Saturday, April 29, 2006
Once again this demonstrates the irony-deficiency so prevalent in conservative minded Americans. You can't MOCK the fact you've been labeled a cowardly, bed-wetting chickenshit to afraid to fight a war you support whole-heartedly if your indeed ARE a cowardly, bed-wetting chickenshit to afraid to fight a war you support whole heartedly.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Paragon of all that is good and decent in the world, guardian of morality and voice of modern conservatism Rush Limbaugh is arrested on drug charges.
It just goes to prove you never can trust a Limbaugh...
"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English," the president said during a news conference in the Rose Garden, "and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," he said. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us." (CNS News)
Intended or not once you begin to talk about preserving "our national soul" you're going to sound like a segragationist railing against "race-traitors" for those in interracial marriages.
The beauty of the melting pot that is America is you may not be able to identify all the ingredients that when into the stew to begin with but the final product will be a wonderfully diverse. America is more Paella than hotdog. Sad that Bush doesn't see that.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Merle Haggard says we should rebuild America fist. Yeah, it's a country song and it's a little isolationist in tone but the video makes it pretty clear his heart's in the right place.
Don't miss the "God Bless Johnny Cash" bit at the end.
As a child my brother had a pet ferret named Barney. If you're not familiar with ferrets they're sort of like smelly kittens, only with more energy. Ferrets never, ever stop moving.
One Christmas the family watched Barney begin to climb his way up our Christmas tree. This was interesting because, well, ferrets can't climb trees. As he swung, repelled and scratched his way up we were morbidly fixated on Barney's trek to the top knowing it would only end in little ferret tears.
Sure enough when Barney reached the pinnacle of the tree he lost his grip, slipped and bounced down through the tree hitting practically every branch on the way down like some sort of hairy pachenko ball.
As he picked himself up he did was all self-respecting ferrets do in situations such as this: he got mad at the tree and the ground. He arched his back, hissed and let the tree know what for.
This is a characteristic of ferrets: if they run into something in the course of jumping around they get mad at it. On more than one occasion Barney would be hissing furiously at the wall for having the temerity to bump into him. In a ferret's world there are on actions, only reactions.I thought about this for some reason as I read today that the Senate Republicans suggest we should shitcan FEMA because of it's poor response to Katrina:
WASHINGTON - Hurricane KatrinaÂs latest fatality should be FEMA, the nationÂs disaster response agency, a Senate inquiry concluded in calling for a government overhaul to avoid future failures like those the devastating storm exposed.
Eighty-six recommendations by the bipartisan panel indicate the United States is still woefully unprepared for a storm of KatrinaÂs scope with the start of the hurricane season little more than a month away.
Funny, it seemed to do just fine under James Lee Witt and President Clinton. Of course that was a time when disastpreparednessess was taken seriously by our leadership. The Bush administration had begun gutting FEMA even before the September the 11th attacks. They just don't see Federal disasters as a Federal problem. Better that mayors deal with such things. They're closer to the ground and all.
As I look at how Federal disaster management has changed since 9/11 I just have to shake my head. Since the country had successfully faced catastrophic hurricanes before yet failed miserably with Katrina you have to ask yourself what had changed. Rolling FEMA into the DHS and removing the cabinet position was the biggest structural change. Bush's appointment of toadies uninterested in actually preparing for disasters and responding effectively was the other.
So the natural course of action in the face of Republican incompetence is to do away the agency.
Here's an idea: split FEMA back out of DHS, restore it's director to the Cabinet and instead abolish the useless Department of Homeland Security which has proven a boondoggle. It may have been an effective agency had it come into inception under a competent President but it's become nothing but a colossal mess under the boy-President's leadership.
The question at the back of everyone's mind during Katrina was "what if this was a terrorist nuclear attack?" Clearly the Federal government wasn't prepared for any disaster significantant scale. DHS may have been tasked with preparing for natural disasters only as an afterthought but a terrorist attack would fall directly under the department's charter. They, not FEMA, failed in that duty.
But most importantly we need to get rid of the ferrets in charge of all three branches of government. As cute as they are all that hissing at walls isn't going to accomplish anything and it certainly won't keep the wall from smacking them around again.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Gomez, last night - you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me. - Do it again!
Much of the discussion among progressives as of late has been centered around the possibility of overkill with investigations of the Bush Administration should the Democrats retake one or both houses of congress. The theme running through this conversation is Democrats are so frustrated at the constant lies and transgressions of this President that, once they have the institutional levers of oversight under their control, they risk the possibility of going completely apeshit to the degree they dilute the possibility of actual oversight. For this reason Democrats should limit the investigations to one or two big-ticket items. Digby comes with a list of three items to investigate.
I agree with Matt that the Democrats need to be smart about how they go about investigating the Bush administration and should concentrate on the key areas that best illustrate their massive failure. I also agree that war profiteering is an overlooked subject that focuses on the corrupt crony capitalism that has fueled this administration from day one. (Jane was on this a year ago.) It's long past time people started asking where in the hell all that money went.
I would suggest that the other two issues that are ripe for investigations, and which would capture the worst of the egregious actions of the Bush administration, are presidential abuse of power and the manipulation of intelligence and strategic errors of Iraq. Those are the areas in which it is important to demand accountability from the administration and demonstrate to the American people that mature, responsible leadership will not allow such behavior to go unpunished.
Putting aside the HUGE cart-before-the-horse element of this conversation I think there's another thing missing here: it's built on the assumption that the Democrats have effectively assumed opposition party status and are itching for a fight.
I don't doubt for a second that if the Democrats were to win Congress (an enormous, colossal, gargantuan "if") there would be investigations of the administration. The difference will be in that these investigations will be institutional rather than partisan. Democratic leaders will focus on issues in which the lines of the traditional balance of powers between the coequal branches of government have been redrawn these last few years. The hearings will focus on the loss of institutional power by congress itself. In short: they will once again miss the forest for the trees.
The administration through Alberto Gonzalez's Unitary Executive theory has asserted unchecked power on matters of policy ranging from torture of prisoners, secrecy, ability to interpret statute covering the Executive branch and even the ability to declare war above and beyond congressional authorizations for the use of force (themselves probably unconstitutional.) Efforts by congressional Democrats in a majority to reign in the administration on all of these issues would be pointless if it didn't address the philosophy behind their assertion of power in the first place. It's not enough to say "Congress matters!" The extraconstitutional philosophy that led to this radical and dangerous rogue presidency needs to be exposed and exercised from the body politic. Congressional Democrats just don't have it in themselves to do this.
We know this because even while in the minority for twelve years, even while dealing with an unprecedented level of corruption by majority Republicans, even while being neutered to the point of political impotence and treated like dogs, congressional Democrats continue to show deference to their collegues across the aisle.
Take Jay Rockefeller for example. As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee he has continued to let himself get pushed around by Chairman Roberts and done nothing about it. Yesterday it was reported that Roberts was going to kick the can of Phase Two of the Iraq war intelligence down the road until after the election and it appears Rockefeller is okay with that. His officed announced he wouldn't have objections to postponing the postponement of the postponement of the investigation that they had already postponed on numerous occasions. He then rolled over on his back and begged Roberts to scratch his belly.
The point being it's hard to imagine a situation where CHAIRMAN Rockefeller would act differently in defference to a request by then ranking minority leader Roberts request to postpone. Out of respect for the instititution, deference to his collegues, etc. Rockefeller would probably postpone the investigation rather than ignore the request. These guys don't have the fire in their belly no matter how much the grassroots has tried to beg and cajole them into realizing these are different times and you can't show deference to radical maniacs who clearly want to eliminate you and everything you stand for and the country in the process.
Meek and mealy-mouthed Democratic Senators and Congressmen aren't going to suddenly grow a spine once they take the majority. In the inverse Republican Senators and Congressman won't suddenly understand the importance of comity and consensus once they're back in the minority. All of us will be better off once we come to terms with that.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
1. Jackboots - If guns and badges play to the base then jackboots, lines of tens of thousands of soldiers goosestepping in precision and a return to the halicon days of spying on our friends and neighbors will make the President even MORE popular.
2. Make Thurston and Lovey Howell Happy - It's not necessary to fix the economy so that all Americans are doing well as long as you keep the millionaires that talk about the economy happy when they're on the Week on Wall Street then everything's peachy.
3. Magic Tricks - The problem with Scott McClellan as Press Secretary is that he was really dry and not all that entertaining. That's why it's important to hire Tony Snow who plays the saxaphone and has a sense of humor. He'll live by the credo to "Always keep 'em laughing."
"Yes, we may be building pyramids out of naked prisoners at Gitmo but watch me juggle these three oranges."
4. B&B (Brag & Bloviate) - Sure there's not a lot to brag about but make something up anyway and brag about that. "Under the Bush Presidency the average score of a round of golf on courses in the continental United States have dropped by four strokes. We have President Bush's firm and decisive leadership to thank for this."
5. Operation Flying Codpiece II - Blowing stuff up always plays in Peoria and their are plenty of Middle East countries left to bomb. The last war's "Mission Accomplished" moment didn't seem to last long so this time, when it comes to protecting (and projecting) the Presidential Package this time we don't fool around - - -
Monday, April 24, 2006
As someone who commutes quite a ways to work the subject of gas prices has been something very much on my mind. This weekend I paid about $6.00 more than the week before to fill up my tank. I think that's outrageous. I can't see how the consumer's pain at the pump won't translate into Republican's pain at the ballot box come November. But then I'm not a paid internet columnist like MSNBC's Elizabeth Wilner.
Having never been exposed to MSNBC's First Read I can't really speak to any bias on her part other than what I read in her piece on the politics of gas prices, but that seems to be more than enough to see that she has an axe to grind.
The gas war has begun
President Bush and members of Congress are still making their way back to Washington, but the war over who's to blame for skyrocketing gas prices is already simmering and is expected to reach full-boil status by tomorrow. There's little Bush can do about current high gas prices -- and if Democrats were running part of the government, they would find their hands similarly tied. But they're doing what they can to encourage voters to blame the majority party, and they are increasingly focusing their attacks on Bush's energy policy, the drafting of which, they remind everyone, energy companies were invited to participate in. Republican lawmakers are doing their best to deflect those efforts by taking up the cause of alleged price-gouging themselves and, now, by firing back at Democrats directly.
There is little Bush can do? Come again?
Why not tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and alleviate some of the pressure on supply?
Better yet- why doesn't Bush just get oil company executives on the phone and lay down the law threatening them with a justice department review of their business practices up to, and including, price gouging?
Why not open major diplomatic front on Iran instead of strutting and crowing to alleviate fears in the energy markets?
The questions are obviously rhetorical but the point is Bush's hands are hardly tied when it comes to gas prices.
Wilner then conveniently leaves out the accusations from actual Democrats in her piece about accusations from Democrats but does do a whole paragraph on the Republican response:
The Republican Senate campaign committee issued a detailed release accusing Democrats of trying to change the subject away from a strong US economy by focusing on gas prices. "These are the same Democrats who accomplished nothing in terms of an energy policy during eight years with President Clinton at the helm... These are also the same Democrats who obstructed a bi-partisan comprehensive energy bill for four years in Congress," the release snipes. A Senate GOP aide advises, "We expect Democrats to blame us as all summer... We expect there to be hearings, Democratic calls for 'windfall' taxes on oil company profits, tapping the strategic petroleum reserve, claims of price gouging by the oil companies, VP Cheney’s ties to the oil industry, and other nonsensical theories."
If the Democrats wanted to subscribe to sensical rather than nonsensical theories they'd join Republicans in blaming the oil crisis on the failure to dispossess Alaskan Caribou by drilling for oil that may or may not be there ten years from now.
The Republican Senators are employing an interesting strategy here: list out all the reasons they've failed in leadership on this issue then claim their opponents can't use those reasons because, well, they're Democrats and everybody knows how smelly and wrong THEY are.
I'm not sure this is the proper use of the word "spasm." Via Merriam-Webster online:
Main Entry: spasm
Etymology: Middle English spasme, from Middle French, from Latin spasmus, from Greek spasmos, from span to draw, pull
1 : an involuntary and abnormal muscular contraction
2 : a sudden violent and temporary effort or emotion
There's nothing temporary, abnormal or sudden about violence in Iraq. If the media weren't stricken with institutional ADD they might realize that fact.