Sunday, December 31, 2006

3,000 Troops Dead

At this point, 3,000 brave American soldeirs are dead...

As Bush plans to battle the new Congress over his ill-fated "surge"...

As the vicious cycle of violence continues in Baghdad...

As the talking heads still talk about the dead dictator...

Now 3,000 of our courageous men and women are dead...
And for what?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam's Dead... So Now What?

So now what? You got your stupid, petty "revenge"...
Congratulations, President Bush. Saddam Hussein is now dead...

So now what?

Now will you allow any more of our brave troops to be killed by Sunni militias looking for "revenge" for your act of "revenge"?

Will you allow this failed occupation to cause further suffering for the poor people there?

Will you allow this nation to continue being raped and pillaged so that your military contractor pals can continue to reap outrageous profits?

So now what, Dubya? Must we continue to suffer because of your delusions of grandeur? Must we continue to allow you to turn Iraq into the most fucked up failed state of our time?

So now what?

Saddam's Dead Now

OK, I told you that I'd be back to the hard news soon...
And here ya go:

Saddam Hussein has just been executed. Or, at least, this is what the BBC is saying. Apparently, local Iraqi media is now reporting that he's dead...

But don't expect this to save Iraq. Just as the elections did nothing, and the capture of Saddam did nothing, this will ultimately do nothing to transform Iraq into some legacy-saving "success" for Dubya...

Just wait until the the Sunni militias exact "revenge" for this...
And the Shiite militias strike back...
And the old cycle of violence goes on...

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Saddam and his bloody ways. Good riddance to that horrid, genocidal murderer. Still, I can't see how this will somehow help Bush win his war.

My Last Visit to the Pacific in 2006

OK, so I know that I've been talking about some grim subjects lately...
And yes, I will most certainly get back to them soon...
But right now, I'd like to divert your attention for a moment.

I am just so grateful that I live in the most amazing place on earth! While the rest of the country freezes its patooties off, and especially Denver and the Mountain West are buried under a few more feet of snow...
We in Orange County enjoy warmth and sunshine! Just sit back and enjoy as we frolick through CDM beach in Newport:

2007: Beware the Fall

For the last couple of years, we've been running on our credit cards and adjustable mortgages. I can tell you that here in Southern California, many of us "felt wealthy" because in an instant, our $200,000 cottages transformed into $1,000,000 "charmers". Quite a few folks here borrowed off the "charmer" to fix it up...
Then, they sold that old "charmer" and borrowed some more to buy a new McMansion...
And during the whole time, they were borrowing more off their credit cards to shop 'til they dropped at Nordstrom and Saks...

But now, things are changing. People are not as giddy about the real estate market as they were in the not-so-distant past. And though it's not a total disaster here, houses are sitting on the market for longer...

And, of course, people here can't just get another mortgage and keep on shopping the way that they used to. Mortgages just aren't that cheap anymore. Personally, I'm getting afraid that we might start to see more foreclosures as people can no longer afford all those pricey payments: (From Bloomberg)

About 20 percent of sub-prime mortgages granted in the last two years will end in foreclosure as owners struggle to make payments and home prices stagnate.

That rate is almost double the 2002 level and could result in about 2.2 million U.S. borrowers losing their homes, the Center for Responsible Lending said in a report. The non-profit advocacy group's analysis of mortgage data shows homeowners risk losing $164 billion in wealth through 2014.

The weakening U.S. housing market is straining some borrowers. Year-over-year median existing home prices fell for the three months ending Oct. 31 to $221,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. That suggests less equity for consumers who might have used it to pay off sub-prime loans, which account for one in four U.S. mortgages granted today.

``There's a very high rate of trouble in these loans,'' Kathleen Keest, senior policy counsel for the center, said in an interview. ``Those of us who have been on the ground watching the foreclosures had been getting more and more concerned.''

Once upon a time, many of us in Southern California blithely enjoyed our good lives in our McMansions as we continued to borrow off the home to pay the monthly credit card bils for all the fabulous shopping that we did...
But now, that McMansion isn't worth as much asit used to be...
And the neighboring McMansions for sale have been sitting on the market for not just days, but months...
And the mortgage payments on that "interest only" loan are starting to skyrocket...
And those credit card payments look downright frightening...

Our economy has been running on debt for a while, but now that America can't afford all that debt, I'm afraid that America won't be able to heed Bush's call to "do more shopping"...

Sorry, Mr. President. Our credit card is maxed out, and our mortgage is simply unbearable.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford in 2004: "I don't think I would have gone to war"

So here's what Former President Gerald Ford told Bob Woodward in 2004:

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

Well, it kinda surprises me...
But it really doesn't.

Ya see, Gerald Ford was part of the realist old school that believed that a nation's foreign policy should be guided by its strategic self-interest. Realists are not idealistic, and they are not guided by wild fantasies. Now while they also dismiss the idea of taking values into consideration, and they are not particularly guided by morals.

Now once I remembered that Ford was a part of that realist tradition, I could understand why Ford would object to the wild ways of the neocons. As we have seen, being bogged down in the Middle East is not in our best interest. Losing the goodwill of the entire world is not in our best interest. Beginning a civil war in another country is not in our best interest...

It is just too bad that Bob Woodward sat on this interview for the last two and a half years. Now yes, I understand that Ford wanted this under wraps until he died...
But still, why should a reporter be complicit in saving face for a failed administration via silence? Was he just saving materials for his new book, as Nitpicker suggests? Was he helping Ford save face for the GOP?

While on one hand, I appreciate Ford's willingness to call out Bush & Co. for their unrealistic fantasies of hegemony over the Middle East, and Woodward sharing this with us now...

But why couldn't they just share this with us two and a half years ago, when we had a chance to give Bush & Co. a real "accountability moment"?

As Mogadishu Burns

What just happened in Somalia? (From The Guardian)

Ethiopian tanks rolled into the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, yesterday after Somalia's Islamist movement abandoned its bases in the city.

Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies were wresting back control over Mogadishu as Islamist fighters, surrounded and outgunned, fled in convoy early in the morning towards the southern port city of Kismayo, the only town now controlled by the Somali Council of Islamic Courts. Other militiamen discarded their uniforms and joined clan-based militias in the capital. A number of Islamist leaders left the country.

Gunfire echoed around the capital as news of the withdrawal spread. SCIC bases were looted and several people were killed in a return to the anarchy that plagued the city before the courts came to power six months ago. Within hours, warlords who had been driven out by the Islamists were reclaiming their turf, including the presidential palace and the city's main port.

Somali prime minister Ali Mohamad Gedi said parliament would impose three months of martial law to prevent a return to anarchy. "In order to restore security we need a strong hand, especially with freelance militias," he told reporters.

So Ethiopia succeeded in ousting the Islamists who were on their way to take charge of Somalia. Now what will happen? Can the Ethiopian government help the new Somalian government take charge and bring some much needed stability to this nation? Will the Islamists continue fighting, and ultimately bring down this government? I don't know, except that their success nationally may depend on whether they can take hold of the capital city.

Whatever happens, I just hope that the poor people there can one day live in a stable, peaceful, and free land.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

RIP Gerald Ford

The nation's 38th President has passed away.

Though he may have been a GOPer, and though he pardoned Tricky Dicky…

Compared to the current crop of Thugs, Ford was a liberal saint. This might not have been just Ford dying here, but the death of the sane wing of the Republican Party. OK, OK, so he was a Republican, and he pardoned Nixon, and he wasn't very pro-education. Still when we compare him to Bushit, he was much more tolerable…
And yes, he was sane.

Hmmm, this makes me wonder…

If Gerald and Betty Ford were a part of today’s political scene, would they be a part of today’s Republican Party?

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Greatest Stories Ever Told: Happy B-Day, Annie Lennox!

Many thanks to TRex at Firedoglake for reminding me of the real reason to celebrate the season: Annie Lennox's Birthday!!!! [a little bit o' snark ; ) ]

So on this blessed Christmas morning, I'd like to present you with a YouTube Video Tribute to the Queen Diva of our time. Just sit back and enjoy some of my favorite Annie Lennox songs (and vids!!)- This is my gift to you:

Oh, yeah...

And Merry Christmas! : )

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Atdnext's Merry Christmas Special: 2008 Prez Candidates on the Teevee

OK, so I've been seeing some crazy stuff on the teevee over the last couple of weeks...
And now, I'd like to share some of the finest moments with you.

First off is outgoing Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack on The Daily Show. Now I'll admit that I'm just beginning to get familiar with him, and that initially I was creeped out after seeing this. However after listening to him on Iraq, I'm starting to wonder if he's losing the DLC touch. If so, then there is hope for him.

Well, I must say that Vilsack handled himself quite nicely on The Daily Show. He was plenty snarky during the funny moments, and transitioned well when the interview delved into more serious topics (like Iraq). All in all, I think the Governor of Iowa made a good impression with young voters.

OK, so while Vilsack tried to look "hip" with young voters, Hillary was trying to reopen the "Gender Gap". While the first part of Senator Clinton's appearance on "The View" mostly dealt with Holiday decorations and Christmas traditions, the Junior Senator from New York later had a chance to clarify her views on Iraq (which she really didn't). She still refuses to apologize for her original Iraq War vote in 2002, but says that the nation was misled into war. OK, but at least she's not signing up for Bush's ridiculous proposal for a "surge" because she does not see what it would exactly accomplish. Let's hope that she votes this way next year.

OK, OK, so I've been hard on Hillary... And yes, most of the blogosphere has, as well. Well, I must admit that this appearance on The View did "soften" her image. Especially when she talked about the rerelease of her book, "It Takes a Village", and she spoke about her own experiences as a working mother, she seemed less like some "cold, calculating witch"... And more like a regular mom. I'm starting to think that we might have "misunderestimated" Hillary all along when we said that she couldn't win OR that she's just a corporate sell-out...
While she's still not my #1 pick for the primary, now I'm beginning to feel not-so-bad about voting for her in the November General.

OK, so while the Junior Senator from New York was trying to reopen the "Gender Gap" by reaching out to women, it looks like the Junior Senator from Illinois was throwing some love at the men:

OK, so Barack Obama didn't really have anything important to say here, I still think his appearance on Monday Night Football is quite something else! ; )

(Besides, I talked about him more at length here.)

Ahh, now that we watched Obama rev up for MNF...
Here it is, the big game! Oh wait, oh crap! It's just a Dennis Kucinich clip on CNN:

Now, hold on! I'm not slamming him... In fact, I agree with at least 90% of what he's saying. OK, it's just that I don't see him winning the Primary, let alone the White House. While he has a great platform, the way he presents it is a little too... Well, he seems starry-eyed as he speaks aloud his wishful thinking. Still he holds his own on CNN, and hopefully he'll start enjoying some success in the new Congress.

OK, so this is what I'm thinking about all the Democratic candidates that are prancing across my teevee (or today, my laptop screen)...
Now what do you think? Who gave the best performance? Who fared the worst? Was there anyone here who you didn't like so much before, but now opening up to? Is there someone who just turned you off with his/her interview? Feel free to share your thoughts. : )

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Not a Merry Christmas in Baghdad

Not as if most Iraqis celebrate Christmas anyways, but why the heck should they have to suffer like this?

A suicide bomber has killed at least 10 people and injured a dozen others outside a police recruitment centre in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The bomber walked up to a group of recruits outside the police academy and detonated a belt of explosives he was wearing, police said.

The academy has come under attack several times before and the street it is on had been closed to traffic.

Iraqi police also said 76 bodies had been found in various areas of Baghdad.

How terrible for all those poor folks in Baghdad, that they must live in fear 24/7. Of course, would it have been this way had Bush & Co. decided to invade Iraq in the first place? Would it have been this way had Bush & Co. not created such conditions for chaos there? Is there anything that we can do there now?

Now I know that Bush is now proposing a "surge" of 20,000 troops to solve this...
But 20,000 troops can't do the job...
Personally, I don't think any more American troops can do the job...

Perhaps could a more multinational peacekeeping operation help?
Or have we just fucked up Iraq beyond any further attempts at salvation?
Thanks, President Bush, for ruining the lives of so many innocent people.

Friday, December 22, 2006

All I Want for Christmas

OK, what I really want for the Holidays, and for the New Year:

- Our troops home from Iraq

- A living wage for all those workers who struggle to put food on the family table

- Health care for all

- An end to our use of fossil fuels, for the good of our nation and our planet

Oh, and finally…

- A Democratic President in 2009 who will clean up the nasty mess that Bush is leaving us!

Hopefully, this won't be too much for Santa to put under my tree. ; )

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If Jane Harman Can Even Say No to This Crazed Urge of a "Surge"...

Wow! You've gotta see this:

... The White House's Iraq strategy has failed, our brave military is stretched to the breaking point, and neither Congress nor the American people will support for much longer throwing good money after bad or sending good people after good people into a hopeless war zone.

Rather than talk about additional troops, it's time to begin redeploying troops out of Iraq immediately and engaging other governments and allies in crafting a diplomatic and political solution to the nightmare. That this administration could still think an escalated military option is a credible path to stability and democracy in Iraq is alarming, and indicative of how far removed from reality this president and his inner circle are.

Now, we all know that Harman wasn't always on our side when it came to this...

But hey, let's give her some kudos now for refusing to sign onto Bush's latest craptacular idea for Iraq:

I will tell you we're looking at all options. And one of those options, of course, is increasing more troops.

Oh, please! Perhaps they could have gotten away with this three years ago, but that was then, and this is now. The war is failed. Iraq is lost, so long as we continue to subject them to any more of this failed military occupation. Our brave troops need to come home, and the Iraqi people need a political solution to a political problem.

So thank you, Rep. Harman, for standing with us to oppose any more of this "surge" madness...
And from now on, please help us in our efforts to end this war.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

CNN Poll: Americans Don't Want Any More Bushit on Iraq

Oh my, take a looky here:

"Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?"

Favor Oppose Unsure
% % %
31 67 2

But, I thought it only meant that people were opposed to the way that the war's been conducted...

I think he knows that 65% are against this war.
Part of that 65% are NOT against the war. They are against HOW the war is being fought. Many would like to see it fought to win without a lot of this PC crap.

Huh?! Well, how do the Freepers explain this:

"Here are four different plans the U.S. could follow in dealing with the war in Iraq. Which one do you prefer? Withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately. Withdraw all troops by December, 2007 -- that is, in 12 months time. Withdraw troops, but take as many years to do this as are needed to turn control over to the Iraqis. OR, Send more troops to Iraq." Options rotated

Immediately By 12/07 As Long As Needed Send More Unsure
% % % % %
21 33 32 11 3

54% of Americans want out of Iraq by the end of next year...
Wow, that kinda confirms that last month's election was, at least, partly a mandate to end the war.

Oh yeah, and only 11% want more troops...
Sorry, Bush! Sorry, Freepers! America is sick and tired of your bushit!

Dubya = George Washington? WTF??!!

From today's madhouse lunacypress confrence:

I'm going to work hard. I'm going to sprint to the finish. And we can get a lot done.

And you're talking about legacy. Here, I - I know - look, everybody's trying to write the history of this administration even before it's over. I'm reading about George Washington still.

My attitude is if they're still analyzing number one, 43 ought not to worry about it, and just do what he think is right, and make the tough choices necessary.

And it's going to be a tough battle.

Uh-huh... If historians are still arguing about this or that detail with Washington, then that must mean that George Dubya Bush can still be remembered as the greatest leader of our time...

Yes, and I'm the most conservative Republican that you'll find!

Lord, if you're out there, please help us! Deliver us from this grand insanity, for America can't handle any more crap from this man!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ICG: Iraq Will Not Be Solved by Military Force

Wow! The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based NGO, has just released its new report on Iraq... And they're really taking issue with Bush's idea that a military "surge" will help there.

From The Independent (UK):

A diplomatic effort involving all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council is the only way to stop Iraq falling apart in a religious, Sunni-Shia conflict that could spark a regional conflagration, an influential non-governmental organisation warned yesterday.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group's (ICG) findings will make even more grim reading for the White House than this month's report from the American Iraq Study Group, as President George Bush struggles to come up with a strategy change.

Iraq, says the ICG's report, faces "complete disintegration into failed-state chaos" ­ and the solution does not lie in the transfer of responsibility to the fragile government of Nouri al-Maliki, as envisaged by the Bush administration and even by the study group led by the former secretary of state James Baker and the former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton.

Yes, you heard them right:


This is the reality in Iraq, thanks to the "infinite wisdom" of The Great Dubya. Still, at this point, a temporary increase in troop levels won't really do anything to help. How can a political crisis be effectively solved with military force?

The ICG, whose mission is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts, takes issue with advocates of a "surge" in US troop strength in Iraq and declares that there can be no military solution, only a political one. Instead the ICG wants the "big five" permanent members of the Security Council and Iraq's six neighbours to form an "international support group" ­ but not with the exclusive aim of propping up the Maliki government. "It must support Iraq ­ which means pressing the government, along with all other Iraqi constituents, to make the necessary compromises."

Hmmmm, this sounds like an interesting proposal. I mean, perhaps if we engage the interational community, then we can actually win some help in working out a much-needed political solution in Iraq. Our military presence there is not helping, but the help we receive from the world community (and especially Iraq's neighbors!!)clearly can.

Yes, how about putting some good ideas into practice, for a change?

Good News from DCCC

Get ready for this...

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has been selected to be the new Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Back in 2002, Van Hollen ran a spirited campaign challenging 16-year veteran (and "popular liberal Republican") Rep. Connie Morella. His victory four years ago was a happy exception to the otherwise dismal election year that was 2002.

OK, so Van Hollen took down a powerful GOPer in 2002. Yes, and he also has a reliably progressive voting record. Still, how can we expect him to run the DCCC.

Chris Bowers at MyDD took a look back, and he gives us some insight:

I have done some real quick background, and the most interesting bit I have found is that while, like Rahm, he came in 2002, he was significantly outspent in his contested Democratic primary by Mark Kennedy Shriver (Rahm used a big money advantage and the Chicago machine to narrowly defeat a grassroots candidate in his primary). That is a good sign for the way Van Hollen will act during primary campaigns. In the general, against a popular, "moderate" Republican incumbent, Van Hollen won by 4%...

Well, here's for hoping that the DCCC will start doing a better job working with the Netroots to take advantage of some great opportunities we have for 2008.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Change: November 2006 Really Should Be Only the Beginning!

{Many thanks to Budhydharma at Daily Kos for giving me the inspiration to write this! Oh, and thank goodness I don't feel compelled to write any more stuff about the "I-word", at least for now ; ) }

This year, we took care of Bush...
Now, he truly is ONE LAME, LAME DUCK!!

Next off, we must continue rebuilding the Democratic Party...
But not just with a new infrastructure, but also a new vision...

I won't speak for others here, but I want my party to share my vision for our future. I want a future of:

- Not just "free trade", but trade that is free AND fair for ALL people on this planet...

- Oh yeah, and speaking of the planet, I want to protect and preserve this planet for future generations: no more pollution, whether by CO2s or by nuclear warheads

- A planet full of people who are at peace with other, and at peace with themselves

- People who can accept each other for who they are

I know, I know... I usually try to be practical...
But I'll admit it, I really am a dreamer at heart!

Now if we can only start putting these dreams into practice. Yes, yes, I'm supposed to be "reality-based"... But ya know, deep down inside, I really am a hope-filled idealist, a "dirty fucking hippie". I just hope that now, as we begin to reclaim our country, we also reclaim our dreams, and let them soar!

Good News from Iran

So Bush wants to "spread democracy" to Iran?

Well, it's too late for that...
The Iranian people are taking care of it on their own!

So far, with early reults coming in from Friday's local elections, it looks like the Iranian people have had enough of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's crazy antics!

From the BBC:

On a turnout of 60%, the big winners seem to be moderate conservatives, while reformists have made a comeback after three poor election showings.

Moderate former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani sealed a landslide win for a seat on the Assembly of Experts.

Oh yes, I found this encouraging:

BBC Iran affairs analyst Sadeq Saba says the message is loud and clear and is likely to increase pressure on President Ahmadinejad to change his policies.

Reformists hailed the early results. The Islamic Iran Participation Front said: "It is a big 'no' to the government's authoritarian and inefficient methods."

The biggest winner, our correspondent says, is Mr Rafsanjani, who was defeated by Mr Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential elections.

OK, so Rafsanjani and his cohorts may not be perfect. Still, at this point, he's looking a whole lot better than Mr. Holocaust Denier right now! And hopefully, now that the Iranian voters seem to be handling Ahmadinejad quite well on their own right now, this will throw some more water on the flames that Bush & CO. are trying to spread as they are hungering for another war.

Thank you, Iranian voters...
You not only helped yourselves, but you may end up helping us as well. : )

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oh, no... Not again!

From The Guardian:

The White House yesterday faced fresh accusations of tailoring intelligence to suit its political viewpoint from a former CIA analyst barred from publishing a critical newspaper commentary on American policy towards Iran.

Flynt Leverett, a former Middle East analyst at the CIA and the National Security Council who has criticised the Bush administration for going to war with Iraq and for its handling of Iran, accuses the White House of pressing the CIA to demand sweeping cuts to an opinion piece he wrote for the New York Times on Washington's policy towards Tehran.

When will they learn?

We all now know about Bush's pre-war efforts to silence all critics of his dreams of war in Iraq. Now, Bush is trying to silence all the level-headed folks inside the intelliigence community who are calling out the cry for war with Iran for the nonsense that it truly is:

His 1,000-word article was based on a longer published piece that the CIA had cleared without demanding any changes, and that is available on the net. At the website, Mr Leverett wrote: "The White House inserted itself into the prepublication review process for an op-ed on the administration's bungling of the Iran portfolio."

Mr Leverett said he was ordered to drop references to Iran's cooperation with the US on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 attacks. He claims the White House has had no objections to similar assertions by less critical analysts.

Apparently, Bush wants to stay in his own personal La-la-land, no matter what the costs are. He won't listen to the truth... Heck, he won't even let the truth be told. I just hope that now, with a more reality-based Congress, that they won't let Bush get away with creating another huge disaster in Iran!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

OK, As I Promised...

Here are some more Sedona photos...
Enjoy! : )

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Jersey Update: Same-Sex Unions, But Not Marriage

If you remember my post from nearly two months ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples in the state are entitled to all the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples, but they stopped short of demanding full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Some LGBT advocates celebrated the decision, while others called this a defeat. Some folks worried that this would help the GOP in November, while others thought that this would not affect the November election. Although the decision came only two weeks before Election Day, it seemed like this story just fell off the political radar within a week. Now, the story resurfaces as the Legislature decides how to implement the court decision.

Back in October, the court gave the Legislature the duty of fixing state law in this regard. However, they left open the option of expanding domestic partnerships to include all the same rights as marriage, as well as simply allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Yesterday, the New Jersey Legislature chose the first option:
They're retooling their domestic partnership laws, but still no marriage. As would be expected, LGBT activists in the Garden State are kinda disappointed:

On Thursday the state legislature voted to allow same-sex unions but not full-on marriage, following a state supreme court ruling two months ago that preventing same-sex unions was unconstitutional.

Gay activists gave a qualified welcome Friday to the decision.

David Buckel from gay marriage law firm Lambda Legal said that although it marked a step in the right direction, stopping short of allowing marriage still deprived gay couples of full equality.

"Although same-sex couples in New Jersey are better off today than yesterday, they are still not equal to other couples," he said in a statement.

"By passing a law that marks same-sex couples as inferior, the government has paved the way for others to discriminate against them.... Their relationships will likely continue to be disrespected," he said.

Well, we win some and we lose some. Fortunately, New Jersey same-sex couples will now be treated, for the most part, the same as other couples in the state's eyes. Unfortunately, the Plessy v. Ferguson myth of "separate but equal" remains, that it's okay to treat LGBT folks differently from hetero Americans, so long as it's "equal"...
But as the civil rights struggle of the last century taught us, "separate but equal" never actually exists.

What Did I Tell You?

OK, so I'm back from my trip (yes, and I will post some more pics soon!)...
So now, I'd like to get back to the news of the day.

This morning, NPR released its last political poll of the year. Basically, it's another little goodie in our Christmas stocking, and another big lump of coal in the GOP's stocking! Voters are still mad as hell at the Republicans, and considering the intensity of the voters' loathing of Bush, the Congressional GOPers might have to think twice before deciding to stay on board the sinking ship of George W. Bush:

- 57% of American voters overall disapprove of Bush's job.

- Only 17% strongly agree that Bush has done a great job in the White House, while 45% strongly feel that Bush f***ed up.

- A whopping 68% of voters want the US to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq next year.

- In a generic 2008 Presidential match, 46% support the generic Democrat over 28% for the generic Republican.

So does this mean that we simply steamroll over the GOPers next year, and set up the Capitol Hill confrontation of the century by doing something as hard-edged partisan as...

Ummmm, I don't think so:

- 71% of voters want Congressional Democrats to work with Republicans to get things done...

- While only 27% of voters want the Congressional Democrats to act unilaterally to push through their agenda

So basically, the voters gave Democrats a mandate for change. They want the troops out of Iraq soon, and they want genuine action on other important issues, such as affordable heathcare and protecting American jobs. However, they don't just want Democrats to pursue a partisan agenda...
Which goes back to what I've been saying all along...
Let's try to get some real work done next year, and not go on some quixotic quest for revenge"justice" by trying to impeach Bush. As much as he deserves it, and as much as we'd love to see him "frogmarched out of the White House", it simply won't happen...
And it will cause us to lose all that goodwill that we worked so hard to gain this year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Photos from My Arid Paradise!

Just sit back, and enjoy some photos from Sedona:

Monday, December 11, 2006

OK, So I'm Blogging from My Vacation!

OK, now I'll give you a little distraction from my usual heavy political blogging...

I'm taking a break in Sedona...
And over the next few days, I'll be talking with you from this little corner of paradise. ; )

Obamamania Crosses the Atlantic

OMG, I looked at The Guardian this evening, and guess who I found on the front page?

"Race is still a powerful force in this country, and there are certain stereotypes I will have to deal with. But I find that when people get to know you they will judge you on your merits."

Yes, that is Barack Obama speaking!

My goodness, when Senator Obama goes to New Hampshire, even The Guardian feels obligated to do a story... I guess he's become that much of a celebrity! No, but really, The London paper offers its usual terrific insight into this story.

There's just something about Obama that sets him apart from the other Dem hopefuls. There's something about Obama that amazes us. Is it his biographical story? Is it the fact that he's an extraordinarily successful African-American politician? Is it the way that he reconciles his politics with his faith? Is it his relative youth? Is it his knack for public speaking? Perhaps can it be a combination of all of the above?

When the governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, introduced his guest of honour at a rally to celebrate the state's Democratic routing of the Republicans in the recent midterm elections, he shared with the large, boisterous crowd a secret.
"We originally scheduled the Rolling Stones," he said, "but we cancelled them when we realised Senator Obama would sell more tickets."

He was rewarded with an outbreak of ecstatic whooping. But behind his joke there was a truth. Barack Obama had indeed sold the tickets - the ballroom of the Radisson hotel in Manchester was packed, its 1,500 tickets sold out.

Even seasoned observers of New Hampshire politics were rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The state is the stomping ground of would-be American presidents: every four years it is the first to hold primary elections for the presidential candidates of both main parties - 2008 will be no exception - and as such carries an influence far greater than its diminutive size. Its residents have grown blasé about being ritually courted by national political figures.
But this was different. There was nothing blasé about Sunday night's reception for the Senator from Illinois. When Mr Lynch suggested that Mr Obama might run, someone shouted "Run Obama! Run!" and the crowd erupted again.

No matter where he goes, Obama causes a stir. Personally, I still haven't decided on whether I will support him in the primary. However, I am still amazed by all the buzz that he is creating... Who knew that one Junior Senator from Illinois could become such a shining star?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why Not Impeachment? Let's Think About Our Nation's Future... 2008 And Beyond

I've heard it said that those of us who are concerned about the immediate call for impeaching Bush within certain progressive circles are "vichy Dems" who only care about our "selfish" motives of winning...

I mean:

- Do you want war with Iran?

- Do you want the continuation of the desecration of our Constitution?

- Do you want to face an even more perilous disaster as global warming continues to be ignored?

- Do you want a continuation of trade policies only make the rich richer and the poor poorer?

- Do you want even more religious right wingnuttery?

This will all happen if we allow another GOPer to get in the White House in 2008!

Now when I was discussing this on Daily Kos, someone responded to me with this remark:

If the D's don't do that then you can expect their stay in power will be abbreviated as the R's recover and run a slate of candidates promising full restoration of congressional oversight in 2008.

Sorry, but that ain't gonna happen...
No, the Rs recover and run on a platform of "healing and national unity" in 2008 after the House neglects all other issues and spends all its time on impeaching Bush, only to be rebuked by the Senate as the upper house fails to convict...

Remember that 67 votes are needed to convict in the Senate...
And if you expect (at least) 16 GOPers to cross party lines and vote to convict Bush, you're giving them way too much credit!

Next year, we need to prove that we can govern. Next year, we need to get to work coming up with solutions to America's problems today. If we work hard over the next year focusing on solutions, and Bush only proves to be another problematic pain in the ass by blocking all our good policy proposals, the Republicans lose in 2008- plain and simple!

Now, come on! Let's remember that the American people did not elect Democrats to Congress because they want revenge...
They elected Democrats because they actually want the Congress to work on the important issues that are facing America today!

They chose Democrats because they want:

1. A sensible strategy to get out of Iraq

2. An end to the GOP culture of corruption

3. An end to government "of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich"

4. Real solutions to the real growing crisis that is global warming

5. An end to the divisive pandering to the religious right wingnuts, while ignoring all the above issues...

Of course, I'm sure we can list even more important issues here, but my point is that Americans want to see their people's House (and Senate) get to work. Why don't we do that, and see if Bush is so idiotic that he'll put his own petty whims above the best interest of the country, and his own party...

Now let's let our Dems get to work in 2007...
It's what's best for our country, and for our party!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Condi Won't Leave Bush's La-la-land

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday all but rejected the idea of talks with Iran about quelling the violence in Iraq unless Tehran first acts to rein in its suspected nuclear weapons program.

In her first comment about the Iraq Study Group report, Rice was cool to its recommendation that the United States actively engage with Iran and Syria to try to stabilize Iraq, a key proposal from the bipartisan advisory panel...

Rice defended President George W. Bush's push to bring democracy to the Middle East -- an idea conspicuously absent from the panel's recommendations -- saying it would remain a "centerpiece" of U.S. foreign policy...

Speaking at a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Rice was skeptical of engaging with Iran about Iraq, suggesting Tehran was bound to demand some payback -- probably over its atomic program -- in return.

So Condi won't listen to the Iraq Study Group, and talk to Iraq's neighbors about Iraq's security. She's still dropping hints that Iran has nukes...
WILL THEY PLEASE WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE??!! There's no hard evidence that Iran has nukes... Maybe it is developing nukes, but so far there's been no hard evidence there. However what we do know is that Iraq is in chaos, and Iraq's neighbors have a stake in this.

But will Condi join the land of the thinking? NOOOOOO! Instead, she'd rather continue frolicking with Bush in La-la-land. In Bush's La-la-land, "stay the course" is the best way to "win" in Iraq...

Ya know, I was just talking about how impeachment isn't a viable option...
But the more I hear the Bushies spew out more of the same old shit...
The more I am tempted to do irrational acts...

Why Focus on the Past? We've Got a Great Future to Build!

Now that we have a Democratic Congress, we have the power of the purse. We have the power to block any more horrendous executive and judicial nominations. We now have the power to propose good legislation.

How about restoring habeas corpus?
How about investing in renewable energy?
How about closing some corporate tax loopholes?
How about going after al-Qaeda criminals, rather than start any more unnecessary wars?

Oh yes, yes, Bush might veto all this...
And then, by blocking good common-sense legislation, he proves the the GOP doesn't care about making America better...

And then, all that good legislation gets signed by a Democratic President in 2009!

To Impeach or Not to Impeach? That Is the Question!

This has been a tough personal battle for me. This President has committed so many crimes, so many high crimes and misdemeanors, so many crimes against humanity...
But what happens if we begin impeachment prcedures? What happens when we begin to focus solely on impeachment, dedicating all or time, all our energy, and all our other resources on the trial... And we ignore everything else? What about keeping an eye on what Bush will be doing over the next two years? What about getting some good legislation passed? What about getting out of Iraq?

Oversight, we can do.
Impeachment, just ain't gonna happen...
No matter how much we want it...
No matter how much Bush deserves it...
Now, can we get back to talking about constructive things we can do in 2007?

But I'd just like to politely remind you about the reality of this situation:

1. We don't have the votes to convict. We have a fairly good-sized majority, but not an insurmountable one either...
And we just BARELY hold the Senate...
How can we even expect all the Senate Dems to vote to convict, let alone convince another 16 GOPers to vote to convict?

2. This will suck time away from other meaningful legislation... Whether or not Bush decides to cooperate, WE AS DEMOCRATS need to prove to the American people that we intend to get to work and come up with practical solution to the tough issues that we are facing today.

3. If we spend all our time trying to impeach Bush, and accomplish nothing but failed votes, the GOPers will likely use this as their "reasoning" to the American people in 2008 as why the GOPers should keep the White House, and take back Congress.
They'll say that we're the ones playing "partisan politics"... Yes, I know it's unfair considering the nasty "politics of personal destruction" that they play, but that's what will happen.

Now what would you rather have:
A Democratic President and Democratic Congress working to clean up Bush's mess in 2009...
Or a "Republican Resurgence" that leads to more illegal and immoral wars, and even more destruction to our democracy?

That's why we need to focus on things that the American people want done:

1. Work out a plan to get out of Iraq.
2. Work on solutions to global warming.
3. Work on making health care more affordable.
4. Work on balancing the budget.
And of course, there's so much more!

While we progressive activists see impeaching Bush as a matter of justice, most Americans don't...
Whether we like it or not, they just see it as "partisan politics". If we want to start cleaning house now, and fix the broken White House in 2009, then we need to earn the trust of the American people...
And while we may not like this fact, trying to impeach Bush won't accomplish that!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bush & Co. Have Created a Refugee Crisis in Iraq

Another horrifying result of this ill-conceived war (via The Guardian):

The surging violence in Iraq has created what is becoming the biggest refugee crisis in the world, a humanitarian group said today.
A report (pdf) by Washington-based Refugees International said an influx of Iraqis threatened to overwhelm other Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, Jordon and Lebanon.

Last month, the UN estimated that 100,000 people were fleeing the country each month, with the number of Iraqis now living in other Arab countries standing at 1.8 million...

"We're not saying it's the largest [refugee crisis], but it's quickly becoming the largest," spokeswoman Kristele Younes said. "The numbers are very, very scary."

Pretty soon, this emerging refugee crisis could match the collossal calamity of Darfur…
Thank you, President Bush, for turning the lives of the Iraqi people into such a living hell on earth. Thank you, Rubberstamp Republican Congress, for going along with what may possibly emerge as the biggest foreign-policy blunder of all time. Thank you, blathering pundits, for prolonging this unnecessary conflict by claiming that it's "unwise" for us to end this disaster "so soon".

Now excuse me for a moment...
I need to go in my room and weep.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

While We Talk About Changing Course

While we talk about changing course, Iraq continues to fall into chaos...

While we talk about changing course, people die.

From The Guardian:

Ten bodies of Shias were dumped at the bus station in Baquba, the provincial capital, last Tuesday, as a warning to the whole community. A few days earlier 20 Kurds were killed. On Wednesday the Iraqi army found 28 unidentified bodies in a mass grave just south of the town...

Just arrived from Baquba and too afraid to give her name, she said: "People come in the night and write on the house wall, 'leave, you are Shia, you are unbelievers'. There was shelling, bombing, people slaughtered in front of our house. US helicopters were hovering all the time. We couldn't go out to buy food."

While we talk about changing course, the situation only continues to worsen. While we talk about changing course, our troops encounter immense violence. While we talk about changing course, the people continue to be frightened at the thought of stepping outside of home.

From Reuters AlertNet:

BAGHDAD - Police said they found 48 bodies with gunshot wounds and signs of torture in different areas of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD - Mortar rounds fell on western Baghdad's mainly Sunni Adil district, wounding four people, police said. A witness said eight mortar rounds landed, including several that hit a mosque and wounded five worshippers. The Interior Ministry said clashes later erupted between residents and Shi'ite militiamen. There were no immediate reports of casualties

BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed during combat in Baghdad on Dec. 3, the U.S. military said in a statement.

ISKANDARIYA - A bomb inside a shop killed its owner and three others and wounded 12 in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

ISKANDARIYA - A bomb inside a shop killed its owner and three others and wounded 12 in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

(This is only a sample of all the violence that has happened today.)

While we only talk about changing course, we continue to contribute to the living hell that is Iraq today. Today, the Iraq Study Group released its report on what to do about Iraq. Personally, I hope that the White House starts that recommended diplomatic offensive soon. I hope that when the Democrats take control of Congress next month, that they try to work with the White House to end this war... While I may be hoping in vain, I nevertheless hope that the White House actually is seriously considering implementing the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Enough of our brave troops have died for this "foreign policy mistake". Enough Iraqi people have died because of this "fiasco".

Enough is enough... Let's get moving, and end this war.

BREAKING: Iraq Study Group Recommends One Last Try at Diplomacy, Then Withdrawal

The Baker-Hamilton Commisssion might have just thrown Washington a curveball today... They want Bush to engage with Iraq's neighbors and trying to use diplomacy to stabilize Iraq...
But if this doesn't even work, THEY'RE RECOMMENDING STRAIGHT-OUT WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ if this last-ditch attempt at diplomacy fails! From AP Wire:

WASHINGTON - The United States faces a "grave and deteriorating" situation after three years of war in Iraq, a high-level commission warned bluntly on Wednesday, recommending enhanced diplomacy to stabilize the country and hopefully permit the withdrawal of most combat troops by early 2008.

"There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved," the commission said after an eight-month review of a war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,900 U.S. troops and grown so unpopular at home that it helped trigger a Democratic takeover of Congress in last month's elections...

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating," the commission warned after an eight-month review of a conflict that has killed more than 2,800 U.S. troops and grown increasingly unpopular at home. The report was obtained by The Associated Press.

The report warned that if the situation continues to deteriorate, there is a risk of a "slide toward chaos (that) could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe."

"Neighboring countries could intervene. ....The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized," commissioners said.

The report called for the administration to try to engage Syria and Iran in diplomacy as part of an effort to bring stability to Iraq — even though Bush has said previously he would not negotiate with either country.

Bush has consistently refused to even consider what he has mocked as "cut and run"...
But now that his family consigliere and his bipartisan friends are giving Bush this option as the only viable option for Iraq, what can he do now?

"While they won't agree with every proposal, and we probably won't agree with every proposal, it nevertheless is an opportunity to come together and to work together on this important issue," Bush said.

Yes, Mr. Bush... Please work with the incoming Democratic Congress to implement these recommendations:

1. Recognize that Iraq warrants a political solution, not a military one.

2. Engage with Iran and Syria. Whether you like it or not, Mr. President, they are Iraq's neighbors, and it will help our efforts to stabilize Iraq if all the neighboring nations are on board.

3. We can't stay in Iraq forever! The Iraqi people want the occupying forces out of their country, and the American people want a plan to bring the troops home soon. Let's engage in some serious diplomacy, and once this is finished (either with some success in stabilizing Iraq, or if it all just fails), we need to start withdrawing troops out of Iraq!

So the Baker-Hamilton Commission has finally spoken, but will Bush listen?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Preventing Terrorist Attacks... How We Can Do Better

OK, I just finished a survey on the Progressive Patriots Fund website on how we can do a better job preventing terrorist attacks...
I participated, and offered my two cents. There are quite a few steps we can take to prevent future acts of terrorism from hitting us in the US...

Here are my suggestions:

1. Revise or repeal the Military Commissions Act, restoring time-honored rights such as habeas corpus. The last thing we need is terrorists using the unfair treatment of Muslim detainees as a way to recruit more disgruntled folks into their ranks.

2. Revise or repeal the PATRIOT Act, and pass legislation that actually deals with protecting the nation, AND NOT just expanding Presidential powers.

3. Implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. See #2.

4. Engage the rest of the world in preventing terrorist acts... Simply threatening other countries has been proven to accomplish nothing (e.g. The Iraq War, and the failed efforts to "force" other nations to join the war effort).

5. Terrorist acts are crimes... Let's treat it that way. By declaring "war" on a tactic, success will never be found. However by taking actions to catch the perpetraitors who commit tese crimes against humanity, as well as taking actions to curb the causes of terrorist acts, we can prevent future terrorist acts.

6. Fix the broken trade regime. One of the nasty side effects of laissez-faire globalization has been the immense inequality in the developing world, with the wealthy riding the wave of prosperity, while the rest of the population is left in the dust with nothing but low-wage jobs in slave-labor-like conditions along with environmental degradation... These folks have become increasingly disguntled with the Western world, and they are blaming us for the many problems of globalization today. We need fairer trade deals, and a global trade regime that addresses economic inequality, labor rights, and environmental stewardship. See #5 (this could very well be a root cause for Islamist terrorism)

7. Become more engaged in helping to solve the Israeli-Palestinean strife. Another reason why many Muslims don't hold the US in such high regards is because they can sense US bias in favor of the Israeli government's whims over the plight of the Palestinean people. We need to help broker a peace deal that promotes the best interest of the Israeli people AND the Palestinean people! See #5 (another possible root cause for Islamist terrorism)

8. Develop an exit strategy to bring our troops home from Iraq. Again, our occupation of Iraq has provided Islamist terrorists with concepts for ad campaigns to recruit more terrorists. We need to find a political solution to the Iraq crisis, because the "military solution" is simply not working. Again, see #5 (yet another new cause for Islamist terrorism)

50 House Members Request Ask That Leach Replace Bolton

Hmmm... This sounds interesting!

From the Des Moines Register:

Washington, D.C. – A Democratic congressman said today he will continue to push for Republican Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa to be named as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Leach, of Iowa City, was defeated in his re-election bid on Nov. 7. The current ambassador, John Bolton, resigned on Monday in the face of intense opposition from Senate Democrats and President Bush now must pick a new nominee.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said that 50 members of the House have signed a letter written by him and Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., advocating Leach to replace Bolton.

Well, at least leach actually knows how to practice diplomacy! He was one of the only GOPers to vote against the Iraq AUMF resolution in 2002.

Leach is a senior member of the International Relations Committee and the chairman of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He served in the 1990s as chairman of the House Banking Committee. Prior to his election to Congress, Leach was a foreign service officer who served at the United Nations under former President Bush when Bush was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Well, at least he wouldn't suggest that we lop off ten stories of the UN, or try to bully other countries into doing "what we want them to do". This really would be a great choice for Bush...
But of course, how often has Bush made good choices?

Monday, December 04, 2006


This is how I feel, after thinking about some of the nasty things that have been going on lately...
Wow, Annie knows how to pull all the emotions right out of me!

2008: We're ALL Democrats in the End!

OK, so I saw David Sirota's post on Daily Kos about Barack Obama...
And I talked about my own personal wrangling over Obama here on my blog.

OK, so some high-profile progressives, such as Norman Solomon and Molly Ivins, have already come out clearly against what will likely be a Hillary Clinton candidacy...
And to be honest, right now I'm 99% sure that I won't vote for Hillary in the primary...

And I'm sure we'll hear grumbling about the other Democratic Presidential hopefuls once they start going after their fifteen minutes of cable news publicity...

But still, I'm troubled when I hear any progressive suggest that a vote for a psuedo-moderate Republican (like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani) in November 2008...
And I'm troubled when I hear any progressive suggest that the only "real progressive choice" is some third party candidate...
I'm sorry, but I don't understand how one could allow for a hawkish, corporatist Republican to win over a Democrat. Even though not all the Democratic candidates may be as progressive as I'd like to see, I also think that ANY of these Democrats would make a better President in 2009 than ANY of the Republicans running!

I just ask that all who are considering ditching us for a GOPer stops, and thinks about what all those GOPers REALLY STAND FOR:

1. A continuation of this failed Iraq War (They all support an
indefinite continuation of this illegal, immoral war)
2. A curtailing of our civil liberties (They all support the Patriot
Act, torture, and the illegal NSA wiretaps)
3. A broken trade regime: None of the GOPers will address any of the
serious inequality dilemmas that we're facing with globalization.

Of course, there's much more than just that...
But I think that these are all serious issues that we should stop and think about, before falling for the rhetoric of some pseudo-moderate GOPer who tries to woo us with his "I'm pro-choice... I'm environmentally progressive... I don't mind the gays... I'm fill-in-the-blank."

Just a polite warning from a blogger who doesn't just want to send someone to the White House in 2008...
I want to send someone who will clean up the immense mess that Bush has made!

OK, so I understand that we have the primaries coming up in the not-so-distant future...
So now is also a good time to begin debating over where we want to take this party of ours, and who we want to lead our nation in 2009...
So let's try to keep the dialogue civil, and let's talk about legitimate issues within the party, and about the various candidates...
And whoever wins the nomination, let's unite behind our Democratic candidate in 2008, and let's take back the White House!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How 'Bout That Obama?

He's suddenly embraced by evangelicals, even when speaking about that nasty "c-word" (From OC Register):

Obama spoke extensively about the debate of abstinence vs. condoms.

"I don't think we can deny that there is a moral and spiritual component to prevention," Obama said. During recent travels through Africa, he said, "again and again I heard stories of men and women contracting HIV because sex was no longer part of a sacred covenant, but a mechanical physical act."

"Having said that, I also believe that we cannot ignore that abstinence and fidelity may too often be the ideal and not the reality. If condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, they should be made more widely available."

The standing ovation given Obama was longer and louder than that received by either Warren or Brownback. The message clearly resonated.

He's suddenly receiving criticism from some in the progressive blogosphere (From David Sirota's recent post on Daily Kos):

Think about it. The national media is swooning over Obama, begging him to run for president. Yet, at the same time, they are implicitly acknowledging that he has actually not "developed significant legislative initiatives." In other words, we are to simply accept that the the Obama for President wave has absolutely nothing to do with anything that the man HAS DONE and further, that whenever he does decide to use his enormous political capital to do something, it is all in pursuit of the White House - not any actual sense of DOING SOMETHING for the people who elected him to the Senate.

I don't blame Obama for not having accomplished much - he's been in the Senate for two years. As I wrote in the Nation, the main concern about him is that he doesn't actually seem to ASPIRE to anything outside of the Washington power structure (other than maybe running for another higher office), and doesn't seem to be interested in challenging the status quo in any fundamental way. Using his senate career as a guide, it suggests that any presidential run by him is about him, his speaking ability and his fawned over talent for "connecting" (whatever the hell that means).

So what's wrong with Obama? What's right with Obama? What is it with Obama that's attracting all this attention? Is it because of that mesmerizing speech he gave to the Democratic Convention in 2004? Is it because he's a wildly successful African-American politician? Or is it because he's a youthful and energetic leader, ala JFK and/or RFK?

Personally, I'm really conflicted over Obama!
I like the style, but where's the substance?
Oh wait, now I like the substance, but the style unsettles me...
He seemed to hold so much promise as a new progressive leader, until he started flirting with the DLC/establishment crowd...
But it doesn't look like he's committed to them...
Yet he's not committed to us, the progressives, either!

He opposed the Iraq War from the beginning...
But what has he done since then to end the war?

He has a progressive voting record...
But what progressive legislation has he written and/or sponsored?
(OK, so he has been behind some good legislation... Yes, I appreciate his work on nuclear proliferation, Katrina relief, and fuel efficiency... Now why can't he do the same on issues like Iraq, the illegal NSA wiretaps, and restoring habeas corpus?)

He speaks so well...
But he also speaks so ill of his fellow Dems at times, even when the criticism isn't warranted.

What am I to do?
I'm flirting with Obama, but should I date?
Should I commit with him for '08...
Or should I shut him out?

It's too bad that I couldn't see him in Lake Forest yesterday...
We, as progressives, should try to get to know the Junior Senator from Illinois a little better. He may be just the Presidential Candidate that we're looking for, or he may just be another overly ambitious Senator who really should stay in Congress.