Friday, August 31, 2007

Is the Pentagon cooking the books?

The Defense Department seems to be playing games with casualty figures in Iraq in an effort to make the surge look successful.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hooray for President Bush!

Credit where credit is due, folks.

President Bush has declared Winnebago and Stephenson counties in Illinois -- the very heart of Rascal Land -- disaster areas in the wake of recent floods.

Good for him.

Go to hell, Harry and Louise!

Maha's got some interesting points to make about national health insurance.

Frederick of Hollywood drops Hamlet pose

Actor Fred Thompson finally is ready to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Oooh! Feel the surge!

I've got a feeling that this guy is going to burn out very quickly. What's he got to recommend himself? Not much, it would seem.

Oh, I forgot. He's Don Manzullo's candidate.

Gold Star mom answers Fleischer

Former White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer is the front man for a group of war hawks who are spending $15 million on TV ads calling for America to stay the course in Iraq.

In this video, a woman who lost a son in the war responds to Fleischer and company:

Is that you, Senator?

This is funny.

Progress in Iraq? Not really

A Government Accounting Office report scheduled for delivery to Congress next week paints a bleak picture of the war in Iraq.

For several years now, the pro-war crowd has been telling us that we're just six months or so away from turning the corner in Iraq. Or they've conceded that all will be lost if victory isn't achieved in another six months. (Consider this report of six months ago this week.) Meanwhile, hundreds more lives and billions more dollars have been wasted.

We were told that the so-called surge would make a difference, but it's only been a big bust, and our prospects for victory in Iraq remain virtually non-existent.

When are we going to put an end to this tragic misadventure? True patriotism requires that we do it soon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If you don't know Bo, you just don't know

Bo Diddley, one of the most underrated of rock's pioneers, has suffered a heart attack at age 78.

Here he is in Switzerland, performing one of his best at the tender age of 60:

A story of war profiteering

Have you ever heard of Earnest O. Robbins?

Neither had I, until I read this.

Two years ago today...

An occasion of national shame.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Funny, funny, funny

In the Miss Teen USA pageant, Miss South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton, was asked why, in her opinion, one in five Americans can't find the United States on a world map.

Here's her reply (with subtitles):

Miss South Carolina With Subtitles - Watch more free videos

Monday, August 27, 2007

Well, I'll be dipped

A couple of days ago, I ran across an item about a column on an ostensibly respectable conservative Web site that argued in favor of the U.S. military killing the entire populace of Iraq and replacing it with Americans and George Bush declaring himself president for life.

I resisted the temptation to post anything on the matter, figuring that somebody was pulling somebody's leg.

Well, it now seems that the column at issue actually did appear on the Web site in question. Make of it what you will.

Will one of George Bush's school chums become Secretary of Homeland Security?

There was a time when conservative Republicans claimed to stand for professionalism, accountability and competence in government (not always accurately, but they usually claimed it).

That was before the Bush administration started hiring the president's old college drinking buddies or their cousins to fill important jobs.

The buzz in Washington today is that the incompetent Alberto Gonzales will be replaced as attorney general by the incompetent Michael Chertoff, who will be replaced as homeland security secretary by Clay Johnson III (left), whose resume includes his having attended both prep school and college with George W. Bush.

Can you imagine how this stuff must embarrass Bush's old man, who, for all his faults, tended to surround himself with professionals when he was in the White House?

Another GOP rightist busted

Another "family values" Republican has been arrested on a morals charge.

This time it's U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho. He pleaded guilty to making lewd advances to an undercover cop in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis.

Here are the details.

UPDATE: Twenty-five years ago, Craig denied having anything to do with a sex scandal involving young House pages. He's shown in this video of an ABC News report from back then:

UPDATE II: Daily Kos has lots more about Craig and about a story on his private life that apparently was spiked by a paper in Boise.

The war in a nutshell

The next time somebody at the water cooler or on the barstool next to yours says Bush's war seems to be turning a corner, tell them this:

U.S. military fatalities have been higher every month this year than in the same month last year.

The civilian death toll from sectarian attacks is twice as high this year.

More Iraqi civilians have fled the country than did last year.

The Iraqi government is falling apart and, for all practical purposes, doesn't really exist.

Oh, yeah. The war is going very well. If the American people will just be patient and allow our leaders to pursue their policies, victory is just around the corner.


Hat tip to Zaius Nation for this one:

How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer is seven:

* One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced.

* One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb.

* One to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb.

* One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.

* One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton one million dollars for each light bulb.

* One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag.

* And finally, one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.


Alberto Gonzales has resigned as U.S. attorney general.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Frederick of Hollywood is a pessimist

Hey, Freddie. This is no way to get yourself elected president.

Tommy Franks and the Keystone Kops

Newsweek magazine is out tomorrow with an interesting piece on how Gen. Tommy Franks and other regular-army stiffs mishandled efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

The article includes this telling passage about the hunt for bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan:

The American effort to chase bin Laden into this forbidding realm was hobbled and clumsy from the start. While the terrain required deep local knowledge and small units, career officers in the U.S. military have long been wary of the Special Operations Forces best suited to the task. In the view of the regular military, such "snake eaters" have tended to be troublesome, resistant to spit-and-polish discipline and rulebooks. Rather than send the snake eaters to poke around mountain caves and mud-walled compounds, the U.S. military wanted to fight on a grander stage, where it could show off its mobility and firepower. To the civilian bosses at the Pentagon and the eager-to-please top brass, Iraq was a much better target. By invading Iraq, the United States would give the Islamists—and the wider world—an unforgettable lesson in American power. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board and, at the time, a close confidant of the SecDef. In November 2001, Gingrich told a NEWSWEEK reporter, "There's a feeling we've got to do something that counts—and bombing caves is not something that counts."

When Franks refused to send Army Rangers into the mountains at Tora Bora, he was already in the early stages of planning for the next war. By early 2002, new Predators—aerial drones that might have helped the search for bin Laden—were instead being diverted off the assembly line for possible use in Iraq. The military's most elite commando unit, Delta Force, was transferred from Afghanistan to prep for the invasion of Iraq.

Patron saint of skeptics

Today is Mother Teresa's 97th birthday, a good occasion on which to touch upon recent revelations that her religious faith was nowhere near as firm as the world had thought.

As a lapsed Catholic and an agnostic, I have to admit to taking pleasure in the fact that this celebrated woman had her own doubts about the existence of God. Those doubts show, at the very least, that unwavering religious faith is not a prerequisite for being a good person or leading an exemplary life.

It's important, too, that Teresa's doubts weren't just brief, isolated moments of spiritual loneliness. Rather, they lasted through most of her life.

It may turn out that Mother Teresa's greatest gift to the world was her example that conscientious religious skepticism is a natural tendency of human intelligence -- even if the gift is one she never intended to proffer.

Worse is better; up is down

The Pentagon is playing a shell game with the civilian death toll in Iraq.

According to the Associated Press, killings in Baghdad have declined since the start of the U.S. military surge, but the number of war-related deaths throughout the country as a whole is twice as high as a year ago.

The brass hats say the overall situation is better but offer no numbers to support their claim.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Surge schmurge!

Dan Froomkin states the case concisely and correctly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why does the Pentagon hate our troops?

The Defense Department promised that the troops in Iraq would get up to 3,000 special armored vehicles this year.

It turns out that they'll be lucky to get half that many.

Will bureaucratic heads roll over this matter? Will defense contractors be held to account?

Not likely.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is the VFW more patriotic than thou?

Just asking.

So is this guy.

A conservative general speaks out

Retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste says "the bullheadedness of Congressional Republicans who argue for staying the course (in Iraq) runs contrary to conservative values."

He says a lot of other things as well. Read them here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Seven brave soldiers

How long will it be before the patriotism of these guys is called into question?

Put this poll in your pipe and smoke it

Conservative bloggers have been peeing in their pants lately with delight over polls that show great public dissatisfaction with the Democratic-controlled Congress.

They ignore, of course, the fact that the low numbers for Congress reflect, in part, great dismay that lawmakers aren't taking a harder stance against the Bush administration. The right-wingers want us to think that the polls reflect an anti-liberal bent among the public, which is nonsense.

And the conservatives have got nothing to say about a Pew poll showing that Americans favor the Democratic Party over the Republicans by a margin of 15 percentage points. Karl Rove's dreams of a permanent Republican majority are gone with the wind, as this piece notes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday morning! Time for cartoons!

Let's go over to Uncle Bob Geiger's place and check out the weekly collection of political cartoons. (Actually, Bob's not home, but Jack Ohman's there. So, be nice, OK?)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Did we deserve the attacks of 9/11?

Every time I turn around these days, I hear some moralist suggest, in effect, that perhaps America deserved to be attacked on Sept. 11 because our culture is so rotten.

They seem to be saying that we should bow to the reforms the radical Islamists prescribe for us and the rest of the world.

Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush, wrote today in the Wall Street Journal: "We make it too easy for those who want to hate us to hate us. We make ourselves look bad in our media, which helps future jihadists think that they must, by hating us, be good."

The Rev. Canon Andrew White, vicar of an Anglican Church in Baghdad, was quoted recently in the Christian Post as having said that Middle Easterners are repulsed by what they perceive as tolerance of homosexuality by Americans in general, even Christian Americans.

Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report quotes Glenn Beck, a right-wing rattlepate on CNN, as recently saying:

More and more Muslims now hate us all across the world, and it really has not a lot to do with anything other than our morals. The things that they were saying about us were true. Our morals are just out the window. We’re a society on the verge of moral collapse. And our promiscuity is off the charts. Now I don’t think that we should fly airplanes into buildings or behead people because of it, but that’s the prevailing feeling of Muslims in the Middle East. And you know what? They’re right.
Another darling of the political right, Dinesh D'Souza, wrote a whole book about how the terrorists of Sept. 11 were provoked by our libertine culture. His title summed up his sentiments quite neatly: "The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11."

Of course, we all remember when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson got together on TV just two days after the attacks and blamed them on American decadence. God was angry, they said. That's what the terrorists thought, too. Jerry and Pat and the murderers were in agreement.

It wasn't so long ago that certain right-wingers were fond of saying that liberals were too quick to "blame America first." My, how times have changed.

Why do the media bother with crap like this?

If you thought last weekend's Iowa Straw Poll on the race for the Republican presidential nomination was meaningless (and it was), what do you make of the Illinois Straw Poll?

What? You didn't know that any such poll had been scheduled in Illinois? Well, hardly anybody else did either. It was conducted during Republican Day festivities Thursday at the State Fair in Springfield. About 1,000 people cast ballots, and Mitt Romney led the pack with 40 percent of the vote.

There's nothing wrong, of course, with GOP fairgoers having fun with their little poll. It is wrong, however, for the media to report on the matter, as CNN and others have done. Such coverage conveys the message to the gullible that the results of this poll actually are significant, which they're not.

What's worse is that State Republican Chairman Andy McKenna (pictured above) is such a dunderhead that he publicly characterized the outcome of this silly exercise as exciting evidence that Romney "has begun to put together a strong statewide organization."

No wonder the Illinois Republican Party is a basket case.

Frederick of Hollywood speaks

Now we know why Don Manzullo has endorsed the yet-to-be-announced presidential candidacy of Fred Thompson.

It's because the guy is so articulate. Consider, for example, his response to a question today on just when he might actually get in the race:

We are going to be getting in if we get in, and of course, we are in the testing the waters phase. We’re going to be making a statement shortly that will cure all of that. But yeah, we’ll be in traditionally when people get in this race.
Admit it. The man's eloquence puts Barack Obama to shame. And Fred's an actor, too, you know.

Straight skinny on Iowa straw poll

Karl Rove, the agnostic

Bill Moyers delivers an apt farewell to Karl Rove here, and The Rascal resurrects an item offered here three months ago about Rove lacking any religious faith (which, by the way, doesn't necessarily make him a bad guy).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just 19 cents each (plus shipping & handling)

I hope this sort of thing isn't commonplace among military contractors.

Most folks skeptical of Petraeus report

Americans have been fed so many lies about the war in Iraq by the Bush administration that most of them suspect that next month's report on the success, or lack of it, of the recent surge will just be more of the same.

A CNN poll on the matter also shows that about half the public thinks the surge has not gone well , and 72 percent say the report from Gen. David Petraeus will not change their opinion of the war.

Bush aides have admitted that the report will be written not by Petraeus but by White House officials.

Who killed Pat Tillman? And why?

The Bush White House refuses to release its documents relating to the death of Pat Tillman, the pro football star who was killed by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan in 2004.

Questions remain about what really happened to Tillman, a critic of the war in Iraq, but the Bush administration won't reveal what it knows, or what it knew, or when it knew it.

Congress is putting bipartisan pressure on Bush concerning this matter, and heat is emanating from other quarters as well. Check it out here and here and here.

George Orwell would be proud

More than two years ago, Dick Cheney told America that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes."

The gullible among us drank that Kool-Aid and stood behind the Bush administration's war policy, only to see it sink us deeper into a quagmire.

Accordingly, most folks aren't buying such rosy scenarios anymore, but the hawks are still out there peddling them.

This guy, for example, has an Orwellian pitch. He wants us to believe that signs of setback actually are signs of progress. Losing should be seen as winning. Down is up. Bad is good. The worst bloodbath of the war is proof that the bad guys are on their way out.

Sure it is.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Football! Football! Football!

The Chicago Bears played their first pre-season game this past weekend, and I caught bits of it on radio and television.

The accounts I heard on both media reminded me of the odd penchant among people associated with the gridiron culture to use the word "football" seemingly six times in every sentence.

I've been complaining about this for years now, and a search of the Internet shows that I'm not the only person annoyed by it. But the problem persists. Broadcasters, coaches, players and others involved in the sport have to remind themselves every few seconds that the game is called "football." Consequently, any reference to a player becomes "football player"; a team is a "football team"; a field is a "football field"; and so on.

When this odd compulsion is combined with the overall pointlessness of what some of these jock types have to say, you sometimes get utterances like the one Mike Ditka delivered a few years ago in reference to a certain athlete: "This guy is a football player. He comes to play football ‘cause that's what he is, a football player."

This habit of overusing the term "football" is no doubt involuntary. It likely arises from some subconscious sense that frequent use of the word conveys an especially keen grasp of the sport's traditions and true meaning; it separates the men from the boys, the insiders from the outsiders.

This strange phenomenon is equally common at the professional and college levels; it's even infected the prep world. In the pro game, however, it has a curious comcomitant: You don't often hear broadcasters, coaches or players refer to "the NFL" in their unscripted patter. No, no, no. The initials won't suffice. It has to be "the National Football League." I mean, how weird is that?

Baseball has no parallel to this nonsense. Baseball people can discuss their sport at length without using the word more than once, if at all. I like to think that's because baseball people are more intelligent, which is why the game has inspired more good literature and poetry than has football.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. I used the word "baseball" three times in that preceding paragraph, but only for sake of comparison. Listen to a radio account of a baseball game sometime, and three or four innings can pass without any mention of the sport's name.)

How can there still be people who think it's patriotic to support this stuff?

This is amazing.

They're playing these political games with the lives of young Americans on the line.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, all the pseudo-patriotic right-wing bloggers and the other dimwits who think the surge in Iraq is working well might want to check this. It's about U.S. military officers offering a bleak picture of Iraq's future.

Ronald Reagan's toys

Ronald Reagan was fond of saying that government is the problem, not the solution.

Libertarians and free-marketers all across the fruited plain would nod in agreement at the Great Communicator's wisdom.

Today, lax regulation by government has led to the frightening spectacle of unsafe products all over the American marketplace. Witness this week's recall of millions of dangerous toys.

Gregory Flannery sums up the situation correctly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The truth about Rudy and 9/11

You'd look frightened, too, if the Village Voice did a long piece about five big lies you've been telling.

Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are equally nutty on the issue of human origins

A new study based on public surveys in the United States, Japan and 32 European countries shows that only the Turks rank lower than Americans in public acceptance of evolution.

The story on the Fox News Web site (yeah, really, Fox News) explains the sorry situation thusly:

Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.

"American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalists, which is why Turkey and we are so close," said study co-author Jon Miller of Michigan State University.

I wonder if your typical American Christian creationist knows of his or her philosophical kinship on this matter with your typical raging Islamist toting an AK-47.

Overrated Rizzuto dies at 89

Phil Rizzuto, one of the most overrated players in the history of baseball, died today in a New Jersey nursing home at the age of 89.

Rizzuto played shortstop for the New York Yankees in the 1940s and '50s, a period in which the team won seven world championships. But how this guy ever was elected to the Hall of Fame is beyond me.

Check that. The reason is obvious: He made it to the Hall because he was a darling of the New York media machine. There can be no other explanation.

Rizutto's statistics over 13 seasons were underwhelming, to put it kindly. He had a lifetime batting average of only .273, hit only 38 home runs and was mediocre at best in the field. Oh, yeah, he was a good bunter. Big deal.

Compared to Ron Santo, who played third base for the Chicago Cubs -- and who's not in the Hall of Fame -- Rizzuto couldn't carry his jock. Santo had almost 10 times as many home runs, more than twice as many RBIs, a slightly higher lifetime batting average and won five gold gloves in the field.

Even one of Rizzuto's claims to fame as a broadcaster after he retired as a player is phonus balonus. He's widely credited with coining the exclamation "Holy Cow!" in describing exciting plays. But Harry Caray (who, by the way, was vastly overrated in his own way and was no favorite of mine) was using the term long before Rizzuto became a broadcaster.

Maybe Rizzuto was a nice guy. I don't know. But he certainly doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. There are dozens and dozens of far more deserving players who have not been celebrated in Cooperstown.

Indeed, the Hall -- which is tainted by extremely faulty selection procedures and is tied to a fictitious version of baseball history -- deserves to be ignored altogether in favor of some other form of enshrinement of the game's best players.

And don't get me started on Dizzy Dean, another grossly overrated Hall of Famer. The guy won only 150 games, for Chrissakes!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Global warming skeptics think the tables finally have been turned, but have they?

NASA has announced that some of its temperature data for previous years were skewed a bit because of a computer glitch.

Global warming skeptics have seized upon the issue as proof that the alarmism over climate change is greatly exaggerated, if not entirely discredited.

Here's perhaps the best single source for arguments on both sides of the matter. There are more than 130 comments on this piece, and some of them are quite arcane. But the reading is worth the effort.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum has something to say on this subject. So do his commenters.

Now Chris Matthews has gone too far

I dissed Chris Matthews here last week, and with good reason, but now I've got even more reason to wish that he'd go away.

The guy is a blatant sexist, and his offenses are no less egregious than those for which Don Imus got canned by MSNBC, the company that still employs Matthews.

The parent company of MSNBC also owns CNBC, where Erin Burnett works. She's the woman whom Matthews disrespected last Friday night with his inappropriate remarks about her looks.

Matthews has a long record of sexist remarks, and he'd better soon reform or he's going to come under the same kind of unrelenting fire that chased Imus off the airwaves.

Incidentally, Digby's worthy take on this latest of Matthews' offenses is right here.

An idea the GOP might want to emulate?

Gee, let's hope some of our more loony Republicans don't hear about this.

Twenty taboo topics

Here are some issues the presidential candidates dasn't talk about on the campaign trail.

This stuff is funny and informative, just as The Rascal usually is.

Same to you, Karl!

Granted, it's not as big a stunner as Tommy Thompson's withdrawal from the presidential race, but Karl Rove's resignation from his White House gig is major news nonetheless.

As for why Rove is leaving, I' m not going to be modest. He knew The Rascal was on his case. Let him also know this: He can run, but he can't hide. I'll hound him to the ends of the earth -- even to Poughkeepsie, if it comes to that.

I'll have more to report on Rove later today, as I'm calling in all my chits from among the political intelligentsia. You'll find the straight skinny here and nowhere else.

But let's get serious for a minute here. Let's not be taken in by all the nonsense we're going to hear about Rove having been some kind of political genius. The one inescapable fact is that he's been the "architect" (as George W. Bush calls him) of the most spectacularly unsuccessful presidency since Richard Nixon's and one of the worst in American history.

Yes, the disastrous war in Iraq has been Dick Cheney's doing more than Rove's, but Rove, given his influence with Bush, could have steered the president away from this tragic blunder.

On domestic policy, Rove is almost entirely to blame for the administration's failures, as is explained in a piece in the current issue of The Atlantic (subscription required to get it online). The man, for all his vaunted brilliance as a campaigner, has a tin ear when it comes to the politics of governance.

Rove's departure from the White House should be cause for lament among Democrats, who have enjoyed kicking him around, and cause for pleasure among some Republican insiders, who often bristled at his arrogance and abrasiveness.

It's not unlikely, of course, that Rove will make more headlines in the coming months. He's still a major figure in ongoing investigations, including the probe of how and why a bunch of federal prosecutors got canned.

UPDATE: You would think that a British paper like The London Times would be the last to refer to Rove as "Turd Blossom" in a headline. You'd be wrong. FURTHER UPDATE: Somebody at The Times had second thoughts and took down the "Turd" headline.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Horror in Iraq!

The situation in Iraq suddenly has taken a terrible turn for the worse:

Alberto Gonzales is over there trying to help the Iraqis establish a justice system.

Church cancels service for gay war vet

And these people call themselves Christians.

Bush gang becoming fratricidal

The erstwhile loyalists of the Bush administration are scurrying like so many rats escaping a sinking ship, and as they leave, they're turning against one another and against their former idols in an unseemly spectacle.

Please avert your eyes, gentle people. This isn't a pretty picture. The self-righteous can be especially scornful, even toward their own.

Well, well, well. What have we here?

Why, it's a video of Dick Cheney from back in 1994 explaining that the first President Bush was right to have avoided getting bogged down in a "quagmire" in Iraq and that the U.S. casualties that would have been sustained in overthrowing Saddam Hussein in the first gulf war would not have been worth it.

For a guy who looks as if he talks out of only one side of his mouth, Cheney actually has a record of talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nutty rightists praying for another 9/11

OK, I'm taking a break from my brief break to pass along this stuff about the hopes among the loonies at Fox News and at other rightward precincts that we'll soon have another 9/11 to teach us a lesson about something or other.

Is there no end to their depravity?

Friday, August 10, 2007


The Rascal is taking a few days off from blogging --barring some major event that requires my offering guidance to my intellectual lessers.

I'll be back on the Internet tubes (as that genius Sen. Ted Stevens calls this medium) on Sunday.

Meanwhile, you'll find some especially provocative reading here and here and here and here and here and here.

Stay cool.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Chris Matthews, please, please go away!

Chris Matthews, who's older than he looks (he's 61), also is a lot dumber and weirder than he looks.

Consider the evidence here and here or anywhere else you encounter his ridiculous presence.

Matthews' obsession with superficialities and the stupid questions he asks distinguish him as one of the worst political commentators and interviewers on the planet.

He should never again be allowed to moderate a debate among presidential candidates. The guy makes Wolf Blitzer look like Edward R. Murrow.

Ya gotta feel sorry for the old man

I never cared much for the senior President Bush, but I can't help but feel sympathy for the old guy in light of the embarrassment his son has been to the family -- and the nation.

BooMan has got an interesting take on a piece in The New York Times that examines the personal angst of George Herbert Walker Bush.

Damn! Newtie's right again!

It pains me to say this, because there's so much about the guy that I don't like, but Newt Gingrich is getting in the habit these days of making sense. This stuff he said at the National Press Club the other day is a good example.

I had cause last week, as well, to give Gingrich a qualified nod of approval.

Stop it, Newt! Stop it right now!

This raises some interesting theories

The Associated Press story about President Bush having been treated for Lyme disease last year includes this passage:

"Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection that, if left untreated, can cause arthritis and other problems. Symptoms can include lethargy, joint pain, fever, limping and loss of appetite."

What the story doesn't say is that a broad range of psychiatric reactions have been associated with Lyme disease, including paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks and major depression.

Just thought you ought to know.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Domino theory: Voting for prez starts this year

Some of these states are getting ridiculous in their efforts to steal a march on the presidential primary trail.

Global warming punishes Rockford, world

While cleanup crews here at the building that houses Rockford Rascal World Headquarters dealt with a watery basement Tuesday morning, large parts of the rest of the city struggled with far worse flooding conditions.

This was the second time in 11 months that Rockford has been struck by disastrous floods in the wake of torrential rains.

Meanwhile, a tornado touched down last night in Brooklyn, of all places. Snow fell in Argentina for the first time in 90 years. Hundreds of millions of people across the world have had to cope in recent days and weeks with unusual weather events of all kinds.

The situation was reported thusly today on an Irish Web site:

International flights were delayed and thousands of US commuters were unable to get to work today as torrential rain flooded New York's subways and rail lines.
The National Weather Service briefly posted a tornado warning for parts of the city and surrounding areas, including New Jersey, and fallen trees blocked streets in some neighbourhoods. The flash floods came as the weather service issued a heat advisory that warned temperatures could climb to 101F (38.3C) because of the muggy weather.
Elsewhere, a large section of the US suffered high temperatures and humidity and the elderly, children and those with health problems were warned to avoid prolonged periods and strenuous activity outdoors, drink plenty of water and wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing to prevent suffering a heat-related illness.
Yesterday, an expert with the UN weather agency said extreme weather events this year are in line with predictions made by an important report on climate change. Omar Baddour, a climatologist with the World Meteorological Organisation, said: "We can say that the start of the year 2007 was a very active year in terms of extreme climatic and meteorological events."
In May, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth report, warning that global warming would increase the number of extreme weather events and cause more natural disasters, which will hit the poor hardest.
Global surface temperatures in January were 3.4F (1.9C) higher than average since records began in 1880, with Europe experiencing an unusually mild winter, according to data compiled by WMO.
The Geneva-based agency said April temperatures around the world rose 2.46F (1.37C) above the historical average. Since then, record storms, floods and heat waves have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
Hundreds have died and thousands have lost their livelihoods in floods since the start of the year in China, South Asia, Mozambique, Sudan and Uruguay, while the period from May to July was the wettest in England and Wales since records began in 1766, WMO said. It said two heat waves in south-eastern Europe in June and July broke previous records, with temperatures in Bulgaria hitting 113F (45C) on July 23.
Other extreme events this year include rare snowfall in South Africa and Argentina, and the first cyclone ever documented in the Arabian Sea, according to WMO.
But, of course, there are those who will deny that any of these events have anything to do with global warming, or they'll claim that climate change is only natural and is not caused by manmade greenhouse gases.

Fortunately, the cover story in the current edition of Newsweek is well timed. It's about the feverish effort of global warming deniers, many of whom are financed by polluters, to downplay the crisis.

Meanwhile, the evidence refuting their nonsensical claims continues to mount, here and elsewhere.

Chickenhawk dad praises chickenhawk sons

Mitt Romney (shown here counting the number of his five sons who are serving in the military) says his boys serve their country in another way -- by pushing his presidential candidacy.

All of Romney's sons are of military age, and their dad is a big backer of the war in Iraq. So, since they're backing dad's candidacy, they, too, are backing the war. But they just can't bring themselves to participate in it.

Back in the day, their dad was a backer of the Vietnam war guessed it, he didn't serve in the military, either.

Who still supports Bush?

According to this, your typical die-hard supporter of President Bush is a white evangelical male in his 40s.

So, if you see this guy on the street (or the beach), avert your gaze and immediately go to a place of safety. Do not -- repeat, DO NOT -- try to engage this person in conversation. He's not likely to understand anything you say.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Do Americans suddenly smell victory in Iraq?

There's a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll showing that 65 percent of Americans think the U.S. military surge in Iraq has not made any positive difference or has made matters worse, and that two-thirds of respondents want U.S. troops withdrawn by next April 1, and that 57 percent think the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a mistake to begin with.

You'd think those numbers would be discouraging to the die-hard war hawks, wouldn't you? Well, that's not necessarily the case. Some of them, in fact, are so delighted that the military surge is slightly more popular in this poll than in the last one that they're willing to hail the survey results as a massive sea-change in public opinion.

This blogger, for example, says Americans "don't want to leave Iraq because they know leaving Iraq--no matter how it is dressed up by Democrats--is defeat." Never mind that the poll shows that two of every three Americans do, in fact, want to leave Iraq.

This guy says the surge is "gaining support...and now Gallup is showing movement towards finishing the job."

Finishing the job? Buddy, you've been watching too many John Wayne movies. It's not a simple matter of macho bluster. The job is far from being finished, perhaps impossibly far.

Just the other day, Admiral Mike Mullen, President Bush's nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a less than rosy picture of the situation in Iraq in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mullen said the Iraqi government has not made much progress toward the political settlement of differences between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni minority. He said that without such a settlement, victory in Iraq is impossible, no matter how many troops we send there or how they long they stay.

Mullen also said the surge can't be sustained beyond April of next year, given current strains on personnel resources.

Since the admiral made those remarks, six Sunni cabinet ministers have said they'll boycott future meetings of the Iraqi government, thereby deepening the country's political crisis.

Meanwhile, four more U.S. troops have been killed, raising to 19 the death toll among Americans in the first six days of August. Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse. Violent Shiite militias are filling the void in southern Iraq created by the pullout of British troops. And 60 decomposing bodies were discovered Monday in a mostly Sunni area near Baquoba.

Still, some of the war hawks misread the polls and conclude that Americans suddenly can sense that victory in Iraq is just around the corner.

Sure it is. We just have to be willing to sacrifice more of our sons and daughters for the cause.

Rumor that Manzullo won't run is denied

Last week, The Rascal passed along the rumor, which emanated from Roll Call, a Washington paper, that Republican Rep. Don Manzullo of the 16th Congressional District of Illinois might not seek a ninth term.

Chuck Sweeny (pictured here), political editor of the Rockford Register Star, reports today that an aide to Manzullo says the rumor is bunkum.

Sweeny also refers to me as a "rascally left-wing blogger." Hey, that's not fair. Rascally, yes. But, left-wing? Come on. I'm a timid, moderate fellow, not much more radical than your average Kiwanian or your typical member of the Jaycees.

By the way, is there still a Jaycees?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Six years ago today

On this date in 2001, a classified intelligence memo, the top of which is shown above, was laid on the desk of President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Bush wrapped up his official work early that day and spent the afternoon fishing. Five weeks and one day later, America was attacked. Eighteen months after that, Bush went to war against Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks and had no significant involvement with Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Now, in the fifth year of that war in Iraq, Bin Laden remains at large, and al-Qaeda is bigger than ever.

Patriots who love the troops to death

Frank Rich, with his usual eloquence, gets it right.