Friday, February 22, 2008

Commencez le Festival!

Turkish Army Begins Ground Assault on PKK in Iraq

Turkish Delight

"Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Turkish soldiers crossed into northern Iraq in their first major incursion in 11 years, stepping up an assault against Kurdish militants after two months of air strikes.

The troops moved in late yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara without saying how many soldiers were involved. Istanbul-based NTV television said that 10,000 Turkish soldiers pushed 10 kilometers (6 miles) into Iraq. CNN-Turk later said the attack involved 3,000 troops."
Res Ipsa Loquitor

mojo sends

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...

You will notice that the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belts sign at this time and that the cabin has started to depressurize... please place the oxygen mask hanging in front of you over your head and assume the futile crash position at this time... it won't save you, but it will hurt less if you don't look...

At this time, the pilots have asked if there is anyone on board who knows how to land a burning plane... failing that, is there a priest on board?

mojo sends

Monday, February 11, 2008

That Accountability Moment

Atrios notices an enduring mystery:
The story of this decade is the complete and utter failure by elites in government and media to do their jobs properly. What's so depressing about all of this is that there has been little accountability anywhere (see Kristol, Bill, New York Times for example) for the catastrophe they unleashed on the people of Iraq. For a group of people enamored with their own self-importance, they seem to have little concern for the consequences of what they do.
[Emphasis mine.]
Let's see if I can help Atrios out by using his "Short Answers To Easy Questions" format.
Q: Why have the elites in government and media not been held accountable for the catastrophe they unleashed on the people of Iraq?

A: Actually, they have been.
Our elites in government and media have been well rewarded to compensate for all their hard work achieving the difficult goal of engineering the worst strategic diplomatic failure in American history. Without them, it couldn't have been possible. Let's give them all a big round of applause (and a golden parachute, and our continued adoration) while they engineer ever more critical systemic deterioration. You can't build anything new around here unless you tear down the old stuff first. Out of catastrophe comes great change, and all that, don't you know.

Sorry about your whole generation that was butchered and damned. Posterity will be encouraged to hold parades for them.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cripes On A Unicycle

"Yeah, it can get a little chapped sometimes, but just put some lotion on it."
—The Very Secret Diaries Of Legolas Greenleaf

Now comes this fresh horror.
Friday, February 08, 2008
NAR: The Punch Bowl is Back!
WASHINGTON, Feb 08, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The National Association of Realtors congratulated the U.S. Congress for quickly passing a national economic stimulus package and thanked President George W. Bush for his leadership [blah fnorking blah-dee-blah blah blah]

Increasing FHA loan limits will help an additional 138,000 Americans achieve the dream of homeownership and will allow nearly 200,000 homeowners to refinance and potentially keep their home, according to NAR research.
I'm posting the text of this only so that when we go back and do the numbers at the end of 2008 and see that NAR's estimates for GSE refis and purchases were off by about an order of magnitude, we don't have to worry about the link to the original PR having disappeared from the toobz.

Tanta has written extensively about this abominable fornication of GSE fiscal policy. If you had any hope that the U.S. government would help, rather than hinder, the Federal Reserve's efforts to soften the landing of the tailspinning U.S. economy, then it's time to pitch that out the window now. Say your prayers and transmit your supplications to whatever patron deities of panic, crisis and asteriod impacts your religious tradition has, because it's going to be a rough landing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Okay... Now I'm Starting To Be Concerned...

Bruce Schneier is watching the news unfold that a fifth undersea telecom cable in the Middle East has been cut. Reports are going around that Iran is completely offline. I can't confirm or deny that, but traceroutes to Iranian IPv4 addresses aren't getting past the default-free zone for me. That doesn't mean Iran is offline— the Islamic Republic runs a national firewall, and it might block incoming traceroutes.

"WTF is going on?" Indeed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why I voted for Barack Obama

So I just voted for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary.

I was genuinely conflicted about this choice. There are many things I like about Hillary Clinton, but primarily the depth of her knowledge about government and her clear mastery of the issues speaks to my inner policy wonk. Listen to her talk about NCLB, or HealthCare, or the desperate need to address the physical infrastructure of this country and you come away impressed by this candidate. Particularly in light of the current occupant of the white house who seems to consider his ignorance and lack of curiosity on these issues to be some point in his favor.

I'm also royally cranked by most of the talking heads and op/ed columinists of this country who cannot seem to generate any sort of even mild outrage in this coup d'etat' going on in Washington as the Bush Administration demonstrates it's contempt for the rule of law, it's boldfaced lying about everything and anything, and it's contempt for human dignity in it's embrace of torture, yet Hillary Clinton tearing up on the campaign trail sends them into a state of fury they have to devote endless hours of chatter and miles of newshole space too. I wish I were exaggerating here, but you really cannot overstate the degree these people are whacked into insanity about her, and their casual disregard for the criminal behavior of the President and his cronies. I was ready to vote for her just to spite these FrakHeads.

Yet, I remember the Clinton years well, and how I found myself constantly in a state of accepting the lesser possible outcome. How it seemd our party and our President had to bow to political neccesity, be on the defensive, couching our views and ideas in a way that obscured what we really believe in so as not to upset the bipartisan apple cart. All the while, the Tom Delays and Rush Limbaugh could push the debate further to the right with any sexist, racist, homophobic and just batshit insane diatribe, and that was okay, they were believers, not mere politicians. And perhaps in that enviroment, that was appropriate. But it left a bitter taste in my mouth that never went away.

That bitter taste reached truly poisonous levels in 2000, and drove me away from voting for Al Gore. A smart, capable and decent human being who was maligned and lied about, not just by his deviant political opponents, but by the "objective" reporters who covered him. No lie was too bizarre too pass along as truth, whether it was distorting his support for the development of the internet as a Senator, or the nasty quip about getting wardrobe advice from Naomi Klein that was tossed off by Dick Morris, that no reporter can find a single real source for yet cannot stop repeating. Yet the Al Gore who bravely stood up to condemn the War in Iraq and fight for Climate Change when our media elites were calling him a pudgy sore loser was not present in that campaign. A similair chain of events happened in 2004 with the terrible lies of the SwiftBoaters and Kerry's inability to make his campaign about what he and we in this party truly believe.

And Hillary Clinton, I think, despite her obvious competence and smarts, is closer to the 2000 Al Gore than the Al Gore of today. She will take the middle road, the practical road, that of the manager and the careful politician. And don't get me wrong, I respect and value that skill in a President and a legislator, it's how things get done. But my fear is that we won't just compromise on tactics, but on principle. That this path of moderation is really a path of fear. A fear of being called the hippie, the LIBERAL, the latte drinking elitist that Fox News hosts titter about on Sunday Mornings. And I simply cannot live with that anymore.

I'm not completely subsumed in the Obamamania. His Social Security take bugs the hell out of me, and his healthcare rhetoric is equally annoying. But ultimately, arguments about policy details are not really the issue. Will this guy stand up for what we beleive? I'm willing to take the gamble he will. Because we need to do more than squeak out a victory. We need to blow the doors off. We need to change the whole game. Thats how you get the big changes. The New deal. The Great Society. Voting rights act. Social Security. Medicare. All from great change elections that offered a narrow window of opportunity for big change. And I think this is the best chance this generation is going to get before the curtain really comes down. We need to roll back the unitary executive and the facist state that it has created. We need to end the war in Iraq and end now the notion of an American Empire. We need to change our economic values to something that is more than just, "I got mine, frak off and die hippie". And we won't get near enough of that with Hillary. WE might get some or all of that with Obama.

So I had to vote for him. Even if doesn't win the nomination. Because I had to say I took this chance when it came my way.

Mommy, What's A Superdelegate?

A superdelegate is one that isn't required to vote at the convention for the candidate who won the primary/caucus in their state. They're unpledged. They can vote for whoever they damned want at the convention, and nobody can say boo about. They can declare how they're going to vote at any time, and change their minds without notice up until the very last moment when the ballots are cast at the convention.

Who are these people? Here's the list* for this year's Democratic National Convention, in case you care. (Click through to see the whole list. The page I linked just has the ones that have currently endorsed a candidate still in the race.)

There will be 796 of them. That's just under 20% of the total number of delegates that will decide the nominee. I bring this up in light of Matt Stoller's report that the Clinton people think the race may go to the convention.

Picture it now. The pledged delegates go for Obama in a landslide, but the superdelegates tip the balance over to Clinton. At the moment, Clinton is leading the superdelegate race with about half of them declared. That could change. Is there a real chance this could "go to the convention" like the Clinton people think? Um, yes. Yes, there is.

* Note: the list isn't final until the end of the month.