech last Monday on Iraq, [Hillary Clinton] said of the Bosnia trip: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."Uh, no, Hillary. There was a greeting ceremony. You didn't run with your head down. In fact, a little girl read a poem to you on the tarmac. Remember now?
The Clinton campaign is now saying Hillary Clinton "misspoke" about ducking from sniper fire after landing on a Bosnian airstrip in Tuzla in 1996, after video from that trip emerged showing a scenario quite contrary to Clinton's remembrance. She later characterized the episode as a "misstatement" and a "minor blip."
Let's get something straight Ms. Ready-To-Lead-On-Day-One: Statements off the cuff, in an impromptu manner is "misspeaking." When your "misstatement" is written in prepared remarks, it's called MISLEADING.
To shrug this off as misremembering a certain event is completely disingenuous. Whether or not you met a specific person somewhere is a "misstatement." Remembering who was at what meeting is "a minor blip." But I think you'd probably remember very specifically whether or not you had been shot at!
Hillary Clinton: Ready to Mislead on Day One!
NY TIMES: WASHINGTON — Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as at any time during five years of war, under plans presented to President Bush on Monday by the senior American commander and the top American diplomat in Iraq, senior administration and military officials said.
...it now appears likely that any decision on major reductions in American troops from Iraq will be left to the next president. That ensures that the question over what comes next will remain in the center of the presidential campaign through Election Day.
"In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible - whatever that means. No, I am going to - one of the things that I think is very important for people to understand is that I believe that we have a duty to work on big problems in Washington, DC, and so I'm going to continue working on this. And it's, I guess - I'm not going to go away on the issue, because the issue is not going to go away."
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here's Hillary Clinton in 1996, during her landing and subsequent "run from sniper fire" at the airport.
I suppose she's waving at the sniper there.
Here she is ducking from the sniper.
This was called "Operation Human Shield."
There's a shithead over at the Huffington Post named David Mills, an "Emmy-Award-winning TV writer and a former journalist," who has a problem with Rev. Jeremiah Wright's claim that "The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment! They purposely infected African-American men with syphilis!" in one of the soundbites that have been repeated ad nauseam (I refuse to say "one of Wright's sermons" because we haven't actually heard a sermon, just a couple of incendiary soundbites).
Mills writes, "Wright is wrong. That's not what the Tuskegee experiment was. In the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male," federal researchers refused to treat a group of black men who already had syphilis, long after a cure had been found. "
Ohhhh!! Well, fuck, I guess that's a horse of a different color. I can't imagine why people aren't up in arms like David Mills is over semantics. So just to get this straight, according to Mr. Mills, we need to clarify that the experiment that went on for FORTY YEARS wasn't about the government injecting African-Americans with syphilis to research the results, these men were already infected and even though we had a cure, we didn't administer it so we could see and document what the long term results of having syphilis would do. Well in that case, how could the government be considered sinister in that scenario? We didn't infect them, we just didn't treat them.
Mills goes on to cite pundits and talk show hosts who, in their ignorance of black history, are perpetuating the "myth" that the US government infected African-Americans with syphilis. Although he does admit that the "Tuskegee experiment was the most shameful episode in the history of the U.S. Public Health Service," he can't get over the fact that people are misunderstanding what the experiment actually was.
Mills: To invoke the Tuskegee experiment to suggest that the government invented AIDS to kill black people, as Rev. Wright did... that dishonors the truth. There is no excuse for it. It must stop.
Okay Mills, we get your point. Now I'd like to make a little suggestion that you should think about.
I have heard the "government invented AIDS to kill black people" theory long before I ever heard it come up in a Wright soundbite. We know the first documented case of AIDS in the US was in 1981 although some could have been infected as early as 1978; but we also know that the earliest known case was of AIDS was found in a blood sample from 1959. So we're now talking about a disease that's been around between 30 and 50 years. (I could go on with a timeline of what happened when in the AIDS crisis, but you can see for yourself here.)
My point is this: if the US government made an experiment of denying treatment to African-Americans in order to study the effects of syphilis in Tuskegee, why would it be far fetched for people to believe that the US government initially dragged its feet when it came to the treatment or even a possible cure for AIDS?
When you consider the lack of funding for AIDS research (until a big jump in 1994 under a Democratic administration) coupled with the incredibly expensive drugs for AIDS treatment that most poorer Americans can't afford, people begin to connect the dots, whether rightly or wrongly, and pile it in with their inherent mistrust of the government (for good reason as history has shown).Did the US government invent the AIDS virus to infect black Americans? Maybe not. Did the US government initially ignore the problem because it was only affecting homosexuals and the lower class? I would tend to think yes before dismissing it.
Perhaps Mills should try researching and reading a full sermon of Rev. Wright's before making a judgment or parsing the difference between active participation or complicit inaction.
...made up of 4,000 dead American soldiers killed in Iraq. Click on the mosaic to view the full size.
(H/T Nico Pitney)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) --
Four U.S. soldiers died in a roadside bombing in Iraq on Sunday, military officials reported, bringing the American toll in the 5-year-old war to the grim milestone of 4,000 deaths. Eight of those killed were civilians working for the Pentagon.
The four were killed when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while patrolling a neighborhood in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq reported Sunday night. A fifth soldier was wounded in the attack, which took place about 10 p.m. (3 p.m. ET).
The U.S. milestone comes just days after Americans marked the fifth anniversary of the start of the war.
Meanwhile, estimates of the Iraqi death toll range from about 80,000 to the hundreds of thousands, with another 2 million forced to leave the country and 2.5 million people displaced within Iraq, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
But the surge "worked," the economy is fine and John (Bush III) McCain wants to stay for another hundred years at the cost of $12 billion a month and countless lives lost.