Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Republic of Texas

Via Orcinus, Texas separatists are up to it again:

But now a newly revived wing of the Republic of Texas is attempting to stage a visible comeback. The group has planted an 1836 Independence flag and declared the unassuming East Texas rail town of Overton their provisional capitol. The group’s so-called “citizens” and elected “President” Daniel Miller set up what they call their provisional government in a 16,000-square-foot building that once was a hospital.

Visitors are invited to apply for passports.

I guess the implications are mixed. The current redistricting fiasco in Texas is driven by the fact that there are more Democrats than Republicans in the Texas House delegation (17-15), so Texas secession would further tilt the House towards the Republicans (redistricting will soon accomplish that anyway). On the other hand, the loss of Texas Senators Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn would leave the Senate with 49 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and Jim Jeffords in the miscellaneous category, shaking things up a bit.

Now, you might be thinking that this would also mix things up presidency-wise, given that the separatists actually claim that Texas has never rightly been part of the United States and that Article II, Section I of the Constitution says “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President.” But President Bush is safe in the event of a Texas secession; from his bio:

President Bush was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut, and he grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas.

Oh well.


P.S. I’m making light of this in this post, but these far-right groups are full of seriously dangerous nutbags with massive ordnance and chemical weapons (cyanide bombs).

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Domestic Security Concerns

Via Gary at Uber Alles we see that there is a new report out that the largest counter terrorism exercised conducted since 9/11 was “was marred by communications problems, serious shortages of medical supplies and hospital rooms and confusion.” The context to this quote is a simulation of responding to a dirty bomb attack. Confusion is to be expected in any large scale exercise but I imagine that a dedicated administration that wants to improve domestic security and first responder resources could have seen a better exercise.

And hey it is not important as we got Saddam last week and that solves all problems… Right….

Well no. Oliver Willis is linking to a couple of stories that suggests there could be a series of attacks in New York City or other major metropolitan areas in the next couple of weeks. Well prepared and resourced first responders are the second best line of defense that we as a nation have against terrorism. The first is active and effective intelligence gathering and disruption of attacks and organizations before they can strike. However we do not have well prepared first responders due to conscious budgetary decisions made by the Bush Administration.

Crossposted at Fester’s Place

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Confirmed: Nader is Thinking of Running

Last month, AB did some excellent investigation to determine who was behind the “Nader 2004 Exploratory Presidential Committee.” He determined that it was, indeed, Nader’s people.

Today, the BBC is confirming AB’s conclusion:

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Nader said he was “testing the waters” by forming an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of running.

He said he wanted to be sure that he would have adequate funding and support to launch another presidential campaign. “I will make up my mind one way or the other in January,” he said.

What amazes me most, however, is the reason that Nader gives for considering another run:

Mr Nader was scathing about the choices offered by the Republicans and Democrats. “The country’s in real trouble and these two parties are converging more and more,” he said. “You just can’t stand by and watch the two parties, at varying speeds of decline, take down our country.”

I can’t just stand by and watch Nader spout such nonsense. It’s ridiculous to argue that both parties are taking down our country, given that only one of the two parties controls all three branches of government. And the two parties have probably not been this far apart on major issues since the 1960s. Can he really keep a straight face and say that things would be no different if Gore were president? That Gore would also have gutted environmental protections, given massive tax cuts to only the wealthy, sharply curtailed our civil liberties, and prosecuted an unprovoked war?

It’s irrational drivel and nonsense.


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Introducing the First Guest-Blogger: Fester

As you may recall, Kash and I will be blogging lightly till around 1/7/2004; particularly lighly in the first week of January. So I solicited guest-bloggers to keep the content fresh and informative during the gap. I’m happy to introduce the first guest-blogger, Fester from Fester’s Place. Welcome!

In the interest of disclosure, note that Fester is a Deaniac, while I’m only a Leaniac (leaning ever more towards Dean, but enthusiastic about Clark as well). I believe that Kash’s presidential preferences are unknown at this point.


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More Troops to Iraq

CNN is reporting that the 1st Brigade of the 82cd Airborne Division will soon deploy to Iraq because there is a an oncoming troop shortfall. Additionally the 3rd Brigade of the 82cd Airborne, currently deployed around Fallujah have been ordered to stay for another two months. This is because the National Guard brigades are still stuck in training for combat operations.

Now lets go to the analysis here. This is yet another signifier that things are going poorly in Iraq and that next year will not be pleasent either. Currently there are sixteen US brigade groups in Iraq. We are seeing some rotation into the country, for example the 3rd Brigade, 2cd Infantry Division (Stryker equipped) has just rotated into the country. The next rotation plan assumes that there will be 14 US brigades to provide security, and three of those will be National Guard brigades. If the US thought that 14 brigades was sufficient to provide security it would not be sending a fresh, rested and ready brigade that constitutes the mobile strategic reserve right now. This is yet another admission that we just simply do not have enough forces available to occupy Iraq.

Secondly, the recent report that stated that the Army would see 4 divisions declared combat incapable assumed that the 1st Brigade of the 82cd Airborne would be combat effective. The rest of the 82cd has been assumed to be combat ineffective as they will have been coming out of Iraq and Afganistan. Now this news of an extended deployment for the 3rd Brigade and the deployment of the 1st Brigade will push back the date by which the 82cd Airborne is combat effective by at least another 2 if not 4 months. Next summer the US Army will have the 3rd Infantry Division as the sole uncommitted combat ready unit available.

Thirdly, this will contine to play hell with retention as the 1st Brigade has already fought in Afganistan in 2002-03, the 3rd Brigade will be overseas for at least 8 months and everyone can read the writing on the wall. We are already seeing the Reserves experience general retention and recruitment difficulties. Why should soldiers who are leaving the US Army sign up for the Reserves or the Guard when they know that it is another guaranteed deployment.

As I have stated before the US could commit more troops to Iraq if we decided we did not want or need a strategic reserve, a functioning army or a functioning reserve system. Choose at least one. Well we are choosing to give up the strategic reserve and the reserve system is under strain. Let’s hope that we do not see a long term trifecta, but I will not put it pass the current reality that this is a distinct possibility.

Crossposted at Fester’s Place

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Hi everyone, I have been lucky enough to be allowed to guest blog at one of my favorite blogs over this Christmas week. My normal blog home is Fester’s Place where I will still be keeping up with my normal blogging for the next week or two while I am over at Angry Bear. I plan on writing on economics, military analysis and Democratic politics. So nothing different on the topics, although AB and Kash do a far better job than I. Please tolerate my ramblings.

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Dan Drezner: “the very foundation of troubles in this country?”

I knew there had to be some good reason why I nominated Drezner for the best Right-of-Center Blog for the upcoming Koufax awards.


UPDATE. Sheesh. Read the article in Slate that inspired Drezner’s hate-mail. It’s a pretty moderate questioning of Bush’s policy implementation skills that concludes “Bush’s process failures make him far more vulnerable on national security issues than one might imagine.” My guess is that most of Drezner’s emailers only read the title of the piece, Bush the Bumbler, and not the text. In all likelihood, Drezener didn’t come up with the title; Slate’s editors did. (I know that news stories have text penned by the reporter and headlines penned by headline writers, which explains why you see so many articles headlined ‘Up is Down’ but when you read the text it clearly indicates that ‘Down is Up’. However, I’m not sure if the same applies to the headlines on Op/Ed pieces — knowledgeable commenters?)

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No Sh*t

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (news – web sites) declared California in a fiscal crisis Thursday and invoked emergency powers so he could impose $150 million in spending cuts without the Legislature’s approval.

“I had to do this,” Schwarzenegger said at a news conference Thursday.

The move comes as local governments in the state edged closer to financial meltdown following the loss of millions of dollars a day in revenue resulting from Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut a car tax.

Let the recall begin.


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An Interesting Question

Where’s the inflation?

Everywhere you turn, there are red-light indicators of inflation: the dollar’s value is plunging, gold prices are through the roof and commodity prices are marching upwards, including Alan Greenspan’s pet indicator, scrap steel…

This piece asks the right questions. Yes, it is a bit of a mystery, though regular readers of Angry Bear already know my answer to the question…


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Slightly Sinister

Yes, many of us have commented on it before, but it’s worth a repeat: the Bush administration loves to change history. Today’s Washington Post runs a short story on it:

White House Web Scrubbing: Offending Comments on Iraq Disappear From Site

It’s not quite Soviet-style airbrushing, but the Bush administration has been using cyberspace to make some of its own cosmetic touch-ups to history…

Milbank picks out just two recent examples, but there are dozens. It’s a good reason to regularly check out sites like The Memory Hole.


p.s. No, I’m not awake at this hour because I just saw TROTK. I wish.

UPDATE: See this AB post for another Orwellian example.

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