Thursday, November 30, 2006


I think what I find most amusing about it is that the ignorant...

You know what? I overstated the case when I originally put this up. This isn't the stupidest post ever written, and it's ostensibly just predicting others' (as I originally put it) rat-brain-level hate, not the author's own. (There is, however, a subtext of sheer glee in the author's unfolding of his scenario.)

If you still care, here it is.

And, yes, it's instructive to learn that the right-wing dogs still drool and spread memes whenever the RNC Pavlovs ring the bell.
Er, why are the Young Conservatives of Texas getting their ideas from year-old Sadly, No! posts?

(Scroll down to Item 989-50-10 in the S,N! link.)


(YCT link via Memeorandum.)

I'm not the least bit surprised that President Bush today rejected the notion of significant troop drawdowns. But I don't think it's just because, as Atrios says, Bush thinks leaving is losing -- I think, on one battlefield, this war is going well.

I'm talking about Bush's mind.

As I've said in reference to Orson Scott Card's new fighting-the-left-wing-terrorists novel and Robert Ferrigno's recent battling-the-Muslim-overlords novel, many right-wingers crave the feeling of being under siege. They want the world to be in an evil conspiracy against people who think like them; they want to be at war with everyone in the world except the small group of people who agree with them.

Well, that's Bush right now. How exquisite -- not only is he (in his mind) the bulwark again global takeover by Musloterrorofascism, but now the sandal-wearing hippie Democrats have taken over Congress and (holy Oedipus!) his father's henchmen want him to reject firmness. It's him against the world! What could be more glorious?

Recall Bob Woodward's words:

"Late last year he had key Republicans up to the White House to talk about the war. And said, 'I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.' Barney is his dog."

That was a threat -- but it was also a fantasy. And now it's come true.

And if he keeps the troop levels essentially where they are until January 20, 2009, it's total victory on the American and European fronts! That's almost better than winning in Iraq! After all, Dad won in Iraq and didn't even get reelected!
From the joint Bush-Maliki press conference today in Amman:

PRESIDENT BUSH: ... Part of the plan in Baghdad was to prevent -- prevent killers from taking innocent life.

Q Including sectarian violence?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well that's -- killers taking innocent life is, in some cases, sectarian. I happen to view it as criminal, as well as sectarian. I think any time you murder somebody, you're a criminal. And I believe a just society and a society of -- that holds people to account and believes in rule of law protects innocent people from murderers, no matter what their political party is.


Good heavens, it almost sounds as if he's saying that terrorism is a law-enforcement matter.

I thought the only people who said anything like that were "Kumbaya"-singing hippie appeasers like John Kerry.


(Quote via TS.)
From AP today:

...The federal government today is unveiling 144 draft questions that it plans to try out on immigrant applicants next year in 10 cities....

The redesign is aimed at making sure applicants know the meaning behind some of America's fundamental institutions and historical events....

Immigrants now are asked "What are the three branches or parts of government?" The answer: executive, legislative and judicial.

But a draft test question asks: "Why do we have three branches of government?" Acceptable answers might be, "so that no branch is too powerful" or "to separate the power of government," Rhatigan said.

And we're sorry, Vice President Cheney, but "So the executive branch can have two other branches of government to crush underfoot like so many noxious worms!!!" would not be considered an acceptable answer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


From the latest column by George Will, as published at (boldface mine):

... Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

Wednesday's Washington Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them (sic) out of Iraq." When the president again asked, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy." ...

A lot of you already know where I'm going with this, but for those who don't, here's the Washington Post story Will is quoting (again, boldface mine):

..."How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House....

Will just edits Bush's rude, infantile, snappish rebuke right out of the record.

And after that he goes on to call Webb a "boor," while characterizing Bush as someone who "asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another."

There's more. Will harrumphs about Webb's recent Wall Street Journal op-ed -- not just the economic populism, but the prose style. Misused words! And class anger! Oh, it's all simply de trop. Webb is just not our kind, Muffy.

You want boorish, George? Well, in honor of Webb's Scots-Irish roots, let me just say: Pog mo thoin, George. Tha thu 'nad fhaighean. You're lan dhen cac, you tolla-thon.


(Apologies: That last link is unsuitable for work visually as well as verbally, assuming you get the sidebar ads I seem to be getting.)


UPDATE: I naively hoped that The Washington Post might not let Will get away with this utterly dishonest editing of the Bush-Webb exchange, but here's the WaPo version of Will's column, and the deceit is still there. What a disgrace.


UPDATE: If it's true that, "As President Bush is well aware, a couple of weeks before this dinner the tank riding next to [Webb's son] Jimmy's in Iraq was under fire and three marines died," then Bush's boorishness was even worse than usual.


UPDATE: Oh, and let's not forget:

(From the front matter of the paperback edition of Webb's Lost Soldiers, via Amazon Reader.)
Atrios, Brad at Sadly, No!, and (most enjoyably) Roy at Alicublog are among the bloggers who've been having fun talking about the new Instapundit-endorsed novel by Orson Scott Card, in which "heroic red-state protagonists ... draw on their Special Ops training to take down ... extremist leftists" who've seized control of New York City after a terrorist attack.

Atrios writes:

... I've found it to be a fairly consistent them among many gun nut libertarians (who I call "might makes right" libertarians) that they fantasize about the breakdown of civil order and the rise of Road Warrior style society. It's weird. Especially since most of them are such losers.

Why would that be? Why would such people -- and many other conservatives as well -- actually fantasize about societal beakdown?

I think you can find part of the answer in an exchange between two of my favorite commenters, in response to a post of mine about a right-wing preacher who fantasizes about an attack on Iran that will lead to Armageddon centered on Israel:

Aimai said:

well, I think about this the way I think about the gay marriage issue. Here in MA its not that the anti gay bigots are worried that gay marriage means the end of civilization--they are afraid that it *doesn't* mean that. They've had two years of gay marriage and the world hasn't spun out of its orbit and none of the hideous things they've been ranting about to each other have come to pass. That makes their whole world view look pretty useless. Similarly, I think, whatever fantasy these religious nuts are entertaininga bout the world as it is, or sex, or israel, or whatever the most important thing is that their obsession be proved to *matter* in the world. I occasionally watched pat robertson or one of the other goons, back in the day, and what I noticed most was the insistence on the facticity of biblical prophecy. He lectured, on his show, like a dime store college professor. I thought at the time that the certainity and the almost tedious focus on maps/details/dates/numbers and sins was meant to help anchor his followers against a tide of random history and against the meaninglessness of their own lives.

D. Sidhe replied:

... It's apparently the conservative mindset--are they going to feel somehow cheated if the democrats *don't* try to impeach Bush or surrender to the terrorists? They always seemed so pissed off that Hillary never held Pride Day parties in the Rose Garden, or that Clinton actually kept giving them so much of what they wanted. On some level, I really do have to wonder if they want to feel oppressed because it means they're right enough that people are trying To Shut Them Up.

You hear it a lot from the creationists, where they explain that the only reason anyone is trying to keep them out of the schools is that we don't want the kids to know they're right, and hey, you know, they persecuted Jesus too, we'll be vindicated just like he was.

It's like drama queens, taken to the absolute extreme....

Why cataclysm porn? There's your answer, or at least part of it: These people need to believe that they're the ones who are staving off cataclysm, or who will stave it off if it approaches, or who'll put an end to it if it arrives. And they desperately need to believe cataclysm can come, because, as aimai says, "the most important thing is that their obsession" -- with guns, with opposing "Islamofascism," with opposing immigration, with denouncing secularism, et cetera -- "be proved to *matter* in the world." And they crave the feeling of being hated.

Their lives would be meaningless otherwise.
Separated at birth?

Yeah, I know -- it's just too easy to compare Saddam-era visual propaganda with the Republican National Committee's official 2007 calendar. So, what the hell, I'll do it again:

Hey, I'm having fun. No Saddam this time -- let's shoot the works:

S.Z. at World-O-Crap brought the calendar to our attention and is running a caption contest for the March photo of Bush. Most entries are in the Bush-as-idiot mode. Understandable -- but I have to tell you, as a Free Republic/Lucianne lurker of long standing, I think these kitsch images still pack a wallop on the right. I have no doubt that right-wingers look at March and still see Manly Bush standing up to the forces who would drag him and thus America down. And August, as S.Z. notes, shows us Manly Rancher Cheney.

As a member of the party of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, I suppose I should be careful about criticizing the other side for having a personality cult. But I can't find any evidence that the Democratic Party itself, in the case of either Clinton or Obama, has fanned the flames of a personality cult in quite this way. I can't find any item made or sold by the party that allows one to moon dreamily over images of its leaders as sexy and/or steadfast; as far as I can tell, you can't even buy a calendar of any kind from the Democrats.

But that's the GOP -- it's the Party of Ideas, prominent among them the idea that "oooooh, W is so dreamy!"
I know I spend way too much time thinking about Giuliani, but this is weird: Philip Klein points out at The American Spectator's blog that Rudy has the highest ratings among religious-right voters of all the politicians measured in that new Quinnipiac "thermometer" poll.

Among self-described "white evangelical/born again Christians," Giuliani has a 66.3 rating, ... the highest in the survey. That puts him ahead of Condoleezza Rice (64.4), President Bush (58.1), John McCain (57.1) and Newt Gingrich (47.8). Mitt Romney's rating among evangelicals/born again Christians was 46.4....

I realize I just got through telling you that unswerving absolutism is a hallmark of religious-right thinking -- but maybe anger is what's important, and absolutism is just the usual (but not the only) means to that end, rather than the end itself. Anyone who lived in New York during Rudy's years as mayor knows that he divides the world into two groups: people who agree with him and mortal enemies. I think that's coming through in the appearances Rudy has made in recent years (it certainly came through in his '04 convention speech, which hit self-righteousness notes that rivaled Zell Miller's). Maybe, if you draw enough lines in the sand that make religious-conservative voters feel good, they don't care whether you cross some of their other lines in the sand.
Added to the blogroll: AlterNet PEEK.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crooks & Liars has video of Ed Rogers, a White House staffer in Poppy Bush's administration and subsequently a GOP lobbyist, trying to taint Barack Obama on MSNBC's Harball by stressing Obama's middle name, which happens to be Hussein:

Hardball's David Shuster: Barack Obama is going up to New Hampshire. He's somebody I imagine Republicans should be fearful of -- he's a great speaker…

Ed Rogers: Count me down as somebody who underestimates Barack Hussein Obama. Please....

Watch the video -- Rogers very carefully stresses the foreign-sounding nature of the name and hammers that "Hussein."

Which is odd, because Ed Rogers will certainly consort with people who have names like that when it suits him:

A group of businessmen linked by their close ties to President George Walker Bush, his family and his administration have set up a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.

The firm, New Bridge Strategies, is headed by Joe M. Allbaugh, Mr. Bush's campaign manager in 2000 and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March. Other directors include Edward M. Rogers Jr., vice chairman....

Shortly after leaving the White House, Mr. Rogers was publicly rebuked by the first President Bush after he signed a $600,000 contract to represent a Saudi, Sheik Kamal Adham, who was a main figure under scrutiny in a case that involved the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Mr. Rogers canceled his contract to represent the sheik, former head of Saudi intelligence....

Yet here's Rogers saying "Hussein" as if any name derived from the Muslim world is the vilest of curses.

No shame. These people have absolutely no shame.
Two disturbing religious stories have been developing this month. One involves right-wing outrage at Keith Ellison's statement that he will probably take his oath of office on a Koran when he is sworn in as the first Muslim elected to Congress. Anger among idiots on the right has been building for a while, but now it's found voice in a chillingly fascistic column by radio talk-show host Dennis Prager:

America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

... Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress....

I'll stop before we get to the part where Prager compares the Koran to Mein Kampf.

As Barbara at the Mahablog points out, there's no legal requirement that a Bible be used for an oath of office, the Constitution forbids any religious test for holding office, North Carolina law specifically calls for the use of the Koran if the officeholder is a Muslim, and two U.S. governors have forgone the use of the Christian Bible, one in favor of a Torah, the other using a set of Jewish prayer books.

The Republic still stands.

Elsewhere, there are widespread howls of protest at the decision by Rick Warren, the wildly popular preacher and author of the massive bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, to allow Barack Obama to appear in his pulpit to talk about combatting AIDS. Obama is verboten because he's pro-choice. (Warren also invited an anti-choice Republican senator, Sam Brownback, to join him on the same Sunday.) Outrage is coming from prominent right-wingers -- Phyllis Schlafly, for instance, and the American Family Association.

At the Carpetbagger Report, Steve says,

... these religious right leaders and activists genuinely seem terrified of Obama speaking to an evangelical audience. Why else demand that Warren pull the invitation? It’s not enough for these conservatives to simply challenge Obama's ideas, or critique his policy prescriptions; they want to make sure Christians in Warren’s church not hear what Obama has to say.

I don't agree that this is happening out of fear. I think religious conservatives are just doing what they do regularly -- staking out an absolutist position and not giving an inch. Why didn't that South Dakota abortion law include rape and incest exceptions? Why weren't years of judicial decisions in Michael Schiavo's favor enough to settle the case of his wife Terri? Why is stem-cell research using tissue from embryos that will never come to term utterly intolerable? Why is the anti-abortion movement now targeting the use of even non-abortifacient contraception? Why is the use of "Happy Holidays" -- a greeting that acknowledges not only the many belief systems in America but the many holidays that take place at the end of the year -- now deemed an act of war?

I could, of course, ask a similar series of questions about right-wing intransigence on secular issues, starting with Iraq. That's just what right-wingers do: They get angry and they stir up anger in one another. They've built a politics of rage, and a few seat switches in Congress aren't going to change that.


UPDATE: As it turns out, Prager was going of half-cocked while overlooking the fact that House members don't swear on any book at all.

From yesterday's New York Daily News:

A Brooklyn judge is courting controversy with a new illustrated children's book that some critics are calling a thinly veiled anti-immigration screed.

Criminal Court Judge John Wilson's "Hot House Flowers" warns of "effects of unregulated immigration" in a plot line about beautiful flowers that wither when dandelions sneak into their greenhouse.

"It's intended to describe defense of home and defense of country, and the reasons for that defense," said Wilson, who self-published the book, listed on at $15.99.

The story tells of jealous weeds that hog all the water and soil in the greenhouse. The other flowers suffer, but don't do anything until it's almost too late -- because they don't want to appear intolerant.

In what Wilson admits is a religious flourish, the flowers are saved at the end by a benevolent master who plucks out all the dandelions. The flowers learn never to let dandelion seeds grow in their greenhouse again.

..."They shouldn't call me anti-immigration, because I'm not," he said. "I know we're a nation of immigrants. But illegal immigration is making a mockery of the rule of law." ...

Y'know, I get the rule-of-law part. It's the ethnic-cleansing-of-the-dandelions part that has me a tad squeamish.

Oh, and the hogging-all-the-water-and-soil part? In my world, it's these folks who are doing that, while illegal immigrants clean their toilets.

A press release asserts that this is a book "that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike." (I really don't want to meet any adults who actually enjoy this book.) It adds:

Readers concerned about the effects of unregulated immigration on the daily lives of American citizens and who support the active defense of their country will find the lessons in Hot House Flowers potent and potable for minds young and old.

Er, I don't think "potable" means what these folks think it means.

For whatever it's worth, Judge Wilson did work with an illustrator whose other work isn't exactly wingnut-friendly. And, who knows -- perhaps his next book will be about another, er, flowering plant in which he has taken an interest.


In a review at Amazon, Jonathan Cohen says that the climax of the book comes when the hothouse flowers "burn a vitamin spike on the dandelions' front lawn." I think he's just funnin' us. Or maybe not.

Police experts have suggested "contagious shooting" may have played a role in a deadly New York incident when five officers fired 50 rounds at a man.

The experts said the phenomenon, which is characterized by gunfire spreading among officers who suspect they are being threatened, may have come into play in the shooting of Sean Bell outside a strip club, The New York Times reported Monday....



WASHINGTON (API) -- A senior administration official insisted today that the situation in Iraq was not a "civil war," and suggested an alternate explanation for the increasing bloodshed.

"It's 'contagious terrorism,'" said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Iraqis see violence and react by impulsively planting their own IEDs, or by spontaneously kidnapping other Iraqis, torturing them with power tools, beheading them, and leaving their bodies in ditches.

"It's simple human nature," the official went on to say. "You see bloodshed all around you, and naturally your first impulse is to set up a checkpoint, drag people out of their cars, and execute them in cold blood. Or to blow up other people's houses of worship. Or to set off mortar rounds in their neighborhoods.

"Isn't that obvious?"
ABC's Hillary Brown reporting from Baghdad:

Yesterday, [a] well-known Sunni Web site posted a ten-point plan on how to defend neighborhoods against Shiite death squads on the rampage. "Put snipers on high buildings," it says. "Be ready with your AK machine guns." "Have roadside bombs ready at every entry point."

But remember: It's not a civil war.


By the way, I love the fact that this New York Post editorial takes a swipe at the guy who announced NBC's decision to use the term "civil war," Matt Lauer ("'Today' Show host Matt Lauer -- last heard from describing the progress of Scooby-Doo and SpongeBob SquarePants down Broadway during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade...") while favorably citing criticism of NBC from that serious political scholar Don Imus.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On the way home from work tonight, I walked by the festivities that were taking place along Broadway in the West 60s. People were having a swell time, even though the whole shindig goes by the name Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square and includes the lighting of a "holiday tree," and thus is evil and Satanic and the source of moral depravity. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to be having good, wholesome fun (although it was nearly 60 degrees out, which wasn't very good for the ice sculptures; I blame global climate change, but I'm sure I'm just deluded and it was Lucifer sending up fire from the pit of Hell).
I keep telling you that Republicans might throw out all their litmus tests and go with Rudy in '08, and now here's Frank Luntz explaining to England's Telegraph just why that might happen:

..."He is exactly the change the Republican party needs," said Frank Luntz, a leading Republican strategist. "They can't run the same kind of candidate they have run in the last four elections. They have to do it differently. Giuliani would do well to study Tony Blair's campaign for the Labour leadership. He will need to transform the party in the same way. If he follows Blair's strategy and focuses on electability then it could be easier than people think.

"Republicans have lost Congress and there is a tremendous fear in the GOP [Republican party] that they could lose it all to Hillary Clinton... 2008 is not going to be a liberal versus conservative fight. It's going to be about who's got the goods to make things happen." ...

There it is: They're afraid of Hillary. They think this month's election results mean she's even more unbeatable than they feared she was before November 7. And some of them are gravitating to Rudy as a result.

I think it's fairly obvious what's really going to happen if Hillary's the nominee: She's going to be subjected to the nastiest campaign in living memory, and the press will be only too happy to help Republicans put the boot in, while embracing whoever the GOP puts up against her -- Rudy, St. John, Romney, Gingrich -- as just the tonic America needs to regain its manly fortitude, which we'll be told we desperately need to regain after two years of that nasty testosterone-depleting shrew Nancy Pelosi. (By 2008, it will be common to hear that everything that went wrong in Iraq is the fault of Pelosi's unnatural coven of emasculating Democrats.) Even after eight years of Bush, we'll be told that the solution to our problems is to elect a Republican strutter and blusterer.

And that could be just about anybody. As a resident of the state where an unknown schlub named Pataki beat Mario Cuomo Superstar a dozen years ago, I can assure you that having a marquee name won't be necessary if the conventional wisdom is that Hillary is a tired old Democratic throwback who has an overinflated reputation and needs to be taken down a notch.

Well, fine -- maybe they'll tear the party apart and do too much damage to themselves to prevail in putting forward someone they think can beat our highly beatable favorite. That would be nice. Unfortunately, Rudy does have Liebermanesque appeal to swing voters, and that's why I worry -- they may coalesce around him out of desperation and win.

In a poll about Iraq at Free Republic, the vast majority of respondents think we should "do whatever it takes to win."

See? Everyone thinks it's so complicated, but it's really very simple.


UPDATE: See The Booman Tribune for results of a similar poll, at Red State, in which "Can we unleash hell yet?" is the overwhelming favorite. (Via Cursor.)
I don't understand people who feel the need to insist that it's categorically impossible for someone like Ann Coulter to be a serious influence on our political life, but here's Jacob Heilbrunn, in this weekend's New York Times Book Review, making the case while reviewing recent anti-Coulter books by Susan Estrich and two other authors:

...Estrich is herself confusing ubiquity with actual influence, constantly asserting but never demonstrating that Coulter actually wields political power.... The truth is that unlike Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, Coulter cannot mobilize millions of listeners and viewers each day.

Er, let's see: Coulter has attained "ubiquity," yet she can't mobilize viewers "every day" -- presumably because her "ubiquity" puts her on TV twice some days and not at all on other days. Yeah, that makes sense.

You know, al-Qaeda doesn't have a regularly scheduled series on Arab-language TV, but somehow its videos manage to have an influence. I wonder if that baffles Heilbrunn also.

...Not one of Coulter's arguments is original to her; each is cribbed from the conservative press.... Even a cursory look at her books shows that she essentially functions as a kind of right-wing weathervane.

...Nor are Coulter's remarks about liberals all that new. As others have pointed out, they have a long pedigree on the right. In 1936, Elizabeth Dilling published "The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background"; after World War II the vicious gossip columnist Walter Winchell saw Communists everywhere and championed McCarthy.

... [Coulter's] detractors supply no evidence that she has ever had an original thought. And they can't. Instead of exposing Coulter as a mortal threat to the Republic, the only thing they expose is their own credulity. In the end, these witless little books don't puncture the Coulter myth. They inflate it.

How is originality in any way relevant to a discussion of Coulter? The American public isn't weighing her suitability to chair a department of political philosophy -- it's asking her to deliever entertainment by seeming to make sense of what's going on in the news, and her audience believes she delivers.

Give her this: She has some comedy timing, and her glib laugh lines aren't quite what the typical big-time TV interviewer is expecting, so she gets the best of the Matt Lauers of the world. This is odd, because the Matt Lauers know going in that she intends to say, for instance, that the anti-Bush 9/11 widows are societal leeches and that only Democrats have ever used a victim to make a political point. But the Lauers somehow can't be bothered to ask their staffs to help them rebut these arguments -- or maybe they don't want to because angry blonde provocation with the occasional laugh line is considered great television, and you don't want to stand in its way.

And so Coulter injects ideas, original or not, into our political dialogue. And Jacob Heilbrunn either doesn't notice how they got there or assumes that the public really got those ideas from some seventy-year old pamphlet he found in the stacks.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Er isn't the Flushed Away Happy Meal a rather disgusting concept?

A post I put up just before the holiday got some attention from the blogosphere, and thus reached a few more readers than most of what I post here; alas, some of those readers were offended that I dared to criticize Ralph Nader for his 2000 campaign.

OK, here's what offends me.

It offends me that I'm considered to be a traitor to the progressive cause if I say that there is a right wing in the Republican Party that is an absolute menace, and that has no full-fledged equivalent in the Democratic Party. I know -- that's heresy. Just as Galileo's torturers demanded that he acknowledge geocentrism, just as fundamentalist Christians demand the rejection of Darwin, so do Naderites demand the rejection of any notion of a difference between the two major parties.

Furthermore, Naderites declare that it was a betrayal of progressivism in 2000 to weigh the possible long-term benefit of a Nader vote against the likely short-term harm from turning the entire federal government over to the right wing of the Republican Party -- to Naderites, one simply wasn't permitted to say that was too high a price to pay.

I don't care that Gore won the popular vote, or that more people in Florida thought they'd voted for Gore than thought they'd voted for Bush -- the fact is, the election shouldn't have been stealable, and wouldn't have been if Nader had read the polls everyone else was reading and chosen not to campaign in swing states, recognizing the very real possibility that the candidate eagly embraced by the Falwells and Norquists of the world would win. (The political press now thinks that Gore lost the election, seeing the election and post-election periods as one shrewd campaign ultimately won by Bush and Rove and their party. This has helped contribute to the notion, possibly now dissipating somewhat, that not only Democrats but progressives are pathetic out-of-step losers. That's what Nader helped accomplish for the left.)

I also don't want to hear that Gore screwed himself by doing this or that, because anyone who claims to know by gut instinct with absolute certainty that a particular change in strategy would have gained him progressive voters without losing him as many or more centrist voters is blowing smoke.

This country hasn't elected an insurgent-party candidate to the presidency since 1860; anyone who was angry about what I said concerning Nader needs to tell me why my principal concern going into a presidential election shouldn't be the relative acceptability of the major candidates. That's what presidential elections are about -- electing presidents, not making grand statements.

I've always thought it was ironic that if Gore had won an unchallengeable victory, in the long wrong it might have actually opened up the system to candidates like Nader. Here's why: The press would have to deal with the fact that a GOP dominated by the right wing had lost three straight presidential elections. Pundits and party professionals take this sort of thing very seriously. Three straight losses and the GOP just might have said, "Why are we excluding the Colin Powells and the Christie Whitmans from our national tickets? Why does everyone have to pass the litmus tests of Jerry Falwell and Grover Norquist?" And then we really might have a Tweedledum party and a Tweedledee party at the national level. And a left candidate could then rise up without inevitably threatening to put right-wing extremists in the driver's seat.

Sorry, folks, that was my priority in 2000 and it's my priority today: making the GOP's right wing as marginal as possible. The GOP right is the largest, nastiest tumor on our body politic. I think the last six years have made painfully clear that that's so.

So yes, Ralph, go to hell. I still resent the hell out of you for what you did.


Fire away, commenters. However, I won't respond. I've said enough.
I'm back. Thank you, guest bloggers.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Holiday Greetings: An Etiquette Guide

[Tom Hilton here, from If I Ran the Zoo. Because we've begun the Most Baby Jesusest Time of the Year, and because I think the message bears repeating, and (most of all) because I'm a lazy bastard, I'm reprinting a piece I posted last year around this time.]

It's not about politics, despite the desperate efforts of scum like O'Reilly and Gibson to make it so, and it's not about religion. It's about courtesy.

Here, then, is a simple, handy guide to the etiquette of holiday greetings.
  1. If you celebrate Christmas, and you know that the person(s) to whom you are speaking (all) celebrate Christmas, then by all means say 'Merry Christmas'.
  2. If you celebrate Christmas, and the person(s) to whom you are speaking does/do not (or you aren't sure), then the polite thing to do is to use a generic seasonal salutation such as 'Happy Holidays'.
  3. If you do not celebrate Christmas, and the person(s) to whom you are speaking also does/do not (or you aren't sure), then a generic greeting is the obvious choice.
  4. If you do not celebrate Christmas, and the person(s) you are addressing does/do, you can go either way: if you feel it would be insincere to use a salutation referencing a holiday you do not celebrate, then use a generic greeting; on the other hand, you may want to make the addressee(s) feel special by using their particular holidy, in which case 'Merry Christmas' (or or whatever particular holiday they celebrate but you do not) is the best choice.
  5. When in doubt as to what to say, err on the side of consideration for the feelings of the addressee(s).
  6. As a recipient of any kind of holiday greetings, err on the side of not taking offense; they are nearly always intended as a kindness.
  7. Either way, this isn't about you. (This is the basic precept of all courtesy: it isn't about you.) It's about consideration for others. Only the most boorish and inconsiderate would use a holiday greeting as an excuse to assert the dominance of his/her chosen religious tradition. The point of a holiday greeting is to do a verbal kindness to some other person, period.
I hope this helps.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

These two stories were right next to one another on MSNBC's webpage.

I'm trying to think of something poignant to say, but I'm coming up empty.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

And this time, we have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

(Hi -- this is Kathy from Birmingham Blues. I'd hoped to post something uplifting first, but the news didn't cooperate.)

Fred Phelps Plans To Picket Student Funerals

Four students have died as the result of a horrendous bus crash in Huntsville AL on Monday. I just received an email telling me that Fred Phelps and his sicko "church" are planning to picket their funerals, three of which are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. I hate to even link to this creep's site, but here is the flyer announcing his intentions.

Fred is known for sending out this incendiary crap and then not showing up, and I pray that's what happens this time. And if not, I hope the Patriot Guard Riders show up to protect the families from these evil, depraved people.

I'm heading out of town soon. Thank you, readers and linkers. I'll be back Sunday night; there'll be (I hope) some guest posts while I'm gone....
Marshall Wittmann has been hired as Joe Lieberman's spokesman. The New York Times story on Wittmann seems as if it's meant to be "poking gentle fun," but I think if you were a typical Times reader -- reasonably well informed but not a political maven, and heretofore unaware of Wittmann -- he'd come off as a jerk with no real convictions, and you might be wondering (admittedly, way too late) about Lieberman's judgment:

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman announced Tuesday that he had hired a new spokesman, which is not in itself that noteworthy, except that the said spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, is one of the great career vagabonds, ideological contortionists and political pontificators ever to inflict himself on a city full of them.

To say that Mr. Wittmann defies classification is like saying Paris Hilton defies modesty....

Mr. Wittmann ... is a Trotskyite turned Zionist turned Reaganite turned bipartisan irritant turned pretty much everything in between -- including chief lobbyist for the Christian Coalition, the only Jew who has ever held that position....

You know, I think a lot of moderate and even liberal Connecticut voters persuaded themselves that Joe's war stance wasn't extreme -- he wanted the troops home, too, didn't he? But the Christian Coalition -- that's weird. That's extreme. (And if they're thinking that, this time they're right.)

Here's more:

"I think I'm the only person who has worked for both Cesar Chavez and Linda Chavez," Mr. Wittmann said of the union pioneer who inspired him in the 1970s and the conservative Republican whose Senate campaign in Maryland he joined in the 1980s.

"I think I'm the only person who's worked for both Ralph Reed and Bruce Reed," Mr. Wittmann added, referring to the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and the top lieutenant to former President Bill Clinton.

Ick. In addition to being politically shallow, Wittmann comes off as a grade-schooler who's trying to be clever for the grown-ups so they'll pat him on the head and give him a lollipop.


...He suffered through a two-year dry patch from 2002 to 2004 when he was a spokesman for Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, a job that largely required him to suppress his inner quotemeister for his boss's even-more-impressive knack for drawing attention.

...After leaving Mr. McCain's office, he joined the moderate Democratic Leadership Council as a senior fellow, a position whose mandate was not exactly clear but allowed him to once again be quoted....

The ego has landed!

This part of Wittmann's C.V. brings up another question: If John McCain somehow gets the GOP nomination, do you think he might pick Lieberman as his running mate? McCain's need to please GOP litmus-testers will clearly be diminished after the primaries. And really, why not Joe? Right-wingers have proved this year that they love him.

(A tangential thought: Isn't the right-wingers' embrace of the pro-choice, pro-gay rights Lieberman a sign that Giuliani has a chance with them?)

A McCain-Lieberman ticket would alienate social conservatives, but unless there's a serious third-party challenger on the right, those voters will have to hold their noses and vote for McCain to prevent the rise of (probably) The Evil Hitlery. And, of course, the commentariat will plotz -- if John picks Joe, the paroxysm of ecstasy among elite Beltway scribes will be measurable on seismological equipment half a continent away.

I don't think we'll ever get to find this out, however -- I think the GOP nominee will be either a litmus-test passer or, if the party wants a superstar, Rudy rather than John. But if John does get it, my money's on Joe for the #2 slot.


UPDATE: At Tapped, Mark Schmitt speculates that McCain will lose the Republican nomination and then conduct a third-party run with Lieberman. Sorry, but that's just not going to happen. Both men have too much respect for the GOP to do that; all the right-wingers who pal around with Lieberman and all the right-wingers McCain is desperate to pal around with will tell them not to do it -- mustn't help elect Hillary! And so they won't. (Also, for Lieberman, doing whatever hurts the '08 Democratic nominee, even if it's the centrist Hillary, will be not just a favor to his GOP pals but revenge for '06, served cold.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I see that the right's philosophy toward campus outreach is -- unsurprisingly -- that it's easier to catch flies with toxic waste than with honey or vinegar.

There's this, from Boston University:

BU group offers white scholarship

Looking to draw attention to what they call the "worst form of bigotry confronting America today," Boston University's College Republicans are circulating an application for a "Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship" that requires applicants be at least 25 percent Caucasian.

...The scholarship, which is privately funded by the BUCR without the support of the university, is meant to raise awareness, group members say. BUCR member argue that racial preferences are a form of "bigotry." ...

The application for the $250 scholarship, due Nov. 30, requires applicants be full-time BU undergraduate students and one-fourth Caucasian and maintain at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit two essays, one describing the applicant's ancestry and one describing "what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today." ...

The article goes on to note that the BU College Republicans borrowed the idea from College Republicans at Roger Williams University. The RWU 'pubs sponsored a similar award three years ago, but

the scholarship was discontinued after its first year when the national and state Republican parties severed ties with RWU College Republicans....

"The RNC under [former chair] Ed Gillespie disagreed with me," [former RWU College Republicans president Jason] Mattera said. "For Ed Gillespie to be dismissive or to imply that there was racism, he lacked any type of -- to put it bluntly -- balls in standing up against racial preferences. It would have been a great opportunity."...

Y'know, when you're too obnoxious for the Bush/Rove-era national GOP, maybe you should ask yourself if you've gone a wee bit too far.

And over at Oberlin, there's this:

Republican Griffin Critiques Feminism

Chair of the Republican party of Virginia Kate Obenshain Griffin delivered a lecture titled "The Failures of Feminism" Thursday to a large audience. The lecture was the final event of this semester's controversial and well-attended Ronald Reagan Lectureship Series, sponsored by the OC Republicans.

...Griffin's distaste for feminism grew as she entered a professional life in politics.  She worked for then-governor and now departing U.S. Senator George Allen, first as a campaigner and later as an educational advisor.  It is here that she first encountered "hypocritical liberal Democrats," who she criticized as attacking her integrity and expertise based on her being female.  Furthermore, as she rose to the seat of Republican Party Chairman (she prefers the title "chairman") in Virginia she was accused by Democratic opponents of "shrill and hysterical rantings," adjectives Griffin claims are targeted at women alone.

Women in politics are subject to sexist remarks? You've noticed that? Wonderful. Kate Obenshain Griffin, meet Nancy Pelosi.

But I'm not sure why Griffin is complaining -- after all, she clearly thinks feminists are much worse than sexists:

Apart from the hypocrisy she sees in feminism, Griffin argues that successful feminism is damaging and even dangerous to American society....

"We have forgotten the victims [of feminism]," she said, "and these are the children." ...

Under the umbrella of the harm inflicted upon children by feminism, Griffin included abortion, under-nurtured "latchkey kids" and babysitting arrangements that take children away from their own homes.

In particular Griffin feels that young boys find themselves in a damaging situation: made to feel ashamed of "natural boyishness" and forced to "get in touch with their feelings" in a way unsuited to their natures....

Y'know, I could be wrong, but I suspect some of the Democrats who referred to her "shrill and hysterical rantings" (if these people existed) were merely expressing their "natural boyishness."

...Griffin believes that feminism has been primarily targeted at dismantling the family, as it is seen as an institution of male oppression....

Excuse me, is it 1971 in here, or is it me?

Yeah, the contemporary left hates the family. That's why we keep trying to expand its definition to include gay couples, especially gay couples raising kids -- because we hate gay people, and we want to force them into an institution we see as evil.

Er, that was sarcasm. I wonder if Griffin would be able to tell.
Hmmm ... it occurs to me that the real-life equivalent of The Office's Dwight Schrute might not be Christopher Hitchens.

Schrute's real-life twin might be Newt Gingrich:

"You still don't get it, do you?" he asks....

"I'm going to tell you something, and whether or not it's plausible given the world you come out of is your problem," [Gingrich] tells Fortune. "I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."

Same delusions of grandeur, right? Same sense of himself borne aloft by the hand of history? Same sneering contempt for those who don't share his vision?

And is the process of "creat[ing] a movement to win the future" anything like the process of building the Dwight Army of Champions?


(Quote via the Carpetbagger Report.)

Oh, and if you want a Newt Gingrich Presidential Campaign Drinking Game, this'll get you started: Every time Gingrich uses the phrase "change agent" during the primaries, all players have to drain their glasses. You may need to pick a designated driver.
One thing which has long puzzled me is why Afghanistan wasn't enough for all the "liberal hawks" ... The Beinarts of the world wanted a war and a grand humanitarian mission. They had one. It was Afghanistan. It was justifiable. We went and kicked some ass. And then we abandoned the grand humanitarian mission and went chasing after a shiny new war.

...We had a chance to do all the things the Quiet Americans wanted us to do. Invade a country, get rid of their bad leaders, pave the streets with gold, and create a wonderful paradise which could be an example for the world.

Why couldn't we do that in Afghanistan?


Um, because Afghanistan didn't give the "liberal hawks" the exquisite satisfaction of bashing sandal-wearing hippies? Because too many of us actually supported the mission in Afghanistan, and thus the "liberal hawks" needed a different war that would give them the chance to turn on us and impress the right-wingers whose "manliness" they so envy?

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.
A while back, liberal hawk George Packer got a clue and declared that the Bush administration had screwed up the Iraq war -- but now Packer is back on more comfortable ground, happily bashing what he considers to be his own side. In this week's New Yorker, he attacks dirty filthy hippie Democrats like John Murtha who've called for a full-scale withdrawal of troops, arguing that even withdrawal from individual cities has been a bad idea:

... wherever American troop levels have been reduced --in Falluja and Mosul in 2004, in Tal Afar in 2005, in Baghdad in 2006 -- security has deteriorated. In the absence of adequate and impartial Iraqi forces, Sunni insurgents or Shiite militias have filled the power vacuum with a reign of terror.

Democrats! Why do they want to cut and run?

Er, but elsewhere in The New Yorker we have this, in Seymour Hersh's article:

In August, according to [a] former senior intelligence official, Rumsfeld asked the Joint Chiefs to quietly devise alternative plans for Iraq, to preempt new proposals, whether they come from the new Democratic majority or from the Iraq Study Group. "The option of last resort is to move American forces out of the cities and relocate them along the Syrian and Iranian border," the former official said....

In a subsequent interview, [a] former senior Bush Administration official said that he had also been told that the Pentagon has been at work on a plan in Iraq that called for a military withdrawal from the major urban areas to a series of fortified bases near the borders. The working assumption was that, with the American troops gone from the most heavily populated places, the sectarian violence would "burn out." "The White House is saying it’s going to stabilize," the former senior Administration official said, "but it may stabilize the wrong way."

Yup -- Democrats want to pull troops from Iraq. What cowards! Not like those brave Republicans -- they're just talking about pulling troops from all the dangerous parts of Iraq. Much more steadfast!

Monday, November 20, 2006

I see that Rupert Murdoch has cancelled Judith Regan's O.J. book, If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, and the accompanying Regan-Simpson TV special.

However, there are apparently no plans to force Regan to cancel publication of the following:

* If I Helped Turn Iraq into an Open-Air Abbatoir for Human Beings, Here's How It Happened by Douglas Feith
* If I Invented Ideological Ambulance-Chasing, Here's How It Happened by Larry Klayman
* If I've Become Rich Spewing Bigotry and Enabling Some of the Worst Political Leaders on the Planet, Here's How It Happened by Neal Boortz
* If I'm Responsible for the Rise to Power of the Worst President in American History, I'm Going to Avoid Talking About How It Happened by Ralph Nader
* If My Pomposity Back in the 1980s Helped Make It Acceptable for the United States to Openly Embrace Brutality Overseas, Here's How It Should Happen Again by Jeane Kirkpatrick

All of these books are real; all will be published by Regan and Murdoch next year.

I may not have the titles exactly right.
Oops -- this wasn't supposed to happen:

...the movie business climbed its way out of a dismal pattern of declining audience to more solid footing in 2006. With most of the year's movie receipts counted, the box office is up 6.5 percent over last year, and attendance has risen nearly 5 percent....

Wasn't Hollywood supposed to remain in permanent decline until the liberals all left town and turned the place over to people who'd make lots and lots of movies about Jesus and Islamofascism? Instead, recent moneymakers include Saw III and Borat (the latter is well on its way to making $100 million domestically), The Da Vinci Code has made the Baby Jesus cry by becoming a domestic and global box-office smash since spring (more than half a billion dollars' worth of tickets have been sold worldwide), and even the cartoon that's currently #1 at the U.S. box office, Happy Feet, is anti-religious, pro-UN, pro-gay, pro-Gaia propaganda (so says Michael Medved, and no, I'm not exaggerating).

Hollywood and the Democrats making a comeback? Get the behind me, Satan!

Ah, but soon we'll have The Nativity Story, which certainly ought to be morally uplifting -- after all it's by the director of ... oh, never mind.

The Wall Street Journal's online editorial page, October 25, 2004:

...A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

...The media expose us on a daily basis to the idea that things [in Iraq] are not as good as they seem. Below are some stories that suggest things aren't as bad either:

...From sublime to ridiculous, Iraqi TV has a new most popular show:

... Caricateera--or Caricatures--is Iraq's answer to Saturday Night Live, a variety show driven by biting political satire. It's must-see TV for millions of Iraqis every Friday at 2:35 p.m. Thousands more catch the show on bootleg videodiscs, which sell for less than $1.

The show's popularity stems from the shots it takes at topics ranging from Iraq's interim government and the nation's violence to the lack of electricity and the U.S. military presence. Such criticism was taboo under the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein.

It certainly beats watching the never-ending speeches of the Great Leader....

Reuters today:

BAGHDAD - The body of an Iraqi actor was found with three bullet wounds in the head in al-Yarmouk district in western Baghdad, police and al-Sharkiya channel said. Waleed Hassan was known for his popular sketch show "Charicature".

Oh well....

(Second link via Atrios.)

The culture wars go icky-poo cutesy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's been, oh, weeks since one of our "liberal" elite newspapers has said that successful career women (and the evil liberals who think women should have careers) are causing societal rot. So I guess we were overdue for "The Real Marriage Penalty" by Annie Murphy Paul, in today's New York Times Magazine.

What are liberals and these unnatural she-creatures responsible for now, according to Ms. Paul? Oh, just the apportionment of wealth in modern society:

Over the past generation, the liberal notion of egalitarian marriage -- in which wives are in every sense their husbands' peers -- has gone from pie-in-the-sky ideal to unremarkable reality. But this apparently progressive shift has been shadowed by another development: America's growing gap between rich and poor. Even as husbands and wives have moved closer together on measures of education and income, the divide between well-educated, well-paid couples and their less-privileged counterparts has widened, raising an awkward possibility: are we achieving more egalitarian marriages at the cost of a more egalitarian society?

Yup -- inequality is rising not because the tradition of progressive taxation has been reversed since the Reagan era, or because union membership is dwindling, or because we've shipped all the manufacturing jobs overseas and replaced them with greeter jobs at Wal-Mart, or because the pay top executives receive is a much larger multiple of ordinary workers' pay than ever. Nope -- it's liberals and harpies! The damn broads are getting successful in business and the professions, so well-off men aren't marrying their secretaries anymore!

Paul does cite statistics to support her thesis:

In an article published last year in the journal Demography, [sociologists Christine Schwartz and Robert Mare] reported that the odds of a high-school graduate marrying someone with a college degree declined by 43 percent between 1940 and the late 1970s. In our current decade, the researchers wrote, the percentage of couples who are "educationally homogamous" -- that is, share the same level of schooling -- reached its highest point in 40 years.

But then she quotes an economist named Gary Burtless who all but says those numbers are meaningless:

Burtless ... says he believes that "the tendency of like to marry like has remained roughly unchanged over time. What have changed are the labor-market opportunities and behavior of women." In this conception, men have always married women of their own social class, but such stratification was obscured by the fact that the female halves of these couples often did not work or pursue advanced degrees.

Makes sense to me. Yet Paul essentially ignores this explanation.

And all this leads to a truly bizarre passage: the current clash over gay marriage demonstrates, private choices about whom we marry -- or don't marry, or can't marry -- can have loud public reverberations. Not long ago, the marriages of whites and blacks, and the lifting of laws that once prohibited such unions, revealed a nation beginning to open its mind on matters of race; likewise, rates of marriage across lines of education and income provide an index of social mobility.

What on earth does that "likewise" mean?

The only way the word has any meaning at all, the only sense I can make of it, is that Paul believes upscale people are oppressing the less well-off by refusing to marry them -- oppressing them the way laws against interracial marriage oppressed African-Americans. So if you marry a fellow lawyer, it's the moral equivalent of burning a cross on the lawn of a black man marries to a white woman?

If you want to reduce inequality, start repealing tax cuts for the well-to-do -- don't wag a finger and tell them not to marry.

In a poll on Rudy being conducted at Free Republic ("Would you be for or against Rudy Giuliani for president?"), the "no"s are winning, 60%-40%.

So maybe that means I'm crazy to think Rudy can win the nomination. Then again, most reasonable people think McCain can win it, and (as I've mentioned), the "no" vote in McCain's poll at FR was 90%.

I think 40% of the crazies is rather impressive -- and remember that these are people who actually discuss Rudy's social-liberal positions (and divorce and predilection for drag) with one another; they know what they're voting for. I'm sticking with my prediction.
The American Family Association, which led campaigns to punish CBS for broadcasting curse words uttered at Ground Zero as the Twin Towers fell and punish Fox for allowing the word "shit" to inadvertently go out over the air during a NASCAR broadcast, now brings us word of a new threat to civilization as we know it, as reported by another Christian-right group:

'Implied Cursing' in TV Ads Concerns Christian Activist

Recent television advertising that used "bleeped" profanity as to grab attention and shock viewers is being compared to the Bible's warning concerning seduction and deception getting worse and worse.

... In a Dodge commercial for its Caliber model, for example, a Muppet-like character shares that the car "scares the [bleep] out of me."

...A Comcast ad promoting high-speed Internet service portrays a man who, after getting a "power boost" from the cable line, blitzes through a kitchen clean-up chore at lightning-fast speed -- to which his wife exclaims: "Holy ...."

...How about a Volkswagen ad promoting the built-in safety features in one of its models? Passengers in a new Passat blurt out "Holy ..." after surviving a crash. Instead of hearing a profanity, viewers hear a voice-over saying "safe happens."

....Citing a Bible passage in the third chapter of 2 Timothy, [Bill] Johnson [of the American Decency Association] says he is reminded that deception will grow worse during the last days. He thinks Christians should therefore make choices in media consumption that keep them on "God's side" -- by remaining pure in spirit and being much more discerning than in times past.

Yup -- ads that say "Holy (bleep)" are a sign of the Last Days.

I look forward to the joint AFA/ADA campaign to ban Satan-influenced comic strips in which people say "%@#&*@!!!" when they hit their thumbs with a hammer.


(By the way, I see no sign that either the AFA or the ADA has had a word to say about a true obscenity that's about to go out over the air -- the O.J. interview.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Providing R&R to the Taliban:

PAKISTAN is allowing Taliban fighters wounded in battles with British and other Nato forces in Afghanistan to be treated at safe houses.

The Sunday Times found Taliban commanders and their fighters recuperating in the city of Quetta last week and moving freely around parts of the city.

... they lounged on cushions, sipping green tea and sucking at boiled sweets while laughing at Nato reports that they have sustained heavy casualties....

Thanks for the unflagging support, Pervez!

(Via DU.)
Fox News host Mort Kondracke, the "left-leaning" counterpart to Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes on Fox News' The Beltway Boys, said last night that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should be nicknamed the "Wicked Witch of the West."

--Think Progress

Shakespeare's Sister says:

Mmm…refreshing. Hearing the first ever female Speaker of the House called a witch within 24 hours of being elected to the role goes down smooth. The Photoshops of a green-faced Pelosi with her winged monkeys Hoyer and Murtha will be a splendid chaser.

A green-faced Pelosi? Coming right up, courtesy of the Family Research Council's blog!

(That's been up for a while, by the way -- it's a Halloween-themed post, and I first saw it in October.)

I know I'm asking a lot of the press corps, but this ought to be a story -- the unabashed sexism of the attacks on Pelosi. (See also the New York Post's "Nancy Shrew" piece.) I know it's not as much fun as, say, castigating lefty bloggers, but is anyone going to write a handwringing, responsible-serious-person assessment of this?


(Well, Maureen Dowd starts by castigating the sexism -- then joins the catfight. Thanks a lot.)
I don't know what to make of the rumor that was reported by Think Progress yesterday-- that Karl Rove may leave the White House within weeks.

The story cited by Think Progress quotes "a key Bush advisor" who says Rove is an impediment to the bipartisanship Bush so desperately craves. Right there, credibility is strained. (Let's see: Since the elections, we've had Bush renominating John Bolton, resubmitting six far-right judicial picks, choosing an anti-birth control looney for a family planning post, and sticking with the stay-the-course message on Iraq. Yeah, right -- Bush wants to extend olive branches, but Rove just keeps forcing him to do these things, practically every day, and Bush just submits meekly.)

(By the way, Peggy Noonan also believes Bipartisan Bush is going to show up any day now; scroll to the end of her current column.)

But Bush, of course did make a testy joke that seemed to blame Rove after the electoral loss (I don't think it was good-natured; watch the video). Rove made Bush look bad. Rove made Bush unhappy. That can't be acceptable.

Surely it's just about time for Rove to leave so he can start doing whatever he's going to do in the 2008 campaign. (I can't believe he'll sit it out -- he's only 55 years old, and he's not going to want this campaign to linger on his record as his last act.)

Now, let me return to my recent obsession -- Giuliani. I think you might see Rove working for Rudy. Back in '05, Radar Online reported that Rudy was "working closely with Rove to build a Presidential platform against presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton." More recently, Rudy hired an ex-Rove staffer as a fundraiser.

The Radar report said Rove was thinking of Rudy as a VP candidate. That I consider implausible -- Rudy's ego is massive; he'd never accept the #2 job. But I can believe that Rove sees Rudy as someone who can be molded into Flight Suit Man Version II -- a cartoon hero spouting patriotism and wielding wedge issues. I think -- I worry -- that they'd be perfect together.


UPDATE: Interesting theory from Steve Gilliard:

... I think Rove and Cheney are not long for the WH. Why? Poppy's men want them out of the way. They are in crisis mode, desperate to save Junior. Because someone just realized that the house committees are unfriendly ground for them.

Hmmm -- maybe. Maybe Dad would twist his son's arm, demanding bipartishanship (and the rejection of these two partisans) because too many investigations could get Junior and Senior in trouble.

But even if that's what's going on -- and I have serious doubts -- I think W would resist, because if there's one area in which W probably is a sophisticated and subtle battler, it's playing off Mommy against Daddy. For W, I think Rove and Cheney are pseudo-Barbaras -- hard-assed, uncompromising, and stubborn. I think W would hear out objections to Rove and Cheney from Poppy's people, just as he's lewtting Baker's Iraq group meet, but, just as he's resisting any notion of withdrawing from Iraq that may come from Baker, I think he'd resist personnel ideas from Poppy. So if Rove is on the outs, it's because of W, not Dad.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Peggy Noonan on the Republican reaction to the election results:

There is a general sense the loss was not undeserved--this is an unusual attitude for runners just back from the race....

I don't know what athletes she hangs out with, but they've got to be serious whiners. In my world, when people lose a race, they assume the winner was the best runner, at least that day.

To tell you the truth, I don't see any evidence that Republicans are thinking, "We deserved to lose." I think, at best, a few of them are thinking, "They [i.e., everybody who deviated from the Correct Republican Path, whatever that is] deserved to lose. Maybe now they'll come to their senses, like me." Or they blame the media. Or Rove. Or Bush, for not firing Rumsfeld sooner.

And speaking of Rumsfeld, we know he thinks he has an inalienable right to victory on the squash court, so he reserves the right to cheat. I suspect Peggy's acquaintances have a similar sense of entitlement -- on race day and on Election Day.


(Yeah, I know: McCain said Republicans deserved to lose. But that's a trick shot intended, if it goes right, to appeal to the base -- "We betrayed our principles" -- and the middle -- "You're right, we suck these days.")
Digby and Glenn Greenwald are doing a fine job of cataloguing all the catty talk about Nancy Pelosi among top-tier Beltway journalists and pundits -- but in today's New York Post, Deborah Orin-Eilbeck just cut to the chase and called Pelosi a "shrew."


FORGET "The Devil Wears Prada the hot show in Washington is "The Shrew Adores Armani." ...

What decade are we living in? Sometimes I forget.
Glenn Beck of Headline News got a lot of attention this week (e.g., Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" award for asking the newly elected Muslim congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, to "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies," but most people seem to have overlooked another Beck gem: his attempt this week to mainstream the linking of Hillary Clinton to Hitler.

A couple of nights ago, in discussing reports that that Church of England now believes it is sometimes appropriate to withhold treatment from severely disbled premature infants, Beck began to talk about Nazi Germany -- and then segued:

BECK: ... Hitler later signed a decree permitting the euthanasia of disabled infants ... and creating a panel of "expert" referees, which judged the infants and found out which ones were eligible for death.

Once he was through with the babies, the elderly were next. As it has been said over and over again with tragedies regarding the Holocaust: never again. So, when you see politicians making statements like this one yesterday --

CLINTON [video clip]: But the whole issue of health care is coming back. That may be a bad dream for some, but for others, it's a very welcome possibility, because we are on an unsustainable course. I think that we have to come up with a uniquely American solution.

BECK: OK. When you see statements like that, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. It's not a bad dream for me; it is a nightmare....

I don't really care that he walked the point back somewhat, suggesting after the clip that what really scared him about the Clinton health plan was its bureaucratic nature. Like Bush saying "Saddam" and "September the 11th" in the same sentence every chance he gets, Beck got his point across without actually having the integrity to say what he meant plainly.

If this is what we're getting now on a CNN channel, what do you suppose we're going to get if Hillary runs for president? What are we going to get if, by some fluke, she actually manages to win?

If Hillary is elected president, I have a feeling that the rules of "respectable" discourse in the mainstream media are going to be obliterated. I think calls for physical harm to the president are going to become almost routine. It'll happen gradually, and it'll be accompanied by suggestions that desperate measures may sometimes be necessary to deal with the "tyranny" or "totalitarianism" of her presidency. Don't hold your breath waiting for any denunciations of this talk -- what we'll get instead is serious consideration of the notion that her presidency is totalitarian ("Has She Gone Too Far?").
So this is how it works now? If you get sufficiently lawyered up, you can convince a court to force public schools to send utter nonsense home to parents?

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A flier from a group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX, has started a controversy in Silver Spring.

The flier was handed out during homeroom to students at Montgomery Blair High School.

...The school said it had no choice but to pass it out.

PFOX says it reaches out to gay teens offering unconditional love and support to homosexuals who want to become straight.

Promoting a way out of a gay lifestyle, the nonprofit group offers to expose teenagers to "ex-gay" people.

"What we're saying is that, if you have unwanted same-sex attraction -- and there is a difference -- then there are alternatives, and homosexual feelings can be overcome," said Regina Griggs of PFOX....

This isn't about exposure to ex-gays -- it's about exposure to "therapy" that's supposed to make gay people straight.

An L.A. Times story from May explains how this happened:

...The ex-gay movement's biggest victory came last year, when a federal judge sided with Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, or PFOX, in a lawsuit against a Maryland school district.

PFOX, a national advocacy group based in Alexandria, Va., had sued to block the district's new sex-education curriculum, arguing that its treatment of homosexuality was one-sided. The judge agreed that students should hear other perspectives, and PFOX took a seat on the committee charged with drafting new lesson plans....

And I guess the literature drop was part of the settlement.

Oh, you thought we were winning the battle against pseudo-science, superstition, and claptrap because we beat back intelligent design in Dover? Forget it -- these people just keep coming, like movie zombies.

I sure hope the judge in this case will be happy if the Flat Earthers, Holocaust revisionists, and 9/11 "truth"ers see an opening here and pounce.

(The right-wing Christians at Agape Press are happy about the literature drop, the folks at Ex-Gay Watch not so much.)


Well, it's a good month for pseudo-scientific claptrap, what with Bush's appointment of a guy who thinks too much sex causes your brain chemicals to make you unable to fall in love....)

This is funny.

(But Midge and ... a realist? I dunno....)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Bushies play word games:

Hungry Americans No Longer 'Hungry,' Government Says

A key government report on hunger in America has eliminated that word from its findings, but not because there are no longer people in need of nutrition.

...Last year, families without enough money to buy food, or where parents skip meals so their children can eat were labeled as having "food insecurity with hunger" and now they simply have "very low food security."

...Hundreds of miles away in Chicago, at the Holy Family Food Pantry, the people lining up for assistance know exactly what hunger means.

"I'm running out of food, so I got to find somewhere to get some food," Terry Sutton said.

But according to the new government report, that doesn't necessarily make him hungry.

Sutton and others like him have "very low food security."

..."I'd say it passes the common sense test, in that it does identify there is a need and we do recognize that there are individuals in this country who face need from time to time," said Katie Coler, the undersecretary of the USDA....

Paging Mr. Orwell....

They worked for Bush and Tom Ridge:

Security checkpoint managers at San Francisco International Airport were warned when undercover inspectors came to test how well screeners detected fake bombs and weapons, a government report said Tuesday.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press, confirms allegations brought in February 2005 by a whistleblower who formerly worked for Covenant Aviation Security.

...The Transportation Security Administration, which is in charge of airport security, asked its watchdog agency to investigate the charges by the former worker, Gene Bencomo.

"We confirmed the allegation," said the report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, Richard Skinner.

The report said the company used surveillance cameras to track testers as they made their way through the airport, and told the screeners before the testers arrived at the checkpoints.

The inspector general concluded that activity took place between August 2003 and May 2004...

The whistleblower was fired by Covenant after making his allegations:

... [CNN'S JEANNE] MESERVE: ... Bencomo was a supervisor for Covenant. In a wrongful termination lawsuit, he alleges the company's security is full of holes.

BENCOMO: Individuals who are not certified by the federal government are sitting at X-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors, working explosive trace detection machines. I can remember a small chain saw made it through one of our checkpoints, icepicks, firearms, knives, box cutters.

MESERVE: But Bencomo's most explosive allegation, that when undercover federal auditors with concealed weapons showed up to test screener performance, Covenant cheated.

BENCOMO: It would take physical descriptions of the auditors at the airport, for example, what they were wearing, how tall they were, were they blonde, did they have blue eyes? The rest of the checkpoints throughout the airport were tipped off to look for these individuals....

Covenant still has the security contract at San Francisco International. Everything's fine now, we're told.
So I understand that O.J. Simpson's interviewer on Fox will be Judith Regan, who'll also publish his book through her publishing imprint (which, like Fox, is part of a Murdoch company, HarperCollins).

I seem to recall that a guy named Bernie got that same package a few years ago -- both a Regan book and a Fox TV special hosted by Regan.

That arrangement was, er, not strictly business. I'm trying not to think about the possibility that history is repeating itself.
Jeremy Dibbell at the Moderate Voice, Steve Clemons at the Washington Note, and a couple of congressmen are urging President Bush to appoint defeated GOP-centrist congressman Jim Leach as UN ambassador.

Yeah, I guess that's understandable -- just as it's understandable that some battered wives wake up after the latest in a six-year series of beatings and think, "Maybe he'll change soon." It's understandable, but it's preposterously naive. Look, guys, there are two possibilities for Bolton's replacement: (1) someone at least as distasteful to liberals and moderates as Bolton (if not more so) or (2) Lieberman (to get the Senate seat back for the GOP).

That's it. Full stop. Don't waste any more bandwidth on this exercise in futility.

And no, I don't care about the fact that, as these guys say, Leach could be confirmed unanimously. Do they understand nothing about Bush and Rove and Cheney? Obtaining consensus isn't the point. For Bush, Rove, and Cheney, obtaining consensus is the exact opposite of the point.

(Via Memeorandum.)


IN FACT: If Bush were to pick any defeated Republican for the UN job, he'd probably pick this guy. And yes, I'm serious -- I absolutely could imagine that.
Why is the Guardian story about the Bush/Iraq Study Group plan to increase troop strength by 20,000 (and say "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" to Democrats) headlined "US Plans Last Big Push in Iraq"? This isn't Bush's "last" anything in Iraq.

And why does "a former senior administration official" tell us that Bush "knows he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall"? Bush is never, ever, ever going to acknowledge failure, or begin the withdrawal process -- not next fall, not in 2008, never.

And in reference to a planned push for increased international cooperation ("This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait"), why even bother to quote the following?

"The extent to which that [regional cooperation] will include talking to Iran and Syria is still up for debate," said Patrick Cronin, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Externally, US policy is focused on what is achievable. Some quarters believe Syria in some ways could be helpful. There are more doubts about Iran but Iran holds more cards. Some think it's worth a try."

Yesterday, a top state department official, David Satterfield, said America was prepared in principle to discuss with Iran its activities in Iraq.

Bush's administration is never going to talk to people he's already decided it's never going to talk to, because he's already decided, and he's the decider, and so it's not going to happen.

Why did we even let the word "bipartisan" pass our lips? Why did we fall for the image of Wayward Son W being brought to heel by his daddy's retainers? The thing about incorrigibly defiant children is that you can't control them. If the Iraq Study Group hadn't given him this out, well, he was going to do what he wanted anyway -- after all, he'd hastily convened his own pseudo-Iraq Study Group to tell him what he wanted to hear.

I don't know how bad this would have to get before anything changed. I'm afraid we're going to get to find out.


And I guess now we know why Rumsfeld had to go. His version of "stay the course" was, very precisely, to "stay the course." It wasn't "do whatever will piss the Democrats off most and most clearly make the case that Bush is The Man, but only after the election, and it mustn't require a draft or imply that anything up to now has been a mistake."