Archive for March 3rd, 2008

Not Just Cowardly And Evil, But Stupid Too!


The signs are unmistakably clear that what was always inevitable — full compliance by the House Democratic leadership with Bush’s demands on warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty — is now imminent. House leaders spent the week floating their specific proposals for how they intend to comply in full, and yesterday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes went on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, refused to criticize the President or the Senate FISA bill, and repeatedly and meekly expressed his willingness “this week” to give what he called full “blanket immunity” to telecoms (C&L has the video of Reyes’ astoundingly weak and incoherent answers in response to Blitzer’s Bush-mimicking questions).

This is, of course, everything except surprising. No rational person who has watched Congressional Democrats since they took over Congress could possibly have expected them to do anything but what they always do: namely, whatever they’re told to do by the White House. The last thing they were ever going to do was stand their ground over Americans’ basic liberties and the rule of law, concepts about which they couldn’t possibly care less.


There’s very little point anymore in writing about how the Congressional Democratic leadership is complicit in all of the worst Bush abuses, or about how craven they are. All of that is far too documented and established at this point to be worth spending any time discussing. They were never going to take a stand against warrantless eavesdropping or the destruction of the rule of law via telecom amnesty for one simple reason: many of them don’t actually oppose those things, and many who claim to oppose them don’t actually care about any of it. That’s all a given.

But what is somewhat baffling in all of this is just how politically stupid and self-destructive their behavior is. If the plan all along was to give Bush everything he wanted, as it obviously was, why not just do it at the beginning? Instead, they picked a very dramatic fight that received substantial media attention. They exposed their freshmen and other swing-district members to attack ads. They caused their base and their allies to spend substantial energy and resources defending them from these attacks.

And now, after picking this fight and letting it rage for weeks, they are going to do what they always do — just meekly give in to the President, yet again generating a tidal wave of headlines trumpeting how they bowed, surrendered, caved in, and lost to the President. They’re going to cast the appearance that they engaged this battle and once again got crushed, that they ran away in fear because of the fear-mongering ads that were run and the attacks from the President. They further demoralize their own base and increase the contempt in which their base justifiably holds them (if that’s possible). It’s almost as though they purposely picked the path that imposed on themselves all of the political costs with no benefits.

Even with their ultimate, total compliance with the President’s orders, they’re still going to be attacked as having Made Us Less Safe — by waiting weeks to capitulate, rather than doing so immediately, they opened up critical intelligence gaps, caused us to lose vital intelligence, made us less safe, etc. But now, they have no way to defend themselves against those accusations because, at the end of the day, they are admitting that the President was right all along, that telecom amnesty and warrantless eavesdropping are good and important things that the President should have had all along. So why didn’t they just give it to him before the law expired? It was a loss for them on every level.

I doubt there are very many Americans who expect at this point that the Democratic leadership will take a stand against the President due to any actual beliefs. But shouldn’t politicians be at least a little bit shrewd about their own political self-interest? As craven and ugly as their capitulation will be, the political “strategy” they chose is actually just more self-destructive than it is anything else. Obviously, they have no real political principles, but don’t they have any strategic instinct at all?

Thank God Glenn’s on our side.

March 3rd, 2008 at 07:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Wankers

Yet Another Thing No-One Could Have Anticipated

This just in: Bush administration still the stupidest cretins on Earth.

There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan, long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a decade battling Hamas. Dahlan insists that abu Dan was tortured without his knowledge, but the video is proof that his followers’ methods can be brutal.

Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good, solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”


Arafat died in November 2004, and Abbas, his replacement as Fatah leader, was elected president in January 2005. Elections for the Palestinian parliament, known officially as the Legislative Council, were originally set for July 2005, but later postponed by Abbas until January 2006.

Dahlan says he warned his friends in the Bush administration that Fatah still wasn’t ready for elections in January. Decades of self-preservationist rule by Arafat had turned the party into a symbol of corruption and inefficiency—a perception Hamas found it easy to exploit. Splits within Fatah weakened its position further: in many places, a single Hamas candidate ran against several from Fatah.

“Everyone was against the elections,” Dahlan says. Everyone except Bush. “Bush decided, ‘I need an election. I want elections in the Palestinian Authority.’ Everyone is following him in the American administration, and everyone is nagging Abbas, telling him, ‘The president wants elections.’ Fine. For what purpose?”

The elections went forward as scheduled. On January 25, Hamas won 56 percent of the seats in the Legislative Council.

Few inside the U.S. administration had predicted the result, and there was no contingency plan to deal with it. “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” Condoleezza Rice told reporters. “I don’t know anyone who wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing.”

“Everyone blamed everyone else,” says an official with the Department of Defense. “We sat there in the Pentagon and said, ‘Who the fuck recommended this?’ ”

Gee, “your guy” told you his party wasn”t ready for elections, you ignored him, and then you were all surprised when it went badly. It’s like watching one of those horror movies where everyone tells the idiot characters, “Don’t go in the basement,” “Don’t desecrate the Indian burial ground,” “Don’t read aloud from the scroll written in human blood,” and then they go and do it anyway, and can’t understand why everything’s gone terribly wrong.

Oh, and after the election they also tried to provoke a Palestinian civil war, hoping to install the government they wanted by force. Hooray for the champions of democracy!

(h/t Atrios)

March 3rd, 2008 at 06:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Republicans

Monday Media Blogging

One of my friends in college had this old VHS tape that he or a friend had compiled, primarily of old SCTV episodes from the show’s final season. One of my favorite sketches on the tape was a gameshow called Half Wits, which was a bit like SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy, in that the contestants were all blithering morons who could not answer the simplest of questions.

I searched YouTube in vain, unable to find this piece of comedic treasure… until now:

But wait, there’s more!

Unfortunately, the clips were not cut with specific sketches in mind; they’re basically full episodes cut up at random intervals. Still, it’s totally worth it.

2 comments March 3rd, 2008 at 11:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Spammish Fly

And yet still more stream-of-consciousness comment spam:

jelly rebooting!axioms?breezes bustard …

civilize:atmospheric celebrate kindling …

tribunals frustrate Sieglinda.collectives affiliations smothers …

polar others swimmingly,boisterous evidently …

unidirectionally amazedly boast damn.osteopath?fur …

strand milkers?quantization humidity …

aristocratic revealing inventively:tourist …

gloomily breading!coexists Io engraves relativistically …

germ:inertia Tuscan urchins socializing!…

gust Steinbeck poverty quadrennial affectingly …

dispell deduces throws approach green …

placate abstained receptions inefficiency lain emulating:…

zonal quietude Ghana border plants,..

D’you suppose it’s possible that I’m just encouraging them?

March 3rd, 2008 at 11:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Spamoptikon

In Case You Were Wondering How Diebold Could Get Any Worse…

A defense contractor is trying to buy them:

The United Technologies Corporation made public on Sunday an unsolicited $3 billion bid for Diebold, one of the largest makers of automated teller machines and voting machines.

United Technologies, which first approached Diebold two years ago, initially made the offer in private on Friday. The bid amounts to $40 a share in cash, or a 66 percent premium over Diebold’s closing price on Friday of $24.12, United Technologies said.


Founded in 1859, Diebold grew as a provider of security technology for financial systems. But Diebold was thrust into the spotlight in the 2004 election, when it was criticized over flawed electronic voting machines in Ohio and elsewhere.

The company has struggled recently with a variety of problems, both internal and external. In January, Diebold said it would restate its financial reports from 2003 through the first quarter of 2007 because of changes to its accounting methods.

Diebold previously disclosed that both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department had made inquiries into the way it recognized certain kinds of revenue.

The global credit crisis that has stung financial services companies has affected Diebold as well. It said last week that it would cut about 5 percent of its work force, or 800 jobs, in anticipation of slowing demand for A.T.M.s.

Diebold also said it expected slower growth in its voting-machines business. It reported $61 million in revenue from those operations in 2007, compared with $195 million in 2006.

United Technologies, based in Hartford, has 225,600 employees spread across businesses like the plane engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, the helicopter maker Sikorsky and the elevator company Otis. The company has a market value of $69 billion.

I’m sure a defense contractor wouldn’t have any kind of vested interest in seeing Republicans maintain control our government for, oh, forever. Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if election reform made Diebold voting machines illegal?

1 comment March 3rd, 2008 at 07:31am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Technology

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