The Larger Picture Belies A Tremendous Loss

Here’s Sen. Chuck Schumer of my newly adopted state of New York, regarding these ongoing negotiations:

The [Paul] Ryan budget proposed a decimation of Medicare and Medicaid. We successfully fought that back. And we are going to continue our fight, and I think the base of our party knows this, that there should be no benefit cuts in Medicare or Medicaid. These are programs [where] certainly there can be savings brought from Medicare and Medicaid, because there is waste and duplication and inefficiency and all of that. But the benefits to people who really need it should not be cut. And that is a fight that we have been making quite successfully … and we are going to continue to make it in these negotiations.

Yeah, but you’re fighting them off on this issue right at the tower. You guys should not be near the need for boiling oil on issues like Medicare and Social Security. These were for eons considered as “third rail” issues in American politics. Just a few years ago, a President banked a lot of political capital on the issue of Social Security, and it cost him pretty dearly. These issues should not be within hundreds of miles of being touched. Yet you’ve got these jackals at the gates regarding them.

Just that you’re having to fight tooth and nail for Medicare and/or Social Security is a retreat.

I don’t know why I thought that Democrats would start putting up their dukes for a change. But they won’t; they just continue to cede mile after mile in this inexplicably one-sided land war. We’re here because conservagoats haven’t just worked to change policy; they’ve worked to alter the paradigm. Now, it’s all downhill to the castle gates, so here we are with the big cauldron of grease on the fire.

We should not be having to fight so hard right now to protect Medicare. We should be having to fight like hell to protect American jobs. But I think it’s pretty clear at this point that the Democrats will continue to cheer for small victories that are actually tremendous losses.

Go, Democrats!

The Gideon Massacre and Israel

There were a couple of morons this past weekend comparing Israel’s raid on a relief boat to Gaza as “Israel’s Kent State.” As a former adoptive Kent townie, a graduate of Kent State University, a former member of the May 4 Task Force and a chronic student of that event, I can say somewhat authoritatively to those people, one of whom wrote for the Huffington Post, that they should fuck off, or at the very least, that they should be more precise with their historical comparisons.

What happened at Kent was unique and should not be compared to Israel’s botched raid this past weekend. Agree with it or not, Israel reacted in response to events regarding a decades-old to centuries-old violent political conflict. What happened in Kent, Ohio in 1970 had no such historical context. There were protests against the escalation of the Vietnam War, then an ignorant and short-sighted governor sent in the Guard with the permission of an ignorant and short-sighted mayor, then the protests stopped being about the war but about the occupation of the campus, and then a bunch of kids shot up a bunch of kids. There was no intifada in the heartland, you stupid assholes.

I am by no means justifying Israel’s bizarre stance on relief ships to Gaza, which it appears this morning will be an ongoing policy. But if you must compare this to a historic event, you’re better off picking a fictional one—the massacre aboard the heavy hauler transport ship, the Gideon on Battlestar Galactica. At least that event took place in the context of a longstanding foolish violent political conflict.

Somebody Owes Us An Apology

Attention, Rudolpho Giuliani, Mary Matalin, and Dana Perino: The three of you owe Papa Bonk and I a personal apology.

In the last several weeks, it is clear that you three have been on the television trying out a brand new right-wing propaganda tactic, that of trying to realign the historical record to read that, actually, no terrorist attacks whatsoever occurred on the watch of Gorge W. Boosh. Here’s what Rudolpho said just this week on Good Morning Amurka:

We had no domestic attacks under Boosh. We had one under Obama.

He actually said this. On television. And George Snuffleupagus DIDN’T INTERRUPT HIM. Good God, George. STOP SNIFFING GLUE.

(“Looks like I picked the wrong time to quit sniffing glue…” Heh.)

This statement came from Rudolpho “A verb, A noun, 9/11” Giuliani. It is stunning. Stunning. It nearly drives one to want to pull an Artie Lange.

Now, listen, you three, as I said, you all owe PB and I a personal apology. Because we were here, in Gorge Boosh’s home town at the time*, on Sept. 11, 2001. And I saw the smoke myself as I walked home to Arlington, and PB felt the damned walls shake. We didn’t lose as much as some nor did we witness as much as others. But we were here, and we witnessed it, and we can tell you with full certainty that SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH HAPPENED WHILE GEORGE WALKER BUSH WAS THE PRESIDENT.

As did the anthrax attacks.

As did the shoe bomber.

I will accept my apology now. Assholes.

*And no, I do not mean Crawford, Texas.

To Daniel G. Anderson, An Old Soldier

Daniel G. Anderson just spent a boatload of munny to take out an ad in today’s The Washington Post.

It is headlined “A Letter To Our President,” Re: Afghanistan/Pakistan.

I’m not going to replicate the entire ad here. Mr. Anderson didn’t write me a check, after all. But there are some notes worth discussing.

Anderson writes:

…when al-Qaida and the Taliban were in retreat, when General McCrystal asked for 40,000 additional troops to “finish the job”, you wavered and stalled for months.

It’s no surprise that instead of retreating further, the Taliban reorganized and began again to kill American soldiers.

First: It’s “McChrystal.” If you’re going to spend a ton of dough to take out a quarter-page ad in The Washington Post, why not splurge and hire someone to proof it for you?

This is funny. An opinion piece in the very same newspaper in which Anderson’s ad ran sort of barks back at what Anderson wrote. Stephen J. Hadley, remember him? He was in the Bush administration and junk? Hadley notes specifically in his column that the situation in Afghanistan began to deteriorate in 2006, with suicide bombings, corruption, and a spike in poppy production. Hadley goes on to defend his former boss, of course, that’s specifically why he bothered to sit down to type anything. But Hadley does a pretty good job of rounding up the situation in the ‘stan and how it got that way, including Pakistan’s attempts to intervene and its subsequent political missteps. And it had nothing to do with how many thousands of American troops were there.

And let’s at last dispense with this foolish notion that President Obama “stalled.” That’s just more Dick Cheney bullshit. Obama conducted a thorough review of U.S. policy in the region. And, let’s remember: McChrystal’s report was made public—which it should NOT have been—on Sept. 20, 2009. Obama announced his new policy on Dec. 1, 2009. It’s unreasonable for a CIC to take a two months and change to commit to those troop levels? You’re out of your mind.


Finally, you have given us a new plan which almost no one understands.

Funny thing. See, in the same issue of The Washington Post in which you placed your ad, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson summarizes the policy better than anyone I’ve read yet. He writes:

Obama decided on a double gamble. He gave Gen. Stanley McChrystal most of the troops he requested — not just a contingent of trainers to try to whip the Afghan military into shape, but also combat forces to smash and “degrade” the Taliban insurgency. And he set a deadline of July 2011 to start bringing the troops home, hoping that would spur Afghan President Hamid Karzai to make desperately needed reforms.

Obama saw this course of action as most likely to create the conditions to bring the greatest number of U.S. troops home at the earliest possible date, the senior official said. But several administration officials have made clear in public statements that July 2011 is meant to mark the beginning of a withdrawal, not the end, and that Obama’s policy doesn’t anticipate a day when the last U.S. soldier turns out the light and closes the door behind him.

I’d say that Eugene Robinson understands the policy. I’d say that people who read Eugene Robinson also now understand it. Perhaps you should read Eugene Robinson, you old soldier.

For months you have apologized for this great nation. You have belittled our military. I am told you haven’t visited our embattled troops in Afghanistan since your inauguration.

    Mr. President, you are their Commander-In-Chief!

Obama has indeed adopted a more diplomatic stance on the world stage. He’s only done what has been necessary ever since the swaggering antics of Idiot Boy. You don’t sneak a back rub on another head of state; you don’t say “bring ’em on.” Our last executive was a downright embarrassment, so yes, this one has had to exude a bit of elegance. I think it’s a damned refreshing change.

No, Obama has not gone to Afghanistan. I suppose he could have shown up with a plastic turkey and taken a couple of photos just to make you happy with him, but I also reckon you didn’t notice that Obama recently went to Dover to be present when the fallen came home, something that Idiot Boy wouldn’t do. Oh, and by the by: This President is actually requesting a bump in defense spending, not a cut, as the neo-con liar shit-heads enjoy saying.

Why do you continue to waffle? The Joint Chiefs and Gen. McCrystal are among the finest and most experienced combat strategists in the world.

Um…remember the speech? December 1? He’s already sent 17,000 troops and will send 30,000 more? Remember? Stupid? Hi. THAT’S NOT WAFFLING!

Here’s the paragraph that slays me:

Every important mission requires a strong, unwavering leader. You are not required to bear arms, but you must provide us with that tough leadership and unwavering energy to move forward to a final Victory.

    America has never lost a war it wanted to win!

“You are not required to bear arms?” WTF? And, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Johnson and Noxin both wanted to win pretty badly in Vietnam until Ford and Congress finally put an end to that nonsense.

Anyway, Daniel G. Anderson, old soldier, your ad was certainly an interesting approach. I frankly think your check would have done more good made out to the Iran and Afghanistan Veterans of America. But what do I know.

Christopher Hitchens Doesn't Get It

What a weird, weird column by Christopher Hitchens in the most recent The Atlantic .

Hitchens oddly decries the sad state of satire in these Untied States of America, blaming Jon Stewart and Sen. Al Franken from like six years ago. He spends half the column explicating Franken’s old books and the other half wondering why in hell everyone thinks Jon Stewart is so funny.

Just to save you the trip, the last sentence in Hitchens’ totally weird, weird column is: “A liberal joke, at present, is no laughing matter.”

This is why, I suppose, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on the air since January 1999, while the 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour lasted from February to September, 2007.

Chris. It’s time to have the limb surgically removed from your arse.

Buzz Aldrin Is Awesome

This vid from CNN is interesting just for the Mythbusters guys alone. But to see Buzz ” @therealbuzz ” Aldrin, the first man to pee on the moon, clock a landing denier in the head, well, that’s just priceless.

I am not one generally to advocate violence. But I must cheer at Mr. Aldrin’s perfectly natural reaction and to note how much of the horseshit floated by the right wang sounds like the nonsense discussed folks like this idiot who got clocked. Please, I’m not suggesting that anyone go out to punch anyone in the head. But this tape certainly is cathartic.

Defending the Community Reinvestment Act

Let’s talk McLaughlin for a sec.

I have been a loyal viewer of this fine television program for probably 15 years now. A few years ago, a housemate chided me for including the show on my Tivo season pass. Old men in ties barking about politics, she said? How the hell do you watch that? But I wouldn’t miss it. It’s the best thing on television this side of Battlestacked Galactica. Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, and the weekly conservagoat circle jerk over there on Fox “News?” It’s all crap. You really want to know your stuff, you watch The McLaughlin Group.

Today’s segment on the aforementioned housing deal was scintillating. Pat “Cooper” Buchanan and Monica “Aleister” Crowley of course argued against it while Eleanor and Clarence think it’s reasonable. There are some things said by the former group that should be clarified. Sayeth Crowley:

The source of the public frustration with this plan is that the federal government is going in as a savior when the federal government created this problem in the first place with the Community Reinvestment Act, holding a gun to these banks’ heads…Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton started with the Community Reinvestment Act; they held a gun to these banks’ heads, told them to make these loans to people who had no opportunity to pay them back.

She’s quite a dancer, ain’t she? Notice how it’s the generic “federal government” who created the problem, notwithstanding that the “federal government” has been under Republigoat rule for the last eight years, and that, despite that, the housing market’s topple is the fault of President Clinton and, gasp, President Jimmy Carter, who left office in 1981.

There are, though, a few things worth understanding about the Community Reinvestment Act that any standard human being with at least two working phalanges can find on the Google.

For starters, I think it is important to understand the original motivation behind the CRA. It was meant to correct the practice of redlining, which was initially perpetrated by the United States government via the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. It is, I think, generally understood that the federal government has an obligation to try to correct institutionalized racial discrimination in the United States, especially when it was the federal government doing the institutionalizing. No? This was the aim of the CRA when adopted in 1977.

Characterizing the Act as “holding a gun” to the heads of banks is silly. The Act has ambiguous enforcement powers driven by the government’s oversight of FDIC coverage and specifically says that lending institutions should not be forced to make unsafe loans to comply, and lending institutions are not without sufficient help from the government in achieving compliance. No, the CRA is not some maniacal liberal social engineering experiment. It is reasonable public policy meant to correct a longtime wrong perpetrated specifically by Uncle Sam.

And, by the by, pinning the CRA on Carter and Clinton alone is just a lie. President George H.W. Bush in 1989 signed legislation increasing oversight provisions under the CRA in light of the Savings and Loan debacle.

Not to mention that Former President George W. Bush was, to some extent, down with the cause of minority home ownership. As previously mentioned on KIAV, in October 2002, he spoke at something called the Minority Homeownership Conference, and he said this:

More and more people own their homes in America today. Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics and half the African Americans own the home. That’s a homeownership gap. It’s a—it’s a gap that we’ve got to work together to close for the good of our country, for the sake of a more hopeful future. We’ve got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap.

I set an ambitious goal. It’s one that I believe we can achieve. It’s a clear goal, that by the end of this decade we’ll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families. (Applause.)

See, Bush II was all behind increasing minority home ownership, though I rather doubt his support was motivated by righting a longstanding institutional wrong. However, Bush’s speech in October 2002 shows mightily that pinning the notion of increasing minority ownership on us bleeding-heart liberals is just a lie by a lying liar who lies.

Now. Has the Community Reinvestment Act contributed to the current turmoil? Cribbing more from the Wiki page: It’s debatable. Ron Paul thinks so, but Ron Paul thinks government should be you, your shotgun, and how well you can use it. Some guy named Stan Liebowitz and another guy named Russell Roberts, described as “a student of Milton Friedman,” so, duh. I think Ayn Rand probably would have believed so, too.

Who disbelieves this notion? Economists at FDIC and the Fed. San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Governor Randall Kroszner. Economist Luci Ellis. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan. Tim Westrich of the Center for American Progress (okay, duh). Robert Gordon of the American Prospect. Daniel Gross of Slate (duh). Aaron Pressman from BusinessWeek.

And remember, kids, only regulated financial institutions are obligated to comply with the CRA. Independent mortgage firms need not apply. Stolen from the Wiki:

In the February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton,[67][34] stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates. Barr noted that institutions fully regulated by CRA made “perhaps one in four” sub-prime loans, and that “the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight”.

The housing mess is a complicated issue, one that a person cannot simply pin a singular cause upon. I am certainly not qualified to even begin to understand its causes, though I tend to think that the general culture of deregulation that has existed for some 30 years didn’t help. But, my goodness, to suggest that a law passed in 1977 to address the institutional injustice of redlining is solely to blame and to use that blame to hang that albatross on the neck of the opposing political party specifically…well, that just isn’t right.

PE In Full Effect, Boyeeeee

“We need messengers to really capture that region — young, Hispanic, black, a cross section…We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

GOP Chair Michael Steel

I hope Mr. Steele will take some time to follow this link to learn a little bit about “hip-hop” “settings” and, perhaps, to see how utterly ridiculous it is for his stupid party to try to lay any semblance of any claim to that culture. Yeah, boyeeeee!

Well Smack My Ass And Call Me Judy

“This list of the bills most likely to be championed by committee chairmen in a Pelosi-led House of Representatives would be great fodder for the latenight talk show hosts if it weren’t true. Instead, it’s just plain scary. While Republicans fight the War on Terror, grow our robust economy, and crack down on illegal immigration, House Democrats plot to establish a Department of Peace, raise your taxes, and minimize penalties for crack dealers. The difference couldn’t be starker.”
?House Majority Whip Roy Blunt

There are some statements made by Republigoats that are simply so idiotic that when I try to write about it, it makes me feel that I need to leave my keyboard and? step into a hot shower. To a statement like Blunt’s, all one can really say is, “Tartlets. Tartlets. Tartlets.

“The word has lost all meaning.”

Kudos to Dennis Kucinich and the other legislators who have signed on to the idea of creating a Department of Peace. Any man who poo-poos this fine idea probably also kicks puppies.