Archive for June 13th, 2006

I was nosing around after Rep. Rehberg’s record on Internet issues, seeing if held any other paleo-conservative views in regard to the ‘Net other than his opposition to Net Neutrality (BTW, I have a note out inquiring after Monica Lindeen’s position on Net Neutrality — I’ll let you know if I hear back), when I stumbled onto this piece of Rehberg’s voting record… Here’s an amendment made to the House Appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security:

Rep. Stupak offered an amendment on Thursday, May 25, 2006; it was agreed to by recorded vote: (Roll No. 215). The amendment increases funding for the Cybercrimes Center in the DHS budget to combat child pornography by $5 million offset by the management of the Office of the DHS Secretary (funded at $95 million).

Bart Stupak is a Democrat out of Michigan. Stupak is a member of the House Law Enforcement Caucus and the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Homeland Security, both groups are forums for law enforcement and homeland security officials to express their views, concerns, and needs for upholding the law. It’s no wonder then that Rep. Stupak offered an appropriations amendment beefing up the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the folks responsible for Operation Predator, an “initiative to identify, investigate, and arrest child predators.” According to Wikipedia, it’s had some success:

As of October 2005, there have been over 6,500 arrests under Operation Predator. Over 1,000 of those arrests occurred within the first three months of the operation. More than half of their arrests have been against foreign nationals, who are deported from the United States after they serve their time. They have also made arrests against human smugglers and child pornographers.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Rehberg voted against this amendment.

I assume Rehberg voted against the amendment because he wanted to appear fiscally conservative. Or maybe because a Democrat sponsored the legislation. Maybe Rehberg wanted to save the government a little money… Hm. But he’s eager to give out tax cuts to his fat-cat buddies. Just a small sampling of Rehberg’s voting record lists support of tax cuts for the wealthy – like this one on the capital gains tax, or this one giving tax breaks to big oil companies. What Rehberg is telling us is that he values oil executives over children exploited by sexual predators. Yesterday when I said he sold us out to the sex industry, I had no idea…

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Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq today. During the trip, he met with Iraqi government officials and said, basically, they’re on their own:

But he also emphasized, both in his meeting with al-Maliki and in an address to U.S. troops, that the wartorn country's future is in the hands of the new Iraqi unity government."And our job is to help them succeed and we will," Bush told American forces as he wrapped up his unannounced visit.

Yesterday at Camp “JCrew” – er – David, Bush said that the Iraqi government should use its oil revenue to fund “unifying” national projects…whatever that means. Maybe he means Iraq should use its money on infrastructure…like an army or police force or for sewer systems, roads, and schools.

Why all the sudden fuss? Why the dramatic changes in policy, the elaborately staged “summit” meetings of the administration “leadership”?

The New York Times introduces the buzz-word on behalf of the GOP that hints at what’s to come: the “post-Zarqawi era.” In the administration’s alternate universe, Zarqawi was a major player in the Iraqi insurgency and his death is a significant victory towards ending the war. Is it true? Probably not.

But don’t count on this administration sitting around and waiting to find out. Despite Rove’s exuberant trashing of Democrats, accusing them of weakness in the face of difficulty…

"When it gets tough, and when it gets difficult, [Democrats] fall back on that party's old pattern of cutting and running," Mr. Rove said at a state Republican Party gathering in Manchester.

(Notice the eerie similarity in language to a certain local blog’s post on the same subject?)

I’m betting it’ll be this Republican administration that begins “cutting and running,” just in time for the upcoming midterm elections. That’s right! All these shifts in policy signal one thing: the imminent gradual withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Here’s why. Bush’s support of the Iraqi government is actually a signal that they’re “ready” to handle their own affairs. I.e., govern the country. Bush’s statements about oil revenue is to assure folks that we’re not leaving the Iraqis out to dry. The naming of the current period in Iraq, “post-Zarqawi,” implies a change in the focus of the war. It implies a watershed was achieved. Our Stalingrad, if you will. So when the administration announces the beginning of troop withdrawal, they’re trying to create the illusion that we’ve won, and that our retreat is not a retreat, but part of a big plan.

Here’s the big plan for spin:

–The GOP will claim that Democrats are weak for not supporting the war, which they had to win all by themselves. They might even claim the war dragged on so long because of the “fifth column” of treasonous liberals hampered the war effort.

–Bush’s approval ratings will rise, at it must when the troops start returning. The GOP will claim these improved ratings signal a shift back to Republican “values.”

–The promise of an Iraq funded by oil revenue will enable the Republicans to say they’re ready to concentrate on fiscal responsibility and the economy, which they couldn’t do during wartime.

And so on. You get the drift.

Here are the facts:

–Bush started the war based on false premises.

–The Bush administration egregiously mishandled the occupation and created a war where none may have flourished.

–Iraq is f*cked up. Zarqawi’s death will not end the violence. US withdrawal will surely increase sectarian strife.

–Withdrawal is a good thing. Should of happened months ago when John Murtha first proposed it.

Please remind the crowing cocks that this “draw down” will likely be temporary. The gradual withdrawal of troops will probably reverse course as soon as the midterms are safely behind this administration. In fact, expect a tense battle in Congress over the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq and the plan for a permanent military presence in the country.

Save this post until March 2007. Let me know how I did.

In today’s ESPN “Daily Quickie,” Dan Shanoff accurately summed up the full implication of the US team’s 3-0 defeat by the Czech Republic yesterday:

The worst-case scenario for U.S. Soccer came on Monday.

After four years of buildup, hype and expectations after a breakthrough run to the quarterfinals in 2002, the U.S. team was handed the worst loss of any team in the 2006 tournament so far.

Considering the promise of U.S. soccer's legitimacy, this was even worse than the 5-1 beating that the U.S. team took from the Czech Republic at the start of the 1990 World Cup.

Wasn't the U.S. supposed to be better than this? Maybe not "beat the Czechs" better, but certainly "make a freaking game of it, please!" better?

So, for starters, yesterday's 3-0 shellacking provides fodder for the cynics and cranks who think the real sport this month is mocking soccer and its fans, particularly the hopeful ones rooting on the U.S. team.

Next, it was the ugliest loss found anywhere in the 2006 tournament, combining all the elements of nearly every losing side yet, in a horrible twist on the symbolism of an American melting pot:

Paraguay: Allowing a goal in the game's first minutes.

Costa Rica/Iran: Allowing three goals or more.

Angola/Poland/Sweden/Serbia: Being shut out.

Plus one unique effort: The largest goal differential (3) yet seen in the Cup. (Being behind 2 at the half was a kiss of death worthy of the Group of Death: Teams up 2 or more at halftime are 72-0-4 in Cup history.)

When the day began, I didn't think a team could be humiliated more than Japan, which gave up 3 goals to Australia in the game's final 10 minutes, including (1) the equalizer, (2) the winning goal, and (3) one for plain embarrassment.

But at least Japan was in the game for 90 minutes, leading for 84. The U.S. was out of it right from the start and was never competitive.

Yet it gets worse:

As I watched Italy beat Ghana 2-0 (in a game much closer than the score), it didn't take a soccer savant to realize that both teams are vastly superior to the U.S.

So after a day that started with so much promise (2nd round, anyone?), the U.S. will be fortunate not to go 0-3 in its group and lucky (lucky!) if it doesn't finish 32 out of 32 teams.

That's how ugly this 3-0 loss really was. The first day of play in the Group of Death signaled the death knell for U.S. soccer in 2006.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. What makes this humiliation worse isn’t just that this 3-0 loss dashed our expectations for this world cup, but maybe for US soccer altogether. Just a week ago, fans were discussing – with a straight face – the inevitable domination of the sport by the United States because of its population and wealth. If the game caught on – which naturally it would with a great showing by the US – this country would quickly become a soccer powerhouse.

Some fans were even feeling nostalgic about these golden days when just a few die-hards followed the game.

Have no worry. US’ pathetic performance ensures the soccer fan base will remain small.

Go Holland!

Links…

It’s Matt Singer’s turn to struggle with the Missoulian. This time over the estate tax.

And it’s Wulfgar’s turn to explain why everybody voted for Tester.

Rove not to be indicted in Plame leak case.

The New York Times Magazine compares the US economy to a dinosaur. That’s a bad thing.

Honestly, isn’t Iran bad enough without having to concoct stories about secret nuclear complexes?

A cabal of noted religious leaders urge the Bush administration to stop torture. Bush administration: “Torture? What torture?

The British contractors caught on tape shooting at Iraqi civilians won’t be charged. So…the Bush administration and its allies support random shootings?

Expect an upcoming battle over permanent military bases in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman is irritated with you, because you expect him to get the story right.

Homeland Security: protecting the country from copyright infringers.

In loving remembrance of the disgraced and former US Representative Tom Delay, Kevin Drum posts one of the Hammer’s speeches, wherein he blames the Littleton, Colorado, school shootings on day care, contraceptives, and evolution, among other things. Good riddance.

Liberals are sneaking over the border into Canada.

The Blogenlust catalog displays its new line of "war casual" clothing.

What will happen to the Internet if Net Neutrality becomes a thing of the past?

Pornography will buy up the bandwidth.

It’s simple. The $12-billion-a-year industry on the Internet isn’t small business web pages or newspapers or fantasy baseball or political blogs. It’s porn.

If the telecommunications companies are allowed to sell their bandwidth to the highest bidder — forcing websites to pay in order to be carried by service providers — it will be the adult industry that will pony up the most money first and fastest.

In effect, rejecting Net Neutrality means ensuring that pornographic images, movies, and sounds will download at high speeds to homes all across the country at the expense of dictionaries, nonprofit organization home pages, church websites, independent realtors’ listings, and the mad ranting of the politically obsessed. Hustler instead of

That is, those that oppose Net Neutrality would sell off the web sites and pages representing the stuff that binds communities, the things that made the Internet wonderful — and useful. How many jobs will be lost? How many small businesses will fold? How many religious, environmental, and charity groups will see revenue dry up as a result of the lost visibility? How many people will leave the Internet to ensure the quick download of anal sex videos to teenage boys’ computers?

And that’s exactly why I dislike politicians like Montana Representative Denny Rehberg — an opponent of Net Neutrality — because, despite the rhetoric, he doesn’t give a fig about Montana communities. Not really. Otherwise he wouldn’t sell us out to the sex industry.




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