Thursday, September 28, 2006

Calm the Fuck Down Already

I swear to freaking God.  Everybody needs to take a freaking chill pill on this torture legislation.

Yes, torture is awful.  Yes, the bill purports to eliminate the right of habeas corpus.  Yes, American citizens are included.  Yes, these are fundamental American values.  Yes, Democrats should stand up for those values.

Yes, yes, yes.  Yada yada yada.

But please end the incessant hand-wringing, and try to remember how government--even under this administration--works.

This bill doesn't change SHIT.  Not today.  Not yesterday.  Not tomorrow.  Nothing.

And all you hand-wringers out there are just playing right into their hands by obsessing about this.

All this bill is, is an utterly MEANINGLESS piece of kabuki theater.

It serves only two purposes: a) a desperate attempt by Bush to try to legally cover his own ass; and b) a desperate attempt designed to distract from the unrelentingly horrible news on Iraq.  On Afghanistan.  On Pakistan.  On healthcare.  On the economy the rest of us live in.

And again, this bill doesn't accomplish SHIT.  Let's look at a few points, one by one, shall we?

1) Congress has NO authority to decide if these things are legal or not.  That's up to the COURTS to decide.

It's up to the COURTS to decide how the Geneva Conventions--which are American Law--are construed.  It's up to the COURTS to decide whether habeas corpus does or does not apply to all persons (as it so clearly states in the Constitution).

Every piece of this Unconstitutional bill is beyond the scope of the Congress to legislate.  It's dead on the courthouse door--and doesn't change anything in the meantime.

Which brings me to point #2:

2) The torture is happening the same, regardless of whether this bill passes or not.  We've already BEEN waterboarding detainees.  We've already BEEN subjecting them to cold rooms.  We've already BEEN doing all these horrible things.  Habeas corpus is ALREADY being suspended.

All this stupid bill does is attempt to make it OK to do these things.  Which it CANNOT DO, because it's not up to Brownback, Reid, Schumer, or Santorum to decide whether it's ok or not.

The only reason it even exists is to try to provide legislative cover for Bush against possible trials for war crimes--which it also cannot do.  Which brings me to point #3.

3) Bush cannot claim retroactive immunity based on Unconstitutional law.  Suspending habeas corpus is Unconstitutional.  Torture is UnConstitutional.  And any future trial of Bush will be based on how his actions play out with regard to the CONSTITUTION--not with regard to some stupid laws passed by his lap-dog rubber-stamp Congress.  Which brings us to point #4:

4) A Democratic congress will easily reverse this bill.  When the subpoenas start coming and Bush is on the hotseat for his crimes, there will be a MAJOR tailwind and drive to remove even the pretense of this horrible legislation.  Bush is the Emperor without Clothes--and this butt-cover will blow right off when the winds kick up.

Of course, without a Democratic congress we won't have that.  And if you hand-wringers refuse to support Democrats, or some other drivel, on the basis of their reaction to this legislation in the face of political pressure, we won't get a Democratic congress.

In other words: this bill doesn't give them ANY powers they aren't ALREADY using (and have been using for years); and when the time comes to call them to account for it, it WON'T save their asses--if it hasn't already been repealed.


Meanwhile, every day that we obsess over this meaningless kabuki bullshit farce, we lose another day that we can spend talking about shit that doesn't go right over the heads of the American people at best, or make us look like terrorist enablers at worst.

Shit like Iraq.  Afghanistan.  What Bush did to stop 9/11.  Cronyism.  Corruption.  Healthcare.  The economy the rest of us live in.

So please, PLEASE CALM DOWN!!!  America isn't dead.  The Constitution isn't dead.  Nothing has changed.

There's a REASON they're doing this so close to the election.  There's no big torture emergency out there: they just want a good distraction, and Bush wants to try some lame attempt at covering his ass in case there's a stiff-spined Democratic congress at his heels in 2007.

So get over it.  Let the Republicans have their meaningless political theater.  It changes absolutely nothing, and it will be struck down by the first, second and third courts that get their hands on it.

And then send some REAL Americans--the ones with (D)s after their names--to Congress.  Because that's what REALLY matters here.


Update: Remember also that Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was decided in the Supreme Court by a margin of 5-3, with Roberts recusing himself. First, the court has to even take the case. Second, if Roberts had to recuse himself for Hamdan, he will almost certainly have to recuse himself here. Third, even if the GOP keeps its judges in line for this bill (which I doubt), it's still 5-3.

It just ain't gonna happen. And I honestly doubt it'll ever make the Supreme Court, it's so blatantly Unconstitutional.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What's Bush Supposed to Do--Invade a Sovereign Nation?

Bill O'Reilly just committed last night an egregious act of hypocrisy--even by Bill O'Reilly's very low standards.  More importantly, though, he showed himself to a Soft on Terror hypocrite.

Unfortunately, there's no transcript or video available yet of the discussion subsequent to last night's Talking Points yet.  But I remember what took place well enough watching it late last night.  Last night, Bill O'Reilly jammed his foot down his throat--and all any Democratic guest who goes on his show from now on has to do is choke him with it.

The context was this: O'Reilly was doing a hit piece on Bill Clinton with respect to his Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, claiming that Clinton's outburst was all about politics (uhhhh...duh.  Your show isn't?).

Then he had two guests on.  According to Bill O'Reilly's own site, here is the basic summary of what happened:

The Factor was joined by two women with differing views of the Clinton interview. Nancy Pfotenhauer of the conservative Independent Women's Forum claimed Clinton was trying to score political points. "There's been an orchestrated effort on behalf of Hillary Clinton's campaign to get Bill Clinton in the news recently. They're trying to position him as an elder statesman. But in his specific reaction to that question he was thin-skinned and defensive. Clinton hit the gas too hard and ran smack into his ego." Democratic strategist Sascha Burns argued that the ex-president was truly angry. "I think it was partly calculated, but he was also angry. If you put President Bush in the same situation and Chris Wallace asked why he hasn't done more to keep his promise to get Osama Bin Laden, I don't think he'd be happy either." The Factor remained puzzled by Clinton's over-the-top reaction. "Bill Clinton was genuinely angry after this interview and I can not understand why. Clinton has been in public life forever and should have been easily prepared to deal with these questions."

So far, so good, Loofah-man.  Straightforward right-wing propaganda.

But what Mr. Falafel failed to post was this telling exchange that should get him in a LOAD of hot water:

Sascha Burns did her job, turning the conversation had to what Bush had done to get Bin Laden.  She said something to the effect that Bush hadn't done much of anything to get Bin Laden lately.  That's when O'Reilly stuck his foot in it.

Now, I don't remember exactly what Ms. Burns said, but O'Reilly's response is clear as crystal in my memory:

O'REILLY: What is Bush supposed to do?  INVADE A SOVEREIGN NATION?

Yes, folks.  Bill O'Reilly actually asked--incredulously--whether Bush was supposed to actually take the disastrous step of invading a sovreign nation to get Bin Laden.

Unfortunately, Ms. Burns wasn't astute enough to destroy O'Reilly:

BURNS: Well, we invaded Afghanistan...


O'REILLY: He's in Pakistan.  Pakistan.  There's a difference

Yes, Pakistan is different.  You see, back when we invaded Afghanistan, it was a country of muslim extremists that habored terrorists, including Bin Laden.  Today, western Pakistan is a country of muslim extremists that habors terrorists, including Bin Laden.

There's a difference between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The difference is three years, and the GOP's corrupt ass in the political hotseat.


We've got him by the balls, people.  Bill O'Reilly--the biggest cheerleader of Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq to get <strike>oil</strike&gt Saddam Hussein--thinks it would be an unthinkable idea for America to invade a sovereign nation to get Bin Laden.

You heard that right.  Invading countries to get terrorists is wrong, according to O'Reilly.  Invading countries at the cost of over a trillion dollars and thousands of American lives to get two-bit <strike>oil</strike&gt dictators that never threatened you is apparently another story.

Find the clip.  YouTube the clip.  And let's shove it in his ugly, smarmy face every chance we get.

And let's show the American people not just how how hypocritical these ratfuckers are, but how Soft on Terror they are as well.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

They Let Him Get Away With It

They let him get away with it.

News reports are currently circulating that Osama Bin Laden is dead of a severe case of typhoid fever--and that he died last month in August.

Now, it could be that it's a false rumor; after all, Bin Laden's been thought to be dead before.  But then again, this might just be Karl Rove's famed October Surprise.

But if it IS Rove's October Surprise, we need to get out in the front of the story with the truth: These fuckers LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT.

That's right.  If Karl Rove thinks this is his October Surprise, he's got another think coming.  This SHOULD backfire on him.

Bin Laden's death, if true, is a cause for great celebration.  But it is also a cause for great anger.

Much is made of the closure necessary for victims of heinous crimes and murders; one of the primary arguments for the death penalty in this country is that seeing the execution of the person who caused them such pain provides a sense of relief, closure and satisfaction for the victim's family and friends.

Well, guess what?  Because of the mind-numbing incompetence and malfeasance of Bush and the Corrupt Bastards currently in power, America will NEVER have closure.

Instead, America will grieve forever the loss of her pride and of all the brave and innocent souls who died on that black day of September 11th--without relief.  Without closure.  Without satisfaction.

And the ghost of the greatest criminal perpetrator against her and her people will continue to thumb his nose at her forever from beyond the grave--both in spirit and through the spirits of his followers whose numbers have been increased and wills emboldened by this government of Weakness.

When this town we call America needed a sheriff who would bring this outlaw murderer to justice, we were told that "he just wasn't that concerned about him."  Our tough-talking all-hat, no-horse sheriff never even TRIED to catch the murderous mastermind of the greatest attack on this land since Pearl Harbor.

And now that killer may have escaped justice--forever.


If Bin Laden indeed died of natural causes outside American custody, it is indeed a dark day for America--and ultimately Bin Laden's greatest victory and final achievement.  A final, irreversible defeat in Bush's self-declared "war on terror."  It is a national shame.

And this national shame needs to be hung on the head of Bush, Cheney, and every one of their treasonous, cowardly supporters--for all time.

He got away with it.  THEY LET HIM get away with it.

Say it.  Scream it.  Bellow it from the rooftops in a mournful cry of rage.

For it must be said--if for no other reason than to preserve OUR honor: the honor of all Americans who still grieve for the over 3,000 Americans who died on that horrible day for nothing.  And for the honor of the thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died in this criminal's diversion of a useless war that disabled us from holding the perpetrator of that day's evil responsible for his actions.

Damn them.  Damn them all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Your Vote will Not be Counted

First, watch this video put together by a Princeton computer sciences prof:

Then read this.

Then read this.

The time for politics is past. Politics is irrelevant in the face criminal behavior that literally disenfranchises America.

The time for revolution is at hand.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Trip to the Dark Side

Occasionally, one must venture into the nether regions of darkness to understand just what the paragons of our intellectual opposition are really thinking.  After all, we spend a lot of time talking about what's on the minds of Republicans, but rarely do we actually take them at their words.

Today, I would like to provide you a few quotes from our friends at  I do this today so that you can see just how far the rhetoric has been ratcheted up.

Enjoy your trip...hope you come out alive...And if you walk away from this post thinking there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans, or that a vote for a third party is anything more than a gift to fascism, I can't help you.

It doesn't seem to matter whether we'd like to be at war with these people. They want to be at war with us. They don't want land, they don't want money, and they most assuredly do not want peace. They want to take over the world for Islam, and by 'world' they mean the world.

There is little to do but kill them all. They won't have it any other way.  --Robert A. Hahn

And I kind of disagree about the comparison to [Hitler's] Wehrmacht. A bunch of jihadists with boxcutters did more damage to America in a few minutes than the Wehrmacht ever did.  -- kowalski

Let's not forget that they kill each other, too. Killing does seem to be a theme. I also say we have to kill them all and the sooner we start, the sooner we finish. Put them on the Virginville Express.  --Tbone

The worst part is we don't how many "they" constitute. This latest threat emanated from Iraq, a nation we just liberated from a monster who killed Muslims for sport. How many of the "they" are Iraqi citizens? Chilling stuff there, and the implications are jarring. --Spainishirish

I now believe the Pope did this on purpose. Why?

1) He knew that Muslims would go bat-crap crazy over it. All he had to do was look at the reaction to the Danish cartoons and Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" for an example of the typical reaction.

2) His purpose was to perhaps, maybe, force the world to confront the fact that this is indeed a religious war (not merely a geopolitical conflict or "War on Terror") and to prepare itself for that fight.

3) If the mere spectacle of the overreaction is not enough to spur the Judeo-Christian world into action, I fully believe he intends to allow himself to be murdered. In his mind, if this does not steel the resolve of the West to confront this threat once and for all, it is not worth saving.  -- udtiger

What better way to get Christendom to wake up to the threat posed by the fundy Islamists, than to have a Pope assassinated? If you accept that Islam and Christianity are on a collision course, and it will take a major attack on a Western city to get the West engaged, it's difficult to wait, wondering which of your flock will get hit. Unless the Pope is killed, that is.

The math is pretty easy: the life of one old man who has reached the pinnacle of his career for, say, 100,000 innocents.

If that was his plan ... Salute!  -- Socrates

how do you counter the argument that killing them just creates more?

There is a hidden assumption in that argument, which is that the rate at which they breed exceeds the rate at which we kill them. With the various means of violence available to us, we can easily adjust the rate at which we kill them so as to exceed the rate at which they breed.

How can we get them to come out?

We can't. It is in their interest to hide that way. Therefore we must make the others want to push them out. We aren't really serious about this matter yet, so we have not truly been working that problem. But a number of engineering solutions come to mind. If every time one of their bombs went off somewhere, we dropped a daisy cutter on the casbah in some medium-sized city over there, we could expect that after a dozen or so such incidents, civilian support for having terrorists around setting off bombs would decline. There are obviously other forms of extreme violence available. Any of them will do.

It is likely that the terrorists today threaten the civilian population if they do not agree to harbor and hide the terrorists. Therefore any violence we apply to the civilians to make them disgorge the terrorists will have to exceed whatever violence the terrorists themselves are capable of inflicting. Yes, I realize that this is all morally reprehensible. That is why we are not doing it. However, at some level of violence perpetrated against us, these considerations will be set aside in favor of making the violence against us cease. We are not just going to roll over and die. You might want to start steeling yourself now for the morally reprehensible part. Hopefully it can be brief.  -- Robert A. Hahn

But unfortunately, it is apparently going to take more than 3000 civilian deaths to steel the American backbone to do the things which you have outlined. How many more deaths will it take to wake America up? 10,000? 100,000?

You already hear laments on how many Iraqi and Afghanistani civilians have been killed in the war so far. "We've killed way more than the 3000 they murdered on 9/11 - it's not fair! We should stop!", as if we should have only killed 3000 of their people in response to 9/11. Can you imagine what the outcry would be if we applied even more violence to the civilian population?

My guess: only if the terrorists kill 100,000 Americans, will the hand-wringers be okay with us going in and killing 100,000 of their civilians. (But not a person more.) -- VeddyVeddyBadAng

Those trying to kill religion in our society today will find religion staring them in the face just before they are beheaded by those demanding they believe in God, if they do not help those who did not demand they believe in God. -- shokk

They can wag their finger at the Pope and pretend to be worldly wise and sophisticated knowing full well that we have a President who is anatomically correct and is willing to do the dirty work of defending our freedom. They know full that if it were up to Nancy Pelosi or Jack Murtha we would be overrun by suicide bombers and planes would be falling out of the sky like hail.

It's easy to wax philosophical when you're hiding behind a tough President and the US Military. -- EagleWatcher

The Dhimmitude memo has already gone out at the NYT. I'm sure they won't mind having them and their kids praying 5 times a day and going to the mosque every Friday. I'm sure they won't mind school prayer as long as it's to Alah. Can you see Moreen Dowd in a berqua?


I think you've hit on it. by Socrates

Republican women are prettier, and so the Dhimmicrats want all women to cover up -- to make it more fair.

Proud to be: politically incorrect, straight, white, pro-life Christian, and of the opinion the spotted owl tastes just like chicken. -- haystack


Did you make it out alive?

There's really not much more I can add here.  This is the Republican base..  This is what they believe.

The stakes in this election could not be clearer.

GIVE.  Give all you can to our progressive candidates to these power away from these maniacs.  The link to the ActBlue page is right here.

Do what must be done.  For it must.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Sport of Us vs. Them

For the Republicans, that's all any of this sad, sorry game we call "the politics of national security" is.  "Us" vs. "Them."

It is only when you attempt to discuss national security and terrorism in the frames of reasoned debate that you get into trouble dealing with a Republican apologist.  And when you finally understand that, that's when your heads will stop exploding, and you'll start to see this so-called "reasoning" for the brutal, simplistic and utterly banal filth that it is.

I refer here specifically to Michelle Malkin's outrageous post claiming that three suspected Christian terrorists should be granted due process of law, non-secret evidence, and proper treatment under the Geneva Conventions--even though she has been applauding the same abuses of justice when practiced by the Bush Administration.

Proud progressive voices like Glenn Greenwald claim that such statements are "beyond satire" and that "irony is dead".  Intelligent progressives throughout the blogosphere are demanding that Michelle Malkin be called on her hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, folks, there is no hypocrisy.  You only think there is because you've been taking their arguments at face value.  Like everything else with the GOP, their strength is in brute, basic emotional appeals for which reason and logic are irrelevant.  They themselves don't even care.

Michelle Malkin (and her friends like Hannity and O'Reilly and Glenn Beck) couldn't care less about Terrorism.  Or the Geneva Conventions.  Or the Constitution.  Or the Balance of Powers.  Or whether invading Iraq was a mistake.  Or Bin Laden.

All they know is one, simple thing: It's US vs. THEM.  And any justification--any argument du jour will do.

And who is "Us"?  The "West".  "Christendom."  "The European Race."  "God-fearing folk."

Who is "Them?"  Today, it's pretty much anyone with brown or olive skin, anyone who speaks "Mexican", anyone who worships Allah, or both.


"You're either with us or you're against us."  -- George W. Bush

"You're either with me, or you are my enemy."  -- Dark Anakin/Darth Vader, Star Wars Ep. III

When the Hannitys and the O'Reillys of the world accuse liberals of being "terrorist-sympathizers" or "terrorist appeasers", we wonder how they can say such things with a straight face.  They Know, we say to ourselves, that we hate Bin Laden and al-Qaeda as much they do.  We just also happen to favor justice and process of law, we say.

Unfortunately, that's one thought process too many.

To them, this "Clash of Civilizations" is a combat arena sport, and a fight to the death.  In this sport, there are two teams: US and THEM.  

And who is on these teams?

Them = Al-Qaeda = Saddam Hussein = Mohammed Six-Pack = Lebanese children = Kareem Abdul-Jabar = the Sikh with the Turban on his head.  Same team--different jerseys.

And us?  Us = America = George Bush = Jesus = Christians = White folk = Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie = F-16 bombs with your name on them.  Praise Jesus and pass the ammunition--same team, different jerseys.

There's no "I" in "Team", and these teams better stuck up for all their teammates, or sit on the bench.  Lead, follow or get out of the way.  And don't ever--EVER--contradict the coach, George W. Bush.


But it gets worse.

In this context, Justice, the Rule of Law, and the Geneva Conventions--hell, even rational argument itself--are REFEREES.  In this grand sport, there ARE no referees; and if they DO exist, they exist to be LOBBIED.

There is no objectivity.  Only the attempt to get the ref to call the play for YOUR team, and not THEIR team.

Thus, in this grand Us vs. Them Super Bowl telethon, those who lobby the Geneva Conventions ref on behalf of team "THEM" inherently belongs to Team "Them."  Those who lobby the Geneva Conventions on behalf of Team "Us" belong to Team "Us."

It's really that simple.


That we would attempt to accuse Michelle Malkin of hypocrisy shows a fundamental failure on our part to understand the proper context of this debate.

When a professional basketball player fouls his opponent and screams that the ref that what he did wasn't a foul, before coming down the court and getting fouled in the exact same way and screaming that it WAS a foul, we don't accuse the basketball player of hypocrisy.  We simply say that he was standing up for his team.

And that's all the GOP is doing.  Standing up for the team.  Justice, liberty, issues, and reason be damned.  It's all for the TEAM.

And we liberals had better get with the program and stop trying to play referee--or worse--petition the ref for the enemy.  Because if we don't get with the program, we'll spend the rest of our political lives "on the bench".  Which is one short step for the Final Solution of kicking us "off the team."

Team "Us."  Toward the annihilation of Team "Them."  Forever.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blistering E-Voting Article in WaPo--and on Drudge!

It's happening.  The national tide is turning.  The Washington Post has come out with a major article on possible e-voting irregularities in the November elections--especially in the wake of the Maryland debacle.

And, amazingly enough, a link to the article is featured right now on the Drudge Report, ensuring its dissemination to million of wingers and moderates around the country.

Combine this with the ever-more prominent Princeton-Diebold story all over the the cable networks, and there's absolutely no question that this issue is going to reach a nexus in the American consciousness.  

From the article:

An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.

In the Nov. 7 election, more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines, and a third of all precincts this year are using the technology for the first time. The changes are part of a national wave, prompted by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 and numerous revisions of state laws, that led to the replacement of outdated voting machines with computer-based electronic machines, along with centralized databases of registered voters and other steps to refine the administration of elections.

But in Maryland last Tuesday, a combination of human blunders and technological glitches caused long lines and delays in vote-counting. The problems, which followed ones earlier this year in Ohio, Illinois and several other states, have contributed to doubts among some experts about whether the new systems are reliable and whether election officials are adequately prepared to use them.

No shit.  Honestly, where was the WaPo on this..oh...a year ago?  Or two years ago?  I guess late is better than never, though...

In a polarized political climate, in which elections are routinely marked by litigation and allegations of incompetent administration or outright tampering, some worry that voting problems could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections.

"We could see that control of Congress is going to be decided by races in recount situations that might not be determined for several weeks," said Paul S. DeGregorio, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, although he added that he does not expect problems of this magnitude.

This is HUGE.  If there's one thing Americans don't want, it's a repeat of Florida 2000.  Americans won't put up with it.

What is clear is that a national effort to improve election procedures six years ago -- after the presidential election ended with ambiguous ballots and allegations of miscounted votes and partisan favoritism in Florida -- has failed to restore broad public confidence that the system is fair.

You don't say?  Maybe that's because freaking REPUBLICANS were put in charge of it.  Can you name me one American institution that the public does have more confidence in since the GOP was put in charge?

In 2004, some Democrats alleged widespread voting irregularities in Ohio, including questionable vote-counting and problems with machines in Democratic-leaning precincts. Nonpartisan election experts have said the problems were not so severe to call President Bush's victory, by about 119,000 votes, into question.

Oh my God!  A mention of the fraud!  A mention of the fraud!  The silence is broken!  (/snark)  But again--better late than never.  After long discussion of individual problems, it continues:

Beyond technical bugs, questions remain about whether the machines are vulnerable to vote fraud by hackers.

For several years, prominent computer scientists have taken aim at the electronic voting machines, which in essence are computers. In analyses of the software that runs widely used models of the machines, and in tests on specific brands, the scientists have shown how they could manipulate the machine to report a vote total that differed from the actual total cast by voters.

How much bad news about these machines will the American people take before they demand a change?  But it doesn't stop there.   The article moves to the issue of registration rolls...

Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over voter registration rolls. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal advocacy group, recently showed that properly registered voters in Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky were being removed from voter databases through electronic purges.

"Voter suppression doesn't happen with intimidation on Election Day, but rather through silent and sometimes secret government actions in the weeks leading up to an election," said Michael Waldman, the center's executive director.

Blow it open, guys.  Blow it open.  Greg Palast ain't alone out there anymore.

Finally, a note on the politicization of voting structures:

Further clouding the election process is the fact that, in many states, the administration of elections remains in political hands -- run by secretaries of state or other officials who run for office with partisan affiliations and who often have designs on higher office.

Like Blackwell?  Har har.

Robert Pastor, director of a commission on election reform organized by American University and headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III, said this tradition should be abandoned.

"The Carter-Baker commission identified 87 steps that need to be undertaken," he said. "Regrettably, almost none of them are being done right now. I would start by establishing statewide, nonpartisan election administration."

No shit.


The tide is turning.  The American people are waking up.  Even the right-wingers can't dodge this issue anymore--and November elections are going to be UGLY.

Let's keep up the pressure on this issue, and support the traditional media--and yes, even the GOP propagandists--that have now finally been dragged kicking and screaming to actually deal with it.  Keep the focus.

As for what each of us can do, it's very simple: Encourage each and every one of your friends and family members to vote Absentee.  There's no guarantee their votes will be counted otherwise.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Only Genocide Will Quell the Terrorism in Iraq

By now we have seen that Republicans are more than willing to ignore ongoing genocides in the name of "fighting terrorism" elsewhere.

We have seen that they are willing to support indiscriminate and ineffective collective punishment of an entire country's population in order to stop "terrorism."

We have seen that they are willing to accept massive so-called collateral damage on civilian populations while invading harmless countries in the name of doing something about "terrorism."

But now they've taken it to a new level: respected commentators are now directly advocating genocide in the name of fighting terror.

Now, this isn't terribly new for the fear-addled wingnut masses like Ann Coulter: they've been urging indiscriminate bombing of Muslim countries for a while now.

But today it's military experts advocating genocide in Iraq "to stop the terror."

Case in point: Brian Dunn, respected military expert and author of the blog The Dignified Rant.  In a blog post written on Sept. 12th, he notes the ongoing debacle in Anbar province, which coalition forces have effectively already lost:

Recent reports that Anbar province is not being pacified by our troops out there are probably accurate. I've noted the problems we've had in subduing the region. The Post article says:

The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.

Anbar was largely ignored except for air strikes until the months leading up to the 2005 constitution referendum. We've been trying to move in with our forces over the last year to knock down the Sunni gunmen and allow Iraqi forces to set up and police the region. Thus far, we haven't had enough success in getting effective Iraqi forces out west.

You know, that's what happens when you invade a country without any understanding of its sectarian divisions, inflame tensions, disband the only army capable of stopping the violence, piss off every major power group in Iraq, torture its people, and let corrupt American companies siphon off all the reconstruction money without getting anything done.

And, apparently, terrorism coming out of Anbar province is at an all-time high.  What would it take to stop it, according to this military analyst?  Genocide:

But this does not mean the battle is lost. The enemy is resisting. They do that. That's why they aren't friends. And it is true that this is not a military problem but a political one.  Short of killing every third military age man out there we won't be able to subdue the enemy in Anbar.

Stay the course, apparently.  Sounds like a plan to me.  And then comes the advocation:

All we can do is hold the line and buy time while the Iraqi government builds the capability to move into Anbar in force to subdue the enemy. The Iraqis will have more street smarts in identifying bad guys without guns in their hands. And the Iraqis will be able to make deals with the local tribal leaders (as some tribes have done already). More ominously, if the Sunnis won't deal, the Iraqi government will be able to kill every third man of military age in the province if that is what it takes to end the terrorism.

Yes, that's it!  We need genocide--but we can let the Iraqis do it for us!  That's the ticket!  All we need to do is stay the course until the Iraqi troops can commit genocide for us!

But the key point here is this: "terrorism" has become such an evil in these people's minds that sheer, outright genocide has somehow become seen as a lesser evil by contrast.  In other words, genocide is now acceptable in the name of fighting "terror".  Personally, I can think of nothing more terrible or terrifying than genocide--but that's just me.

And moreover, this has become acceptable discourse not just for Ann Coulter and Little Green Footballs, but for respected military analysts whose papers are published in journals like the Institute of Land Warfare, Army magazine, Military Review, and Joint Force Quarterly.


This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Insistence on the false belief that terrorism can be quelled predominantly through the use of force on foreign lands, that there are a finite number of terrorists who can be killed, and that terrorism is somehow a greater and more fearful enemy that Hitler, Hirohito and Jefferson Davis all combined, has greater repercussions than what we have simply seen out of this malAdministration to date.  This sort of thinking has truly horrific consequences.

When people are driven to abject fear and hatred of something or someone that they do not begin to understand, the results are absolutely horrifying beyond even what Bush has wrought.  This was the basis of the Salem Witch Trials; of the Nazi holocaust; of the Turkish holocaust of Armenians; and every genocide and hate crime, major and minor, worldwide and throughout history.  This served--and continues to serve--as the basis for Islamism and the 9/11 horror itself.  Bin Laden and Bush have simply made themselves two sides of the same coin.

Our government does not understand the roots of terrorism.  Our people--even the respectable analysts--have become more afraid of "terrorists" than they are of genocide.  One and only one conclusion can follow from this line of thinking: indiscriminate genocide of people thought to harbor "terrorists."

This government and its ideology of fear, terror, and "ends justify the means"--even if the means are genocide-- must be stopped at all costs; failure to stop it will have consequence that I dread to imagine.

Get to work.  Pound the pavement, the phones and your wallets to get these people out of government.  To get American troops out of Iraq.

Please.  Before the it gets so bad that the we have to see just how far these people are capable of going.  Because that is that stuff of nightmares; the place where Godwin's Law meets harsh reality, and the unthinkable becomes possible.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Know You Are But What Am I?

Republicans love to use the "tough guy" image and paint Democrats as "weak" on terror.  In fact, that's just about all they have left in their political arsenal: increasingly hysterical screaming about Democrats' supposed inability to "take the fight to the terrorists."

It's time to hit back.  On their ground.  And break the traditional rules of politics to do it by using a slightly more complicated version of one simple meme that has worked wonders since the early days of kindergarten: "I know you are, but what am I?"

It's one of the cardinal rules of politics: Don't Use the Other Guy's Frames; Use Your Own.  The idea behind this, of course, is that you get backed into a corner by bad language and framing; once you start talking about things in your opponents' discourse, your opponent owns the terms of debate and makes you look bad.

So at face value, it would seem foolish for Democrats who have been branded as "Weak" in the "War on Terror" to actually address that meme head on.

Unfortunately, the American public has already internalized that meme and that frame.  Polls continue to show Republicans at least 10 points ahead of Democrats when it comes to handling terrorism--even as Democrats surpass Republicans on all other issues, including Iraq.

Once the public has internalized a meme, it's very hard to get them to change it by just using something else: that's why the GOP had such a hard time trying to change the "Nuclear Option" to be the "Constitutional Option."  It just doesn't work.

That's why, when Democrats are attacked for being "weak on terror", they need to hit right back and address it by turning the meme onto their opponents.  The proper response should be, "We're weak??  Compared to these Republicans, I don't even know what "weak" would look like!"  Or in other words, "How could it possibly get any worse?"

Because after all, the GOP is incredibly vulnerable on this issue, and all they have is bluffing and hot air on their side--and the fact that no Democrat has seriously challenged them on this issue.


And it's time to come out STRONG.  Challenge the most ancient and basic assumptions of this administration, its allies, and the moderates who are scared into voting for them.

It would look something like this: "My opponent likes to say he and his Republican friends are tough on terror.  That Dems are weak.  But if they're tough, I don't even know what weakness would look like."

They like to say, "Thank God Bush was President on 9/11."  If Al Gore were president, there probably wouldn't have been a 9/11.  These guys paid no attention to the threat posed by Al Qaeda; on September 11th, they were going to give a big speech about cold-war defense systems.  Not Democrats!

They like to say, "We're taking the fight to the terrorists."  If they're taking the fight to the terrorists, I have no idea what backing off would even look like.  Bush had Bin Laden trapped in Tora Bora--how many American troops did he send in?  No more than 50 or 60!  I'll tell you this: Wesley Clark and John Kerry are veterans, unlike Bush and Cheney.  They know war.  They'd have sent in an entire armed division.

They like to say, "We'll catch Osama bin Laden no matter how long it takes."  Democrats would have caught or killed him already.

They like to say, "America is Safer."  If this is what they call safer, I would hate to see what vulnerable would even look like.  Democrats like Howard Dean and John Edwards would have secured our ports, our airports, our trains, our water systems, and our nuclear facilities instead of wasting a trillion dollars on a useless war in Iraq.

They like to say, "We Support Our Troops."  If this is support, I'd hate to see what turning our backs would look like.  Republicans have cut veterans' health and pay benefits, have instituted a back-door draft, and have refused to supply our troops with adequate body armor.  I can guarantee you that Democrats would see to it that our troops got the pay, the medical care and the body armor they need.

Republicans like to say, "We're Winning the War on Terror."  But if this is winning, I'd hate to see what losing looks like.  To this day, Osama Bin Laden remains free.  Zawahiri runs free. Terror attacks are up by a factor of 10 worldwide.  The Taliban has retaken major parts of Afghanistan, and Iraq is an utter disaster.  The terror group Hamas is in charge in Palestine, and the terror group Hezbollah has taken all of southern Lebanon.  Western Pakistan is a terrorist haven.  Presidents Gore or Kerry and a Democratic Congress would have done far better.  Heck, Mr. Magoo could have done better!


Seriously--the American people have been lulled into thinking that issues of security are intractable problems.  That this is about the best that can be done.  That Republicans are taking care of them as best as they can.

That's because they haevn't looked at it from another perspective: how could it possibly get any worse? If this is strength, what would weakness even look like.

Time to break the traditional rules of framing and make them see it that way, don't you agree?

Time to hit back, and take their last refuge away from them.  It's time to leave them exposed for the naked emperors they are.

After all, a change in Democratic strategy on this issue is really in order; I mean, if current Democratic rhetoric on terrorism has been effective against Republicans, I'd hate to see what ineffective would look like.  Right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bush is a More Colossal Failure than you Know

I have to tell you: I do get discouraged.  I look at the horrible, monumental crimes and fuck-ups of this so-called Administration--from Iraq to Katrina to Abramoff to torture to everything else--and I cringe in horror at how we are fighting and scraping for every inch of our lives just to try to pick up a measly 20 House seats and 6 Senate seats.  This shouldn't be so hard, I say to myself.

Indeed, sometimes I become apoplectic with an almost violent rage.  We should be picking up 50, 60 House Seats and 15 Senate seats, I tell myself.  After all, historians have already concluded that this is the worst administration in history--and we still have years left to go.

But then, history itself cheers me up again.  And on this day--five years and a day after the attacks of 9/11--it is to history that I would like you to turn for inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose.

It is not just that, all told, Bush is the worst president in the history of the United States.  That much is clear enough--even to some on the right wing.  No--Bush is, in historical terms, a failure of a truly epic and colossal magnitude.  Bush is sui generis--a creature all his own.  There never has been, and never will be in American history, anything like him again.

Now, an astute person might respond, "But Spoon--that should make our major struggles for comparatively minor gains even MORE infuriating and depressing, no?"

From one perspective, it might--if it's the Administration failures you concentrate on.

But what I want to focus your attention on today is this Administration's ADVANTAGES.  Yes, its advantages.  For it is in the inherent advantages that Bush was given--and squandered--that the truly extraordinary story lies, and the source of my renewed focus and inspiration.


Great men are made, not born.

Attribution unknown

This statement is truer that most people know.  Without the Civil War, would Abraham Lincoln be on Mount Rushmore?  Without WWII and the Great Depression, would FDR have won a third term?  Would we know the name Martin Luther King, Jr., had he been born a slave 150 years earlier?

The truth is that sometimes history creates opportunities for men and women to achieve a greatness that they could never have achieved themselves.  Sometimes they achieve it in the face of monumental odds; sometimes the odds are not so difficult.

Bush has squandered an extraordinary opportunity to achieve an almost unparalleled greatness--with virtually every advantage a person could have, and little to no opposition.

Let's look at some presidential comparisons, shall we?  Abraham Lincoln (a success) was given the Civil War; FDR (a success) was given the Great Depression and WWII; Nixon (a mixed bag, but largely a failure) was given Vietnam and a nation in the midst of social revolution.  Let's see what advantages and disadvantages they had.

The Press:

Abraham Lincoln: Inherited a divided country, and a viciously brutal press both in the South and the North.

FDR: Had to contend with William Randolph Hearst as the primary journalist of his day--and no friend of FDR, by a long shot.

Nixon: Had to contend with Walter Cronkite and the intrepid reporters of the Washington Post.

Bush: The leading opinion and newsman of Bush's day was Bill O'Reilly, Bush's own propagandist.

The political opposition:

Lincoln: Lincoln had a hostile Northern Congress, in large part; and the Southern Delegates seceded from the Union, so badly did they despise Lincoln.

FDR: FDR's grand plans won him the enmity of much of Congress, who didn't like him upsetting the status quo.

Nixon: Had to deal with a truly hostile Democratic congress.

Bush: Republican House, Republican Senate.  Pathetic Opposition (Joe Lieberman, anyone?)

The Electoral Opposition:

Lincoln: Divided between the Hawks and the Copperheads, Lincoln easily trounced his divided opposition.

FDR: Easily trounced his presidential opponent in every election.

Nixon: Won in a landslide over George McGovern.

Bush: Went up against the DLC and John Freaking Kerry--and only won 51% of the vote--if that.

The Wartime Enemy:

Lincoln: Had to face the entire South, with Robert E. Lee at its head.  The North won.

FDR: Hirohito and Hitler.  Need I say more?  Destroyed both.

Nixon: The Vietcong, with the full backing of the Soviet Union, in the context of the possible nuclear annihilation of the Cold War.  Lost--but "winning" was really never an option.

Bush: a ragtag band of terrorists, with a 6'5" man on a dialysis machine, hiding in caves, for their leader.  In Iraq, a crazed but impotent despot with no weapons and an army that rolled over in less than a week.  Bin Laden remains at large, and Iraq is a disaster.

Domestic situation and economy:

Lincoln: The economy was shattered--and there was a freaking Civil War!

FDR: The Great Depression.  'Nuff said.

Nixon: Good economy, but a nation in the midst of extraordinary social upheaval.

Bush: Inherited from Clinton record surplusses, and one of the greatest economies in American history.


So let's put this into perspective, shall we?

Before 9/11, Bush was a mediocre and almost laughable president.  Stem Cells were the biggest issue of the day.

When 9/11 happened, the nation cried out desperately for a leader.  Almost all of us put ourselves in Bush's hands and tabled our partisanship, and were willing to do almost anything that Bush asked.  Bush was given an extraordinary opportunity at greatness.

What's more, he had EVERY ADVANTAGE IN THE WORLD: A favorable and kowtowing press.  Pathetic or nonexistent political opposition.  A pathetically easy enemy to fight.  And a great economy.

And he blew it all.  


And he STILL holds most of those same advantages.

What is truly incredible is not that we aren't making bigger gains; it that only FIVE YEARS AFTER ONE OF THE GREATEST SHOCKS IN AMERICAN HISTORY, and with every possible advantage handed to him on a silver platter, this president has a 35% approval rating, and 36% of the country wants to impeach him.

And he hasn't even been blamed for letting it happen or failing to prevent it, he's been treated with such kid gloves.

Historically speaking, given his opportunities for greatness and the advantages he was given, Bush is a failure of truly cataclysmic porportions that will become obvious with the advantage of historical distance.


So do not despair, folks.  Take heart.

It may be frustrating at times to watch the public apathy in the face of monumental failure, but you must remember that we are up against extraordinary odds: a president given EVERY shot at greatness, with a public that WANTS him to be great--and virtually no opposition to speak of until recently.

And he's STILL going to lose the House, and maybe the Senate--and impeachment may just be around the corner.

That's because he has created a governmental failure of such epic proportions that, when we look back on it 20 or 30 years from now, will practically need its own monument.

So get to work with renewed hope.  Let's start chiseling that monument now, and send these criminals packing.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

THIS is what they're reduced to?

Those of you who have followed my posts over the last year know that I'm an avowed pessimist about Democrats' electoral chances in 2006 and 2008 because our elected officials refuse to stand for what we believe in and get smart about how we talk about issues.  I'm the guy who writes diaries like 2006 will be a major disappointment.  So will 2008 and Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Dems Don't.

But I've got to tell you: even my unbridled pessimism has its limits when I see the sorts of drivel the GOP and its shills have been reduced to lately.

At this point, they're literally groveling and begging for support they know they don't deserve.

In a hilarious column today, Jonah Goldberg says that we should just Give Bush a Break:

Lord knows I have my problems with President Bush. He taps the federal coffers like a monkey smacking the bar for another cocaine pellet in an addiction study. Some of his sentences give me the same sensation as falling backward in one of those "trust" exercises, in which you just have to hope things work out. Yes, the Iraq invasion has gone badly, and to deny this is to suggest that Bush meant for things to turn out this way, which is even crueler than saying he failed to get it right.

In other words, Jonah knows that Bush's head is squarely up his rectum.  All Jonah has here is 1) that Bush isn't Republican enough; 2) that one just has to have "faith" in Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss; and 3) that we're all a bunch of meanies for suggesting that Bush is malicious, rather than merely incompetent.

But do keep in mind that this is the start of his pro-Bush column.

But you know what? It's time to cut the guy some slack.

If this were The Onion, I would be laughing out loud.  Unfortunately, it's not.

Of course, I will get hippo-choking amounts of e-mail from Bush-haters telling me that all I ever do is cut Bush slack. But these folks grade on the curve. By their standards, anything short of demanding that a half-starved badger be sewn into his belly flunks.

Jonah, that would be too nice for Cheney.  I think a hamster would be more apt for Bush.

Jonah then spews some tripe about Bush-bashers and the Plame/Armitage affair--nicely debunked by emptywheel--before continuing:

And then there's Hurricane Katrina. Yes, the federal government could have responded better. And of course there were real tragedies involved in that disaster. But you know what? Bad stuff happens during disasters, which is why we don't call them tickle-parties.

"Hey, c'mon!  Katrina wasn't exactly a tickle-party!  This is hard work!"

Again, this does NOT come from The Onion.  The man actually said this.  What is it about Republicans that they INSIST on minimizing tragedies and dissasters--unless they can be exploited for cynical political gain?  What kind of American do they think is going to buy this bullshit?

The anti-Bush chorus, including enormous segments of the mainstream media, sees Katrina as nothing more than a good stick for beating on Piñata Bush's "competence." The hypocrisy is astounding because the media did such an abysmal job covering the reality of New Orleans (contrary to reports, there were no bands of rapists, no disproportionate deaths of poor blacks, nothing close to 10,000 dead, etc.).

Step one: invent racist and malicious stories about black people to minimize the horror of the government response.

Step two: feed these stories to media.

Step three: blame the media for telling racist stories that you promoted.

Step four: Use this to say the media overblew BUSH's incompetence.

What the Fuck?  Again, is there ANY American who is really going to buy the bridge he is selling?

The Mississippi coast was hit harder by Katrina than New Orleans was. And although New Orleans' levee failure was a unique problem - one the local leadership ignored for decades - the devastation in Mississippi was in many respects more severe. And you know what? Mississippi has the same federal government as Louisiana, and reconstruction there is going gangbusters while, after more than $120 billion in federal spending, New Orleans remains a basket case. Here's a wacky idea: Maybe it's not all Bush's fault.

Actually, Jonah, try this for a wacky idea: New Orleans is a major city whose residents won't vote for a Republican again in their natural lives.  The Mississippi coast is far smaller and generally more rural and Republican area that includes Trent Lott's porch.  It couldn't have anything to due with incompetence and political cronyism, could it?

But you knew that already.  So does most of America, dimwit.

I mean, this is what they're reduced to?

Then, of course, there's the war on terror. Democrats love to note that Bush hasn't caught Osama bin Laden yet, as if this is the most vital metric for success....But even nicer than catching bin Laden is not having thousands of dead Americans in New York, Washington and L.A. Contrary to all expert predictions...

Reporter: Sargeant, have you caught the serial killer yet?

Sargeant: No.  I'm not that concerned about him.

Reporter: WTF?!

Sargeant: As if that's the measure of success!  Have any more people been killed???


Go read the whole thing.  It's amazing.

If this is what they've been reduced to, victory is ours.

Seriously.  And take that from an avowed pessimist.