Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another Bush flip flop

President Bush thinks it's wrong to "rile up people’s emotions" with misinformation.

This startling admission follows six years of his pandering to the worst human instincts for the purpose of forcing one party rule on the world's oldest democracy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Extinguisher in Chief

President Bush fights forest fires in Georgia so we don't have to fight them over here. This just in from the White House:
I’ve just had an extensive briefing on the fires here in Georgia and Florida. You can see on the map back here, the fire covers a lot of area; a lot of timberland is being burned down. A lot of people's livelihoods are being affected. A lot of good country is being destroyed. And a lot of good people are fighting the fires.
And a lot of Americans are getting a lot tired of the President when he sounds like a third grader doing show and tell.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

I can't think of a major US holiday more drained of meaning than Memorial Day. As commercialized as Christmas has become, most Americans still know its origins. Meanwhile, Memorial Day has become a three-day weekend, with a whiff of military history thrown in that few Americans can tell you about.

Memorial Day grew out of the American Civil War, as was first recognized in 1868. By 1890, all the northern states recognized it as a day to remember and honor the Civil War war dead, north and south. The southern states stubbornly held their own remembrance day until after World War One, when the holiday officially honored all of America's war dead.

Originally, Memorial Day was always on May 30. It was changed to the last Monday of May when Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act of 1971.

I would argue that Memorial Day is our most important federal holiday. Thanksgiving is a celebration of revisionist history. Christmas is a state-sponsored marketing tool. Labor Day is a redundancy - don't we already get days off from work?

But Memorial Day gives us pause to reflect on our species' worst instints, and that is important in times such as these. When our own government tries to ban photographs of flag-draped coffins, and media propagandists attack news outlets for reading the names of our war dead, we can at least turn to Memorial Day to remind ourselves about some awful truths.

And we can listen to men like Kenneth Rice, an 86-year-old Michigan man, who was held prisoner by the Japanese for three terrible years:
Over the weeks, Nichols Field's detail shrunk to 135 men as prisoners died or were transferred because of illness. That's how Rice escaped Pete's tyranny.

The Japanese sent the Marine, ailing with appendicitis, back to Cabanatuan after two months. There, doctors removed his appendix without giving him an anesthetic.

Six months later, the Japanese reinserted him into the labor force, sending him to his longest and last destination.

Read the whole story.

The best antidote to the sound of trumpets is a strong dose of reality. That's what Memorial Day is all about.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hitch on Falwell

And he says it so well. I take back everything I wrote yesterday:
The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called Reverend.

Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September the 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were God's punishment if they hadn't got some kind of clerical qualification?

People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup.
OK, not everything. But there is a difference between churlish, ad hominem attack and valid criticism. Hitch's comments easily fall into the latter category.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Jerry Falwell is dead. The leader of the moral majority, the man who blamed 9/11 on homos and the ACLU. The clown prince of American Christiandom. Falwell was to reason and tolerance what Yogi Berra was to English syntax: "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being." "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." "The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country." Falwell failed to surpise years before his death.

But now he's dead, and I hope in a place where that kind of bigotry is not tolerated.

It's time for liberals and progressives to get past Falwell. His star was eclipsed last November, when the American public kicked the Republican theocrats out of power. He has been irrelevant ever since.

So why all the anger? The comments at various liberal blogs are lit up with the worst kind of bile. "While you're in hell, tell Hitler he's an asshole for me, ok Jerry?" says Jason at Crooks and Liars. "Hell for this guy should be having to tortured by everyone killed at the WTC as he explains how their deaths were brought about by homosexuals in the US," opines SupremeCommanderThor at Atrios. In all fairness, both blogs asked readers to be civil, but to little avail. The anger was just too great.

Let him go. Any psychologist will tell you that anger and fear are two sides of the same coin. Falwell can't hurt us anymore. He's gone.

It's time to stop being afraid. The grown ups are in charge now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hey look! News!

I am sensitive to the suffering caused by California wildfires, and the terrible drought in south Florida, and so, apparently, is NBC News, by the significant airtime that Bryan Williams gave these events last night. But I don't understand the media silence on two recent developments that impact the whole country.

Exhibit A is an interview yesterday by Lawrence Wilkinson, a Retired Army Colonel, the former Chief of Staff at the State Department from 2002 to 2005 under then Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Vietnam War veteran, the former Acting Director of the Marine Corps War College at Quantico, and currently a teacher of national security at William and Mary College. He said what too many others are only thinking: that President Bush and Vice President Cheney need to be impeached.

This is significant, as Wilkinson is so far removed from the George Soros - Move On universe. Just because he runs the Marine Corps War College doesn't make him a clueless academic.

Speaking on National Public Radio (where else?), Wilkinson said:
"Thlanguage in (the constitution), the language in those two or three lines about impeachment is nice and precise – it's high crimes and misdemeanors. You compare Bill Clinton's peccadilloes for which he was impeached to George Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors or Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors, and I think they pale in significance.

"I think we went into this war for specious reasons. I think we went into this war not too much unlike the way we went into the Spanish American War with the Hearst press essentially goading the American people and the leadership into war. That was a different time in a different culture, in a different America. We're in a very different place today and I think we essentially got goaded into the war through some of the same means."

In even more hopeful news, the Iraqi Parliament is sounding more and more like the US Congress, proving that George Bush's war to make them just like us is working!
A majority of Iraq's parliament has signed a proposed bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels, a sign of a growing division between Iraqi legislators and the prime minister that mirrors the widening gulf between the Bush administration and its critics in Congress.

The draft bill would create a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some Democrats in the United States have demanded, and require the Iraqi government to secure parliament's approval before any further extensions of the U.N. mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2007.

"We haven't asked for the immediate withdrawal of multinational forces, we asked that we should build our security forces and make them qualified and at that point there would be a withdrawal," said Baha al-Araji, a parliamentarian allied with the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters drafted the bill. "But no one can accept the occupation of his country."
And this isn't news, why?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

This was inevitable

Two in five Americans favor the I-word

A few months ago, the Republican response to calls for impeachment was "bring it on". The GOP narrative was that the "I" word is such a nutty idea, that the Democrats would fatally wound themselves with the great majority of Americans, most of whom deep down really loved their bumbling President.

But that was then and this is now. A recent poll by conservative Human Events shows that 39% of Americans favor impeachment of both the President and Vice President.
Anti-war Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania is prominent among some Democrats in his use of the "I" word -- impeachment -- about President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Murtha made his comments on CBS's "Face the Nation" and elsewhere.

Few serious observers think things will ever get to actual impeachment. And yet the American public seems more open to the concept than many imagine, according to a new national poll. The implications of this public sentiment could be huge for the 2008 presidential elections.
There's much for Republicans to hate about this poll: independents, who are likely to decide the 2008 elections, favor impeachment by 42 percent.