Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sweep the leg.

Glenn Greenwald caught Bill Frist (aka the Amazing Karnak) threatening to break the rules if he doesn't get his way with the Senate Intelligence Committee. On Friday Karnack informed Harry Reid that any attempt to investigate the NSA spying scandal will force him to reorganize the 30 year old committee shifting the balance of power towards Republicans and away from any possiblity of hearings. Please read all of Greenwald's piece. It's another one of those "I thought I'd reached the limit of my outrage but then this came along" things.

Greenwald quotes part of Karnack's letter to Reid:

I am increasingly concerned that the Senate Intelligence Committee is unable to carry out its critically important oversight and threat assessment responsibilities due to stifling partisanship that is exhibited by repeated calls by Democrats on the Committee to conduct politically-motivated investigations. . . .

I'm intrigued by the politics of this, however, and what I think it signifies. From a purely strategic standpoint it seems to me that the hearings were not much of an immediate threat to the Republican party. Such hearings by their very nature would most certainly be held almost entirely in closed session and remain classified. Likewise any findings of the committee would take years to see the light of day. I think the possibility that we'd see a report on findings before the looming mid-term election, much less the next presidential election, to be pretty darn small.

So why is Karnack feeling so threatened? Are his amazing powers of prognostication making his Spidey Sense tingle? Does he see what the results of the hearings could mean to Republicans five years down the line? Is Terri Schiavo alive and pole-dancing at a strip club called "Big Daddys?"

Not bloody likely.

The adminstration is scared. They aren't scared of the results of the hearings since, as I've already mentioned, they do little to affect their own political fortunes. They are scared of the hearings themselves. They're scared that the mere fact that the hearings were taking place by itself would highlight that the adminstration had done something untoward.

That's why they've pushed Karnack into a position where he has to cheat on their behalf. Just picture the heated conversation on the sideline:

ROVE: "Sweep the leg."

Karnack looks incredulous.

ROVE: "You have a problem with that?"

KARNACK: "No, Sensei."

All that's left if for Harry Reid to employ the Crane Technique that is closing Senate business until the committee, as it's currently comprised, votes on hearings. Judging by the Democrats complete lack of cajones this election year I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's a wise man who knows not to push the limits of the law.

There's a certain karmic symmetry to a week that began with news of the death of Barney Fife ending with the news that Bill O'Reilly is now playing Barney Fife.

The king is dead. Long live the king!

Bo Shuda!

Cousin Rush gets his pasty, white rear chewed off. An oldie but a goodie. (video)


I'm not sure how many people were aware of Mark and Brian's Two Strangers and a Wedding saga this last few weeks but I'm wondering if anybody else found it as oddly compelling as me.

The premise was typical radio gimmick stuff. They screened and interviewed applicants to be a bride and groom at a wedding in which they were to meet for the first time at the altar. I know, I know, it just makes you want to throw up a little in your mouth just thinking about it.

What has me scratching my head is that I found all of their finalists incredibly annoying, ESPECIALLY the ultimate bride and groom, yet I still couldn't keep myself from listening to the wedding on the way to work this morning. In fact I got all verklempt as they exchanged vows.

Perhaps I'm just going Brokeback. Come to think of it I did watch "Pride and Prejudice" last night. Hmmmm....

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ahh, but the strawberries that's... that's where I had them.

Yesterday Steve Gilliard presented a convincing case that President Bush will not finish out his term. Steve builds his argument around the spectacle of our looming loss in Iraq and how it will hurt Republican political fortunes, forcing Republican politicians to extricate themselves from ties to the administration and it's record.

Interestingly Gilliard doesn't argue that Bush will be impeached but that his own personality flaws will drive him from office:

But I also think that Bush is not mentally healthy. You can take the Capital Hill Blue stories with a grain of salt, but that Vargas interview was downright creepy, not only verbally, but physically. Like he was trying to convince her his world was the real one. And she wasn't buying it.

Bush literally erupts when questioned. The DW Ports deal is just one example. No sane pol would threaten a veto when he is going to lose, over an issue which he cannot convince anyone he is right. If Tony Blair had given the Tories this kind of gift, he'd be drinking beer and watching Newcastle from the stands.

You cannot stab your own party in the back and survive, and Bush is deaf to the cries of his own party.

I agree with much of what he's saying and would like to hope he's right, but I just can't. I think he's forgotten something pretty big in his analysis.

We have most certainly lost Iraq. Considering who planned and executed the invasion and occupation we have lost Iraq the moment our M1As rolled accross the Kuwaiti border. Wishes don't bring horses or democracies. Neither does bullshit.

But where Gilliard's argument collapses is when he assumes the responsibility for the loss in Iraq will fall on Bush, his administration and the Republican congress. It may used to have been that a President who pushed for a war with the full support of his party and over the legitimate objections of critics would own the consequences of that war. That's just not the way things work anymore.

We all know that in the darkest dungeons of the Rovian war room, Wingnut Drow work feverishly to put together a convincing argument that the planning, execution and post-invasion occupation of Iraq were solely the responsibility of Howard Dean.

Because it's always important to remember that the thing that delineates post-9/11 thinking from pre-9/11 thinking is that in the post-9/11 world objective reality no longer matters.

The Mad Hatter may have been as crazy as a moonbat but he still ran the tea party.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Please sir, I want some more.

Blazers go begging

Poor, poor Paul Allen. His Portland Trail Blazers could lose $100 million in the next three years. His $21 billion fortune could be gone by 2636!

So of course Microsoft's No. 2 geek has his minions making noise about what they call the worst lease in the NBA, so much noise that Commissioner David Stern rushed to Portland this week. But not to talk with Allen about his habit of signing the likes of Zach Randolph and Darius Miles to grotesquely oversized contracts; no, he's meeting with civic leaders to see if they might have any spare change for Allen's hobby.

``Paul has been committed to the team for a long time, but we really need help here,'' spokesman Steve Crosby said. ``And Commissioner Stern laid it out nicely. We're looking at all options.''

How about, for a buck apiece, fans take the paddle and whack Allen as he says, ``Thank you, sir, may I have another!'' That should raise at least $4 million.

I'd pay more than a buck to take a whack at Allen. Probably the last straw for me is when they refused to put Clyde Drexler into the front office after he retired and were stingy about retiring his number.

Word is Allen wants to buy the Sonics. Good riddance to him and his pathetic management of a once great Portland institution.

I'm the ghost with the most, babe.

I know you'll share my relief at the renewal of the Patriot Act. It's comforting to know that we Americans will continue our 200+ year experiment in pursuit of pseudo-liberty and quasi-freedom. Nothing drives those islamafascists crazier than the thought we in the United States so loudly proclaim the fact that we are free-ish. My wife can now go to the library and, with the oversight of the Intelligence and Law Enforcement Branches of the Federal Government, check out a book. All without having to wear a burka. Take that, Osama!

I do have a few small quibbles with the law, however. Take this quote:

"The issue is not concluded," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa. He said he plans more legislation and hearings on restoring House-rejected curbs on government power.

Now I don't know if Senator Specter is familiar with a little television show we humble citizens like to call "Schoolhouse Rock," but it he'd seen the episode called "I'm just a Bill" he realize his statement just doesn't hold up. I'm pretty sure that once the President takes up his pen (or in the case of the current White House occupant, a crayon) and signs a bill it becomes what we like to casually refer to as "a law." Mr. Patriot Act will be singing and tap dancing down the steps of the capitol building shortly.

Perhaps Senator Specter is referring to the possibility of introducing a nebulous future bill that could amend the Patriot Act towards restoring some of our civil liberties and freedoms or, if you like, towards making us less free-ish. Who is Specter trying to kid? It'd just "sit there on capitol hill." No, there would be no singing and dancing for Mr. Amend the Patriot Act. He'd just grow slowly old and wrinkled followed by a retirement to a Florida rest home, filling his days with bingo and shuffleboard and regailing his fellow retirees with stories of how "he could've been a contender." It would be an ignoble end for this bill.

But the best statement of support for the Patriot Act is reserved for Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky who drags out this oft-used warning:

"Civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead."

Bunning and others who echo his sentiment have an excellent point, but I wonder why they stop at liberties. Here's a short list of some other things I came up with that won't mean much when you are dead:

  • Watching your caloric intake. You are going to lose weight regardless of what you do.
  • Shaving or clipping your nails. They're going to keep growing. Just give it up.
  • The Winter Olympics. They're meaningless now and will be just as meaningless then.
  • The Oscars. Okay, you may still care about who hosts.

The list of what we won't care about after we're dead is practically endless. In fact our only annoyance will probably be the living. What ghost would want those that are still breathing and laughing and free-ishly skipping around in their vicinity?

Thankfully there's an answer. You just say his name three times and all your problems with the living will go away. Trust me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

...and monkeys might come flying out of my butt!

Andrew Sullivan brings a radical solution on Iraq to the table. In fact it's SO radical some may call him crazy.

I'd be one of those people.

So here's a thought: why not send Bill Clinton? For some reason that eludes my own judgment, Clinton has a great deal of cachet in the Middle East, and could defuse the anti-Bush and thereby anti-American obstacles to success. He was, by all accounts, superb at the Doha/Brookings/Saban summit in 2003. He would bring the Democratic party into a much more constructive role in trying to bring about a serious step forward for Iraq, and help unite the country at home.

Does Sullivan read his own stuff? I mean, seriously. George W. Bush would never ask Bill Clinton to help save his bacon in Iraq precisely because it would help the Democratic party and unite the country. Those have never been goals of this administration. Ever. This is the administration who saw the worst terrorist attacks in the history of this country as a great way to gain electoral advantage and played cynical politics with things like the formation of the DHS, originally a Democratic initiative. They have no interest in uniting the country and they certainly have no interest in doing anything that would help Democrats, even collaterally.

Need I remind Andy that the "anti-Bush obstacles to success" were obstactles of his own making? It wasn't some other administration that thumbed it's nose at the world and told the U.N. to take a hike. The U.S. is practically alone in trying to rebuild Iraq by choice. Bush created these obstacles, they didn't appear in a vaccum.

The sad reality is that Bush IS the obstacle to success.

Nothing will begin to change for the better in Iraq until in and around January, 2009. That's when the biggest obstacle for success will be removed.

Until that time neither Bill Clinton nor the cloned and re-animated body of Gandhi could bring some semblance of normality to Iraq. No amount of wishing will make it so.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cheesburger, Pepsi, Pepsi!

Having recently eaten at the Cafe du Iraq I thought I might share some of the standout items on the menu with my readers. (Okay, BOTH of you.)

Cheeseburger and Pepsi - The old standby. Two sesame-seed buns enveloping a meat patty and cheddar cheese in much the same way our troops are surrounded by a growing sectarian war.

Cold Turkey - Probably the best thing on a dodgy menu but virtually impossible to order.

Murtha Meatloaf - Made from hamburger, bread crumbs, onion and phased, strategic withdrawal and redeployment. A warning: if you order this you'll be mocked by the Chef as a "French Fry Eating Surrender Monkey."

Bill Kristol's MEGA Cheeseburger and Pepsi - Due to patron complaints that all they seemed to be able to order was the Cheeseburger/ Pepsi combo this was added to the menu. It's exactly the same as the regular Cheeseburger/ Pepsi, only BIGGER.

International Ghoulash - A great substitute for high-cholesterol American food. It's made from a variety of Middle-East dishes and a sprinkling of U.N. blueberries. The bad news is I'm fairly certain the Chef doesn't know how to make this.