Saturday, December 29, 2007

Explain to me again who's "pro-military"?

The shrub is going to "pocket veto" a military spending bill, claiming it opens up the Iraqi government to lawsuits for reparations from Saddam Hussein's rule.
Bush's decision to use a pocket veto, announced while vacationing at his Texas ranch, means the legislation will die at midnight Dec. 31. This tactic for killing a bill can be used only when Congress is not in session.
Except the Senate is in session throughout the Christmas break, in order to thwart the dictator from making recess appointments. So the legality of this action is in question, as is always the case with this regime. Not that Congress has the spine to do anything about it.

The excuse used by the shrub is, of course, a lie. It's a lie used to cover up the real reason he doesn't want the spending bill to pass: benefits for our soldiers.
in the legislation were improved veterans benefits and tighter oversight of contractors and weapons programs. The pocket veto means that troops will get a 3 percent raise Jan. 1 instead of the 3.5 percent authorized by the bill.
But that's not the only reason, either.
A Democratic congressional aide pointed out that a pocket veto cannot be overridden by Congress and allows Bush to distance himself from the rejection of a major Pentagon bill in a time of war.
So it's another dictatorial end-run around Congress, just so the boy can lay the blame for failing to pass military spending on Democrats. Never mind that the boy had weeks during which he could have worked with lawmakers to amend the spending bill, and took absolutely no action. It's all about making the Democrats look bad. And the Democrats, whose timid, pathetic excuse for "leadership", will let the White House do it. Just as election year is coming up. I swear, the Dems never miss an opportunity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

But make no mistake, this one is squarely the shrub's contempt for the military he claims to support at work. He's using the military as a club with which to pummel political opponents into craven submission, and then he turns around and pisses all over the military.

Getting back to the illegality of this, as explained by Kagro X at Daily Kos:

That's right, civics fans: Bush is claiming this is a "pocket veto," as defined in Article I, section 7 of the Constitution:

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large in their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Because the bill has so much in it for veterans and active members of the Armed Forces, Bush apparently doesn't dare sign an affirmative veto. Instead, he'll pretend it... just went away on its own.

But this bill was presented to the president for his signature on December 19th. It's been eight days since then, not counting Sundays as the Constitution outlines. Seven if you give an extra day for Christmas. Hasn't been ten days yet.

Not only that, but you may recall that the Senate has remained in session all this time explicitly to prevent trickery like this. The most oft-cited reason was to prevent recess appointments, but the pro forma sessions -- the most recent of which was held today, yes, the very day Bush claimed there was no session -- also serve to avoid adjournment, and therefore the pocket veto.

But not in Bushworld. In Bushworld, these sessions don't count. Because he says so.

At some point, Congress has to address this blatant violation of the Constitution by the shrub. George W. Bush is not a king, no matter how much he thinks he is. And he cannot simply declare Congress in or out of session just so he can screw over veterans and active duty soldiers. Considering how he loves to pretend he's a man, considering how tough and pro-military he is, you'd think he would have the balls to veto a spending bill. But the boy is really a coward in spite of his tough-sounding rhetoric, who lacks the courage to take responsibility for his crimes.

The question one has to ask, then, is who is really "pro-military": Congress, which passes pay raises for troops and increases in benefits for veterans; or the shrub, who violated the Constitution just so he could deny the military those things?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Photos that make me want to chuck an elf out a fiftieth story window.

The picture above is from a Boston Globe online article, in which Giuliani explains that he is cancer-free. Giuiliani is a cancer. He can hardly be free of it.

Caption this, and get a virtual cookie. Because, really, this one is too damned ghoulish for me to describe. You can find a smaller version of this creepy and frightening image here.

That's from an article in the Daily Mail (a UK publication) back in August, praising the criminal for reducing crime in New York while mayor. Never mind that Giuliani took credit for other people's work, or that the reduction in crime was in tandem with the relative economic contentment that took place under the Clinton administration. And never mind Giuliani's criminal ties, or his ties to the people who aided and abetted the terrorists who hit us on 9/11/2001. One gets the feeling that, if he should manage to steal both the Republican nomination and the presidency next year, we'll all have this picture to laugh at us, as though to say, "you didn't really think you'd get rid of me that easily, did you? The joke's on you America, MWAHAHAHAHA!"

Monday, December 24, 2007

His Rudeness hits another one out of the park.

You've got to hand it to the Rude Pundit. He may be profane, sometimes unnecessarily so, but he sure knows how to make a point. Like when he writes about the shrub visiting a crippled soldier -- a soldier crippled in Iraq, by the way -- and learning nothing from the visit except to say, "better you than me, fodder-boy!"

But who's really the boy, here? The cripple whose hand and leg were blown off, and whose other leg was mangled, and whose internal organs got all messed up -- all for the shrub's delusions of empire? Or the pathetic, evil, overgrown child who sent that once-healthy young soldier to Iraq on the basis of a stack of lies, violations of the Constitution, and pure greed?

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A snipe at Reid, and big table fantasies.

So Harry Reid is going to keep the U.S. Senate in session over the holidays, lest the shrub make any recess appointments of scumbags the Senate finds "objectionable".

"We're going to go into pro forma session so the president can't appoint people that we think objectionable," Reid said on the Senate floor as the chamber prepared to wrap up business for the year.

Yeah, because God forbid that Harry Reid -- whose unintentionally pornographic-sounding name is certainly an apt description of his thin and bendy tenure as capitulation leader -- should let the shrub's appointees be placed in lifetime positions to fuck the country over with anything less than the official seal of approval from the U.S. Senate.

Anyway, here's an interesting take on Giuliani from the American Conservative, I mean, magazine (posted on my discussion forum). When even the nutzoid right thinks you're a creepy loon, that's got to take a toll on your morale.

But let's get to the meat of this entry. The New York Times' Paul Krugman gave an excellent analysis of Barack Obama's unrealistic thinking on health care solutions.

Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.

The argument began during the Democratic debate, when the moderator — Carolyn Washburn, the editor of The Des Moines Register — suggested that Mr. Edwards shouldn’t be so harsh on the wealthy and special interests, because "the same groups are often responsible for getting things done in Washington."

Mr. Edwards replied, "Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen."

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a "big table" that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that "We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic."

Hmm. Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that "us" includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

It's a very valid point. One wonders if Obama is pandering to the very industries that are helping to destroy America by way of unrestrained greed. Krugman continues:

O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? "I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying," he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was "Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington."

And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.

Krugman makes many common sense points about the success of economic populism in Democratic campaigns in his latest book, The Conscience of A Liberal. It's worth reading because it explains rather well the conditions that led to the economic collapse that ultimately made F.D.R.'s New Deal possible, and a success for decades. Krugman, a respected and extremely knowledgeable economist I think should be made federal reserve chairman if John Edwards becomes president, is not someone whose analysis is to be dismissed lightly -- or at all. Krugman closes by writing:

So what happens if Mr. Obama is the nominee?

He will probably win — but not as big as a candidate who ran on a more populist platform. Let’s be blunt: pundits who say that what voters really want is a candidate who makes them feel good, that they want an end to harsh partisanship, are projecting their own desires onto the public.

And nothing Mr. Obama has said suggests that he appreciates the bitterness of the battles he will have to fight if he does become president, and tries to get anything done.

Monday, December 17, 2007

With a filibuster-proof majority, the Senate brings telecomm immunity another step closer.

EDIT: This Diary has been updated in response to new information from Daily Kos commenters. Thanks for the correction, everybody.

Seventy-six senators -- more than enough to break a filibuster -- voted to bring the telecomm immunity bill up for debate.

George W. Bush's demand for immunity for telephone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program won an initial victory on Monday in the U.S. Senate.

On a vote of 76-10, far more than the 60 needed, the Democratic-led Senate cleared a procedural hurdle and began considering a bill to increase congressional and judicial oversight of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists.

It includes a provision to grant retroactive immunity to any telecommunications company that took part in Bush's spying program -- surveillance without court warrants of e-mails and telephone calls of people in the United States -- begun shortly after the September 11 attacks.

Why do the telecommunications companies and Bush want immunity?

Nearly 40 lawsuits have been filed accusing AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel Corp. of violating U.S. privacy rights.

And there you have it. Bush broke the law by illegally spying on Americans, with the help of telecomm giants, and because they fear actually being prosecuted they're ramming retroactive immunity down our throats. Fuck the Constitution, sys the shrub! We need to protect our own law-breakin' asses!

Senator Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, interrupted his long-shot presidential campaign to return to Washington to help lead the charge against immunity. "For the last six years, our largest telecommunication companies have been spying on their own American customers," Dodd said.

Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Capitulator, has apparently decided to bring the bill up for debate in January, knowing that fellow senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd will likely be too busy campaigning in the early caucus and primary states to mount a filibuster. In this fashion, Reid avoids the embarrassment of having to kill a filibuster from his own party. Reid could have brought up the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill, which does not grant immunity. Instead, he chose to bring up the one that does, knowing full well that attempts to amend out immunity will fail. When is Reid up for re-election? Can't we primary the motherfucker?

CBS News has an article that goes into more detail on what's going on with this.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Well this is interesting.

I happened upon a Democracy For America poll that allows for a sort of virtual elimination analysis in determining candidate support. Eliminating all but Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Kucinich comes out on top.

Remove Obama from the picture, and support goes not to Clinton but to Edwards, narrowing the gap with Kucinich. Take Clinton away, and you get a similar result, with votes going not to Clinton but to Edwards -- and with Kucinich still ahead by a wide margin. And now the funny thing. In a race between only Kucinich and Edwards, it's a very close result. By contrast, Kucinich trounces Clinton by a wide margin of the vote. In a Kucinich vs Obama race, Obama does better nationally but it's still Kucinich by a wide margin in the key state of Ohio. What's interesting is that Obama and Clinton take votes away from Edwards, as opposed to DFA's favorite. Remove Edwards from the equation, and it's Obama who prospers, with Billary coming in at a distant third. This is what's interesting. Dennis does better against Clinton than he does against Obama, but in either one-on-one contest it's still the Representative from Ohio by a comfortable margin. And as I pointed out, the DFA poll gives Edwards the best shot at giving Dennis a run for his money. Nationally, it's a virtual tie, while Kucinich still carries his home state in any scenario.

Just some food for thought.

Why was Kucinich excluded from the last Iowa debate?

If you caught yesterday's debate in Iowa, you may have noticed the absence of Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich. This was an intentional exclusion on the part of the Des Moines Register newspaper, which not only made up its own rules about which candidates should be invited and which excluded but lied to voters about why this was. But don't just take my word for it; you can get the whole story from the Kucinich campaign's blog announcement by Jean Hay Bright on MySpace.

The Des Moines Register put out a press release last week announcing that six of the eight Democratic candidates for President had "accepted invitations" to debate this Thursday. Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich was not among them.

What the Des Moines Register press release should have said is that they offered invitations to this debate to only six of the eight nationally recognized Democratic presidential candidates and that all six who were invited accepted.

The Des Moines Register is a prominent newspaper. Their editors and writers know how to turn a phrase. And the way they turned that phrase in that news article, the implication is that Dennis Kucinich did not accept the invitation they offered to him. That phrasing by the Des Moines Register implied that Kucinich declined their invitation to debate.

That is not true.

In phrasing its news article the way it did, the Des Moines Register did not tell voters in Iowa -- and voters across the nation, since this debate will be nationally televised -- the whole truth.

Here’s the truth. Here is the arbitrary list of criteria for inclusion in this debate, and in other debates held in Iowa this fall:

Eligible Participants for Des Moines Register Debates will include Presidential Candidates who:

  1. Have filed an FEC Form F-2, "Statement of Candidacy," with the Federal Election Commission; (CHECK)
  1. Have publicly announced an intention to run for the nomination of the Republican or the Democratic Party for President of the United States; (CHECK)
  1. Have employed at least one paid campaign staff representative to perform full-time campaign duties in the State of Iowa on behalf of the candidate since at least October 1, 2007. (CHECK – Kucinich has had a full-time staffer – an Iowa resident – on board since April)
  1. With at least 1% in the Des Moines Register October, 2007, Iowa Poll (CHECK)
  1. And lastly, have a Campaign Office inside the State of Iowa as of October 1, 2007 (to which the Kucinich campaign says CHECK, but the Des Moines Register says CHECK-OUT)

The whole truth, the truth the Des Moines Register is not telling you, is that Dennis Kucinich has a political organization in Iowa. It is small, but it is energetic and energized. His paid state coordinator, Marcos Rubenstein, works out of his home. Dennis and his wife Elizabeth have campaigned in Iowa many times.

The Federal Elections Commission recognizes that the Kucinich campaign has paid staff in Iowa. The IRS recognizes the legitimacy of a home office. Across the country, the Kucinich campaign has at least 15 high-ranking paid campaign staff members who work out of their homes. Their offices are campaign offices.

The Des Moines Register, however, does not recognize a home office as a campaign office.

This is what they sent to the Kucinich campaign when it protested his exclusion from Thursday’s (Dec. 13) debate:

"It was our determination that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa."

So is a full-time person on salary and working well more than 40 hours a week not a full-time person because he doesn't waste time and energy lugging his cell phone and laptop from one address to another twice a day?

Yes, the Des Moines Register has determined, arbitrarily, that a campaign must have real estate in Iowa, a storefront, to be a legitimate campaign.

Two things wrong with that. The concept that only landed gentry should be eligible to participate in the political process is an idea that we threw out, not in the last century, but in the century before that.

And if a storefront is necessary before you can do business in Iowa, then is ineligible to do business in Iowa. Ebay is ineligible to do business in Iowa.

You see what I mean?

The Kucinich campaign is a very internet-connected effort, which does not spend money needlessly. It is, in fact, running the kind of energy-efficient campaign most of the American public wants.

The criteria used to keep the Kucinich message from Iowa voters, and from the American people, is arbitrary, capricious, and downright silly. But also dangerous. We cannot as a nation have corporations such as the Des Moines Register determining our political dynamic.

Why would the Des Moines Register do that?

Indeed, why? Sorry for the lengthy quote, but it's important that readers know the truth about Dennis' exclusion from the Iowa debate yesterday. The truth the Des Moine Register does not want you to learn. The debate and primary system in this country is a sick joke. Only the moneyed, corporate-tied candidates are taken seriously, while the grassroots campaigns get dissed and left out. What we have are the formalities of a primary system to give the appearance of democracy, and a coronation at the national conventions, because God forbid all the candidates running for their parties' nominations be heard by the voters.

If Alan Keyes -- whom most people probably did not even know until this week was even running for president -- could be included in the last Republican debate then Kucinich certainly met the arbitrary criteria set by the Des Moines Register. Mike Gravel has been excluded from debates since Summer, in spite of his status as a legitimate candidate for president. That is wrong, too. Voters deserve to hear all the candidates, not just the moneyed ones the media arbitrarily decides should be heard.

If you're ticked off, as I am, here's what you can do: contact the newspaper and voice your displeasure. Be polite, be respectful, but do not accept the lies the newspaper gives you.

Mailing address
P.O. Box 957
Des Moines IA 50306-0957

Street Address
715 Locust St.
Des Moines IA 50309

Letters to the editor e-mail:

Circulation Customer Service
(877) 424-0225

Telephone switchboard
Local: (515) 284-8000
Iowa: (800) 532-1455
Outside Iowa: (800) 247-5346

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Check out my video ad!

I did this video ad up for my discussion forum using images I found on the 'net, and music I downloaded using Limewire. Let me know what you think! Ad