Archive for December, 2007


Just Calling It As I See It

December 31, 2007

I just thought I’d post something that I feel strengthens my status as a bit of a maverick when it comes to blogging on political issues. 

The other day, I received another “hat tip” from Noel Sheppard at, for pointing out that the netizens at Daily Kos (dubbed Kossacks) don’t seem to follow their own rules:

Hmmm. So even the Great Kos recognizes how “unreliable” articles from Jason Leopold are.

As this diary was HIGHLY recommended by hundreds of Kossacks, it will be very interesting to see if they all get banned.

Thanks for the great catch, CZ.

Now, I’m not sure he’s aware of it, but this is the same Noel Sheppard that I called out over there for overly gratuitous use of the word “delicious”: Noel Sheppard’s favorite adjective? 

Just for the record.

And, also for the record, the reason why I was aware of diary protocols over at Daily Kos is because I am, in fact, a Kossack


Who Takes Credit For The “Surge”?

December 30, 2007

This entry was something that I’ve been considering for some time, but today I’ve decided to post something due to the inspiration that hit me when I saw the news that the Sunday Telegraph had picked their person of the year: General Petraeus: man with a message of hope

The decision seemed to be based on the opinion that the “surge” has been relatively successful, and that Petraeus’ leadership and poise in this against-all-odds scenario was instrumental in bringing Iraq back from the brink of disaster:

But the reason for picking Petraeus is simple. Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West’s biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade, and if he can halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus may save more than Iraqi lives.

A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America’s problem.

It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East. Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.

While we could debate how accurate or significant that all is, I think that the most fundamental element missing here lies in the fact that Petraeus, as great as he is, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be doing what he’s doing without the series of events that led to his ascendancy into command over the operation, or even the crafting of the “surge” plan itself.

So who really can take credit?  Bush?  The Republicans?  The Senate?  The AEI?  Or, as I’m about the make the case, the American people?

While it’s easy to take a look to powers that be who ultimately confirmed Petraeus or the think-tankers that came up with the “new way forward”, most people forget what forced the implementation of the whole change in strategy in the first place:  the results of the November 2006 elections.

Indeed, one might cringe at the thought of a situation where Rumsfeld is still Defense Secretary and a continuation of the status quo in Iraq, but that is quite possibly where we’d be if it weren’t for the Democrat’s landslide victory.  Just look at the chronology:

  • Nov. 7, 2006 Democratic Party captures the House of Representatives and Senate. 
  • Nov. 8, 2006 Rumsfeld resigns
  • Nov. 9, 2006 Heritage Foundation conference “The New Way Forward: Refocusing the Conservative Agenda”
  • Dec. 11-14 2006 Bush meets with State Dept. advisers, Iraqi experts, the Joint Chiefs to gather info for the “new way forward”.
  • Dec. 14, 2006 AEI announces the release of a report that will call for a “sustained surge of U.S. forces to secure and protect critical areas of Baghdad”, releasing their final report Jan 5.
  • Jan. 5, 2007 Announcements of more shakeups in Bush administration personnel, including John Negroponte, Zalmay Khalilzad, Harriet Miers, and Gen. George Casey
  • Jan. 23, 2007 State of the Union address, outlining the plan to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

It’s unconscionable that the Bush administration would decide to make a policy change on Iraq based not on the situation in Baghdad, but on the political ramifications that a “thumpin'” (as he put it) in Washington had dealt them, but that appears to be exactly what happened.  Anyone can speculate how many additional lives could have been spared had Bush not been so stubborn.

So, before anyone begins to give praise to anyone with regards to any relative turnaround of the situation in Iraq, just remember that a policy change had been an option since early in the war, and only the collective actions of the American people finally prompted that change.  In my opinion, if there’s anyone to thank, it would be the people who voted Democrat in 2006. Political Blogger Alliance


…And Now For Some Billy Mays

December 28, 2007

These days, it’s hard to avoid the incredibly annoying pitchman named Billy Mays.  It seems that he shows up on just about any channel to SHOUT you into buying anything from the Hercules Hook to Samurai Shark to Lint-B-Gone.  You know, this guy…the new Mr. As-Seen-On-TV:


From a salesmanship perspective, he’s obviously good at what he does.  To me, however, I don’t think there is anyone else on TV that forces my finger towards the channel + button on the remote as quickly.  So if you’re like me, you’ll probably get a kick out of this:

Also, be sure to check out the humorous comments and sound bites over at Billy Mays Mayhem.

And as long as we’re on the subject, I might as well try my hand at a Billy Mays impersonation for a little shameless self-promotion…










Sometimes, “Cowardly” Isn’t The Best Antonym For “Heroic”

December 27, 2007

There is reaction all over the blogosphere to the news that Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, but I thought I’d comment on what George Bush said this morning.  Specifically, this part:

The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy. Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.

I could have sworn that the Bush’s use of the phase “cowardly act” sounded familiar.  Indeed, Bush used it after the terrorist attacks of 9/11:

Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.

Researching further, one finds that Bush has a penchant for using the adverb “cowardly” to describe a suicide bombing whenever the need to condemn it arises, whether it happened in Jerusalem, Jordan, Bali, or Lebanon

I don’t know about you readers out there, but when I think of someone giving their life for a cause, “cowardly” isn’t the first word that comes to mind (regardless if innocents are killed).  It certainly isn’t what I thought when 9/11 happened.  In fact, I remember finding myself on a level of agreement with Bill Maher when he infamously said this:

“We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away: That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

Say what you want about it…but it is hard to describe the lobbing of cruise missiles as “brave” or “heroic”, that much I know, but to call it something else doesn’t mean you abhor the act, does it?  

Must all acts of war have a courage meter?  After all, the most important aspect of any particular method of warfare is its effectiveness from a tactical perspective.  Somewhere along the lines, American troops abandoned bright red coats, drums, and marching straight into lead volleys, eventually switching to camouflage, silence, and taking cover.  If George Washington were alive today, how would he describe an attack via cruise missile?  I’m not sure it makes sense to go down this road. 

Surely, there is a more accurate and descriptive adverb that one can attach to acts that falls far short of connotations of respect.  “Foul”, “despicable”, and “contemptible” would be perfectly acceptable.  So why “cowardly”?   Over at Slate, Tim Noah pondered the same thing after 9/11 (also citing Clinton’s and Reagan’s use of the word), and I think he nailed it:

In truth, notions of “cowardice” and “bravery” are entirely irrelevant when we contemplate the horrors of terrorism. To call a terrorist “cowardly” is to substitute testosterone for morality. Somehow it isn’t enough to abhor an act of terrorism or even to promise to make the terrorist pay dearly. The rules demand that the terrorist be branded a sissy. This is not only a childish reflex, but one that weakens the moral force of the condemnation and thereby dishonors terrorism’s victims. After all, we don’t want brave people to slaughter innocent people any more than we want cowardly people to do so. Still, the public seems to demand that our presidents call terrorists cowards, and our presidents are too–well, cowardly–to deny them. (h/t Paul Krugman) Political Blogger Alliance


Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2007

This is the Chamber’s first Christmas, so I thought I’d jazz up the blog a bit with some snow, a neat header, and some Jingle Bells

We had some carolers come to the door last night, and the family and I sang right along with them.  It was great. 

Thanks for stopping by!



Never Make A Promise You Can’t Keep

December 23, 2007

Cliché?  Probably.  But I’d still consider it a good rule to live by.  Leaving aside the ethics, in my experience, the short term benefits of breaking the rule don’t outweigh the headaches that you’d deal with in the long term.  This meme was even one of the “10 Commandments” that I was expected to memorize in my old sales job.  It’s something that really should apply to everyone, everywhere…

…unless, of course, you’re a politician.

Case in point, Hillary Clinton:

Elect me and oil prices instantly drop, says Hillary Clinton in Iowa

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Hillary Clinton predicted Saturday that just electing her President will cut the price of oil.

When the world hears her commitment at her inauguration about ending American dependence on foreign fuel, Clinton says, oil-pumping countries will lower prices to stifle America’s incentive to develop alternative energy.

“I predict to you, the oil-producing countries will drop the price of oil,” Clinton said, speaking at the Manchester YWCA*. “They will once again assume, once the cost pressure is off, Americans and our political process will recede.”


*The headline says Iowa, but the piece says she was in Manchester. (?) Political Blogger Alliance


Who Gives A Flying ___ If Romney’s Pop Marched With MLK?

December 22, 2007

Seriously.  I thought that I was beginning to understand the dynamics of this war that those of us in America call the electoral process, but my mind can’t avoid being ravaged by the effects of bewilderment when I see some of the crap that is dragged into the theater.  After all, the minor embellishment that forces the analyzation of the meaning of what “saw” means has little to do with 99.9% of the much more critical situations that our country faces at the moment.   No one really saw it coming, yet, here it is:

Mike Allen / The Politico:

Witnesses recall Romney-MLK march  —  Shirley Basore, 72, says she was sitting in the hairdresser’s chair in wealthy Grosse Pointe, Mich., back in 1963 when a rumpus started and she discovered that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and her governor, George Romney, were marching for civil rights — right past the window.


Michael Luo / New York Times:

Romney Learns That ‘Facts Are Stubborn Things’  —  FORT DODGE, Iowa — There was the period last spring when Mitt Romney claimed while campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire that he had been a hunter “pretty much all my life,” only to have to admit later he had seriously hunted on only two occasions.

 And I know that its probably poor form to just copy/paste all those links from memeorandum like that.  I don’t care.   If the media really wants to run with this crap, well, I guess I can’t stop them, but at least I can call out the bloggers for taking part.  

Of all the things to focus on from Romney’s big speech (aka “The Speech”), this seems like the most surreal of the bunch.  I mean, we’re talking about a claim that has absolutely nothing to do with anything beyond an attempt to shore up a vote that the guy probably wouldn’t have had anyway.  A footnote, really. 


Just remember that, somehow, Americans everywhere have let the disingenuousness of the current administration slide right by (on issues that were, literally, a matter of life and death), while this -in comparison- is something that anyone with a pulse and a brain might throw into #135th column on the list of things that are actually important when it comes to choosing the next president of the United States. 

Did Mitt actually “see” it?  Maybe not.  Was Romney Sr. pro-MLK?  Sure.  What the ___ difference does it really make then?


But, by all means, have at it.