Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pottersville Pre-Broken News

Applicants for positions in the Obama administration realized that the dreaded 63 question litmus test was actually the easiest part of the vetting process,

Meet the new war, same as the old war.

I understand that the flow of information has to be controlled in a war zone but how can officially merging the mainstream media with Psy Ops, which deals with propaganda, possibly be good thing, especially when it alienates our European NATO allies in Afghanistan?

The commander of NATO operations in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, ordered the merger to take place starting tomorrow. A NATO official said of the move, "This will totally undermine the credibility of the information released to the press and the public."

Gee, ya think?

I have never once heard of a Secretary of State or any Cabinet-nominee having their nomination conditional on their spouse negotiating to release a donor list of 208,000 on the fears that it would provide conflict of interest.

Yet that's what Bill Clinton's already agreed to do (as well as meeting 8 other conditions). Apparently, Barack Obama is already trusting Bill: He's expected to nominate Hillary "Incomiiiing!" Clinton as the next Secretary of State before Bill even releases his donor list, which is kind of like one guy saying to another at a drug deal, "Oh, I don't have to count the money- I can trust you."

Leave it to the ultra left wing NY Times to pen a seven page article about a retired general who's essentially a lobbyist for a war contractor, gets those contracts through his Pentagon connections then goes on television on a regular basis to criticize the military's spending habits if it doesn't directly benefit his company... all without ever once disclosing to either his prospective clients nor the viewers at home as to who really butters his bread...

...without the NY Times ever once even seriously questioning the conflict of interest.

Barry McCafferey, called by the Gray Lady a "One Man Military-Industrial-Media Complex", a retired four star general, has been doing just that for Defense Solutions, just one of a long line of little-known war profiteers who had gotten billions in Iraq war contracts and then turned the network news into an erstwhile commercial for his other employer.

I cannot express how amazingly sleazy and corrupt this is and likewise am I unable to express my contempt for a so-called liberal newspaper for not even seeming to notice how amazingly sleazy and corrupt this type of contract procurement is and at how the news has been turned into a platform for the commercials of war profiteers.

Speaking of conflict of interest, how about this McClatchy news item of yet another priest who told his congregation that voting for Obama is a sin?

Only this one in Modesto, CA comes with a twist: Not only should they go to confession to confess their sin for voting for Obama (who'd endorsed a pro-choice stance), if they don't do so, they may not get to heaven to meet the Baby Jebus.

So it appears as if the RCC is really no different than the protestant fundie mega McChurchs that see no problem with mixing politics with religion seemingly with no thought as to possibly violating the conditions of their tax-exempt status.

Courtesy of the Nation, here's a sneak peek at an article written by actor/activist Sean Penn that will appear in the HuffPo tomorrow. It's called "A Mountain of Snakes" and it details Penn's October meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Penn starts out by uttering a sentiment echoed by your's truly:
Soon to be Vice President-elect Joe Biden was rallying the troops: "We can no longer be energy dependent on Saudi Arabia or a Venezuelan dictator." Well, I know what Saudi Arabia is. But having been to Venezuela in 2006, touring slums, mixing with the wealthy opposition and spending days and hours at its president's side, I wondered, without wondering, to whom Senator Biden was referring. Hugo Chávez Frías is the democratically elected president of Venezuela (and by democratically elected I mean that he has repeatedly stood before the voters in internationally sanctioned elections and won large majorities, in a system that, despite flaws and irregularities, has allowed his opponents to defeat him and win office, both in a countrywide referendum last year and in regional elections in November). And Biden's words were the kind of rhetoric that had recently led us into a life-losing and monetarily costly war, which, while toppling a shmuck in Iraq, had also toppled the most dynamic principles upon which the United States was founded, enhanced recruitment for Al Qaeda and deconstructed the US military.

However, one has to wonder how comfortable Chavez was of being in Penn's presence considering his recent habit of playing political figures who get assassinated.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Steve Weissman: Mumbai to Obama: End Bush's War on Terror, a Truthout Exclusive

Exhausted commandos took a break after the hotel went up in flames.
(Photo and caption courtesy Amiran White for The New York Times.)

In a exclusive (link in the title), Steve Weissman calls for President-elect Barack Obama to allow the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India's financial capital, to inform him and to serve as a referendum for the Bush administration's failure to adequately address the threat of terrorism plaguing the world today. It's good advice. And while Weissman's article is a decent one, it's hardly what one would call a galvanizing one since it contains many truths that have been known to heads of state and policy-makers for almost 130 years.

They're truths about the essential nature of terrorism and the best but hardly guaranteed methods to combat it. Multilateralism. Working with host countries instead of invading and endlessly occupying them. Use our financial resources to prop up those economies that have been undermined by terrorism.

Basic, simple, commonsensical solutions that, amazingly, have been lost on this outgoing administration that sought to go it alone. Terrorism has been regarded as any conventional war, with law enforcement thrown in for good measure. The answer to combating terrorism is a tricky one but it cannot be preemptively countered through law enforcement as if terrorism is a mere crime (or thoughtcrime, since we're talking about people of differing nationalities united by the same antiAmerican/antiZionist mindset).

If the Obama administration is staffed with competent national security advisors, then they already know that terrorism is an ideology that doesn't come with easily identifiable uniforms or identification cards. Fighting an ideology through conventional military means is as futile as trying to gather smoke with a pitchfork. It cannot and will not be won with catchy phrases such as "the Global War on Terror" and Worldwide Struggle Against Extremism.

The so-called "war on terror" ought to be fought on an intelligence, an IT and a financial front and the Central Intelligence Agency and the 15 other agencies under it will justifiably greet this incoming administration with a great deal of skepticism after the dark days of Dick Cheney making unprecedented visits to Langley and twisting the arms of junior intelligence analysts into telling him only what he wanted to hear (a common but ultimately self-defeating mindset that seemed to dominate the interrogation process in Bagram, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere).

Those who have been covering the Mumbai terrorist attacks that thus far have claimed nearly 200 lives have already called this "India's September 11th". It is not a September 11th in any way, shape or form. Far from being the blitzkrieg of the real 9/11, the siege began the day before Thanksgiving and the last of the terrorists were killed by Indian commandos just today.

However it was no coincidence that the well-coordinated attacks took place in India's financial capital. The al Qaida terrorists assumed to have carried out 9/11 primarily hit the World Trade Center, to many in the Muslim world the very epicenter of American finance. They knew where to strike us where it would hurt the most: Close to Wall Street. For good measure, the Pentagon was also hit while our Defense Secretary was in the building.

The tactics and the role-players were different. Unlike 9/11, Jews, Americans and British citizens were targeted by the insurgents. But the mindset was essentially the same. Divide through terror without apparently any thought at all about an exit strategy or delusions of survival.

President-elect Obama, with the aid of his advisors, has to completely rethink the American response to terrorism, which would essentially amount to a paradigm shift in a crucial facet of American foreign policy, one given priority only by fits and starts with the current administration that has curiously shown a shocking lack of consistent commitment toward getting a firm and capable handle on the terrorist threat.

George W. Bush's Census Form

Yes, it's that time again. Census forms are in the mail or have already arrived and we must all do our patriotic duty and accurately account for ourselves and those in our household and the President of the United States is no exception. Below are some of the answers given by President George W. Bush to the 2010 National Census.

How many people were living or staying at this house, apartment or mobile home on May 1, 2008?
4. Do lawyers count? And Mobile didn't build my home in Crawford. Who do you think I am, Ted Stevens?

Where there any additional people staying here May 1, 2008 that you did not include in Question 1?
Children such as newborn babies or foster children
Relatives, such as adult children, cousins or in-laws
Non-relatives such as roommates or live-in babysitters
People staying here temporarily
No additional people

Damn, you're being pushy. You think I'm lying? You're gonna ask me about Jack Abramoff and that there Gannon fellow, ain't you?

In this house, apartment or mobile home --- Mark x all that apply:
Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans.
Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan).
Occupied without payment or rent?
Squatter on taxpayer property. We're selling the prop in Crawford while we can still make money off it.

What is your telephone number? We may call if we don't understand an answer.
1-800-EAT-SHIT (If you don't like the job I'm doing)

What is Person 1's sex? Mark x ONE box.
Non-gay male.

Is Person 1 of Latino, Hispanic or Spanish origin?
There's a difference? Hell, no.

What is Person 1's race? Mark x one or more boxes.
Republican-American. In other words, Proudly Caucasian.

Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?
In college housing.
In the military
(let's not bring that shit up again)
At a seasonal or second residence (Crawford, TX, Camp David, Betty Ford Clinic)
For child custody
In jail or prison
(Not unless that uppity guy coming in has anything to say about it)
In a nursing home
For another reason

Do bunkers count?

What is your occupation?
Halliburton Contract Procure Pressident of the United States

What is the most important function in your job?
Two words: Executive Privlige.

What is your annual income?
That's a kinda personal question, doncha think? How much do you make, Nosey Nellie? You're almost as nosy as the danged IRS.

What is the address of your employer?
5 Houston Center
1401 McKinney St., Suite 2400
Houston, TX 77010

1600 Pennsulvainya Avenue

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pottersville in Pictures

Recent developments in UK real estate give Dick Cheney and George W. Bush fresh ideas about life after January 20, 2009.

Azerbaijan targeted by American-Russo rebel insurgency over plans to rebuild luxury Death Star hotel.

From the "Sure, It Looks Like a Harmless Fashion Trend Now...

...But Look What Happened to Spider Man" files.

Queen Elizabeth sacrifices by recycling old dowdiness into new dowdiness. President Bush commended the Queen's frugality, announcing he will no longer change his underwear every day.

Last summer, Barbara Bush saw John McCain at Fenway Park and was pleasantly shocked that even she looks younger than him.

Conservative bloggers vow not to give first African American president a free pass.

President Bush wasn't too happy about being put in the poncho section when the Blue Man Group played the G20 economic summit in Peru.

About the only things that could get shoppers to the stores on Black Friday were discounted merchandise with Barack Obama's likeness or rotten eggs and tomatoes with George W. Bush's likeness.

Tom Friedman, Bush economic experts, point to stampeding death of Wal-Mart worker on Black Friday as proof that consumer confidence is high.

An Interview With Big Brother

While you're making turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, throw in these leftovers:

Political Science 101: When installing an official hagiographer, whenever at all possible, keep it in the family. Did anyone catch this at the White House's official website on November 12? After the election, George and Laura Bush were interviewed as part of StoryCorps' "National Day of Listening." StoryCorps is the national oral history initiative and this crapola will be archived in the Library of Congress.

By the way, these whining, defensive excerpts of his statements were answers to tough questions asked by a tough interviewer. Namely Georgie's own kid sister Doro, who'd also penned a memoir about HW, the other living war criminal in the family.
I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values. And I darn sure wasn't going to sacrifice those values; that I was a President that had to make tough choices and was willing to make them. I surrounded myself with good people. I carefully considered the advice of smart, capable people and made tough decisions.

OK, nothing out of the ordinary there (although it's difficult to divine what Bush means when he says he "surrounded (him)self with good people", unless his definition of good is, "None of my co-conspirators have been executed before a firing squad, yet."). Same clueless, sociopathic bullshit that we've been hearing these past eight years. However, he may want to make a clarification about the selling the soul part. Just because you yourself didn't broker the same deals to the Devil in its various corporate incarnations doesn't mean that others didn't broker said deal, as this list of Bush "pioneers" or those who'd raised at least $100,000 for Dear Leader back in 2000 attests (including 31 current or future ambassadors or ambassador's wives, three of whom having since then been convicted of political crimes).

The problem is Bush will, indeed, exit from public disservice with the same values with which he entered. That's what got us embroiled in a six year war with Iraq and an increasingly more violent war in Afghanistan. Oh, speaking of which, listen to these whoppers...
I'd like to be a President (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package; that came to Washington, D.C., with a set of political statements and worked as hard as I possibly could to do what I told the American people I would do.

OK, if Bush is talking about Iraq and Afghanistan, then he's being modest about the number of people he's liberated. According to the latest available population estimates, Afghanistan's population is close to 32,000,000 and Iraq's has unaccountably ballooned from a pre-invasion, pre-genocide, pre-exodus figure of 26,000,000 to 29,000,000 (perhaps US and British contractors are factored in). Therefore, George W. Bush actually was conservative in his estimate of liberating 50,000,000 human souls.

Maybe the other 11,000,000 were detained, tortured, extraordinarily renditioned and otherwise killed in his peaceful achievements.

But Bush was right on one thing: He did focus more on individuals (like Saddam Hussein) and less on (due legal) process. Although our individual-focused Decider did reduce the carnage in Iraq as a mere "comma" in his glorious statements of liberation.

Helping elderly people get prescription drugs through the "reformed" Medicare? In Arizona, for example, John McCain's home state, the number of drug plans that will be offered will be slashed from 7 to 2. The reason for this is insurance companies opting out for the simple reason that it's no longer profitable enough or because their bids were rejected by Medicare.

Let's take a look at a press release from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities from 2002 when the effect from Bush's 2001 tax cuts were first being felt:
This issue brief compares the cost of last year's tax cuts — and especially the costs of the tax cuts provided to the top one percent of the population — with the costs of two possible prescription drug plans for the Medicare population. The first such plan would cover, on average, one-quarter of the prescription drug costs of the Medicare population. The second plan would be like the first except that it would cover, on average, half of the Medicare population's drug costs.

Such prescription drug plans would entail significant expense, and the plan covering half the cost of prescription drugs — at a cost of approximately $700 billion over ten years — would be twice as expensive as the plan covering one-quarter of drug costs. Yet the cost of the tax cut is substantially larger than the cost of either of these prescription drug proposals. When the tax cut is fully in effect, the cost of the tax cut just for the top one percent of the population would exceed the entire difference in cost between the two prescription drug proposals...

The point here is clear: Whatever money people would be saving by having even half their drug costs covered would be blown and them some by the top 1% of earners' tax breaks. Add to that the Bush administration's militant stance against "untested", cheaper Canadian drugs and their inability to recognize the importance of outpatient prescriptions (which was never covered since Medicare was first created in 1965) and it's impossible to see how Plan D has benefited the elderly on Medicare.

In fact, the federal Medicare program is such a complicated, corrupt boondoggle that states like Oregon had to get involved to fill in the gaps for their seniors.

As far as HIV/AIDS-malaria in Africa goes, while Bush renewed his commitment to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa, in 2003 Bush allocated $3 billion to fight those same diseases yet did so while undermining the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) with their own Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Essentially, it trumped compassion in favor of ideology, bureaucratizing the entire process so that cheaper, generic forms of antiretrovirals so essential to the treatment of HIV/AIDS would get snared in an unnecessary regulatory process. In other words, the Global Fund was intended primarily to be a global fund to profit Bush's buddies in the pharmaceutical industry.

It also ought to be noted that one third of the Global Fund's budget was set aside for abstinence programs rather than the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Plus, as with No Child Left Behind and so many other wonderful gifts given to us by the Bush administration, the Global Fund's funding began to decrease almost immediately thanks to certain lawmakers in Congress.

When Sis asks about how faith plays in his public service, Big Brother had this to say:
I've been in the Bible every day since I've been the President, and I have been affected by people's prayers a lot. I have found that faith is comforting, faith is strengthening, faith has been important....

I would advise politicians, however, to be careful about faith in the public arena. ...In other words, politicians should not be judgmental people based upon their faith. They should recognize -- as least I have recognized I am a lowly sinner seeking redemption, and therefore have been very careful about saying (accept) my faith or you're bad. In other words, if you don't accept what I believe, you're a bad person.

And the greatness of America -- it really is -- is that you can worship or not worship and be equally American. And it doesn't matter how you choose to worship; you're equally American. And it's very important for any President to jealously protect, guard, and strengthen that freedom.

He recognizes that he's a "lowly sinner" yet refuses to say what his greatest failure has been or to even acknowledge that there are any problems at all.

It's notable that while Bush has been publicly conciliatory toward those of differing faiths, he's done nothing in the way whatsoever of criticizing those in Wingnuttia who demonize Muslims or claim that being unChristian is somehow unAmerican.

Besides, as Bush had proven through David Kuo's book, one's faith or the power of that faith doesn't make them immune from budget cuts or reneged promises on faith-based funding. In fact, just days after the '06 midterms, Kuo had written in a NY Times op-ed:
Tellingly, Beliefnet’s poll showed that nearly 60 percent of non-evangelicals have a more negative view of Jesus because of Christian political involvement; almost 40 percent believe that George W. Bush’s faith has had a negative impact on his presidency.

In other words, everything George W. Bush has touched had turned into complete dog shit, complete dog shit that, in his self-conscious self-effacement, he thinks is pure gold. And, toward the end of his 96 month-long rape of the constitution and the Middle East, the most challenging interviewer he'll let interview him is his own kid sister.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

While you're sitting at the dinner table today giving thanks, squeeze in a mention for little Brenden Foster, whose dying wish it was to feed the homeless. His story galvanized the nation and resulted in much food being collected for the homeless.

Be thankful that our nation still produced kids like this.

Brenden died in his mother's arms last Friday but his legacy lives on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rush: Indians Scammed Us Out of Manhattan

OK, I know I said that I'd be offline but I couldn't help but look at my Republican MIL's toolbar on Explorer and saw a button for Drudge, another for Fox "News" and another for Rush. I wanted to see what the O Man was up to since I cannot stand the idea of subscribing to his newsletter or even registering for his site. So, since I'm at the inlaws' house using their computer...

As you can expect, ole Rushbo didn't disappoint. The title of his screed is the title of this post: Indians Scammed Us Out of Manhattan. Nice to see that Rush is already getting into the holiday season and is decking the halls with things that dropped out of a bull's ass.

Lemme give you a smattering of Rush's wisdom, his source for this being a book written about Teddy Roosevelt, a man who would've ripped Rush's balls right out of his scrotum and shoved them down his throat:
Okay, one of the great myths of Thanksgiving is that we swindled the Indians when we bought Manhattan Island from them, we swindled them. Twenty-four bucks is the equivalent. It turns out, according to a book about Teddy Roosevelt, that that's not true. It turns out that the Indians are the ones that ran the real estate scam when they sold Manhattan. It's a book on Teddy Roosevelt, Commissioner Roosevelt: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895-1897, by H. Paul Jeffers. Here are the relevant paragraphs about this...

At any rate, the original story of Thanksgiving is BS, we'll set that straight later today, and now we find out that the Dutch got swindled. (laughing) The Indians can't catch a break. Well, they are catching a break in Seattle.

Minstrel Boy: Attack.

Mind you, this is coming from a right wing blowhard who once said in the 80's that there were more Native Americans now than there ever were ever since we nice white men put them on reservations. So why wouldn't a cigar-sucking neanderthal like Limbaugh take his historical cues from a guy who's, at best, a latter day Suetonius (who for a long time has been regarded as a pop/tabloid biographer/historian of the Roman empire) who got his start writing true crime fiction?

What Republicans Will Be Grateful For This Thanksgiving

10) Grover Norquist: That we can pin the blame for the financial meltdown on the donkey.

9) John McCain: For winning the presidential election. But where the hell's my transition team?

8) G. Gordon Liddy: That God gave me strong enough teeth to use them to rip this fucking bird's head off.

7) Sarah Palin: That Dave Letterman, SNL and the rest of the liberal media didn't make any jokes about how much it cost the GOP to dress this turkey.

6) Dick Cheney: To Dave Addington for waterboarding this bird and John Yoo for subduing it just before I shot it. Go fuck yourself, by the way.

5) Rudy Giuliani: This noble bird died on 9/11 so we could eat it tonight. And I was there when he died.

4) Phyllis Schlafly: I'd really appreciate it if the women also did the dishes and got the hell out of the way and did needlepoint while the men had brandy and cigars in the den afterwards.

3) Ann Coulter: Ncdsofh fjiggjgkm fhtgj vma!

2) George W. Bush: Pumpkin pie and whipped cream?! Yippie!

1) The Chairmen and CEOs of Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, Citigroup, Bear Stearns, AIG, Countrywide, Goldman Sachs, Washington Mutual, Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown and Root, Blackwater Worldwide, The Carlyle Group, the Parsons Group, Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP, Murray Energy, etc:

This useful idiot.

(I'm going out of town in a few minutes and will be gone until sometime tomorrow night. So let me take this time to say I love you all and to have a happy Thanksgiving and a safe commute whereever you're going. Seize ya laterrrrrr....)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ann Coulter Falls From Grace, Breaks Jaw

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And as with the primaries, St. Nick's moved up the schedule.

Apparently, when Ann Coulter fell down last month, she broke her jaw and was too stupid to realize it. The NY Post's Page 6 and the Oregonian are reporting that Coulter had to have her jaw wired shut. To be honest with you, I first thought, "Well, that's what happens when you try to stuff too many Republican cocks in your mouth. Maybe she should've learned to unhinge her jaw like the true snake she is."

Of course, we're not allowed to indulge in schadenfreude. Oh, heavens to Betsy, no. Even after all the vile bile that Coulter has spewed about us and everyone else who doesn't subscribe to her hateful, razor-narrow world view. We're not supposed to take vicarious delight in the fact that the world just got a little more beautiful because Ann Coulter broke her jaw and had to have it wired shut. This is someone who publicly ridiculed 9/11 widows, said Timothy McVeigh should've bombed the NY Times building and once insulted a disabled veteran on MSNBC for not dodging a mine by saying, "No wonder you guys lost."

Oh sure. I'll turn the other cheek... so you can kiss both sides of my ass.

Sez StoptheACLU:
I’m not the biggest Ann Coulter fan out there. I think she says things that are way out of line just for the controversy, and attention for selling books. However, when we learned that Teddy Kennedy had brain cancer we didn’t make jokes about it. It would have been easy to do, but we asked our readers to pray for him.

Really, sport? Define "we."

When the news that Kennedy was stricken with brain cancer, Sundrieshack said,
I don’t feel any sympathy for him. Certainly, I’m not glad that he’s been stricken so. The news doesn’t make me happy but neither does it make me sad.

I’m sure that some will see this and deride me. Okay, fine. Have at it. I can’t find room in my heart to feel sorry for a man who left such misery and wreckage behind him in his gargantuan quest for more pleasure and power. The guy left the corpse of a young girl in his wake without suffering any real earthly justice. He’s slandered and lied his way through Congress for decades without losing a bit of adoration from his friends in the press or anyone in his party. Even today, the president calls him “my friend” which, I must say, causes me a little bit of pause.

No, I can’t find sympathy for a man like that...

Snapped Shot weighed in with this classy headline: "Malignant Politician Infected with Kindly Brain Tumor."

Michael Savage, of course, had to get his two cents worth when Kennedy's brain tumor was diagnosed and he was so vile that even the Freepers condemned him.

So should Coulter receive a dispensation from us? No. And there are three reasons why:

1) Ms. Coulter's not fighting for her life.

2) Ms. Coulter is a conservative political pundit and media professional, not a democratically-elected official deserving of the dignity of Kennedy's office or his tenure.

3) Ms. Coulter is a rancid, screaming, squirting cunt who can still use her fingers to type her filth and is far from defenseless.

And, frankly, I can't possibly think of a happier sequel to Coulter having to hold a book signing last April in a ladies room.

The Useful Idiot

(Photo courtesy of Bildungblog.)

You would think that, during the entire history of the blogosphere, George W. Bush would have proven to be a useful idiot for the purposes of progressives. While not exactly providing us with endless object lessons in conscientious governance, Bush and his jigglingly bloated, stupendously corrupt government has at least taught us in ways too numerous to count how not to run the federal government.

You would think, anyway.

Yet to judge by the 55,000,000 useless idiots who'd voted for John McCain three weeks ago, it's obvious that about half the country still hasn't connected the dots and saw the big picture. Take all those pixels of failure and incompetence both great and small, take a few steps back and one begins to see an emerging political portrait of Dorian Grey that ages not Bush but the citizenry that cares to look upon it:

They will see the laziest, most disinterested, cronyistic, greedy, self-absorbed, paranoid, sociopathic maladroit that ever slithered into the Oval Office. Oh, and he's also stupider than a pillowcase full of petrified dog shit.

Yet the cyclical nature of the changing of the guard on Capitol Hill, while in theory inevitable and even necessary for the purposes of checks and balances, doesn't always equate with what's logical, well-informed or even necessary.

A quick look at our recent history, even just within the last generation or two, shows several about-faces brought about by a fickle electorate. How could Nixon, for instance, even at the height of antiwar sentiment squeak into the White House only to win by a landslide four years later (without even needing the Southern Strategy), the draft still intact, after escalating the bombing raids in North Vietnam and sending many more bodies into SE Asia?

Then, how come Nixon just a year and a half later was hounded out of office by both parties just for spying on Democrats, burglarizing Ellsberg's shrink's office and then covering it up?

Why was Jimmy Carter, swept into office and replacing an incumbent who'd ended the Vietnam War and stabilized the economy but who nonetheless belonged to a universally reviled party, pummeled at the polls four years later by a Brylcreemed turncoat, an Alzheimer's candidate with no foreign policy experience? Did Carter not broker a peace deal between Israel and Egypt at Camp David?

Why did Reagan win by a landslide of his own at a time when social service programs were underfunded or killed outright and we began racking up a bigger and bigger debt and deficit? And after that, why did we elect his milksop Vice President, a refuge from the Carlyle Group's boardroom even years after Iran-Contra broke?

Why did we come out in such huge numbers 8 years ago as if W was an improvement over eight almost miraculously peaceful, prosperous years under Clinton? Enough people voted for Bush so that the eventual Diebold/ES&S-nudged election results seemed plausible to those whose judgment counted.

Political scientists will be debating the whys of these seemingly insoluble riddles and paradoxes long after all these men are dead and gone. We could, in the meantime, offer quick, facile and uncomplicated reasons.

Nixon won because people swallowed his lies about wanting peace and because Humphrey reminded voters of Johnson. Nixon got re-elected by a landslide because the Democrats didn't get out the youth vote back in '72 as Obama did in '08 (which is actually true enough). Plus, no sitting president ever ran for re-election and lost during a major military campaign (explaining in one fell swoop the implausible '04 election results).

Carter lost because of the hostages. Ford lost because of pardoning Nixon. And Bill Clinton is still guilty of far more heinous crimes (getting a blow job and lying about it to a grand jury so he wouldn't have to catch hell from his ball-busting wife) than Nixon or even Bush ever was.

Part of the reason for these curious election results, of course, could be summed up in one simple, declarative sentence, if one is willing to risk ridicule for making the ultimate facile observation: We're simply a nation with just enough useless idiots so that common sense doesn't always carry and save the day.

In the case of Watergate, Republicans became a four letter word during the '76 elections yet we forgave quickly enough to vault into the Oval Office a former B actor who wanted to rattle his rusty saber at Russia at a time when Carter was making great strides toward establishing peace. Whatever gains Carter had made between Sadat and Begin at Camp David was immediately swept away and then some when those hostages were taken at Tehran.

Americans had forgotten the object lesson given to them by Nixonian Republicans: That Republicans simply cannot be trusted, that their primary usefulness is in providing a necessary check and balance to the liberal excesses in Congress and as a reminder of how our government will be run some day if the Nixonian Republicans mutate and dominate both Congress and the White House at the same time.

To this day, Reagan remains the Teflon President, since even the scandal of Iran-Contra still doesn't stick to him and the capricious tarring and feathering of posterity still hasn't come close to giving the Great Communicator his much-deserved comeuppance. It's as if Reagan's senility was communicable because we don't seem to be able to recall that Reagan's Voodoo Economics of over a quarter of a century ago was actually the ignition point of the economic fire that we're vainly trying to beat out today. We've not only forgiven Reagan for his own excesses but our collective gray matter has gone as blank as Reagan's during his Iran-Contra Congressional testimony in 1986.

Americans are too quick to forgive Republicans for even the most heinous of crimes against humanity and common sense and too quick to condemn Democrats for far lesser crimes. Just when the Republican party gives us a useful idiot like Reagan or Bush and especially Bush II, some of us still hope that it will finally serve this time as a lesson in knowing what you're getting into bed with when we vote for Republicans.

The '06 midterms and the '08 general election that saw even more Republicans getting swept out of office and the election of our nation's first African American president was the loudest declaration since the post-Watergate elections of '76 of an unwillingness to tolerate high crimes and misdemeanors and abuse of power.

Yet Bush and Cheney never once came close to impeachment (and people were hung after Nuremberg for committing lesser crimes than those two) and Democrats we're seeing today are to blame for that. Even if they suddenly grew backbones and started doing the right things for a change and kicked lobbyists and special interest groups out of their offices en masse, would that be good enough to satisfy a fickle public that will once again crave change at any cost?

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Are You Grateful For This Thanksgiving?

Many of you will no doubt say that Barack Obama will be our 44th president and for good reason. Some will say the Democrats widening their lead in Congress.

What follows below is what I'm most grateful for.

Ya'll have your priorities, I have mine.

God Wars

Since I'm undergoing an anti-religious kick (the opposite of religious reform, I guess you could call it), it's only natural that Susan Lindauer would forward this to me yesterday.

It was supposedly a war of words between Sarah Palin's humorless and conservative Cumberland Presbyterians and the Catholics, one that was carried out in front of their respective churches.

It's not real, of course. The text has been Photoshopped in. Look behind the Catholic church sign and you'll note that the parked cars never move, unless this pissing match was carried out within a couple of hours. Still, it's funny. Click on any image to enlarge it to full size.

Another FU For Tom Friedman

All things considered, there's very little schadenfreude to go around these days. Jose Canseco and Ed McMahon are about to lose their homes and even Bill Gates is down to his last handful of islands and may have to sell off the Crab Nebula in the constellation Orion. We're all feeling the pinch.

But then I happened to go through the archives of The Well-Armed Lamb and found a link to a fascinating fact that was dug up by Jon Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution and I realized that, yes, Virginia, there's still such a thing as a little bit of schadenfreude.

Apparently, Schwarz is a fan of Vanity Fair, the publication that offers up a tantalizing clue as to why Friedman has been a little cranky toward the GOP and the free market these days. Apparently, Friedman is the John McCain of the NY Times and had married into a lot of money, in fact, a lot more money than John McCain ever married into.

Well, when the housing bubble burst and left gobs of sticky red ink all over the faces of the American taxpayer, Friedman's inlaws weren't immune. Because, as Peter Newcomb at Vanity Fair says,
It would be easy to dismiss today’s rant (however spot-on it might be) by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as yet another ideological tirade against the U.S. automobile industry. But based on the bad news coming out of shopping-mall owner General Growth Properties [GGP], it is no wonder Friedman is feeling crankier than usual. That’s because the author’s wife, Ann (née Bucksbaum), is an heir to the General Growth fortune. In the past year, the couple—who live in an 11,400-square-foot mansion in Bethesda, Maryland—have watched helplessly as General Growth stock has fallen 99 percent, from a high of $51 to a recent 35 cents a share. The assorted Bucksbaum family trusts, once worth a combined $3.6 billion, are now worth less than $25 million.

You'll note that the paper that reported the bad news for Friedman's inlaws was Friedman's own employer, the NY Times. Oh, how deliciously elliptical.

The good news is since this news came out, GGP stock has mightily rallied and is now worth, according to the latest data, .53 a share. Huzzah for the free market! Long live Friedman, both Tom and Milton!

Newcomb goes on to state that Friedman still gets $50,000 per speaking engagement and rakes in some serious cake through his bestsellers plus his column at the NY Times. Still, that's cold comfort in comparison to losing 99% of your stock holdings and watching your inheritance shrivel like a piece of flash paper in a blast furnace. Oh, how it must suck to lose $3,575,000,000 in just two months.

Now that's what I call redistribution of wealth! Although it would be amusing to see who's profiting from Mrs. Friedman's angst since when a fortune is lost, someone behind the scenes benefits enormously.

Well, there's always shopping therapy. Maybe the Friedmans can put their cares behind them and go to the mall and... Oh, wait...

This is God Speaking

...on the highway.

The Freeway Blogger's got some competition.

Living here in Massachusetts, we don't see many if any billboards purporting to be from God. He obviously must be pretty well off because the Lord sure takes out a lot of billboards in Appalachia that aren't written at all by his swaying, speaking-in-tongues snake-charmer devotees. Below are a sample of some of the most, er, notable of God's attempts to get our attention while we're hurtling ourselves inside pieces of machinery that weigh several thousands of pounds.

I guess He wants us in his kingdom sooner than He lets on.

Luckily, God believes in equal time in his Salvation-at-55 MPH program...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twenty Bucks, Same as in Town

Blogwhoring. You do it, I do it, we all do it. What have you been up to?

Personally, I'm kind of concerned that President-Elect Obama has been handing out and is about to hand out Cabinet-level positions to insiders after promising for 21 months "Change we deserve."

But former Secretary of Labor Dr. Robert Reich makes a pretty persuasive case as to why we ought to be happy that Obama is swiftly forming a coalition of young but talented people who seem suited to tackle the economic crisis that's ready to implode before he even takes over.

You have to admit, Obama's transition team is moving at a much faster clip than Bill Clinton's, whose own transition, as with his foreign policy, was sloppy, rushed and catch-as-catch-can.

One way in which Obama seems to be taking charge is the fact that he's giving us a weekly address on the Internet.

It's official: James Wolcott and Markos Moulitsas are the most masculine bloggers ever. It's true. The Gender Analyzer sez so!

An interesting aside is that Ann Coulter and Katie Couric, even though they're not bloggers, ain't as feminine as they'd like us to believe. In Coulter's case, that comes as a real shock.

Speaking of the Countess of Cuntitude, Orcinus asks a question that I've been asking myself all year long: What happened to Ann Coulter?

In this post, "How the Mighty Have Fallen", Dave perceptively notes, as did I last night, that the right wing is already lining up the gauntlet to blame Barack Obama for this mess even though it started brewing back when he was just an Illinois state senator.

As for Coulter's future, Neiwert has this prediction:
But I'm wondering when we'll see Coulter turn up in late-night infomercials for gold Liberty Dollars with her own image stamped on them. Because that's the road -- the one leading to ignominious obscurity and irrelevance -- she's headed down.

And I can't think of a more deserved fate.

Hullabaloo's Digby is always a treat to read. Yesterday she penned a post that nails the GOP's tattered carcass to the wall of shame. She starts off by quoting J. Taylor Rushing of The Hill:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday sent a message to Democrats that Republicans are not prepared to bend to a stronger majority.

In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), McConnell urged Reid to adopt a more conciliatory tone and warned him that Republicans will unite against Democrats if he does not.

To which Digby replies,
This is the Senate GOP that obstructed practically every major bill that Democrats tried to bring up for the last two years. That's not going to stop, regardless of how many Republicans are planted in the Cabinet or throughout the federal bureaucracy. At this point, Republicans aren't interested in winning the next election, they're interested in stopping any popular policy and beating this country into the ground.

Even if the GOP shrunk to one senator and a handful of diehard Koolaid garglers in the House, they'd still think they're in charge. And, of course, McConnell's legacy isn't in authoring and sponsoring bills but in opposing progressive legislation advanced by Democrats.

Digby thinks McConnell's threat to Reid may actually have some teeth, as with Bill Frist's childish threat to use the "nuclear option" in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And the unsatisfactory denouement of the Lieberman drama kind of impels a thinking person to be cynical of the new Democratic-led 111th Congress.

Bob over at God is for Suckers gives us a story of censorship out of Southern California. Freedom From Religion, an atheist organization out of Madison, Wisconsin, put up a single billboard advancing their position. Well, some Bible-thumpers had a problem with that and had the billboard taken down.

This is what we see from the religious right on our nation's highways:

Yet they have a problem with a rare billboard advocating atheism. Now, I'm all for equal time and offering opposing viewpoints at close quarters. That way, we'll see ideological juxtapositions such as this:

and this...

and this...

Hmm. What else is Jebus watching?

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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