Saturday, May 30, 2009

I just do not know what to make of conservatives now.

O.K., sure, there are conservatives out there who have values they live to and do not lie to “win” cheap points off their sworn enemies. But they sure aren’t much in evidence these days. Right now, all I see is Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich, Dick and Liz Cheney and Tom Tacrendo. And I see these people are all flaming lunatics. Rush seems to think that Sonia Sotomayor is a dangerous racist and nominating her to the Supreme Court is the same as nominating David Duke. He also thinks that conservatives are being oppressed and should learn to “fight back”, because they don’t know how. They’re docile, you see. They let evil liberals just run them over all the time. I also just saw a clip of Rush the other night comparing himself to Thomas Jefferson, because Rush can see things that others can’t. I almost threw something at the television set at that point.

I could go on and on, but it would serve no purpose really. I am just seriously in awe of someone who can be so pompous that he would toss out of the Republican Party anyone who disagrees with him, on anything. Anything. You disagree with Rush, you are not a Republican. And this guy is working under something like a 45 million dollar salary. Amazing.

Well, I guess all I can say about this is that the Republican Party is going to have to do something to save itself from, if not total extinction, then from a long, forced march into irrelevancy. The problem is that they made their pact with the devil long ago. They depended upon the votes of racists, born again fundamentalists and angry white men who don’t like anyone except other white guys exactly like them. That is whom the Republican Party depended upon to win elections. And now those people are running the party. It’s going to be a bitch for anyone to stand up and take control back from the lunatics who are now in charge of the asylum. I don’t even see anyone attempting to try, any time soon.

This is going to be a long, drawn out affair.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Subaru gets an environmental “F minus” on their new television ad.

I really don’t know what to make of the new Subaru commercial. You may have seen it. Some guy is lovingly “retiring” his old Forrester by parking it under some remote tree, with a few other junked cars, so that his Forrester can “live on.” How heartwarming…

My question to Subaru is, what the hell is up with this? These days, isn’t it the “done” thing in commercials to show everyone how “green” your product is? Even if your product isn’t “green” in any sense of the word, companies are still trying to convince the general public that it is, seeing as that is where the new public sensibilities seem to lie. But this new Subaru commercial is advocating that you NOT dispose of your used car in an environmentally sound way. You should to just go find some tree out in the middle of nowhere where you can just park it, in case someone, somewhere is too cheap to go to the dealer and get some new car parts.

I got news for Subaru. Disposing of your junked cars like that seems to be a requirement in places like Montana (you don’t believe me, take a ride on the Amtrak Empire Builder and see how many yards along the tracks have junked cars stored there). But this is not the environmentally sound approach, and I think Subaru should be ashamed for even suggesting that this might be a good thing to do. We need people who are MORE environmentally aware, not less. We have enough of those clods already.

I don’t care how much you loved your old car. You do not just go take it out somewhere and park it under a tree when it dies or when you get tired of paying the mounting repair bills on it. Donate it to some charitable organization that takes used cars (running or not) and somehow makes money off of them for their charity. You are doing somebody a favor and you are not out there trashing the environment with what will eventually become a rusty pile of useless metal, plastic and rubber.

Picture from here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I believe I understand why Conservatives like Sarah Palin so much.

In their eyes, she can bring down a triceratops by herself with nothing but a stone ax, clean it and then roast up the best parts into a tasty meal, all the while conforming to the strict edicts of the tribe. She just looks adorable in a bear skin, too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Did you know that Christians can’t be Democrats?

It’s true! At least, it is true according to those nice people who run Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College. From Washington Monthly:

Liberty University, the evangelical school in Virginia founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, is drawing heat Friday for its decision to revoke recognition of the College Democrats' chapter on campus.

According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, the school decided a week ago the organization "stood against the moral principles" held by the school and therefore could no longer be sanctioned.

Maria Childress, the staff adviser to the club, told the paper the school -- which opposes abortion rights and gay marriage -- had issues with the Democratic Party platform.

Childress says she was told by Mark Hine, the vice president of student affairs, that "'You can't be a Democrat and be a Christian and be a university representative.'"

So, after initially approving the College Democrats club, they changed their minds and revoke the club charter. But, of course, it’s not that those fine folks feel like any political activity and going to college don’t mix. No, it’s only Democratic political activity that is hostile to those values held dear by administrators of Liberty. No open mindedness here, please! No diversity of opinions necessary!

Liberty is a private institution and they can do as they please. But this does absolutely nothing except publicize the fact that "Liberty" U is the closed minded, tribalistic institution that everyone knows it is but doesn’t really talk about. It’s just one more example of the entire “we encourage you to join us, just as long as you believe and act exactly like we do!” mentality that pervades the conservative psyche these days.

I just find it amazing that there were enough Democrats actually enrolled at Liberty to make up a club. To me, that’s a bit like being a gay Republican. You are going to have to dig deep to find some reasons for your decision that you can live with. Liberty, pfftt...

Photo from TBogg.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Onward Christian Soldiers, indeed.

This is now kind of an old story, as things go these days. I haven’t gotten around to posting about it, but it is something I felt like I should.

It’s not a secret that the armed forces of the United States has become a very Christianized place in the last 10 years. Oh, no doubt, the various services were always pretty conservative, which usually goes hand in hand with religion. But under President Bush and his Iraq War, Afghanistan War, War Against Islamic Terrorists, Global War on Terror, etc. etc., the trend has become a full fledged avalanche, gathering speed and mass as it careens downhill. I have read stories about what has been going on at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for years. I don’t like this and firmly believe that religious fervor and military should NOT be sharing the same bed. That’s pretty much a recipe for disaster.

What is finally coming to light, however, is yet another thing altogether. GQ magazine broke a story about how Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon put together daily briefings for President Bush on how the wars were going. That’s not really newsworthy by itself, but the nature of the briefings were. Here is part of a column by Frank Rich at the NYTimes.

But Draper’s biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.

Take the one dated April 3, 2003, two weeks into the invasion, just as Shock and Awe hit its first potholes. Two days earlier, on April 1, a panicky Pentagon had begun spreading its hyped, fictional account of the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch to distract from troubling news of setbacks. On April 2, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of the United States Central Command from 1991-94, had declared on the Times Op-Ed page that Rumsfeld had sent too few troops to Iraq. And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.)

What’s up with that? As Draper writes, Rumsfeld is not known for ostentatious displays of piety. He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

I really don’t know what I find more disturbing. That Bush might be swayed by such crap, or by the fact that Rumsfeld, who is not really a “true believer”, would cynically play such games with Bush to manipulate him into what Rumsfeld really wanted to do. Both are really disturbing to think about. This is what might have been going on in Europe back in the 16th century. It should not be going on in the United States in the 21st century.

And, as always, some people are upset that these things are being made public. It’s not the fact that they even exist. No, that’s not the problem. But showing them to people and talking about them, well, that’s just terrible.

I wish all politicians, but mostly Republicans, would stop and think for a second about this. If you think there might be some bad repercussions if what you are doing eventually becomes public, then doesn’t that immediately tell you something about what you are doing? If you are worried about your actions showing you in a bad light, then maybe, just maybe, that is something you shouldn’t be doing? For example, it’s O.K. to torture detainees that haven’t been charged with a crime, but boy, no one better talk about that. That would endanger this country!

This is, without a doubt, a very warped way of thinking. It’s never your fault, it’s always someone else’s fault. To me, such thinking is a sign of either criminal behavior or a deep psychological problem, and possibly both. To me, everything that is coming out about the Bush administration just confirms the absolute worst that all us DFH's have always suspected. These guys were delusional. They were megalomanics. They were criminals who knew what they were doing was criminal and tried to hide their actions behind a curtain of fog and legaleze that no lawyer with an ounce of integrity would try to sell to a judge.

And all of them are going to get away with their misdeeds. I find that sickening.

Image from here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Imperial Storm Troopers really suck at their job.

From, here is part of a post called “6 Evil Henchmen Who Sucked at Their Job”. Go check out the entire thing.

Henchmen are an essential part of every plot to take over the world. Unfortunately, even the best henchmen let us down. Is it something inherent in the henchman archetype? Or is it just that we expect too much from grown men in form-fitting body armor? Honestly, we don't know. But we do know that it hurts every time, and nowhere more so than in the six cases below.

Who Are They?

Soldiers of the Galactic Empire, as featured in the Star Wars franchise.

Why Were They Feared?

Stormtroopers started out strong. The way they stormed that Rebel blockade runner in Star Wars was pretty sweet. And the way they overran that Rebel base in The Empire Strikes Back was the epitome of cool (OK, so they let most of the rebels escape from Cloud City, but the rebels had inside help from known scoundrel Lando Calrissian, so we could let it slide). By that point, it seemed like Stormtroopers could do no wrong. But then something happened, something... awful.

What Went Wrong?

After convincing us that they were the baddest asses in henchmen history, Stormtroopers suddenly went all France on us. Somehow, a frigging army of Stormtroopers was outwitted, outmaneuvered and just plain outfought by a bunch of overgrown merkins whose most advanced weaponry was flint-tipped arrows. But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that these weren't just any Stormtroopers. No, these were, in the Emperor's own words, his best troops, for fuck's sake.

Of course, no one wanted the Stormtroopers to win. Yes, we loved them the way only impressionable adolescents can love something, but we knew they were evil, and we wanted them to get their comeuppance in the end. But not like this. Losing as ignominiously as they did on Endor didn't just diminish the villains, it also diminished the heroic men and women who defeated them.

A Typical Stormtrooper's Last Thought:

"I can't see a thing in this helmet!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It’s beginning to look a lot like suspects were tortured not to prevent an attack on the U.S., but to provide the Bush administration with a rationale

I’ve wanted to write a post about the daily revelations coming out about our use of torture for a few days now, but I just couldn’t really find the enthusiasm. This is just too disheartening. It’s getting worse and worse each day, and I thought we were at a point where it couldn’t get much worse about six months ago. And I keep hearing promises that there is more to come. More pictures, more briefings, more paper trails. It seems very apparent right now, although this is still not being reported in the mainstream media yet, that we were torturing people not to “prevent attacks” on the U.S., but to find a rationale for the Iraq War. We were torturing people who were already giving us good information with other, non “enhanced” means. But they weren’t giving us what we wanted to hear, which was that there was a direct link between Iraq and Al-Queda. We needed a reason, besides the phony WMD issue, to give the neocons the war they wanted. Even after waterboarding KSM 183 times in a single month, we didn’t get the information the interrogators wanted to hear.

Doesn’t this PROVE that the information gained by torturing someone is unreliable, at best? If they haven’t given it to you after being waterboarded six times a day for a month, then it isn’t likely they are not going to give it to you? And if they do give you something, what does it mean? This sounds so much like the “confessions” elicited by clerics back in the 1600’s, where they would keep piling rocks on you until you agreed you were a witch, or were in league with Satan, or whatever they wanted to hear. When you confessed, they killed you. If you died before you confessed, that meant you were actually innocent. Of course, you were dead, but hey, you weren’t in league with Satan.

This is, of course, ignoring the fact that torturing people is morally wrong and illegal, regardless of whether of not the information you gained was correct or not. But what’s the big controversy of the day? Whether Nancy Pelosi knew about this or not. I don’t give a rat’s ass whether she knew or not. If she was complicit in the whole thing, then let her take the fall along with all the other perpetrators of this evil done in the name of the United States of America. However, I will say that guilty people don’t usually go around calling for release of documents and a truth commission.

I am just so disheartened about all this. Check out this story at Washington Monthly for more info.

THAT'S NOT A TICKING TIME BOMB.... About a month ago, McClatchy reported that the Bush administration abused detainees in part because officials were desperate for non-existent evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein's regime. The piece talked to a senior former U.S. intelligence official who said Cheney and Rumsfeld were "demanding proof of the links" in 2002 and 2003. When the imaginary evidence wasn't produced, the administration "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information."

Yesterday, this became a subject of renewed interest.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff in Bush's State Department, raised a few eyebrows with this item:

What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 -- well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion -- its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

It wasn't just Wilkerson.

Writing on The Daily Beast, former NBC producer Robert Windrem reports that in April 2003, Dick Cheney's office suggested that interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was questioned on the issue today in two TV interviews. Speaking to CNN, Whitehouse allowed: "I have heard that to be true." To MSNBC, he noted that there was additional evidence of this in the Senate Armed Services committee report, and from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. "This thing is just getting deeper and deeper," said Whitehouse, noting that if it were true, it would significantly bolster the case for prosecutions.

And MSNBC's Chris Matthews also picked up on the issue this evening, as did Ed Schultz of the same network.

Torture is wrong (and illegal, and counter to our national security interests) regardless of the Bush administration's motivations. But many -- in the media, on the Hill, etc. -- seem inclined to think doing the wrong thing for the right reason is somehow tolerable. Bush/Cheney was wrong to torture, the argument goes, but they were only trying to protect Americans from another terrorist attack.

Which is precisely why these revelations, if accurate, have the potential to be devastating. There was no "ticking time bomb," but there was a political agenda. Getting a detainee to offer evidence of a non-existent link wouldn't have furthered our security interests or saved American lives, but it would have made the Bush White House's sales pitch for an unnecessary war a lot easier.

Are the same torture apologists we've heard from lately willing to also accept "extracting false confessions" as a reasonable justification?

UPDATE: Even Maureen Dowd in getting into the act. Maybe the logjam is really starting to break apart, regardless of what the Obama administration does or does not want.

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

I used to agree with President Obama, that it was better to keep moving and focus on our myriad problems than wallow in the darkness of the past. But now I want a full accounting. I want to know every awful act committed in the name of self-defense and patriotism. Even if it only makes one ambitious congresswoman pay more attention in some future briefing about some future secret technique that is “uniquely” designed to protect us, it will be worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wow, they’re going to do it. The Republicans are actually going to do it.

No, they’re not going to change their positions on anything or actually acknowledge they have ever been wrong. I am referring to the fact that it appears as if the Republican National Committee is actually going to approve the resolution to rename the Democratic Party the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

From the Washington Monthly:

Notice, these clowns can't even get the grammar right. The "Democratic Socialist Party" would merely be moronic; the "Democrat Socialist Party" is both moronic and an insult to the English language.

Regardless, the effort is a breakthrough moment in political inanity. Members of the Republican National Committee are holding a special meeting so they can officially ask Democrats to change the name of their political party to something Republicans prefer. In fact, the resolution, which might as well have been written in crayon, concludes that the RNC is "calling on" the Democratic Party to embrace the GOP-endorsed name. It adds that Democrats "should agree" to the re-naming.

How can so many people be so oblivious? With all the problems this country faces, you might think the Republicans might want to spend some time actually trying to come up with some proposals to solve these problems. But no. They want to spend their time voting on a resolution to call Democrats names! And on top of that, they think the Democrats “should agree” with the new name given them by the RNC.

These people are truly morons. Personally, I think we should all agree that all RNC members be named Flounder.

Madam Speaker, I... Gosh, your hair smells wonderful!

As Republicans opt out of the political process, policy debates are now occurring WITHIN the Democratic Party.

I find this fascinating. At least from the ivory tower, “this is really how it should work” perspective, you would think policy debates in Congress would be between Republicans and Democrats. After all, there are very different points of views on the opposite sides of the political spectrum. Debating those differences seems more than logical. However, it seems as if the entire Republican Party has just mailed it in. They have opted out of the process. They are no longer just the party of the loyal opposition. No, they have decided the best way to maintain their political purity is to vote a resounding NO to anything proposed by the Democrats. And God help those who don’t toe the party line. Arlen Specter decided to switch parties after it became apparent to him that he wasn’t pure enough for the party ideologues. When Olympia Snowe wrote an Op Ed in the NYTimes that essentially said she was worried that moderates were no longer welcome in the Republican Party, the overwhelming reaction was “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” Anyone who criticizes the GOP or Rush Limbaugh is no longer welcome, not unless they do a bit of groveling first. Dick Cheney says that he thought that Colin Powell wasn’t a Republican anymore. And it goes on and on. What Olympia Snowe said is really true, moderates and ANYONE who doesn’t toe the Republican Party/ultra Conservative/born again Christian line is really not welcome in the Republican Party. End of discussion.

What the Republican Party has essentially done is to throw in the towel on any meaningful debate about policy. There are very valid reasons to disagree with any sort of proposal these days, and the amount of money being tossed about is truly astounding. There really should be debates on how best to rescue this country from the myriad of problems we all face. But the Republican Party would rather gnash their teeth and rend their garments about anything and everything these days. They have absolutely no idea about how to govern. The only thing they really know how to do is vilify “the enemy.” Now that now longer seems to be as effective as it once was, they have absolutely no idea how to respond, other than to crank up the volume on the same old message that is no longer working.

In a fascinating turn of events, it seems that the political debates that should be going on are happening within the Democratic Party itself. The “progressives” and the “moderates” (also known as Blue Dog Democrats) of the Democratic Party are really not happy with each other at times on some very important issues. For example, here is a little tidbit from the NYTimes about the debate on the Democrats attempt to fix our broken healthcare system.

WASHINGTON — Forty-five House Democrats in the party’s moderate-to-conservative wing have protested the secretive process by which party leaders in their chamber are developing legislation to remake the health care system.

The lawmakers, members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said they were “increasingly troubled” by their exclusion from the bill-writing process.

They expressed their concerns in a letter delivered Monday to three House committee chairmen writing the bill, which House leaders hope to pass this summer.

Representative Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat who is chairman of the coalition’s health task force, said: “We don’t need a select group of members of Congress or staff members writing this legislation. We don’t want a briefing on the bill after it’s written. We want to help write it.”

Mr. Ross and eight other lawmakers who signed the letter are on the committees responsible for writing the legislation.

Centrist Democrats said they fully endorsed President Obama’s goal of guaranteeing access to health insurance and health care for all. But, they said, they are concerned about the cost of the legislation, which could easily top $1 trillion over 10 years. And they want to be sure that the role of any new government-sponsored insurance program, expected to be a centerpiece of the bill, is carefully delineated.

Personally, I would love to see a single payer system (that is, the government administer our healthcare system), but that’s just me. I readily acknowledge that there are many potential pitfalls with that. Others prefer alternative methods. That’s great. We need to have that debate. What we really need to do is fix the problem! It isn’t easy and there isn’t likely to be a consensus on the issue without lots and lots of work and many concessions by both sides. And that process looks like it is starting to occur.

I just find it amazing and more than a little amusing that the Republicans have taken themselves out of the game. Political purity is more important to them than actually, say, winning future elections or addressing the country’s problems in a manner that is acceptable to them. They would rather just sit on the sidelines, holding their breath in a very manly attempt at turning blue, hoping that someone will eventually notice them.

As the current saying goes, “Good luck with that.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You ever had one of those dreams...?

You know the one I am talking about. The one where you are in college and you realize you are WAY behind and there's no way you are going to catch up, and you are going to fail miserably. And there's always one or two smart a**es who are quite willing to tell you how easy it all is and there's no problem at all. That one. I just had one of those last night.

I am 54 years old, have two degrees, have been published internationally, regularly speak in front of quite knowledgable people and I am STILL having stupid dreams like that. Jeez.

Friday, May 08, 2009

In addition to Texas Republicans, Georgia Republicans now think that secession is a pretty good idea.

"Oh, my God. President Obama didn’t mean that I was going to the Republic of Georgia. He meant Georgia! I am going to Atlanta! As if dealing with Hamid Karzi isn't enough, I have to talk to those idiots as well?”

I must admit, those feisty folks in the Georgia state senate have gone WAY past just a veiled threat. No, the Georgia senate just voted 43 to 1 (let me repeat, 43 to 1) a resolution that… does something. From The New Yorker, here is a bit of a description of the lunacy.

The resolution is written in a mock eighteenth-century style, ornate and pompous. Just two of its twenty sentences account for more than 1,200 of its 2,200 words. But the substance is even nuttier than the style.

It begins by saying that what it sneeringly calls “a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States” limits the “General Government” only to specifically named powers, such as punishing piracy and counterfeiting, and that “each party” to the “compact,” i.e., each state, is the final judge of whether the “General Government” has overstepped its very tight bounds. Among other rights, the states “retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom.” (There’s a lovely phrase: “the licentiousness of speech and of the press.”) If I’m reading the resolution’s convoluted language correctly, it also asserts that the states have a right to suppress “libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion” without interference from “federal tribunals.”

The kicker:

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government.

Italics mine. If Congress were to reinstate the assault rifle ban (admittedly an unlikely prospect), there would be no more United States of America.

To repeat: this was passed by the stalwart patriots of the Georgia state senate by a vote of forty-three to one. According to Beutler, the South Dakota house passed a similar resolution, 51-18, and an Oklahoma version passed that state’s house, 83-13, and its state senate, 25-17. Oklahoma’s Democratic governor, Brad Henry, vetoed it, noting dryly in his veto message that it “does not serve the state or its citizens in any positive manner.”

Are we going to have to fight the goddamn Civil War all over again just because the country elected someone that the Republicans in the ex-Confederacy don’t like? And yet, somehow, criticizing President Bush and his rush to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 was somehow treasonous?

Republicans are really insane these days. I mean it. Absolutely frickin’ insane. And these people are the elected officials of the state. What is going through the minds of the rest of the denizens (I now refuse to call them citizens) of these states? Yeah, I would like to see all these people start squealing when they realize what kinds of things they would lose if their state were no longer part of the United States of America.

UPDATE: It occurred to me that these people are not really serious, but are just in the process of thumping their shoes on the table, a la Kruschev, just to get people to pay attention to them because they know that the Republican party is no longer the dominant party in the U.S. "Pay attention to me or else I'll hold my breath 'till my face turns blue!!" Maybe... Tantrums seem to fit with the Republican mindset these days. But I am more than willing to be that many of these people are completely serious. You know, when liberals were upset with how things were going under Bush, I never once heard this kind of talk. I heard plenty of talk about moving to Canada, but never breaking up the Union because certain people didn't like how our President was running the country. Let's just hope that we don't see another John Wilkes Boothe pop out of the shadows of all this anger and hatred and into the limelight.

UPDATE II: It turns out that Hilzoy at Washington Monthly has thought about this development out of Georgia as well. Gosh, it turns out that the Georgia State Senate is not only totally out to lunch, they are a bunch of pliagerists as well! At least they used a very well informed source for their pliagerism, but using Thomas Jefferson to come up with language supporting the supposed rights for states to just ignore any laws they don't like and to remove themselves from the Union at their pleasure seems more than comically ironic.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Stop the presses! I think I have discovered the source of the swine flu!!

Photo from Whiskey Fire.

Wait a second! The GOP wants advice from Dana Perio!?!

From Talking Points Memo:
GOP Turns To Former Bush Aides For Communications Advice

The Politico reports that the House GOP conference is bringing in three former Bush advisers -- former Bush press secretary Dana Perino, former deputy press secretary Tony Fratto, and former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie -- to give advice to House GOP press secretaries at this Friday's annual workshop. "We are battle-tested," said Perino.

HAHAHAHA!!!! This is the person who, as official spokesperson for the Bush administration, didn’t even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was:

Appearing on National Public Radio's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, (Dana) Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.

"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "

“It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I am pretty sure.” Yathink? Jeez. Well, if the GOP is going to be asking this person for her advice, I would guess the Democratic party is sitting much more prettily that I ever would have imagined.

I wonder what else Ms. Perino doesn't know much about.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Shorter Michael Steele: “Everyone’s welcome in the Republican Party, as long as you believe in exactly the same things we do.”

Here’s Michael Steele, via Balloon Juice:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appealed to the political middle Friday to join his party but added that the party itself wouldn’t moderate.

“All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said at a news conference. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.

“Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it. You come in because that’s the place you want to be.”

So, let me use what I hope will be a highly illustrative example of what M. Steele is saying here. Say you and your significant other are in mind to go out for dinner some Saturday night, and you really have in mind that you would like a nice filet mignon accompanied by a nice red wine, in a restaurant with a nice atmosphere and friendly waiters. It’s your anniversary, after all, and you have had your fill of fast food over, say, the last eight years. So, here comes Michael Steele. He owns the local Taco Bell. He tells you that you can come on in, you really should, this is a great restaurant. You can’t imagine how wonderful it really is. Just don’t ask for filet mignon with red wine, because he doesn’t have it and he isn’t going to be pandering to any potential customers who might not want a taco full of melty processed cheesefood, so don’t even bother asking. He’s telling you that you REALLY want a taco! There are lots and lots of people who like tacos, and you should really be one of them. Screw that whole filet mignon thing.

Now, with much less snark and minus the Taco Bell analogy, here is Maha discussing the exact same issue.

In many ways, IMO, the Republican Party is acting like an apocalyptic cult — a small number of true believers waiting for some Big Cataclysmic Event that’s going to change everything, to their advantage. For that reason, present reality doesn’t interest them, because present reality is just a temporary aberration (which it may be, but not in the way they think). Thus, movement conservatives brush off opinion polls that show their positions to be wildly unpopular. They don’t need to worry about election losses, shrinking party membership, an aging political base, or senior senators who jump ship. They don’t need to change with the times. They’ll be vindicated when the Mother Ship arrives. You’ll see.

And they must truly believe in the Event, because they’re betting everything on it. In 2000 they still were shrewd enough to market Dubya as a moderate — a “compassionate conservative” who liked to be photographed surrounded by smiling black children. Now they aren’t even pretending to make adjustments to political reality.

Well said. I think I like my Taco Bell analogy better, tho.

GOPasaur from Daily Kos.

As Inigo Montoya said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In this case, I am talking about the term, “checks and balances.” All of a sudden, Republicans are worried about Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress. Gee, after all that time when Congress acted as a rubber stamp to George Bush, and NOW they are worried. They handed Bush a blank check that allowed him to do pretty much anything he wanted to. Republicans at the time believed that it was their solemn duty to vote Yes on whatever Bush wanted. However, they really need to go buff up on the material they should have learned in their 8th grade civics class. “Checks and balances” is not talking about between political parties. It’s talking about between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches of the federal government. And that’s regardless of which political party controls each of those branches, something the Republican party seems to have forgotten completely. It is impossible, it seems, for Republicans to view any issue outside the prism of "Us vs. Them."


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Random thoughts and observations about traveling by air.

- The people who run airports seem to be under the impression that every single person waiting for an airplane must be able to see and/or listen to CNN, usually at a very high volume. They do not seem to think that a “quiet space” might be necessary. As a result, during my trip, I was continually “informed”, at each and every stage of my journey, about the swine flu (OMG, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!) and Miss California’s breast implants.

- The 757-300 is a very long airplane. Let me repeat, very long. In fact, it is the longest single aisle airplane in commercial service. If you are, perchance, sitting in the very last row, it takes an exceedingly long time to exit the airplane. Let me repeat, an EXCEEDINGLY long time. On the other hand, there is a good chance you might have an empty seat next to you, even on a full airplane, as it appears that no one really likes sitting there.

- Tall, overweight, doughy looking white guys, no matter how passionate they might be about the college athletic teams they are supporting, are not very fashionable in the best of circumstances but certainly not when decked out in their college sports apparal. In fact, they look pretty damn stupid. Vivid displays of college affiliations may work really well at, say, an actual football or basketball game, but they do not work when out in the general public. Really garish colors, say orange and purple, make the entire presentation almost unbearable. Under no circumstances should doughy white guys ever wear college sports apparel.

- It is a useless task to try to listen to classical music on an airplane. Almost every aspect of a symphony orchestra is drowned out by the “white noise” (really damn loud white noise) associated with an airplane in flight. You cannot hear anything done at a subdued volume or low frequency, including most everything done by the string section, the bassoons, the oboes, etc. On the other hand, you really get to hear certain aspects of the music done by instruments like the timpani, the brass section, etc. I imagine a good classical selection for airplane travel might be the 1812 Overture.

- There will always be a certain type of person who sits somewhere in your near vicinity. This type of person has the unfortunate ability to talk about anything and everything, in great detail and at a loud volume. It doesn’t really matter to them whether or not they have an attentive audience or not. The presence of a someone not asleep is enough for them to share their wisdom and observations with everyone else. Sort of like a blog, but without the selective audience.

- Every time I fly coach instead of first class (which is always), I am reminded that all the people in steerage on the Titanic were the ones that didn’t get in the lifeboats and subsequently drowned. Not that I am ever expecting an airplane crash into the water where life rafts are necessary (but given what happened in NYC last month, the chances appear to be greater than zero), but I just find the existence of first class passengers, along with their “first class only” restrooms and dedicated line to get on the airplane, annoying. I don’t mind that many people and companies have the money to spend on first class tickets. I just think that if I am stuck in steerage… I mean coach, that everyone should have to sit there as well.

Picture from RR Picture Archives.