Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Man, A Plan, Obama

Booman catches the Moonie Times revealing the truth.

Tony Blankley of the Moonie Times reveals THE PLAN. It's obvious that Republican strategists have huddled together to discuss how they can attack a Negro without getting blamed for attacking a Negro. You can't talk about Obama's race or black culture. You have to say that the candidate doesn't know his place. You can't say that Negros belong on the lower strata of society, so you have to make it personal. You aren't attacking all Negros, just this particular Negro. This Negro is arrogant and full of pride. Pride comes before a fall. And you get bonus points if you can utilize some biblical passages to drive home your point. Blankley's column gets an A-Plus. It covers all the bases.

How bad is it? This bad.
All of us have our shortcomings, of course. But there is none so dangerous both to a man and to those for whom he has responsibility than the sin of pride. In the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great recognized that pride breeds all the other sins and is therefore the most serious offense. St. Thomas Aquinas reaffirmed that pride is rebellion against the very authority of God.

Let me quote a private e-mail correspondent, who states the case better than I could: "Pride indeed is the cardinal vice -- it swings open the door to most of the other theological vices, and undermines the classical virtues of prudence, courage and justice. It thrives, not on what one has, but on what others do not have. And even when one has diligently practiced the most admirable virtues, there always lurks the danger that at some moment one will look in the mirror and say: 'Oh my! What a wonderful person I am!' Thus does the vice lunge from its hiding-place."

As Booman says,

The genius of THE PLAN is that they actually want us to react the way that I am reacting. Then they hold up the evidence to say, "See, you can't criticize this Negro without them calling you a racist." And everyone hates being accused of racism. Even racists.

I agree. The deviousness of the stupidity here is manifest. Glad to see 200 years of good old Jim Crow subliminal racism hasn't fallen out of practice.

A Successful Black Man is only so because he has recieved advantages that he did not deserve. Make no mistake: the GOP is using the oldest of gentlemanly Southern code word racism here to portray Barack Obama as the ultimate Carpetbagger, the culmination of every perceived slight of reverse racism, the unfortunate endpoint of the Affirmative Action generation: A Black Man in the White House. He must be torn down. He must be stopped. He must be destroyed at any cost, because if an African-American man can become President, then there is nothing holding back the Hordes from the gates.

Barack Obama is nothing less than the implied end of White America. This is how the GOP will frame him, if you will excuse the pun. He is the anti-hope, the anti-America, the antichrist, the anti-everything. Decades of right wing radio vitriol and the wingnuts they have given rise to has culminated in a clarion call to arms against this man to those whose ears have been attuned to listen, couched in the language of secret hatred.

They will not let him become President. They will stop at nothing to make sure he is not. And over the next 90 days we'll see the depth to which Americans will sink to stop Barack Obama.

It will not be pretty. And it scares me how bad I think it will get.

The Dork Knights

The Think Progress crew brings us this story on Glenn Beck being the latest Wingnut trying to be cool by citing Batman's actions in the Dark Knight as vindicating the Bush Doctrine on Warren Terrah.

But Batman goes into another country and with a C-130 snatches a guy out, and then throws him back here into Gotham. So there’s rendition. At one point the Morgan Freeman character says to Batman, wait a minute, hang on, you’re eavesdropping on everyone in Gotham? And Batman says, yes, to stop this terrorist. Morgan Freeman says, I can’t be a part of it. And yet Morgan Freeman does become a part of it, and they find the Joker. One of the ways they find the Joker is through eavesdropping. I mean the parallels here of what’s going on is to me stunning.

And Beck's not the only one cribbing fascism lessons from screen-adapted graphic novels either.

Writing in the International Herald Tribune in late July, Mark D. White and Robert Arp had the courage to ask the question that people who aren’t thinking are thinking about:
But if we say that Batman should kill the Joker, doesn’t that imply that we should torture terrorism suspects if there’s a chance of getting information that could save innocent lives?

Why is it that the Wingnuts do such a dismal job of pop culture references? Did they even see the movie? Batman's solution to the ticking time bomb scenario is more elegant and more heartening than anything Bush has done.

It's worth seeing the movie just for that.

Don't Throw Me In That There Capitol Hill, Brer Gingrich

Oh please please please let this be true.

Gingrich did attract more camera crews, and he used the opportunity to point to what may be the GOP's next strategy: If Democrats refuse to hold a separate vote on oil drilling, Republicans could try to block the votes needed to keep government running past September 30.

"Are [Democrats] really prepared to close the government in order to stop drilling?" Gingrich asked. "Because I think the country will find that to be a suicidal strategy."

The precise maneuvering of a shutdown threat is complicated, but it revolves around the fact that key government spending bills expire when the fiscal year ends September 30 and Congress must vote next month to keep the government operating.

One of those spending bills, for the Department of the Interior, contains the hot-button provision banning offshore oil drilling on the outer continental shelf. If that bill expires, as it is set to do at the end of September, then so does the drilling ban. Republicans believe a majority of the House opposes the ban, and thus a vote on whether to keep government running could also become a vote on whether to allow offshore drilling.

The parliamentary possibilities are numerous. But Republican House Leader John Boehner's office thinks the votes are there, on both sides of the Capitol, to support drilling and energy expansion. Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith confirmed there are many options on the table for September, including a shutdown threat.

"If Democrats want to block what a majority of the House and Senate want, they can proceed with a strategy that would in effect shut down the government," Smith said.

Oh God, Goddess, Sikkar the Lightbringer and Flying Spaghetti Monster, let the GOP shut down the government during a presidential election year. Please please please please.

What better proof would you need that a Democratic Supermajority is the obvious solution to the GOP in November? Can you imagine the campaign commercials?

I can. It makes me tingly.

Alert The Internets!

Jack Cafferty makes me produce chuckles rich in vitamin schadenfreude.

And then I remember that what would make this really and truly funny is that McSame would actually be President while having the technological savvy of a phone book cover, and then I stop laughing.

Court Comma Kangaroo

The verdict is in on the Hamdan case. McClatchy News has the rundown.

A U.S. military jury on Wednesday convicted Osama bin Laden's driver of providing material support for terror but found him not guilty of a more serious charge of conspiring with al Qaeda in a string of worldwide terror attacks.

Salim Hamdan, 37, stood and listened with head bowed to an Arabic translation as he became the first man convicted at trial in the first U.S. war crimes tribunal since World War II.

So, this is what we have to show after seven years. A driver.

In convicting on five of eight counts of material support for terror, the jury appeared to reject Hamdan's argument that he was a mere driver, a $200-a-month civilian employee of a Saudi millionaire who happened to be Osama bin Laden.

Prosecutors called him a bodyguard, a key member of al Qaeda's security detail whose job was to floor the accelerator and escape should enemies attack bin Laden's motorcade.

But in finding Hamdan not guilty of two counts of conspiracy, the jury did not entirely accept the Pentagon's theory that the father of two with a fourth-grade education was a key cog responsible for al Qaeda mayhem culminating with the 9/11 terror attacks.

Prosecutors argued that — even if he did not know in advance — Hamdan affirmatively chose not to walk away from bin Laden after the terror attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000 and on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

Prosecutors cast Hamdan as an al Qaeda insider who arrived in Afghanistan in 1996 and developed intimate access and knowledge of the al Qaeda infrastructure -- from the media organization to the training camps to the compounds and farms that belonged to bin Laden.

Prosecutor John Murphy called him an "al Qaeda warrior.''

The jury cleared the driver of terror support charges that alleged Hamdan he committed a war crime by having two surface-to-air missiles in his car when U.S. allies captured him in southern Afghanistan in November 2001.

According to the military judge's instructions, the jury would have had to conclude that the SA-7s were meant to attack civilians, wounded or captured combatants or troops performing religious or medical functions.

Again, I'm not entirely sure the conviction of Hamdan was worth it, considering everything America gave up in order to convict him. We stared at the abyss, then built a subdivision in it and sold lots.

The Pentagon's deputy defense counsel, Mike Berrigan, called the conviction ''a travesty.'' He noted that when Hamdan was first charged, in 2004, before his lawyers challenged his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, there was no such war crime as ``providing material support for terror.''

Hamdan was tried under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, enacted by Congress after the Supreme Court shut down the Bush administration's first bid to try him.

During the trial, Pentagon prosecutors showed jurors a gory movie, The al Qaeda Plan, packed with bloodshed and carnage.

The Defense Department paid a consultant $20,000 to produce the film, modeled after one screened at the Nuremberg tribunals 60 years ago.

Defense lawyers derided the war court, called a military commission, as relying on federal agents' interrogations conducted from Afghanistan to Guantánamo without notifying Hamdan that he might be prosecuted and without benefit of a lawyer even in his second year here.

''In no other court in this country would the evidence be admissible,'' said retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Swift, who called the trial ``by no means transparent.''

Evidence like that is admissible in America now. Remember this. We threw away being a country of laws and became a country of political expedience. We did this on purpose. To convict a driver. We sold our souls so that this man would end up in a joke tribunal, with secret evidence most likely obtained through "robust interrigation methods", in a situation where even if he had been acquitted he would have still been held for the rest of his natural life.

As it is, the penalty phase of the trial is pointless. And the real tragedy is the man that is truly responsible? He's still out there.

The next President must end these tribunals and demand actual justice. That's what's at stake in November.

Any of us could be next right now.


So, 48% of American voters believe the economy is the Number One Issue in the election.

How many of these folks are planning to vote for McSame? I'd really like to know. Because those are the folks who may decide this election, and they are the folks Obama needs to reach and reach now.

White Powder Snow Job - Updated

When the Double G Glenn Greenwald latches on to something, he doesn't let go. He's been the point man on everything doing with the Constitution for the Netroots (most recently FISA) and in the last week he's chomped down on the Bruce Ivins Anthrax Case.

It's certainly possible that once the FBI closes its investigation and then formally unveils its evidence -- which apparently will happen tomorrow -- a very convincing case will be made that Bruce Ivins perpetrated the anthrax attacks and did so alone. But what has been revealed thus far -- through the standard ritual of selected Government leaks which the establishment media, with some exceptions, just mindlessly re-prints no matter how frivolous -- is creating the opposite impression. The FBI's coordinated leaking is making their claim to have solved the anthrax case appear quite dubious, in some instances laughably so.

One glaring and important exception to the dynamic of uncritical media recitation is this morning's New York Times article by Scott Shane and Nicholas Wade, which evinces very strong skepticism over the FBI's case thus far and discloses facts that create more grounds for skepticism. Given everything that has happened over the last seven years -- not just with the anthrax attacks but with countless episodes of Government deceit and corruption -- it's astonishing (and more than a little disturbing) how many people are willing, even eager, to assume that the Government's accusations against Ivins are accurate even without seeing a shred of evidence to support those claims.

When you add on to that the magnitude of this case and the ample reasons for error and deceit -- it's the first lethal bioterrorism attack on the U.S., one which, according to the Government itself, originated at a U.S. Government facility, perpetrated by a U.S. Army scientist, that was then used by numerous factions inside the Government and out to ratchet up fear levels and falsely blame Iraq and/or Al Qaeda for the attacks and, thereafter, was blamed on someone who appears to have been completely innocent -- what minimally rational person would be willing to assume that the Government's uncorroborated, unexamined, untested claims are accurate?

The Bush Administration has lied about pretty much everything it has done since day one. Believing them now on the Ivins case is tantamount to falling into the trap of Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We should assume they lie until proven otherwise.

Everything the Bushies have done rests on this one lie at its base: Anthrax spores sent in the mail, tied to Iraq, trumpeted by ABC News and other media outlets, were the Reichstag Fire the Bushies needed to get us into the whole Islamofascist War, the PATRIOT Act, FISA, Iran, everything. We were told that this was proof that around every corner, under every rock, behind every bush, was an Islamic Terror Machine waiting to kill us.

We were told war was the only answer.

Now we're being told "Um, yeah, about that, it was a...CRAZY MAD SCIENCE GUY! Yeah, that's it. Oh, and he killed himself. Case solved. Let's go to the pretzel place at the mall."

The Village has bought this and is spewing out The Stupid for us to munch on.

A federal judge has approved the release of hundreds of pages of documents from the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, a court official said Wednesday.

The records include 14 search warrants, information used to request those warrants and summaries of what was found, the court official said. The official declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The documents were expected to implicate Army biological weapons researcher Bruce Ivins in the anthrax attacks, which killed five people and sickened more than a dozen.

The FBI is expected to detail the evidence linking Ivins, who authorities said committed suicide last week, to the anthrax attacks in a briefing in Washington with survivors and relatives of victims, a government source familiar with the case said Tuesday.

The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to release the documents Wednesday morning, sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. Those records are expected to be unsealed Wednesday afternoon.

Hooray, the villian has been caught and is dead. Justice for all!

Double G calls bullshit and lets slip the dogs of accountability with Rep. Rush Holt.

Rep. Rush Holt represents the Central New Jersey district where at least one of the anthrax letters was sent. Rep. Holt's Congressional office was one of the few in which traces of anthrax were found. He is also a physicist and has been an outspoken critic of the FBI's investigation into the anthrax attacks. Perhaps most importantly, he is the Chairman of the House's Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, which very well may hold hearings to examine the FBI's investigation and conclusions.

This morning, I spoke with Rep. Holt for roughly 20 minutes. During the discussion, Rep. Holt:

  • indicated his support for the creation of an investigative body, with full subpoena power, along the lines of the 9/11 Commission, to investigate all unresolved aspects of the anthrax attacks;
  • enumerated the many reasons why a rational person would lack confidence in the the FBI's investigative abilities;
  • complained that the FBI has continuously "stonewalled" both him and all other members of Congress, for years, as they tried to exercise oversight over the FBI's investigation into the anthrax case;
  • declared that nobody should conclude, without much further proof, that the actual anthrax killer has been identified.
Particularly on matters of intelligence and science, Holt is one of the most informed and intelligent members of Congress. When those attributes are combined with the fact that his district was directly affected in several ways by the anthrax attacks, his views on this case are well worth listening to.

The Dems absoultely need to follow this for the good of the country. At the core of this Humongous Pile Of Stupid is Bush and his lies. There are questions of treason here, things that even Nancy "Off The Table" Pelosi has to admit are disturbing. If Bruce Ivins was a lone nutjob, how come this took 7 years to get to the bottom of, all the time the government saying it was Iraq, it was Saddam, it was a terror attack.

Remember the Maine, indeed.

UPDATE: Double G has even MOAR on today's docudump on the Ivins case.

What is most conspicuously absent from these FBI documents is any real forensic evidence linking Ivins to the anthrax that was sent. That's particularly striking because the FBI took numerous swabs of Ivins' residence, his office space, his laboratory devices (presumably including the lyothilizer he used), his locker, his cars. If they had discovered any anthrax traces that genetically matched what was sent in 2001, they certainly would have said so. But they don't.

It's long been claimed that the property that rendered so dangerous the anthrax sent to Daschle and Leahy was that it was airborne. At times it was even claimed that the anthrax was aerosolized. Under all circumstances, in order for it to be inhalation anthrax, it would have to disburse rather easily. Wouldn't one expect that the FBI's swabs would reveal traces of anthrax somewhere on the clothes, in the home or other physical surroundings of the anthrax attacker? Yet apparently those multiple swabbing episodes turned up nothing, at least based on the documents that were released today.

Nor are there any real answers to the question of how Ivins would have manufactured, on his own and without being detected, anthrax grade of the type that was used in the attacks. The numerous hours he spent alone in the lab doesn't address what many of his colleagues said would have been his technological inability to produce anthrax of this type.

After all, this was a lethally hot bioagent that demanded the utmost care and caution in a highly specialized environment. Ivins would have known exactly what this stuff was capable of doing after being an expert on the substance for 20 plus years. It was designed to spread quickly and kill and manufactured to do exactly that, hence the term weapons-grade biological agent. He apparently got this stuff out of a weapons lab AFTER 9/11, and he apparently was able to get the job done in a week. Yet he apparently stuck it in a freaking ordinary envelope.

Reflect on the sound of that one hand clapping, my son, and why it took them seven years to bust this guy.

It's the Stupid, Economy!

Dick Morris proves once again why he should not be allowed on the couch because he pees on the furniture.

So the question that hangs over the election is: Are we prepared to trust a new candidate with almost no experience and no claim to economic expertise in the middle of one of the most threatening economic situations we have ever faced?

Add to this backdrop Obama’s pledge to raise taxes and you have a combustible situation that could frighten American voters en masse. When, amid relative prosperity, Obama said he would restore fairness by raising taxes on the rich, it was well-received, particularly in the Democratic primary.

Raising the top bracket to 40 percent seemed a no-brainer. Applying the Social Security tax to more earned income, not just to the first $100,000, seemed like elemental fairness and a good way to save the pension system. Restoring the capital gains tax to 28 percent appeared to comport with the notion that those whose income derives from investment should pay a tax closer to that paid on earned income (despite the argument that it is after-tax money that they invested in the first place).

But now, with massive capital outflows crippling the public and private sectors, doubling the tax on capital seems like a very, very bad idea. And a sharp increase in taxes on the entrepreneurial class seems like a risky proposition.

And, besides, when a candidate starts raising taxes, who knows where he will stop once he is in office?

Anything Obama does is bad for the economy, because he is a Democrat. Never mind the fact that the economy is (and not to put too fine a point on it) COMPLETLY RATFUCKED currently, with a raging recession that could easily turn into a full blown depression because of the short-term pandering campaign malarkey flying about. Dick Morris is a master of short-term malarkey.

Obama is scary. He'll raise taxes. He's mixed race. He's above his station. He's going to sleep with your blonde, blue-eyed daughter, and owns a fine collection of spears. He's going to drink up all the Hennessey you've got on the shelf. In the absence of actual solutions as to why McSame is the right man for the job, he has only why Obama is going to throw out the spear to start Ragnarok, when THAT particular spear got chucked by McSame's current boss.

What we need are real solutions to the problem. It would start by getting out of Iraq, which is costing us billions per day. McSame doesn't get to play the fiscal responsibility card at any time while his plan for Glorious And Unending War is on the table.

Then again...Obama doesn't fill me with utmost confidence on not expanding our war in Afghanistan. Who knows how much money and/or people will be wasted there in the future.

I know, I know. Do the best with what we've got. We're all learning to make do these days.

Bayh Line (And Why Barry Shouldn't Cross It)

Scott Lemieux over at LGM brings up one hell of a point for why Evan Bayh is about as useful to the Obama campaign as A-1 sauce in a vegan commune.

I also think there should be a strong presumption against someone who supported the Iraq war. And I'd make an even stronger case against selecting him on strategic grounds. Even if we (very generously) assume that Bayh is the extremely rare candidate who could attract home-state votes as a running mate, there's the problem that Indiana at the presidential level (whatever the polls at this early date say) is a deep, deep red state. If Indiana's close enough that Bayh could put Obama over the top, Obama won't need it. Bayh's OK, but he hardly seems like the best Obama can do.

UPDATE: As elm notes, I neglected the most important point: it would almost certainly result in the loss of a Senate seat as well.

All of those are outstanding points.

Obama's Veep sends a message about what part of his campaign platform he wants to reinforce (among Dems) as well as covering what he lacks (among Independents and Obamicans), but it's the former that interests me.

Who he picks, and particularly what those person's positions on Iraq, the constitutionality of the executive branch's actions over the last 8 years, and what state they can deliver, are vital to defining what Obama considers to be his top priority.

I'm not sure on Bayh's positions on torture and Executive Stupidity, but on points one and three, he's not the right guy for the job at all. As Scott said, if Obama is doing well enough that Bayh puts Indiana in play, he's got 300 electoral votes in the bag already and he's just running up the score. Tim Kaine is a better choice on that front for Virginia but again there's a lot of questions about Kaine too.

Booman has an excellent rundown of the pros and cons of the current crop of Barry's Veep choices.

The Village Is Stupid.

The Village in this case being the Washington Beltway insiders who heave out big piles of The Stupid on a daily basis.

Most of it seems to involve one John Sidney McSame As Bush, and how he is Not McSame as Bush.

The always dependable Digby pegs the recent coverage of Obama's failure to be ahead in the polls by 20 points for what it is, an excuse for Village Stupidity.

McCain as comeback kid?

This would be a thrilling storyline for the media. Their favorite maverick was defeated in 2000, was the front runner for the '08 nomination, but went down in flames last summer. Then, like Jimmy Stewart in Flight of the Phoenix, the scrappy flyboy rebuilt his rickety campaign and came back to win the nomination against far better financed opponents. Then he faced down the Obama juggernaut and was given up by everyone as a hopeless cause --- no way, no how, could this tired veteran compete against the young genius and his hordes of cheering followers. And waddaya know? The grizzled old warrior's still got it. Wouldn't it be something if he pulled it out?

I don't know if it will catch on, but it seems tailor made for the media, hungry to advance a feel good story about a favorite village elder overcoming adversity and never giving up even when everybody says his best days are behind him. They can bring up his POW experience with vomitous frequency and talk about guts and glory for days.

You'd better believe this is going to be the narrative. Anything that can paint McSame as the scrappy, energetic, vibrant Washington outsider over the old fogey Obama is something the Village will Groupstupid(tm) and beam into daily columns for the next three months.

Maverick. It tastes like Stupid.



Here we are.

I'm Zandar. My job is to fight The Stupid, The Stupid in this case being eight years of idiotic GOP rule, and eight years of idiotic Democrats refusing to do much of anything about it, and the idiotic Media that does everything it can to perpetuate The Stupid.

And nothing brings out The Stupid quite like a presidential election.

Into the fray, dear Reader. Tray tables, crash helmets, arms inside blog at all times.
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