August 2007 Archives

[insert joke here]

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Senator Larry Craig of Idaho (do I even need to mention that he’s a Republican? I didn’t think so…) was busted in June for attempted solicitation in a Minnesota men’s room. Of course, there is the usual lame excuse, the standard denial, and the inevitable hypocritical voting record. Over at AmericaBlog, Pam Spaulding comments:

The senator from Idaho, along with John Ashcroft and Trent Lott, formed The Singing Senators. He should think about hooking up with some of these guys to form a new group: Bob Allen, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Glenn Murphy, Jr., Tommy Tester, Ted Haggard...the list goes on and on.

Any suggestions for a name for the group and additional members?

I suggest “The Closet Cases,” “Bathroom Blowjobs,” or—more delicately—“Not Just a River in Egypt.”

Perhaps Ken Mehlman, Matt Sanchez, and Jeff Gannon could be convinced to lend their talents to the cause?


update (10:38am): Added links.

If you’ve seen The Dangerous Book for Boys, here’s a humorously testosterone-laden antidote: The Borderline Sociopathic Book for Boys (h/t: PajamasMedia).

In the wake of Karl Rove’s resignation announcement, another rat is about to desert the sinking ship of the Bush administration: According to many sources, Alberto Gonzales will announce his resignation today. I never expected that we could have an Attorney General worse than John Ashcroft, but Gonzales proved me wrong. Senator Schumer observed:

“It has been a long and difficult struggle, but at last the attorney general has done the right thing and stepped down. For the previous six months, the Justice Department has been virtually nonfunctional, and desperately needs new leadership."

It is rumored that Michael Chertoff may be his replacement.


update (1:04pm):
Chris Bowers posts a list of recently departed rats here at OpenLeft:

Here is a partial list of prominent Bush administration resignations since the 2006 midterm elections, all of which occurred in conjunction with some sort of major scandal in their relevant field:

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, November 8, 2006
John Bolton, Ambassador to the United Nations, December 4, 2006
Harriet Miers, White House Consul and former Supreme Court nominee, January 4, 2007
Francis Harvey, Army Secretary, March 2, 2007
Monica Goodling, Justice Department White House liaison, April 6
Peter McNutly, Deputy Attorney General, May 14, 2007
Sara Taylor, White House Political Director and microtargeting guru, May 27, 2007
White House Counselor Dan Bartlett, June 1, 2007
Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staffs Chairman, June 8, 2007
Rob Portman, White House Budget Director, June 19, 2007
William Mercer, Acting Associate Attorney General, June 23, 2007
Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, July 17, 2007
Karl Rove, Senior Political Advisor and Deputy White House chief of staff, August 13, 2007
Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, August 27, 2007

reading habits

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This AP-Ipsos poll discovers that liberals read more books than conservatives. Amanda summarizes at ThinkProgress:

– 34 percent of conservatives have not read a book within the past year, compared with 22 percent of liberals and moderates.

– Among those who had read at least one book, conservatives “typically read eight” books in the past year. Liberals read nine, moderates five.

– “By slightly wider margins, Democrats tended to read more books than Republicans and independents. There were no differences by political party in the percentage of those who said they had not read at least one book.”

While statistically significant, the results are not exceedingly lopsided. (I do admit to suspecting that they would have been if books by Faux News hosts—and Bush’s copy of “The Pet Goat”—had been subtracted from conservatives’ reading lists.)


Quote of the Day:

"Liberals don't read books – they don't read anything. That's why they're liberals.”

Ann Coulter (interview with Phil Brennan at NewsMax)

Outgoing Machiavelli-wannabe Karl Rove gave an interview to Rush Limbaugh, (audio courtesy of ThinkProgress) where he rushed to Dubya’s defense:

“Many times the people that I see criticizing him are, you know, sort of elite, effete snobs who, you know, can’t hold a candle to this guy. What they don’t like about him is that he is common sense, that he is Middle America…”

This is the best takedown I’ve seen, courtesy of Bob Cesca at HuffPo:

Put aside the Yale, the Skull & Bones, the cheerleading, the oil wealth, the estates, the boats and this uncomfortably weird obsession with effeteness; there are very few Americans who are quite as privileged, entitled, sheltered, and coddled than this current president.

So Karl? Shut the fuck up.

Bravo!

PS: Memo to Rove: If Bush is truly “one of the best-read people I’ve ever met,” then you need to get out more.

black sites

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Over at the New Yorker, Jane Mayer has an excellent piece on Bush’s “black site” torture regime. One outside expert “familiar with the [CIA torture] protocol” made this ominous comment:

“It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever. At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

This anecdote from Dale (Parenting Beyond Belief) McGowan is priceless! Kids are capable of making connections that adults, having been inhibited by religious correctness, are often afraid to voice.

I’m going to have to pull Michelangelo Signorile’s Queer in America back off the shelf now that he has identified “The Mogul” as the recently deceased Merv Griffin. I no longer remember what Signorile wrote about Griffin then, but here’s what he said last night:

Merv Griffin accomplished a lot and is, in his death, being held up as a [sic] example of a stellar Hollywood businessman. But he should also be held up as man who, like Malcolm Forbes before him, was hugely influential and powerful and yet still allowed the closet and homophobia to manipulate his life, and to cause him to do harm to his own people. That should not be forgotten.

Dinesh D’Souza is at it again. He is now asking, in apparent seriousness, “Do Atheists Disbelieve in God, Or Do They Hate Him?” He opens his piece with this:

Even if God's existence could be proven, Nietzsche writes in The Antichrist, we would still refuse to accept him.

In §47 of The Anti-Christ, Nietzsche does indeed say the following:

The thing that sets us apart is not that we are unable to find God, either in history, or in nature, or behind nature—but that we regard what has been honoured as God, not as “divine,” but as pitiable, as absurd, as injurious; not as a mere error, but as a crime against life.... We deny that God is God.... If any one were to show us this Christian God, we’d be still less inclined to believe in him.—In a formula: deus, qualem Paulus creavit, dei negatio.

(H.L. Mencken’s translation, from Project Gutenberg)

For those not well-versed in Latin, the phrase deus, qualem Paulus creavit, dei negation roughly translates as “God, as Paul created him, is a negation of God.” Nietzsche views the Pauline influence on Christianity as an additional layer of corruption and obfuscation. D’Souza attempts to make Nietzsche seem contradictory, but the error lies in D’Souza’s oversimplification. Nietzsche is pointing out the contradiction at the heart of Christianity: The petulant, vain, and needy brat of a deity who is alleged to be omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.

Additionally, D’Souza’s title question is nonsensical; atheists—by definition—are without belief in a deity. We can scarcely hate something that does not exist.

Elsewhere, D’Souza attacks Onfray’s Atheist Manifesto, and restates his misinterpretation of Nietzsche; I look forward to reading Onfray to discover more examples of D’Souza’s distortions and dishonest argumentation.

quote of the day

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Rudy Giuliani came out with this gem in the New York Times, illuminating the GOP’s pro-freedom agenda (H/t to Digby at Hullabaloo):

Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Sorry, Rudy.

Freedom (the real stuff, not the pallid version beloved by authoritarian conservatives) is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority as little discretion as possible over what we do.

saint Dubya

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Humor has been scarce here of late; here is an attempt to rectify that situation (h/t: Rick Perlstein at Campaign for America’s Future):

St. George

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Episcopal Church outside Washington as part of his campaign to restore his poll standings.

Bush's campaign manager made a visit to the Bishop, and said to him: "We've been getting a lot of bad publicity because of the President's position on stem cell research, the Iraq war, Katrina, and the like. We'll gladly make a contribution to the church of $100,000 if, during your sermon, you'd say the President is a saint."

The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and finally said, "The Church is in desperate need of funds and I will agree to do it."

Bush showed up for the sermon, and the Bishop spoke:

"I'd like to speak to you all this morning about our President."

"George W. Bush is a liar, a cheat, and a low-intelligence weasel. He took the tragedy of September 11 and used it to frighten and manipulate the American people.

"He lied about WMDs, and invaded Iraq for oil and money, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and making the United States the most hated country on earth.

"He appointed cronies to positions of power and influence, leading to widespread death and destruction during Hurricane Katrina.

"He awarded contracts and tax cuts to his rich friends so that we now have more poverty and a greater gap between rich and poor than we've had in this country since the Depression.

"He instituted illegal wiretaps, when getting a warrant from a secret court would have been a mere administrative detail. Then he ignored his henchmen's' lies to Congress and claimed he's above the law.

"There's no doubt he heads the most corrupt, bribe-influenced political party since the Teapot Dome scandal.

"The national surplus has turned into a staggering national debt, gas prices are up 55%, and vital research into global warming and stem cell therapy is crippled because he's afraid of some loudmouth right wing kooks.

"Yes, he is a poor example of a true Christian... But compared to Dick Cheney, George Bush is a saint."

The Economist perceives the American Right as “Under the Weather,” and asks “Is America Turning Left?” (h/t: thereisnospoon at DailyKos). The article states flatly that “the right’s situation is dire:”

It is a sign of weakness that the conservatives are retreating to their old posture as insurgents, and need a bogeywoman like Mrs Clinton to hold them together.

The Republicans have failed the most important test of any political movement—wielding power successfully. They have botched a war. They have splurged on spending. And they have alienated a huge section of the population. It is now the Democrats' game to win or lose.

A second article from the same issue notes the skewed American political spectrum, where moderates like Hillary are to the right of the rest of the world:

Mrs Clinton might be portrayed as a communist on talk radio in Kansas, but set her alongside France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's David Cameron or any other supposed European conservative, and on virtually every significant issue Mrs Clinton is the more right-wing. She also mentions God more often than the average European bishop.

Why won’t any of the (allegedly) liberal magazines in this country (Time, Newsweek, USN&WP…I’m talking about you!) touch this story? The collapse of conservatism must be troubling to their owners, and the 2008 election looms large on the horizon.

Jack Balkin sums up the problems with Democrats’ capitulation last week to Bush’s continued demands for a police state via revision of FISA:

The passage of the new FISA bill by the Senate and now the House demonstrates that the Democrats stand neither for defending civil liberties nor for checking executive power.

They stand for nothing at all. […]

I hope the Democrats are justly proud of themselves for their cowardly contributions to this slow-motion destruction of our constitutional system.

Scarecrow at FDL calls us “a nation represented by sheep,” and this isn’t far off the mark. Cenk Uygur writes at HuffPo that “It is not possible to be too hard on these vacillating, spineless, rudderless, clueless clowns:”

The president has been running an illegal warrantless wiretapping program since 2001. He has been continually and brazenly breaking the FISA law. He finally submitted the program to the FISA court recently. And a FISA judge said earlier this year that the program was not legal. Now how do the Democrats hold the president accountable for breaking this federal law?

Did they impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors? Did they censure him? Did they cut off funding? No, not only did they not do any of these patently obvious things, but instead, they turned around and changed the law to give him the authority to ignore the courts. How do you not call them weaklings? How am I supposed to take it easy on them? How can this possibly be justified?

[…]

There is absolutely no justification for these Democratic votes that helped Bush make his illegal program legal. On top of abdicating their constitutional responsibility to check an out of control president, they have also done something politically retarded. In one fell swoop, they have capitulated to a grossly unpopular president, justified his talking point that national security is on the line and given Republicans leverage over themselves.

Kevin Drum’s two-parter at Washington Monthly on “Figuring out FISA” (part one and part two) gives a nice primer on the issues involved, and James Risen’s NYT piece is also useful.

Perhaps recognizing the magnitude of the error in caving in to Bush, Speaker Pelosi observed that “Many provisions of this legislation are unacceptable, and, although the bill has a six month sunset clause, I do not believe the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken” and requests that Congress amend FISA “as soon as possible after Congress reconvenes.”

After considering several options, my Quote of the Day (h/t: ThinkProgress) is from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY):

This bill is not needed to protect America from terrorists. The only purpose of this bill is to protect this administration from its own political problems and cynicism, and its own illegal actions it has taken outside the law without any authorization.

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