Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

criteria for a trillion dollars in tax breaks

It's far more than framing, Bernie, as even Stewie unconsciously tries to frame you...

"...one and a half wars instead of three"? Stewie, where have you been?

spin cycle

Chris Floyd on The New York Pravda's Wikileak brainwashing machine:

...Almost as sickening as the atrocities themselves, however, is the way the release has been played in the New York Times, whose coverage of the document dump will set the tone for the American media and political establishments. The Times' take is almost wholly devoted to showing how evil and dangerous a handful of the hundreds of Gitmo detainees were, and to justifying Barack Obama's betrayal of his promises to close the concentration camp. We are treated to lurid tales (many if not most of them extracted under torture, but who cares about that?) of monsters seething with irrepressible hatred of America, and so maniacally devoted to jihad that they inject themselves with libido-deadening drugs to ward off any sexual distractions from their murderous agenda.

There is almost no mention in the Times coverage of the many innocent people -- including children -- who spent years in the concentration camp, athough the main story about the documents does note, in an eyeblink, the case of one prisoner who was falsely imprisoned on the word of an Afghan official trying to hide his own complicity with insurgents. (Damn treacherous furriners!)

And the notorious case of Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj, held for six years in the concentration camp while interrogators pressed him for details not about terrorism but about the network, is also given one paragraph -- with a conclusion that implies our "serious" journalists at the Times still have their reservations about the grubby little Ay-rab: "While Mr. Hajj insisted he was just a journalist, his file says he helped Islamic extremist groups courier money and obtain Stinger missiles and cites the United Arab Emirates’ claim that he was a Qaeda member.

Yes, his file could say anything that his captors wanted it to say -- information they made up, information they tortured and terrorized out of other captives. But even though al-Hajj was finally released by the very people who first made those charges -- which they obviously could not make stick -- his fellow journalists at one of the world's leading newspapers still couch his case in iffy terms: "Well, he says he was just a journalist, but look here -- al Qaeda!! Ya just never know, do you?" That's real journalistic solidarity for you..."

Then there's the case of the Al Qaeda member who fingered everyone else imprisoned with him but who happened to be a long time asset for British Intelligence.

Then there's the matter of obviously faked suicides.

...The New York Times’s coverage of the release included an article on suicide at Guantánamo that linked online to my Harper’s piece, in reference to “skeptics” who believe the June 2006 deaths might have been homicides.

Below the print article, the paper ran excerpts from some of the released documents, including three comments from the file of Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, one of the deceased. In keeping with the rest of the Times’s reportage, which focused on the suspicious and dangerous characters among the prisoners, the Al Zahrani excerpts emphasized his hostile behavior at Gitmo. However, the paper failed to note that another of the released documents, dated March 20, 2006, establishes that Al Zahrani had been cleared for release. The text reads, “If a satisfactory agreement can be reached that ensures continued detention and allow access to detainee and/or to exploited intelligence, detainee can be Transferred Out of DoD Control.” (The Times did post the full set of Al Zahrani documents online.)

Al Zahrani’s family members—including his father, a Saudi general—were convinced Talal knew he was approaching release, which fueled their rejection of the U.S. government’s claim that he committed suicide. Strikingly, the Times does not refer to Al Zahrani’s transfer clearance, nor to other evidence that contradicts or undermines the suicide hypothesis. This evidence includes the on-the-record statements of four Army perimeter guards on duty that evening, the gross irregularities surrounding the pathological examination of Al Zahrani, the fact that his father firmly stated that the suicide note found on him was a forgery, and the credulity-straining official narrative of how the alleged suicides occurred. The Times also failed to speak with defense lawyers, any freed detainees or their family members, or alumni of the Gitmo intelligence community...

You just never know, do you? But you can pretty well guess, can't you?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

why nobody believes them anymore

"Economy isn't as bad as new data make it look, analysts say"

Unless, you know, you happen to live here.

But what do we know, we just have to pay the bills.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

rule of Laureate

"Sentence first - verdict afterward"

tit for tat

So did You, sir.

The last time I looked the Geneva Conventions were still legally binding.

You're certainly willing to invoke them to justify yet another war for oil.

more stories you won't hear on the main$tream

Many people are showing up outside Obama speaking engagements protesting that he's not doing enough, not that he's too liberal.

He's nowhere near liberal enough for what the country, as opposed to the campaign fund Ba$e, really need.

We've paid our dues. Where's the Change?

Dear Mr. President we honor you today sir
Each of us brought you $5,000
It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign
I paid my dues, where's our change?
We'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true
Look at the Republicans - what else can we do
Even though we don't know if we'll retain our liberties
In what you seem content to call a free society
Yes it's true that Terry Jones is legally free
To burn a people's holy book in shameful effigy
But at another location in this country
Alone in a 6x12 cell sits Bradley
23 hours a day is night
The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain't right
We paid our dues, where's our change?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a kinder gentler reptilian

the Laureate Cares:

...“If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy – or if Congress has failed to act – my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code.”

Well somebody would be coming, doubtless.

the invisible hand of the open casino

you can not beat the house

The next time you drive to the gas station, only to find prices are still sky high compared to just a few years ago, take notice of the rows of foreclosed houses you'll pass along the way. They may seem like two parts of a spell of economic bad luck, but high gas prices and home foreclosures are actually very much interrelated. Before most people were even aware there was an economic crisis, investment managers abandoned failing mortgage-backed securities and looked for other lucrative investments. What they settled on was oil futures.

An oil future is simply a contract between a buyer and seller, where the buyer agrees to purchase a certain amount of a commodity -- in this case oil -- at a fixed price [source: CFTC]. Futures offer a way for a purchaser to bet on whether a commodity will increase in price down the road. Once locked into a contract, a futures buyer would receive a barrel of oil for the price dictated in the future contract, even if the market price was higher when the barrel was actually delivered.

As in all cases, Wall Street heard the word "bet" and flocked to futures, taking the market to strange new places on the fringe of legality. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it bet on grain. In the 21st century it was oil. Despite U.S. petroleum reserves being at an eight-year high, the price of oil rose dramatically beginning in 2006. While demand rose, supply kept pace. Yet, prices still skyrocketed. This means that the laws of supply and demand no longer applied in the oil markets. Instead, an artificial market developed...

A nice side effect of the expanding War on Terra: why all that chaos must mean that it'll be harder to drill, baby, drill. Even if it isn't, you are playing against a cold deck.

Monday, April 18, 2011

a case of Family or Company resemblence?


Or has he been owned by the same people all along?

Either way, Austeritian Mission Accomplished!

Bow before your Galtian overlords, or they'll leave and take your credit rating with them.

instruction manuals for a better world

Just like the Company views 1984 as an manual for good management practices, it seems the Pentacle Pentagon and its British M-666 counterpart is using The Terminator as a strategery for Future Combat Systems.

I want to know how else are we going to get rid of all these strip malls and party stores cluttering the landscape?

no funding shortage for a 4th war


The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables...

Yes, but how else will the Free Market enter a dictator-run country?

Last week, when the Federal Reserve finally released the names of the banks that tapped the central bank's most secret lending program in the wake of the financial crisis many of the expect names were there. Citigroup got over $50 billion in loans. Bank of America was a big borrower, too. Goldman borrowed five times, though the amounts were relatively small. But among the names of banks that got tens of billions in loans from the Fed in order to stay afloat was at least one few expected: The Central Bank of Libya.

In the 18 months following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a foreign subsidiary of the bank of the government of Muammar Gaddafi received a cumulative $35 billion in short-term loans from the Fed. Libya's Central bank received the loans through a foreign subsidiary called the Arab Banking Corp., which has a branch in New York. At the time of the financial crisis, the bank was 29% owned by the Libyan government. But since then the Libyan government has upped its stake in ABC, as it is known, to 59%. So the main beneficiary of the Fed's help is the Libyan government...

Yes, but how else can we stimulate our economy without someone to fight in the War on Terra?

the Laureate's date rape


...Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters.

They need to take something to the voters other than their collective recent record of being G.O.P.-lite, lead by the Great Compromiser.

Broderella is still dead. Let's keep him that way.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Suppose you gave a protest and no news covered it?

You'd be in New York on April the 9th, where apparently thousands showed up ( according to the local CBS affiliate) but no nationwide coverage occurred.

A dozen teabaggers can meet in Alabama and it's on Faux nationwide all day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what is this global warming of which you speak?

...If the Yellowstone supervolcano blows in your lifetime, civilization, as you know it, will end.

You'll have to welcome the next Ice Age, too.

Just sayin' that it could explain a lot of things if this is what the Company expects to happen sooner or later, actually.

the black budget isn't just secret weapons anymore, baby

not since Wall Street got an in

Matt Tiabbi:

America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don't know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the "official" budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

Now, following an act of Congress that has forced the Fed to open its books from the bailout era, this unofficial budget is for the first time becoming at least partially a matter of public record. Staffers in the Senate and the House, whose queries about Fed spending have been rebuffed for nearly a century, are now poring over 21,000 transactions and discovering a host of outrages and lunacies in the "other" budget. It is as though someone sat down and made a list of every individual on earth who actually did not need emergency financial assistance from the United States government, and then handed them the keys to the public treasure. The Fed sent billions in bailout aid to banks in places like Mexico, Bahrain and Bavaria, billions more to a spate of Japanese car companies, more than $2 trillion in loans each to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, and billions more to a string of lesser millionaires and billionaires with Cayman Islands addresses. "Our jaws are literally dropping as we're reading this," says Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "Every one of these transactions is outrageous."

But if you want to get a true sense of what the "shadow budget" is all about, all you have to do is look closely at the taxpayer money handed over to a single company that goes by a seemingly innocuous name: Waterfall TALF Opportunity. At first glance, Waterfall's haul doesn't seem all that huge — just nine loans totaling some $220 million, made through a Fed bailout program. That doesn't seem like a whole lot, considering that Goldman Sachs alone received roughly $800 billion in loans from the Fed. But upon closer inspection, Waterfall TALF Opportunity boasts a couple of interesting names among its chief investors: Christy Mack and Susan Karches.

Christy is the wife of John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley. Susan is the widow of Peter Karches, a close friend of the Macks who served as president of Morgan Stanley's investment-banking division. Neither woman appears to have any serious history in business, apart from a few philanthropic experiences. Yet the Federal Reserve handed them both low-interest loans of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars through a complicated bailout program that virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income...

Oh, there's lots more where this came from. Go over and read Tiabbi.

“Frankly, we need to challenge the president,”

...he’s more aligned with Republicans than Democrats on matters of deficit and spending.

-Dennis the Menace

It's only because they're owned by the same people, Dennis.

DINOcratic values

Here's a big shout-out to Senator Jon Tester, alleged Democrat of Montana, who got wolves knocked off the endangered species list!

With friends like you, who needs enemies?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

burning for Austerity

Yes, we do not have enough money to fix our roads, provide medical benefits for wounded veterans, or educate kids, but we have plenty to provide Star Wars laser weapons right here on earth and start a new kind of arms race with the Chinese or anyone else who wants to play with us!

As the Laureate would tell you, we must have our priorities.

big difference

Elsewhere, the People's Republic of General Electric Japan goes from accusing GE competitors' news agencies of exaggerating the magnitude of Fukushima Daiichi to admitting it was the size of Chernobyl. But they want you to know that was then, now because of all the sea water they used and continue to release, it's much better.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Milk Toast or Mocha Sockpuppet?

Reich on Obama:

...“Americans of different beliefs came together,” the President announced after agreement was reached. It was the “largest spending cut in our history.” He sounded triumphant. In fact, he’s encouraging the bullies onward.

All the while, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refuse to refute the Republicans’ big lie — that spending cuts will lead to more jobs. In fact, spending cuts now will lead to fewer jobs. They’ll slow down an already-anemic recovery. That will cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.

The President continues to legitimize the Republican claim that too much government spending caused the economy to tank, and that by cutting back spending we’ll get the economy going again.

Even before the bullies began hammering him his deficit commission already recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. Then the President froze non-defense domestic spending and froze federal pay. And he continues to draw the false analogy between a family’s budget and the national budget.

He is losing the war of ideas because he won’t tell the American public the truth: That we need more government spending now — not less — in order to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

That we got into the Great Recession because Wall Street went bonkers and government failed to do its job at regulating financial markets. And that much of the current deficit comes from the necessary response to that financial crisis.

That the only ways to deal with the long-term budget problem is to demand that the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and to slow down soaring health-care costs.

And that, at a deeper level, the increasingly lopsided distribution of income and wealth has robbed the vast working middle class of the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going at full capacity.

“We preserved the investments we need to win the future,” he said last night. That’s not true. The budget he just approved will cut Pell grants to poor kids, while states continue massive cutbacks in school spending — firing tens of thousands of teachers and raising fees at public universities. The budget he approved is cruel to the nation’s working class and poor.

It is impossible to fight bullies merely by saying they’re going too far.

Assuming, of course, he's not just getting his while they're stealing yours.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

still dead

everything you need to know to understand why that Hopey-Changey thing isn't working

[a tip o'teh tinfoil to Avedon]

one cannot help but wonder if like the Gipper it will become apparent the Laureate has lost his mind once the Company has finished with him?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

deficit thinking

Don't talk to me about cutting deficit spending until the Bu$h tax cuts have been rescinded, all the middle east wars are really ended, and the energy companies are all actually paying taxes.

And all the hand wringing about the battle ahead? Talk to me when you're actually prepared to fight it, DINOcrats.

"Will Obama rise to meet the next budget challenges?" You want the simple answer?

No, because that would mean rescinding the tax cuts, ending the Endless War, and making sure the energy companies that own him actually pay taxes.

Anything else won't fix the budget.

"i've already got your money, dude"

Bill Maher

It seems even people slamming the Company ethos rely on advertising. You can go to the Raw Story site to see the video if you want to see the ad first.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

they have a simple need

Robert Scheer on Joseph E. Stiglitz:

...The illusion of personal power substitutes consumer sovereignty—which smartphone to purchase—for real power over the decisions that affect our lives. Even though most Americans accept that the political game is rigged, we have long assumed that the choices we make in the economic sphere as to career and home are matters that respond to our wisdom and will. But the banking tsunami that wiped out so many jobs and so much homeownership has demonstrated that most Americans have no real control over any of that, and while they suffer, the corporate rich reward themselves in direct proportion to the amount of suffering they have caused.

Instead of taxing the superrich on the bonuses dispensed by top corporations such as Exxon, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing, all of which managed to avoid paying any federal corporate taxes last year, the politicians of both parties in Congress are about to accede to the Republican demand that programs that help ordinary folks be cut to pay for the programs that bailed out the banks.

It is a reality further obscured by the academic elite, led by economists who receive enormous payoffs from Wall Street in speaking and consulting fees, and their less privileged university colleagues who are so often dependent upon wealthy sponsors for their research funding. Then there are the media, which are indistinguishable parts of the corporate-owned culture and which with rare exception pretend that we are all in the same lifeboat while they fawn in their coverage of those who bilk us and also dispense fat fees to top pundits. Complementing all that is the dark distraction of the faux populists, led by tea party demagogues, who blame unions and immigrants for the crimes of Wall Street hustlers.

The veterans of the Clinton years, so prominent in the Obama they are valiantly holding back the forces of evil when they actually have continuously been complicit.

The lobbyists are deliberately bipartisan in their bribery, and the authors of our demise are equally marked as Democrats and Republicans. Ronald Reagan first effectively sang the siren song of ending government’s role in corporate crime prevention, but it was Democrat Bill Clinton who accomplished much of that goal. It is the enduring conceit of the top Democratic leaders that administration, still deny their role in the disaster of the last 25 years. Yet the sad tale of income inequality that Stiglitz laments is as much a result of their policies as those of their Republican rivals. In one of the best studies of this growing gap in income, economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that during Clinton’s tenure in the White House the income of the top 1 percent increased by 10.1 percent per year, while that of the other 99 percent of Americans increased by only 2.4 percent a year. Thanks to President Clinton’s deregulation and the save-the-rich policies of George W. Bush, the situation deteriorated further from 2002 to 2006, a period in which the top 1 percent increased its income 11 percent annually while the rest of Americans had a truly paltry gain of 1 percent per year...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"...any radiation would be quickly diluted and dispersed in the ocean..."

...so now the ocean around the plant is 1.5 million times the legal limit of radioiodine and 1.1 million times the legal limit of radiocesium.

Of course, the anything released into the ocean eventually circulates over the entire planet.

They thought the Deepwater Horizon was bad. BP's got nothin' on GE.

"liberal hawks"

It's an oxymoron, like "military intelligence". Clancy Sigal:

...You have to sleepwalk, or be in serious denial, not to grasp the blood-link between union-busting in Madison, Wisconsin and bunker-busting in Tripoli, Libya. It's not subtle. We are no longer an infinitely rich country. Our bridges, dams, pipelines and roads are falling apart. Our people are on food stamps and can't find work. Spilling our money on the desert renders it positively reasonable to cut, slash and degrade – that useful military euphemism – help for the poor and middle class. Obama's $75bn foreclosure prevention programme is a bungle due to "lax oversight": translated, that means there's been too much sucking up the mortgage-holding big banks that evict homeowners often illegally. And Obama takes this very moment in our rising-poverty-so-let's-go-to-war crisis to cruelly, mindlessly, cut $3bn from LIHEAP, the federal government's energy assistance (heating oil and air conditioning) to the poor.

The arithmetic is brutal. Each Tomahawk cruise missile fired from a sub, ship or land costs roughly $1m, and we've probably shot over 200 of them onto Libya, killing Gaddafi's military, paramilitary, civilians, hospital patients and – now we learn – our guys, the rebels, too. That's a $200m bill, straight off. The Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimates that the Libyan operation costs the US between $100m and $300m per week, so we're heading toward the $1bn mark even if, as advertised, we pull back marginally. Let the jobless or disabled poor freeze their asses off this and next winter.

We on the left often accuse our ideological adversaries of "triumphalism" – a know-nothing superstition that America is and always will be "different", superior to all other nations, creeds and peoples. If we do it, it's right and moral because, well, we're Americans and we mean terribly well.

And if you believe that, I have a UFO I want to sell you.

You got to believe in that Hopey-Changey thing, and send money to the Laureate's re-$election campaign, pilgrims. If you want to ride that saucer, that is...

it's the "thousand points of light" lite Kool-aid

You can not beat the Laureate for delicious irony as once more it's deja Bu$h all over again.

On the same day he officially announces his 2012 candidacy, he moves 9-11 trials from the civilian to a closed military docket.

Monday, April 04, 2011

it does not compute

when something besides Jenifer Aniston is entered into their GIGO cycle, the cable hostesses heads almost explode:

Zero Hedge is right, hilarity does ensue.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

laundry that's too big to fail

Now here's an interesting post from the Guardian:

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine...

These people deal in the hundreds of billions of dollars. This was sheer chickenfeed to them. The Wall Street hipsters continue to prove that laws are for the little people.

...More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.

"Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank's $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement...

Doubtless due to the demonstration to the Street of its savvy business moves.

Friday, April 01, 2011

the false false choice

Someone needs to tell the Laureate people realize the enemy of our enemy is not our friend:

...The false-choice dodge takes three overlapping forms. The first, a particular Obama specialty, is the false false choice. Set up two unacceptable extremes that no one is seriously advocating and position yourself as the champion of the reasonable middle ground between these unidentified straw men.

Thus, Obama on health care, stretching back to the presidential campaign: “I reject the tired old debate that says we have to choose between two extremes: government-run health care with higher taxes — or insurance companies without rules denying people coverage,” he said in 2008. “That’s a false choice.” It’s also a choice that no one — certainly no other politician — was proposing.

Or Obama on financial reform: “We need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.” Again, please find me the advocate of either extreme.

This blends into the second category of false-choice rhetoric: obscuring the difficulty of divining the correct answer to a complicated problem. Like the president, I am ideologically and temperamentally inclined to middle-ground, pragmatic solutions. But the frame of the false choice does little to clarify the correct choice. Obama’s Libya speech offers a classic example.

“In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya,” the president said on Monday night. “On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all — even in limited ways — in this distant land.” Meanwhile, he noted, others “have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people and do whatever it takes to bring down [Libyan leader Moammar] Gaddafi and usher in a new government.”

This isn’t a false choice — it’s a hard one. There are reasonable concerns about the implications of U.S. intervention and legitimate questions about the match between mission means and ends. To scoff at these as presenting a false choice does a disservice to the seriousness of those who do not come down precisely where the president proposes.

The first presidential false-choicer I have found was Richard Nixon, who used the phrase appropriately in a 1969 commencement address: “Let us not, then, pose a false choice between meeting our responsibilities abroad and meeting the needs of our people at home. We shall meet both or we shall meet neither.”

The phrase, though, has been the particular province of Democratic presidents, with Bill Clinton the undisputed champion. The recent Republican usage has tended to involve a third version: false choice as wishful thinking. George W. Bush maddeningly pooh-poohed the “false choice” between tax cuts and deficit reduction, pretending not only that both could be accomplished simultaneously but that the former would produce the latter.

“They said that we had to choose between cutting the deficit and keeping taxes low,” Bush boasted in 2006. “Those are false choices.” Well, we know how this argument turned out. The decision to spend down an illusory surplus with unaffordable tax cuts was a real choice — with painful consequences that the country is still reaping.

And so, readers, you should indeed beware of false choices. When an elected official uses the phrase, prepare to be snookered.

...with n-dimensional straw men.

diplomatic thing

No boots on the ground, just merc running shoes and Company wing tips:

...the United States’ partners have acknowledged that the initial descriptions of the intervention in Libya no longer apply. “What is happening in Libya is not a no-fly zone,” a senior European diplomat told reporters, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. “The no-fly zone was a diplomatic thing, to get the Arabs on board. What we have in Libya is more than that.”

realpolitik there