Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fiscal Responsibility is What Progressives Do - Deficit Spending is What Conservatives Do.

Bruce Reed in Slate today with hopefully the last nail in the coffin of the grotesquely obsequious Third Way Movement:
In 1994, Republicans took over the Congress with one goal foremost in mind; —to turn Americans against government. Twelve years later, they've succeeded, although not the way they intended. A new CNN poll finds that 54 percent of Americans think government tries to do too much, while only 37 percent think government should do more. And to put government in its place, they're going to vote… Democrat.
The pernicious myths of the free spending irresponsible tax and spend liberals and the hard money steely-eyed conservatives has dominated the discourse for too many years. Even so-called progressives from Clinton to Blair scrambled madly to show how Reaganesqe or Thatcherite they could be.

While in Canada we've seen the vaguely progressive Liberals maintaining more than a decade of government by - which even their foes were forced to admit - being extremely pro business, tax-cutting deficit slaying good government types. They only lost power because they were also stinting on the progressiveness and simultaneously and blatantly sucking back all the loot they could throat.

Which is basically what happened to the Democrats when they were caught filling their pockets too many times leading up to '94, so they missed most of the benefit from the begining of the big progressive era economic upswing.

Then the Republicans came in, borrowed and spent like drunken sailors to protect carefully gerrymandered vote margins, poured out oceans of blood and tanker fleets of treasure in a mind-numbingly stupid utopian Middle Eastern fantasy, committed assault and battery on liberty, democracy and the constitution and filled their pockets at the same time.

The coming GOP apocalypse will be an explicit swing to the left and will herald a return to progressive politics within the Democratic Party. A renawal largely driven by an activist grass-roots and the canniness of the much reviled Howard Dean's 50 state strategy and also largely reflecting a wider and growing American consensus, illuminated rigorously by Stirling Newberry:

Many progressives, burned by kick the base tactics and outright betrayals, are going to have to stop and blink to realize that the frame of the debate has changed - this is no longer a debate about how far right we are to go, how fast, but how far left we are to go, and how best to proceed. It is going to take time for conservative Democrats to stop running to Reaganisms, and it is going to take time for progressives to realize that while there are many battles ahead, one of the most fundamental battles has been won.

Part of this is because the top down media still wants, for its own economic reasons, a restoration of the "to the right, ever to the right, never to the left" dialog of the past. And therefore they have been doing their best not to report on what has happened in the country. But the polls tell the story - independents now poll like Democrats, the country is now 60-40 against the reactionary movement.

The rising sea change in American political life will also be the outrider for a similar shift, or rather an affirmation, of the Canadian progressive consensus.

Jack Layton just backed Stephen Harper and all the contenders in the Liberal leadership race blinking and stammering into the same spotlit corner. It will be a chilly day on the Hustings but by the end of the night we'll most likely have a government that views the combination of responsible stewardship and a progressive approach to public policy as the baseline for political survival and Stephen Harper can go back to his former job of professional whiner for the National Citizens Coalition.

Thankfully, before the Conservatives can screw over Canada as much as the Republicans did the USA.

Trick or Treat?

Here's hoping American progressives get a treat on the 7th.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Deserting the Sinking Ship

George Bush's popularity now stagnates at permanent Nixonian numbers and the public's distaste for him seems likely to crush the GOP in the mid-terms. In response the conservative punditry class in America scrambles to pretend they knew he was no good all along - as Greenwald reveals here.

Nothing sadder than the sight of a bunch of grotesque suckbutts pretending they always had a jaundiced view of Bush and never implied his critics were traitors when he was riding high in the polls.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lame Ducks

It seemed so simple a year ago; the Conservatives had won a minority - or more accurately the Liberals had lost one. The Tories had their 5 principles - down to what now - Two? Three? - They figured a careful low expectations performance of about a year, some vague promises to fix the fiscal imbalance in Quebec's favour and a divided opposition while the more radical rightwingers in caucus spent a year gagged and bound in Harper's basement and they could coast to an easy majority.

But they overestimated their appeal and underestimated how carefully the Canadian people would be watching how they used their newfound power. Last years election created one of the most deliberate minority governments in history. Remember, with a week to go before the election when the polls started suggesting the Tories were in majority territory? Remember how the Conservative numbers immediately crashed back to minority range as soon as the prospect of a Conservative majority raised its ugly head?

Canadians wanted the Liberals out, but they weren't taking a flier on the Conservatives either.

With a fractured opposition, a rigidly controlled - even muzzled -caucus and a disciplined minimalist agenda the Tories should be head and shoulders over the thrashing, many-headed monstrosity that the Liberals currently present to the public. Instead Tory numbers have stagnated, even without an opposition. They've flatlined in Quebec and hovered or cratered everywhere else. Their hopes for a majority are over and their hopes of even maintaining their minority are on life support.

What little is left of their agenda is at the mercy of the opposition - the Tories are now dependent on desperate stalling measures just to keep the opposition from controlling parliament altogether.
"The behavior of the Liberal party is arrogant and anti-democratic," fumed Harper. "That's really the problem. They haven't accepted the decision of the electorate."
Of course, more than half of the electorate voted center left to socialist - in a minority government, respecting the decision of the electorate means compromise and respect for the opposition and an agenda hewing to the political center, not the extremist edges. Instead the Conservatives chose arrogance, and catering to their base. It's cost them.

I've heard the grimly spoken words 'If this is how they behave with a minority...' uncountable times lately - and I live in Calgary.

Many factors will determine the immediate political future, from who wins the American mid-terms to who wins the Liberal leadership. Right now the most likely result of the next Canadian election is a minority Liberal government and a Conservative return to the political wilderness.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In the News

Kris Kristofferson

The Real Legacy of Conservatism

I've expressed here before a certain admiration for the more rational strains of reality based pragmatic conservatism. Garth Turner represents the fading strain of realist Progressive Conservatives, so of course the current triumphalist extremists in the Conservative Party had to purge him - and yes he would make a good fit with the center right thing the Canadian Green Party has become.

Andrew Sullivan made the same jump Scott Brison made, to realize that incompetence and willingness to pander to extremists trumps ideological affinity. Even the free market high church the Cato Institute, observing the smoking ruin of the deregulated electricity markets has reluctantly advocated returning to some kind of regulated environment.

However finding the more moderate elements of the Conservative movement less bat-shit insane then those currently infesting the corridors of power in both Ottawa and Washington is hardly a tough curve to be graded on.

Stirling Newberry writes that the misty eyed nostalgia among the ostensibly clear-eyed reality based conservatives ignores the real legacy of the Reagan/Thatcher years when the resurgent right looted the wealth created over decades by worn out progressives:

Reagan and Thatcher brought in hard people. People willing to inflict misery on other people. People willing to lay the lumber down on the working class, and even more so on the day laboring class.

They were willing to warehouse urban criminals in jail forever, they were willing to impose a stagnation tax on wages, and they were willing to let people slip into a permanent state of semi-poverty, floating between jobs on one hand, and lotteries and alcohol on the other. This hardness was projected in foreign affairs, in domestic affairs. It brought with it a wave of people who had been waiting to lay into the "softness" of all kinds - in education, in criminal justice, in economics, in society.

The right might want to run and hide from the reality that they are, in fact, a bunch of conservative inflationists who have a wide streak of political sadism in them, but it does not take long wandering in the wilderness of right wing ranting to realize that what unifies the right wing is not a love of small government, nor a love of rights, nor any particular economic theory, but a personal belief that other people's right to a face stops at your fist, and that problems are best solved by beating the guts out of whoever crosses you - whether in the foreign or domestic environment.

And of course as he points out, the conditions that allowed Reagan and Thatcher to keep the party going as long as they did no longer obtain:

The retreat of the conservatives to the happy haven of Reagan is also doomed as policy. Virtually every circumstance which allowed Thatcherism and Reaganomics to work is gone. Far from being over-taxes, holders of rent are under taxed dramatically, and the resulting lack of research has created a pervasive lack of investment supply. The United States is no longer a creditor nation that makes more from its investments than it pays out, but one that pays out more in investment service than it takes in. The Baby Boom is not about to enter its peak earning years, but its peak "burning years". The rest of the world is not half enslaved, but competing for a diminishing flow of the very same oil that Carter had no chance of weaning us from. Developing nations now know that allowing Western finance to come in too soon, is to be stripped bare of assets - and China and India are both taking steps to prevent this, as the oilarchies long ago did. They can buy our companies, but we cannot buy theirs on equal terms. Worker's wages are now not high relative to the size of the economy, but after a generation of standing still, are not even enough to pay the debt service they have taken on. There isn't a generation of pension funds to pillage, but instead a middle class with a negative savings rate.

In short, the Conservative Troll, not Soul, wants to go back to the idyllic moment when Liberalism was both rich in savings to loot, and poor of energy and ideas to prevent it. When the world was, indeed, ready for a generation long spending binge, when there was a fat bank account to tap. All of this is gone, as gone as the polluted rivers and monolithic network news broadcasts. It is a waning memory, like the sound of Walter Cronkite's sign off of "and that's the way it is." We look back on it through an increasingly smokey lense, as E.L. Doctrow looked back on the turn of the century in Ragtime.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Put a lid on it

The Squirrel Nut Zippers

Weekend Link Blast - October 21

Neocons Scramble for the Lifeboats

They are building a lifeboat for their reputations. The task is urgent. It is no small thing to find oneself on the wrong side of an argument when the debate is about the biggest disaster in British foreign policy since Suez; no small thing to have handed Iran a final, undreamt-of victory in an Iran-Iraq war that we thought had ended in the 1980s; no small thing to have lost Britain her credit in half the world; no small thing — in the name of Atlanticism — to have shackled our own good name to a doomed US presidency and crazed foreign-policy adventure that the next political generation in America will remember only with an embarrassed shudder.

It is no small thing to have embellished the philosophy, found the prose and made the case for the most almighty cock-up in politics that we are ever likely to witness...

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Ugly Truth

Froomkin on Bush:

The Bush White House (and its press corps) often confuse tactics, strategy and goals. Tactics are what you use in the service of the strategy you choose to achieve your goal. Even the best tactics, in pursuit of an ill-chosen strategy, will not achieve the desired goal.

Bush's goal is a stable, secure, democratic Iraq. His strategy is for American troops to stay there until that happens. The tactics are getting those troops killed.

And while the president has been talking about adjusting tactics lately, he can't accept that his strategy may need changing -- or even his goal. At least not yet.

Zip Gun Bop

Royal Crown Revue

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Repugnican Scandal Clusterbombs

Of course these are simply today's updates to the Abramoff/Ney/Foley /Reynolds /Hastert/Allen/Weldon scandal rolecall. I'm pretty sure I missed a few too.

Short of a second North Korean Nuke test - which some Republicans seem almost gleefully hoping for - I don't see how they can reverse this kind of a juggernaut of a media narrative in the time they have left. That said, here are the objective similarities and differences between the environment for Republicans on November 7 2006, and for the Democrats before the Rout of November 7 1994.

Lois Lane gets Waterboarded

On Smallville tonight, Lois Lane gets captured by private security contractors and waterboarded for information. She's deliberately drowned into unconciousness as we watch.

The bad guys were torturing her, you see. That's what the bad guys do.

America's entertainment media are now more honest about reality than America's news media.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Olbermann to Bush: 'Your words are lies, Sir.'

Once again Keith Olberman seems to be the only member of the American Mainstream Media speaking truth to power.

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope, he has not lied about how he intends to use it, nor who he intends to use it against?

"These military commissions will provide a fair trial," you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush. "In which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney, and can hear all the evidence against them."

'Presumed innocent,' Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain "serious mental and physical trauma" in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

'Access to an attorney,' Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant, on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

'Hearing all the evidence,' Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir.

The entire thing is a download here at Crooks and Liars, when it shows up at YouTube I'll embed it because these words need to be heard.

Killing the Wheat Board continued...

In response to a comment to my last post on the subject:

If the Wheat Board is so bad why is the government trying to avoid holding the vote by farmers required by the act forming the board before killing it? Why would the Conservative Party, champions of greater democracy, liberty and good government be trying so hard to avoid holding the vote required by law?

This act alone virtually guarantees that the government would lose any court challenge to its proposed changes, much like its reactionary three strikes proposal will. Why would we want the government we pay taxes to, to wantonly throw away our money like that?

Why has the Alberta government felt it necessary to have spent so much money trying to undermine the Wheat Board? In the marketplace of ideas, why does "Wheat Board bad" require massive government subsidization in order to survive?

Why if its so unpopular with farmers - the small minority just this side of the border situated to take advantage of spot prices at least - why is the government so terrified of getting the opinion of the majority of farmers on the subject?

Why is seemingly any attempt to promote the opposite viewpoint subject to furious censorship attempts?

Why should a bargaining entity that benefits a majority be dismantled for the advantage of a slim minority? Against the will of the majority?

Does it represent the core values of the Conservative Party of Canada to suppress dissent and suppress democracy?

Hold the vote. Let the farmers themselves decide. The minority opinion accepting the will of the majority in the form of a democratic vote is the cornerstone concept of this country - not 'fuck you Jack, I've got mine.' as you may have heard.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

400,000 to 800,000 Iraqis Dead

After an initial flurry of shock when the John Hopkins study first came out it is now being studiously ignored since the mainstream narrative pronounced it 'flawed'. The President took it upon himself to declare that 'their methodology has been pretty well discredited' which, amazingly enough, turns out to be completely untrue. So, in all likelihood, the Iraq War has killed more Iraqis than the American Civil War killed Americans.

It's still not a Civil War in Iraq though, Bush says so.

In completely unrelated news, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki politely and quietly suggests that it would be best if the Americans left his country sooner rather than later.

An Alright Guy

Todd Snider on Austin City Limits

Monday, October 16, 2006

They actually say this, as if it were a bad thing.

Both Democrats and Republicans see a potential loss by rightwing Christianist Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania as a signifier of loss of power and influence for social conservatives in the GOP.
Even if Santorum gives social issues short shrift on the campaign trail, conservative leaders understand what is at stake. They stand to lose a powerful spokesman for their agenda. Some worry that Santorum's defeat would also be a body blow to the influence of social conservatives within the GOP.

"You would then start to see party apparatuses say things like, 'We're not sure we want to support a candidate whose conservatism is as deeply rooted as Sen. Santorum's,' and they will begin casting about for moderate conservatives," Hanna said.
Santorum, some of you may remember, compared homosexuality to man on dog sex, fought tooth and nail against gay marriage, and indeed any basic human rights for gays and is anti-evolution. Columnist Dan Savage choose to honor him for his statements on homosexuality by...making his name stand for - something else.

A loss for Santorum would be a sign of a possible sea change in American politics - something possibly already on the way purely as a function of demographics.

Baker Commission rules out victory in Iraq

The Presidential Commission into Iraq run by George Bush SR's Secretary of State James Baker has concluded that victory is no longer an option and the only decision left is stabilization or withdrawal:

Currently, the 10-member commission headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, "Stability First," argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.

Once again of course these conclusions, leaks aside, won't officially be made public until after the mid-terms. How many lives will be lost before it's politically possible to accept defeat?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Political Value of Anger

Once again Glenn Greenwald hits the nail on the head:
Anger and passion are indispensable weapons for overcoming indifference and motivating political action. Particularly in a non-presidential election -- but, really, always -- people need a reason to care about the outcome. If a political party can't even muster enough conviction in its own views to articulate clear ideas -- if candidates like Joe Sestak had listened to the listless, fear-based advice from consultants "not to talk about pulling troops out of Iraq, arguing it would only encourage the image of Democrats as weak on national security" -- then Democrats are not going to motivate anyone to even care enough if they succeed, let alone take action to promote that outcome. Why would anyone?
This applies here in Canada as well of course, the mushy mainstream middle offered by the top Liberal leadership candidates does not offer a real viable energized alternative to the ideological right wingers of Harper's Conservatives.

The End of Habeas Corpus

How has Olbermann not been locked in Gitmo yet?

The Damage Done

The Other Side

David Gray

The next arrivals on Bush's enemy list

Ecuador's citizens go to the polls today and the front runner is Rafael Correa a leftist economist who thinks Bush is 'temendously dimwitted' and has close ties with Hugo Chavez. Next month Reagan's old hate fixations Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas are poised to win in Nicaragua.

While the US has been embroiled in Iraq Latin America has inexorably swung leftward and away from the Washington Consensus on Globalization.

List of Demands

Saul Williams

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Killing the Wheat Board

The zeal Conservatives have, for the idea of holding the Wheat Board's head underwater, is based purely and soley on ideology. The pragmatic observer asks why, if it's such a bad deal for farmers why have the Americans tried so hard to kill it in trade negotiations? Why do so many farmers, supportive of the Conservatives traditionally, oppose the moves to kill the Board.

Why Conservative governments have had to spend millions on undermining it.

Why the government openly packed the commission into it's future with opponents of the Board. Sneered Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl:
it would be pointless to have people in favour of the status quo on the panel.
Why the Wheat Board employees have been forbidden from speaking out for their employer and the job it does.

Its such a blatant and brute piece of bullying and suppression of dissent. Farmers are about to learn that their support is taken for granted by this government, and get another taste of being screwed over by free market ideologues pursuing a long term sovereignty sell out plan.

The Conservatives may be following the same path of their ideological soulmates to the south and leaving their supporters behind.

Weekend Link Blast

The View from the Afternoon

The Arctic Monkeys

The Only Safe Assumption

With their back against the wall, they will try to steal it.
the one thing we aren't shining a light upon and forcing the media to look hard at is which of these 30-40 races will be determined by electronic voting machinery that is in the GOP's hands. After all, you can cover a fraud quite nicely by arguing that despite pre-election polls, voters had a polling booth conversion because negative ads gave them doubts about the Democratic challenger, when in fact it may not be true.

Republican Meltdown

All the indicators are starting to swing, not just to a slim loss as seemed likely only a week ago, but to a Republican Armageddon on November 7. With the Foley coverup nightmare for the house leadership, the Bob Ney confession and now, out of the blue, the Weldon investigation, the Republicans = corruption narrative has taken hold of the public perception. The GOP have started pulling money out of races they thought they were competitive in and turned inward, fighting defense in places they thought they were safe.

Perhaps most importantly, the nature of extremist primary politics in America have shoved the Republican party so far to the right, while simultaneously abandoning fiscal conservatism outright, that they may have left their base behind.

Charlie Cook says bluntly that:
...this is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority. The chances of that number going higher are also strong, unless something occurs that fundamentally changes the dynamic of this election. This is what Republican strategists' nightmares look like.
Daily Kos sees the narrative beginning to change as the MSM begin to hear what the public is telling them about where they are headed. Red State Ohio in particular may represent the kind of sea-change that portends massive cultural shifts in American politics. As the BBC points out:
In 1928 Herbert Hoover, who had been the hero of the American relief effort in Europe after the First World War, had been elected president with a huge majority.

Yet in 1930, a year after the Great Crash, he was seen as a liability and the Democrats made major gains in the mid-terms. The era of the New Deal began. In 1932, Roosevelt became president.

By now the caveats are familiar; this could all be moot due to the GOP's incumbency and money advantages. They spent the last several years of almost absolute power, gerrymandering and spending furiously to maintain their power through exactly this kind of storm.

But it may be the difference between a storm and a hurricane that makes things different this time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

All terrorists not created equal

Toxic chemicals, explosives, extremist literature, a bio weapons/radiation suit, a rocket launcher. Why isn't this terrorism plot bust, bigger, more dangerous, more heavily armed than any in Britain in years not front page news all over the world?

If it had been extremist Muslims caught with this kind of a deadly arsenal instead of white racists it might have fit the narrative better.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Economic sovereignty in the News

A couple of excellent articles in today's Globe and Mail. A great look at the Wheat Board, that while unbiased straight reporting clearly shows the advantages and disadvantages of competing globally with the power of the Wheat Board behind you or without it. Money quote:

Mr. Chorney, whose family has farmed an area 40 kilometres north of Winnipeg for the past 77 years, scoffs at the assertions of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers.

They speak for a tiny minority, he says.

He doesn't want to get into a debate about ideology; he's interested in the bottom line. If the Wheat Board was really hurting Canadian farmers, he asks, would the Americans have launched so many trade challenges?

"There's got to be a competitive advantage," Mr. Chorney says.

One of the most well-known studies of the Wheat Board, hotly contested by economists on both sides of the debate, argued that over a 14-year period the board averaged sales of $265-million more per year than would have been realized by multiple sellers.

But Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl makes it clear that opposing points of view are neither solicited or wanted:
The task force members are almost all well-known opponents of the Wheat Board, and none of the large provincial farm associations was asked to take part. Mr. Strahl says it would be pointless to have people in favour of the status quo on the panel.
And in the Globe and Mail's Business section of all places Columnist Eric Reguly sounds the alarm on the dangers of bulk water sales to the USA:

Water is a vital economic tool. Exporting water is tantamount to exporting jobs. Mr. Wihbey says businesses in Texas are already struggling to find water supplies and may have to leave the state if they come up dry. They're welcome to come to Canada. Or we can build a water pipeline to Texas to allow them to stay put, and fill their pools too.

Relinquishing water rights to NAFTA means relinquishing the sovereign right to manage Canada's resources. In a world of scarcer and scarcer reserves of fresh water, water is the most valuable economic tool this country possesses. It can be used to attract new industries. Or it can be exported to build industries elsewhere.

You don't expect such a clear eyed look at long term consequences beyond short term profits from a business columnist - at least I've learned not to expect it.

American voters turn decisively against the GOP?

The polls already looked lousy for the Republicans, the Foley scandal appears to have crystallized the thinking of independents and conservative Democrats that the GOP needed to win, while Republican voters may just stay home. Even Republicans have turned gloomy and talk candidly of losing at least 7 seats in congress - possibly as many as thirty. In the Senate the two parties have pulled even with the momentum clearly trending to the Democrats - the same trend can be seen in governor races.

In the new USA Today pie chart the Democrats look like a gape mawed blue Pac-man about to devour a ghostly red Republican single pie slice.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bush Distracted from North Korea and War on Terror by Iraq Sideshow

Howard Dean warned that becoming distracted by Iraq would leave America vulnerable to the real threat of North Korean nuclear proliferation. For that he was branded a naive peacnik. Of course as recent events have shown, he was one hundred percent right. Glenn Greenwald points out how prescient he was just a month before the invasion of Iraq:
We must remember, though, that Iraq is not the greatest danger we face today. Consider, to begin with, North Korea.

The Administration says it is wrong to draw a parallel between the situations in Iraq and North Korea, because those situations are quite different. I agree.

Iraq has let UN inspectors back in. North Korea has kicked them out.

Saddam Hussein does not have a clear path to acquiring nuclear weapons. North Korea may already have them - and is on a clear path to acquiring more.

Bush plans to 'cut and run' from Iraq after the Midterms

THERE are signs that the Bush Administration will change course in Iraq after the US mid-term elections on November 7...
Tough luck for all the soldiers who die between now and November 7, huh?

The Bush Failure on North Korea

Talking tough is great if you can make it stick and back it up; it is always and necessarily cleaner and less compromising than sitting down and dealing with bad actors. Talking tough and then folding your cards doesn't just show weakness it invites contempt. And that is what we have here.

The Bush-Cheney policy on North Korea was always what Fareed Zakaria once aptly called "a policy of cheap rhetoric and cheap shots." It failed. And after it failed President Bush couldn't come to grips with that failure and change course....

Doctor Octagon

Doctor Octagon is the team of
Kool Keith and Dan the Automator
Here they present the baffling sights and sounds of
Blue Flowers

Fabbers

This is technology that will probably become omnipresent in your life time. As a photocopier copies a two dimensional image a fabber copies a three dimensional image. Turn a three dimensional image in your computer into a solid object resting in your hand.

This isn't Star Trek. We're not talking here of 'replicating' something from the constituent molecules up, but if your looking for a simple, solid or even hollow object made of specific materials you can get that from a fabber either from materials poured, dripped or carved.

And of course, the technology will get smaller, easier, more advanced and more specialized. You may not have a Fabber on your desk next year, but you might have one next decade. Imagine a world where even simple objects, from mass produced art, to toys to tools, even objects as complicated as consumer electronics eventually can be generated automatically from a 3D computer model.

At the moment, you can already use it to bring the objects and characters from Second Life into the real world.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

North Korea claims to have conducted Nuke test

Confirmed by seismometer readings in South Korea apparently. And the hits keep coming...

An eye for an eye...

UNKLE -An eye for an eye

Sunday Link Blast: Oct. 8

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Once again, the irreplaceable Johnny Cash:

The Foley Scandal: Rosetta Stone for the Darkness in the Bush Movement

Glenn Greenwald has an insight into why the Foley scandal is in many ways the perfect model for all recent Republican scandals:
...this scandal is like the Cliffs' Notes version of a more complicated treatise on how the Bush movement operates. Every one of their corrupt attributes is vividly on display here:

The absolute refusal ever to admit error. The desperate clinging to power above all else. The efforts to cloud what are clear matters of wrongdoing with irrelevant sideshows. And the parade of dishonest and just plainly inane demonization efforts to hide and distract from their wrongdoing: hence, the pages are manipulative sex vixens; a shadowy gay cabal is to blame; the real criminals are those who exposed the conduct, not those who engaged in it; liberals created the whole scandal; George Soros funded the whole thing; a Democratic Congressman did something wrong 23 years ago; one of the pages IM'd with Foley as a "hoax", and on and on. There has been a virtual carousel -- as there always is -- of one pathetic, desperate attempt after the next to deflect blame and demonize those who are pointing out the wrongdoing. This is what they always do, on every issue. The difference here is that everyone can see it, and so nothing is working.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Animated Tom Waits

Tom Waits - 'The One That Got Away' 1978

Bush appends FEMA law with signing statement 'allowing him' to appoint more unqualified cronies.

You're doing a heck of a job Bushie.

The Connection

Beatings and humiliation routine inside the black hole of Camp X-Ray

From Salon:

Other guards in the group also "told their own stories of abuse towards the detainees," the sergeant said. They spoke of hitting detainees, denying them water and "removing privileges for no reason." All told, the sergeant said, "about five others in the group admitted hitting detainees."

"From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice," the sergeant said. "Everyone in the group laughed at the others' stories of beating detainees."

The AP obtained the sergeant's statement from Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who is the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the Western United States. Vokey is calling for an investigation, but it can go only so far: Even if the sergeant's allegations prove to be correct, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 would prohibit federal courts from doing anything about them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

American Election Watch

In just over a month on November 7 Americans will go to the polls for midterm Congressional and Senate seats as well as various State governor races and plebiscites. This election will decide whether Bush continues to have the untrammelled power of Republican control over every branch of the federal government.

The Republicans have been sliding in the polls for months as the national mood in the States sours over Iraq, corruption, an increasingly unpopular president and pocket book issues. The Republicans got a marginal uptick from conveniently lower gas prices (Not that oil companies would do almost anything to help the GOP, the party that has looked out for their interests more than anyone else...) and the mainstream media's complicity in keeping the bad news about Iraq off the TV screen. The recent Mark Foley scandal may have eliminated that lead however, with its media friendly simplicity of narrative. Sex and cover-ups are easy to explain, and Republicans are vulnerable to morality issues having so completely adopted the moral scold role themselves.

Vastly more money than the Democrats and the incumbancy advantage which has turned congressional and Senate seats into a new aristocracy are the only advantages the Republicans have left. Their hard core of religious right-wingers may be marginally less likely to get out and vote after the Foley scandal.

If the Republicans are planning some sort of traditional October surprise, it could hit any day now - some observers suggest various stock option activity indicates tomorrow could be a day to watch the news. Its debatable whether anything big enough to reverse the GOPs slide couldn't have the potential to backfire on them.

For the best ongoing analysis of the midterm race, check out PBS's NOW Election site with its excellent combination of detailed polls, local and national issues and threats to the right to vote.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Parent calls for book about book banning to be banned during Banned Book Week

Sorry, couldn't pass up the chance to write that headline - try saying it three times fast.

A Texan parent is calling for the banning of Fahrenheit 451.

Waterboarding Demonstration

This is what waterboarding look like:

Waterboard Senior Republicans

We really need to know what senior Republicans knew about the sexual predator in their midst and when they knew it. It's unreasonable and treasonous to suggest that the government shouldn't use all the 'tough and safe' methods available. It's time to waterboard Speaker of the House Hastert, number two man Boehner and possibly the enabler in chief in the White House.

It's not as if its torture after all. Do you want to protect America's children or are you with the pedophiles?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You say 'cheap shot' like it's a bad thing...

October Surprise?

OK, tinfoil hat time.

First there's this.

And this.

And finally, be sure to read this.

Now think about the Bush administration. Really think about how irrational, reckless, venal and irresponsible we know this regime to be. How committed, on an arguably criminal level, they have shown themselves to total unrestricted power. Power free of restraint and oversight. Think about their willingness to throw away blood and treasure and lives. Think about their naive utopianism. Think about Bush; a dry drunk, uncurious, arrogant smirking thug with a messianic belief in his historic role.

If all that doesn't scare the shit out of you, you've got icewater running through your veins, Batman.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies and Fraser Institute Studies

The Fraser Institute has released a new study claiming yet again, that Public Healthcare is unsustainable and will make up 50% of Alberta's budget by 2017.

The same crap has been peddled by the free market ideologues of the Fraser Institute and the Alberta government before and, no matter how many times such arrant deliberate nonsense is refuted by the facts, it will be again. Promoting the same tired narrative depends on funny numbers, overestimating costs, underestimating revenues. ignoring inconvenient facts such as the fact that the public components of healthcare have stable costs while private components increase wildly, the fact that private healthcare costs vastly more overall and basically having no regard for the truth.

Believing this fairy story, on the other hand, only requires breath-taking naivete and gullibility.

Update: The response from the Paul Moist, President of CUPE today is basically: 'Of course they said that - it's the Fraser Institute, what do you expect?' He points out that it's drug costs - almost entirely in the private sector - where the real skyrocketing increases to health costs are occurring, which makes solving the so called 'funding crisis' by bringing more of healthcare into the private sector more than a little counter-intuitive.

What Waterboarding looks like

From the Robin Williams movie Jacob the Liar.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Deception, Demagoguery and Scapegoating: The Klein Years

Rabble has what may be the definitive short history of the Klein years in Alberta politics. A taste:
In 1997, Kevin Taft wrote a slim book called Shredding the Public Interest, where he showed health care spending through the '80s had been stable. Other programs had already been cut by Premier Getty; spending was not out of control. But corporate subsidies demanded between $2 and $3 billion per year— an amount rivaling the Conservatives' yearly deficits. The justification for public sector cutbacks was built on a fabrication, retold with a terrifying mendacity by the province's news media for the next 13 years.

All this over a $25 billion debt piddly in retrospect. To put the figure into context: Alberta racked up $33 billion in surpluses over the last decade. This year, the surplus may top $10 billion almost half the debt bogeyman.

Real people live with the consequences. From the lowest rates of high school completion and university participation, to the highest rates of divorce, problem gambling, family violence and levels of greenhouse gas emissions, Alberta continues to distinguish itself as a place defined by social and environmental extremes.

Sunday Link Blast - October 1

DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World

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