Countdown to Bush's Last Day

Grim Statistics

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Animal Farm

"We all know there are things that are illegal and there are things that are just not good."-Kelly, a poster at

If you didn't see "Countdown" last night, I would really suggest you watch at least this clip, of Keith and Jonathan Alter discussing Karl Rove's master plan of establishing, if not a theocracy, at least an ideocracy in this country. Alter's distaste for Rove and his methods are palpable in this piece, and we all know what Keith thinks.

I felt physically ill watching that segment. It's not that we haven't known this all along, actually, but Alter puts a voice to it in a way I haven't been able to, especially when listening to the endless feedback loop of "they serve at the pleasure of the president." This is why it's important to get to the bottom of these attorney ensure that we don't become a US version of "Animal Farm" , if we haven't already. Orwell originally wrote the book as a slap at the post-WWII Soviet Union, but as one listens to Alter's interview one cannot help seeing just as fertile material for comparison with this current crop power mad, unethical, wholly capitalist goons. Old Major is undoubtedly Reagan. George Bush makes a resplendent Napoleon, Karl Rove a stereotypical Squealer, and the Piglets are the rest of the zombie-like members of the Republican party. But no matter what their station, they're all still pigs.

You know what's really sad about this? The majority of the American public doesn't care. Republicans, by and large, have actually bought into and approve this idea of a permanent majority at any cost. It's taken "independents"-primarily intellectual wannabes who smugly pride themselves on their as-yet-not-revealed superior ability to examine the issues and come to logical decisions bereft of politics-six years to see what progressives knew before the election was finished. Don't be so freakin' naive, people! It wasn't hard to see! It's been there right under your nose all along!

But the fight to take back our democratic ideals is just beginning. I surely hope Jonathan Alter is right.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Received this piece of excellent news in my email today, from Planned Parenthood:

"Dear Lisa,

Anti-birth control advocate Eric Keroack will no longer oversee Title X, the nation’s family planning program! The day he took office, Planned Parenthood launched a massive grassroots campaign against Keroack, rallying a nationwide groundswell of opposition to his appointment. PPFA President Cecile Richards issued the following statement on the resignation:

It’s a good day for women’s health. Keroack was unqualified to run the nation’s family planning program. The Bush administration must replace Keroack with a legitimate, mainstream public health expert who supports family planning and access to birth control. More than 17 million women in our country need access to affordable birth control. The nation’s family planning program should be run by a champion for women’s health and safety."

Saying Eric Keroack was unqualified to run the nation's family planning program is a bit like saying Jenna Bush is unqualified to play lead trumpet in the NY Philharmonic. At the time of his appointment he wasn't even certified as an ob/gyn. He didn't believe in contraception, an odd position to take considering he was overseeing the federal program devoted entirely to family planning and reproductive health. He also made the fanciful claim that premarital sex with multiple partners hurts a person's ability to forge successful long-term relationships:

"People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual.”

Hmmm...and you say global warming claims are based on junk science, Mr. President?

Whatever. He resigned today, although it seems more for legal reasons than pressure from family planning groups like PP. The Washington Post reports that he has resigned because of legal action taken against his medical practice by Massachusetts' Office of Medicaid. When Medicaid is involved, it usually means fraud. So not only is Dr. Keroack incompetent, he's probably also a crook.

But, he sure fit right in with the rest of the Bush crowd, didn't he?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lies About Nothing

My my my my my my my...

For an administration that insists they're playing by the rules, there's a whole lot of lyin' going on.

For example, they tell us no laws were broken in the Valerie Plame case. Scooter Libby is going to jail because of a perjury he committed to cover up...nothing, apparently. At least, that's what all the administration apologists would have you believe. No crime occurred! Valerie Plame wasn't covert...or maybe she was covert but nobody knew it, depending on which apologist you talk to. Anyway, Scooter perjured himself about it, but it was a sham prosecution because he lied to a grand jury about a perfectly legal action...or a crime committed out of ignorance (depending on who you talk to, of course).

Of course, Scooter isn't alone in his lies to cover up an innocent action. We know Dick Cheney and Karl Rove lied, too, to conceal absolutely nothing in this case. Cheney, Rove, and Libby obviously felt that their actions had to be covered up....even though no crime occurred...and Scooter is going to jail...

You get the point, I think. It passes nobody's straight-face test, except maybe Rich Lowry's. The folks on the right get very shrill when you point this out to them, as though shreiking will make the truth out of a lie.

Now the Liars' Club spotlight is on another prominent integrity-challenged member of the administration-Alberto Gonzales, our pathetic attorney general. His erstwhile right-hand man Kyle Sampson, while towing the party line that the firings were "not improper" (while at the same time equating poor performance with politics), made it clear that the attorney general was in the loop every step of the way, admitting, when pressed by Chuck Schumer, that he spoke to Gonzales "every day" so it was inconceivable that he had not spoken to him about the firings at least five times. Of course, that just confirms what Gonzales essentially admitted to Pete Williams, when he said that even though he was not involved in any discussions about the firings he was still keeping the White House "appraised" of the USA situation. (Huh? How do you appraise somebody about something you claim to know nothing about? "How's the firings at Justice going, Judge?" "I don't know, Mr. President. I don't know anything about it." "Well, thanks for keeping us appraised!)

(We also know Karl Rove has told lies in this nasty little affair as well. The truth seems positively allergic to this man.)

Again, the bigger question...why lie if there's nothing to lie about?? I mean, Gonzales is a lawyer, so you assume he's not a total imbecile, although that may be giving him too much credit. Why would you put yourself in the position of lying to Congress to cover up something if nothing improper happened, as you insist? Why not just say, yes, I knew all about it and I approved it because it was perfectly ok? Why would the White House say Rove wasn't involved when he clearly was if everything was totally above board? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Sampson said the decision about the firings were "properly made but poorly explained." What utter bullshit. A proper decision should be easily explained, and would certainly not lend itself to such a convoluted web of lies.

Let's hope the trail this time doesn't die at the doorstep of another human sacrifice. The road to the White House is becoming littered with them, even though everything is always completely proper.

Oh, and the president? Well, according to MSNBC, recent polls indicate that 55% of the public believe our fearless leader will not allow the testimony of aide Rove and incompetent lawyer Miers because he's trying to "cover up something."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Letting Guard Down

There are a lot of things I thought of writing about today. I could have ridiculed Gonzo's breathtakingly lame performance with Pete Williams yesterday. I also considered some thoughts on the latest life lost in Iraq, another soldier from my hometown, the second in two weeks. Or I could have given space to the monumental stupidity of MO Gov. Matt Blunt, a pro-lifer who wants to cut off funds to Planned Parenthoods in his state because...they don't provide abortions. Whatever. There is no end to the material provided by the tragicomedy that is the far right.

But then I heard Tony Snow has metastatic colon cancer, and a correspondingly grim prognosis. And I felt just as bad about that as I did when I heard about Elizabeth Edwards.

Few things more powerfully illuminate our shared basic humanness more than the fact that, rich or poor, devil or saint, conservative or liberal, we are all going to die someday. To varying degrees, we all fear that inevitable time. I remember New Year's Eve, watching them put the noose around Saddam Hussein's neck. I knew what Saddam was; I knew he had sent many thousands more to their own deaths, some on that very scaffold, and did it with impunity. He was a villainous wretch, a sad excuse for a human being, but he was a human being, and in that moment he was only another human being preparing to die, with all the fear and uncertainty that accompanied that moment. That's how I responded. I don't care what he did, I thought. This is not right. George Bush, in his latest PR screw up, was the only man on the planet who could give me sympathy for Saddam Hussein.

Tony Snow is not being led to the gallows, at least not in a state-sponsored execution. But the end result will be the same, and only the most soulless of us could not feel the pull to sit, to hold, to comfort this fellow human being as he confronts the most daunting task of his life. Sometimes, it seems, this time in one's life leads to great reflection and insight (ala Tuesdays with Morrie), but I suspect more often it just magnifies who we always have been, be it cranky, fearful, easygoing, anxiety ridden, humorless, spirited, or some combination. Because of that, I don't like Tony Snow any better because of this diagnosis-I'm sure he'd be relieved to hear that, frankly-but it would be less than human of me not to empathize with him.

It's also tremendously unsporting to kick a man when he's down.

Good luck to you, Tony.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Iraq War Diary

This afternoon, I was suffering from a serious case of spring fever and was reading a book on all the places Frances Mayes has visited (her books formed the basis for the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun") when I saw that Richard Engels' "Iraq War Diary" was being replayed on MSNBC. I missed it the first time around because, well, it was on at ten, and I'm always asleep by then!

Anyway, it was riveting...a must-see if you want to get an idea of what the conflict really looks from a guy who has been there since "Shock & Awe" four years ago. If you've been put off because it's been advertised as very bloody, I'd submit that it really isn't that much worse than what we see on the news every night, or even on the desensitizingly gory CSI. In any event, we've unfortunately gotten so accustomed to blood and mutiliation in our living rooms that there's really nothing shocking here, just profoundly depressing. As bad as Engel has it-and it is pretty bad sometimes-he can leave whenever he wants. The disenfranchised Iraqis who are still caught in the mayhem are the ones who really grab your attention-waving bloody limbs, screaming in grief, knowing they've been utterly betrayed by the promise of what they thought the Americans were bringing. "I expected some security...I expected everything," says one bitter Iraqi man. Engel also blows the lid off some jealously guarded icons of the early days of the war, especially the picture of Saddam's statue falling amidst a group of cheering Iraqis. Even then, Engel says, the signs of sectarianism were there, as chants of "Moqtada! Moqtada!" arose from the crowd.

At the end, Richard Engel interviews some soldiers who express some anger at the war debate and protests that rage on over here in the US. It's bound to make those of you-who feel as deeply as I do that this war is illegal, immoral and has been terribly managed-flinch. To that I say to them: I'm sorry you feel that way. But this is about more than the anger of individual soldiers or even whole brigades. I hope some day those who are bitter about the country's response to this war can understand the rage and protest was done in part for them, the soldiers-so they are no longer called by a madman to die for a useless, contrived mission-but also in part for the Iraqi people and for our survival as a nation of laws and principles.

If you haven't seen it, you can download and watch it here.

Compatibility Check

A friend of mine sent this to me this morning, and I thought anyone reading this might find it interesting as well:

After I put in my positions and indicated where they were on my priority list, here are my "best matches" in terms of voting record and/or stated positions on these issues.

(100%) 1: Sen. Barack Obama (D)
(91%) 2: Ex-VP Al Gore (D)
(87%) 3: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D)
(82%) 4: Retired Gen. Wesley Clark (D)
(79%) 5: Gov. Bill Richardson (D)
(77%) 6: Ex-Sen. John Edwards (D)
(77%) 7: Sen. Christopher Dodd (D)
(75%) 8: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D)
(73%) 9: Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) (Withdrew from race)
(62%) 10: Sen. Joseph Biden (D)
(56%) 11: Rep. Ron Paul (R)
(48%) 12: Sen. John McCain (R)
(47%) 13: Sec. Condoleezza Rice (R)
(45%) 14: Gov. Mitt Romney (R)
(43%) 15: Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R)
(43%) 16: Gov. George Pataki (R)
(40%) 17: Gov. Mike Huckabee (R)
(38%) 18: Ex-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R)
(37%) 19: Sen. Chuck Hagel (R)
(25%) 20: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R)
(24%) 21: Sen. Sam Brownback (R)
(20%) 22: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)

No real surprises in the top tier of candidates for me here...I AM very surprised that Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter and I intersect at even 20% of our issues, and I'd have to examine which ones they happen to be and what the nuances are before I believe it (not an option here) but it is a fun way to get an overall feel of where you are and where the candidates you may be considering supporting stand.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Once again, the truth denied...

I'm really curious as to why the press continues to protect this administration from itself. Why is Keith Olbermann the only man in town who thinks it's important to expose these lies and hypocrisies? Look at this link to video from a "Countdown" interview last night:

This is big news. Karl Rove has lied under oath before. That makes him not only a liar, but a perjurer as well. Same thing that Scooter is going to jail for. I'm not surprised, but I am furious that once again, the public is shielded from that sort of information. Why isn't this front page news everywhere? Why isn't the press digging into what kind of witness Karl Rove would really make?

Because they're emasculated weenies, that's why. Still afraid of the spin machine, still afraid of being called "unpatriotic."

Ladies and gentlemen, may I suggest you go change your dirty diapers and DO YOUR FUCKING JOB. Keith is sick of carrying water for you!

And The Beat Goes On...

It's over for Gonzo. Stick a fork in him; he's done. There is no way the president can protect him from this.

In what's become a typical late-Friday-night news dump, the Justice Department released documents confirming what those of us with an IQ over 50 already knew: that Alberto Gonzales was most certainly aware of the controversial US attorney firings, and approved them, despite his contrite and whiny statements of March 13 to the contrary.

"When you have 110,000 people working in the department obviously there are going to be decisions that I'm not aware of in real time. Many decisions are delegated," said Gonzo, who then proceeded to dump the entire ugly mess at the feet of flunkie du jour Karl Sampson. "...the charge for the chief of staff here was to drive this process and the mistake that occurred here was that information that he had was not shared with individuals within the department who was then going to be providing testimony and information to the Congress."

Mr. Sampson has agreed to testify-voluntarily-in front of Patrick Leahy's Judiciary Committee next week. Even if he had been inclined to tell some half-truths to protect the holders of the ideology, the chances that he will do so now appear much slimmer. He's already been thrown under the bus once. If I were him, I'd be asking about a berth in the witness protection program right about now, and testify from an "undisclosed location."

And all of this still begs the larger question: what the hell is going on here? Is George Bush really staking his presidency of the defense of the firing of these eight US attorneys? Why lie about something you insist is perfectly legal and customary? Why stretch credibility to the breaking point with noises about "executive privilege" in cases where it clearly doesn't exist? What are they trying to hide?

The parallells to Watergate are striking...a power drunk and vindictive president, a White House obsessed with secrecy and silencing critics, and a cover up that may yet dwarf the original crime ("It's not the act that kills you. It's the coverup; it's the lie.") At the center of it, two attorney generals driven more by loyalty to their benefactors than commitment to the public good. Mr. Gonzales, meet Mr. Ehrlichman...another former AG who will be happy to let you know how far loyalty goes among thieves:

"I went and lied and I'm paying the price for that lack of willpower. In effect, I abdicated my moral judgments and turned them over to somebody else."

Ehrlichman, of course, served 18 months for perjury.

Gonzo would do well to take heed...there's still time to avoid prison, if he acts now.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Power of the Candle

I can't believe I've let three days go by without a shout out to my dear friend and fellow leftie Susan S., who arranged an AWESOME candlelight peace vigil at Southern Maine Community College last Monday night to commemorate the the 4th anniversary of the never ending police action in Iraq. A great group of like minded people showed up to reflect on the events of the past four years, and to remember all of those whose lives have been wasted in the fruitless effort, including that of Angel Rosa, a young 21-year-old man from our hometown of South Portland, ME. It was at once a touching and heartbreaking ceremony, captured for posterity by WMTW-TV, a local TV news crew. Susan's husband Rob is going to burn a DVD from it, and as soon as I get a copy I'll post some of it.

A very inspiring evening for all involved! Thanks, Sue, you're the greatest!

Is This Really Politics As Usual?

You know, I was going to take odds on this blog on when Bill O'Reilly was going to start accusing the Edwards campaign of using Elizabeth's metastatic breast cancer for political purposes. Naive, stupid me. Naive because I thought the partisan attacks on a woman with a terminal illness might be put off a couple of days. Stupid because I didn't think of Rush Limbaugh first, a guy so clearly terrified that he is exactly what Arnold Schwarzeneggar labeled him that he is rapidly turning himself into nothing more than a grotesque "shock jock" in a desperate bid for relevance. This transcript is from his show today, recorded an hour or so after the announcement:

The Edwards campaign is not going to be suspended. It's going to go on out there, full speed ahead, and scheduled appearances are going to happen. Mrs. Edwards, in fact, is going to do as much campaigning as she can...Now, this suggests to me that, look, let's just see how much sympathy or attention the press conference and the news today evokes and what it does to the campaign, if this jump-starts the Edwards campaign...I think what the Edwards campaign is going to do here is see what the reaction is within the ranks of Democrat voters as far as this announcement today is concerned, and then go on from there. If there's not a big jump -- if this doesn't cause a breakout, if this doesn't cause a big up-tick -- then at some point Senator Edwards probably will have to suspend the campaign, depending on the health of his wife as she goes through treatment for this.

So we'll see if there's a bump from this. You say, "Rush, how could you be so callous?" Hey, folks, politics is politics.

First Michael J. Fox, now Elizabeth Edwards. Is there no limit to the depths of this man's partisan viciousness? I will be very, very surprised if anyone on the right calls him out over this, which says as much about their morality as it does his. To quote a powerful phrase from another era, but equally as apropos here...Mr. Limbaugh, have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wave of the Future

This has been all over the news lately, but in case you haven't seen it, I just had to post it here. Whether a Hillary fan or just lukewarm, this is brilliant...especially if you remember the effect the original ad had the one time it ran in 1984.

Rats Climbing On a Sinking Ship?

For a man who values loyalty above all else, George Bush is finding precious little of it these days. Republican politicians are practically stampeding away from him; even some of his most ardent water carriers, those twerpish quislings at The National Review are beginning to question what exactly is going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days. In the print edition, Rich Lowry, fascist-at-large and editor, notes that, "The upshot is that even Republican primary voters will be looking in 2008 for someone who doesn't run the government like George W. Bush . . . Once inside the charmed Bush circle, people tend to stay there and rise to the level of their incompetence." He makes a similar observation in his 3/16 article in the NRO.

The true believers remain very careful to focus on what cannot be plausibly denied, the fact that the people George Bush has chosen to associate most closely with are simply unqualified and incompetent to carry out their assigned duties (Andrew Sullivan, in an earlier piece, makes a convincing case that the most incompetent of them all is probably Karl Rove). They fastidiously avoid mentioning the other side of the coin, which is the blatant politicization of everything this group touches, from US attorneys to national security. It's as if the Lowrys were saying, if Gonzales and Miers weren't so incompetent, this partisan takeover of the justice department and FBI could have continued unabated! Hardly a position of high-minded concern for the welfare of the republic, now, is it?

But what this means is the Democrats really have to tread smartly in response to the president's laughingly partisan news conference yesterday, where he spent most of his time telling people how "reasonable" he was prepared to be in withholding the sworn testimony of Stepford Wife Miers and Rove. The president, with his approval ratings hovering at or below 30%, obviously felt he had nothing left to lose by adopting this stance-and he's right. It's clear that at least some of the disaffection with the president comes from the far right members of his own party, cretins like Tom DeLay, who criticized the administration on more than one talk show in recent days for "showing their hand" in the firing of the truly incompetent Rumsfeld (the politics of the which seem to bother DeLay more than the fact that Rumsfeld was directly responsible for the deaths of over 3200 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). The hostile approach adopted by the president is going to certainly buoy the spirits of the disaffected and despondent far right base, and if allowed any traction at all will begin to circle the wagons around their golden boy again. This can't be good for congressional Democrats. While it's clear the travesty and miscarriage of justice needs to be investigated and those responsible need to be held to account, Schumer & Company need to be as smart as they are determined, as they showed they can be in the 2006 elections; otherwise, they'll have no one else but themselves to blame when they see the president start to rise in the polls again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Kiss of Death?

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."-George Bush, 9/2/05, to then-FEMA director Michael Brown, who was sacked 10 days later.

"I'm pleased with the progress we're making. . . . I do" -George Bush, 11/1/06, replying in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Donald Rumsfeld to stay until the end of the president's term. Rumsfeld was then relieved of his duties on 11/6/06.

"I do have confidence in Attorney General Al Gonzales," -George Bush, 3/14/07, when asked about his view of the AG's role in the removal of eight US attorneys to Congress.

Gonzales better be polishing up his resume. I see a fat private sector job with a neocon think tank in his future...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Last Week's Lies

There are literally dozens of sites dedicated to the top lies of the Bush administration, given that these guys provide us with such fodder (btw, I perused a couple of sites about "liberal lies" and, I swear to God, the best they could come up with is "there is no liberal media bias" and Monica Lewinsky. Kind of pales compared to lies about nuclear weapons and terrorist organizations, doesn't it?)

So, knowing the biggest whoppers are already in the public domain-things like "Mission Accomplished" and "We've never been about 'stay the course'"-I've compiled the top five biggest administration whoppers of just the past week.

5. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories"-press secretary Tony Snow, admitting on Friday that the White House has to back off its' claim that the Bush Stepford Wife Harriet Miers was the first to raise the issue of firing US attorneys. That's complete bullshit, Tony, and everybody knows it. There is not one person in that White House who doesn't have every idea of how these guys ended up on this hit list.

4. "I value their independence, their professionalism, what they do in the community, and these decisions were not based on political reasons...the decisions were not based in any way on retaliation."-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, AKA Torture Guy, speaking on Wednesday about the firing of the US attorneys that will likely cost him the AG position, which he wasn't qualified for in the first place. Two big lies here: first, that the administration actually respects the independence of anyone who works for them. The only thing this group has ever respected is the ability of someone to carry out their agenda, no matter what the circumstances. Secondly, it's more than clear these firings were made to retaliate for investigations into Republicans and for not pursuing cases politically advantageous to the White House aggressively enough. Nice one, Al. Two huge whoppers in one breath.

3. "[Gonzales is] right; mistakes were made, and I'm frankly not happy about them because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the president"-George Bush on Wednesday, defending Gonzales but expressing displeasure over the firestorm the firings have caused. Bush isn't lying when he says he's unhappy-he's lying when he says why he's unhappy. He's unhappy because he got caught in a blatant political move, and forgot who now holds the subpeona power. Actually, this statement also has two lies in it: while it's true that US attorneys have been regularly removed by presidents, it is not customary that they are leaned on and then fired for not pursuing politically motivated cases. Way to go, George and Al! Four lies in two sentences!

2. "...all of whom share our goals of democracy, all of whom share our goals of free markets, all of whom appreciate America’s role in the region.”-Tony Snow again, in the March 14 edition of the NY Times, commenting on US relationships with the Latin American countries of Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico, after monster protests accompanied the president during his trip to the region. Hmmm...over 2,000 protesters tried to storm the US embassy in Mexico City last Tuesday, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made it clear that he isn't happy with US efforts on drugs and immigration and expects the administration to do "much more."
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has appointed a Marxist foreign policy adviser who has written things like "If this new horizon which we search for is still called communism, it is time to reconstitute it."
Mayan descendents in Guatemala had to purify their ancient shrines because George Bush came near them. There are major areas of the country that are ruled by lawless drug lords, who most certainly appreciate America's role in their own particular brand of capitalism...the same can be said for Columbia, where there has also been a significant shift to the left at least in part as a result of US economic policy in the region.
The president of Uruguay is a Socialist who has reestablished relations with Cuba. The government has also been very outspoken in their criticism of the US war in Iraq.
Doesn't sound like a whole lot of dedication and appreciation, there, Tony. Why, instead of press secretary, don't they just change the title of your position to "Liar to the press?"

1. “When members of Congress pursue an antiwar strategy that’s been called ‘slow bleeding,’ they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them”-Dick Cheney, last Monday at a meeting of The American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It wouldn't be a top lies list without at least one Cheney appearance. He seems confused on what it means to "undermine the troops." Undermining the troops can more completely be defined as sending them into an illegal war whose foundation is based on a house of cards, not giving them proper equipment or protection to do their jobs, and viewing soldier's lives as collateral damage in a deadly game of political one-upmanship.

That's it for this week, folks-the lies for just this week, and I didn't really have to look that far to find them!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Feeling Free to Speak for Others

"The cost has been enormous for the Iraqis. The interesting thing is that the Iraqis are nonetheless willing to pay it."

Well, at least Stephen Hadley-speaking on ABC This Week-made a pretext of giving a shit about what the Iraqis want for their own country, unlike Tom DeLay on "Meet the Press" earlier in the day. The problem is that Hadley has no idea what he's talking about, or at least doesn't want us to know-he doesn't bother to define what he means when he says the Iraqis are "willing to pay it" or how continued American presence supports that. For some context about what Iraqis really want, here is some recent poll data reflecting their thoughts on their situation:

-90% of Iraqis think the situation in Iraq was better before the U.S.-led invasion.
-70% want US forces to leave within the year (this was last September!)
-60% approve of attacks on US-led forces
-A majority feel the country is headed in the wrong direction

The one positive coming out of the polls is that the Iraqis do feel a unity government is important to the country's future. However, considering they want our asses out of there sooner rather than later, they apparently don't feel Americans are central or even necessary to the process. Only the White House seems to believe that is true, but then, these narcissists were sure the middle east would embrace American-style democracy, too.

Another day. Another lie...

Meet the Press Roundtable 3/18

I saw an interesting roundtable discussion on "Meet the Press" this morning, which was debating the justification for and current strategy in executing the war in Iraq. Panel members were the former (thank sweet jesus) majority whip Tom DeLay, looking as smarmy as ever; my former representative in Congress Tom Andrews; former Vice Admiral of the US Navy and House representative Joe Sestak; and current neocon par excellence Richard Perle. In case you didn't see it, here's a link. It's not very long (you can fast-forward through the first section), and I invite you to watch it, as it demonstrates how pitiful and ugly the rhetoric from the right has sunk in their ever-strident defense of this bad foreign policy. Compare and contrast Andrews and Sestak to Perle and DeLay. The two Democrats come off as calm, rational, and thoughtful; meanwhile, DeLay and Perle really have nothing to say but rehashed lies and the usual name-calling

These are the main points that ran through my mind as I watched it:

1. Why in God's name is anyone giving Tom DeLay a platform for ANYTHING? What could this unethical, immoral, partisan political hatchet man possibly have to say that anyone would take seriously about the strategy for this war? He was as polarizing as ever and added absolutely nothing new to the discourse. I'm going to write Meet the Press and complain about that.
2. I had to shake my head as I listened to Perle and DeLay cough up the same old bloody crap. "Iraq was part of the global war on terror" and "Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous and immediate threat to our national security and had to be taken out" would make me roll on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter if those tired lines hadn't resulted in such death, destruction, and dishonor for our country. We ALL know now that the better part of national security valor was not the forced removal of Saddam Hussein (anyone with a teaspoon of brains knew it then, but that's beside the point). I must admit, it is fascinating to watch, in the sick kind of way a crossburning is. It really takes balls to stick doggedly to the same story you told the cops even after you've been completely busted with the blood on your shirt and the guy's wife in your bed.

a)Watch Richard Perle try to justify his stand on this with a quote by Carl Levin stating Saddam Hussein was a threat to stability. Yes, acknowledges Russert, "but he voted against the war." Perle has no answer for that. Whatever Levin thought of Saddam Hussein, he clearly didn't consider it a big enough issue to send in ground troops for, which is the case Perle is trying to make here.
b)Listen to DeLay try and make the case that he was not simply supporting the removal of Saddam Hussein, but the "global war on terror." What a hoot! We all know that, in all actuality, removal of Saddam Hussein WAS the primary objective of the military action, because a)there was ample evidence that he was not, in fact, a clear and present danger in terms of another strike on America, and b)there was plenty of evidence available (for anyone who really was interested in something other than the political implications) pointing to the fact that the invasion of Iraq would make the region less stable, not more so. No, by removing Saddam Hussein under the cover of WMDs and Al-Qaeda, the Bush administration thought they were paving the way to put in a puppet government and control the area's oil resources. DeLay knew that, the lying prick.
c) Listen to DeLay, who, of course, never served a day in the military, giving military advice to Joe Sestak, a highly decorated admiral and the highest-ranking military officer to ever serve in the House. The sheer arrogance and lack of respect is jaw-dropping, although I don't know why it surprises me. Tom Andrews rightly just blows DeLay off.
3. The talking points are still clearly in place, although Perle apparently didn't get the memo that "cut and run" is just so January; it's now "slow bleed" and "micromanage." Get with it, Dick!
4. DeLay says sanctimoniously at one point in the broadcast that he only cares "about the AMERICAN people." Well, clearly only about the American people who agree with him (last count, it was about four), as Russert challenges him on a statement DeLay recently made in a column where he self-righteously questions the patriotism of those who are opposed to the war effort. There was no greater moment when Tom DeLay stated smugly that he does, in fact, consider those not in support of the war "unpatriotic," such as those who participated in the protest march in Washington, and Vice Admiral Sestak replies mildly, "You know, Tom, I spent 31 years in support of my country..." taking DeLay out at the knees. Amusingly, DeLay, of student deferment, bases his new book on a war slogan, which Russert hocks through the whole program. What a complete phony.
5. Finally, let me tell anybody who will listen that I am PROUD to be called unpatriotic by Tom DeLay! IMO, that's more evidence of my patriotism than a Silver Star. You go, Tom! Keep it up! Please, can you call me a traitor next? How about my sister?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

More Stupid Exhibits

Ok, more direct, experiential evidence that conservatism makes you a moron. Here is an actual (paraphrased) quote I overheard yesterday from another right wing loser:

"If Valerie Plame WAS a covert agent then Fitzgerald would have brought Federal charges against people for 'outing' her. He investigated the entire affair and concluded that she was not a covert agent and hence no charges."

Which, of course, is a baldfaced lie. The truth, as I explained sweetly to him, is that in 2006 special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done "covert work overseas" on counterproliferation matters in the past five years-and the CIA "was making specific efforts" to conceal her identity-although she was unlikely to be doing so in the future. In fact, she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport, and if caught in that status she could have been executed. The reason that Fitzgerald did not pursue charging Libby and others with violating a 1982 law banning the outing of a covert CIA agent because there was no direct evidence anybody actually KNEW she was covert when they discussed her with reporters, even though she worked in a department where her status could have been safely assumed.

It's really getting too easy.

The other example caused me a little more angst. I teach nursing in a community college, and our department is having difficulty retaining the English as a Second Language (ESL) students, despite the fact that they have completed English Comp and met the minimum English proficiency standard as measured by one of the standard admission tests and our own Nursing Entrance Exam. I was having a conversation about it with a couple of my colleagues. Two of us expressed the opinion that we as an educational entity are not stepping up to the plate in regards to these students-there is little by way of support in the college and definitely not in the department itself when these students begin to falter. The other (my office mate!) came out eith the standard right-wing, anti-immigrant discriminatory garbage: "If you're going to move to this country, you need to assimilate and learn the language."

Can you guess I blew up? What our exams basically measure is the ability to be minimally conversant in English-can you go to the grocery store, or your kids' school? It absolutely doesn't measure the ability to discriminately interpret the nuanced terms that we use in our exams and is the basis for the RN licensing exams. And even for native English speakers, the terminology we ask them to master almost immediately is overwhelming, and much of it is in the form of an acronym-CBC (complete blood count), GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), MI (myocardial infarction) and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), just for starters. The fact that my colleague would make this solely the problem of the student and not the department-or, in a larger sense, the college-infuriated me. We need to do a better job of a) ensuring our students are prepared to succeed in the program before we admit tham and b) ensuring adequate support for them once they are in.

A racist, insensitive remark from a nursing instructor. Oy. What next?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Saga of the Underlings

And here's to you, Kyle Sampson,
You are just the latest one to go.
But c’mon now, Kyle Sampson!
You didn't think they'd really stand by you?

We'd all like to know a bit about you, Douglas Feith.
Have they left you twisting in the wind?
Look around you all you see are brother neocons,
Aren't they the ones you cooked the intel for?

And here's to you, Douglas Feith,
I wouldn't turn my back if I were you.
Oh yes, we know now, Douglas Feith
The scapegoat for the war's gonna be you

Been convicted of lying about a covert spy,
Scooter Libby waits to go to jail.
Certainly no secret is the fact he's a fall guy
Most of all he's got to keep Cheney's secret.

It’s up to you, Scooter Libby,
Dick surely wouldn't go to jail for you
What happens now, Scooter Libby?
Do you give 'em up or do you go away?
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

Watching "Meet the Press" with Russert on a Sunday morn.
Watching yet another lie unfold.
Cry about it, shout about it
All these three can do.
Any way you look at it we lose.

Are you surprised, Doug and Scooter, that
Kyle's been thrown under the bus now too?
What's that you say, Doug and Scooter?
Kyle's better off if he just fades away...
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My Thoughts Exactly, Cynthia...

"Dick Cheney lies so regularly and spectacularly that he is probably delusional rather than dishonest."
-Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta-Journal Constitution

He has simply started to believe his own web of lies...

Friday, March 9, 2007

Newt Throws His Hat in the Ring

Newt Gingrich is running for president. How else do you explain his "coming out" as an adulterer to James Dobson, of all people? How else do you explain the most sickening display of pandering this side of Tom DeLay? "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards" said the oh-so-contrite Gingrich when asked gingerly by Dobson-an evangelical crank who under normal circumstances would have probably condemned Gingrich as a "fornicator"-if he was having an affair with a woman "obviously" not his wife during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. It was so totally staged for political effect that one thought the two conspirators would come back for curtain calls when the so-called "interview" was over. Made you want to barf.

Newt, to paraphrase the immortal words of one Homer Simpson: You're the suckiest suck up who ever sucked.

The Problem With Pardons

The usual suspects of right wing lie machine have whipped themselves itself into an absolute frenzy over the case of Scooter Libby. The cretins at the National Review are practically having fisticuffs over who can present less credible arguments for pardon, as well as continue the slander of the Wilsons that got Scooter in trouble in the first place. Rush Limbaugh called it a "travesty" and declared that "Republicans are just not ruthless. Conservatives are not ruthless in many cases" (I'm sure that gave Mr. Rove a little comic relief while he works frantically to bail the sinking ship). Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard editor speaking on-where else?-Fox News declared that Bush should pardon Scooter Libby because “he didn’t really seriously impede the investigation,” and “he’s been a loyal and effective member of this administration” (Yeeeeah...H.R. Haldeman was a real company man, too). Even a few jurors are shedding tears over poor ol' Scooter, feeling like he was "a really nice guy" and asking "Where was Rove and these other guys?"
These can all be easily dismissed as the howlings of wounded ideologues amusingly indignant that their felonious cronies have suddenly been called to account after so many years of getting away with murder. Watching them squirm would be entertaining if the road to their comeuppance weren't so bloody. What can be dismissed less easily, though, is the real possibility that George Bush may actually pardon his henchman (love what Randi Rhodes likened the possibility to-"Like Tony Soprano offering a pardon to Paulie Walnuts!") Clearly this is not good news for progressives, and not for the reasons one might think. The fact is, the most high-level presidential pardons in recent memory have not had good long term outcomes for the US.
We all remember when Gerald Ford died a few months ago, there was sort of a false kumbya that fell over the land, a collective nostalgia-induced amnesia over the effects of his pardon of Richard Nixon ("Gee, Myrtle, remember when the worse things Republicans did was break into Democratic offices and then lie about it? When we all thought John Dean was a scumbag? Ahh, those were the days!") Although I was too young at the time of the pardon to have formed an opinion on the spot, over time I have come to view it as a grave disservice to the justice system and the accountability to the American people. Ford said he decided on a pardon because the result of an investigation would only be that "ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad" (as of 2007, it's clear that merely pardoning Nixon was NOT the key to ensuring THAT set of circumstances never happened again). In giving the reprehensible Nixon a free pass, Ford achieved his goal of ensuring that the remainder of the '70s were less politically tense, but also obfuscated the facts, may have let other guilty parties off the hook, and set a terrible precedent that said a lying, polarizing president could not be held to account because we as Americans couldn't take it. Had Ford manned up and did what had to be done to restore the country's faith in their leaders back then, we might not now be presented with the disasterous term of Dick Cheney, a man for whom all roads run to the White House and none out. Cheney, a man who believes in the absolute power of the presidential office, learned that day in 1974 that a president could pretty much do whatever the hell he wanted and suffer no legal consequences. If the sight of Nixon being held up to scrutiny for what Cheney undoubtedly felt was unwarranted obstruction of the president's perogative was a bitter view, the sound of the Pardon Proclamation was sweet music to his imperialist ears. If Nixon had been held to account, there is no doubt in my mind that we would not have seen the deadly phoenix named George Bush rising from the remnant ashes of the first imperial presidency. And you know what's most infuraiting about the whole deal? The spineless of our own party around this issue. By taking impeachment "off the table," Nancy Pelosi has fallen into the same trap as Gerald Ford. Getting along is still more important than learning the truth. Somewhere in the administration, an ambitious 30-year-old aide is taking note of this fact.
The other high profile case in recent times is the pardon of six conspirators in the ugly Iran-Contra scandal. While the consequences were not as far-reaching as that of Nixon's pardon, it proved that just about any egregious act can be committed in the name of "patriotism"-"whether their actions were right or wrong" in Bush Sr's own words-and that the commission and investigation of felonies can be dismissed as "policy differences." (Sound familiar? If so, you must have just read Mona Charen's article in the NRO. These guys are great at recycling arguments that are sometimes decades old). But mostly, it gave new life to right-wing ideology after it's staunchest proponents received their "Get Out of Jail Free" cards. Most egregious is the infamous case of Elliott Abrams, convicted of withholding infromation from Congress, laughably appointed in 2001 in charge of democracy and human rights at the NSC, and in 2005 became the Deputy National Security Advisor. Bush Sr proved to Bush Jr that if your politics are in line, you can escape criminal culpability. It all comes full circle when you realize this slap in the face of accountability occurred partially because of the veneer of untouchability George Bush assumed because of the Nixon pardon.
No matter how sorry you may feel for the bind Scooter Libby finds himself in, no one should assume that he deserves a pardon because he's only fourth or fifth in the line of guilt in this case-a fall guy. Republican pardons ALWAYS have far-reaching effects, and are ALWAYS bad for the long term interests of progressives. The public should bring all manner of pressure to bear on this administration to ensure another reprehensible conservative hack does not go free, only to come back and bite us-if only spiritually-years later.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Winner is...Vermont!

Great blog by John Nichols in The Nation today about how the entire state of Vermont has voted to impeach George Bush. As the town of Middlebury duly noted, "When strong evidence exists of the most serious crimes, we must use impeachment -- or lose the ability of the legislative branch to compel the executive branch to obey the law...George Bush has led our country to a constitutional crisis, and it is our responsibility to remove him from office."

I like Vermont. I haven't been there too, too often, but there is just something awesome about a little state of less than a million people all at once flipping George Bush the bird. That's just so cool.

In honor of such a courageous move on behalf of Vermont's citizenry, I present...

Top Ten Reasons Why Vermont Is the Bluest State of Them All

10. Two words: Bernie Sanders
9. They have their own successionist movement based on social responsibility and opposing "state-sponsored violence inflicted either by the military or law enforcement officials"
8. Home of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, model of socially responsible business owner ship (and very tasty ice cream)
7. The Vermont legislature is the first in the nation to call for "an immediate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq."
6. The fastest growing political party is the Vermont Progressive Party.
5. Bill O'Reilly hates it.
4. Right wingers have actually tried a "Take Back Vermont" campaign...with little success, apparently.
3. Equal rights for all, including the right to legally tie yourself down to a hopelessly unsuitable partner just like straight people.
2. Howard "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for" Dean is only the second most liberal guy in the state
1. They remain steadfast to their philosophies and ideals despite their losses.

Vermont, I salute you! May your liberal light continue to shine and act as a beacon for the rest of us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Troop Loyalty...Revisited

It's just amazing to me how much the administration water carriers, always so quick to label anyone who criticizes the war or any portion thereof "traitors" and "disloyal to the troops," have worked to minimize the ugly Walter Reed scandal, which is far more telling about society's commitment to care for our wounded troops than twenty million of those sickening magnetic ribbons ever will be. Fox News has run about 10 times more footage of Anna Nicole than Building 18, and it seems Brit Hume's only concern was that it "looked bad" for the administration. Jonah Goldberg, that preening blowhard at The National Review, is "suspicious" of Dana Priest's motives (?)and won't believe any of it unless Fox assigns an investigation to Geraldo Rivera (man, how the mighty have fallen...Geraldo Rivera?) A blogger who goes by Jon Swift seems to feel that any soldier's complaint of the deplorable conditions at the hospital is disloyal to all the others, remarking, "Even if a small minority of soldiers are suffering, they would much prefer to suffer in silence rather than hurt the war effort, which is what many conservatives believe is the real agenda behind this story." Apparently Mr. Swift not only feels qualified to speak for all the injured soldiers, he thinks they should just shut up and suffer in silence (after all, isn't service in the name of your country it's own reward? How disgustingly condescending). The brilliant duo of Hannity & Colmes didn't mention it all week, although this week they couldn't wait to give Ann Coulter more air time after her latest bigoted remark (digression, but I love what Rachel Maddow said about the ugly bitch on "Countdown" last night: "She needs publicity in the same way that a tapeworm needs a large intestine.")
The list of those right-wingers either suspiciously silent or up in arms about this (the fact that the story was reported, not the fact that the soldiers are being neglected) is endless. What would be amusing if it weren't so ugly would be that they all question the "motives" but few can credibly question the veracity of the reporting. But they're so busy worrying that somebody might be writing about something that makes the administration look bad (and in all truth, this is a nightmare systemic issue issue of both military and healthcare red tape that reaches 'way beyond the Bush White House) that they're willing to throw the troops under the bus to undermine any effort to improve their lot. It's as if the troops are being told, you got the privilege of losing a leg for an illegal war!! What more do you want??

I'm going to leave you with a 4/05 a speech from Ron Paul, a Libertarian from Texas who is elected to his Texas House seat as a Republican. I don't agree with him on a whole lot of issues, but I have to say he has often been spot on about his assessment of the war. This speech in particular is eerily prophetic, considering what we now know about the mess at Walter Reed.

"Many military veterans were shocked to see that the federal budget for 2006 makes several cuts in veterans benefits and services. Under the proposed budget, the Veterans Administration will increase once again the co-pay cost of prescription drugs, while adding a new annual fee for medical benefits. The budget also calls for the reduction of veterans home funding and limits the number of VA nursing home beds. Some members of Congress have even suggested rewriting the definition of "veteran" in a way that could deny VA health benefits for millions of retired servicemen.

Unfortunately, the trust that members of our armed forces put in their government has been breached time and time again, and the recent budget vote represents anther blow to veterans. Even as we send hundreds of thousands of soldiers into Iraq, Congress can’t get its priorities straight.

Our invasion of Iraq will swell the ranks of our combat veterans, many of whom will need medical care as they grow older. Sadly, health issues arising from the first war with Iraq still have not been addressed. Congress should immediately end the silence and formally address Gulf War Syndrome, which has had a devastating impact on veterans who served in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. As a medical doctor, I believe the syndrome is very real, and likely represents several different maladies caused by exposure to conditions specific to the Gulf region at the time. Congress and the VA should stop insulting Gulf War veterans and recognize that the syndrome is a serious illness that needs treatment. We can only hope and pray that our soldiers in Iraq today do not suffer from similar illnesses in the future.

It’s easy to talk about honoring veterans and their sacrifices, even while the federal government treats veterans badly. Congress wastes billions of dollars funding countless unconstitutional programs, but fails to provide adequately for the men and women who carry out the most important constitutional function: national defense.

We can best honor both our veterans and our current armed forces by pursuing a coherent foreign policy. No veteran should ever have to look back and ask himself, "Why were we over there in the first place?" Too often history demonstrates that wars are fought for political and economic reasons, rather than legitimate national security reasons. Supporting the troops means never putting them in harm’s way unless America is truly threatened.

Today’s American soldiers are the veterans of the future, and they should never be sent to war without clear objectives that serve definite American national security interests. They should never fight at the behest of the United Nations or any other international agency. They should never serve under a UN flag, nor answer to a UN commander. They deserve to know that they fight for the American people and the Constitution, and that the decision to send them into battle was made by their own Congress via an express declaration of war—NOT by UN bureaucrats who don’t care about them.

Only by using American troops judiciously and in service of the Constitution can we avoid the kind of endless military entanglements we witnessed in Korea and Vietnam. We honor our veterans by ensuring that their service to the nation is never in vain."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I Hope There's a Cure

"Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis."

This was really a story in the Washington Post a little more than a year ago. Docs are thinking about making bigotry a diagnosable mental illness.

I was just thinking...maybe they could call it the "Ann Coulter Syndrome"?

See for yourself. Actually, in her defense, at least she didn't say John Edwards was enjoying the death of his son, although I'm sure that would have gotten at least as big a laugh from those goons at the CPAC.

Makes you wonder if anyone on the right will ever hold this psychopathic bitch accountable for the vitriolic garbage that comes out of her mouth. I mean, at what point will her conservative butt buddies agree she has crossed the line? When she calls Obama the n-word? When she actually draws and quarters the firstborn of Chelsea Clinton at the RNC? What is the matter with these people?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

One-Hit Wonder?

For starters, let's just acknowledge the obvious: if Rudy Giuliani is elected president of the United States in 2008, he needs to write Osama Bin Laden a thank-you card, just like George Bush did in 2004. If it weren't for 9/11, there is no possible way we're even contemplating a Giuliani presidency in 2008. He barely would have gotten out of his second mayoral term alive.

Having said that, his rise in the most recent polling is a thing to ponder, and something that should give progressives like myself pause. What is behind it, and what do we on the left have to fear from it?

Conventional wisdom says that Giuliani is still riding the crest of approval from his handling of the 9/11 crisis when he was mayor of New York, politically cashing in on the "America's Mayor" image that has stayed with him these past five and a half years. People remember the stalwart Giuliani almost immediately going to the scene, taking to the airwaves, making decisions, comforting the hysterical citizens of New York-and, by extension, the nation, as George Bush was nowhere to be found most of that day. Our signature memory of Giuliani is his emotional assertion that "the number of casualties will be more than we can bear." This is the Giuliani the Republican primary voters are currently nodding their heads yes to. The strong, resolute decision-maker, the captain who righted the Titanic this time after it hit the iceberg.

Giuliani also had the good fortune to leave office shortly after 9/11, keeping the memory of his performance that day forever frozen in time in the minds of the electorate. He does not have to battle the demons of the tragically, criminally bungled, neocon-utopic "War on Terror" that followed, ruining the political careers of so many afterwards and destroying a presidency (remember those 90% Bush approval ratings in the days and weeks immediately after the attacks?) because Giuliani has never been involved in post-9/11 policy making. After leaving office, he embarked on a lucrative consulting career and became a named partner in the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani. In short, beyond his role on the actual day of 9/11, Giuliani has no national security record to run on, and yet this is where his supporters are hitching their stars.

Still, it's obvious that this is Giuliani's strength in these early days. Pundits say it is far too soon, however, to anoint him the GOP nomination. They say that once the "real" Giuliani is known to the base voters of the GOP, they will reject him. Giuliani is, after all, famously not "one of them" on issues perceived to be of the utmost importance to the GOP primary voter-he is pro-choice and an advocate of civil unions (although not gay marriage) and gun control measures. To his credit, he has not yet tried to appreciably distance himself from these stands ala Mitt ("I was pro-choice before I was pro-life") Romney. He has been married three times, the last divorce a nasty affair marred by charges of adultery that probably led to his withdrawal from the 2002 Senate seat ultimately won by Hillary Clinton. Popular wisdon seems to believe that Giuliani cannot overcome these ideological conflicts with those on the far right to win the nomination.

I say, not so fast. I'm going out on a limb here and say I think Giuliani wins the GOP nomination, and that spells big trouble for the Democrats if they don't start paying attention.

It's true that those of the Jesus Camp persuasion are hopping mad over what they perceive to be a weak field of candidates who represent their views of How You Should Live Your Life. After all, these neanderthal goons have had their way on nearly every issue for the past six years and they cannot believe that the rug is about ready to be pulled out from under them. For these freaks, if you're going to vote for Giuliani or Romney, you might as well be drawing the arrow to Jesse Jackson. Well, I say to them: tough shit. The country tried your way for three election cycles and were repulsed by it. It's not about you and your ugly little culture war anymore. There's no Helter Skelter coming.

My guess, as an outsider, is that the more mainstream GOP may be trying to take a page from the Democrat's 2006 playbook, and take a steely, cold-eyed look, not necessarily to who best represents the overall platform but, given the overall mood of the nation, who can get elected (see: Bob Casey, Heath Shuler, Jon Tester). The GOP primary voting base-the ones that read the news, and listen to commentaries-already know all about Rudy Giuliani and have not yet recoiled in horror. It's a classic case of the end justifying the means.

Practical, tough-talking, non-neoconservatively motivated Rudolph Giuliani fits the GOP bill perfectly here. That's why Democrats should be worried.

At this point, the smart money is saying either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Hillary's perceived problems with overall electability are legion, and the knock on Barack is that he is simply too inexperienced to lead a country at such a volatile time (it should be noted that Obama has more years both as an elected official [10 to Giuliani's 8] and as a national politician [2 to Giuliani's 0]). However, I think it's safe to say that Democrats, and the large majority of independents, would be loyal to either of them if faced with the prospect of voting for John McCain instead.

But would they remain loyal if the GOP candidate were Rudy Giuliani? The generally left-leaning part of the voting populace, who are not rabid populists but are in favor of abortion rights, tolerant of gays and suspicious of corporations, and not especially well informed, would probably tend to view a Giuliani candidacy very positively. After all, he's clearly not a member of the US Taliban, whom most of these folks view with contempt; he holds a lot of their social views; and they remember his larger-than-life presence on 9/11 as proof that he has actually "done" something in the face of adversity. A lot of these folks just plain don't like or trust Hillary Clinton, and, while likely holding a favorable view of Obama, would feel that he is not the man to run the country at this point because they haven't seen him "do" anything. A Giuliani candidacy would be far more likely to peel away those middle of the roaders who are still buying the fear mongering rhetoric, overlooking or unaware that in reality, the ex-governor's resume on this issue is a mere one day long.

It's up to us progressives to continually point out to those who may be swayed by the glamour and "moderateness" of a Giuliani campaign of what a Giuliani presidency would probably look like. The best vision of the future can usually be found by looking to the past, and Giuliani's past is rife with everything that makes progressives blanch. For eight years, Governor Giuliani ran the city of New York like a police state, declared open war on the city's poor, and hijacked the public school system. His consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, has left a legacy of corporate watercarrying and conflicts of interest. Candidate Giuliani has vowed to continue the tradition of appointing conservative judges, the biggest ongoing threat to civil liberties. Yes, Giuliani may be a social moderate on litmus test issues, but his overall philosophy is most definitely that of a hardcore conservative.

And yet...Democratic defections to a Giuliani candidacy could be the Democrats' biggest headache in 2008. A guy endorsed by the National Review!

I'm sending a donation to John McCain. Right now.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Quote to Ponder

"Who would have guessed that the first American wounded was a gay Marine?"
Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, a decorated Marine, who came out as a homosexual at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill. Alva is thought to be the first American wounded wounded in Iraq, when he tripped a land mine and lost his leg. Below is a video of his testimony, courtesy of YouTube.