As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Rest of the Week In Review

OK, let's clear the decks:

• Michael Ledeen, who must be orgiastic about the news that we're about to attack Iran, took the time to celebrate by visiting "real" America and giving them some of the most backhanded compliments you'll ever see. "Does wonders for the spirit," he says, not unlike a British consul "slumming" with the rabble in the Punjab. Meanwhile Ledeen shucked and jived his way through actual hard questioning from Glenzilla about his fact-free claim that Gen. Abizaid suppressed evidence about Iranian involvement in Iraq.

• While we're on the subject of idiot pundits appearing in unfamiliar settings and being surprised that, say, black people eat with utensils, Paul Waldman got a funny line in about Billo on the Today Show: "[I]f Bill O'Reilly got caught robbing a bank he would say he was taken out of context." Also, Billo lied about not getting any complaints about his comments (he had one on the air), and Rev. Jesse Jackson smacked him down pretty hard too.

• On the Burma front, the government crackdown appears to have quited things (there are 20,000 troops on the streets of Yangon), while the UN's lead envoy met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader. The question is if the military junta can keep the lid on this; reports of additional protests outside the capital are filtering in. But the government is pretty experienced with crackdowns.

• Heath Shuler, former quarterback and freshman Congressman from North Carolina in the Rahm Emanuel mold, wants to save our children from the scourge that is an Oscar-winning performance from Forest Whitaker. Feel that Democratic Congress and its new direction!

• This story from Jane Harman that the Administration was scaring lawmakers into passing the FISA bill by hyping a supposed terror attack on Washington that they knew to be bogus got some more attention last week. Hopefully it'll linger.

$800 billion dollars for Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and in one country they're inviting the Taliban into the government, and in the other country we consider it progress when there are only 100 attacks a day as opposed to 150. Value, people, value for your taxpayer money. I agree with Kevin at Rumproast; why the Dems don't point to the cost of this is a bit puzzling.

• Here's someone willing to rip the President's foreign policy:

"This administration's bunker mentality has been counterproductive both at home and abroad... They've done a poor job of communicating and consulting countries much as they have, frankly, the American people... Our prestige in the world has been marred." [...]

On Iran, he said Bush blew a chance to improve relations right after the 2001 terrorist attacks and that the United States should be talking to Iran today.

"When we first invaded Afghanistan, Iran helped, especially in dealings with their ally, the Northern Alliance," he said. "They wanted to join us in fighting al Qaida. ...The CIA and State Department supported a partnership. Some in the White House and beyond did not. And when President Bush included Iran in the axis of evil, everything went downhill pretty fast."

Even with today's sour relations, he said the United States should talk to Iran and use the promise of better relations and increased trade as well as the threat of economic isolation to persuade the country to abandon its nuclear program.

"The administration has quite properly said it will not take the military option off the table. But if we don't put some other options on the table, eventually the military option becomes the only viable one. Right now we're proceeding down only one track," he said.

I should mention at this point that the "he" in question was Mike Huckabee. He does scare me, should he get any traction. While a seriously corrupt guy according to Arkansans, and a definite theocrat, he does offer rhetoric that is common-sensical and laced with humor, and sounds just normal enough to fool people into thinking he's some sort of moderate. (I would like to have seen howhe would have voted on Lieberman-Kyl, however)

• Huckabee also said he was ashamed of the Republican Party for its top candidates refusing to participate in the Tavis Smiley-moderated debate on black issues last week. And he said this:

Huckabee said that as president, he would hope to reform the justice system, "so that you don't have a different sentence for a 17-year-old kid caught with a lid of marijuana than you do some upper-middle-class white kid who gets caught with cocaine. He goes to rehab, and the black kid goes to prison for 10 years [...] We've got to quit locking up all the people that we're mad at and lock up the people that we're really afraid of, the people who are sexual predators and violent offenders," he said. "But the nonsense of three strikes and you're out has created a system that is overrun with people, and the cost is choking us. I would go for more drug courts and for a lot less incarceration of drug-addicted people."

I'm quoting a bit too much Huckabee here, but I'm starting to forget what party's nomination he's seeking.

• A Fox News column begins with the line "Our generals are betraying our soldiers . . . again". I think they're doing this almost to rub Democrats' noses in it. They know the Dems are too timid to seek retribution or to even call them out for hypocrisy. I mean, aping the same "betrayal" language?

• A couple weeks back I saw "Our Brand Is Crisis," a movie about these Democratic political consultants, led by Carville and Jeremy Rosner, who go down to Bolivia to help this guy nicknamed "Goni" win an election there by hyping a "crisis" and driving up the negatives of everyone in the race. Goni won with like 22% of the vote, and being an arrogant man, pressed forward with a radically bold tax plan despite having no mandate and was summarily durmmed out of office. Now he's in a civil lawsuit with families of the victims of his government crackdown amidst the protests, which left 67 civilians dead. Carville and the boys can sure pick 'em!

• Finally, I usually end this with a "News of the Weird" type of story, but this week I can't decide between Nepal Considers Nudity Ban On Everest and Toilet Paper Thief On The Loose In Wisconsin, so you're going to have to choose yourself.