Friday, September 30, 2005

CIVIL WAR? OVER DELAY?--

Mark Noonan over at Blogs for Bush has now warned Democrats that continuing to attack Delay will apparently somehow result in civil war--though what exactly they intend to do beyond what they have already done, short of declaring Palpatine's "Safe and Secure Society," is beyond me.

Hunter at DailyKos put this piece of idiocy right back in its place with a very satisfying smackdown concerning the hypocrisy of the position in question, but I feel that there are some important considerations that Hunter did not cover.

Hunter's primary angle is "you started it, we'll finish it"--essentially, a justification of engaging in personal destruction--or even witch-hunting--of prominent Republicans. I do feel, given the previous history Republican political and campaign strategy ever since Clinton's election, that all such activity is thoroughly justified, because if we do it too, and prove that we're good at it, perhaps they'll realize it wasn't such a good idea. But the indictment of Tom Delay, and Mark Noonan's warning shot, is about more than that.

I would argue, however, that Delay's indictment does not reach to the level of Whitewater, Swiftboating and Vince Foster. Delay has been rebuked three times for ethics violations by his own party's ethics committee, and we all know about Abramoff. There's certainly enough smoke there to justify the search for a fire, unlike Vince Foster, and it is integral to very relevant current events (unlike Whitewater). So I would argue that in the Delay indictment, we haven't even come close to matching the scorched earch policy that the Republicans have shown to the political climate. We've just shown that we're finally capable of not being cowed into not doing what we should have been doing all along--calling a spade a spade. If the Democrats take control of Congress in 2006, however, I hope we do see a witch-hunt--just so Mark Noonan can know what it really feels like.

But an even bigger point is--why on earth would these people want to take a stand in support of Tom Delay? He has a negative reception. Congress as a whole has a dismal aproval rating. He has, as previously stated, been rebuked for ethics violations three times. A fight was beginning to brew in Congress between Delay, who said that there was no fat in the federal budget to trim, and fiscal conservatives in Congress, who saw plenty. His unpopularity was so marked that the whole Democratic congressional campaign strategy was to tie incumbent Republicans to Delay as closely as possible. So why are they defending this guy? As it is, congress was stalled on Bush's agenda because of the hurricanes and other things that are pushing economic issues back into the mainstream. Bush is even pulling a Carter and pushing conservation, for the sake of everything that's holy. So it's not like they'll miss Delay's effective leadership. And you can bet he'll still be working behind the scenes, he just won't have the official title.

Next question for Mark Noonan: if, as you say, the actions of Tom Delay are relevantly similar to that of every single congressman with regard to fundraising practices, why aren't we seeing investigations and indictments into a whole ton more members of Congress? Because frankly, that's why your legislative heroes were voted into office in 1994--to sweep out the corruption that had overtaken the Democratic House after so many years of majority status. Fulfill your mandate and your purpose then! Clean it up! Go after everybody, Democrats included. Stop talking about Pelosi and get something done. Your boys are in charge of Congress, after all, and personal destruction is your specialty.

Further question: whence comes this "trying to overturn an election" crap, and all the comparisons to 1861? Last time I checked, indicting a corrupt representative does not overturn the results of an election. It's an investigation of potential crimes committed while in office. Tom Delay is still the representative of his district, is he not? Republicans still have the House majority, do they not? Your guys still get to select the next majority leader, do they not? So what is it exactly that's being overturned? The only elections that really ever got overturned in that sort of way happened in 1876 and 2000, and in both cases they had to do with a 1-vote Republican majority on some influential panel or other. And how does this accusation of yours compare with constant attempts to find, something, anything, to impeach Bill Clinton with? Talk about overturning the will of the voters. Tom Delay is the choice of a few Houston suburbs, and that's just about it. And if you can't handle the heat of TRMPAC, try raising money the way Democrats now do--through the people that want them in office, not the corporations that want special favors.

I know you want to keep attacking, Mark--and I will call you Mark--because you don't know how to do anything else, really. But between Franklin, Frist, Delay, Abramoff, Rove, Safavian and who knows what else coming up, you'd better hire a defensive co-ordinator really quick. And here's one thing a defensive co-ordinator doesn't do: he doesn't lie about his opponent's offense to make them feel better about themselves.

I wonder how you sleep at night, Mark. I really do.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

FOR EXTREME FANTASIZERS ONLY--

Pontificator over at Daily Kos has a very good diary on the re-emergence of the Plame case in light of Miller getting out of jail and Franklin's guilty plea. What is interesting to me is that if the CIA damage report concludes that agents died as a result of this leak, it could make the leakers subject to the death penalty under the Espionage Act. While I think that's pushing it, and at this point I certainly wouldn't support a measure that draconian (unless, of course, I were a family member of one of the agents that lost their lives, if any did), it would be fun to see all of them--Rove, Cheney, Libby, etc.--sweat the possibility of a death penalty trial. Just to make them sit through it. I would vote to give them life in prison, myself--after all, not even Aldrich Ames got the death penalty. But I want to see them nervous.
IRAQ, URANIUM, NIGER, AND FORGED MEMOS--

I just found a picture of the forged memo that was used to justify the infamous words in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, together with the official seal of Niger superimposed for comparison.



(click on image or this link to see full-size)

I cannot f'ing believe this. To believe that this is genuine, and then go on national TV to tell of the supposed threat it purports to present, you have to be so desirous to go to war that you cannot possibly listen to any evidence to the contrary. You have to want it REAL bad. And then to out the CIA operative whose husband--a lifelong public servant--clarified and publicized that it was an obvious forgery with no truth behind it, and then go on a smear campaign against the man himself for pointing out the obvious truth? That requires a desire so all-consuming that it goes beyond an inability to see the truth, or worse, an ability to see it and a ruthless method of hiding it. That requires a willingness to see our country's public servants die to preserve the cohesiveness of something you know is false.

They attacked Joe Wilson's credibility to defend THIS? They outed Valerie Plame to defend THIS? To keep the American public convinced of the threat of a mushroom cloud based on the content document that looked like it was forged by a bored high-school student? That's criminal.

Then again, what isn't criminal about this administration these days? Between Delay's indictment, Frist's SEC investigation, and now Larry Franklin pleading guity, can Rove, Libby and even Cheney be far behind? It's time for the hammer to fall--because you can only keep it up for so long before enough becomes enough.
REPUBLICAN RACISM DAY--

A few choice stories to pick up on today. First and foremost is hypermoral compulsive gambler Bill Bennett's, ahem, interesting commments about aborting black babies. The second--which I find even more insidious--is the latest editorial from the WSJ relating to the victims of Katrina. What we see here today is the intersection of morally-based and economically-based institutionalized racism, and it's quite telling that both of these things happen on the same day.

The main difference is that while the economic elitist proto-fascists on the WSJ editorial board have no idea what it means to be a member of the working poor and hate them--not only because they can't understand them, but because the moral imperative to improve the living conditions of the working poor is, according to them, at direct odds with their ability to exploit the financial market for all it is worth--and are thus wrong about their economic assessment of inert mothers and men who will not work, Bill Bennett may actually be right about what he said. If, in the current United States of America, every single black woman currently pregnant today had an abortion, it might reduce the crime rate 15-18 years down the road (Freakonomics makes a similar argument). Where Bennett errs--and where the source of the appropriate outrage concerning his comments is based--is in ascribing the relation between blacks and crime to the failings and criminality inherent in black people, rather than an outgrowth of centuries of economic exploitation, marginalization and oppression that continues up to this day. That's where the racism comes in. After all, Bennett did say that engaging in such a genocidal practice would be extreme and morally reprehensible. Bennett's problem is that the logic behind his statement is also reprehensible.

What is interesting to me about this statement is actually that Bennett, by the very fact of making the statement, has proven that he supports Roe v. Wade. After all--if every single black baby in the country were aborted, Bennett's fellows would probably argue that such an act would lead to a huge instantaneous spike in the murder rate, and could not possibly countenance the idea that such an act could have positive ramifications, no matter how inherently racist they may be. NARAL should seize on this as proof that Bennett is pro-choice.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TOM DELAY INDICTMENT--

So what's the Republican moral high-ground perpsective on the conspiracy indictment on Tom Delay? Exactly what you'd expect--it's all Ronnie Earle's fault! It's the "People's Republic of Austin!" Read these, and other amusing comments in Redstate.org's thread on the Delay indictment.

Seriously, there are some amusing comments in there critiquing delay for his ethics violations, his proximity to previously reported illegal activity, and his ineffectiveness at encouraging fiscal conservativism, and that's nice to see. If the folks on Redstate are split even 65-35 pro and con, that's a good sign that Delay's run is just about over.

Now we just have to wait for Karl Rove's indictment.
AN IRAQI'S PERSPECTIVE--

This blog entry isn't recommended reading. It's required reading. It's required for anyone who wants to understand what this war was about; why it was a bad idea in the first place; why our soldiers weren't universally greeted as liberators when they arrived; and why it is not going to be possible to "win" now, more than 2 1/2 years after the original invasion.

And this is not all Bush's fault here either--though his administration is of course responsible not only for initiating the invasion, but also for botching the occupation so badly--because the problem started long before then. It started with the sanctions that denied basic necessities to the people of Iraq while Saddam continued to build his palaces. It continued with the profiteers in the U.N. Oil for Food scandal. It reached heights of absurdity with Madeleine Albright's declaration that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as a direct product of the completely ineffective sanctions (inasmuch as they were supposed to help lead to the overthrow of Saddam) was a price worth paying.

You see, we weren't going to be greeted as liberators because to many Iraqis, the West had profited from more Iraqi deaths than Saddam Hussein ever had, and now that we've invaded, we've already killed 100,000 more civilians in the past 2 1/2 years. That's a mass-murdering rampage spree that even Saddam would be proud of--even prouder than he'd be of Abu Ghraib's new management.

But don't worry, American politicians. Just stay the course--because now that we're there, we have to win. If you can even figure out what that means.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

GOOD FILM RECOMMENDATIONS--

1) Crimson Tide--for perfectly exemplifying the current foreign policy debate in this country, and how thin the line is between right and wrong; and

2) Phone Booth--for the obvious religious allegory. Now imagine you have a bunch of people who sincerely believe that the sniper supports them and is on their side. That could be a problem.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I've added commenting and trackback to the blog.

I apologize that all previous comments have been erased, but such is the nature of blog improvements.
A.N.S.W.E.R. COALITION--

After reading TocqueDeVille's complaints about the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition's presence and speakers at the DC anti-Iraq war rally, as well as Meteor Blades' well-written defense of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s activities, I have decided to throw my hat into this ring based on a very similar experience at the L.A. anti-inaugural rally this past January. While I normally support what Meteor Blades has to say, in this case I must disagree.

I attended the inaugural protest in Westwood in January, and was genuinely amazed--and quite pleased--at the number of people that were there (it must have numbered in the high thousands), as well as the diversity of anti-administration causes that were represented--we had anti-war, pro-choice, equality for gays, seniors for social security, anti-Gitmo...you name it, it was there at this rally. It wasn't an event with a single focus, like the recent anti-war march in Washington--it was open season against the Bush administration for whatever grievance mattered most to you. We also had quite a large youth presence there at the rally, which was inspiring to see--not just college kids, since UCLA was a stone's throw away, but even large groups of high-schoolers, and even a bunch of chanting middle-schoolers.

Then there was the soundstage--which, of course, is where a large number of people were gathered, including a good deal of media presence, until the march actually started. The stage speakers were sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which at the time I was not all that familiar with. I went to the soundstage expecting to hear speakers come out against the Bush administration and rallying people against the expected agenda for his second term--but that was not the case.

Instead, what I heard will sound familiar to anyone who was at the DC protest, or has read about what happened there. A parade of speakers, one right after the other, coming up to the stage and ranting--usually with an astounding lack of public speaking skills--about the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the valiant freedom fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, last but not least, constant expressions of solidarity with "our socialist working brothers in Cuba." I kid you not. And that's what the news cameras were focusing on. As a matter of fact, one of the speakers even made reference to how crowded the street area was getting and there was a lot more room at the soundstage--which wasn't really true. I didn't think about it at the time, but in reference to TocqueDeVille's entry, it in fact fits perfectly. I left the stage area quite soon, and didn't stick around to hear the end of the program, preferring instead to participate in the human chain of "prisoners" with Abu Ghraib hoods on their heads.

This is by way of exemplifying that what A.N.S.W.E.R. did in the DC rally is not an aberration--it is part of a systematic bait-and-switch strategy on their part to organize a large group of people for one purpose and then launch into their anti-Israeli, anti-American socialist agenda--and then lie to make sure that as many people as possible stick around to listen to them. I don't care whether A.N.S.W.E.R. played a vital role in organizing the protests. Imagine if you had a recent convert, or someone who is beginning to become unhappy about the way the war is going, and they attend an anti-war rally and see that the featured speakers on the stage are expressing solidarity with Fidel Castro and the terrorists in Iraq. Every single stereotype they ever heard out of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh is instantly confirmed for them in that very instant.

I'm all for free speech. If A.N.S.W.E.R. wants to come out and say what they have to say, by all means, let them. But they should do it without creating the implication by their status as featured speakers on the soundstage that they are representative of the values and the opinions of the anti-war movement--because in so doing, they are promoting their pet causes at the expense of the interests of our values and our country.