Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Male bathroom etiquette

Too late for Sen. Craig, but the rest of us can be saved.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo gone

It's official - the Bush White House is in total meltdown. Let's summarize just some of the crises that have paralyzed the worst President since Warren G. Harding.

The new AG will have to be vetted by a Democratic congress, and one of the many questions put to him/her will be "Will you cooperate with our investigation of the USA firing scandal, and if not, why not?" It's a loaded question that comes down to the nominees views of executive privilege, separation of powers, and above all else, personal integrity. Bush will have little choice but to either let an underling function as interim AG for the next 16 months (if there's anyone left), or appoint a rat.

The September 11 troop surge report is sure to bring additional GOP defections, and shave a few more points off Bush's Nixonesque approval ratings. The President who swears we will stay the course will be forced by his own party to relent to troop drawdowns by Christmas.

And then there's this.

Grab the popcorn. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Update: Josh said Gonzales quit so he can spend more time with his defense lawyer. Let the snark begin!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A very small man in a very big country

Josh says President Bush's interests in Iraq are not the same as the people he purports to lead. Rather than act in the best interest of the United States, Bush is acting to shore up his legacy as President. It's a chilling thought when put in the context of lives lost, and damage to national prestige:
And here I think we get back to the root of the matter: We are bigger than Iraq.

By that I do not mean we, as America, are bigger or better than Iraq as a country. I mean that that sum of our national existence is not bound up in what happens there. The country will go on. Whatever happens, we'll recover from it. And whatever might happen, there are things that matter much more to this country's future -- like whether we have a functioning military any more, whether our economy is wrecked, whether this country tears itself apart over this catastrophe. But we'll go on and look back at this and judge what happened.

Not so for the president. For him, this is it. He's not bigger than this. His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?

And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead.
His speech other day in front of the VFW was hard to watch. Every time the President steps up to a mic, it reminds me of a perp sitting down for a chat with Lenny Brisco on the old Law and Order series. First comes the denial (I don't know nuthin' bout no gun!), then then anger (I got nuthin' to say to you pricks.) Then the bargaining (OK. OK. Let's say I did have a gun. Maybe it's not the same gun.) Finally, the perp sinks into depression and despair, buries his ruddy face in his greasy little hands, and lawyers up.

Bush jumbled syntax gives the appearance of a perp bouncing from one stage of grief to another, like a human version of pong. He clings deperately to his denial, but easily slips into anger at those who oppose him. His less-than-lame Vietman analogy was an effort to bargain his way out of the hole he's dug for his Presidency. All the while, his depression envelopes him like the cloud of dirt that follows Pig Pen in that old comic strip, Peanuts.

Only acceptance can now save George W. Bush's soul, and ours. Let us close with a prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

They like me! Imaginary people really like me!

President Bush likes to say that since he will be vindicated by history, it doesn't matter what his critics say today. So what looks like a failed war effort and wasted treasure this year will smell like victory in an unspecified number of years. Of course you can say that about anything. In the year 2108, historians might look favorably upon Jimmy Carter, or the Boy Band era of the 90s. We just don't know, but more importantly, it just doesn't matter.

So why is Bush so quick to condemn America's withdrawal from Vietnam? It's been 30 years since the last US troops left that battered and bloody land, and Vietman has normal diplomatic ties with the US, and an emerging capitalist economy. The Vietnamese are not invading their neighbors. No dominoes fell.

Looking for vindication by people not yet conceived, in the context of a world not conceivable, is a coward's way of ducking accountability. Shame on the former governor of Texas. Shame on us for staying silent.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Am I missing something?

Is it too cynical to suggest the White House has ulterior motives because it chose Harry Connick, Jr.'s 40th birthday to release General Petraeus' "progress" report? I mean not everybody knows the New Orleans native was born on Sept. 11, 1967, but they will now! And that's supposed to divert America's attention from what is most likely another well spun version of the truth? Ha! Or as Harry might say:
I forget what happens on the Fourth of July
Or when the rent is due
Dates and deadlines just float by
But I always remember you

h/t to Harry Connick fan Blue Gal

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Give it a rest, Gibby

Fox News Comb-Over Model John Gibson is making it very clear that he doesn't like John Stewart. What he's not so clear on is why he doesn't like the popular host of The Daily Show.

Gibson's hissy fit started last week when he made fun of Stewart for expressing grief in the wake of 9/11. You see, Republicans own 9/11, and anybody who steps out of line is immediately stripped of their patriotism, sincerity, and ability to be taken seriously. Stewart and other critics of President Bush are not allowed to grieve 9/11 without being mocked by Gibson and other barking media loons.

Stewart's response was brief and to the point: "Some idiot from Fox was "playing the tape of me after September 11th and calling me a phony because, apparently, my grief didn't mean acquiescence."

Gibson thinks this is unfair because
"He's a -- he's a comedian doing the news. He should expect some shots once in a while. I want to know, where is the Jon Stewart that was so grief-stricken, and why does he think what I think are reasonable measures to fight the war on terror like wiretapping, like going after Iraq, like Guantánamo Bay -- I think those are reasonable measures."
Let me break it down for you Gibby:

FISA, as currently proposed by the Bush administration, violates the fourth amendment of the constitution. A simple fix is for the federal government to seek warrants for wiretaps on American citizens. Those warrants can be sought retroactively. But that's not reasonable enough for you, Mr. Gibson. You think it's reasonable to trash the fourth amendment, and give serial perjurer Alberto Gonzales authority to spy on any American, any time, for any reason, with zero accountability. Go ahead and say it Mr. Gibson.

Iraq: 3,800 dead Americans. A half million dead Iraqis. One trillion dollars. Four years of war and no end in sight. It takes one fevered imagination to claim that Bush's management of the Iraq War is a reasonable measure to fight terrorism.

Gitmo: The FBI's own study concluded that there is no credible evidence to suspect that the majority of Guantanamo detainees are involved in terrorism. How is that reasonable, and what does it have to do with convincing a billion Muslims there is an advantage to siding with the US?

John Gibson started a feud for no good reason, then screamed foul when Stewart hit back. How pathetic. Gibson should be careful about attacking comedians, because he is one himself. But Stewart has the honesty to call himself a comic. Gibson wouldn't know honest if it squirted him in the face with a bottle of seltzer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Foul play at the Peacock Network

I will confess to watching Datelines's To Catch a Predator from time to time. Chris Hansen's smarmy self righteousness is a perfect compliment to the lowlifes and sexual miscreants he snags. It's a guilty pleasure which I am drawn to as the Hansen's victims are drawn to the jailbait decoy. Fortunately, there is no law against trash TV. But I'll never see NBC's schtick the same after reading Luke Dittrich's piece in this month'sEsquire Magazine about a Dateline bust that went very, very wrong.

NBC is being sued by the sister of a man who committed suicide after he was caught in a Predator sting operation. The victim, a career Texas prosecutor named Bill Conradt, shot himself after he saw Hansen and the Dateline crew on his property, and just as a SWAT team was closing in. This is going to be very embarrassing for NBC, as the facts of the case come to light.

It's a long article, but exceptionally well written and worth it.

Sexual predator and Fox blowhard Bill O'Reilly, who hates NBC, is oozing schadenfreude over the case, but he's not smart enough to understand this is about legal due process and vigilatism disguised as entertainment. O'Reilly and his mad dogs at Fox think due process is for suckers, while the vigilante mindset is a fuel that keeps the Fox News engine running.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Deep in the heart of Texas

That didn't take long. Don McLeroy, the recently appointed chairman of the Texas Board of Education, went on a anti-evolution jihad the other day, telling church goers to lie about the theological underpinnings of "intelligent design":
Following a long spiel about biblical truth, McLeroy told the audience to ignore intelligent design’s religious foundation when talking to the general public. Not to worry though, the “time to address [Biblical issues] will be after we have separated materialistic prejudice from scientific fact.”

The second step, he said, is to point out that evolution wrongly depends on “naturalism;” that supernaturalism or divine influences are unfairly excluded from the conversation. Finally, forget the scientists and target people without a firm grasp on evolutionary theory.
McLeroy was recently appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is, of course, a Republican.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bill O' the Shill O'

Heraldblog extends a hearty note of appreciation to fascist Fox News clown Bill O'Reilly for attacking the YearlyKos convention, now underway in Chicago. Bill O' has been hyperventilating all week about the "hatred" oozing from the Daily Kos website, which is frequented by a half-million readers each day.

O'Reilly's rage couldn't come at a better time. The country has turned against the Bush Republicans, and Democrats are finally showing some discipline. Kos and other liberal sites deserve much of the credit, in the same way Limbaugh galvanzied the red meat right in the early 90s. A.J. Dionne connects the dots in todays WaPo:
O'Reilly is irate that the leading Democratic presidential candidates are showing up this weekend. "The far left
wants a quasi-socialistic economy and a one-world foreign policy, where national security decisions are made only with the approval of other countries," O'Reilly fumed. "So that's the soup the Democratic presidential candidates will be dining on when they show up at the Kos convention."

I'm not in the habit of giving advice to Bill O'Reilly, but there's always a first time: Liberal rage at Rush Limbaugh not only was useless, but it actually strengthened his credibility with the right. (I speak from experience.) Bill, I bet Markos loves what you're doing.
Keep up the good work, Falafel Man!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Brave Michelle and The Case of the Mysterious Collapse

The right's Fighting Keyboarders are crossing their manicured fingers and praying to St. George of the Dubya that the Minneapolis bridge collapse is the work of terrorists. Brave little Michelle Malkin opines:
DHS issued a statement that the collapse “does not appear to be an act of terrorism.” Isn’t it too early to say anything meaningful about what it “appears” to be? Couldn’t they maybe, I dunno, say nothing until they actually know something?
I mean, c'mon guys, we're losing valuable fear factor here! Malkin and other Bush cheerleaders could milk this disaster for three or four news cycles, reminding us all that we need to get 100% behind President Bush unless we want more traffic detours.

Bush butt boy John Hinderaker, who once called the President a genius, observes
"Bridges like these don’t collapse in the US, especially when they’re only 40 years old. It’s hard to say what could have brought it down, but hopefully the DoT will have more information.”
Yes, it's hard to say what brought it down, but it's easy to suggest that it "might" be the work of the bearded anarchists who hang out in a St. Paul mosque, speaking in strange tongues and, hey, look, what was that?!??!

If Hinderacker, Malkin, want to dwell on mysterious collapses, they could write more honestly about the Bush Administration which has been in free fall for, oh, I don't know, three years. The death toll is now up to a million people, yet the investigation is stalled by a lack of cooperation and denial.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Say five Hail Marys and vote for Obama

My brother in North Carolina sent me this link:
Last week I had the fortune/misfortune* of visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Through a series of machinations I needn't elaborate here, I ended up "filling in" for one of two park rangers guiding a tour group to the (stunning) ruins. As such, the (real) ranger briefly introduced me and noted my day job in the Political Science department at IU.

At the conclusion of the tour, a very sunburnt gentleman with an overpowering Dixie accent (I'd soon learn that he hails from Birmingham, AL) approached me quite urgently and said "I need to know who you think is going to win the presidential election." Taken slightly aback, I gave him a thoroughly noncommittal but accurate answer: it's too early to say, but the lay of the land certainly looks unfavorable for the GOP. However, the nomination of Hillary Clinton could be a wild-card because of her high negative numbers.

Following that stock response, he began to unburden himself in what I have decided to call the Republican Unburdening of the Soul ritual. He started telling me about how he is an upper-middle class (pilot for NW Airlines, apparently) white guy from the Bible Belt who has been a Republican since he could walk, he voted for George Bush (twice), he supported the War in Iraq, etc etc. But the RUotS always ends as familiarly as it begins. After describing his lifelong committment to Republican principles, he revealed that he now despises George W. Bush and loathes the failed Iraq debacle.

I have decided to name this ritual because it is happening so damn frequently lately. Its source is quite obvious: a major, major case of the guilts coupled with the embarassment of having been misled (or having deluded oneself) so thoroughly and easily. I swear to God, today's average Republican cannot avoid telling every liberal they meet how much they hate the war and the president. They're like sinners desperately seeking absolution and willing to solicit it from strangers. Failing absolution, they'll settle for conscience balm. Both ordinary people and elected officials (note the "rats fleeing a sinking ship" Senators like Lugar suddenly condemning the war they blindly supported for 4 years) are performing the RUotS lately.

Back to this gentleman, I (gently, and as non-confrontationally as possible) joked that I can't figure out why he voted for Bush a second time if he felt this way. He replied that his faith in the party and its principles was strong enough to trust Bush with more time to achieve a favorable outcome. While this is singularly piss-poor logic, I nonetheless understood his response as a reasonable emotional one. Then he said something that floored me in several respects:

"See, you (meaning 'liberals', even though I had not offered him any political affiliation; all academics are liberals) hate George Bush because he represents everything you hate. I hate George Bush because he represents everything I believe in being completely fucked up and ruined."
The profundity of that struck me. I've not yet heard a more concise, eloquent explanation of what the non-brainwashed part of the right-leaning electorate is experiencing these days. It also struck me as incredible that this is what political discourse v2007 sounds like: two people of opposing ideologies arguing about who hates George Bush more.

Unfortunately but predictably, the conversation ended with him describing his openness to Democratic candidates in 2008....but not without the caveat of his hatred of Hillary Clinton. And therein lies the disingenuousness of the RUotS ritual and conservative hand-wringing in general. They're like fat people who are always about to start dieting and exercising "tomorrow." They go on and on about how much they hate Bush, the war, and their more extreme party compatriots...but not without conjuring up a reason to vote for them again anyway. In short, this gentleman told me that he's completely disillusioned with his party while implying "I will use HRC as an excuse to vote for them again anyway."

It's a very convenient, and cowardly, coulda-woulda-shoulda defense. "I was totally ready to jump ship, but that Hillary Clinton was just too awful so I had to vote for the guy who baited me with more tax cuts." Pardon me if, under such qualified circumstances, I decline to end such conversations with "Ego te absolvo, my son."

I don't think a national party has melted down so quickly in recent history. Even the Republican misfortunes after Watergate were not as precipitous. With Bush's approval ratings hovering at one in four voters, one would think more GOP lawmakers would be abandoning ship, or at least looking for a new way forward for the Party of Lincoln. Instead, we get GOP Presidential hopefuls who are still pandering to the same inbred crackers who brought the party to such ruin in the first place.