Archive for May, 2006

Lying liars who want a war

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

So what do you do when the last thing in the world you want is a diplomatic solution to a crisis, but there are lots of annoying leaders around the world who keep insisting that before you can have what you really want, a war, you must first give diplomacy a fair try?  How do you placate them?

Well, if you’re George W. Bush dealing with Iran, you announce “a major shift in policy” that’s anything but a major shift in policy, by making an offer to negotiate that’s anything but an offer to negotiate.

You lie.

You do it by setting conditions on your willingness to negotiate that can never be met.

We have a name for that sort of offer in the lawyering business, by the way: It’s called bad faith bargaining.

Look closely at what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice actually said:

To underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table.

Ah, those three lovely words: “fully and verifiably.”  You remember, I’m sure, how much luck Saddam Hussein had in verifying his compliance with United Nations resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction: Does anyone seriously believe that in the unlikely event Iran tries to comply with Bush’s demands that their compliance will ever be deemed sufficient?

Bush doesn’t want compliance, he wants regime change. 

He wants war.

He wants it so badly he can taste it.

And in fairness, I have no doubt that he has sincere, if misguided, reasons for believing that starting such a war would be in America’s best interests.  Although I also have no doubt that there are darker factors, involving hoped for political gain, at work as well. 

But mostly I think Bush wants war for a more straightforward reason:

He loves war.

War is how he defines greatness in other leaders and it’s how he believes he can best stake his own claim to immortality.

Negotiating is for wimps.  Real men grab evil by the throat and shake it ‘til it dies.

Then later generations sing their praises around campfires, or oil derricks, as the case may be.  

You can sense this just by watching the man: When speaking on other subjects — economics, “compassionate conservatism,” environmental policy — Bush often has the look of an 11-year-old boy being forced to recite a Shakespearean sonnet in full costume in front of a school assembly.  His discomfort is palpable.

But when the subject turns to killing, whether by way of the death penalty or on the battlefield, suddenly the sparkle returns to his eyes: This is the part of the job he loves — smiting evil.

Bush wants war with Iran.

He may not get it.  As much as Bush and his inner circle like to pretend otherwise, reality does have an irritating way of inserting itself into such matters, and the truth is the United States, as overextended as we already are in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in no position to handle another major war.

But make no mistake, he does want it.

And the scary thing, of course, is that when George W. Bush really wants something he rarely lets a little thing like reality get in his way.

Episode 44: Living the Greatness Again

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Given that the Republican Party is in the process of imploding, this might be a good time for the Democrats to start getting their act together. So in furtherance of this worthy goal, Winston (with a little help from Horace’s daughter) wrote the following open letter to the leadership of the Democratic congressional campaign committees.

The Last Chance Democracy Café
Episode 44: Living the Greatness Again

by Steven C. Day

To: Senator Charles Schumer
Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Congressman Rahm Emanuel
Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee


Here at The Last Chance Democracy Café, we have an old fashioned, some might even say naïve, faith in the power of the advocacy of ideas — especially big ideas: The kind that make you stop and say “Wow!” We love George Lakoff and his books Moral Politics and Don’t Think of an Elephant, but at the end of the day, we figure that how well Democratic politicians frame their ideas won’t matter all that much unless they have ideas worth framing in the first place.

And let’s face it; the Democratic Party hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard on the vision thing lately. We’ve been too busy doing damage control: Spending our time and energy, not in promoting a broad progressive agenda, but in trying to mitigate the harm the Republicans are doing.

So we fight to uphold Roe vs. Wade, to defend Social Security and to try to salvage what little remains of the party’s New Deal, Great Society and pro-environmental heritages. But, truth be told, we’ve been doing a piss poor job even there.

True, Roe still stands (barely), but a generation of anti-abortion legislation, at both the state and federal level, has come close to making freedom of choice an abstraction. Already it’s almost impossible for poor women to obtain abortion services in many parts of the country. And new restrictions on a woman’s right to choose are being adopted all the time.

And, yes, Social Security survived the recent onslaught, thank God, but virtually every other aspect of the social safety net lies in tatters, with the situation growing grimmer by the year, as highlighted by the adoption of the so-called bankruptcy reform legislation (passed shamefully with significant Democratic support).

And I guess we can take some solace from the knowledge that there’s still an Environmental Protection Agency, even if its leadership is now made up almost exclusively of industry insiders and political hacks, the sort of people who have never seen a strip-mine, a smokestack or an oil derrick they didn’t love.

So year-by-year, we lose ground, and, for the most part, notwithstanding our ceaseless efforts to moderate ourselves into inoffensiveness, we also lose elections. And so it seemed for a time, eternity would pass.

But then, quicker than you can say criminal enterprise, everything seemed to change overnight; suddenly the Republican Party was imploding before our eyes — brought down by its leaders’ lies and incompetence, not to mention a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of high crimes and misdemeanors. And make no mistake, as political crack-ups go, this one has been a doozy: Criminal investigations flying as thick as corporate money transfers to Tom Delay’s political action committees; lies stripped bare to public view; Iraq going up in flames; prime time criminal level incompetence in responding to Hurricane Katrina; and disapproval ratings for Bush and the Republicans in Congress rising to levels normally reserved for IRS agents, used car salesmen and members of the news media.

Meanwhile, Republican recruitment for the midterm elections is in the toilet, while the Democrats continue to attract top talent (credit where credit’s due, Senator Schumer, take a bow); and incredibly, the Democrats, at least to this point, seem actually to be out fundraising the Republicans, which in a normal year would be roughly equivalent to the late Mother Teresa beating Dick Cheney in a cussing contest. And the GOP leadership must be suffering from repetitive night sweats over how close Ohio Democrat and Iraq War veteran, Paul Hackett, came to winning a special election in one of the most Republican districts in the country.

Yup, all in all, things are starting to look fairly bleak for our high flying GOP. So naturally, given this state of affairs, the whole political world is now waiting with baited breath for the answer to just one question: How will the Democratic leadership blow it this time?


Poor Katherine

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I would never have thought I could feel sorry for Katherine Harris, but this is almost enough to do the job — almost.

(Credit where credit is due to Wonkette via Huffington Post)

Bush Aide Gets Undeserved Harvard Bus. School Slot

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Sometime back in 1999, I remember telling my Dad that George W. Bush represented everything that was wrong with our political system. This was a guy that appeared to have failed at everything he did, but because he came from a rich and powerful family, many fools — including my father (although I didn’t call him that to his face) — found him not just acceptable, but worthy of the most powerful job in the world. He seemed to have not one ounce of understanding about what good government means or what a person given the opportunity to be President is obligated to do for the people he represents.

Unfortunately, I was right and now we’re, as Private Pyle says, “in a world of shit.”

And now we find out that Bush’s personal piss-boy is getting that leg-up that Bush and rich kids everywhere live their life knowing is theirs to be taken:

Gottesman, college dropout and former beau to Bush daughter, to begin in the fall

A 26-year-old college dropout who carries President Bush’s breath mints and makes him peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches will follow in his boss’s footsteps this fall when he enrolls at Harvard Business School (HBS)

Who gives a shit if you work your ass off in part-time jobs to get through an undergraduate degree at a state college? No one really cares if you spend eight years in the National Guard and actually come out alive to finally get to use the GI Bill, student loan repayment program and college tuition assistance (only to find that you have to STAY in the Guard to use them long enough to make any difference). So what if you’re handicapped or a minority or an orphan or not equipped with two loving parents who encourage your education and your entire life is one long painful journey through a system that sees every roadblock as one where all you really need to do is “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” even if you were born without boots or feet to put them on. Quit yer bitchin’ and shut up, because this isn’t your world, it’s the rich folks’ world and they don’t give one tiny thought to what you want or how hard you worked for it.

But, spend a few months sucking face with the President’s daughter and than four years sucking ass to the President as his personal gopher and note-carrier and you can write your own ticket to one of the best business colleges in the country — even if you don’t have the most basic of accomplishments to get there, like, for example, an undergraduate DEGREE that shows you have some of the acumen necessary to make it in graduate school.

BTW, I thought they called it “GRADUATE” school because it’s for people who GRADUATED! Or, perhaps, that’s just for us lazy-ass poor people.

Scumbag like Bush and Gottesman are what’s wrong with politics and, more importantly, society. People who think it’s okay to promote failure and ignorance at every turn deserve nothing but failure and ignorance. Except that the system is gamed to their advantage and there’s not a goddamned thing you can do about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous. I’m proud of my accomplishments, proud to have worked my way through college, proud to finally have paid off my student loans, even if I still carry a buttload of credit card debt begun at the same time. Proud to know that I served honorably and got my discharge because I was done, not because my Daddy pulled some strings and made sure I never had to fulfill a single obligation in my silver-spooned and fur-lined sad little life.

There are some things I can stand and some things I can understand, but this shit just chaps my ass.

Gottesman deserves nothing more than to spend the rest of his life wiping George W. Bush’s ass, because, truly, that’s all he appears to be qualified to do.

Then again, that’s all George W. Bush appears qualified to do, yet, somehow, in a cruel twist of ironic bullshit, the shittiest human being in our known world was given an opportunity to stink up the White House.

And that is exactly what he’s done.

If Harvard Business School is staffed by enough idiots to think this is a good idea, I have a feeling that the corporate world may finally get what they deserve.

Anyone need a drink? I do.

- Greg

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How to hide official misconduct, by the numbers

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

First, claim an almost unlimited right to keep the workings of the government secret, arguing, in effect, that the people’s business is none of the people’s business.

Second, start classifying as top secret all politically embarrassing information, while declassifying far less information in general than has occurred in the past (however, always feel free to declassify those few bits and pieces that are helpful to you).

Third, publicly challenge the patriotism of anyone who leaks (or publishes) politically harmful “secret” information.

Fourth, assert a right of executive privilege so broad (to the point of being without limit) as to effectively eviscerate congressional oversight.

Fifth, aggressively attack whistleblowers, by way of both direct retaliation and threat of prosecution.

Sixth, secretly use the phone records of reporters (without a search warrant or other court order) to trace the identity of sources who have disclosed evidence of your wrongdoing.

Seventh, threaten to jail reporters for contempt of court if they refuse to disclose their sources.

Eighth, up the ante even further by threatening to prosecute members of the news media who disclose unflattering information under the espionage statutes.

Ninth, appoint the kind of Supreme Court justice who will provide the deciding vote in a decision that strips whistleblowers of much of their legal protection.

Tenth, give members of the Washington press corps cute little nicknames so they won’t make too much of a public issue out of any of the above.

Then feel free to abuse the constitution, throw bundles of money to your political cronies and lie to your heart’s content: After all, what the bastards don’t know won’t hurt them.

Paulson — didn’t he run for president once?

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

So how old does it make me that when I first heard that Bush had nominated someone named Paulson to be the new Treasury Secretary, my first thought was of Pat Paulsen and his Emmy winning fake 1968 presidential campaign on the Smothers Brothers show?

I know — pretty damn old.

Post note: Pat ran in some later elections as well, but it was the 1968 “campaign” that made him immortal, so to speak.

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It depends on what you mean by the word reduction

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Bush is reducing troop levels in Iraq, really he is.  It’s just that sometimes the best way to reduce something is to increase it.

(AP) U.S. moving 1,500 reserve troops to Iraq

U.S. military commanders are moving about 1,500 troops from a reserve force in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq to help local authorities establish order there.

The move, announced Tuesday by military commanders, comes as Iraqi officials continue to struggle to set up their government, amid new spikes in violence.

The 1st Armored Division has had a brigade stationed in Kuwait for several months serving as a reserve force that could be called upon to augment the troops in Iraq. One of the brigade’s battalions was sent to the Baghdad area in March to bolster security until a new national government was seated.

The deployment comes at a time when the Bush administration is under heavy election-year pressure to begin drawing down the roughly 130,000 American troops in Iraq.

Sorry to be gone so long (open thread)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Just for the record, I didn’t fail to post over the long holiday weekend because I suddenly “got a life.”  I was foiled by computer problems. 

In any case, we’re back in business.

(Feel free to use this post to talk about anything you want: We’ll treat it as an experimental open thread — the first we’ve tried here.)

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Remember when the British had it “easy” in Southern Iraq?

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

(CNN) Two British troops killed in Basra:

The troops from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards were killed in the explosion at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the MoD said in a statement.

Two others suffered minor injuries. The deaths bring to 113 the number of British military personnel killed since the Iraq war began.

No part of Iraq is safe for occupation troops today; and notwithstanding the BS constantly emanating from the lie factory we euphemistically refer to as the White House, the neocon dream of glory in Iraq isn’t just disintegrating in the Sunni heartland, but all across the country.

To quote Juan Cole one more time: “Sometimes you’re just screwed.”

 And man are we ever.

Just a little murder in Iraq

Friday, May 26th, 2006

So it’s just a little murder in Iraq.

But do me a favor: Please — no anguished expressions of shock; no wailing over how unbelievable it is that this could have happened, that Americans could ever have done such things.   

Of course, it happened.

Of course, we did it

It always happens.

We always do it.

So does everyone else.

Massacring of civilians travels with war as inevitably as suffering travels with disease; suggesting you can have one without the other is childish or worse.

And, no, not all, or even most, soldiers do it or should in any way be touched by its blame, but in all protracted wars at least a few do.

They always have.

They always will.

That’s war.

And, yes, the soldiers involved should pay for their crimes. 

But what about the crimes of those who sent these soldiers into this hell of a war based upon a devil’s brew of lies and incompetence?  What about the people who made the inevitable — inevitable?   

Will they ever pay a price?

Or is justice, much like the dying of war itself, something largely reserved for the powerless?