Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards' Voice Will Be Missed!

First Dodd dropped out and now Edwards. I am running out of people to vote for.

America’s Future Nightmare Is Over!

Well, one of them at least. Giuliani is History in the Presidential Contest. Thank God!

As a New Yorker I am very pleased that American citizens exercised such good judgment.

H/T to LeftCoaster for this humor.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

In Case You Forgot!

Meet the Neo-Cons

Thanks to Blimptv.net and the h/t from Regis.

Time for Some Levity!

Lord knows we need it!

I know you remember this “Love Gods of the Far Right-Wing:”

Well, here is a new entry that KO helped to make viral:

Humor so often comes from tragedy and desperation.

Josh Makes Many Good Points!

The last couple of weeks of Democratic Primary discourse have lead me to think that it is not only destructive to the Clinton and Obama campaigns, but more importantly to the Democratic Party and the democratic process.

This election isn’t so much about them as it is about the United States of America and our future. That the discourse has become so personally destructive, vindictive and Rovian is truly disgraceful.

Josh, over at TPM, has a very thoughtful post on what is going on and his thoughts on it. He articulates many of my thoughts.

The Problem With Bill 2.0

01.26.08 -- 3:28PM

By Josh Marshall

I've been trying for several days now to sort out my reactions to the increasingly bitter turn of the Democratic nomination race. So let share with you my thoughts about where we are.

As I told you at the time, I thought most of the charges that the Clintons were injecting race into the process were bogus. And the Obama campaign definitely tried to stoke questions about what were at worst awkward or ambiguous statements. What's more, most of the talk about venomous attacks on Obama really don't add up.

Bringing up Rezko or cherry-picking Obama's quotes about the Iraq War to cast doubt on his consistent opposition to the war don't cut it. You don't go into a campaign with the idea that your opponents are obligated to present a dispassionate and fair-minded picture of the totality of your record. Or if you do you're a fool. Maybe you think that it should be that way but I'm not even sure there's any point discussing that hypothetical. Fundamentally a campaign is an adversary process, like a courtroom; it's not a civics lesson. Each side puts the other to its test. And there's very little I've seen from the Clinton camp that would seem like anything but garden variety political hardball if it were coming from Hillary or other Clinton surrogates rather than Bill Clinton.

I hear from a lot of Obama supporters that that may be how it's been. But Obama is about the 'new politics'. But this is no different from what Bill Bradley was saying in 2000. And it was as bogus then as it is now. Beyond that there is an undeniable undercurrent in what you hear from Obama supporters that he is too precious a plant -- a generational opportunity for a transformative presidency -- to be submitted to this sort of knockabout political treatment. That strikes me as silly and arrogant, if for no other reason that the Republicans will not step aside for Obama's transcendence either.

And yet I cannot deny that I've felt a mounting sense of unease verging into disgust with Bill Clinton's increasingly aggressive role in the campaign over the last couple of weeks. So I've tried to figure out just what it is that's gotten to me. To give you some perspective, I don't think there are many people who are bigger fans of Bill Clinton than I am or who've expended more ink defending him and his presidency. Nor am I particularly sold on Obama's candidacy. Transcendence isn't usually a big sell for me in politics. And I continue to have my doubts about whether Obama is tough enough or savvy enough to withstand the avalanche the Republicans will throw against the Democratic nominee this fall.

I think there are a lot of us who sense an air of arrogance in Obama's talk of transcendence, reconciliation and unity. I think there are a lot of people who would say, I would have loved to have transcended back in 1995 or 1998 or 2002. But we were spending every ounce on the political battle lines trying to prevent the Republicans from destroying the country. It's hard for folks like that to hear from someone new that they're part of the problem, part of the 'old politics'.

But again, I've thought to myself, what is it that seems wrong about what's going on here. And it's this: seven years after he left the Oval Office, in many respects, Bill Clinton remains the leader of the Democratic party. No, not in any formal way. But he remains extraordinarily popular among Democrats. He is almost unique in the last century as a successful Democratic president continuing to live on after his term of office. Give it some thought and you'll realize that it's almost unprecedented. Harry Truman left office extremely unpopular. And the deserved cult that's grown up around him didn't take root until many, many years later. Certainly it didn't apply to Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter. And Kennedy and Roosevelt didn't outlive their presidencies.

For all these reasons Bill Clinton is unique, sui generis. And for all these reasons he commands massive press attention. I agree with what TPM Reader JD said last night that, in effect, Bill Clinton holds a de facto office within the Democratic party. And what he's been doing amounts to an abuse of office. He has come into a primary process between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and used his unique power to jam his thumb down on one side of the scale in a way that I think is very difficult for anyone to overcome.

Now, when I've written similar things before, many of you have written in to say: How is that fair? Obama's and Edwards' spouses are vigorous advocates on their behalf; why can't Bill do the same for Hillary? Why should she be penalized? Others say, he's her husband. Of course he's going to do every thing he can to ensure victory for her. How could he not? Some even say that he owes her in some way because of past transgressions. But this is silly. Obviously there's no comparing Elizabeth Edwards or Michelle Obama to Bill Clinton.

But there's another aspect of this too. Bill Clinton may owe all sorts of things to Hillary Clinton. I'm sure there's a complicated mix of loyalty, love, sense that he owes her, probably the sense that she'd be a great president. But here's the thing. Back during impeachment folks like me made the point -- and I think it was the right one -- that Bill Clinton's obligations to his wife, to his marriage to sexual fidelity and so forth were an issue between him and his wife. He had a different set of obligations and responsibilities to his supporters and to the larger public. And it was the latter that concerned me.

I think something similar applies in this case. I respect all the loyalties and devotions between the two of them in what is clearly a very complicated but also very enduring relationship. But I'm not part of that marriage. Its obligations aren't any concern of mine and they have no claim on me. My relationship with Bill Clinton is as a member of the party that he is, as I've said, the leader of or at least the most revered elder statesman of. And I feel like he's violating the compact that I have with him.

You might say that's not fair, that that means his obligations as a husband and as a leader of his party are hopelessly in conflict. And I could only say you're probably right. But that frankly is one of the reasons we have instinctive suspicions about dynastic politics. And as I say, I can only see one side of the conflict. I'm not part of that marriage. And I can't see putting the fate of the Democratic party, or the country for that matter, into the balance of its obligations.

But before I finish there's another part of this that is I think even more important. With the exception of a few days in early January I've gone on the assumption for many months that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. But I think Bill's actions have greatly diminished her. He has put her back under his shadow where she hasn't been for years.

For the moment, I doubt either of them is losing much sleep over that. Get through today and then worry about tomorrow. But I think she looks much smaller now. He's dominating the race. And that makes her look like a weaker figure -- something that will not wear well in the general election. And this campaign really suggests this is going to be some sort of co-presidency. When Hillary's getting knocked around by the folks on the Hill is Bill going to go Larry King to knock her enemies around? Will he be going off to foreign countries on his own little diplomatic missions?

I had assumed he'd remain a step in the background as he has through through most of this decade. But that doesn't seem to be the case. If the constitution allowed it, I'd happily have Clinton back. I'd happily have Hillary in his place. But I don't want them both.

The presidency is a singular job. It should stay that way. And it's precisely because I'm looking forward to supporting her if she is the nominee that I hate seeing her being overshadowed by her spouse and having her husband bigfoot the process which diminishes her and makes me think her presidency could be a 4 year soap opera where Bill won't shut up and let her have a shot at doing the job.

I am thoroughly disgusted by this turn of events.

Somewhere, while he is spending more time with his family, Karl Rove is laughing!

Harry Reid: Loyal Opposition?

Isn’t Harry Reid, Majority Senate Leader, supposed to support the “Loyal Opposition” in the Senate? And if I am not mistaken he has sworn to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution along with every other member of Congress. I know, I know, that the President has likewise sworn to uphold the Constitution as well, but he doesn’t believe in the Constitution in the first place so I won’t bother to go there.

That said, I am perplexed by the FISA debate, or lack thereof, and can’t get my head around what is going on in the U.S. Senate and what these Senators are thinking. I know, I know, the Repubs are just following along with the anti-democratic leanings of their leader, GWB, but what is with the Dems under Reid?

Here is today’s editorial from the NYT’s:

January 26, 2008


The FISA Follies, Redux

The Senate (reportedly still under Democratic control) seems determined to help President Bush violate Americans’ civil liberties and undermine the constitutional separation of powers. Majority Leader Harry Reid is supporting White House-backed legislation that would expand the administration’s ability to spy on Americans without court supervision and ensure that the country never learns the full extent of Mr. Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which Mr. Bush decided to ignore after 9/11 — requires a warrant to intercept telephone calls and e-mail messages between people in the United States and people abroad.

It needed updating to keep pace with technology, and the technical fixes were included in a bill that Congress passed last summer. The problem was that Mr. Bush managed to add measures that sharply undercut the court’s role in monitoring eavesdropping. Fortunately, lawmakers gave them an expiration date of Feb. 1.

The House has passed a reasonable new bill — fixing FISA without further endangering civil liberties. But Mr. Bush wants to weaken FISA as much as he can. And the Senate leadership has been only too happy to oblige.

With the help of Republican senators and the misguided chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, the White House got a bill that, once again, reduces court supervision of wiretapping. It also adds immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the illegal spying.

Mr. Bush says without amnesty, the government won’t get cooperation in the future. We don’t buy it. The real aim is to make sure the full story of the illegal wiretapping never comes out in court.

Mr. Reid — who is still falling for the White House’s soft-on-terrorism bullying — set up deliberations in a way that ensured that a better Judiciary Committee version of the bill would die a procedural death and that the Intelligence Committee bill would pass.

The Judiciary bill died this week, with the help of other bullyable Democratic senators like Mr. Rockefeller, Claire McCaskill, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson. The Republicans repaid them by announcing they would block any further attempts to reach a compromise.

It is now up to the House to protect Americans’ rights. Mr. Bush has already started issuing the ritual claims that if his bill is not passed instantly, Osama bin Laden will be telephoning his agents in the United States and no one will know. Let us be clear, Mr. Bush has always had the authority to order emergency wiretaps — and get court approval after the fact. That has never been the problem with FISA.

The House should vote to extend last summer’s flawed rules for at least 30 days and go on recess, forcing the Senate to do the same thing, and then bring the whole matter to a conference committee. There will then be plenty of time for a real debate.

Lawmakers and the rest of the nation should bear this in mind: Mr. Bush’s version of this law does not make intelligence-gathering more robust. Opponents like Senators Christopher Dodd and Patrick Leahy want to spy on Al Qaeda, too. They’re just not willing to do it in a way that undermines the very democracy that the spies, Congress and the president are supposed to be protecting.

I am beginning to think that the wiretapping done by this Administration is actually paying off. Not by catching “terrorists” mind you because there is no evidence of that, but by collecting dirt on its ostensible opponents (ala J. Edgar.) What else can explain Harry Reid and Jay “Jello” Rockefeller? You have to wonder what telephone calls and emails Bush, et al., have that they are holding over their heads. It must be really damning. Because, these American Citizens, whose job is to uphold the Constitution, are willing to sellout the rule of law in order to protect themselves.

That may sound like tinfoil hat talk folks, but I can’t come to any other conclusion. But then maybe it has to do with how much money the telecoms have donated to Harry, et al.

Can you imagine the government giving amnesty to all of those low level drug dealers and/or ordinary tax payers who may or may not have cheated on their taxes? If not, why should Telecoms, with very well paid lawyers who ostensibly understand the law, get amnesty?

Who is to say?

Go Senator Christopher Dodd!

Lies and the Lying Liars.

The evidence is documented, finally! Well, it is not that we didn’t know that the Bush Administration lied about Iraq and our need to invade the country. So, now we know that many who where not paying attention were led to believe, falsely, that we should have invaded Iraq to protect the U.S. of A. and like sheeple they fell for it.

January 23, 2008

Web Site Assembles U.S. Prewar Claims


WASHINGTON — Students of how the Bush administration led the nation into the Iraq war can now go online to browse a comprehensive database of top officials’ statements before the invasion, connecting the dots between hundreds of claims, mostly discredited since then, linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda or warning that he possessed forbidden weapons.

The Center for Public Integrity, a research group that focuses on ethics in government and public policy, designed the new Web site to allow simple searches for specific phrases, such as “mushroom cloud” or “yellowcake uranium,” in transcripts and documents totaling some 380,000 words, including remarks by President Bush and most of his top advisers in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Warnings about the need to confront Iraq, by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and two White House press secretaries, among others, can be combed line by line, and reviewed alongside detailed critiques published after the fact by official panels, historians, journalists and independent experts.

There is no startling new information in the archive, because all the documents have been published previously. But the new computer tool is remarkable for its scope, and its replay of the crescendo of statements that led to the war. Muckrakers may find browsing the site reminiscent of what Richard M. Nixon used to dismissively call “wallowing in Watergate.”

The database is online at www.publicintegrity.org.

Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the research center say their work has documented “at least 935 false statements” on hundreds of occasions, particularly that Iraq had unconventional weapons, links to Al Qaeda, or both.

The database shows how even after the invasion, when a consensus emerged that the prewar intelligence assessments were flawed, administration officials occasionally suggested that the weapons might still be found.

The officials have defended many of their prewar statements as having been based on the intelligence that was available at the time — although there is now evidence that some statements contradicted even the sketchy intelligence of the time.

President Bush said in 2005 that “much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong” but that “it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power.”

That’s his story and he is sticking to it no matter how many people have to die. Oh, and lest we forget, it was all about bringing democracy to Iraq by gun point because that always works out so well.

So, I am beginning to believe that we don’t need voter I.D.’s (I am against that), nor do we need a poll tax, but what we may need is a civics test which determines who is allowed to vote.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Torture is Necessary?

I am trying to deal with why someone who is quite intelligent, and well read, would support torture. This someone I am talking about is someone who I am quite fond of, a friend if you will, and I am horrified to find out that someone I care about would think torture is acceptable in any circumstance.

In what passed for our conversation my attempts at logic and reason were dismissed as emotional, and a sign of weakness, because we “have to do whatever it takes to defeat the evil terrorists.” And apparently if what it takes is for us to become “evil,” well then we have to do it. Lest you think we were discussing the exigent circumstance of the faux ticking time bomb, rest assured we weren't.

I realize that many virulent anti-communists on the right have discovered their inner Stalin. But when it is close to home, and make no mistake about it, I grew-up in a Right-wing home filled with the rhetoric of “Law and Order,” I am dumbfounded as to how to react to such a pronouncement on torture. After all, torture is against the rule of law. When logic and reason are dismissed as “pure emotion and a sign of weakness” what can one say other than isn't “fear” "pure emotion and a sign of weakness?”

Just as nuking the communists was considered an acceptable solution in the cold war, because we were afraid, very afraid, of the red hordes, it seems that likewise anything is acceptable to destroy those “Islamic Extremists” who are out to “destroy” the U.S.A and our way of life.

Why do folks hold such beliefs? I believe it is fear and paranoia being fed by those who control the message and need to control the population. The question is also why are some folks more susceptible to the propaganda of fear?

Why would “Law and Order” types be so willing to break International and Domestic Laws? Does the law only apply to others? We have seen in this current administration that the law doesn’t apply to them. We have seen that our Citizens are willing to give up the right to “Habeas Corpus” and find it perfectly acceptable to hold American Citizens in detention indefinitely and without recourse. We have seen that Citizens are more than willing to give up their “Fourth Amendment” rights, and have their every communication collected by our government and recorded for posterity with the promise, and only a promise, of a little more security. After all, in this “War on Terra” our country’s actions have lead to more “Islamic Extremists” and an increase in World-wide terrorism. So, the promise to make “us” more secure is merely a “promise” that hasn’t been delivered on.

Are the Citizens of this country so insecure that they are willing to engage in totally immoral behavior because they are frightened? If intelligent, or what I assumed were intelligent, people can be driven by fear to accept illegal and abhorrent behavior, what are the other sheeple willing to accept?

Whatever happened to the “Land of the Free and the Brave?”

I guess everything really did change after 9-11, and not in a good way.

I am bereft and Dr. King is rolling over in his grave.

Update: Joseph Goebbels and his acolyte Karl Rove understand how the rhetoric and politics of fear works and how to use it. Why do our Citizens fall for it?

Dr. King: Silence is Betrayal!

On this day when we celebrate Dr. King’s life we need to remember that we were inspired by his moral clarity.

His message is just as inspiring and relevant today as it was then.

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Update: Here is the full version of his speech opposing the War. It is 22 minutes long and worth revisiting. I also believe this speech, and the connections he made in it, is the one that wrote his demise.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bernanke and We are Fucked!

I always wondered why someone with Helicopter Ben’s credentials would take the job in the Bush Administration because many of us knew that a “Shit-storm” was approaching via the Financial Sector’s obvious malfeasance. And now it is here and his feet are being held to the fire. Bernanke isn’t stupid, in fact he is quite smart. So, that leads me to think that we are fucked. Because, if the really “smart guys” can’t get it, and don’t see what is coming, then the rest of us regular folks are really in trouble because the “smart guys” are in charge. Or, if those of us regular folks saw it coming and the “smart guys” didn’t see it coming, or chose not to talk about it, what does that say about the really “smart guys” and the system and those who run it and support it?

So here is a video about Helicopter Ben:

Thanks to Calculated Risk for the H/T! Also, you might want to read this weekend’s article in the NYT’s about Bernanke’s education.

In closing, I think that if this is the level of leadership we have in the country we are, to quote a cohort, “truly fucked.”

What is your strategy going forward?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Again on Economics and our Future Fortunes or Not!

One of my favorite sites is Clusterfuck Nation! It is the home of James Howard Kunstler. Now some folks find Jim to be a downer. But, I have to tell you that I always learn something from his posts and his book the “Long Emergency” was a wonderful read. And in spite of his straight-on hard talking, he is so sincere and just a sweetheart.

So, give him a look as our economy spirals down and maybe, just maybe, you might get some ideas on how to deal with your and our future.

Both Jim and Krugman post on Monday and it makes the start of the week a welcome experience.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On Another Very Serious Note: the Economy!

If you are interested in getting informed about what is going on then I suggest you follow some of the blogging economists. One of my favorite sites is “Calculated Risk.”

It is scary stuff but well worth reading. It is always better to be forewarned than blind-sided.

As a result of knowing what was going on I was not in the least surprised when my bank instituted a large, and unannounced, service charge this month on an account that has previously been without any service charges or fees.

Tough times coming in the banking business and customer relations.

Misogyny and Racism

I am trying to work this through and will get back to you. This is a conundrum that is much too important for me to just spout off about, though I often do spout off about it. This controversy has serious and deep personal implications for my family, as well as the country, and it deserves careful consideration.

Of course, it was obvious from the beginning that the Obama and Clinton campaigns would bring this into the open. And I am not blaming the campaigns for this. It is just that their very existence leads to the confrontation. It was also obvious that the MSM would exploit it as it is such a part of our country’s narrative. And in my personal opinion exploit is the word. To date I have not seen any considered analysis or really thoughtful working through of these issues that are so embedded in our national character.

Maybe the fact that they are so embedded in our national character is the reason there hasn’t been a thoughtful analysis of the issues?

This isn’t just troubling for the Democrats, it is troubling for the United States in a big way and may have lasting implications for our future polity.


Update: Though I realize that PC limits overtly Racist speech unlike overtly Misogynist speech it doesn’t limit overt Racist actions just as nothing limits overt Misogynistic actions.

Do You Read Avedon?

If not, why not? She is an American abroad (living in the U.K.) and has many a great link and insight.

Give her a try. Oh, and she often posts at Eschaton, so you know she is totally legit!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Iowa, What a State!

Well, it has taken me a while to get my head around what happened in Iowa. On the one hand they select a Flat-Earther to be the Republican nominee and then on the other hand these folks, possibly neighbors, select a totally transformational and bi-racial candidate, to be the Democratic candidate. Wow!

And the CC in DC seems to think that what the American Public wants is Bipartisanship. Yeah, that’s what the Iowa Caucus’s showed: Bipartisanship, because that is what you get when you pick Mike Huckabee on the one hand and Barack Obama on the other hand.

Oh, yeah, that’s the ticket!

Update: Tuesday in New Hampshire might tell us more about the cacophony that is politics in the U.S.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Stealing the Colonel’s New Year's Post!

Read the comments you won’t be disappointed!

Happy New Year to Everyone.