Friday, August 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Dean Jr. !!!

World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they're Naploeon. Or God.

This got a little bit of play, but if you hadn't seen it the administration is now saying with regards to the makeup of the Iraqi government that they are considering alternatives other than democracy.

As the Dean of Farber College I have some connections with a few former students who are now part of the Bush administration. I made a few calls and was able to find one alumni who is deeply involved in the planning of possible alternative governments in Iraq. Here's what they have so far, but my informant asked me to add the caveat that these are just in the planning stages and "nothing's been firmed up by the Big Decider."

Stoogeocracy - Composed of three branches of government like our own (Moe, Larry, Curly) however legal disputes are resolved through tort but rather through the use of pipes, hammers, slaps and pokes to the eye.

Cthuluocracy - Appealing because it wouldn't take much work to institute. Consider this line from Lovecraft regarding the return of Cthulu: "...mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."

Doesn't that sound like present day Iraq?

New Federation - Proposed by some of the nerdier members of the White House. It would be a government based on the articles of the Federation. It has the added appeal of being a form of government where the Chief Executive when confronted with a law limiting his power, say the Prime Directive, he can simply ignore it and do what he wants. There are a group of counter-geeks that argue the Iraqi government should just forget all that and adapt the Ferengi "Rules of Aquisition."

Heriditary Oligarchy - Based on the U.S. model.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Oh, excuse me, call me Sam. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?

Has Tony Snow been on the job long enough to characterize him as the worst of Bush's Press Secretaries?

I think so.

(Why am I talking like Donald Rumsfeld?)

Snow is turning out to be everything critics said the former Fox analyst would be: a propogandist rather than a simple dissembler. (There isn't a very high bar to measure those in the position.) Where other White House Press Secretaries have turned the non-answer into an art and left it at that, Snow goes out of his way to spin the conservative alternative reality.

Last week he went on that long rant about how Ned Lamont's primary victory and Democrats in general aid our terrorist enemies. This week he's spent a bunch of time arguing that George W. Bush has really read Camus' existentialist work The Stranger because the two had a "short discussion about it." I can just imagine--

Bush and Snow walk towards the Marine helicopter taking them to Camp David. Bush has a copy of The Stranger tucked under his arm.

Snow: "You reading that book Mr. President."

Bush: "I guess."

Then per the Froomkin article cited below we have this quote-

Yes, absolutely. And, Helen, that's an important point. We do not [deal] in 'Amen' choruses. What you do is you invite smart people in who have different points of view."

Because when one thinks back through the history of this country reviewing open administrations the Bush presidency jumps to the top of the list.

Tony, I say this as someone who loathes you and your boss so take it for what it's worth; your job is to keep the President from looking bad not make the President look better then he actually is. When faced with a man who fell off of Sedgway, poses like an idiot on a Harley and almost chokes to death on a pretzel I know that can be a tall order. But that's your problem not mine.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You're on a first name basis with lucidity, little friend. I have to call it "mister" lucidity... and that's no good in a pinch.

Froomkin on the continuing Bush bubble.

The White House made a big to-do about President Bush's meeting Monday with four outside experts on Iraq. Spokesman Tony Snow held the meeting up as proof that the president is interested in -- and consistently exposed to -- different points of view, and even dissent.

But the only thing that meeting demonstrated is that true dissent is still not welcome at the White House, unless you define dissenters as anyone who doesn't agree with the president on absolutely everything.

I'm sure even that small dissent isn't recieved well.

"That perfessor guy didn't like the chili. I don't want him back at the White House and I want his family offed."

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Isn't it annoying when conservatives purloin words and phrases used almost exclusively by progressives? What really irritates is the shameless post-modern relativism combined with the conservative penchant for lacking the self-awareness necessary to understand irony on display.

Case in point: In Case You Missed It: Cognitive Dissonance. A Washington Times article posted on which accuses Democrats of displaying cognitive dissonance by celebrating the Lamont victory while shrugging off the London bombing plot.

This is sort of like a crazy person accusing you of "Fatally misunderstanding how the world works because you don't speak 'dog.'" There can be no cognitive dissonance if the two points of information do not, in fact, connect to begin with.

I would appreciate greatly if conservatives would avoid the use of the term "cognitive dissonance" until they could recognize it's actual meaning. While their at it they might as well also drop the use of the words Wingnut, Kool-Aid Drinker and Moderate until they spend a couple of hours perusing Wikipedia as to their definitions.

Just a suggestion...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

She is alive, or was an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her I shall be very put out.

Ah, Senate Democrats. Always the last to get it and even then they come across as namby-pamby with their threats.

“I think there’s a lot of concern,” said a senior Democratic aide who has discussed the subject with colleagues. “I think the first step is if the Lieberman thing turns into a side show and hurts our message and ability to take back the Senate, and the White House and the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] manipulate him, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in our caucus.”...

I'm tryin' to drive you to the store!

Why didn't the Weekly Standard just make Sharpton a lawn jockey?

On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!

This breaks my damn heart.

These guys have been in Iraq a year and were scheduled to rotate out until they got last minute word they'd be staying.

I am a mother in law of a soldier with the 172nd. I was and am so saddened by the extension. There isn’t one hour during the that I don’t think about him. My daughter and my grandson are in Fort Wainwright and were anxiously awaiting his return. They had made a sign telling him they love him and welcome home. Everyone was so excited about their homecomiong.

Now that was put on hold. I think the only reason they were extended is because it was cost effective and convenient for them to send them there. They have been put in danger 365 days already. I have just read that Iraq has had another division stand up and added to their army. Why don’t they send them to Bagdad???

I have thought of an idea to speak out. The wives of the soldiers to send hand prints of each of their children to Washington with messages of bringing their fathers and mothers ...

Bring 'em the hell home.

Can't go wrong drowning politicians, Henry.

This piece by Josh Marshall tracks pretty well with how I feel about the changes to politics that've taken place and why it forces moderate Democrats like himself to be partisans.

I live in Manhattan and have a certain perspective on the country. Folks in Oklahoma or evangelicals in South Carolina have a different one. And that's fine. It's their country too. What I think is that a certain political movement has taken over the country -- call it movement conservatism in it's late, degraded form -- and wants to govern it by all or nothing rules.

One of the things I've always cherished about America is that the country was founded on the principle of institutionalized disagreement. The founders recognized that only vibrant debate would bring consensus and built mechanisms into our representative government to govern the rules of that debate while guarding against excesses (balance of powers, veto, etc.) For the most part that system has worked well over the course of the history of this country (the big exception being the civil war.)

Like Josh I recognize that their are a whole heck of a lot of Americans who have different ideas and different perspectives about how things should be run. I'm not always going to get my way and that's okay. The genius of the system is that the protections on speech mean that I have the rest of my lifetime to try and convince those that disagree to come around to my way of things. If I can convince enough people then we can change the laws to reflect our point of view.

For this system to work a vast majority of Americans have to "agree to disagree" and do so within the system. Should there be a signifigant minority unwilling to face the results of government by consensus you could have a violent rebellion of those in the minority. A "war between the states."

But the system has another Achilles' Heel that's become apparent over the course of the last several years: apathy. As fewer and fewer people participate in the system then the old truism to politics that elections are decided by swing voters will die and only the most motivated, who tend to be most extreme in their views, will get to the polls and make determinations on our governance. A political party that recognized this and was unscrupulous enough to take advantage of it might be able to game the system. Once they'd reach that point and since they'd already decided the system of institutionalized disagreement wasn't working to their advantage they'd take steps to further breakdown those sytematic roadblocks to extremism in order to work to permanently consolidate their worldview.

Josh points to the Bush administration as the beginning of the death of the Democratic moderate. I would personally put it back a little bit further. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was the moment when it became clear to me that these people weren't just cute little conservatives that I would disagree with on a few issues and actually dangerous radicals who had no use for our system of governance.

Like Josh I'd like to get back to a point when governmental policy was actually determined by debate on the issues rather than today's political tribalism. It's clear that this will never happen while the radicals are in charge and I'm not so sure about afterwords either. But for our government to work as intended we have to have everybody; left, right and center engaged in the process and willing to play by the rules.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

I'm a little late for the party, but if you haven't seen "V for Vendetta" yet I'd recommend you pick it up as soon as your can get your grubby little fingers on it. I watched it this weekend and it simply blew me away. It's not a perfect film but it has many, many moments of perfection within it and it's subversive as hell for these times. I can't think of a recent film that came close to capturing the importance of "small d" democracy and the dangers of a government willing to fear to bring the people in line.

At one point V opines: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."