Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The lost Iraq just as they will lose America

As we rightfully condemn this "Administration" for leading us into a stupid, aggressive and immoral war in Iraq, let us never forget that this war was winnable.

That they could have marched in with neo-conservative imperial aspirations, bombed the shit out of a bunch of brown people they didn't care about, deliberately targeted journalists, conducted their horrific "shock and awe" campaign and aggressive invasion, and gotten away with it with the history books possibly even on their side.

They could have shut us up forever.  They could have had Republican majorities and presidencies based solely on foreign policy for the next decade.

But their own immoral ideology was their very undoing.  The very nature of who they are inexorably demanded the defeat of America at the hands of as pathetic a foe as Iraqi insurgents.

Impossible, you say?  Hardly.  And they KNOW IT.

For all the celebration of William F. Buckley's admission of defeat in Iraq, and the lampooning of Bill Kristol's latest statements on Fox News, it is actually KRISTOL who gets it right.

You see, Buckley remains so myopic about this issue that he has simply joined the chorus of "Operation Blame the Iraqis."  Kristol, on the other hand, puts the blame (though he can't say it too loudly) squarely where it deserves: on Rumsfeld.

What he doesn't go on to say is that Rumsfeld (together with Bremer) was simply doing in Iraq what conservatives are doing to America today.


Much of what is wrong in Iraq today is blamed on incompetence.  But this is really missing the point. IT WASN'T INCOMPETENCE.  It was insouciance--a fundamental failure, amazingly, to even care about the things that you or I would have placed as our top priorities.

Folks, when Bush starts playing the guitar and laughing with hand-picked seniors during the Katrina disaster; when Michael Brown declares himself a "fashion god" as people die in the SuperDome; when Condi Rice goes shoe shopping as the levees fail; THAT IS NOT INCOMPETENCE.  That is a failure to care.  It's insouciance.

When a woman complains to Bush that she is working three jobs, and he tells her, "Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that," that's not incompetence.  That's just a fundamental failure to care on a most basic level.

And when Donald Rumsfeld gives his famous lines about "going to war with the army you have, and not the army you might wish to have", while inadequately supplying our troops with body armor, vehicle armor and even sandbags, that's not incompetence.  It's just the same insouciant failure to care as the rest of it.


And that conservative insouciance killed us in Iraq.

The war in Iraq was ALWAYS immoral, but it was NOT always hopeless.  It is only hopeless now because they MADE IT that way--and it took Republicans to turn it into a FUBARed disaster.


Fundamentally, you see, all true political conservatism (and I'm not talking about the Biblical-literalist fascism that dresses itself in conservatism) really is, when you break it down, is a failure to care.

It's a failure to care about the poor.  The sick. The downtrodden.  The exploited.  The hungry.  The mentally ill.  The wounded in war.  The oppressed of different races from their own.  The nameless, faceless foreigners killed by our indiscriminate bombs.  The children whose schools grow in class size and shrink in efficacy every day.  The laborer, legal and illegal, who toils increasing hours for decreasing wages.  Air quality and the environment.  The plant and animal species disappearing from this earth, never to return.

ALL OF IT is sacrificed at the altar of the eternal ME.  And since the conservative "Me" is typically the rich, business-invested "me", everything good and decent in this world--everything Jesus Christ himself taught us to care for, whether we believe in his divinity or not--is sacrificed at the altar of "What's Good for Business is Good for America."

And they did it in Iraq, too.  They turned Iraq into a laboratory for conservative ideas--and now Iraqis and American soldiers are paying the price.  


As we concentrate heavily on the horrible emerging violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq, we must not forget WHY they are warring.  There's a lot more to it than religion.

It must be remembered that Sunnis and Shi'ites coexist rather peacefully throughout the rest of the Arab world.

Sectarian violence in Iraq today is an excuse to let out their frustrations with their lives.  And it is the same frustration that America is starting to feel in small thimblefuls that I wrote about in my diary Palpable Rage.

Iraqis are rioting because 70% of them are UNEMPLOYED.

They are rioting because they have no water or electricity.  They are rioting because gasoline is ten times as expensive as it used to be.

And WE JUST DON'T CARE.  In fact, we're making it worse:

The disastrous social conditions that exist for the Iraqi people after decades of war and nearly three years of US occupation are being dramatically worsened as a result of International Monetary Fund (IMF)-dictated economic restructuring.

In order to gain a $685 million IMF loan and the cancellation of some of Iraq's $120 billion debt, the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari secretly agreed in December to begin eliminating the subsidies that previously delivered the Iraqi people some of the lowest fuel costs in the world.

On December 19--just four days after the elections in which Jaafari's United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) won more than 45 percent of the vote--the first cut in the fuel subsidy was implemented. The immediate impact was to increase the price of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene by an average of 500 percent. Petrol rose from just 3 US cents a litre to between 12 and 17 cents.

And it could all have been avoided--even had we stil gone ahead with the invasion.  But it would have required CARING.


You see, Bill Kristol was right: look again at what he said:

KRISTOL: We've been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.

And why not?  Because Bill Kristol knows that General Shinseki was right.  Bill Kristol knows--in hindsight--THAT WE COULD HAVE WON THIS WAR WITH 400,000 TROOPS.

What Bill Kristol knows is that 400,000 troops could have stopped the looting of Iraq's museums and infrastructure AND secured the oil fields all at the same time.

That 400,000 troops could have secured Baghdad's airport road.

That 400,000 troops could have secured the school, water main, and electricity stations all across Iraq.

That 400,000 troops could have turned Abu Ghraib prison into a high-speed internet access library AND maintained security from common criminals all at the same time.

That 400,000 COULD have won Iraqi hearts and minds.


But as important as what Bill Kristol knows is, what is even more important is what he does NOT know--or cannot yet admit to himself: that this was by design.


You see, Iraq was more than just a Neo-Con attempt to remake the Middle East in our image.  It was an attempt to remake the Middle East in the image they wish they could make America.

Iraq had become a laboratory for Conservative "ideas", including the tying of the hands of government regulators and a 15% cap flat tax.

Iraq--like the "Culture of Corruption" America they creating here--became a place where giant corporations could rake in shitloads of money on the backs of ordinary people with no oversight.  They didn't give a shit about Ahmad Six-Pack.

Iraq was a giant experiment, you see--not in democracy, but in conservative ideology.  Iraq was Grover Norquist's little playground.

They asked the question: Can we invade a country with few troops, maintain a pathetically small security force, destroy the people's infrastructure, give massive handouts to corporations, let the IMF rape the country, do practically nothing to rebuild the country's economy and infrastructure, impose a flat tax and let oil prices bloom, and have a healthy democracy?  Can we care nothing about the regular people, fuck them over, and let big corporate steal all their oil?

And they got a resounding answer: NO.

Iraq needed an FDR after the invasion.  What they got was Ronald Reagan on crack.  And now they're fucked.

But they can't admit it.  They can't admit that this war was winnable, and that their own ideology snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  Because they are desperate to do the same goddamn thing to the United States of America.


And they're going to lose America the same way.

They've divided our country between urbans and rurals, Reds and Blues, fundamentalists and progressives, whites and non-whites--just as Iraq is divided today.

They've taken away our security, our jobs, our economic well-being, our health, our environment, our schools--just as they did in Iraq.

It's the same ideology--it's just that we had more to start with, and didn't get the shit bombed out of us first.

And in sowing these whirlwinds, they will reap nothing but the wind.


In the meantime, however, let us never forget.

Let us never forget that Republicans LOST THIS WAR.  They lost it because of insouciance.  They lost it because they simply didn't care about about the common Iraqi.

They lost this war because they're Republicans.

And let us never forget that not only would Democrats never have started this war--Democrats would never have LOST this war had it been started.

[Update:] In no way am I saying that we could have won the occupation as envisioned by the NeoCons, any more than Britain could have "won" in India. What we COULD have done, however, is topple the evil dictator (which is what Saddam was), lock down the country with 400,000 troops, create a massive and expensive Iraqi New Deal that hired Iraqi contractors to rebuild everything as speedily as possible, keep the IMF's dirty nose out of things, set up the basics of democracy, and let them carry it from there. We could have left in under a year, before anti-American sentiments grew too large, and while there was still appreciation for making their lives better than they had been under Saddam. And it would have been less expensive, to boot.

It was possible, but it would have taken a 180-degree reversal of ideology.

[Cross-posted at the Daily Kos]

Monday, February 27, 2006

All-time Low

New CBS poll shows Bush approval at 34%. Wow. Just wow. Things just keep looking up for this administration, don't they?

I know Rove thinks he can scramble his way out of this, but it's looking bleaker and bleaker for these guys. And I don't see any good news coming their way on the horizon, either.


MaryScott OConnor brings our attention to a proposed law in Missouri that would allow pharmacists to discriminate concerning which presecriptions they fill out based on their "moral views."

The particularly disgusting thing about this law is the intentional conflation of R.U. 486 (which isn't even prescribed through a pharmacist) with the morning after pill, which is standard birth control.

This is desperation. These assholes really do want to create a world where women are punished with pregnancy every time they have sex. They want to reverse the tide of history and take us back to the 50's.

They must know that this is impossible. They must know that women will not give up their freedom of sexuality. They must know that repealing the 60's is impossible. They must know that attempting to do so will only create karma and energy toward a hyperbacklash against their patriarchalism.

They must know this. Or maybe they don't. Maybe, like George Bush, they really think that they make history to their liking and that blowback doesn't exist.

A bigger bunch of idiots who never read a history book there never were than these NeoCons and their Christofascist allies.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

two sides of the same coin

This cartoon really says it all:

)Click on image or this link for full-size image)

Same dog, different fleas. I do think we're closer to overthrowing our insane overlords, however. What about you, my moderate Muslim friends? Where is your dKos-style anger at what these extremists have done to your nations, and to your religion?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Digging their own graves, Part 2: Update on the Ports Deal

The link to the full CNN story is now up here. The most relevant section:

Republicans in Congress are crafting a solution under which the controversial deal allowing a state-owned Arab company to run some terminals at six U.S. ports could move forward.

The agreement would first have to pass a 45-day investigation focusing on the national security implications of the deal, several sources linked to the talks said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee is encouraging DP World to ask a government review panel to kick-start the investigations, which is the best way to convince lawmakers the transaction won't jeopardize national security, a Frist aide said...

Though the White House says this level of review is unnecessary, it could prove to be a handy exit strategy to end a dramatic face-off with the GOP leadership and ultimately allow the deal to go through.

The deal underwent a 30-day review before it was initially approved, but the 45-day review will focus almost exclusively on national security and it would involve more senior administration officials.

Essentially, the GOP wants a full 45 days to hunker down, get their talking points straight, strongarm lawmakers, and wait for this story to die. Beautiful.

But it's not going to work. They're essentially screwed: they've already been found to be equivocating on it, whether they actually pass it or not. And it looks like Rove is going to strongarm them into passing it. All Democrats have to do is take advantage of a painfully easy opening.

I still, however, am plagued by the mystery of WHY. What possible compelling reason on this earth does the Bush Administration have to play chicken with such a politically dangerous but relatively inconsequential for their foreign policy bit of business as this UAE port deal? What is it that they know that we don't, and what are they hiding?

BREAKING: They've Dug Their Own Grave

According to CNN's main page, apparently the GOP Congress has decided to follow the Bush Lemming off the cliff:

GOP congressional leaders are working on a compromise that may allow a Dubai company to manage six U.S. ports, CNN has learned.

This is it.  It came down to whether the GOP would follow Bush into oblivion, or actually dissociate itself from the Cult of Bush that Glenn Greenwald so eloquently pointed out.  As I pointed out in my blog, it became abundantly clear that Matt Drudge had decided to make his bed to lie with Bush.

And now, the GOP CONGRESS HAS DONE THE SAME--even in the face of the latest polls showing that Congressional Democrats are now more trusted on National Security than are Republicans.

Democrats: This is our world now.  This is our time.

We have been given a mighty gift.  We will crucify them at election time with this: as I said in a previous blog post of mine,

My only question is: how could Karl Rove and co. have been so stupid as to let this happen? Their deal with their base was a wink-wink, nod-nod that they were good Christian folk who were going to blast "THEM" (i.e., Arabs and Muslims in general) into oblivion, in one final crusade to bring about the book of Revelations.

What kind of idiots are they to let Bush threaten the only veto of his presidency to let a country that recognized the Taliban and has strong ties to terrorism control our ports?

Was is hubris? Stupidity? Incompetence? Sheer greed? What the hell was going through Rove's mind??

I don't know--but they've dug their own grave.  It's time to throw the dirt on them.

[UPDATE]: CNN has now replaced their breaking news with a sentence about the death of actor Don Knotts. But believe me, it was there, and they'll have a full story about it shortly.

[Cross-posted at the Daily Kos]

Question for the day

Is it possible to maintain massive, permanent military installations and bases in a security-free nation devolving into civil war?

my laugh for the day

have you seen the seen the Scooter Libby Defense Trust? This has to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious things on the net right now.

Consider this passage:

The last time we checked in on the criminal case of the man who served as Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, it was an editorial of December 8, 2005, "A Season for Giving." We offered a series of reasons why our readers might see fit to donate to the legal defense trust set up for Mr. Libby's defense. "One could be a neo-conservative who believes that the Iraq war spread freedom. One could be a defender of the freedom of the press who believes that government officials in America should be free to talk to the press without fear of being thrown in prison by a prosecutor. One could be a Clinton loyalist who remembers how special prosecutors were used against the previous administration. One could be a believer in a strong presidency who thinks the whole idea of criminalizing policy differences has a tendency to sap the boldness of the president. Finally, one could just be a believer in the underdog and want Mr. Libby to have a fair fight against the special prosecutor."

ROFLMAO. Since when did standing up for the little guy mean standing up for the bully's little helper?

Have these people no shame? No shame at all?

Friday, February 24, 2006

we need some fresh faces

Today, we learn that our own Democratic governor from Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, apparently went on the Daily Show without even knowing what it was.

C'mon, Rod. You're in politics, for chrissakes. A governor in one of our biggest states. And you've never even heard of the highest-rated political show on television?

What's worse--your handlers didn't even explain to you what it is before you went on the set?

That's almost as bad as Bush's Homeland Security Department not knowing about events that the rest of America knew just by watching CNN.

It'se a problem--because if even our Democratic pols are that clueless as to what's actually going on around them, what hope is there for creating solutions to the problems that ail the country? A politician who doesn't even know what the Daily Show is certainly can't have much clue about what else is actually happening on the ground.

Wake up, governors and congresscritters. Get out more.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Abortion: Play to Win for a Change!

Let's talk about abortion, fellow liberals.  No, I mean really talk about it.  Without fear or shame.

Why is it that on the subject arguably that generates the most anger and energy among us liberals than any other, we continue to meekly tout the DLC line?

Why is it that we understand implicitly the damage that has been done to us by the aggressive frames and message discipline of the Luntzian rightwing, yet we can counter with no strong frames of our own on this terribly divisive issue?

Why is it that we understand just how hamstrung and betrayed we have been by every other cowardly DLC stance and are standing up on issues right and left, yet are too weak-kneed to escape DLC equivocation of this most fundamental of concerns?

We're losing the abortion wars, folks.  We've been losing for some time now.  And it's time to stand up on this issue as we have done on so many others and get aggressive.


That's the DLC line.  That's the Clinton line--both Bill and Hillary.  And it's deadly.

It's deadly because it starts AUTOMATICALLY from the presumption that Abortion is BAD.  That abortion is terrible, in fact.  That our society should be doing everything necessary to insure that abortion, like tobacco smoking, be eliminated.  And that we should all agree that that's a good thing.  Except that it's NOT a good thing.


That's the line we've been using to defend the practice of abortion--which we've already, through a cowardly "Safe, Legal and Rare" stance, have admitted is bad.  This too is deadly.

It's deadly because "Choice", as a word, bespeaks in the mind of the common man/woman equivocation.  It bespeaks entitlement.  "Choice" is a word people use to describe getting to pick Fruit Loops over Cocoa Puffs in the grocery aisle--and applying the same word to a medical procedure makes it sound flippant and careless.  When applied to issues related to sexuality, it bespeaks moral degeneracy--e.g., "Homosexuality is a choice, not a genetic attribute."  "Choice" also sounds like "I voted for it before I voted against it."

While "Choice" may mean to you that a woman has the right to do with her body what she wants--and that's an admirable sentiment--in practice that's not what Joe Q. Public understands.

Frank Luntz, celebrity Republican pollster and a cunning linguist if ever there was one (I know--I've spoken with him at length in person), laughs his way to the bank every time we use the loaded word "CHOICE."  Every time we use the word "Choice", the Republicans seem to attract another convert.

Finally, "Choice" is a laughable proposition for those who feel that the fetus is human--you might as well talk to a brick wall.  For them, calling the killing of what they believe to be a human being a "choice" sounds like Nazi insouciance.  

We've allowed ourselves to be snowed into an untenable position.  And we're playing to lose.

And eventually--unless we change course dramatically--we WILL lose.


In American football, the game Democrats have been playing with abortion is best likened to a "Prevent Defense."  A "Prevent Defense" goes like this: your team has the lead with time running out, but the other team has the ball.  So you sit on your heels, playing a passive deep zone, making sure the opposition doesn't make any big plays to gain a lot of ground, and hoping the clock will run out before they can score.

That's what we've been doing with Abortion.  We've been sitting on our heels, protecting our Roe v. Wade lead for all it's worth.  And we've been playing a passive game, hoping the anti-choicers don't gain too much ground.  Hoping that time will run out, that the wingnut fad will fade, that Democrats will get elected again and nominate liberal (sane) justices, and that America will come to its senses.

As any savvy football watcher can tell you, "The only thing the Prevent Defense does is prevent you from winning."  And anyone who has followed politics recently can tell you that this passive strategy is nothing but a pathway to disaster.


It's time to cut the equivocation, my friends.  It's time to attack for a change.  It's time for some NON-DLC TALKING POINTS:

1. Cut the "Safe, Legal, and Rare" Bullshit.

Begin by eliminating any and all forms of passive, defensive rhetoric.  As long as it's defenders are calling abortion essentially a bad thing, why should the general fence-sitting public stand by your side?  It's terrible rhetoric, and a terrible position that can only end in failure.

2. Embryos are NOT HUMAN BEINGS.

This is incredibly important.  When most people hear the word "fetus", they think of a third-trimester infant, almost ready to be born.  As our good friend Maryscott OConnor so eloquently pointed out to her mother, the right-wing deception on this issue has been gigantic in misleading and lying to the public about what an abortion actually means, and what it actually does.

As many others have shown, let's be very clear about what we're talking about here:

This is an embryo at 3 days.  It's a pathetic clump of cells.  If the GOP thinks Joe Sixpack is going to believe that this thing has a soul, they're deluded.

This is an embryo at 7 weeks.  It looks like a shrimp.  Or an alien.  I honestly wouldn't have any problem watching Sigourney Weaver slaughter that thing.  It ISN'T "human" in any sense of the word most people are accustomed to.

This couldnt be clearer, visually.  Yet we are afraid to just come out and say it, politically.  WHY?


Gasp!  Heresy!  Political suicide!  But it's true!, as our own Caliberal can attest in her excellent post.  And haven't we learned--above all--in attempting to fight against our right-wing oppressors, that the truth will set you free?

Not only is it true, but it's true in MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. All the statistics you will ever need are right here in a Powerpoint put together at Dartmouth University.  Some excerpts follow:

"Risk of death from a legal abortion is 0.4/100,000.

Risk of death from a term pregnancy is 9/100,000."


Not only that--but legal abortion is much safer than the alternative:

"In 1940, 1407 died from complications of induced abortion.

In 1987 (last year of available data), there were:

12 deaths from spontaneous abortion

6 deaths from legally induced abortion

2 deaths from illegally induced abortion"

"Global perspective:WHO estimates 20,000,000 illegal abortions world wide annually

50,000-100,000 deaths annually

250-500/100,000 mortality rate

(0.4/100,000 in United States)"

This one's a no-brainer folks.  


The biggest problem with the whole "Safe, Legal and Rare" business (as well as the "Choice" business, by the way), is that it makes abortion sound like SMOKING: "I have the choice to smoke or not smoke.  Smoking should be safe--and it should be rare, because it's bad.  But it should be legal."

But abortion is not like smoking at all--Abortion is like Chemotherapy.

The only thing wrong with abortion is that it's a failure of prevention.  With better prevention, there would be no need for an abortion.  (And of course, the wingnuts are the biggest opponents of the very policies that would encourage prevention, because they aren't pro-life--they're pro-punishment.  But that's another diary.)

An unwanted embryo is no different from a cancer--and it can destroy a life just as easily. Safe sex is like getting a regular mammogram: an ounce of prevention goes a long way.

Abortion only becomes necessary when prevention fails--just as chemo only becomes necessary when prevention fails.  If we use this frame, we will win this debate.


This is going to be most controversial, I know.  But it just has to be done.

Murder is not a choice.  Our task is to convince the masses that abortion is not murder--because it isn't.

Chemo is not a choice.  It's a necessity when prevention fails.  And we have to put it in those terms for the public.

Getting rid of unwanted body tissue is not a choice.  It's a medical procedure, and it needs to be called just that.


I will some of you will disagree with me.  And if you don't like my frames, please feel free to pick your own.

But for the love of all, fellow liberals--stop playing prevent defense.  You've eschewed DLC frames on every other issue, so STOP USING DLC FRAMES ON ABORTION!

Unless you want to keep losing, of course.  But I sure don't.

The Bias of the National Journal--The Myopia of D.C.

Got a chance to peek at a hard-copy of the National Review's "Hotline"--supposedly the prime source of everything there is to know about what's happening on the ground, politically.

The port issue is the main subject of controversy throughout, and the smatterings of quotes, observations and actions from the congresscritters is fairly balanced.

But when it comes to their four pages on what's happening in the Blogosphere, the awful bias and idiocy of their blog readers is apparent:
Daily Kos is not mentioned.
Atrios is not mentioned.
Small-time liberal bloggers receive scant mention.
Crooks and Liars goes unmentioned.
MyDD gets one line.
Digby only gets mentioned as a pinata for a conservative to attack.
Juan Cole is not mentioned.
No Booman Tribune, My Left Wing, or otherwise.
No mention of this blog (which has a cross-post of a recommended Kos diary), Hekebolos's outstanding piece, or Hunter's or Welshman's on their own blogs, or Rena's on On the Left Tip.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip.

But we DO get 3 pages of rants and raves from the rightwing blogosphere--a rightwing blogosphere that doesn't account for even 1/5th the traffic and importance of our side of the blogosphere.

Never mind that, though. We get the musings of Bill Kristol, Michelle Malkin, Instapundit, RedState, Assrocket, and a host of other conservative pundits and bloggers in their full glory.

To read "The Hotline", it would appear that the only voices that matter in the blogosphere are those of the wingnuts.

Typical myopia. Typical D.C. And too utterly typical of the bias in our supposedly "liberal" media.

Headed to D.C.

I'll be there for the entire month of March, observing congresscritters and all their attaches in their natural habitat.

Most importantly, I want to sample some of the apparently toxic fumes that seem to render our government officials either mind-numbingly stupid, or sociopathically psychotic.

Should be interesting, and I'll be blogging my experiences and any insights I may get...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Matt Drudge makes a stand...

For Bush.

Forced to decide where to stand in a battle between:
1) most of his GOP Congress' position, his base's position, conservative ideology and just plain common sense (not to mention the stances of the libs and moderates who also read him), or
2) Bush

he has chosen: Bush.

On the front page of the Drudge Report (I refuse to link to it) is a gigantic picture of a port with a link under it that reads "ISLAMOPHOBIA?" (The link is to a Reuters article discussing Arab reaction to the ports furor.)

Let's leave aside for a moment the amazing hypocrisy of an administration--and Matt Drudge himself--who have winged their way to victory and success based on scaring the bejeezus out of their base with racism and xenophobic manipulation, now decrying any protest against selling off our ports to a government that had tea and crumpets with Bin Laden himself as some kind of racist claptrap. Let's leave aside the obvious fact that if this had been President Gore or President Kerry, Drudge would have linked to Ann Coulter demanding their heads on a plate.

What amazes me more, rather, is that Matt Drudge has bought fully into the idea that his best bet financially and politically lies in continuing to prostrate himself fully at the altar of the Cult of Bush--contra his own party, his own base, and any shred or semblance of intellectual honesty he may have had left deep in his dark soul.

Drudge has officially taken a stand as a Bushbot. Bush could literally slaughter puppies on the steps of the White House and Drudge would defend him.

What I don't understand is WHY. Drudge, though evil, is usually quite savvy. What does he have to gain by being a Bushbot and infuriating his own base?

And what are the BushCultists going to do when Bush is actually out of power?

What was Karl Rove thinking?

A brilliant post, courtesy of Hekebolos at Far-Shooting Politics. He's right: Bush has finally betrayed in full view of the American public the only supposedly redeeming quality of his Presidency. Astounding.

My only question is: how could Karl Rove and co. have been so stupid as to let this happen? Their deal with their base was a wink-wink, nod-nod that they were good Christian folk who were going to blast "THEM" (i.e., Arabs and Muslims in general) into oblivion, in one final crusade to bring about the book of Revelations.

What kind of idiots are they to let Bush threaten the only veto of his presidency to let a country that recognized the Taliban and has strong ties to terrorism control our ports?

Was it hubris? Stupidity? Incompetence? Sheer greed? What the hell was going through Rove's mind??

I understand everything about this deal except for the unusual political shortsightedness of it all--from the alleged masters of xenophobic paranoia. Weird.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ports, Inc.: Welcome to FlatWorld

Everyone is missing the point.

My fellow liberals are screaming bloody murder about the UAE ports deal--about the idiocy, incompetence, the corruption, and the hypocrisy--emphasizing every detail of the emerging scandal.  But almost nobody's paying attention to the much bigger--and more dangerous--picture.

When I watch Republicans like Orrin Hatch and Dennis Hastert object stridently to the UAE port deal, all I can do is sit back and laugh.  Grimly.  Because they've been so stupid and myopic that they couldn't even see what kind of world they've been creating and celebrating.  It's world that spells the doom of America--and every other Nation-State on this earth.

The truth is that we've been well on this path for a long time now.  And both Republicans and Democrats have been applauding its arrival on the world stage.

The path that has led us to this point is called economic neoliberalism.  Most of you are familiar with its tenets: it has been the guiding light of American economic thinking for the last 20 years at least.  To quote Wikipedia, whose description of the philosophy is quite apt:

Neoliberalism is widely used as a (mostly pejorative) description of the revived form of economic liberalism that became increasingly important in international economic policy discussions from the 1970s onwards.

In its dominant international use, neoliberalism refers to a political-economic philosophy that de-emphasizes or rejects government intervention in the domestic economy. It focuses on free-market methods, fewer restrictions on business operations, and property rights. In foreign policy, neoliberalism favors the opening of foreign markets by political means, using economic pressure, diplomacy, and/or military intervention. Opening of markets refers to free trade and an international division of labor. Neoliberalism generally favors multilateral political pressure through international organizations or treaty devices such as the WTO and World Bank. It promotes reducing the role of national governments to a minimum. Neoliberalism favors laissez-faire over direct government intervention (such as Keynesianism), and measures success in overall economic gain. To improve corporate efficiency, it strives to reject or mitigate labor policies such as minimum wage, and collective bargaining rights.

It opposes socialism, protectionism and environmentalism. Neoliberalism is often at odds with fair trade and other movements that argue that labor rights and social justice should have a greater priority in international relations and economics.

[Emphasis added]

This economic philosophy of globalization has been lauded by the majority of economists and politicians on both sides of the aisle, with only smatterings of dissent in the United States.

Perhaps the most visible celebration of this new world is Thomas Friedman, author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, in his book The World is Flat.  As most of you know, Friedman celebrates a world of global companies with vast supply chains breaking down barriers of trade, ethnicity, language, etc., to provide beneficial economic growth to the developing world, and lower prices and higher-quality products around the globe.  Of course, it goes without saying that, as Joseph Stiglitz or Greg Palast can easily tell you, anybody who looks deeply into the issue can see that this "globalization" is nothing more than a tool for first-world countries to exploit third-world nations and benefit only the elites in each nation.

But the point of this diary is not to discuss all the benefits and drawbacks of globalization and neoliberalism.  The point is, rather, to emphasize one of the most important corollaries of Friedman's FlatWorld even under the best of circumstances--and to illustrate what it has to do with our ports.

To quote the American Communications Journal:

Other scholars argue that globalization and informatization are likely to diminish the concept of the nation as a political institution at all (Poster, 1999). Friedman (1999) argues that as nation-states decline in importance, multi-national corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and "superempowered individuals" such as George Soros gain influence and importance. As these non-political organizations and institutions gain importance, there are inevitable challenges to political, economic, and cultural processes.

And therein lies the key: in the neoliberal world of Republican, Friedmanesque fantasy, Nation-States as we know them today become increasingly irrelevant.  All that matters is business, and the interests of corporations in securing their maximum bottom line.  No one on either side of the debate argues this point: for liberals, the exploitation is done to enrich corporate coffers; for conservatives, it is done to maximize growth and lower prices.  But no one denies that the Nation-State becomes almost a spectator in this grand opera.

For Democrats and Kossacks to frame this issue as anything but yet another example of corporate profits coming before American security is be utterly short-sighted.

But for Republicans, the situation is far worse and far more vexing.

To be sure, most Republicans have embraced this out of a belief that, in the globalized game of exploitation, Americans would come out the winners.  After all, when Halliburton reconstructs Iraq, American businessmen profit.  When McDonalds expands into Afghanistan, American businessmen profit there, too.  We liberals continue to complain that free-trade has come at the expense of the American worker--but in the moral vaccuum inhabited by Republicans, globalization is good because the American big-wig profits.


The problem, of course, is that free-trade is a two-way street, and even the most progressive or patriotic corporations fall sway to an influence far bigger and more important than loyalty, morality, progressivism, patriotism or even common sense: namely, the bottom line.

Thus it is that even an extremely progressive company like Google will sell out its values when dealing with China because in a globalized world, Google cannot afford not to do business with China.  But in the long run, Chinese oppression will be the loser for the business impact that Google's mere presence makes on the Chinese citizenry.


And the bottom line dictates that products, services, and yes, even national ports, will be sold off to the higest bidder--no matter which country they are from.  Because the World is now Flat.

Thus it is that we now live in a world where Americans build Dubai's oil infrastructure (thus ensuring anti-American sentiment in the region), while Arab Emirates control our port security (thus rendering us vulnerable to terrorism).  And no one can even complain.  Because to complain would be to challenge the very economic system that our elites believe in almost as a religion.


In this brave new FlatWorld, National Sovereignty is a thing of the past.  Your new corporate overlords now dictate your future OVER THE TOP of your government.  And if your government tries to stop it, your Corporatist President will just veto your attempt.  You're the frog in the boiling pot who has been merrily buying up cheap crap at Wal-Mart, failing to understand that the very system that has allowed you to buy cheap Chinese crap has also ensured the sale of your personal safety to Arab terrorist-connected governments.

And it's only going to get worse.  Whenever I see the Bush Administration talk about "National Security", it always gives me a belly-laugh.  The "Nation" isn't in control anymore.  For the last long while, our government has operated at the behest of our corporate overlords.

And for a while, to certain amoral Republicans, that system has been okay--because they were our corrupt corporate overlords (with a few Saudi exceptions here and there.)

Now--all of a sudden--these Republicans are in shock.  They're in shock because--horror of horrors!--their comfortable asses are being sold down the river to foreign corporate overlords.  And wait a minute!  That wasn't supposed to happen!  That wasn't part of the bargain!

But it is.  It was inexorable and totally predictable.  Already, many sci-fi video-game makers posit a universe dominated not by planetary or species governments--but by multi-planetary corporations.  And they're right.  The inevitable byproduct of Friedman's world is just that: total corporate control of everything from your drinking water to your personal safety.

Welcome to FlatWord, boys and girls.  It's gonna be a bumpy ride.  Unless we do something about it, of course.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What the heck are they trying to pull?

On the heels of a report detailing how Paul Hackett's staff is releasing opposition research on Sherrod Brown--which will undoubtedly be used by Brown's republican opponents--I get this in my snail-mail box today:

From Paul Hackett for U.S Senate:

Dear [My Name]:

Although it's been some time since you spoke with my representative on the phone, I want you to know your support is still very important to my campaign. If you have not yet had the chance, I hope you will send your check today.

When you made your pledge, we included it in the budget plan to finance our efforts. With your support, we will elect a Senator who will fight for the issues that matter to the people of Ohio...

Please take a moment now to return your contribution. If you have already sent in your donation, please accept my gratitude.

P.S. You have my assurance your contribution will be used wisely and effectively to help win this election. Pelase consider an extra gift of $5 or $10 more than your pledge.


Are they so incompetent that they got these out late, and then figured, why the heck not?

Do Hackett's staff members believe that I don't know that he has dropped out of the race? Is it really a cynical pull to extract money from me in the hopes that I don't know what happened?

This is looking worse and worse every minute.

For God's sakes, Paul--get your act together and get your staff's act together. And do something good for Ohio by running against Schimdt...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A "Note" on Progressivism

Went to the symphony today at the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. The two major works were Stravinsky's entire Firebird (always a treat) and Beethoven's third piano concerto. I don't remember ever having listened to the 3rd piano concerto before--but I was floored, especially by the first movement.

Beethoven was a freaking genius. Even his more mediocre works are simply amazing and transcendant. Listening to Beethoven makes me forget, momentarily, the evils besetting our country.

And yet, reading the programme for today's concert, it was said that "Stravinsky shocked even the most progressive Paris audience with the Rite of Spring."

I'm sorry. Comparedto Beethoven, Mozart or Tchaikovsky (but especially Beethoven) the Rite of Spring is crap. It just is. It's not inspired or transcendant. It's merely an interesting experiment devoid of real genius.

And it's not just old classical music that is genius: John Williams is genius. Gershwin was genius. Ennio Morricone is genius. So I'm not a musical reactionary just for reactionary's sake.

And that's a serious problem. For too many people, the word "Progressive" has come to mean the abandonment of time-honored quality in favor of experimental garbage.

To me, "progressive" means, as the denizens of Daily Kos say, "Reality-Based."

And the reality is that Beethoven is a genius. And that the Rite of Spring was, is and will always be inferior to it, and that the so-called postmodern and minimalist "music" of the late 20th-century is crap.

To say otherwise--to me--would belie my own personal sense of "progressivism."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Palpable Rage

Yesterday, my friends, was an amazing day.

Yesterday was the day I discovered that it's the beginning of the end for this criminal, kleptocratic government.

Yesterday was enough to turn me--an avowed pessimist--into a bold and hopeful optimist.

And yesterday brought tears to my eyes and made me want to cry, or just crawl out of my skin in rage and scream out to the world.

Yesterday I heard the voices of a working nation crying out in pain, anger and suffering. And it was a beautiful, heartwrenching sight.

Based on yesterday, I'm going to make a bold prediction: Democrats are going to win BIG in '06.  I say that with only about 90% certainty, however: because the last 10% is predicated on Democrats' being able to channel that rage into a revolution at the ballot box.


I'm a focus group moderator, you see.  I mostly work out of the Los Angeles, but I do travel to other places to conduct business rather frequently, and fly back home when my sessions are done.

It was two nights ago that I flew out of Los Angeles to a city that will remain nameless on United Airlines.  It was a red-eye, and the flight was delayed by two hours.  When we actually got ready to taxi out for takeoff, the pilot said something that thrilled and chilled me simultaneously, causing me both fear for my safety, and also political exhilaration:

Sorry about the delay folks, but as you know, times are tough.  Every minute these planes are on the ground, they're losing money.  So our corporate overlords make sure we fly these planes to death and fill them to capacity.  So we're doing the best we can.

I couldn't believe I heard a pilot use the words "Corporate Overlord" on an aircraft.

Thereafter, we learned that there were no pillows available on the flight.  There was a lot of grumbling, but I was shocked to hear the woman just behind me say:

"Yeah well, I'll just bill my hours of lost sleep back to the White House.  Bastards."

The "White House"?  What airline was a flying?  "Commie pinko Librul" airlines?


I arrived at my destination in [City.]  The cabdriver brought me at 7:30am to my destination, a hotel in a suburb far to the northwest of the main city I flew into.  I had breakfast before going into my room.  In the breakfast area were only two men.  One was reading the newspaper, and watching the Olympics on TV.  The conversation went like this:

"You hear about the whole Cheney shooting?"

"Yeah.  He's quite a character, to put it mildly."

"I know.  I don't buy it.  I just don't.  I think he was drunk of his patootie, and they don't want to say it."

"Well, this country needs to get rid of the whole lot of them, but the Republicans need to at least get rid of Cheney."

I finished my breakfast and headed off to sleep for a couple of hours before my interview.


My interview was with the president of a major international, Japanese-owned firm.  To say too much about the interview would break my confidentiality agreement, but I can give you a paraphrased quote, with some times, numbers and positions altered to protect confidentiality, and certain statements abridged for clarity:

I believe in maintaining loyalty.  You gain respect by giving it, and having a sort of family feeling in your working environment.  And that means being accountable to people--especially to your employees....

You hear about the Enrons and the WorldComs and all these other companies that have been aided and abetted by this government's policies, and it's true.  I refuse to work that way, and this company refuses...

Our competitor, three years ago, was off of its sales projections by [x%].  So they fired [the same x] % of their workforce.  That's [x] number of people laid off, plus all their families, so that's really [3x or 4x] people.  The very next day, the same CEO gave himself a multimillion dollar bonus, and then the day after that gave the ex-president memberships to eight exclusive golf-courses and diner's clubs.  It's disgusting.  People won't stand for it for long--and it's just bad business.

I was stunned.  I couldn't believe that a company executive was speaking to me in these terms--politically enlightened, progressive, and absolutely disgusted with the way things are operating.


I finished the interview, and another two groups after that, before taking a taxi back to the airport.  I told the cabdriver that I knew it would be a lot of money to the airport.  The cabdriver, surprised, asked me what I had been charged.  When I told him, he shook his head and said:

You must have taken the city taxi.  We don't charge that out here.  We charge about half of what they do...

You know what the problem is?  Everybody is out on the take.  Everything is so expensive these days.  Nobody's lookin' out for the little guy--and nobody's certainly lookin' out for each other.

I thought cabdrivers were pretty reliably conservative!  that had certainly been my experience...What was happening?  At this point, I could feel the anger welling up in these hardworking souls all across the nation. I started to get sick to my stomach with the feeling of empathy and shared rage...


I sat at the airport waiting for my flight to Los Angeles (delayed yet again).  Sitting across from me in the waiting area were two ladies from Omaha, Nebraska.  They were extremely nice, and very intelligent based on the 10 minutes we had to talk together.

The conversation turned to movies and movie theaters.  They were complaining about all the advertisements in movie theaters.  I knew they were probably Republicans, so I decided to play a little jujitsu...

WOMAN: "These big theater companies know they can get away with putting on the ads because we'll still go to the movies!"

ME: "Well, some our congresspeople--our Democratic congresspeople, thank goodness--have introduced legislation that would bar them from doing that [which is true].

[at this point, both women looked at me crossly after hearing the words "Democratic congresspeople"!]

WOMAN: "Don't they have more important things to do?"

ME: "Well, yes.  But there's so much partisan fire on capitol hill that the big things don't really get done very much, but alot of little things do pass through.  So yes and no.  And besides, if things aren't getting done, you have to look at the majority party--they can push things through when they feel like it."

WOMAN: "I just don't think congress should be in the business of regulating that."

ME: "OK.  But who will regulate it?  I mean, you don't think they're going to police themselves, do you?"

WOMAN [pausing]: "No, they won't.  And somebody should do something, or soon there will be over half an hour of ads."

ME: "Well, congress is the only body that CAN do anything about it.  So either it needs to be done or it doesn't..."

WOMAN: "I guess you're right.  Somebody's certainly got to do SOMETHING, or they'll keep getting away with murder."

[At this point, the call came to board the Omaha flight.]  

Even these brainwashed Omaha Republicans, concerned about trivial things like movie ads, were fed up.  They weren't ready to vote for Democrats yet--but they were open to the possibility, even after just a short bit of dialogue.  Because they were just FED UP--with palpable rage.


I finally boarded my flight to Los Angeles--late again.  I had a garment bag, which I wanted to hang up in the little compartment at the front of the plane for such things.  The compartment was locked, and I asked the flight attendant to open it.  The conversation that ensued was again amazing:

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "Sure!  That'll be $50!

ME: [Laughter]

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: (laughing) "Hey, times are tough these days."

ME: "Yeah, especially in this industry."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: [examining me in my tailored suit and tie] "Well, times are tough for just about everybody--unless you're an executive.

ME: [laughing with embarrassment] "Oh, I'm no executive--just a researcher.  I know exactly what you mean.  We workers get the shaft, but the rich just keep getting richer even while their companies go bankrupt."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: "Mmm-hmm.  I know."

ME: "Well, welcome to George Bush's America."

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: [loudly and with passion]  "AMEN!"

It felt like a parallel universe.  This was no liberal blogger's meeting.  This was no Starbucks coffee shop in Westwood.

This was just talking to regular people--feeling the seething rage of the regular person: the flight attendant, the pilot, the taxi driver, the hotel people--even the corporate executive!

And when the flight landed and taxied slowly to the terminal, the pilot said:

"Contrary to popular rumor, we will not be charging you $50 per passenger to actually exit the aircraft."


This is it, Democrats.

The seething rage and fury of this country is at a boil.

I have never seen ANYTHING like this in my life.  The level of political consciousness--the level of sheer outrage at what is going on in this country--is enormous.  And the American people are ready.  Ready for a change.  They are ready for progressive leadership to guide them out of this hell that they are living every day, and complaining bitterly about every day to random strangers.

And all we have to do is channel it.

My message to my fellow progressives is this: Keep up the fight, people.  It may feel like we're losing battle after battle in DC, the Supreme Court, on the ground in all the halls of power.

But we're winning the battle for the hearts and minds of America in our outrage and our ideas--even if it hasn't yet translated directly into Democratic votes.

And my message to the Democratic party is this: Give us firm, unabashed progressive candidates that are ready to give the Republicans hell.  The people are ready to follow.  Just give them a chance and a reason to channel their anger into votes for DEMOCRATS.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why We Need Accountability NOW

We need accountability NOW. Seriously.

We need it because if we don't get it now--before the 2006 elections, and not after--then there is little hope left for the nation. I mean the American nation. Because I just don't see it.

No wait! I'm an optimist. Really I am. I think the Dems are actually doing well, and will roll to power in the coming years.

I believe that Progressive Dems like Ned Lamont and Ciro Rodriguez are going kick ass in their primaries.

And I believe that Dems in general are going to kick ass in 2006.

I believe that we will win the presidency in 2008.

So why am I so glum?

I'll tell you why:

Because the die has been cast, and our country has crossed its Rubicon.

I'm a student of the Classics. I studied Greco-Roman civilization from the time I was a little boy, and I know, in words of Shakespeare, "a little Latin and less Greek."

Like so many others, I see much of American history through the prism of the history of the Roman Republic (and, to a lesser extent, the abortive Greek democratic experiments). Allow me to give you a little history of the Romans:

In 509 BCE, the Romans threw off the rule of the tyrannical Etruscan kings, led by a man named Brutus. They instituted a Republic whose government, though never "one man one vote", nevertheless constituted a fairly representative sample of the population.
For hundreds of years thereafter, Rome expanded its conquests and influence, while at the same time granting greater and greater privileges to the common people and those that they had conquered (through the creation of "tribunes of the people", through the expansion of citizenship, and other gradually and increasingly progressive laws). The Republic was capable of self-policing, and the corrupt were generally exposed as such to the light of day and punished. Rome was run by rule of law.

The period that I find particularly telling is in the late 100s BC. At this time there was strong rebellious sentiment from the common man, which congealed into what can be reasonably called a progressive movement toward land reform and other poverty-reducing measures led by the Brothers Gracchi.

Eventually, however, both brothers were murdered, and the aristocracy came back to power and reinstituted the old orders.

During this time came the beginning of the end. Gaius Marius, a charismatic leader, man of the people, and successful general, first allied himself with the Gracchi and then turned against them, but nevertheless remained generally tied to the interests of his soldiers and the poor and disenfranchised (who were often one and the same.)

The leader of the aristocratic opposition was a man named Sulla, an evil beast of a man, who fought Marius tooth and nail.

The battle between Marius and Sulla was the first great civil war of Roman history, with Marius leading the "Populares" (Common-Man party) and Sulla leading the "Optimates" (the Aristocratic party). Marius and Sulla drove each other out of Rome by turns, killing hundreds (if not thousands) of each other's political enemies in secret and not-so-secret proscriptions.Eventually, Marius was killed and Sulla rose to power, only to die shortly thereafter in 78BCE.

Once they were both dead, there was peace--but the Republic was almost irrevocably broken. From that moment onward, though the Republic would limp on for about 40 more years (largely thanks to Cicero), it was clear that the Republic could no longer police itself.

It was clear that the Republic was irrevocably divided by the interests of the upper and lower classes. It was further clear that the internal structures of Roman law were not enough to counter the political might of individual men. Rome had become a state ruled not by laws, but by men. And the rise of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Marc Antony, and finally Octavian (who would officially turn the Republic into an Empire) was not far behind.


And that's where we are today, folks. It's clear that we no longer live in a nation of laws.
We had a progressive groundswell (the '60s), followed by a counter-revolution, followed by INTENSE partisan battling.

The Vice-President is held to a different standard of legal investigation. The President breaks laws with impunity, and an investigation is blocked through the strongarming of his political henchmen. And the criminality continued to reach new, seemingly impossible heights.

And the only thing we can do about it is attempt to sweep them out of office and wipe the capital clean of their filth. Winning elections is the new big mantra here, so that we can actually get some real investigations and impeachment proceedings.

Well, that may be an answer, folks. BUT IT'S NOT A GOOD ONE.

Because that answer is no different from Marius coming in and ridding Rome of Sulla's stench. It may be better than the alternative, but it's terrible anyway. And it never lasts long, because when when political discourse falls into the lowest gutter, power changes hands quickly from one side to the other and back again.

But it's most terrible because when the only way to fix the corruption is by sweeping out the government, it means the nation is already on its way to death. It means that eventually some Julius Caesar is going to become strong enough to just do away with the Constitution and make America his regal playground.
That's why we need to demand accountability NOW, Democrats.

NOW. Not after the elections. NOW.

Because we need desperately to prove that the system WORKS. That the corrupt CAN be held to account without a massive purge.

Because if it doesn't--if they can't--then god help us all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Kick Schmidt Out of DC, Paul!

So Paul Hackett, as I'm sure you know by now, is taking his ball and going home.

As in, leaving politics for good--or so he says.

I have an open letter--a message to Mr. Hackett (for whose campaign against Schmidt I donated serious money to last year): if you're as big a man as you say you are, you'll get out there and kick ass in OH-02.

I very seriously doubt that any of the Dems to whom you "promised" you wouldn't run, would actually stand in your way. They don't stand a bat's chance in hell of beating Schmidt, anyway.

We need you, Paul. Sherrod Brown has a far better shot at winning the Senate seat, and you have a great shot of beating Schmidt. You can have the Senate seat in 2010.

But buck up for chrissakes. This is politics. Brown is a progressive veteran. You, for all your rockstar qualities, are still a newbie who hasn't won anything yet.

Be a man and run the race you can and should win. And kick Mean Jean Schmidt outta DC!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Read This!

No posts from me today--taking the GF out to dinner!

There are only two things to read this entire week, actually. They will be talked about for a long time to come, inside and outside the blogosphere. They are:

1) Dispatches from the Fever Swamp by Digby

2) Do Bush Followers Have a Political Ideology? by Glenn Greenwald


Monday, February 13, 2006

It's the Metaphor, Stupid!

The Cheney shooting story isn't about to die down. I predict that the press is going to run with this story for days, if not weeks--and it has very little to do with the possibility of Cheney's being drunk, or with the 18 hour delay, or anything else. And this story is going to be much bigger than what we've seen so far in the White House Press Briefings.

It's because this story is a perfect metaphor for this administration's foreign and domestic policy. It says everything you need to know about Dick Cheney personally, and the way this entire administration operates.

And the press does this all the time: they run with little things that display flaws in character: Al Gore's "Internet" quote to highlight his weakness for exaggeration; Kerry's "Voted for it before I voted against it" to highlight his weakness for equivocation.

In this case, we have Cheney and the entire Bush Administration foreign and domestic policy in a nutshell. Especially in Iraq and Katrina.

In this case, Cheney and friends were killing innocent creatures who were trapped in a pen with no hope of escape.

Overeager, Cheney hunted with a shoot first, ask questions later mentality, and managed to strike his own partner, and send his friend to intensive care.

It later appears that Bush and his situation room (or so they said) had no idea what was going on on the ground there. They waited an entire day to even report the story, even though they obviously knew what happened. Hell, someone else had to force them to report the story, because they sure weren't going to unless they had to.

The official story then has Cheney blaming the victim, saying it was the victim's fault he got in Cheney's way.

It starts to become clear there was a pretty big hush-hush coverup job about it, but that the truth couldn't help but get leaked, despite the Administration's best wishes. There is even speculation that Cheney was possibly intoxicated, and not using his best intelligence before he started shooting.

And, of course, they couldn't afford to admit the truth, because the truth would probably be an impeachable offense.

It's a perfect analogy for the way they have conducted their entire administration--and all the biggest flaws of this presidency are on display in one little vividly portrayed story.

A little story that has tremendous sway because, let's face it: THE VICE PRESIDENT JUST ACTUALLY SHOT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. The imagery is clear and potent--and not subject to the typical political "he said, she said."

There is no way to play the usual equivocating politics with a story about the vice-president ACTUALLY SHOOTING SOMEONE.

And that's why I guarantee you this story isn't going away: It's a perfect way for the press to indict the entire Administration through the perfect metaphor.

And they'll be able to do it without retribution, or accusations that both sides aren't being fairly presented.

And it's going to haunt these assholes for a long, long time, if my hunch is correct.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rape, Incest and Extremism: A Lesson in Logic

Aristotle taught us that there are two kinds of logic in this world: inductive and deductive.

Inductive reasoning argues from example. For instance, my assertion that the sun will rise tomorrow is based on long experience and a rudimentary knowledge of astronomy. But I can't prove it absolutely.

Deductive reasoning deals in absolutes: this is the sort of reasoning that is airtight. A common example of deductive logic runs like this: Fido is a dog. All dogs have four legs. Therefore, Fido has four legs.

If the premises of a valid deductive argument are true, then it follows that the argument is true.
In this diary, I will prove deductively, using four simple premises, that those who oppose abortion are automatically extremists in American politics, and hide behind bullshit arguments that they use to snow John Q. Public.

It's all about rape and incest, you see...

The premises on which I base my argument are as follows:

1. Americans view any anti-abortion law that does not grant exceptions in cases of rape or incest as extremist and draconian.

This is an extremely safe premise. The vast majority of even wingnut America, when polled, believes that exceptions should be made in cases of rape and incest--to the tune of 70% or more.

2. Americans view those who would attempt to legislate sexual behavior as extremists.

I think this is a pretty easy premise to validate; after all, anti-sodomy laws have been struck down--with public approval--in almost every state, even as gay marriage issues inflame the wingnuts. Most Americans simply don't want the government in their bedrooms.

3. The only valid argument against abortion is the idea that a fetus has inalienable human rights from the moment of conception.

After all, if the fetus is not human, why are we even discussing the point? If it's not human, an abortion is no different from an appendectomy. But if it is human, then abortion is no different from killing a newborn baby.

4. Anyone who advocates killing newborn babies if they are the product of rape or incest is a murderous extremist.

I know--this one's a no-brainer. But by now I think you can see where this is going.
You see, here's how it works. This is basic deductive reasoning from these premises.

1. IF the fetus is human, THEN it deserves the same protections as a newborn.

IF killing a fetus produced by rape or incest is moral, THEN killing a newborn produced by the same is ALSO moral.

Killing a newborn is extremist.

ERGO, killing a fetus produced by rape or incest is extremist.

You see? That was tidy! But what are the anti-abortionist's other choices? Not pretty--because there are only two, and they're both bad:

A position held by a small minority of wingnuts--that "the fetus is human and sacred, and must not aborted under any circumstances."

Of course, this butts up directly against premise #1: that those who would not grant exceptions in case of rape or incest are automatically extremists.

As you can see, things aren't going well for our anti-abortionist friends. They seem to be getting hemmed in to extremism by Aristotle himself. Hmmm...let's see what's behind door number 2!

"The fetus is important, but pregnancy cases of rape or incest aren't the mother's fault!Therefore, she should not be forced to go through with the pregnancy!"

Looks like we need a little more Aristotle...:

If there is fault, there is blame for an immoral act.
Pregnancy is the direct result of a sexual act.
Being forced to do something is a form of punishment.
Laws requiring that someone be punished for a certain act constitute legislation of that act.

IF unwanted pregnancy cases arising from rape or incest are faultless, THEN all other cases involve FAULT.

IF those cases involve FAULT, then they are considered to have stemmed from immoral ACTS.

IF such cases of unwanted pregnancy are the direct result of unsafe sex, THEN unsafe sex is an immoral act.

IF pregnancy is something that is FORCED on someone, THEN pregnancy is a PUNISHMENT.

IF there is a law requiring that a woman be forced to go to term with a pregnancy, THEN there is legislation of that circumstance.

And IF the fault of the circumstance lies not in pregnancy, but in the nature of the act that generated it, THEN the legislation is of the ACT, not the CIRCUMSTANCE.

ERGO, legislation that a woman must be forced (punished) to carry a pregnancy to term when not under circumstances of rape or incest constitutes legislation of sexual behavior.

Which, of course, butts up against premise #3: Americans view those who would attempt to legislate sexual behavior as extremists.
So what does this mean? It means, very simply, that anti-abortionists are one of three things:

1. Extremists who want to kill newborn babies.
2. Extremists who want no contingencies in case of rape or incest.
3. Extremists who want to legislate sexuality.

Or some combination of the above.
So just remember: all you EVER need to destroy a wingnut's stance on abortion are two simple words: Rape and Incest.

It's simple, airtight logic. Really, it is.

Then again, logic was never the wingnuts' strong suit, was it?

Olympics Coverage

For once, I'm not appalled by the Olympics coverage this year. Nothing but good things to say.

They show all kinds of different events, and they show athletes from all sorts of different countries. They even encouraged the audience to listen to the German National Anthem on the podium. And the commentators actually know what they're talking about from sport to sport: no idiotic Dick Enbergs here.

A smattering of human interest stories here and there, and a slight emphasis on American competitors. Just as it should be.

Bravo, NBC!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So it appears (how shocking!!) that the White House flat out lied. Blatantly. Again. This time it's the lie that:

Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

Actually, according to the New York Times:

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

How sad is it that we live in an America where our government is so corrupt that we can barely keep track of all the scandals? Where we have at least two or three brand new scandals emerging almost every day?

Look at today alone:

1) Scooter Libby is apparently flipping on Dick Cheney--and the story is receiving scant media coverage.

2) Bush apparently invited Jack "Who?" Abramoff out to his ranch, and met with him over a dozen times.

3) Frist and Hastert include a law protecting pharma companies from vaccine lawsuits in a defense bill.

4) MSNBC and the AP are caught with their pants down flat out lying about Reid and Abramoff, while failing to cover Libby and failing to adequately cover Bush's ties to Abramoff.

And now this Katrina bombshell, directly preceding Brownie's testimony coming tomorrow.

And that's just all in one day.

It's just one scandal after another after another.

I'm exhausted. I'm tired. And you know why?

Because I've always figured that if you just work hard enough to bring the dark and slimy underbelly of modern "conservative" thought into the light of day, that people would see the truth.

I've always figured that if you expose enough of their crimes, that the public would become fed up to the point that there would be calls to have these people's head on a plate.

But increasingly, it just looks to me like nobody cares--least of all these assholes in power.

Which isn't to say that things haven't been moving apace. They have been. It's moved from our uncovering one scandal a week, to our being unable to even keep up with three or more new scandals every single day.

Yet nothing changes. My apolitical friends remain clueless and apolitical. The media continues to carry water for Bush, even though it's clear by now to everyone with eyes that the emperor has no clothes. The Democrats, while they are doing better, continue to be unable to get their message across to John Q. Public--partly because the media hamstrings them.

And the GOP, meanwhile, laughs all the way to the bank, as they realize that they can truly get away with anything.

The truth is that this Republican Party is simply pushing the envelope to see how much they can get away with. And the answer is looking like it's pretty much everything.

Indeed, it's starting to seem that so long as they can keep the issues obfuscated and make every scandal appear to be bipartisan or confused or complicated, and keep labeling their opponents as unAmerican cowards, that they can continue to get away with murder.

And that will remain true even if we take 12 House seats and three Senate seats away from them.

The fact that they've gotten away with this much shit for this long means that they know the gig is up: they can do essentially anything, and no one will hold the vast majority of them accountable, unless they live in purple districts.

This is why impeachment is absolutely critical. This is why calls for prosecution of congressional misdeeds is absolutely critical. This is why libel lawsuits against the media who cooperate in feeding the American public absolute lies is so critical.

We CANNOT wait until the 2006 elections, folks. By then, The GOP will be scaring voters with the prospect of Ayatollah nukes, and over 300 scandals will have come and gone and blown over.

We must show these criminals--and the American public--that we will not stand for a three-scandal-a-day America. That we will take the People's House by storm if we have to.
Because I can't keep the outrage up any longer.

And because I work for a living, and I can't spend four hours a day reading blogs to keep afresh of EVERY NEW FUCKING SCANDAL THAT THESE CRIMINALS PERPETRATE ON OUR COUNTRY EVERY GODDAMN DAY.

Prosecute. Impeach. Protest. Shut the Senate down. Obstruct. Do what you have to, Democrats.

Because if we wait for the elections, it will be too late to save the very concept of accountability, much less repair the damage done to our nation, our constitution, and our democracy.

It's time to make a stand. I'll stand. I'll go to jail. I'll do anything it takes at this point, because I feel like I'm under assault every day. And I'm ready for my leaders in Congress to do the same--even if it means shutting down the government. NO GOVERNMENT IS BETTER THAN THIS GOVERNMENT.

Because the only thing worse than a three-scandal-a-day America, is putting up with a three-scandal-a-day America.


So Libby has flipped. An on Cheney and "other senior Administration officials," no less.

Yummy. No wonder the Bush Administration came out with a half-baked, four year old would-be terrorist incident today.

There is only one story today, and it is shaking up all of Capitol Hill.

And there is only one question today: how long will it take for Fitz to lay out indictments on Cheney? I know Fitz works slowly and only in the interests of justice, but my perspective it can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Vichy Dems strike again

Check out this uproarious article from the NY Times today.

Done? Okay.

Now this is laugh out loud funny. What this is, is a hit piece on Howard Dean and the Progressives. Three paragraphs in, I could have told you it was written by Nagourney, the same SOB that writes at least one hatchet piece on Dems every week in the NYT.

Look at who is talking--a Tennessee governor, Barack "Mr. Purple" Obama, and Chris Dodd, who just happens to be a DLC shill and former DNC chairman--the position Howard Dean used to have.

The article says that "But among more establishment Democrats, there is concern that many of the party's most visible leaders — among them, Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman; Senator John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential candidate; Mr. Kennedy; Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader; and Al Gore, who has assumed a higher profile as the party heads toward the 2008 presidential primaries — may be flawed messengers."

LMAO! Among more establishment Democrats. Yep. Never mind the fact that Harry Reid has done amazing things despite an imperial presidency and being outnumbered; never mind that Howard Dean has raised more than 5 times the comparable amount in an election cycle; and never mind that harsher rhetoric has helped send Bush's approval rating and the Iraq war rating to abysmal levels.

Meanwhile, John Kerry worries that there is no single party voice to address the nation. Gee, I wonder why John would say that? THAT's not self-serving or anything.

There are only two truths:

1)Just like the 90's GOP, the more aggressive we get, the better off we are; and

2) Voters have throw-the-bums out mentality right now which will lead to HUGE Dem gains in '06. All we really need to do is keep it stoked for the moment, and then lay out our own plan (which we have and are sitting on--complete with a minimum wage increase, a health plan, and many other popular measures) when the time is right: during the height of the Abramoff scandal in May and June.

The reason these "establishment Democrats" are worried is because the names mentioned in the article as being "of concern" are the strongest voices we have in the party, and the ones likeliest, frankly, to call Bush's shit what it is: shit. "

"Establishment" Dems would rather lose and stay comfy, than fight, take a chance and win. They want to emphasize education and healthcare--just like Kerry's idiotic pollster said to me during the election year. Because it's comfy, and they'll hang onto their ever shrinking party that way. Republicans know that over-the-top aggressive rhetoric works wonders for a minority party, and that their party sent their quivering moderates packing during the late 80s and early 90's. So shall it be with us.

Monday, February 06, 2006

don't they care about their OWN power?

I admit right now: I'm a bleeding heart American patriot. I think the American Constitution is one of the most brilliant documents ever written in the history of mankind. I think that the Federalist Papers mark the pinnacle of the understanding of political science, in a way that was never reached before, and has never been surpassed since.

Which is why what is happening right now makes me cringe beyond anything the Bush Administration and its cronies have done yet.

You see, the American Government, as set forth in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, assumes that each branch of government will guard its own power jealously against the trespass of the other powers upon it. That no matter what other allegiances they may have, that the very ambitions and pretensions to power of each member of each branch would suffice to ensure that no one branch became a lapdog of any other, so long as they were given the power to resist one another.

But, unfortunately, in the face of a more divided country than we have ever seen since the days of the Civil War, that is no longer the case.

Today, it is political party that trumps all other considerations. The entire American government, in each branch, is seen as a sprawling series of battlefields--wherein each party tries to gain as much power as it can. The branches themselves don't care about their own power nearly so much as they care about the power of their ideological comrades.

And in this field of war, some battlefields are more important than others--some hills are higher than others.

In this case, the Executive is the highest hill--the Iwo Jima, as it were. The crown jewel, possession of which ensures excellent field position in battles for the other hills.

The second highest hill is the judiciary, which can easily be assaulted from the vantage of Mt. Executive.

And the messy, muddy, marshy bog below is the Legislative, where each side in the battle slogs back and forth in the trenches.

The scary truth is this: that Republicans and Democrats down in the Leglislative marches don't care nearly as much about protecting their marsh turf NEARLY as much as about making sure that their allies on the higher hills are protected.

The ambition of each individual branch is a notion that has become quaint and passe. And that truly means the end of the very basis of our government.

We are locked in a death spiral. One side or the other is going to win. And we can all choose which side we prefer--I personally prefer Progressive philosopher-kings over Wingnut ones--but philosopher-kings we are definitely going to have.

And when that happens, it will be the end--no matter who gets in power. Because power corrupts. Because without checks and balances, power becomes absolute. And because absolute power corrupts absolutely--no matter who is in charge.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

People Who Love The Job They Hate

Even in the face of all the current ongoing scandals in this Administration, I think that we've lost sight of the biggest of all: the hurricane Katrina response, and its ongoing aftermath. And I think that what we saw during those dark days following the flooding provides a great insight into the mentality of the people currently in charge of our government.

We've now seen time and time again that this callously evil excuse for an Administration puts party over country at every opportunity--including, unbelievably, in the face of the ongoing disaster that is New Orleans.

We saw it in their calls to block investigations. We saw it in their blocking of the media from entering the city. We saw it in the appalling use of emergency personnel and vehicles as photo-op props during the ongoing disaster.

But the question nobody is asking is about root causes of this phenomenon. Why these guys? Why now? Clinton was a politician. So was George H. W. Bush (Senior). But neither of these men would have stooped to these depths.

Is it just because they're evil fuckers in this Administration (yes, they are) or is there something more fundamental and ideological at work here? I think there is.

It's pretty clear to me that everything BushCo does stems, originally, from their views about what Government's job is (or isn't).

When Grover Norquist, in keeping with the whole trickle-down Reaganite theme and in keeping with most of his BushCo conspirators, talks about drowning government in a bathtub, that doesn't only affect their actual response to the New Orleans disaster, which it does. That ideology also fundamentally influences their reaction to the fiasco they created as well.

These people fundamentally believe that Government is Evil. Some of them believe it out of blind faith and brazen, Ayn Randian libertarian ideology. Most of them believe it out of cynicism, because less government control will fatten their pocketbooks at the expense of those they exploit.

And yet, interestingly, we have a bunch of people who believe fervently that Government is bad vying for and winning government positions. That's quite a contradiction, isn't it? If you hated war and the military, would you enlist? If you hated public education, would you become a schoolteacher? I don't think so. There's no reward for doing that.

But there are heavy rewards for those who hate the government to join its ranks. It's pretty obvious what they are, and it's a win-win situation: lots of money for them from the federal teat while they're in office, and less restriction on their exploitative practices after they gut the very pig they suckle.

No, it's clear that these Government is Bad ideologues join the government ranks for two reasons: 1) to enrich themselves and their friends at taxpayer expense, and 2) to destroy the government from the Inside.

So, what does all this have to do with the insane amounts of spin we have been seeing in the wake of the myriad scandals we have seen post-Katrina?

Everything. There's a very good reason that the feds, and this President especially, did next to nothing before, during, and after the levee breaks. They believe in a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is left to fend for themselves. In their ideology, it simply isn't the government's job to come save your ass, because the federal government really shouldn't exist except to fight wars.
Some of them are evil and cold-hearted enough to believe that the poor who could not get out deserve to die; some are so silver-spooned that they cannot possibly understand what it would mean not to be able to get out. But it doesn't really matter.

The only reason, in fact, that BushCo got around to sending in the Feds when they did was because of the negative press they were receiving about the disaster. Only when it looked like their slow response might endanger their agendas/re-elections did they begin to make any movements at all toward rescue efforts.

And this is where the crux of the matter lies. These Reaganites KNOW that the majority of the public does not agree with their "Government is Evil" worldview.

They KNOW that if the TRUTH ever got out that they really don't GIVE A SHIT about rescue efforts--that they DON'T THINK NOLA SHOULD EVEN BE REBUILT--that people would tar and feather them and run them out of town.

So they spin. And spin. And spin.

But you can see they don't really even mean what they say, or even care about what they say.
They don't care because this is all a game to them. A role-playing game where they pretend to govern just enough not to get tarred-and-feathered, and behind the scenes work as fast as they can to dismantle the very agencies and protections Americans have grown to depend on.
You can see it in Bush's eyes when he gives a press conference. He's annoyed to even be there. He's annoyed the same way a person who gets a telemarketing call during dinner looks annoyed.

Because actual governance is a distraction to them--a necessary but evil part of the game called micromanagement, which they take care of as quickly as possible so that they can return to the real fun of gutting the government and eating all the spoils while it lasts.
It's not so much that the Elephant flies above the Stars and Stripes. It's that Elephants, Donkeys, Stars and Stripes are all three mirages, quite irrelevant to reasons these people are in power in the first place.

The realities of governance are irrelevant.

Even the realities of politics are largely irrelevant.

So they give lip service to governance in the language of politics, and have no qualms about playing whatever sort of politics is necessary to get them through the day. Whatever soundbites will allow the Media to continue holding down the American Taxpayer, and get them through just even one day of raping and pillaging that Taxpayer, is exactly what they'll use.
And that's something we have never seen before in our history--not even during its periods of worst corruption.

And it stands to reason. Would you hand Fido to a dog-sitter who despises and wants to kill dogs? And when you came back to a dead dog, would you expect that dog-sitter to say anything beyond whatever it took to get through the conversation and get paid? Would you let your kid be taught by a teacher with a pathological aversion to learning? And what would you expect to hear from that teacher at a PTA meeting, besides bullshit?

So what, exactly, can we expect from a government filled with officials who despise government?

And why should we expect to hear anything, in the face of the intentional negligence of the Worst Administration Ever, but spin, spin and more spin?