Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just sayin'

John Gibson, who once said he was undecided about whether he'd rather watch two men "smooching" or watch someone get their fingernails pulled out, thinks Vladimir Putin is teh sex.
It's the Friday Finals, my choices for the week's biggest winners and losers, and the reasons why. First the winners.

The all-star winner this week is Vladimir Putin for the shirtless picture of the Russian president on a fishing vacation in Siberia. Russians were wowed.

The second winner's spot goes to Putin for another shirtless picture on the same vacation. Europeans go weak and pallid with envy.

The third winner goes to Putin for another picture from that same vacation. American presidential candidates are standing in front of full-length mirrors saying, "Uh oh."

Vladimir Putin, all-around winner of the week, sweeping aside any other because, after all, everybody else is a mere mortal.

Victor Davis Hanson wants you to take Osama bin Laden at his word

Sweet Jumping Jesus Victor Davis Hanson is an idiot!
(T)here is at least one group whose hatred of Bush is more than welcome: bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorists.

Now, if you were to believe the criticisms of the president by many of the groups outlined above, it would follow that bin Laden would actually be delighted by Bush’s “war on terror.”

After all, Bush supposedly waged an unnecessary and divisive war that only empowered his enemies. The administration supposedly drove “moderates” into bin Laden’s camp, divided the American public over Iraq, and turned off allies with Guantanamo and wiretaps. We are surely less safe, it is argued, post-9/11.

But why then does bin Laden hate George Bush so passionately? He serially rants about the president. In October 2004 he even released a pre-election video addressed to Americans, lambasting Bush in hopes that he would lose the election.


Al Qaeda terrorists no doubt hate every American president. But bin Laden’s venom for feisty George Bush is special, galvanized by the president’s success in eroding al Qaeda militarily while trying to foster enough reform to ruin the terrorist organization politically.
Unfortunately, bin Laden isn't as dumb as VeeDee Hanson and understands basic reverse psychology, a concept which seems to elude Hanson, but is so simple it's understood by rabbits. If bin Laden actually wanted to get rid of Bush, he would come out and praise him for invading Iraq and making al Qaeda's recruiting job easier. I don't think that would go over very well with Americans, would it?

The CIA agrees with me on this:
Just before the 2004 American elections, Kilcullen was doing intelligence work for the Australian government, sifting through Osama bin Laden's public statements, including transcripts of a video that offered a list of grievances against America: Palestine, Saudi Ara-bia, Afghanistan, global warming. The last item brought Kilcullen up short. "I thought, Hang on! What kind of jihadist are you?" he recalled. The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that "this wasn't a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy." Ron Suskind, in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection." Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush's strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.
Sadly, useful idiots like Hanson still think bin Laden can be taken at his word and lap up jihadist propaganda without the slightest bit of skepticism.

After my last post on Hanson, I received an e-mail asking why he gets under my skin so much. I'll tell you: It's not simply because he's an utter sophist who's always wrong, but because he's still taken seriously by people making important decisions.

Update: There seems to be an epidemic of obtuseness and George W. Bush is another vector.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BREAKING: Romney health scare!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fred Barnes is wrong, but not as wrong as the Republican presidential candidates

Fred Barnes thinks, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Republicans can turn their current misfortunes around. One suggestion he has is to quit being corrupt and nutty about immigration:
(Republicans have) allowed their obsession with illegal immigrants to get out of hand. This drives away Hispanic voters and leaves the impression that Republicans are small-minded, ungenerous and nasty. The worst offenders are the presidential candidates, who would be wise to tone down their rhetoric on immigration.
Perhaps the candidates are actually just "small-minded, ungenerous and nasty," because, despite polls suggesting they're on the wrong side of the rest of the country on this issue, they've decided instead to attempt to use a tragic murder to smear all illegal immigrants as murdering scum. Never mind that "for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated and the least acculturated," Republicans think they've found a new chew toy for their base--call this the Very Southern Strategy--and they're gonna stick with it.
Would someone tell Larry Kudlow that most people don't appreciate the so-called "Bush Boom", because for most Americans, there's no such thing.
Americans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows.

While incomes have been on the rise since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, still nearly 1 percent less than the $55,714 in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, analysis of new tax statistics show...

Total income listed on tax returns grew every year after World War II, with a single one-year exception, until 2001, making the five-year period of lower average incomes and four years of lower total incomes a new experience for the majority of Americans born since 1945.
Luckily, the rich are still getting richer, as thinking people predicted would happen in Bush's economy, but the White House says Nothing to see here, move along.
Mr. Fratto said the fact that nearly all of the growth in incomes was among those in the upper reaches of the income ladder and that the majority of investment tax breaks went to those making more than $1 million “is not a very interesting story.”
As a middle class guy, I can assure you this story is quite interesting to me, especially when you consider that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator tells me that the $55,714.00 the average American made in 2000 equated to $63,187.83 in 2005, a rise of 13 percent. (I missed that the figures were inflation adjusted. My bad.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

V.D. Hanson proves himself wrong

Victor Davis Hanson wants Americans to get back to studying military history—as he does—because it would help them understand better what to expect from war. "(K)knowledge of past wars," he writes, "establishes wide parameters of what to expect from new ones."

I don't actually disagree with the premise of Hanson's article, but it's important to note that he serves as his own best counterargument, as he has been embarrassingly wrong about the Iraq War since well before it began. In other words, I think studying military history is a good thing, but it doesn't help you if, like Hanson, you're a blind, foolish partisan infected by cognitive dissonance.

January 17, 2003:
For better or worse, we have now crossed the Rubicon with Iraq, thereby assuring oppressed peoples that help is on the way, and warning terrorist enemies and duplicitous friends that the Middle East is soon to be altered in ways they should fear.
Does Hanson believe that terrorists and "duplicitous friends" are fearful about the power our misadventure in Iraq has handed to Iran?

February 7, 2003:
In sum, in a strict military sense, if the Iraqi army — there is no real navy or air force — fights, it will do so as poorly as it has in the past against any good force that it cannot surprise.
This statement wasn't so much wrong as it is funny in the light of Hanson's statement four month later, complaining that
domestic critics of our military who had forecast "millions of refugees" and "thousands of casualties" — and in week one of the war during a sandstorm had continued on with a chorus of "Stalemate," "Quagmire," and "Vietnam" — now post facto paradoxically reversed course. They suddenly played down our own soldiers' competency by concluding (in their infinite wisdom from the rear) that the Iraqi army was a paper tiger — hardly capable of waging modern war after all! In a blink of an eye their horrific quagmire became a bullying cakewalk.
March 18, 2003:
The fact is that U.S. Marines will find more deadly weapons in the first hours of war than the U.N. did in three months. And by day two the world will have forgotten Dominique de Villepin and be listening instead to Tommy Franks, who will practice a different sort of diplomacy…
Has his study of history taught him nothing about taking the claims of hawks at face value?

There are many, many more instances of Vic's general wrongness about the War in Iraq, but no statement is probably more egregious than this:
I think Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, when this is all over, will have done a great favor to millions of Iraqis and provided Americans increased security, but I don’t expect that they will win any popularity contests for all their efforts. Don’t expect that Walter Cronkite, Arthur Schlesinger, David Halberstam, Susan Sontag, and a host of others who predicted a nightmarish “hornet’s nest” and American diplomatic catastrophe in Iraq to admit their error. More likely, such critics will commit a trifecta of hubris and misjudgment by predicting further endless terror to complement their past gloomy prognostications about the Taliban and Saddamites.
Iraqis don't seem to think we've done them such a "great favor" and American intelligence agencies have found that the war in Iraq has led to an increased radicalization of young Muslims, therefore decreasing overall American security.

Maybe one day Hanson will come around to admitting his own errors and the Bush administration's "hubris and misjudgment," but don't expect that day to come until our public discourse evolves to the point that self-refuting idiots like him are no longer taken seriously enough to publish.

Note: Edited mistype (see comments).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Peggy Noonan joins the Jihad

As I've pointed out before, for all their screaming about lefties blaming America for terrorism, those on the right are much more likely to agree with the premises of terrorist ideology.

Peggy Noonan is the latest to jump on the bandwagon:
We make it too easy for those who want to hate us to hate us. We make ourselves look bad in our media, which helps future jihadists think that they must, by hating us, be good.
Why do Republicans hate America?

Understanding Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez writes:
Now you should know that among those within the sound of my typing, it is known that I type with feeling. You hear those keys. There’s no mistaking when K-Lo’s working. (Well, in the good ol' days...I've been typing with a lighter hand lately.)

But one night it went too far. I was multitasking. Maybe with the help of bourbon.
I always wondered how she could write the crap she does.

Or does multitasking involve her getting liquored up and typing with one hand—wink, wink—while cruising Eew.

Why does America have more neonatal intensive care units? Because it needs them.

A Canadian woman recently traveled to the US to have her quadruplets because of a lack of neonatal intensive care space in her home country. Mark Steyn crows:
Well, you can't expect a G7 economy of only 30 million people to be able to offer the same level of neonatal ICU coverage as a town of 50,000 in remote rural Montana.
Ha! Funny!

Of course what he doesn't point out is that, because we currently have such a shitty healthcare system—grounded firmly in a free market concept—the United States needs a lot more neonatal intensive care facilities than Canada. According to a recent study:
A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.
All those sick and dying babies in this country require the abundance of NICU facilities we have on hand, but, as Dartmouth researchers pointed out a few years ago, the fact that the United States has proportionately more neonatal intensive care providers for infants born with low birth weight—nearly double the number of Canada and almost triple the number in the UK—we don't have a corresponding higher survival rate for those low birth weight infants.

So, Mark Steyn can laugh all he wants—as long as he thinks it's funny that the system he's championing has real, tragic consequences for many Americans.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A note to Barack Obama (and all other Democrats)

Sean Hannity and the Foxholes are going after Barack Obama's statement that we should have had "enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians" This is what the members of the disgusting right wing noise machine do. They turn a straight forward and extremely reasonable point into a smear because, as we know, reason hurts them.

As Josh Marshall pointed out today, both George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai have bemoaned the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan as well, with not a peep from the right wing crazies.

Obama should not get in the mud with them on this, but I think he can answer this by simply pointing out that "honest, serious" people know what he was saying: More troops in Afghanistan might have prevented civilian deaths. He can even say that this is a perfect example of why Fox couldn't be trusted to host a debate. When one of their most recognizable and promoted faces--he has two shows, after all--goes out of his way to lie about what Obama was saying, it just goes to show how partisan, ridiculous and unserious that so-called news network is. And anyone who plays along with their bullshit like Mitt Romney did is equally ridiculous.

Here's what Obama cannot do: Apologize.

I do not think I am alone in saying that I'm sick of those on my side thinking they have to apologize every time the Republihorde starts lighting their torches and dusting off their pitchforks. Screw them. They've been talking to each other so long they don't realize the American public has quit listening.

So, when Dick Durbin apologized for saying that an FBI agent's description of prisoner mistreatment by American soldiers seemed more like the description of actions taken by "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others," I was pissed. He should simply have said that some soldiers have done horrible things--as the FBI agent described--and it was Rumsfeld, Bush and their disdain for human rights which were the direct causes of those horrors.

I said something similar when Obama rightly pointed out that Bush's war was wasting the lives of American soldiers, but Obama apologized twice for that statement.

Enough's enough, though. As we've seen in the Roadblock Republicans in Congress, the right doesn't seem to care about actual governance or dealing truthfully with the American public. They just want to keep Democrats from getting things done. Period. The next president will have to be able to deal with the daily misinformation that comes from Malkin, Limbaugh et al., so it's imperative that our candidates quit letting those bastards tell them how to talk. Obama is exactly right in saying that a reliance on air power leads to more civilian deaths. But, if he apologizes, he will not only have lost this argument, he will have lost me and every other Democrat who's ready to see someone stand up to the right wing smear artists.

Update: Newshounds nailed this one.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I kick Atrios' ass

Sounds about right

David Brooks writes:
Somehow the Romney campaign seems less like an authentic conservative campaign than an outsider's view of what a conservative campaign should be. It oversimplifies everything, and underexploits the G.O.P.'s vestigial longing for efficient administration.
Merriam-Webster sez:
Main Entry: ves·tige
Pronunciation: \ˈves-tij\
Function: noun

1 a (1): a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something (as an ancient city or a condition or practice) vanished or lost (2): the smallest quantity or trace b: footprint 1
2: a bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed in comparison to one more fully developed in an earlier stage of the individual, in a past generation, or in closely related forms

— ves·ti·gial \ve-ˈsti-jē-əl, -jəl\ adjective
I think Brooks has quite deftly describe the Republican commitment to efficient administration.