Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Cindy Lou Who?

Q: What kind of a person does this?
But in his will, Mr. Hensley left [his daughter] Mrs. Portalski just $10,000 and her offspring nothing. “It’s so disappointing, just being pushed aside,” she said. Mrs. Portalski said [Cindy] McCain added insult to that injury by referring to herself, in her eulogy for her father, as his only child — while her half-sister sat in a front pew.
A: Cindy Lou Hensley McCain. Decent folk, those McCains.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


(Harsh) Reality Imitates (Mawkish) Art

Don't ask me how I came across this, okay, but Pottersville lives in the failure of the Farmers Bank & Trust of Cheneyville, Louisiana! I wonder if the guy who brought the bank down looks something like this:

Friday, August 22, 2008


The Stopped Clock Strikes Again

Three days ago, the humble idiot responsible for this blog wrote "Even Bush would probably be pushing for a withdrawal [from Iraq] if he were running for President." Didn't take long to get confirmation of that:
U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have reached agreement on a proposal calling for a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq by 2012, the head Iraqi negotiator said Friday.
Um, Mr. McCain, I think your criticisms of Obama's plans for withdrawal from Iraq have just been, how shall we say, annihilated? Given the strong support for withdrawal among the electorate, being to the right of George Bush on Iraq policy is not a place any sensible politician wants to be. Oh, wait, that's right - you're a maverick. One again, how's that working for you?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


McCain's Immoral Chest-Thumping

David Ignatius gets paid to write about the topics that I blather on about, so his version is a lot more coherent than mine:
There's a moral problem with all the pro-Georgia cheerleading, which has gotten lost in the op-ed blasts against Putin's neo-imperialism. A recurring phenomenon of the early Cold War was that America encouraged oppressed peoples to rise up and fight for freedom -- and then, when things got rough, abandoned them to their fate. The CIA did that egregiously in the early 1950s, broadcasting to the Soviet republics and the nations of Eastern Europe that America would back their liberation from Soviet tyranny. After the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, responsible U.S. leaders learned to be more cautious, and more honest about the limits of American power.

Now, after the Georgia war, McCain should learn that lesson: American leaders shouldn't make threats the country can't deliver or promises it isn't prepared to keep. The rhetoric of confrontation may make us feel good, but other people end up getting killed.


They're Panicking Out There

(Couldn't resist the Billy Ray Valentine quote for the title)

People are freaking out because McCain's closed the gap in the national polls. I understand this fear after watching the least involved, least intellectually curious, and therefore in my book least qualified person in the world win the last two presidential elections, but I'm not as nervous about the prospect of a McCain presidency as the average anti-Repuglican (can't call myself a Democrat, even though I do end up voting for them in our ridiculous two choices only system). I think McCain is peaking, even after throwing every ridiculous thing he's got at Obama and abandoning every principle he ever supposedly stood for (if he ever really did). I honestly believe that people are just waiting for Obama to give them a reason to vote for him, which he will begin doing in a very big way next week. And if nothing else, I happen to agree with this post:
Will painting McCain as a hair-trigger hothead who's catastrophically overeager to support the use of military force, and not willing enough to apprise himself of the facts before acting, prove effective in the face of a withering assault on Obama as weak and indecisive?

In one sense, the grand experiment at the heart of the Obama campaign is an effort to win the election by speaking to the voters like adults.
The available evidence does not support the hypothesis that speaking to the voters like adults will work, but since it's never been tried before, it will be interesting to see what happens, assuming Obama can resist the calls for him to go down into the rathole too far. We'll see. The experiment is probably doomed to failure, but I'm willing to take my chances. Maybe people have learned something these last eight years. The absolute implosion of the Rudy Giuliani campaign (how satisfying was that?) is at least one decent piece of evidence that "all fearmongering all the time" no longer works and that people are ready for something else.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


How's That Iraq Occupation Going, Mr. McCain?

According to McCain, the surge is working and we have to "stay the course", not "cut and run" like Obama wants us to. But more than five years after the invasion, a story like this has to give pause to even the most die-hard supporter of the invasion and continued occupation:
Of all the political problems facing Iraq today, perhaps none is so intractable as the fate of Kirkuk, a city of 900,000 that Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens all claim as their own. The explosive quarrel over the city is one major barrier to creating stable political structures in the rest of Iraq.

Beyond that, it demonstrates that despite a recent decline in violence, Iraq’s unsettled ethnic and regional discord could still upend directives emanating from Baghdad and destabilize large swaths of the country — or even set off a civil war.

This month, legislation in the national Parliament to set the groundwork for crucial provincial elections collapsed in a bitter dispute over Kirkuk, as Arabs and Turkmens demanded that the Kurds be forced to cede some of their power here. But with the Kurds having already consolidated their authority in Kirkuk, there seemed little chance — short of a military intervention — of that happening.
Is this really the situation that John McCain thinks the US military should be in the middle of? Is this a situation where John McCain thinks the US military can make a damned bit of difference? If he honestly believes that - knowing the facts about the situation in Kirkuk and elsewhere - then he's even scarier than I thought. Even Bush would probably be pushing for a withdrawal if her were running for President. This guy McCain is truly a mess.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


John McCain's Foreign Policy Follies

Here's part of John McCain's speech about the situation in Georgia/South Ossetia:
In recent days Moscow has sent its tanks and troops across the internationally recognized border into the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Statements by Moscow that it was merely aiding the Ossetians are belied by reports of Russian troops in the region of Abkhazia, repeated Russian bombing raids across Georgia, and reports of a de facto Russian naval blockade of the Georgian coast. Whatever tensions and hostilities might have existed between Georgians and Ossetians, they in no way justify Moscow's path of violent aggression. Russian actions, in clear violation of international law, have no place in 21st century Europe.
This sounds like lofty rhetoric, but no matter what your view of Russia's actions is, it is laughable coming from an unrepentant supporter of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, which carried not even the slightest hint of a justification under international law. Defenders of Russia's actions point to parallels between what Russia's doing in Georgia and what the US/NATO did in Serbia/Kosovo. Needless to say, McCain supported US bombardment of Serbia, but was critical of the Clinton administration for ruling out the use of ground forces in the conflict. It's not clear exactly what the legal justification for NATO's war on Serbia was, but it's safe to say that "clear violations of international law" only appear to bother McCain when they're committed by our enemies or by any power that threatens US hegemony.

Russia's military actions in Georgia are quite reminiscent of what Israel did in Lebanon two year ago, invading Lebanon and bombing targets throughout the country, including Beirut's airport, in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Like Russia's war against Georgia, Israel's war in Lebanon included massive bombardment from the air, a ground invasion, and a naval blockade. More than 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, died in the war, and 42 Israeli civilians were also killed in cross-border attacks. What was John McCain's response to this disproportionate use of force during the invasion of a sovereign country, a case of "violent aggression" in clear violation of international law?
Rejecting condemnation by some over the extent of Israel's use of force, Sen. John McCain on Saturday called appropriate the country's response to an assault by Islamic guerrillas who crossed over from Lebanon and captured two Israeli soldiers.

During a fund-raising luncheon for Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, the senator from Arizona — himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam — insisted Israel had every right to defend itself against Wednesday's attacks by Hezbollah.

Since Wednesday, Israel has bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intense offensive against the country in 24 years, while Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

"My dear friends, you have probably seen our European friends say, 'Well, the Israelis have got to stop,' " McCain told about 120 people during the fund-raiser at a golf course in this St. Louis suburb.

"What would we do if somebody came across our borders and killed our soldiers and captured our soldiers? Do you think we would be exercising total restraint?"
That's what I like. A master in the art of consistency. This is truly dangerous stuff, when you can look at two almost identical situations and come up with the opposite reaction depending on whether the perpetrator is friend or foe. At that point, your words have no meaning, and your appeals to law and reason are utterly fraudulent. The similarity of this rhetoric to that employed by Cheney and Bush is not surprising, but is this really the kind of nonsense we can expect from a man labeled by the media as the "maverick" and the "foreign policy expert" in the presidential race?

Monday, July 21, 2008


If This is a Win, What Would a Loss Look Like?

My friend Jeff decided to torture me yesterday by making me watch "Fox News Sunday" as the price of sharing his air-conditioned relief from the NYC heat wave. Kristol, Hume, Wallace, crowing about how we're winning in Iraq. I just thought I'd run down the current conditions to show what a win looks like in these guys' world:

1) 4.2 million people have fled their homes since the 2003 invasion. That's "million". Of the total, 2 million are in Syria and Jordan and the rest are IDPs, internally displaced persons. Just for some perspective, the total population of Iraq is 28.2 million (Jul 2008 est.). That's 15% of the population. An equivalent per capita number of refugees in the US would be 45 million people, or more than the populations of Texas and New York combined.

2) The money is insignificant compared to the number of lives lost (mostly Iraqi) and ruined, but the cost of the war so far is a staggering $600 billion (just the direct costs, to say nothing of the future medical costs and blowback) with the price tag going up by $3 billion a week. According to Al Gore's recent speech, it would cost between $1.5 and $3.0 trillion (combined public and private investment) to make the entire US economy carbon free in ten years time. Here's a very complicated calculation: ($3 billion/week) X (52 weeks/year) X (10 years) = $1.5 trillion. Wow, that was complicated! The Fox News Sunday crew thinks the Iraq war is a great idea. They also think Al Gore's idea is completely nuts. Even Tom Brokaw, a bastion of the so-called (but in no way) liberal media, couldn't restrain his incredulity at the idea of an audacious plan to shift to renewable energy. $3 billion a week for energy independence and a last shot at avoiding the global warming catastrophe? Preposterous. $3 billion a week for Iraq? No problem.

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