Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Shrillness of Defeat

I really don’t have time to go into the details, but one thing I’ve been noticing is how many Republicans are now self-destructing.  I’m not even referring to the scandals that keep unfolding, but rather their worsening behavior as the midterm election doom approaches for them.  I’m thinking of Santorum and Bush, who are increasingly labeling non-Republicans in weird ways, and Lynne Cheney, who recently smacked down Wolf Blitzer.  And I could name lots of politicians who are becoming more and more shrill as their fate becomes more apparent..

And what strikes me is how heavily they’re playing to their base now, with little regard for how the moderates and independents think about it.  And I think that this confirms a point I’ve had for years regarding Republicans, and how they really haven’t been playing to their base.  That’s been a leftwing talking point for some time, that the righties play hard to their base, but they never really do.  Because their base is, at the most, really only about the 35% of the population that continue to support Bush; and it’s probably a tad bit smaller than that.  The rest of it was all trickery perpetrated against moderates and independents, into making them think that the Republicans weren’t particularly rightwing and that it was the libs who were off-base and extremist.  And they did that by appealing to moderates and not their base.

And sure, you can certainly find many examples of them doing things for their base.  But much of that was just lip service.  They say the right words, but never really want to solve any of the problems that their base wants solved.  Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free, right.  And even then, it’s often in coded messages that their supporters understand, but which aren’t easily explained to the uninitiated.  

But these days, they’re going balls-to-the-wall bonkers in terms of openly labeling non-Republicans as loony extremists and whatnot.  And sure, that’s something that the rightwing talkers and supporters often said, but that wasn’t really coming from the actual politicians very much.  Because they didn’t need to, because the talkers and supporters were already repeating the message.  The politicians could skate across the ice that the spin-machine had already laid out for them.

And sure, Bush, Cheney, and others would often allude to libs being traitors, but again, they were never so brazen about it.  And it worked.  Their base got the message, but the mainstream moderates, independents, and Beltway pundits were relatively clueless about what was going on.  And when we tried to clue them in, they failed to believe us because they had been inoculated against the truth.  These weren’t valid criticisms we were leveling.  We were merely “Bush haters”.

But now all that’s changed.  Republican politicians are getting desperate and they’re throwing all their old chicanery out the door.  And I really don’t think it’s helping them at all.  In fact, I think it’s going to hurt them even more.  Because they’re becoming more and more shrill and saying all of the things that were once only heard on talk radio, and other places that tailor their message directly to the Republican base.  And moderates, independents and the Beltway people aren’t going to like it.  

That’s not to say that things are necessarily over for the Republicans, because anything can still happen.  Had they been doing this for about a month longer, they would have certainly been sunk by now.  And if things continue as they are, the Republican Party as we know it is effectively over.  They will continue on and on with their shrillness and appeals to the base, and will offend more and more people.  But this wasn’t some odd fluke of the system.  This is how things were supposed to be.  We’ve had a few years of a very weird period in history, due largely to the attacks on 9/11, and now the status quo is settling back in again.  And that status is with the Republicans as a shrill minority that continues to offend everyone but the truest diehards.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Playing Dirty for God

There’s been quite a bit of mild in-fighting amongst Dems on whether the Bushies are very religious, or if the Bushies were merely using the religious for their own political advantage. And frankly, I don’t see why we have to go all or nothing with this.

Take Bush, please. I have no doubts that he probably believes in some sort of a god fashioned from pieces of Christianity, and thinks this god is on his side. He’s a fairly simple guy, and like most simple people, he probably has a fairly simple idea of how the whole god thing works. And really, with the blessed life Bush has been given so far, he probably does at least have some reason to suspect that he was granted it from some higher power who had deemed him a deserving person; and it’s likely that he’d be thanking the powers above, rather than the dude below.

But does that mean that he really is a hardcore believer? That he’s actually dedicated his presidency to doing God’s work? Of course not. Because there isn’t one damn thing that’s hardcore about Bush. He’s a soft man with soft beliefs, and he believes whatever is convenient for him at the moment. Plus, he’s the type who likes to play dirty and connive always, and most likely relishes the opportunity to use God’s name when he needs stuff done. It’s like the icing on the cake.

And sure, a real god is likely to be very upset at such shenanigans, but Bush doesn’t have the intellectual depth to even comprehend such a deity. He sees God as the ultimate cheat, and he likes that best of all. He thinks he’s got God on his side, and so that it doesn’t matter if he’s fooling the other believers, or if he’s corrupting religion with his politics. And like most people, he doesn’t have the intellectual honesty to really compare these contrasting beliefs, and understand the problem.

So while he probably does really believe in God on some level, he is also abusing God on another. But rather than this being some sort of weird hang-up for the guy, I suspect that this is fairly typical among most Christians, and probably other beliefs as well. That they believe in God when it suits them, but then go on their own the rest of the time. That God is merely a device people use to rationalize their actions and opinions. And I suspect that your typical preacher or priest would largely be in agreement with that idea.

Getting High From Their Own Supply

And overall, this is the standard MO of your typical Republican. They are both believers and cynics. And while they know that they’re fooling people at some level, they also have to fool themselves too. And so rather than seeing this as a “Rove is a Liar, Joe Sixpack is being fooled” division, there is always some level of self-delusion at work in all of them.

And the whole thing really is a con-game. Each one of them fooling each other for their own advantage, while continuing to serve Kool-Aid to themselves. And while there is certainly a hierarchy of fools, at no point is there a non-believer in the batch. Even Karl Rove can get suckered into the Republican mindset. I have no doubts that he’s not religious, but even he has a soft-spot for the Republican Party. Even he wants to believe that it’s something bigger than the sham he continues to perpetuate, and sees his actions as being of the greater good.

Because nobody can really see themselves as the bad guy. No one wants to remember that they’re a fraud. They all have some justification for what they’re doing, and they all rationalize that they’re really the victims of all this. Even Karl Rove and President Bush. And that explains why they’re such a mixed-up and confused bunch, whose greatest successes will always set-up their biggest blunders, and why they will never feel confident in victory. Even winning the Whitehouse and Congress is merely a set-up for their “real” victory, which will continue to elude them as they’re really only competing against their own fears and failures which will continue to haunt them. That’s what drives them.

And if they could ever be consistent with what they actually believe, they needn’t fear victory as they do; nor would they be Republicans. That’s not to say that the Dems don’t have their share of self-delusionals, but if you’re in the business of fooling everyone and yourself, you’re probably going to pick the team that gains the most from such self-destructive trickery and which has an eager audience demanding the same. So it’s not just that Bush is running the False God Kool-Aid stand; he’s also a client.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Media Limbaugh Listeners

Has anyone done a survey of media-types to see how many of them listen to Rush Limbaugh, at least occasionally?  Hell, I’d be happy if they listened to him for research purposes, but I’m mainly referring to them as listener-listeners.  I betcha it’d be a lot higher than people suspect.  And I betcha they see him as a standard rightwing guy who knows what he’s talking about, rather than the hate-filled blowhard he really is.  And that they really do think he raises good points that the left just isn’t addressing.  

Wouldn’t that really explain so much about modern politics?  And if nothing else, putting them on the spot and making them lie about it would likely go far to get them to be ashamed of what they’re doing.  Does anyone know of such questioning?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Don't Bother Starting

Republicans really are the party of obstructionism. That’s just what they’re good at, and the role they should continue to play in American politics. As the know-it-all jerks who keep telling everyone that they’re doing it wrong while continually babbling their simple-minded theories of “how it’s done”, in that annoying tone of someone who keeps forgetting that they’re the one who keeps turning out to be wrong. And that is somewhat of a necessary role in government, to help keep the real lawmakers relatively honest and on-task. After all, there’s nothing magical about being a Democrat, and everyone needs to have their powers checked.

And the evidence of this just keeps coming in, with the handling of Iraq being an ever-flowing fount of stupidity. I was just thinking about this while reading Juan Cole’s interview with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who was the Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau chief from April 2003 to October 2004, and now serves as assistant managing editor for WaPo. In the interview, Rajiv gives the following passage from his new book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, in regards to the effort to privatize Iraq’s 150 factories:

'Even more significant at the time was a practical challenge. There was no way [Glenn] Corliss, [Brad] Jackson, and [Tim] Carney could do it by themselves. Financial records would have to be scoured, offers posted and evaluated, financing arranged. When the trio met with a team of Germans to discuss how factories in the former East Germany had been privatized, the CPA team was told that the Germans had eight thousand people working on the project.
“How many do you guys have?” one of the Germans asked. “You’re looking at all of them,” Corliss responded.
The German laughed and asked again. “No, how many people work for you?”
“No, this is it. Three people,” Corliss said.
“Don’t bother starting,” the German said. '


Needless to say, their plan didn’t work. They then devised a plan whereby they’d only work to save the best factories, and let outside companies pick-up the slack on everything else by building their own facilities. But with lousy security in Iraq and huge problems with infrastructure, that was a total bust too. And that isn’t to mention whether privatization was even a good idea, which it probably wasn’t. Maybe they felt like they had nothing better to do at the time, but hindsight seems to suggest that there were more pressing matters that they could have screwed up.

And as with so many other examples coming from the Iraq debacle, it goes to show how entirely simple-minded conservatives really are. They really do believe that if you just allow things to take their natural course, everything will work out. We don’t need government regulators. We don’t need environmentalists. We don’t need the stinking SEC or Social Security or anything else. And we certainly don’t need any so-called “experts” with their so-called “expertise”. Conservatives insist that government is a big waste of money, simply because they’re too dumb to understand why we created these things in the first place.

To them, government is a scam. That’s how they use it, and that’s what they think everyone else is doing. They don’t see a system of trial-and-error, of lessons learned and catastrophes avoided. All they see is a scam to milk money from the taxpaying cash cow. That’s what they’ve told us and that’s why they should never be allowed to control it. Because they really don’t see it as being anything else than a con job. And you know what? When Republicans are in charge, that’s all it really is.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Cheney Speaks

Ha!  I told you, I told you, I told you.  Hillary Clinton will not be the Dem nominee in 2008.  I know this because Dick Cheney just said that she was a “formidable candidate” and that “she could win”.  And seeing as how Cheney has been disastrously wrong about everything else, I see this as the total death kiss for Hillary.  And apparently, Obama has the experience to be Prez, but is a bad choice anyway; so I guess I was wrong about that.

In fact, the only thing Cheney was probably right about was that he wasn’t running for President in 2008.  But that was only because he will have already eliminated that position during the Great Coup of 2007, which finally got America on the right path for fighting terrorism, as well as winning the Final War.  Yea Dark Master Cheney!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ignorance as Power

One big difference between experts and bullshitters (besides the obvious one) is that experts hate ignorance and bullshitters require it. Experts hate having to explain things to laymen. They hate not being able to use their expert terminology and having to use babysteps in getting their message across. It’s just frustrating.

But bullshitters are exactly the opposite: They can only operate if you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Or if you do know, that you can’t prove it to anyone. Because they don’t know anything either, but are better at hiding the fact from you. Sure, Dick Cheney didn’t know that we’d be greeted as liberators in Iraq, but you didn’t know the opposite and he sure did look confident when he said it.

And in that case, there was almost no level of expertise that could convince him otherwise. Jesus Christ himself could have come down from the heavens and said “Look Dick, they’re just not going to like us and you’re opening a messy can of worms,” and Cheney would have had the dirty hippy in Gitmo faster than you can say “crucifixion”. Ignorance is the fertilizer of bullshit.

Secret Knowledge

And I was thinking of this while reading the ever-awesome Digby writing of Bush Jr’s dissing of Poppy. As he quoted from a Brian Williams interview:
And yeah, we go out and can float around there trying to catch some fish, and chat and talk, but he understands what it means to be president. He understands that often times I have information that he doesn't have. And he understands how difficult the world is today.

And here we have Bush admitting that he’s even bullshitting his old man. Because what possible info could Bush have that the rest of us don’t know regarding the situation in Iraq? Troop movements and whatnot can be secret. Plans for clearing out insurgent-strongholds can be secret. So secret, in fact, that it’s likely that Bush knows any of the details of either. But what’s not a secret is that the “insurgency” is out of control and we have no real plan or capability to defeat it.

Sure, our guys can stay as long as we want, but that’s not a strategy. And if we don’t have any real longterm plan for defeating them, which we certainly don’t have, then it’s nothing but boneheaded defiance. It’s as if they’ve replaced foreign policy with a game of King of the Hill.

The Dunce King

And this is total bullshit. Sure, Bush is privy to stuff we don’t know, but I have serious doubts that his knowledge of Iraq is comparable to that of an avid blog-reader. Seriously. He doesn’t read reports, analysis, and news articles we read. Instead, he has his staffers summarize everything for him, and he doesn’t want to hear bad news. So they just feed him bullshit, and probably comfort him by acting as if they know stuff that they’re not saying. And it works, and Bush continues to believe that everything’s so much rosier than they appear and that he’s got some secret knowledge that the naysayers and haters aren’t aware of. After all, there’s no one easier to bullshit than a bullshitter.

And honestly, what could Bush possibly know that he couldn’t tell his dad? To my knowledge, ex-presidents can still have security clearances, and there’s no way that Junior can’t trust Senior with the info. He just doesn’t want to share because he has nothing to share. Because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and needs to have some super-secret knowledge to justify his non-policy in Iraq. And that’s totally the sign of a bullshitter. Experts want people on board. Experts like to be with other experts. Experts want other people’s expert opinion. But bullshitters need you to stay in the dark as much as possible and to simply trust them.

And as should be clear to Bush, that trust just ain’t there anymore. Unfortunately for us all, he’s too much of a bullshitter to realize that. So his only strategy is to keep piling it higher and can’t figure out why we’re blaming him for everything being so crappy.


P.S. Also from that Brian Williams interview:
And I explain my strategy to him, I explain exactly what I just explained to you back there how I view the current tensions, and he takes it on board, and leaves me with this thought, “I love you son.”

And can you think of anything more unlikely and awkward than this scenario? Frankly, I find it more horrifying to think of this being true. This scene makes sense were Junior to be an independent-minded teen quickly approaching manhood. But the fact that the President of the United States is still having such awkward and forced fishing trips is very embarrassing for both him and us. I’d much rather believe that Bush was just bullshitting us again, than believe that our President still needs reinforcement of his daddy’s unconditional love.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rhetoric v. Reality

The Carpetbagger writes about how John McCain is “waffling” on the gay marriage issue when he says:
MCCAIN: On the issue of gay marriage, I do believe, and I think it's a correct policy that the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, a marriage between man and woman, should have a unique status. But I'm not for depriving any other group of Americans from having rights. But I do believe that there is something that is unique between marriage between a man and a woman, and I believe it should be protected.

And:
MCCAIN: I think that gay marriage should be allowed, if there's a ceremony kind of thing, if you want to call it that. I don't have any problem with that, but I do believe in preserving the sanctity of a union between man and woman.

And while this could easily be perceived as one of the flippingist-flip-flop waffles in recent memory, I’m just not so sure. As I commented at Carpetbagger’s, he’s not supporting two conflicting ideas, but rather two separate ideas with no real relation to each other. Specifically, he’s supporting the mindless rightwing rhetoric regarding the preservation of traditional marriage, while also supporting the right of gays to marry. And because gay marriage doesn’t in any way harm traditional marriage, there really isn’t any conflict between these two ideas. One is empty rhetoric and the other an actual policy.

If anything, I suppose you could use his statement as an indicator that he wants to allow gays to marry while giving straights Marriage-Plus or something. But I doubt that’s what he meant. I think he was just wanting to use rightwing rhetoric while entirely undermining the point of that rhetoric. Because most righties don’t want to be seen as anti-gay, they just say they’re trying to save traditional marriage. And again, because traditional marriage isn’t under assault, there is no conflict. Ironically, the rightwing rhetoric on this issue is so divorced from reality that a reality-based policy doesn’t conflict with the delusional rhetoric from the other side.

Speaking of which, I once got in a heated Yahoo debate with a supposedly gay conservative who, once you got past the rhetoric, supported gay marriage in everything but name. He thought they should have the rights and everything, but thought it was wrong to call it "marriage". Because “marriage” was a traditional word with a traditional meaning and that it would be wrong to change the meaning of the word. I tried to point-out repeatedly that words frequently change meanings and that this isn’t normally seen as a problem, but he just wasn’t having it. He insisted that allowing gays to use the word “marriage” was an attack on marriage and so a different word was necessary.

But again, it wasn’t the idea of gay marriage he opposed; but merely the phrase. It’s like he was entirely clueless as to what the debate was, and was just baiting people into calling him a bigot. And he’d continue to insist that he wasn’t bigoted (partly based upon his assertion that he was gay (an assertion I found somewhat dubious as the conversation progressed)), and acted as if libs were arguing against his absurd argument, rather than arguing against the real one. I’m not sure if he was willingly blind to what this debate really is, or if he was a victim of his own obtuseness; but that’s the kind of thing we’re up against.

As is the case with so many issues, we’re not debating our policies against theirs. We’re just debating against empty words. And once you get past the words, you’ll see a lot more agreement than appears on the surface. These aren’t necessarily unreasonable people; they’re just taught the wrong words.

Lukewarm Spit for President

Once again, Digby sets the scene and I find my own thoughts treading in his direction. I like Barack Obama well enough, and had thought he wouldn’t make the worst choice for President. I saw VP as more his thing, thanks to his lack of experience, but we could do worse for President. But Digby’s totally right and Barack is just going to have to sit this one out. Sure, it’d be a shame if our four-year system forced Barack to miss his window of opportunity, but until he actually earns some sort of reputation beyond his media-built one, that’s just the way things have to be. It’s not enough just to talk well. I want a President with actual accomplishments.

Frankly, I had already been thinking that the reason he wasn’t using his popularity to be a strong Dem was because he didn’t want to tarnish his rep with the dreaded stain of partisanship or (god forbid) a political failure. And isn’t that the real reason why they’re pushing Obama so much: Because he hasn’t been around long enough to develop a negative reputation, and can still float-by on rhetorical flourishes and Beltway adoration? And call me crazy, but I’m fairly certain that’s how we got stuck with our current Whitehouse occupant, who is still trying to float-by on rhetorical flourishes and Beltway adoration. Before becoming Prez, I believe Bush once even stated that 2000 was the year he needed to run for President, and that his moment would have passed had he missed that opportunity. Apparently, invincibility just ain’t what it used to be.

And just to show no hard feelings against Barack, I just added his name to my spellchecker. So he’s at least got that going for him. And if he’s not the flash-in-the-pan that he might turn out to be, the phrase President Obama might yet be a common refrain on this blog. As in the sentence “Why conservatives are wrong for suggesting President Obama is the devil” and “Why Republicans shouldn’t impeach President Obama”. I even see “Why the Beltway pundits soured on President Obama” as an obvious choice. I can’t wait.

Government Busters

I occasionally watch the Mythbusters show and find it fairly interesting. But the one aspect of the show that I don’t like is that they have the emphasis all wrong. On the show, they take urban legends and other oddities and try to show whether or not they could be possible. And they do so by trying to reenact the “myth” and see if they can make it happen. And if they can’t recreate what was supposed to happen, they pronounce the myth to be “busted”.

But that’s just stupid. Sure, these are smart guys and can clearly do more than myself. But just because these two guys can’t do something doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. For example, I saw one episode where they tried to see if you could make a bullet out of ice, so as to kill someone without leaving a bullet; as the CIA has supposedly done. And because these two guys with fairly limited means and capability couldn’t make a successful ice bullet, they insisted that the myth was “busted”.

But that’s just stupid. Because the CIA would certainly have more resources, talent, time, and incentive to work on such things, and just because these two guys couldn’t do it doesn’t mean jack dooky. If I needed a secret assassination, I’d still turn to the CIA over the Mythbusters. Or at least I always have so far…

And it only works the other way around. If these guys successfully recreate the myth, then they can announce that it’s valid. But a failure on their part doesn’t mean anything. Because maybe they screwed up. Or were unlucky. Or whatever. Only success is meaningful, but you can’t prove a negative. Failure only means that they failed, not that the myth is “busted”.

And the big problem I have with all this is that they clearly want to show that the myths are busted. That’s the name of the show and seems to be what they’re trying to prove. And so they have some incentive for failure, and I think that’s stupid. Because I don’t want to see them fail. I want to see them succeed. And I want them to be upset when they fail, and they’re not. Particularly the one weasely guy who I’ve always found so annoying. You know which one I’m talking about. The guy who takes so much delight in announcing that the myth was “busted”. It’s like he totally wants to fail. But they both really do, and that seems to be the whole point of the show. And that’s stupid.

Republican Failure

And no, this wasn’t just a rant against a TV show, I actually had a point. And it’s that the conservatives have the exact same attitude about government. They don’t want it to work. They want it to fail. They want the poor people to get screwed. They want government corruption. They want power abused. And they want everyone to hate the government and demand their tax dollars back. Overall, they want to bust the myth that government is for the people; and so far, they’ve done a damn good job of that.

And so that’s what we get during a Republican reign. People die needlessly. The poor get poorer. Here’s a story I just read about their attempt at stopping Medicare fraud by depriving people of wheelchairs. Here’s another one about a Republican politician in Colorado abusing a law enforcement database to give his commercials more oomph. And the hits keep coming.

And this is exactly what they want. They hate government. And even when they abuse government to hand tax dollars to their political investors, it serves this same purpose. They just don’t want government to work and they want to show how ripe for abuse it all is. Sure, they don’t actually want to get caught doing this stuff, but it really does fit into their overall message. They don’t like government. And that’s why they can’t be trusted with government, and is one big reason for why things are now going against them. Because people really do need government, even if they like to pretend that they don’t.

That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be vocal loons helping keep Democratic politicians in line, because that’s precisely what we need. Dems can be corrupt too, and fiscal sanity can often come from people who are themselves fiscally insane. But they shouldn’t be given actual control over things. We can’t do things their way and most Americans don’t want that at all. And unless Fate is screwing with us or Diebold gets too bold, it looks like we won’t be doing it their way for much longer. But it’s not a fluke. It’s because people really do expect their government to work. This is one myth that people do not want busted.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Legal Entities and Land Deals

I don’t know why, but I rarely actually blog about CPA stuff or use my tax knowledge for any blogging purpose.  But I thought I would step into this Harry Reid – LLC business and give some of my personal opinion on the matter (though nothing in this post should be considered my professional opinion).  And if you don’t already know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to repeat it here; so you’ll have to go elsewhere and read up on the basic facts.  I’ll wait.

First off: Yes, Reid shouldn’t have reported that he personally owned land that he had transferred to an LLC.  But that’s really not such a big deal.  I’ve been dealing with small businesses and whatnot for a long enough time to know that most business people really don’t care about this stuff.  They don’t know why they have to use LLC’s and S-Corporations and whatnot to do business, and see it as a sort of scam by the legal and accounting cabal to get their money.  

It all makes sense, and they do it because it helps them for tax purposes, as well as shielding them from personal liability, but they don’t know why they’re doing it and get bugged by all the details and questions I have to ask when they’re doing this stuff.  There’s nothing scammy about it, but they consider the business to be theirs, and everything the business owns, they own.  And that just makes sense.

And the real problem here is that the AP reporter and the conservatives bitching about Reid don’t understand what the hell they’re talking about.  They’re trying to pin-point some sort of scandal, as if Reid sold land to a company for nothing and then somehow benefited because people didn’t know that he was really owning the land.  And if there was some reason why he needed to pretend to not own land that he really did, that would make sense.  Like if he was passing legislation that benefited the land deal and didn’t want anyone to know about it.  But that’s not the case.  People set-up LLC’s all the time and transfer assets to them, and it’s not a big deal.

And the fact that Reid was continuing to report himself as the owner of the land totally puts the lie to that.  Again, this would be scandalous if he was pretending to not own something that he really did own.  But this is the opposite.  That he was pretending to own land that he technically didn’t own…but he really sort of did.  Perhaps this is shocking to some, but when a person transfers property to a company they own, they often consider the property to still be theirs.  As I said, they see LLC’s and whatnot as mere formalities that CPA’s and lawyers force them to go through, and that really is what they are.  

Because Reid really did own that land.  And for tax purposes, he’s personally liable for paying the taxes on that land sale, even if he didn’t see any of the money.  The money could have been kept in the business for further land purchases.  Or it could have been eaten up by expenses.  But for tax purposes, that sale was his sale; not the company’s.  The LLC wasn’t going to be taxed on it, Reid would be.  And so would his partner.  And the fact that he took his money out of the company isn’t a big deal.  Again, this kind of stuff happens all the time, and is the way that non-accounting people do it.

And then there’s the issue of the AP reporter referring to Reid’s transfer of assets as a “sale” to the LLC.  That is entirely wrong, even by technical standards.  It was a contribution to the company in exchange for membership into the LLC.  And that’s how it’s done.  As someone on Glenn Greenwald’s commentboard mentioned, had Reid given $400k to the LLC so that it could purchase the land itself, no one would consider him to be selling the cash.  That would be called a contribution, and transferring the land to the LLC is no different.  And that is the technical and legal understanding of that transaction, which the AP reporter ignored in order to make this seem scandalous.

And again, he should have reported it differently.  But the fact that he was actually claiming stronger ownership then he really had is really a huge difference.  And as I said, all of my clients consider their corporations, partnerships, and LLC’s to be personally owned by them anyway; and everything the business owns, they consider to be owned by them personally (though that’s not to say that they use the assets for non-business purposes).  This isn’t the same as owning stock in Exxon, and if they could get the same benefits without setting up these legal entities, they would.  But the business world insists on forming these entities and laymen do the best they can to keep track of it.

And as a final note, all of this is totally a sham anyway.  That AP reporter has shown that he’s out to pin something on Reid, even if he has to manufacture it himself; and the Republicans are just desperate to find Dems to smear for the corruption that is clearly endemic in their system.  I only posted this long defense of the transaction because I haven’t been posting frequently enough and needed something to say.  

Monday, October 16, 2006

Election Day Meddling

Carpetbagger mentions that Saddam’s verdict is to be announced a few days before the mid-term election and suspects this may have been rigged by the Bushies to help the GOP in the election. But I just don’t see how that happens. Republicans certainly don’t want to talk about Iraq right now, and the few people who still hate Saddam enough that they think this catastrophe was justified were surely the diehards who were already going to vote Republican. And so this suddenly brings a big focus on Iraq at a time that it’s clearly become an albatross to all Republicans.

And then there’s the fact that there is likely to be some sort of negative reaction to what many Iraqis will see as a kangaroo court. At a minimum there is likely to be an increase in violence that day. And with the deadline known this far in advance, there is likely to be a big event planned to show their disgust with the process. And sure, they’re likely to go into lockdown mode that day, but that still isn’t enough to ensure that this special day isn’t missed; particularly if the insurgents watch our news broadcasts and are aware of what is at stake on our end, which Republicans insist is the case.

And what about the longshot? What if the court announces that they didn’t have enough evidence against Saddam and find him Not Guilty. Sure, that’s got a super-slim chance of happening, but who knows? Crazier things have happened. And could you imagine the disaster that would be for the Republicans?

All this just seems so obvious that I’m having a hard time believing that even the Bushies could be so delusional that they’d think this was a good idea. Sure, they’ve set an awfully high standard for delusional behavior, but this really seems beyond even them. In fact, I wonder if this is really a big “Fuck You” from the Iraqis themselves, wishing to screw things over for Bush and hasten the removal of our troops.

Maybe not, who knows. But I don’t see how this works out well for the GOP, and if things turn out as badly as they could, this may be seen as the final nail in the neo-con coffin. Even if things turn out well that day in Iraq, a Democratic landslide on Election Day would surely reflect voter preference against the Iraq Adventure.

No More Kerry

I’m not trying to be rude, but I’d prefer that Kerry not get a second chance in 2008. I was perfectly fine with him getting the 2004 nomination and thought he was probably the best that we’d be likely to get. But I really don’t want to see him again in 2008. I’ll take Gore. I might even put up with a Hilary nomination, though I really wouldn’t be happy about it. But Kerry is a total no-go with me.

Is that wrong? He was my pick even before he got the nomination last time, but I’d prefer not to see him anymore, including with the emails he keeps sending me every once in awhile. I never got burned of Gore, but I really don’t like Kerry anymore. I don’t even blame him for losing, but I just don’t see him as the guy. We need somebody different. He was ok in 2004, but now we need more of a firebrand. Somebody to take us into the future. I really don’t know who I support right now, but I just don’t want Kerry anymore. Is that so wrong?

Something to Write About

I have got absolutely nothing to write about, which is why it’s imperative that I say something now. I could say nothing, but that’d be playing right into their hands. I really think we’ll win back the Congress, unless of course we don’t, which would totally suck. But wouldn’t it be totally awesome if we did. Which I think we might. Yeah Team!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Two Bad Alternatives

That NY Times article I linked to in my last post said:
Several members said they were struck during their visit to Baghdad by how many Americans based there — political and intelligence officers as well as members of the military — said they feared that the United States was stuck between two bad alternatives: pulling back and watching sectarian violence soar, or remaining a crucial part of the new effort to secure Baghdad, at the cost of much higher American casualties.

WTF???

First off, you don’t need to travel to Iraq to realize that we’re stuck between two bad alternatives, so I’m a bit confused at how several of these brilliant minds were “struck” by this most obvious of facts. I myself am struck by the fact that I continue to wish these people were lying to me, rather than to admit to the alternative.

And secondly, what person in their right mind would state the two alternatives like that? Because the first one is correct, that we could pull back and the violence would soar. But the second one is still part of the Republican fantasy, that we’d be a “crucial part of a new effort” with the only problem being more casualties. But that’s not really what the second alternative is. The second alternative is that the presence of American troops in Iraq is actually making things worse, with the cure being for us to “cut and run”. That’s the position of many experts and non-experts alike, including myself.

But it’s like the NY Times just can’t say that. I mean, if I thought there was a realistic chance that more American casualties could lead to success and that this was the worst-case scenario, I would be likely to support them staying there. I always opposed the war, but wasn’t always a supporter of us leaving Iraq until we fixed it. But at this point, I’m fairly convinced that our troops are a big part of the problem. It wasn’t always that way, but there can be no doubt of this now.

And sure, things are likely to be bad if we leave. But things are likely to be bad if we stay, and quite possibly worse. And that’s the conclusion that any intelligent person should have realized by now. And despite the snark in my last post, no, there really aren’t any good solutions for this. The fact that we’re stuck between two obviously bad positions doesn’t mean that there’s a third way out. Sometimes, life just sucks and you’re stuck taking the better of two horrible alternatives. And at this point, I really believe that things are worse if we stay. Not just because of mounting casualties, but because the Iraqi’s really hate our troops and are part of the problem. That’s not to blame them for that, but it’s just a fact.

And when you get right down to it, the real problem is that they were sent there in the first place, and it’s an incredibly dumb idea to allow the fools who got us into this mess to continue to stumble to fix it. Particularly when, for them, the only viable option is to continue with the original plan in hopes of saving their own reputations. They’re trying to prove that they weren’t wrong when everyone knows that they were, and they’re willing to sacrifice almost anything to obtain that result. For them, a stable Iraq isn't enough. They want to be personally victorious, and will risk great failure to ensure that it's won "their" way. And that’s reason enough to get rid of them. Yet somehow, I doubt that Baker’s plan will be including that obvious solution.

Two Bad Alternatives

That NY Times article I linked to in my last post said:
Several members said they were struck during their visit to Baghdad by how many Americans based there — political and intelligence officers as well as members of the military — said they feared that the United States was stuck between two bad alternatives: pulling back and watching sectarian violence soar, or remaining a crucial part of the new effort to secure Baghdad, at the cost of much higher American casualties.

WTF???

First off, you don’t need to travel to Iraq to realize that we’re stuck between two bad alternatives, so I’m a bit confused at how several of these brilliant minds were “struck” by this most obvious of facts. I myself am struck by the fact that I continue to wish these people were lying to me, rather than to admit to the alternative.

And secondly, what person in their right mind would state the two alternatives like that? Because the first one is correct, that we could pull back and the violence would soar. But the second one is still part of the Republican fantasy, that we’d be a “crucial part of a new effort” with the only problem being more casualties. But that’s not really what the second alternative is. The second alternative is that the presence of American troops in Iraq is actually making things worse, with the cure being for us to “cut and run”. That’s the position of many experts and non-experts alike, including myself.

But it’s like the NY Times just can’t say that. I mean, if I thought there was a realistic chance that more American casualties could lead to success and that this was the worst-case scenario, I would be likely to support them staying there. I always opposed the war, but wasn’t always a supporter of us leaving Iraq until we fixed it. But at this point, I’m fairly convinced that our troops are a big part of the problem. It wasn’t always that way, but there can be no doubt of this now.

And sure, things are likely to be bad if we leave. But things are likely to be bad if we stay, and quite possibly worse. And that’s the conclusion that any intelligent person should have realized by now. And despite the snark in my last post, no, there really aren’t any good solutions for this. The fact that we’re stuck between two obviously bad positions doesn’t mean that there’s a third way out. Sometimes, life just sucks and you’re stuck taking the better of two horrible alternatives. And at this point, I really believe that things are worse if we stay. Not just because of mounting casualties, but because the Iraqi’s really hate our troops and are part of the problem. That’s not to blame them for that, but it’s just a fact.

And when you get right down to it, the real problem is that they were sent there in the first place, and it’s an incredibly dumb idea to allow the fools who got us into this mess to continue to stumble to fix it. Particularly when, for them, the only viable option is to continue with the original plan in hopes of saving their own reputations. They’re trying to prove that they weren’t wrong when everyone knows that they were, and they’re willing to sacrifice almost anything to obtain that result. For them, a stable Iraq isn't enough. They want to be personally victorious, and will risk great failure to ensure that it's won "their" way. And that’s reason enough to get rid of them. Yet somehow, I doubt that Baker’s plan will be including that obvious solution.

Super Baker to the Rescue!

I’m convinced.  James Baker is the brilliant granddaddy of international wonkery and I’m sure he really does have a really really great plan to fix Iraq, that he can only tell us about after the election.  You know, to avoid politicizing the thing.  So I think it’s safe to say that it’s once again ok to vote Republican this mid-term.  Sure, the chances of Bush implementing anything that isn’t exactly what he’s already been doing is approximately 0% (and possibly quite a bit lower), but I’d rather follow the brilliant James Baker’s plan with a 0% chance of success than risk appeasing the terrorists by actually using the democratic processes that they hate so much by electing people who actually might want to attempt something resembling a “plan”.  Thank god we have non-partisans like Baker to save us from ourselves.

Downdrafting my Surge

You guys suck.  I mean no offense by that, but you guys are really bringing me down bigtime.  As I’m sure you know, this blog had a huge surge in popularity coming into the homestretch of the election season, but thanks to your disgusting antics and political fumbling, I’m finding my daily hits to be approaching an all-time low.  Not to say that they’re low by mortal blog standards, but thanks to your screw-ups, miscues, and downright boobery I’m finding myself struggling just to stay in the top tier of blogdom.    Pathetic.

I hate to say this, but I’m with Bush on this one.  It’s not enough to be a brave and glorious leader if you’ve got numbnuts for underlings.  I mean, how the hell am I supposed to be the Grand Master of All-Things Bloggy, if I have to constantly use all my blog capital to keep you guys afloat?  Huh?  The blog charts show I was about to surpass even Atrios in blog hits, and now you guys’ suckiness has totally brought me down.  You should be ashamed.  Jesus christ, are you people bloggers or fricking congressmen?

So shape up or ship out.  I don’t need you fools and will go it alone if I have to.  I spent the first thirty-three years of my life drunkenly ranting in my PJ’s each night and I can spend the next thirty-three doing the same.  You’ll see.  I don’t need you.  I don’t need anyone.  I’ll stick to my drunken ranting even if Bush and Barney are the only ones supporting me.  And I don’t need anything else.  Well, and this ashtray.  And this paddle game.  And this remote control.  The ashtray, the paddle game, the remote control, Bush, and Barney, and that’s all I need.  And I’d give it all up for a really good thermos.  I’m sure Bush is with me on that.  

So you a-holes really need to pick up the slack a little bit or you’re going to have to go find yourselves a new blogger to suck dry.  This gravytrain is over, bitch.  You can put out or you can get out.  Your choice.  But I’m putting the pedal to the metal and plan to be Numero Uno Bloggerino by early November.  And then me and Bush will be sitting on top of the world, drinking out of that thermos, telling the story of our success while waiting for our families to bail us out.  You’ll see.


(For the record, I don’t actually wear PJ’s and was only speaking metaphorically)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Uncovering the Cover-Up

Marci Hamilton at Findlaw suggests that the Republican leadership could have learned a lot from the Catholic Clergy Abuse scandals, had they been willing to do so.  As she writes:
The motivation of those in power, in each case, was to protect an institution: To save the Church's, or Congress', or the Republican Party's power and reputation. It was also to further secure the power of individual men. It should go without saying that no reputation, and no power, that is built on lies, and on the cover-up of serious crimes, is worth protecting.

And while I disagree somewhat with the naive morality in that last sentence, the whole thing is wrong.  It’s the same thing we saw with the Watergate thing, that many people still insist that Nixon shouldn’t have covered-up what happened.  But to coverer-uppers, of course they should have covered it up.  No doubt about it.  Because they cover-up lots of things and it almost always works.  If you’re going to do lots of wrong-doing, it’s always better to cover everything up.  And if someone on your side is doing wrong-doing and you’d prefer to not have them exposed, it’s always better to cover it up.

Watergate wasn’t some fluke, and for Nixon to not cover that up would demand that he not cover-up all the other stuff he did.  And that just wasn’t going to happen, because he wanted to do that stuff and needed to get away with it.  And of course there’s lots of bad stuff that Nixon did that we never found out about.  And sure, he shouldn’t have done it.  But he wanted to.  And if he was going to do it, he had to cover it up.  And it worked.  Sure, Watergate got him in trouble; but without that kind of stuff, he might not have got the Whitehouse in the first place or kept it.  People always talk of the dirty tricks as a character flaw, but maybe that was how he stayed so successful.  It was both a blessing and a curse.  And even still, my knowledge of Watergate is enough to say that we’d have never found out about it, had they done a slightly more aggressive job of covering it up.  That wasn’t an isolated incident, but merely a fluke uncovering that should never have happened.

Same goes for the Catholics and the whole man-boy love thing.  They covered it up for a long long time, and it really worked for them.  It’s doubtful that it started in our lifetimes, or even a few lifetimes before us.  It most likely goes back for centuries.  Only a na├»ve twit would suggest otherwise.  Are we really going to suggest that they’d just now start telling the truth about it?  Why?  At any given time during most of the church’s history, they had a molestation problem.  That would have to be the case statistically speaking, even if we didn’t acknowledge the increased risk factor of a population of men who leaned against the marriage thing.  Maybe it hadn’t occurred to early church leaders that the celibacy requirement might bring the flakes out of the woodwork, but I’m sure it didn’t take too long for that fact of life to become apparent.  I’m not trying to disparage the priesthood, but it seems fairly obvious that they’re going to get a lot of people who don’t fit into normal society.  

And so you’re just going to start uncorking that bottle in the 50’s?  Or the 70’s?  Or the 80’s or 90’s?  Of course not.  Again, this has got to be going back for centuries.  Why start telling the truth now?  They had a good thing going, so why not continue it as long as possible?  It’s not like there’s ever a good time to admit to this stuff.  Sure, they’re suffering now.  But there was never a time in history that they’d have gotten off easy.  Once you start the cover-up, it’s just best to stick with it for as long as possible.

And that’s the thing: Just because we’ve finally exposed a cover-up doesn’t mean that cover-ups aren’t successful.  Because that’s the whole point of the cover-up; you never hear about the successful ones.  And sure, you can point out a few cover-ups that went awry and made things worse for the coverers.  But for every cover-up exposed, there are tons of ones we never find out about.  And so it does no good to rail against cover-ups.  In fact, the whole reason people attack the cover-up is because they want to convince people to not do them.  But not because they’re so disastrous, but for the exact opposite reason; because they’re so successful.

So it just comes right back down to the original crime.  You shouldn’t do them.  And if you do the crime, you should just try to cover it up.  Because that just works better.  It’s worse to get caught in a cover-up, but it’s even worse to get caught by multiple crimes.  Unfortunately for democracy, the bullshitters and the cheaters will beat the truth-tellers and the fair almost every time, and where you have cheating bullshittery, cover-ups will be close behind.  We can tsk-tsk the morality of the coverers, but we’d be fools to ignore their success.  We may bitch about the cover-ups, but the original crime really was the problem.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dastardly Dems Did It

I confess. I’m to blame for the Foley Sex Scandal. No, I didn’t tell Foley to go after the dudes. And I didn’t convince the young’uns to lead Foley on with their tantalizing teenness. And I certainly wasn’t the clergyman who first exposed Foley to the joys of boy teens. But I did know about it. I did know what Foley was doing, and as such, I am fully to blame for what happened and am willing to take the proper actions in the future.

Sure, I didn’t “know” know, in any kind of meaningful sense of the word. Hell, I had never even heard of this “Congressional Page” program until this scandal broke, and think the whole thing is pretty weird. And even had I known of it, I probably wouldn’t have connected the dots to realize that some Congressman might use it as his own personal boy store. But I knew that guys like Foley would do things to people like those teens; and I did know that Republicans are hypocritical liars with little self-control or moral compass. And with that knowledge, I am more culpable than Foley in what he did, and far more culpable than the Republican leadership who coddled Foley and allowed him to continue with his dastardly activities.

I mean, it’s obvious that Foley isn’t to blame. He had that alcohol problem or whatever. And he was awestruck with infatuation for youth. So he was like putty in their world-wizened teen hands. And what about the Republican leadership? Same damn thing. Infatuated with power and booze. What choice did they have? They thought they were getting away with something, and we just led them on. This was nothing short of entrapment. We let them have their little cover-up and then WHAMMO! we struck them down just weeks before a crucial election. It’s like waking a sleepwalker and mocking them for going into shock. How unkind.

But what’s our excuse? Sure, I’m often a hopeless drunk when I write many of these posts, but I certainly don’t have an alcohol problem, and Dems have been out of power long enough that that addiction must clearly be over. So we’ve got no excuse. We could have privately imposed one of our famous addiction counseling sessions on Foley, or just continued to turn the blind eye to the immoral proclivities that we clearly preach of in absence of a deity to teach us otherwise. But no. We led them on, biding our time, and then struck like a vulture on Thanksgiving. For shame.

And what of myself? In all this I said nothing. Not once did I accuse Congressman Foley of being a teen-lusting pervert. And never once did I accuse the Republican leadership of sanctioning teen lust. Look over my blog, you’ll see. I’ve been blogging for over a year and a half, yet nary a word on the subject. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I write a lot. I mean a LOT. And in all that writing, I couldn’t spare one word to expose Congressman Foley’s perversions. Not one.

So how was Foley to know this would be a problem? He could have scoured every word I wrote and still felt secure in asking those teens how they liked to jerk it. Or probing to find out how far his online teen acquaintances would allow him to go after a night out on the town. Of this, I gave no warning at all. So I am more than complicit in this. I am to blame.

And I think if you search your soul (or the remnants there of), you’ll see that you’re to blame too. We said nothing when all the signs were right there in front of us, and then all too proudly jumped on these poor bastards right when it would hurt them the most. I mean, if these guys are so lacking in self-control and commonsense that they would screw over our children by cutting taxes during a wartime recession and already growing deficits, naughty emails were clearly the next step. We ignored the obvious warnings.

But no more. I can sit here wallowing in shame or I can do something about it. And by god, I’m now going to do something about it. No longer will I wait until people tell me that the GOP are scuzbags who can’t control themselves. No. From now on, I’m going proactive with my scuzbag alerts. Not only will I be assuming that all GOP Congressmen are schtupping young boys, but I’ll assume that all the rest of them are covering up for these dastardly deeds. I’ll be repeating that every chance I get. How can I not? I have a sixteen-year-old of my own, and while I have a hard time imagining any grown person seriously being interested in him (for no other reason than the hygiene issue, or lack there of (and that’s not even to mention the whole acne thing, which is tres gross)); but I just can’t allow ignorance to blind me.

So here it is: All Republican Congressmen are perverted scuzbag liars who are schtupping our children, raping our wives, and destroying our nation; and any protests to the contrary constitutes a gross fraud and cover-up on their part. They may accuse me of overstatement and lies, but no longer can they accuse me of saying nothing. I’ve covered my bases and will continue to do so indefinitely into the future. Not for mere partisan gain, but to protect the children. I hate to say it, but Republicans have left us with no other choice.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Separating the Right

Carpetbagger suggests that the Foley Sex scandal has broken the GOP into two parts, saying:
And just as an aside, it's also worth noting how conservatives have broken up into two camps over the last week — one that's disgusted with the GOP's handling of the scandal and believes the party needs responsible leadership for a change, and another that will embrace fantastical conspiracy theories involving Dems, Soros, the media, and the "velvet mafia."

I’m sure the lines aren’t neatly divided, as many of these dopes will accidentally pick the wrong side, but for the most part, I think these divisions will prove to be the difference between conservatives and Republicans. Some Republicans are diehard conservatives who are slowly getting disgusted with how the political apparatus is screwing up their policy goals, and other Republicans are diehard Republicans who are slowly getting disgusted with turncoat conservatives who won’t support the party at all costs.

For example, the Washington Times is conservative, and are disgusted with what the GOP has linked them to. So they’ve demanded Hastert’s resignation. Limbaugh, who has the background of a conservative and still leans that way, has long since learned his lesson and, while occasionally taking snipes at the GOP, will toe any line necessary. His main goal isn’t necessarily to support the GOP, but mainly to convince conservatives that Dems are evil and so they should hold their noses and keep voting Republican. And that’s exactly what his strategy in the Foley case has shown. He’s demonizing the Dems.

But it’s not just this scandal. These lines have always existed and libs really needed to do a better job of prying these two groups apart. They don’t have the same interests and lumping them all together in our attacks is the same mistake Republicans have committed by lumping all Muslim extremists together. They’ll stay together as long as their interests converge, and it’s our job to see that that doesn’t happen. But lumping them all together and attacking them as one will only serve to keep them together.

And the key is to get at the conservatives. The Republicans will never go away and will always keep the fight, because they have no other choice. And the fact that they became Republican is reason enough to know that they’ll enjoy that fight. They don’t care what they’re supporting, just as long as they win.

But the conservatives are now really looking for excuses to bail, hide-out for a few years, before reemerging into the political arena. We really need to do more to hasten that process, and a big loss in the mid-terms is quite likely to have that effect. The only thing keeping them tied to the GOP is victory. We need to deprive them of that while reminding them of how badly the GOP has abused their support. At this point, that’s pretty easy to do. We just need to remember to do it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Question of the Day

I was just wondering what you've done today to make this blog even more popular. Well?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Historical Lessons

I’m not sure what’s worse: That Condi Rice is trying to fool us yet again into thinking that the pre-9/11 warnings of an imminent attack were merely “historical” in nature, or that Condi really could be given a special briefing by the head of the CIA and somehow fail to see the non-historical nature of what she was being told.  

Sure, she’s probably lying through her teeth (which I would be rude in pointing out why that’s so easy for her); but it’s equally likely that this is merely another sign of her incompetence and tunnel-vision.  For the Bushies, everything is historical.  They think they already have the facts.  There is nothing new to consider.  You just keep plugging away towards the same goal and imagine that everyone else is doing the same damn thing.  

And so when the head of the CIA gives you a warning, you might just assume that he’s repeating himself again; rather than trying to convey something new.  And the Bushies had their eyes on a bigger prize than swatting individual terrorists; they had a new world order to institute.  History will hate these people.