Friday, September 4, 2009

Last Call

After this morning's deadly airstrike in Afghanistan that killed 90 plus civilians, Rep. Dennis Kucinich is once again calling for a pullout of troops and an end to the Afghan War.
“News reports covering today’s attack by the U.S. command southwest of Kunduz province show that the good intentions of NATO forces in Afghanistan are not sufficient,” Kucinich stated. “If we want to avoid killing innocent civilians, we must end the war.”

The incident occurred after Taliban fighters hijacked two oil tankers and drove them to a village under their control, where they became stuck in the mud. The local villagers then emerged to try to siphon off the fuel. Meanwhile, the hijacking was reported to German troops, who called for an airstrike. The fireball when the trucks were hit killed or badly burned many of the villagers along with some Taliban.

According to the independent, “Western forces were engulfed in bitter controversy yesterday” as the extent of the carnage became apparent. “Nato initially insisted that all the dead were Taliban insurgents. Later, after angry protests from local residents and officials, they acknowledged there had been civilian deaths.”

General Stanley McChrystal, who commands NATO forces in Afghanistan, is now facing questions over why the attack was authorized, given his prior orders forbidding any airstrikes with a prospect of civilian casualties unless allied forces are in imminent danger.

“The attack … could not have come at a more volatile time in Afghanistan,” the Independent article continues, “with intense anger over civilian casualties and an intensifying clash between President Hamid Karzai and Washington over the disputed national election.”

Public support for the Afghan War is declining in both the United States and Europe. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under particular pressure at the moment, following the unanticipated resignation of an aide to the UK’s Defence Secretary in protest over the war.

Our growing economic problem seems to be the largest driver behind the movement to end this war. We simply can't afford it any longer, economically, morally, strategically or militarily.

Like An Old Married Couple Or Something

Shatner and Nimoy, together again at Dragon-Con.
Taking on a roast-like atmosphere from the very beginning, the appearance was like eavesdropping on a conversation between two old friends who enjoyed ripping into each other mercilessly. It was an event that Dragon-Con “Star Trek” programming director Eric L. Watts said he never imagined would take place.

At the start, Nimoy brought up the recent smash hit reboot of “Trek” on the big screen by asking Shatner, “Seen any good movies lately?”

The newest incarnation of “Trek” has been a sore point for Shatner of late, and the remark set him off. No matter how many times Nimoy tried to change the subject, Shatner kept asking, “Why wasn’t I in the movie?” Finally Nimoy, who had a major role in it, gave his best guess, which was that Captain Kirk was killed in the movie “Star Trek Generations.”

Shatner admitted that he has yet to see the movie, though he said its director, J.J. Abrams, had offered to screen it for him. Adding that he also hadn’t watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” he blamed his busy schedule and the fact that he would inevitably be asked “Why weren’t you in the movie?” by others seeing it with him at a theater.

A small quantum of faith has been restored to my universe, at least.

Let's Talk Payback, Don

Don Surber disagrees with Joe Klein's observation from yesterday, and quite vehemently so. But Surber's response is very illuminating.
When people opposed the war in Iraq and got loud, dissent was patriotic.

Now it is dangerous?

I don’t mind Van Jones or Nancy Pelosi. They are what they are.

I am annoyed by lefties who call themselves moderates to give them cover when they attack conservatives.

Gandelman and Klein are no more moderate than I am.

Gandelman and Klein are like those refs in the TV wrestling matches who only see the rule-breaking of one side and not the other.

Spare me the clutching of the pearls, girls, over a few shouts at a townhall meeting.

Liberals did not complain about the noise level when the shouting was from the left.

Townhall meetings are supposed to get loud. That is what a townhall meeting is supposed to be: People speaking out to public officials.

Unvfortunately, over the years politicians have staged so many townhall meetings that they have forgotten the true purpose of such meetings: To listen, not lecture.

I am not angry. I am amused. The left is discovering that paybacks are a female dog.




You see, this is merely payback for Obama winning in 2008. It's nothing more than a few shouts. The guns at the meetings, the cries of facism, the birther madness, the rising tide of anger being fed by Beck and Limbaugh and Savage, the violence and craziness, are two things, according to wingers like Surber:

1) They are all the fault of the Left, for eight years of unbearable persecution of the right during the Bush years.

2) The winger response is 100% justified because of 1) there.

It is now time for the Right to exact revenge because they were thrown out of power by the voters. They will salt the Earth if need be as they destroy any semblance of political discourse. To the wingers, this is the End War.

Deal with it, Surber says. Remember those words. Anything goes now. When this detonates the country and the blood starts flowing, remember that it was just a little shouting.

If the wingers cannot run the country, then the country must be made to pay until they are.

[UPDATE 3:11 PM] The Kroog sums it up nicely:

Obama could have come in proposing to pursue an agenda identical to Bush, and he would still be a socialist/Commie/fascist, with those of us who don’t see it that way lying Nazis ourselves.

Something is going very wrong in the heads of a substantial number of Americans.


Epic Obligatory Baby Panda Win

Because I know of at least two people who will kill me if I don't mention the San Diego Zoo's new baby panda cub.
It's a boy! The panda cub born at the San Diego Zoo last month has grown to 2.8 pounds and his mother, Bai Yun, finally left the den on Thursday, allowing veterinarians to examine the cub for the first time and reveal his gender. According to senior zoo veterinarian Geoff Pye, the cub has reached his "initial cute stage" and is "very roly poly." Its black-and-white markings are just beginning to show. The cub was Bai Yun's fifth, and her third with longtime consort Gao Gao, making the pair one of the most reproductively successful panda couples ever. In accordance with Chinese tradition, the new boy won't get a name until 100 days after its August 5 birth. Hopefully he'll have hit an "advanced cute stage" by then.
There. I have mentioned cute baby animals and have therefore gained karma.


Another Village Idiot Gets A Promotion

BooMan notes that AEI loudmouth and former CNN Capital Gang Sunday moderator James Glassman has been tapped to run the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University.
If you want to know why supposedly liberal or objective Washington news outlets seem hopelessly tilted to the right, look no further than Glassman's résumé.

Executive editor of Washingtonian magazine (1979-81).
Publisher of The New Republic (1981-84).
President of The Atlantic Monthly as well as executive vice-president of U.S. News & World Report (1984-1986).
Part-owner and editor of Roll Call, later sold to The Economist (1987-1993).
Started television career as moderator of CNN's Capital Gang Sunday (1995-98).
Wrote a syndicated column in the Washington Post business section (1993-99, 2001-04).

Lately, he's been writing columns for Townhall. At least his new job will get him out of Washington where his influence has been nothing but detrimental to the national discourse.

And if you needed somebody in charge of the Department of Rehabilitating Bush's Legacy, there you go. Glassman's a Village Idiot through and through. And I don't buy that he'll be out of Washington's discourse, either. I see the position giving him more than a few guest columns at the WSJ.

Your Daily Dose Of Doctor Doom

The Great Roubini is edging towards a U-shaped recovery, leaving us in the doldrums for another 2-3 years but leaving the door open for a double-dip downward spike.
"I believe that the basic scenario is going to be one of a U-shaped economic recovery where growth is going to remain below trend ... especially for the advanced economies, for at least 2 or 3 years," he said at a news conference here.

"Within that U scenario I also see a small probability, but a rising probability, that if we don't get the exit strategy right we could end up with a relapse in growth ... a double-dip recession," he added.

Roubini, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, said he was concerned economies which save a lot, such as China, Japan and Germany, might not boost consumption enough to compensate for any fall in demand from "overspenders" such as the United States and Britain.

"If U.S. consumers consume less, then for the global economy to grow at its potential rate, other countries that are saving too much will have to save less and consume more," he said.

"My concern is that for a number or reasons ... (it is unlikely that) countries like China, other emerging markets in Asia, Japan, Germany in Europe, will have a significant increase in the consumption rate and a reduction in the savings rate."

Given unemployment hit a 26-year high today, I'd tend to believe the man. We have a long way to go, folks.

Reading Congress

TNR's Jon Cohn takes a look at the efforts to bring together camps in Congress on health care. The major revalation?
During the past year, Republicans have frequently said they want to work with Democrats. But the real story of the last few months is how unserious those pledges turned out to be. Although you wouldn’t know it from their rhetoric or the media coverage, there are not one but two ostensibly bipartisan proposals out there right now. Either of them could be the template for successful reform if even a few Republicans started pushing them seriously. But, even the ostensibly reasonable Republican senators whom Democrats have tried to engage--Mike Enzi, Charles Grassley, and Hatch--just aren’t interested. And it appears they haven’t been for a while.
Gee, called that last year. The GOP help the Dems usher in a New New Deal era of Democratic control of Congress for a generation by voting for a real health care reform plan? Sure they were going to work with the Democrats on that.

Here's the interesting part:
Earlier this year, a group of former Senate majority leaders--Republicans Howard Baker and Bob Dole, along with Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell--showed how that might be accomplished. After negotiating with each other for more than a year, as if they were still in office and representing their two parties, the group (minus Mitchell, who had since joined the administration) unveiled a fully fledged health care reform proposal in June. They released it through the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank they’d establish precisely to advance proposals like these. And, at least on paper, it looked like the kind of scheme members of both parties could support in good conscience.

The Center’s proposal had the same basic architecture as the plan Obama put forward in his presidential campaign and that congressional committees have been debating this year. Everybody would have to get insurance; in exchange, government would make sure everybody could get insurance, by subsidizing the cost for those who needed financial assistance--and by creating a marketplace in which people without access to employer policies could get coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Still, it was hardly everything Obama or the Democrats would have wanted. Instead of a single public-insurance plan into which people could enroll, the Center’s proposal would have given states the option of creating independent insurance plans to compete with private insurers; it allowed the federal government to step in with its own plan only if, after five years, there was evidence the system needed more competition. This was an effort to satisfy conservatives, who believe a public plan might drive private insurers out of business and, ultimately, starve doctors and hospitals of necessary resources by underpaying them.

In other words, there really was a good faith, bi-partisan effort that was a pretty fair compromise for health care reform. It's been on the table for months, crafted by Republicans and Democrats in a realist view. The White House plan appears to be strongly edging towards something along this plan's lines.

And the Republicans, save Olympia Snowe, want absolutely nothing to do with it.

The Center’s plan included other compromises as well. It expanded Medicaid eligibility to the poverty line but not beyond, while the House bill, in line with liberal expectations, raised eligibility to include people making one-third more than the poverty line. This change helped achieve another major goal: holding down the overall price of reform. All told, the Center’s plan called for $1.2 trillion in new government spending--a significant sum, to be sure, but less than initial Democratic proposals, which, according to most outside experts, were likely to cost $1.5 trillion or more. And, again consistent with conservative thinking, the Center did not simply impose new taxes on the wealthy, as both Obama and, later, the House Democrats would. Instead, the Center’s proposal would have paid for reform by capping the exclusion on group health benefits, then extracting savings from Medicare and Medicaid. It was, in short, a proposal in which both sides gave ground. “I had a lot of trouble with mandates, just as Tom had trouble with the public plan,” Dole said. “But, if we can’t compromise, how are you ever going to get a bill passed?”
And it's even a fairly good plan, certainly better than the nothing we have now, but not as good as the Democratic plans. The point is if the Republicans were ever serious about bi-partisan compromise, this is the plan they should have jumped on. Say what you will, but Bob Dole and Tom Daschle still have a fair amount of pull and respect on the Hill.

The reality of course is that the Republicans in Congress now never had any intention of working out a bipartisan plan on any damn health care anything, ever, period. It's only now in September that the White House is figuring out something that should have been patently obvious to anyone paying attention since August 2008. That really doesn't bode well for this administration and their brain trust. If an amateur fifth-string political blogger can figure this out, so should Rahmbo and the President.

Guys, the Republicans don't want to work with you. They don't want to work with you on anything, save the issues they want to see passed...and then they will attack you on those issues anyway.

Cohn has the right of it, however.

But, presented with that opportunity, Republicans refused it. With one or two exceptions, even the legislators co-sponsoring the measure did not in fact seem to support it. When asked about it, they would inevitably refuse to endorse the particulars and call the proposal--as a spokesperson for GOP Representative Mike Castle did in an interview--“a great conversation starter.” And, while Bennett still seems committed to the bill, it’s hard to know if that will last. The Club for Growth--a conservative group--began running advertisements in Utah, attacking Bennett for his advocacy of the bill. Bennett, in turn, has recently vowed to “kill” Obamacare, which suggests that combining the bills to produce a true compromise--a possibility others have certainly entertained--is not an option in his mind.
After the stimulus bill, which every single Republican in the House voted against and only a handful of GOP senators voted for, is anyone surprised at the Party of No?

You shouldn't be.

[UPDATE 10:45 AM] John Cole gets it, sort of.

At some point, even the dim bulbs in the media (and maybe even Rahm Emanuel) will figure out that all the Republicans want to do is destroy Obama. Period.
Figure out? Hell, they're helping to do so. They're fully aware.


Loss of 216k jobs in August, better than expected but the unemployment rate edged up to 9.7% now. The real killer is that 16.8% U-6 number.

One in six American workers are unemployed or underemployed still. We're working on one in five here. I still think we're heading for the second half of a double dip recession, personally...but that's just me.

Setting The World Ablaze

The L.A. Times is reporting that the massive Station wildfire that is ripping through Los Angeles County was deliberately set, and county officials warn that the charges for the culprits could include homicide for the deaths of two firefighters earlier this week.
A mammoth forest fire that killed two firefighters and has burned more than 147,000 acres was an act of arson, authorities said Thursday as they launched a homicide investigation into the deaths.

Officials said they determined that the largest brush fire in the history of Los Angeles County was the result of arson after investigators examined forensic evidence from scorched landscape off Angeles Crest Highway, north of La Cañada Flintridge. The spot is believed to be the source of origin of the Station fire.

A source close to the investigation said investigators found incendiary material near the site. The source, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, would not be more specific or identify the material.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said investigators don't want to release details out of fear it could hurt their ability to find and prosecute an arsonist.

Baca stressed that the homicide probe is still wide open, saying investigators believe the fire was set deliberately by someone intent on triggering a devastating blaze but that there is a possibility it could have been sparked accidentally by a negligent person. Either way, the sheriff said the department could pursue homicide charges.

"If an arsonist did this, everyone should be angry about it," Baca told The Times. "This is one of the most unacceptable crimes."
If this was arson, it's about the most despicable thing I can think of doing. One person potentially could end up destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of California forest, killing untold numbers of animals and people and causing millions in damage. Absolutely, we live in a world where there are people who would revel in the chance to do it.

And yet the fact this wildfire has gotten this large, this quickly only adds to the mounting evidence that California's government services have been criminally mismanaged under Gov. Schwarzenegger. You refuse to raise taxes to pay firefighters and park officials and instead furlough employees? You get massive wildfires that could be prevented, ones that cost taxpayers far more in the long run.


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