Monday, July 14, 2008

Here is what can be done.

Three cheers for Glenn Greenwald and The Accountability Now PAC and Strange Bedfellows for providing an answer to those who, in the face of the litany (see below) of disgraceful actions by Congress in enabling the Bush administration, ask: what can we do...?

In the 2006 mid-term elections, Americans handed The Democratic Party a sweeping, staggering, and historic victory -- as the GOP was removed from power and Democrats given control over both the House and Senate. It marked only the third time in the last 60 years that there was a change in control of the Congress. The Democrats defeated six GOP Senators, and picked up 31 House seats. Six Governorships switched from the GOP to the Democrats. Not one single Democratic incumbent in Congress and not one Democratic Governor lost -- only the second time in U.S. history in which one of the major parties failed to defeat even a single Congressional incumbent from the other party.

Since that overwhelming Democratic victory, this is what the Democratic-led Congress has done:


These assaults on core Constitutional freedoms and the rule of law are coming from a toxic union between the radical neoconservative, Bush-loyal Right (represented in every meaningful way by John McCain) and craven, principle-free leaders of the Democratic Party establishment and their dominant "Blue Dog" contingent. Meanwhile, huge numbers of citizens across the ideological spectrum vehemently oppose these assaults, but have had no mechanism for being heard.

The Accountability Now PAC and Strange Bedfellows coalition we've created is designed to change that. Its fundamental purpose is to find ways to force accountability on these issues and to stop the political establishment from continuing to trample on these political values.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Outrageous: FISA bill and telecom amnesty

Outraged by yet another apologist's op-ed spouting the standard talking points and lies, the incomparable Glenn Greenwald makes it clear exactly how the FISA legislation is a complete travesty.
I would really like to know where people like Soderberg get the idea that the U.S. President has the power to "order" private citizens to do anything, let alone to break the law, as even she admits happened here. I'm asking this literally: how did this warped and distinctly un-American mentality get implanted into our public discourse -- that the President can give "orders" to private citizens that must be complied with? Soderberg views the President as a monarch -- someone who can issue "orders" that must be obeyed, even when, as she acknowledges, the "orders" are illegal. That just isn't how our country works and it never was. We don't have a King who can order people to break the law.


So much of this comes from the constant fetishizing of the President as the Supreme Leader, "our" Commander-in-Chief, rather than -- as the Constitution explicitly states -- "commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States." In the U.S., private actors don't have government "commanders" who can "order" or "direct" them to do anything. Even soldiers, for whom the President is actually the Commander-in-Chief, are prohibited from obeying unlawful orders. Yet here is Nancy Soderberg -- in tandem with the rest of the political establishment -- claiming that private telecoms were justified, even compelled, to obey unlawful "orders" from the President, and are therefore entitled to be immunized from consequences.


Contrary to what the Nancy Soderbergs of the world want people to believe, these [FISA] laws enacted by the American people in order to prevent spying abuses weren't only directed at the Government but specifically at the telecom industry as well. The whole point was to compel telecoms by force of law to refuse illegal Government "orders" to allow spying on their customers. That's why Qwest and others refused to "comply", but the telecoms that were hungry for extremely lucrative government contracts agreed to break the law. They did it because, motivated by profit, they chose to, not because they were compelled. Breaking the law on purpose and then profiting from the lawbreaking is classic criminal behavior. The conduct which those laws were designed to make illegal -- and which they unambiguously outlawed -- is exactly what the telecoms did here.


What all of this is really about -- the reason why political elites like Nancy Soderberg are so eager to defend it -- is because they really do believe that lawbreaking isn't wrong, that it doesn't deserve punishment, when engaged in by them rather than by commoners. People who defend telecom immunity or who say that it's not a big deal are, by logical necessity, adopting this view: "Our highest political officials and largest corporations shouldn't face consequences when they break our laws as long as they claim it was for our own good." That's the destructive premise that lies at the heart of this deeply corrupt measure, the reason it matters so much. Just like the pardon of Nixon, the protection of Iran-contra criminals, and the commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence, this bill is yet another step in cementing a two-tiered system of justice in America where our highest political officials and connected elite can break our laws with impunity.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sound familiar?

From Dave at Cathie from Canada, I got this flash from the past, about the future, which sounds a lot like the past seven years.
In 1997, a full three years before George W. Bush was appointed president of the United States, a full five years before Bush invaded Iraq based on manufactured intelligence, almost 10 years before the treatment of wounded veterans became a national scandal, a full 10 years before oil prices skyrocketed and the US economy started a flat spin downward, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two relative newcomers to big-screen Hollywood, wrote an Academy Award winning script for the movie, Good Will Hunting.

This is a monologue by Matt Damon in his character, Will Hunting:

Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

--quote from imdb

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't let the fear-mongering work again.

Glenn Greenwald calls bullshit on the GOP and their media enablers who claim "terrible things will befall us -- scary, "unthinkable," "severe," "dangerous" things -- unless we all harmoniously comply with the President's demands for the power to spy on our communications without warrants and without oversight, and unless we immunize telecoms that broke the law." He implores the Dems to do the right thing and not cave in yet again.
There's one reason and one reason only why the Protect America Act expired last February and why the orders obtained under it are set to expire in August. It's because the President and Congressional Republicans blocked an extension of the PAA because the President said he would veto any FISA amendment unless telecom amnesty was attached to it (Lichtblau notes: "Democrats have offered temporary extensions in the surveillance law, but the White House has resisted that idea").

That is the hallmark of the Democratic Party leadership: they are afraid of looking weak, and the way they try to solve that problem is by being guided by their fears and allowing themselves to be bullied into complying with the President's instructions. They actually still think that being bullied and always being afraid to take a stand will make them look strong. They have yet to figure out that it is that craven behavior which makes them look weak, and appropriately so, since it is weak.

But even that ostensible political fear makes no sense whatsoever. Democrats control the agenda in Congress. They determine what bills are voted on. All they have to do is force a House and Senate vote on a bill that does two simple things: (a) exempt foreign-to-foreign calls from FISA's warrant requirements and (b) extend the PAA surveillance orders by 6 or 9 months. When the GOP filibusters that bill, or when George Bush vetoes it, then that will obviously preclude the GOP from using the expiration of those PAA orders as a club to beat Democrats, since it will be as clear as day -- so clear that even our national press corps can understand it -- that it was the President and the GOP, not Congressional Democrats, which caused those orders to expire.

Whatever else happens, the excuse that will be offered by Democrats -- that they were pressured and forced into accepting this "compromise" because they would be politically harmed if the PAA orders expired in August -- is patently false. They could easily obviate that weapon by simply offering a bill to extend the orders. When they don't do that, and instead agree to a "compromise" that gives the President virtually everything he has been demanding, it will not be because they were coerced or pressured into doing so, but rather, because they, too, favor warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Identity Politics

I had a epiphany years ago when a friend of mine was expounding on the enormity of the Holocaust and I felt I had to ask him to clarify that: "it's the fact that so many people were exterminated that made it so awful, right, not the fact that they were predominately Jews? i.e. it would have been just as horrible if the victims had been some other group?"

More recently, in conversation with another friend who was actively and passionately involved (with me and many others) in a particular political issue, I made the point that I was in complete agreement with him on this issue because it was yet another example of corruption: decisions being made to benefit a few friends of those whose responsibility and obligation it was to do what was best for the whole group. He seemed stunned at first because (it seemed to me), this was his big issue, perhaps his only political issue and therefore (at least implicitly) more important than other (people's) issues.

I was not trying to take anything away from this issue but, rather, I was trying to make the point that it was one of many examples of a more general issue. I hate injustice, not just injustice that negatively affects me and mine. I am in support of resistance to all injustice but, as anyone who has scarce resources to allocate, I have to make choices. The fact that I focus on some issues or causes more than others doesn't mean that I think the others are less valid. But it's easy for people to lose sight of this truth in the heat of the moment. On this topic, Barbara O’Brien at the Mahablog makes a really good point about what she calls "identity politics".
The Wiki definition of “identity politics” is “political action to advance the interests of members of a group supposed to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or neurological wiring).” That’s fine as far as it goes, but there’s a critical aspect of IP that this definition leaves out. And that is the tendency of IP activists to care and work passionately only on behalf of the marginalized group with which they share identity (hence the name, “identity politics”).

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because the end result is a balkanization of advocacy groups that compete with each other for donations and attention and sometimes even work against each other. And that end result is one of the reasons the Right has been able to dominate American political discourse for the past quarter century or so.


As I wrote a couple of days ago, equality by definition has no preferences.

I intensely dislike “identity politics.”

Identity politics are not about “fighting for one’s equality.” They are ultimately about celebrating inequality and responding to divisiveness with more divisiveness. They are about attaching one’s ego and self-identity to a partisan group and favoring that group at the expense of other groups.

“Fighting for equality” is fighting for equality. Equality by definition has no preferences. If you are fighting for equality only for your particular slice of the demographic pie, then you aren’t fighting for equality but for favoritism.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Complicit Enablers, indeed!

You really should read regularly the incomparably and consistently excellent Glenn Greenwald. His signature principled and articulate outrage is directed at the hypocritical "complicit enablers" in the media who greeted with silence the Senate report documenting BushCo's lying the country into starting a war. These people, who swooned and howled when Clinton lied about a blow job, are unblinkingly "calm and quiet" when confronted with evidence that the administration is made of up war criminals.

No matter how many times one sees it, it will never cease to amaze that the exact same media mavens who righteously strutted around demanding that Bill Clinton be impeached or forced to resign because the "honor" of our political system demanded that, continue casually to dismiss every crime of the last seven years as nothing more than a garden-variety, good faith "policy dispute" which only shrill rabble want to see "turned into a criminal or impeachable affair." So the Senate issues a report documenting that the President and Vice President repeatedly made false statements to induce the citizenry to support a war against another country that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead for no reason -- added on to the piles of outright lawbreaking under this administration -- and to David Broder, those are just mere "policy disputes" which (unlike Bill Clinton's grave crimes) merit no punishment.

The only news made by that Senate report is that, in our country, a report like this -- documenting that the Government lied us into a war -- is no longer news at all. Extraordinary conduct of that type has been converted by the David Broders of the world into commonplace "policy disputes." As a result, our press corps -- which literally spent hours and hours on the air Thursday night pitifully staking out Hillary Clinton's house and breathlessly reporting on the movement of every SUV and have spent days (with no end in sight) sharing with each other their moronic fantasies about what Clinton and Obama might have said to one another -- have ignored almost completely the issuance of that Senate report, as well as the fact that John McCain now says he embraces the extremist theories of presidential power that have led to the panoply of these abuses.

It's not difficult to understand why our media stars are so dismissive of the crimes committed by the Bush administration. It's because, with very few exceptions, they've endorsed and defended those crimes.


The same stars of the Liberal Media who paralyzed the country for two years with their fixation on Bill Clinton's sex scandal -- and who relentlessly insisted that he be forced from office -- have spent the last seven years calmly telling us that there is no reason to get all excited or upset by what the administration has been doing. As the administration repeatedly broke multiple laws and degraded every last realm of our political culture, most of our Broder-led media class remained nice and "calm and quiet." Of course they don't believe there should be any consequences for the crimes that have been committed by this administration because, as complicit enablers in all of it, those crimes are also their own.
These people are war criminals and need to brought to justice and their media enablers need to be thoroughly discredited as journalists. Otherwise, it will just keep happening. As Digby wrote yesterday:
This is another edition of "when you let Republicans get away with murder, they will do it again." In this case, it's literally true. The worst decision Bill Clinton ever made was letting Iran-Contra slide in the name of healing and "getting things done." He got impeached for his trouble and these people came back and perpetrated the Greatest Strategic Blunder In Modern Memory.

The SSCI waited until nearly the end of Bush's term to bring this up in order that it be relegated to the "healing" file and nobody ever pays the price. It's how the establishment protects itself. (See: Libby, Scooter.) Maybe somebody thinks we can just wait for Michael Ledeen to die. But there is a whole new generation weaned on conservative movement tactics and they will keep the zombie alive until they get their next chance unless it's stopped once and for all.

Friday, April 18, 2008

You don't know Dick

Dick Cheney was never a "grown-up"

A hard look at how one man changed the face of neoconservatism.

By Sidney Blumenthal

Apr. 14, 2008 | After Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face on a Texas hunting trip in February 2006, the national press corps began to speculate about him as one of the great mysteries of Washington, the Sphinx of the Naval Observatory, his official residence. Cheney had been known in the capital for decades through a career that carried him from congressional intern to the most powerful vice president in American history, but now his supposedly changed character became a subject of intense speculation. Brent Scowcroft, who had been George H.W. Bush's national security adviser, and had counseled against the invasion of Iraq, told The New Yorker magazine in 2005, "I consider Cheney a good friend -- I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." Scowcroft's judgment was less about Cheney's temperament than his policy positions. The press, however, sought to disclose the sources of his "darkening persona," as a cover story in Newsweek described it. "Has Cheney changed? Has he been transformed, warped, perhaps corrupted -- by stress, wealth, aging, illness, the real terrors of the world or possibly some inner goblins?" A cover story entitled "Heart of Darkness," published in The New Republic, suggested that Cheney's heart disease had produced vascular dementia. "So, the next time you see Cheney behaving oddly, don't automatically assume that he's a bad man."

In 2000, when Cheney, as head of George W. Bush's search committee for a running mate, selected himself, opinion makers in Washington greeted the choice as proof positive of the younger Bush's deference to wisdom and therefore personifying prudence. Cheney's "manner gives him immunity from the extremist label," assured David Broder, the longtime leading political columnist of the Washington Post. "Voters who saw his televised briefings during the Persian Gulf War remember the calm voice and thoughtful expression that are his natural style ... By choosing a grown-up, Bush gave evidence of his own sense of responsibility."

Five years later, in 2005, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, by then the former chief of staff to the former Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking publicly at a Washington think tank, the New America Foundation, was less concerned with the press corps' obsession with Cheney's shifting images than with exposing his unprecedented manipulations. "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made." Though he had had extensive experience in government, Wilkerson had never before encountered such "secrecy," "aberration" and "bastardization" in decision-making. "It is a dysfunctional process," he said. "And to myself I said, okay, put on your academic hat. Who's causing this?"

Previously fixed on the stereotype of the "grown-up," pundits projected a new stereotype of dementia. But had Cheney, in fact, been fundamentally transformed, becoming unrecognizable to those professional observers of the press who believed they knew him well? Both Scowcroft and Wilkerson had encountered Cheney within councils of state. Had even Scowcroft misjudged Cheney as a team player when he was Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War? Was Cheney a regular, conservative minded Republican who had just gone mad? Or, if he were a member of a "cabal," did it involve more than Rumsfeld?

George W. Bush jettisoned the tenets of traditional Republicanism -- fiscal responsibility, limited government, separation of church and state, and realism in foreign policy. Instead the doctrines that had been nurtured in the hothouse of the Counter-Establishment since the Reagan period achieved their most radical expression. At every point, Cheney exercised his power.

The supply-side theory of tax cuts -- that slashing tax rates especially on the upper brackets would produce a flood of new government revenues -- was applied with a vengeance even after the Reagan experiment had disproved the notion, having fostered extraordinary deficits. On Nov. 15, 2002, after Bush's tax cuts had passed, then Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill spoke at a White House meeting of the senior economic team about an impending "fiscal crisis" because of "what rising deficits will mean to our economic and fiscal soundness." Cheney quickly knocked down his argument. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said. "We won the midterms. This is our due." O'Neill was soon fired. He concluded that Cheney and "a praetorian guard" governed Bush's presidency. "It's not penetrable by facts," he said. "It's absolutism."

Conservative lawyers were installed throughout the administration and appointed to federal judgeships while radical legal doctrines were imposed. As soon as he took office Bush ended the American Bar Association's pre-screening of judicial nominees, a practice that had begun in 1948. The ABA was considered a hopelessly "liberal" organization. In its place de facto vetting was now performed by the Federalist Society, a group that "has created a conservative intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community," according to its website. Founded in 1982 and infused with more than $15 million in grants from conservative foundations, the Federalist Society has become the principal network for lawyers on the right. Nearly every Bush judicial nominee, every Justice Department official, every general counsel in every federal department and agency, and dozens of senior cabinet and sub-cabinet secretaries was a member.

The congressional investigation into the political purge of U.S. Attorneys uncovered evaluation forms with a column to be checked about whether or not the applicant was a Federalist Society member. On every issue, from the gutting of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, where 60 percent of the professional staff was driven out and not a single discrimination case was filed, to the implementation of the so-called "war paradigm," including abrogation of Article Three of the Geneva Convention against torture, (which then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales termed "quaint" in a memo to the president), Federalist Society cadres were at the center. David Addington, Cheney's counsel and later chief of staff, directed the tight-knit group of "torture lawyers" within the administration.

Foreign policy was dominated by the neoconservatives whose agenda was galvanized after the terrorist attacks of September 11. The 2000 manifesto issued by the Project for a New American Century, a neoconservative group that advocated "regime change" in Iraq, contained a cautionary line that "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." September 11 became that "new Pearl Harbor," providing long hoped for political momentum the neoconservatives channeled for an invasion of Iraq.

The influence of the neoconservatives over the national security apparatus was heavy-handed and pervasive. More than 17 signatories of the Project for the New American Century statement held posts within the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Richard Perle (chairman of the Defense Policy Board), and John Bolton (Undersecretary of State for Policy and later Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations). But these eminences were the tip of the iceberg. Neoconservatives also staffed the Office of the Vice President, comprising the largest national security team ever assembled by a vice president. Neoconservatives were strategically placed throughout the National Security Council—for example, Elliott Abrams, NSC director of Middle East affairs, a convicted felon in the Iran-contra scandal. And neoconservatives were packed into the Office of the Secretary of Defense and his Office of Special Plans, a new office created to "stovepipe" intelligence to the White House without having it vetted by the CIA or other intelligence agencies.

The Iraq war was largely a neoconservative production conducted under the guidance of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Cheney took command of the intelligence process, even arranging for Bush to sign Executive Order 13292, written by Addington, giving the vice president the same power over intelligence as the president. The disinformation campaign that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was a joint enterprise of the Office of the Vice President and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, providing a steady stream of evidence that was later revealed to be false and fabricated.

The occupation of Iraq was undertaken as a grand experiment in conservative ideology. The experienced hands in nation building at the State Department, who had prepared for the complexities of Iraqi reconstruction, as well as senior professionals from the departments of Treasury, Energy and Commerce, were blackballed by Cheney, Rumsfeld and their neoconservative aides. The hiring for the Coalition Provisional Authority was run by Rumsfeld's liaison to the White House (mainly OVP), who gathered resumes from the slush piles of conservative think tanks, and subjected prospective employees to rigorous tests of political loyalty, asking whether they had voted for George W. Bush and were opposed to abortion.

Cheney's reliance on neoconservatives was essential in carrying out his long conceived project of creating an imperial presidency, an executive unfettered by Congress or the press, that under the banner of war could enact any policy and obey or ignore any law that it wished. Cheney's use of the neoconservatives to attain his aims -- the core goals of the Bush presidency -- was hardly happenstance or an alliance of sudden convenience. "Has Cheney changed?" asked Newsweek. The answer to that question required delving deeply into the hidden history of neoconservatism.

Richard Nixon was the first Republican president to cultivate the neoconservatives. They were considered a potentially fresh source of ideas to deal with racial turmoil, student unrest over the Vietnam War, and the discontents of the working and middle classes. Nixon's first encounter took place on March 12, 1970, when Irving Kristol was invited to dinner with the president. Kristol was a former Trotskyist who maintained a consistently cynical view of liberalism as he drifted to the right, acting as an editor at a succession of small journals. The diary of H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, records: "Tonight P (President) stag dinner with key staff and Irving Kristol. Got off to slow start and through dinner P talked with (George) Shultz (Secretary of Labor) about labor matters, Kristol just listened. Sort of a waste of time and talent. In Oval Room [Office] after dinner the talk heated up, about whole subject of condition of the country, focused on radicalization of large number of college students, strength of nihilistic groups (in influence, not numbers), and how to deal with it all ... Must say, Kristol didn't add much."

Nixon did not recall Kristol from that dinner. Kristol, after all, had been uncharacteristically quiet. Nonetheless, Nixon's aides kept sending him articles Kristol wrote on such subjects as pornography and censorship. After Kristol endorsed Nixon for reelection in 1972, causing a stir among the New York intellectuals, Nixon's most conservative aides, Patrick Buchanan and Charles Colson, recommended that Nixon hire Kristol as a domestic policy expert to replace the departing Daniel Patrick Moynihan. For whatever reason, whether Nixon's or Kristol's demurral, Kristol did not receive the appointment.

With Nixon's resignation and Gerald Ford's assumption of the presidency, a new aide arrived with the portfolio to gather ideas from conservative thinkers. Robert Goldwin was himself little known among intellectuals. He was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the oldest conservative think tank in Washington; founded to combat the New Deal, it functioned as the brain trust for Barry Goldwater's campaign in 1964. Goldwin had published no notable articles or books of his own and believed generally that intellectuals did not "even have much to say to the ordinary citizen." His notion was less an idea than an impulse, a deeply seated resentment against liberalism that took the form of anti-intellectualism.

Goldwin's gruff contempt expressed the common opinion of conservatives, even conservative thinkers, of the period. AEI was less a hive of activism than a small, stagnant world apart. Its scholars had not achieved distinction in peer-reviewed academia; nor were they known for interesting articles in major publications. Kristol was an experienced provocateur and organizer, whose neoconservatism was a Leninist strategy for the right: intellectual cadres would act as a vanguard to guide the masses of Nixon's "Silent Majority" against the class enemy.

Goldwin's first service to President Ford was to arrange an hour long private meeting with Kristol, who soon began recommending neoconservatives to positions on the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress.

Goldwin also called Kristol's work to the attention of Ford's chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld, who in turn handed it over to his deputy Dick Cheney. (Cheney had also been Rumsfeld's assistant when Rumsfeld served as counselor to President Nixon.) Cheney had earned a master's degree in political science at the University of Wyoming and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin before dropping out to work as an intern for a Republican congressman from Wisconsin. According to documents in the archives of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Cheney wrote Goldwin on Jan. 25, 1975. "I greatly appreciate receiving the stuff you've been sending me… Anything like that that comes in from Kristol or others, I'd love to see."

Five days later, Kristol wrote Goldwin a letter explaining the political necessity of fostering a conservative Counter-Establishment:

"I do think the White House ought to do something for a relatively small group of men who are, unbeknownst to it, being helpful to this Administration, to the Republican party, and to conservative and moderate enterprise in general. I am referring to the men who head small and sometimes obscure foundations which support useful research and activities of a kind that the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations take a dim view of. I have got to know an awful lot of them these past years, and they never have received the barest recognition which I think they are entitled to. I am thinking of people like R. Randolph Richardson of the Smith Richardson Foundation, Donald Regan from the Merrill Trust, someone from the Earhart Foundation, the head of the Scaife Family Trust, and the head of the Lilly Endowment, etc. I say ‘head' because, in each case, one would have to determine whether it is the chairman of the board of the executive director who is the appropriate person to receive this recognition. But it would be nice if, say, the White House were to invite these gentlemen and their wives to a State dinner occasionally. If you think this can be done, I'd be happy to draw up a list for your guidance."

On Feb. 14, 1975, Cheney wrote Goldwin, "Bob, why don't you come see me on Irving Kristol. We need to come up with a specific proposal as to how he might be utilized full time." Kristol was soon sending a flow of letters and articles containing his views on a wide range of subjects to Goldwin that were also shared with Cheney. One Goldwin memo, dated Nov. 18, 1975, appended to a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by Kristol on small business, "The New Forgotten Man": "In case you missed it, this Kristol piece is excellent and addressed very directly to us in this Administration." At Kristol's suggestion, Goldwin also launched a series of seminars for senior officials within the administration that included a number of neoconservative luminaries. Cheney, who had become White House chief of staff, and Rumsfeld, who had been named Secretary of Defense, were regular attendees.

After Ford's defeat in 1976, Kristol's influence in directing the funding of right-wing foundations made him the widely acknowledged godfather of the neoconservative movement. During the Reagan years, he moved from New York to Washington, settling as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, which under his influence had shed its traditional Republican origins and become a neoconservative bastion. (In 2002, George W. Bush awarded Kristol the Presidential Medal of Freedom.) Kristol's son, William, meanwhile, continued the family business, serving as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, an isolated outpost of neoconservatism during the elder Bush's administration that its denizens called "Fort Reagan." William became editor of a neoconservative journal of opinion, The Weekly Standard, part of press lord Rupert Murdoch's media empire that included Fox News, where the younger Kristol holds forth as a regular commentator. Two years after establishing The Weekly Standard, Kristol co-founded and chaired the Project for a New American Century, whose office was housed at the American Enterprise Institute.

The abbreviated history of the Ford administration, reaping the whirlwind of Nixon's failed presidency, besieged on all sides by the Congress, the press and an insurgent Republican right, scarred Cheney. His encouragement of Kristol and the neoconservatives reflected his efforts to move the Ford administration rightward. Along with Rumsfeld he pushed for the creation of a parallel commission dubbed the Team B to second-guess the CIA on Soviet military capability. The Team B's report projecting a rapidly expanding Soviet threat turned out to contain faulty data. Then CIA director George H.W. Bush, who had acceded to Team B's creation, later condemned it as having set "in motion a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy." Nonetheless, Team B served as an important milestone in legitimating neoconservatism within the Republican Party.

Elected to the House of Representatives from Wyoming in 1978, Cheney quickly rose within the Republican leadership, becoming the party's senior figure on intelligence matters. As the ranking Republican on the joint congressional committee investigating the Iran-contra scandal Cheney issued a report (written by his then counsel Addington) that attacked the Congress for encroaching on the president's prerogatives in foreign policy, although the scandal involved secret offshore bank accounts, rogue sales of missiles to Iran and bribery of White House officials. This parallel and illegal foreign policy was constructed to avoid adherence to the congressional Boland amendments that prohibited covert military aid to the Nicaraguan contras. Cheney's minority report was a brief for the imperial presidency. It stated: "Congressional actions to limit the president in this area therefore should be reviewed with a considerable degree of skepticism. If they interfere with the core presidential foreign policy functions, they should be struck down." In 2005, he told reporters that the report best captured his views of a "robust" presidency.

When I published this book in 1986 it appeared just months before the Iran-contra scandal was revealed. I had set out to examine the ways that conservatives had created an infrastructure for institutionalizing and magnifying their influence in national politics and throughout the federal government. Then on the national staff of the Washington Post, I knew Dick Cheney as the House Republican Whip. But I didn't imagine then that his crusade for unfettered presidential power and a unitary executive would culminate during a subsequent presidential administration.

As Secretary of Defense in the elder Bush's administration, Cheney was always the most ideological member of the national security team. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Cheney's Pentagon senior staff "a refuge for Reagan-era hardliners." After the Gulf War, in 1992, the neoconservatives engaged in a new Team B-like operation under Cheney's aegis. Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and his deputies, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (later VP Cheney's chief of staff) and Zalmay Khalilzad (later U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the U.N.), after consulting with leading neoconservatives, produced a draft document for a post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy, simply called Defense Policy Guidance. The memo argued for unilateral use of U.S. force, preemptive strikes, preventing the emergence of powerful rivals including nations that were formally allied to the U.S., and pointedly did not refer to international order or multilateral organizations. Once the document was leaked to the New York Times, however, Bush administration officials killed it as contrary to their foreign policy. But Cheney was proud of the memo and issued a version of it under his name as a departing gesture in 1992 as the administration left office. "He took ownership of it," said Khalilzad. The ideas contained within it resurfaced in the 2000 manifesto of the Project for a New American Century (Wolfowitz, Libby, Khalilzad, and Cheney were signatories) and in 2002 as the basis for President George W. Bush's "National Security Strategy of the United States of America."

After the first Bush administration, Cheney became the chief executive officer of Halliburton and a member of the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute. His wife, Lynne, who as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993 had been a fierce cultural warrior on the right, became a senior fellow at AEI. On January 23, 2003, two months before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush delivered a speech at the annual AEI dinner bestowing the Irving Kristol Award. "You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds," he declared. The following year, Cheney did the honors. "Being here brings to mind my own days affiliated with AEI, which stretch back some 30 years," he recalled.

Cheney had not changed over the years; on the contrary, he could not have been more explicit and direct about his goals all along. There never was a real mystery about him. Early on, Cheney's notions for an imperial presidency and his relationships with the neoconservatives merged on to a single track. Since the beleaguered Ford White House, he sought out people to develop and implement such ideas, which became the governing policy of George W. Bush's administration. Only through Cheney was the rise of neoconservatism made possible. Now its next phase will revolve around finding a new sponsor to return them to power despite the catastrophic consequences of their ideas.

The Moron tries to redefine NATO

Dave at the Galloping Beaver writes:

George W. Bush has decided that NATO forces are now inextricably tied to his great 10th Crusade to spread freedom, peace and American flags over as many oilfields as possible.
“NATO is no longer a static alliance focused on defending Europe from a Soviet tank invasion,” he said in Bucharest. “It is now an expeditionary alliance that is sending its forces across the world to help secure a future of freedom and peace for millions.”
You know, literacy requires that an individual be able to read as well as just write. NATO disagrees with Bush's view. In fact, The North Atlantic Treaty is pretty clear.
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

NATO is completely and utterly a defensive treaty. It is nobody's expeditionary "freedom" spreading crusade machine. It is there to provide collective defence to its members - not the rest of the world.

Not that we can expect our man Steve to take a different stand than his hero-in-chief.

Hopefully the rest of the world recognizes Bush for what he is: a lame-duck sock puppet who is so in love with his title that he can't spend two minutes reading a treaty that hasn't changed in 59 years.

Bush might want to watch his yapping. His ill-advised and failed attempt to give the Ukraine and Georgia membership in the defensive alliance may prompt the need for renewed vigilance in the direction of the North German Plain.

President Vladimir V. Putin, after meeting with NATO members in Bucharest on Friday, bluntly declared that an expansion that included Ukraine and Georgia, both former Soviet republics with deep historical links to Russia, would constitute a threat.
Somebody needs to bring the clown home, strap him into a chair and unplug his telephone until the end of November.

Worst President Ever

From an article in HNN, Robert S. McElvaine (author of Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America) writes about a recently released Pew Research Center poll:

The comments that many of the respondents included with their evaluations provide a clear sense of the reasons behind the overwhelming consensus that George W. Bush’s presidency is among the worst in American history.

“No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

“With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,” said another historian. “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of area: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”

One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: “the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.” Another classified Bush as “an ideologue who got the nation into a totally unnecessary war, and has broken the Constitution more often than even Nixon. He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .” Still another remarked that Bush’s “denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.”

“It would be difficult to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush,” concluded one respondent. “His domestic policies,” another noted, “have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.”

“George Bush has combined mediocrity with malevolent policies and has thus seriously damaged the welfare and standing of the United States,” wrote one of the historians, echoing the assessments of many of his professional colleagues. “Bush does only two things well,” said one of the most distinguished historians. “He knows how to make the very rich very much richer, and he has an amazing talent for f**king up everything else he even approaches. His administration has been the most reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, mendacious, arrogant, self-righteous, incompetent, and deeply corrupt one in all of American history.”

That just about covers it...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Going Nuclear

First, compare these two ads.


Then remember what this guy said:

Ironic, huh...?

Hilzoy has an interesting thought...
Obsidian Wings: Crossing The Threshold: However, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that [Hillary Rodham Clinton] actually believes that Barack Obama cannot "cross the commander-in-chief threshold." One of the most important jobs a President has is to defend the country. If she thinks that Barack Obama is not qualified to do that job, then she should not support him over anyone who can. Specifically, she should support McCain over Obama.

That's why I think some enterprising reporter should ask her whether she would support Barack Obama if he were nominated. If she would, then she should be asked why she would be willing to support someone she does not believe is qualified to be commander in chief.

Whatever her answer, it would tell us something we need to know: either that her doubts about Obama are so serious that she would not be willing to support the nominee of her own party, or that she would support someone she thinks is unfit to serve, or that she does not believe a word she said about Obama, and is willing to impugn a fellow Democrat's fitness to serve as President because her own interests matter more to her than her party's or the nation's.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The "values" party

Driftglass comments on the "values" party label:
Big question: “After the Larry Craig scandal, can the GOP continue to be the values party?”

My short answer; not so much. Maybe in the very short-term, but GOP Base voters are not just irrational creatures. They are proudly irrational creatures. They do not reason their way into logical policies; they rationalize their way backwards from their fears and hatreds into the Party of God.

And Party Leaders know it.

The pig people are all Hard Drive and no RAM. To compensate for their tiny brains, tiny penises and tiny futures, they ache to rain righteous fire down on some-fucking-body. And because there is no other category on Earth in which they will ever rate as Superior, they have concocted a Faith and a Dogma which tells them they are Superior at the one thing their Invisible Daddy in the Sky God (surprise!) says is most important: Rigid Morality.

Or at least their creepy, perverted, inverted definition of Morality.

And they are getting all twitchy because these days just as they get all wound up good and lynchy-tight, and work up a good head of steam, they run around the corner and smack into the fact that they are being led by the Mothers of All Moral Failures.

And y’know, repeatedly slamming your head into a solid wall of you-are-completely-fucking-wrong-about-everything is just the sort of thing that could lead a person to all kinds of existential crises and reevaluations...if this were not the Base of the GOP we were talking about.

Ah, but it is the Base we’re talking about.

And the moment someone gives them the right coded sound bite -- cranks up the fear a few more notches, amps up the talk of “San Francisco” liberals and plasters the church bulletins with Scary!Queer!Stuff! -- they will obediently return to their factory default setting and resume marching lock-step into the Dark Ages.

Because that’s is who they are.

And nothing short of their electoral extinction will ever stop them.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The next stage in the Cheney Plan for Iraq...?

The incomparable driftglass rouses me from my retirement and demands that his pearls of wisdom be quoted in their entirety. He gets it...!
Has anyone here seen my old friend Ahmad?

Sure it seems silly to even bother mentioning Chalabi any more. I mean, he's a joke, right?

Zero credibility. A proven liar. Convicted in absentia in Jordan for massive fraud.

But for some mysterious reason, The Fraud abides.

He was, after all:
...interim oil minister in Iraq[1] in April-May 2005 and December-January 2006.
...deputy prime minister from May 2005 until May 2006.
And today he remains in Iraq, still working the press, trying to argue that his conviction in Jordan was,
'...part of a vast conspiracy against him, alleging that the Jordanian Central Bank and its officials "combined and conspired to destroy" him. He also said that his bank, which had a U.S. affiliate called PIBC, had been wrongfully seized, and that Jordan had in 1989 planned to hand him over to Saddam Hussein.'
And we also know that Conservatives, far from exiling their degenerates and criminals, simply wait a few months or years until the press gets distracted by another runaway blond or Shark!Attack!, and then recycles them.

So however disgraced and humiliated they may have been as... sleazy serial liars, convicted felons, and traitors or outright sociopaths...

...members of the Conservative Ruling Caste can always look forward to a new suit of clothes and new careers helping to kneecap American democracy as radio hosts, directors of domestic spying, or even Presidents.

And after nearly seven years of epic disaster and flagrant disregard for his oath of office, what do we know about Dick Cheney?
  1. That he has nothing but contempt for the Constitution and the good order and discipline of the United States government.

  2. A serial liar and war criminal who hacks up falsehoods as unselfconsciously as my cat licks her ass.

  3. Once he gets the bit in his teeth, nothing turns him around. Uncooperative government? Overthrow it. Inconvenient law? Break it. Inviolable democratic principle? Shit on it.

  4. And the Cheney Plan for Iraq...
  • Deliberately unleash chaos and keep adding accelerant to the conflagration until Hell on Earth is loosed.
  • Use the fog of war and the bright lights of the whore-media to help loot the valuable bits and get your cronies rich in the process.
  • Convert the entire country (except for the US Embassy) into a crusader's latrine: make the life of the average Iraqi so unbearable that it spawns a whole new generation of enemies. And make sure every inch of their tragedy it is stamped with bright, neon signs reading "Made In America" so they all know who to blame.
  • Point to the enemies his Plan has manufactured as proof that we need to smash more of the region to atoms.
  • Do it all with other people's money and other people's children. coming along brilliantly.
Even the Play-At-Home Edition the Administration is operating in New Orleans is working out fabulously, and for pretty much the same reasons: the Base of the Republican Party does not give a shit about Those People.

Those Brown People.

Whether they live or die. Whether they're halfway around the world or in their own back yard. The Base doesn't have the slightest grasp of the responsibilities of being a genuine citizenship, a real Christian or an adult sentient being. They know only the hazy, terrifying dimensions of the swarthy bogey men they have been told forever stalk them, scheming tirelessly to tax away their hard-earned money (fear of "socialism"), fuck their woman (fear of "integration") or blow up their children (fear of fear itself).

They have no capacity to think outside of the parameters of their hate and fear for Brown People (And uppity women, liberals and gays), and can therefore be relied on to back the Bad against the Good every fucking time.

Consider this little nugget that passed almost uncommented on in the rip tide of lies that routinely come out of the White House (emphasis added):
August 31, 2007
Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 — An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.
Got it?

In September of 2007, the National Iraqi Police force has 26,000 members. And is so deeply compromised that the general leading the independent commission charged with evaluating its effectiveness reports that it needs to “be scrapped”.

And what we were told almost exactly six friedmans ago, during the 2004 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates?

Dubya on September 30, 2004:
"Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job.

"And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. I believe they want to. Prime Minister Allawi believes they want to."
And again...
"There are 100,000 troops trained, police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year. Yes, we're getting the job done. It's hard work. Everybody knows it's hard work, because there's a determined enemy that's trying to defeat us.
And Cheney, on October 2, 2004:
We've made significant progress in Iraq. We've stood up a new government that's been in power now only 90 days. The notion of additional troops is talked about frequently, but the point of success in Iraq will be reached when we have turned governance over to the Iraqi people; they have been able to establish a democratic government. They're well on their way to doing that. They will have free elections next January for the first time in history.

We also are actively, rapidly training Iraqis to take on the security responsibility.

Those two steps are crucial to success in Iraq. They're well in hand, well under way. And I'm confident that, in fact, we'll get the job done.
As sure and adamant as Cheney and Bush were about WMD in 2002 and 2003, they were that flat and categorical about progress in Iraq in 2004.

In 2004 we were told that we should calm the fuck down and re-elect President Stupid because the Dubya Administration had this shit under control; that 125,000 police, guard, special units, border patrol were cocked, locked and ready to Iraq.

And by the end of 2005, we were going to have 200,000.

Shit, just run teh maths out to 2007 and by now we should be closing in on half a million. In other words, a force the size of the Iraq Army before the Cheney Plan disbanded them and turned them into armed insurgents.

People who doubted those numbers and the credibility of those touting them were dismissed as disloyal or Bush-Deranged.

Instead, three years later, we find that have spent God alone knows how much blood and treasure to create a force less than 10% that size.

And that we now have to slag it and start from scratch.

But instead of outrage over being lied to -- instead screaming for blood over being punked by the same monsters again and again and again and again and again -- the pig people still loyally crouch in their smelly, little stalls in the GOP Men's Room With Benefits, obediently tapping their hooves and begging to be fucked over one more time.

Meanwhile, the cheap paint and sawdust of legitimacy we slathered onto our latest iteration of the Iraqi government is starting to flake off in huge chunks, and the wingnut purple finger brigade now talks causally and openly about tossing them over the side and wiring up of someone who is even more of a Bush Administration Muppet.

And at the end of this long, bloody trail Occam's Razor waits.

At each step along the way, the Administration has unhesitatingly lied to get us in even deeper.

At each step along the way, the Administration has unhesitatingly slandered and smeared anyone who pointed out their history of being wrong about everything every time.

And as we have been led deeper into disaster -- from planning, to troops levels, to policing, to infrastructure, to dissolving the Iraqi Army -- at every critical step this Administration has cavalierly dismissed and overruled the advice of professionals and made whichever decision would maximize misery, terror and and Halliburton shareholder value.

All to the thunderous applause of the Pig People.

Do I really-really think it'll be Chalabi?

Not literally, but if it were announced next January it honestly would not surprise me. Because Chaos has always been the Cheney Plan for Iraq. And while I make no claim to special knowledge of what's coming, I know this:
  • Whether your star rises or falls in the Court of Emperor Dubya has nothing to do with how smart or competent or able you are. In fact, those traits are in impediment. Your fortunes wax or wane depending entirely on how dog-loyal you are to the House of Bush, and how hard you are willing to push the Neocon Narrative in the face of Reality.

    Oh, and that you are NOT GAY.

  • The next act of Dubya's Iraqi Debacle will be just like all of the preceding acts; an all-out blitz of a retooled version of the same old lies.

  • The Administration will soon be shopping for an Iraqi Strong Man they can work with. Someone into whose eyes Dubya can claim to have looked before slurring through the thousandth rendition his "he's a good man" speech.

  • The same Mighty Wurlitzer that can make a dry-drunk, frat-rat sadist and failure into a President and drive the last superpower on Earth into an endless, disastrous and unnecessary war against the wrong fucking country can surely slap a new coat of varnish on any Neocon-friendly fuckup and mount him on a white horse long enough for the next New, New Plan to be announced.

  • Whatever the form the New Plan take -- whatever smoke and dazzle it comes packed in -- in substance it will have the effect of steadily advancing Dick Cheney's Final Solution to the Iraq Problem.
And as a Neocon-artist who has proved again and again to be a man of limitless ambitions and limited conscience, no one is better suited to that role than Dick's old pal Ahmad C.

Friday, August 17, 2007

One cannot underestimate the GOP Base

Driftglass reflects...
I remember how Dubya’s whole campaign during the run-up to the wide-open 2000 race was to sit in Crawford, whittle, mutter platitudes about humility, Small Gumint and Sweet Baby Jebus until the last possible moment.

To give every appearance to being reluctantly forced into the race because this Quiet Man of Action-Figure finally concluded that Party and Nation were in such desperate shape that he just had to run.

And the Base went for this ridiculous okey doke in their millions. And then went for the vastly more dangerous but equally transparently ludicrous Commander Codpiece narrative four years later.

Now my sofa cushion money’s on Mitt, but not my rent money, because at no point in the last seven…or ten…or 15…or 30 years has the Base of the GOP shown any signs of, as I once said elsewhere, growing opposable thumbs and climbing down out of the Stupid Tree.

Instead, after seven years of the utter, bloody and predictable (and predicted) collapse of every one of the tenets of their bullshit creed, they are arguably more fanatical and bunker-mad than ever.

They have become the impacted fecal matter in the colon of our Body Politic, starved not for a genuine leader to help guide them out of the mine-studded-rubble they have made of everything they've touched, but for a Sooper Dooper Dubya to lead them even deeper into the witchbag of their own nightmares. For the next Strong Man on a White Pickup with a Confederate Accent to lead their ignorant army in glorious Christian jihad against the monsters under their bed.

Dying of the toxins they have belligerently swallowed for the last generation, the Base now kneel in a deepening pool of their own vomit and their own children's blood and demand "More Poison Please!"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Average American

Here is the latest episode in the continuing series: Why I Love Driftglass
Schieffer (recounting a smattering of the sins and crimes of “Baby Face” Gonzalez: But does this even matter to the Average American?

Schieffer: Its all very, very arcane, which is why Average Americans has a problem following it.

driftglass: The Average American doesn’t vote. The Average American doesn’t read. For amusement, the Average American watches one game show after another featuring people pitted against each other like red and black ants in paint shaker. The Average American wouldn’t pay attention to the Second Coming if the Messiah were pureed, set afire and catheterized up their urethra.

Fuck the Average American.

Leahy: You follow the law. I follow the law. It is the Administration’s position that they do not have to follow the law.

Schieffer: So what should the Preznit do?

Leahy: Well some say he should fire Gonzalez. But he needs to go further and make it clear that no one is above the law as a matter of principle.

driftglass: It always sadly amuses me when media and political persons recount the reasonable things that any President should do in this or that crisis knowing full well but never, ever, ever daring to say that the reason it’ll never happen is because Dubya is out of his fucking mind and none of the gel-based Profiles in Courage over in the Impeach Bill Clinton Party At Any Cost have the guts God gave flatworms.


Driftglass reminder that the Department of Justice is to Justice what Fox New is to News.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

For the umpteenth time... Why are they so afraid?

The Dems cave again. Sadly, what else is new? Why are they so afraid to do the right thing?

Glenn Greenwald asks:
... why Democrats repeatedly engage in the same self-destructive behavior -- refusing to take a hard-core principled stance against the administration, and instead capitulating just enough to look like losers, but -- despite the capitulation -- still allowing the vote to be used against them. As always (see e.g., Iraq War Authorization, warrantless eavesdropping, Military Commissions Act), they capitulate in order to prevent the vote from being used against them, even though it ends up being used against them anyway because so many of them vote (with futility) against it, but do so without ever fighting for, explaining or defending their position.


... why, when they were in the minority, the Democrats were so afraid to filibuster anything, even something as drastic as the Military Commissions Act or the Alito nomination, whereas the Republicans run around filibustering everything they can find and don't care at all about being called "obstructionist." Why are the Republicans so aggressive with using their minority tools to block all Democratic initiatives whereas Democrats failed to filibuster for years?
The answer...?
Much of this was undoubtedly the by-product of the Democratic Beltway consultant geniuses who insist that Democrats not resist the President's instructions on terrorism lest they look "weak."


It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 -- almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history -- that George W. Bush can "demand" that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply (Meteor Blades has the list of the 16 Senate Democrats voting in favor; the House will soon follow).
Pathetic cowards!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Contemptible Media

Atrios points out for us what many (like Bob Somerby) have been saying for a long time: the people who cover politics in America are a disgrace. They are preening, sneering lightweights who care about nothing but themselves. They pleasure themselves with trivia and they have been the enablers of the wanton corruption that passes for government these days.

Quoting Charles Pierce at Altercation:
Here's what I think -- the majority of people who cover national politics believe that history is whatever happened in the MSNBC Green Room 15 minutes earlier. I believe the campaign is covered by people with a completely unjustified sense of their own superiority, since not many of them understand or ever care about most of the issues, much less the horrendous bills that are going to come due upon whichever of these poor sods winds up with the job. I believe these people care more about their reputation around the bar at the Wayfarer in Manchester than they do about the interests of the people they purportedly serve. And, were I an editor, and someone brought me a story about John Edwards' hair or Mitt Romney's skin, that person would do it once. The second time, the lazy bastard would find himself typing bowling agate on Wednesday night.
Reading Joe Klein lately I was reminded of something Oliver wrote recently:
A long time ago I used to believe that a lot of these people were just talking over my head, their discourse too lofty for a regular guy like myself. But that isn't true. They're just stupid.
Part of the problem we face is that too many people fail to understand this. A lot of our elite scribblers and chatters are just truly and profoundly stupid.