Thursday, December 21, 2006

Atrios has been snookered!

It went fine for me, but it looks Atrios' upgrade to the newer, googlier Eschaton has a taken a dramatic turn for the worse. You can still read his hyper-ironic goodness here, for the moment.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

TIME cops out again

I think I just hurt my eyeballs from rolling them so hard. TIME Magazine's Person of the Year is... Nancy Pelosi? George W. Bush? Kim Jong Il? John Murtha?

Nope, it's everyone! Literally... everyone! Joy! As August Pollack put it, it's Everybody Gets A Trophy Day!

Seriously, though, the idea is that, apparently, since lots of people blog and use Youtube and have Facebook accounts, we have, I guess, been more significant than any single person, or something. I really didn't need TIME magazine to tell me that the sum total of everyone who uses the internet has had a greater effect on world events than any single person (nor, by the way TIME, did I need you to know that there are, in fact, a rather large number of people on the planet, and in this country for that matter, who have not used the internet much at all in the past year. They're called the poor, and believe it or not TIME, there are a lot of them. It's a little weird that such a prestigious magazine so callously assumed that EVERYONE, or even just everyone who ever reads TIME, has access to the internet and its requisite tools enough to do things like record Youtube videos.).

There's more to this, though, than just a lame choice for the distinction. It caps a number of questionable choices as of late that the magazine has made to avoid doing anything that could piss off redstate neanderthals who don't get the point of Person of the Year (which, as many of you likely know, is pointing out the person with the greatest effect on current events, be it positive or negative (which is why they could choose Adolf Hitler in 1938). George W. Bush, if I remember correctly, held the distinction both in 2000 and 2004, which can grant even if I don't agree (the person with the most effect on world events in 2000 was not George Bush: it was Bill Clinton) but in 2001 it was Rudy Giuliani. Now one could easily argue that W deserved it more than Guiliani because he actually guided national policy at that time, kicking off the War on Terrorism and going into Afghanistan, but even that's a cop-out.

The person who deserved it in 2001, indisputably, was Osama bin Laden.

That, of course, would be controversial to the mouth-breaters who don't get that this isn't an award, so what did TIME do? They made it into an award. That's why "women whistle-blowers" got it in 2002, and "the American soldier" in '03, and freakin' Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates in '05. Really? In all that time, no Terri Shiavo? Karl Rove? Tom Delay? Howard Dean? Ahmed Chalabi? Project for a New American Century? The Christian Right? Swift Boat Veterans? The Netroots? OPEC? Al Gore?

This is just another example of how the national press is been so cowed by the Right that they're willing to change the rules to appease them, no matter if the Right's beef actually has any merit whatsoever. In fact, TIME itself has been more than a little suspect the last couple of years. Just recently they gave James Dobson a column so that he could his junk science claims on the evils of same-sex marriage, but never bothered to fact-check the column. Or take a look here at the difference between the covers in November 1994 (when the GOP took the House) and November 2006 (when Democrats took the House, both liberal and centrist, in larger numbers than the GOP did at any point since the Eisenhower Administration). And how could we forget their unbelievably grotesque hagiography of Ann Coulter last year?

You can see a more exhaustive list at Media Matters.


The big story today is Reid's statement on W and St. McCain's super-awesome idea to go double-or-nothing in Iraq ("double down" is not the right metaphor, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, and in order for either metaphor to be accurate, you have to remember that American and Iraqi lives are the chips). From Reuters:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday he would support a short-term increase in U.S. troops in Iraq being weighed by President George W. Bush if it is part of a broader withdrawal plan.

Bush has been talking to experts about a new Iraq strategy and a short-term increase in U.S. troops to help make Baghdad more secure is one idea that has been presented to him.

"If it's for a surge, that is, for two or three months and it's part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I'll go along with it," said Reid, who will become the majority leader when Democrats take control of the Senate next month from Bush's Republicans. He spoke on ABC's "This Week" program.

People are freaking out about this statement (just check out dKos tonight!), and clearly the press is planning to run with this as far as they can because the press luuuuvs stories about "Democrats in disarray!" "Democrats go all weak-kneed before the massive codpiece of the W!" "All the sensible, serious people support the latest "one last chance" in Iraq!"

Both, so it seems to me, are relying on a certain "trimming" of the major qualifier in Reid's statement. These people are reading the statement as "I support the president's [and John McCain and Joe Lieberman's] plan to increase troops in Iraq."

But that's not what he says. Look at the original statement again: "If [the president's likely plan to increase troops is] for a surge, that is, for two or three months and it's part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I'll go along with it."

Atrios is virtually alone in the blogosphere as someone who caught this distinction:
People seem to be upset that Reid sorta-endorsed the McCain/Lieberman plan to increase the number of troops in the short run. I don't really see it that way - no Senator can expect to micromanage troop levels in Iraq. Reid basically said that he's fine with any strategy which has the goal of getting the troops out by about next Spring. That, of course, isn't the McCain/Lieberman strategy. [emphasis mine]

That last part's the catch. Reid's only saying that he'll go along with a 3 month long surge that actually is part of that "moonwalking" plan the generals were talking about right after the election, a plan to withdraw while appearing to escalate. Whether or not that's a good idea is a different matter, but that's not what the W will probably settle on (and certainly not what McCain/Lieberman is talking about when he advocates for a troop increase). The president is not done in Iraq, he still thinks he can "win" it, and any troop additions will not be part of a withdrawal plan; they'll be part of an escalation, pure and simple. Thus, is the president's surge only supposed to last for 2 to 3 months? No. Is it part of a program to withdraw by this time next year? No.

Then there's no evidence, based on this quote, that Reid is or would ever sign onto an escalation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

John McCain wants you to STFU

So St. John's in a wee bit o' trouble. Looks like W's actually taking his idea to increase the troop levels in Iraq seriously. Even worse, it comes right on the heels of a Iraq Study Group report that a) recommends a drawdown of troops in 2 years, and b) has ideas widely held as good advice by the public ("widely," as in 79% in some cases!). The problem is, when McCain proposed increasing troop levels, he didn't actually want W to go along with it. That way, when 2008 comes and he has to run against the Democratic nominee, his fellow GOP candidates, and the president, he would have the ultimate debating piece on the signature issue of the day: "Well, ya know Ms. Ifill, we could've won the war if the president had gone along with my suggestion!"

As it stands if W increases troop levels, though, McCain will have been LBJ'ed without even getting elected first!

All is not lost, however, for the Washington press corps' favorite right-winger. After all, at the moment, there's really only one group out there that doesn't have a huge crush on St. McCain: the blogs. In fact, no one hates John McCain more than the kids at Daily Kos, except maybe the kids at RedState. And there's no one louder and no one with a more... troublesome... record for dethroning public figures than the blogosphere.

And leave it to McCain to find a fix for them (and by them, I mean us):
The other section of McCain's legislation targets convicted sex offenders. It would create a federal registry of "any e-mail address, instant-message address, or other similar Internet identifier" they use, and punish sex offenders with up to 10 years in prison if they don't supply it.

Then, any social-networking site must take "effective measures" to remove any Web page that's "associated" with a sex offender.

Because "social-networking site" isn't defined, it could encompass far more than just, Friendster and similar sites. The list could include: Slashdot, which permits public profiles;, which permits author profiles and personal lists; and blogs like that show public profiles. In addition, media companies like publisher CNET Networks permit users to create profiles of favorite games, gadgets and music.

"This constitutionally dubious proposal is being made apparently mostly based on fear or political considerations rather than on the facts," said EFF's Bankston. Studies by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show the online sexual solicitation of minors has dropped in the past five years, despite the growth of social-networking services, he said.

A McCain aide, who did not want to be identified by name, said on Friday that the measure was targeted at any Web site that "you'd have to join up or become a member of to use." No payment would be necessary to qualify, the aide added.

In this political climate, members of Congress may not worry much about precise definitions.

Bloggers would also be responsible for content posted in the comments section of their blogs, and could be fined $300,000, which would more than bankrupt just about any blogger on the first offense. Thus, McCain gets to chill online political activity (and perhaps annihilate it entirely) while hiding behind the "chasing child molesters" monster.

And he has the gall to do this in the same week that the Republican Congress absolved itself of any wrongdoing in aiding and abetting a sexual predator for 5 frakin' years.

These Republicans, St. McCain included, really are beneath contempt.

Make no mistake about it, folks: John McCain is a rightwing neocon nutjob who wants more government in your personal life, has no respect for the freedoms guaranteed you by the Bill of Rights, and is willing to risk more American lives if it will win him political points. A vote for John McCain in '08 is a vote for more of the same.

notes on the Democratic victory

Sorry, people, looks like the election exhausted me for a while! Hopefully I'm recharged and ready to start up again, but I won't guarantee anything. I will try to keep up with this, though.

So about the election: what a ride, eh? I have to say, we were successful way beyond my expectations. The House looked like it was ours coming in, but I really didn't think we were gonna win the Senate! Obviously, it's only a Democratic Senate pending Senator Johnson's (D-SD) recovery from what appears to be a stroke, but the victory is amazing nonetheless. I would never have guessed that Webb would win in Virginia. That's awful news for the GOP, as the Commonwealth has been trending blue for a while, but does this mean it's reached the tipping point? Virginia's already elected a Democratic governor (to succeed the last governor, who also was a Democrat) and booted a popular Senator and former governor for a Democrat that, contrary to the media narrative, is no conservative. In fact, Jim Webb is an economic populist (as in, pro-worker, anti-big business, raves against rising income inequality), which is the old conservative's bogeyman. Are Virginia's 13 electoral votes going to be in play in 2 years?

A note about the media narrative also: the big story after the election was the election of "conservative Democrats." Everyone was talking about this, from Rush Limbaugh to David Brooks to the front page of the NYT. Only the American media would be so ditzy and gullible that they would believe the right-wingers "conservative Democrat" horseshit after the election of, among others, the first Socialist senator (Bernie Sanders, I-VT)! Jim Webb rails on income inequality; Jon Tester wants to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act; Sheldon Whitehouse (the quintessential Nor'eastern liberal) defeated a Republican incumbent who was both popular and moderate; Ned Lamont won his primary over a centrist Democrat who was, again, both popular and moderate... the list goes on. This was a victory for Democrats of all stripes, but liberals/progressives were more than amply represented in the winner's circle.

And by the way, it's doubly stupid for the media to pretend like conservative Democrats are a new phenomenon. What the hell kind of Democrats do they think people have been electing in the South for the last, I dunno, century?