The GOP Is Going to Be Badly Outsmarted on the Next Budget Showdown

The so-called sequester is designed to be highly unattractive to both sides of the aisle. But it is structured in a way that makes it significantly more unattractive to the Republicans. The problem is the cuts to the Defense Department. The Republicans who serve on the Armed Services committees aredesperate to avoid those cuts and they are willing to cut a deal favorable to the president to avoid them. The progressives don't like the across the board cuts to the discretionary budget, which will take a bite out of nearly everything, but they prefer them to making a deal that makes significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

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Why Do Blue Dogs Lie So Much?

I'd be more tolerant of Blue Dogs (especially those in blood red districts) if they didn't lie in order to justify voting with the Republicans. The health care bills are both scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and they both reduce the budget deficit (Senate version: $132 billion, House version: $138 billion over ten years). Not only that, but contrary to the rantings of John McCain, this is no mere accounting trick. CBO estimated that the Senate bill will save $1.3 trillion in its second decade.

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National Review Bedwetters Wet Bed Over Terror Trial

The main reason that supporters of Bush's anti-terror policies are wetting their pajamas is pretty clear from a look at National Review Online:

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New Legislation Might Guarantee a Public Option

Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery have a damn good roundup in the Washington Post of the state of play for health care reform on the eve of the big vote in the Senate Finance Committee. If you don't feel like you have a good grasp of the various issues and shifting winds, I recommend giving it a careful read. There's not much to complain about in their report.

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Exactly How Corrupt is Your Congress?

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Why Is the Washington Post Growing More Hawkish on Afghanistan?

I think reasonable people can disagree about our policy and strategy in Afghanistan. My thoughts on the matter are hardly consistent. I disagree with myself. But I have to note that the Washington Post is taking a particularly hawkish line in both its reporting and its editorial stance. Someone leaked Gen. McChrystal's report to Bob Woodward, which the Postfront-paged yesterday. They have followed up today with pieces by Karen DeYoung, Greg Jaffe, and an editorial from Fred Hiatt and the board.

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My Experience with Acorn

When I started working for ACORN in 2004, I was one of only four white people employed in their North Philadelphia office. The office was in a very run-down tenement on North Broad Street, abutted by an abandoned lot on one side and a black baptist church on the other. The furniture could only described as ratty and unsuitable for anyone's home. Most of the day-to-day work going on was in counseling. The main area of counseling was for people who had been suckered into predatory mortgages that they quickly discovered they couldn't afford. Every day desperate people filed into the office begging for help in avoiding foreclosure.

Scalia and Thomas Are Nuts

Let's say that you are put on trial for a murder that you didn't commit. And then let's say that you are convicted of that murder. And let's say that you appeal your conviction but the conviction is upheld because the judge, lawyers, and jury in your case all acted appropriately. The facts and testimony made it look like you were guilty, but you weren't. It wasn't the fault of the justice system that you were convicted, but the fault of a cruel twist of fate.

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Why We Need to Investigate Torture

In thinking about Attorney General Eric Holder's deliberations on how and to what extent to investigate Bush-era torture policies, I think it pays to look back at what I consider the closest historical parallel: the Japanese internment camps. Both cases involved overreactions to unprovoked attacks on our homeland. In 1988, Congress determined that the decision to inter Japanese-Americans was based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership" and authorized $1.6 million in reparations. Ronald Reagan signed the bill. I don't think we want to wait forty-three years to recognize our post-9/11 errors.

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Will Weak-Kneed Blue Dogs Continue to Stand in the Way of Progress?

The Hill has an article about how the Blue Dogs are really upset about having to vote on a health care bill so soon after having to vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. For example, we get to read complaints like this:

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Will the House Pass a Decent Health Care Plan?

I have to say that it looks very likely now that the House of Representatives is going to pass a health care plan in the next couple of weeks that includes a public option and pays for it entirely with cost savings and a progressive tax on individuals making over a quarter million dollars a year (or couples who make over $350,000). I didn't think that was going to be possible. Hell, I didn't even think it would be attempted. I have to give credit to Nancy Pelosi. She engineered Henry Waxman's coup, replacing John Dingell as chair of the Energy & Commerce Committe, and Waxman rammed home a Cap & Trade bill and worked out a compromise health care bill in a mere six months. Henry Waxman was a legendary legislator before this year, but he's headed for the Pantheon now.

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Blue Dog Corporate Whoring

I hear all kinds of excuses for why we need to maintain employer-based health care and the for-profit corporate health insurance industry, but other than a few Republicans I don't hear people making these arguments on the merits. I think employer-based health care is the stupidest thing ever, and I don't know anyone who enjoys interacting with their health insurance provider. As far as I can tell, we're just engaged in the art of the possible here, with almost no attention being paid to the best quality solution at the least expense. I don't like it, but I accept it. What I don't accept are these arguments from Democrats about how the cost is too high but that the public option will cost local hospitals and doctors too much. It's one or the other. Either the bill spends an inordinate amount of money compensating health-care providers or it saves money. It can't do both at the same time. I see so little merit in the Blue Dogs' argument that I think it is fair to call them corporate whores, plain and simple.

Is the Iranian Theocracy in Jeopardy?

If you do a basic study of Shi'a Islam (as opposed to actually studying to be a religious leader of the religion), you'll quickly come to terms with the basic beliefs and the history, including the traditional quietism of the faith in all political matters. Shi'a Islam has almost always been on the defensive and rarely has enjoyed sustained periods of security from political leaders. There is a strong sense in the religion that politics is a worldly affair that is beneath the dignity of a religious scholar. Iran is probably the only place on earth where the Shi'a have felt secure enough from Sunni domination to contemplate exerting a form of political Islam. So, it's no real surprise that Iran is where the experimentation occurred.

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A Short History Lesson for Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer:
A CIA rent-a-mob in a coup 56 years ago does not balance the hostage-takings, throat-slittings, terror bombings and wanton slaughters perpetrated for 30 years by a thug regime in Tehran (and its surrogates) that our own State Department calls the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism."

I am not going to dispute that Iran's Revolutionary Government has held hostages, sponsored terrorism, and committed wanton slaughter of innocent civilians. And I am not going to defend it. In fact, I completely condemn it. But it's amazing how Krauthammer can characterize the twenty-six years Iranians had to live under the thumb of the Shah and his CIA-trained SAVAK as nothing more than a rent-a-mob. To Krauthammer, the coup's the thing, and the consequences of the coup are nothing.

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Pro-Israeli Settler Talking Points are Ridiculous

The latest pro-Israeli Settler talking point is that it is unfair to stop settlement growth because it would effectively outlaw 'natural growth' occurring through childbirth. Today, it is Charles Krauthammer's turn to made a stab at this ridiculous argument.

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North Korea Continues Aggressive Actions

One of the costs of committing so many troops to Iraq and Afghanistan is that we don't have the resources to effectively deal with other potential emergencies, like

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Is Obama Creating a Center-Left Liberal Establishment in DC?

I like E.J. Dionne. I think he's on to something in his latest column. He's basically saying that President Obama is creating a center-left liberal establishment in Washington that is reminiscent of what we saw in the glory days between 1933-1968. Here's where I think Dionne is wrong. It's not really Obama who is creating this.

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RNC Launches Appalling Attack Against Nancy Pelosi

Sometimes I wonder if they even know what assholes they are:

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Take Your Southern Strategy And Shove It

According to Research 2000, Barack Obama has a 13% national-poll lead on John McCain. According to SurveyUSA, John McCain has a 27% lead in Alabama. George Wallace used to be the governor of Alabama. Here is what George Wallace did to John Lewis:

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The World Pays for Eight Years of Republican Economics

I don't write about economic issues for a simple reason. I can't offer unique insights or useful correctives to the economic media, and I don't want to offer people financial advise when I am not qualified to do so. It's not indifference that leads me to avoid commenting on economic trends, but humility. Like John McCain, my understanding of complex financial markets and instruments is limited. Since I became a full-time political blogger, my knowledge of economic trends has atrophied dramatically, as I no longer have time to peruse business and investment literature.

But, today I have to make an exception. Today is no ordinary day. The Stock Market is tumbling with news that Lehman Brothers has gone into liquidation and Merrill Lynch has been bought up by Bank of America. America is sneezing and the world is catching the flu, as international markets match our slide. Industrial output in August was the lowest since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in September 2005. Corn and soybean crops are suffering from sustained drought, and that will create inflationary pressure on commodities. Nearly a third of the nation's top executives are looking to cut jobs in the coming months.

How Badly Will the GOP Convention Suck?

I'm beginning to think about the Republican National Convention. It's going to be different.

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Maureen Dowd is Dishonest and a Very Bad Writer

If you're keeping score Maureen Dowd has now penned four of the thirty-three columns she will write between August 13th and the November election. Here is how Dowd stands after today's piece(which was helpful to McCain).

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Fortress America Divides Sleepy Border Town

Wingnuts never think through the consequences of their actions. To wit:

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Is the Democratic Convention Over Already?

This is an interesting statement:

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Will Pakistan Impeach Pervez Musharraf?

It looks like Pakistan is moving to impeach Pervez Musharraf. And it also looks like they have the votes to pull it off. The big question is whether the Pakistani military will allow the impeachment to go forward. Musharraf could dissolve parliament, but he can't do that unless he is sure he has the backing of the military. And, as of right now, things are not looking too good for Pervez.

Pakistani politics give new meaning to the term Byzantine. It's extremely difficult to parse out what is going on and even what is desirable from an American point of view. With so many of our troops stationed in Afghanistan and with Iran's territory denied to us for purposes of resupply, it is critical that the Pakistani government is cooperative. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been playing a double game with us since the very beginning of our occupation of Afghanistan. Their intelligence service, the ISI, has supported warlords, provided training and sanctuary to the Taliban, and recently bombed the Indian Embassy in Kabul (probably to signal their displeasure with a deal whereby Indian goods will be imported through Iran). At the same time, they keep America at bay by turning over a trickle of bad guys, doing occasional sweeps through the Tribal Areas, and by taking advantage of our absolute dependency upon their territory for supplying our troops.

The Strategy Behind Lobbying for the VP Slot

Everyone knows that Barack Obama is not going to pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Given the acrimony of the primary contest it was never likely that Obama would tap Hillary, but any hope that he might was wiped out in the days before the last contests in Montana and South Dakota when Clinton said:

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