Friday, February 24, 2006

Bush to America: Don't worry your pretty little head about security . . .

So. After more than four years of telling us that we all need to be very, very afraid, Bush is now telling us not to worry about national security.

It is to laugh. I am (currently) neutral on the proposed ports deal, as I fail to see how it will make us any less safe than we already are, but I must admit, I've enjoyed the hell out of the spectacle of bipartisan Bush-bashing. The dismay of watching some of my fellow liberals behave like terrorist-bogeyman-fearing bedwetting right-wingers is amply mitigated by the spectacle of the Bush administration being "hoist by its own retard," as commenter Craigie so eloquently put it in comments to this Drum post.

Pass the popcorn.

Some pigs are more equal than others

According to this New York Times story, much deference is shown to wealth white ranch owners in South Texas.

In the late 40's, opponents of young Lyndon B. Johnson accused him of stealing a United States Senate election by using the South Texas political bosses who were controlled by the ranch owners, something that Johnson always denied.

"Back in the '40's, Lyndon Johnson could still steal a Senate election in South Texas with the help of the big patrons," said Calvin Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

"But what happened is, in the late 60's and early 70's, is the feds came in and threw some people in handcuffs, along with some of the bosses of those South Texas counties, and it cleaned up a lot," he said. "But you notice, even today, you can still call the local sheriff and say, 'We've had an accident out on the ranch, not to worry, it's under control,' and the sheriff says, 'Yes ma'am, I'll drive out in the morning and we'll piece this thing together.' There's still a deference to the ranch owners that would astound most Americans."

Indeedy. Mary Matalin's half right - many of us DO live in a parallel universe, one in which this "presumption of accident" wouldn't preclude a prompt law enforcement investigation when we discharge our guns into someone else's face.

And I don't think our universes are separated by along Republican/Democrat, urban/rural lines either. Rather, there's one universe for filthy rich, powerful white folk and another for the rest of us, including your average good ol' boy.

Do you think a regular Joe Bob would have gotten the Cheney treatment? Even if he flew the Confederate battle flag with pride? 'Cause I don't . . .


[phone rings] DALE: "YEL-lo."

SHERIFF'S VOICE: "Hey, Dale. I heard there was an accident out to your place t'other night. I heard you done shot Donna."

DALE: "Aw, yeah, Shurff. I was out in the yard, cleanin' my ol' shotgun, and Donna come up behind me and surprised me. She didn't announce herself, Shurff. The sun was in my eyes. I thought she was a moose. So I done shot her in the face."

SHERIFF: "That's a damn shame, Dale. Well, you know I gotta do me a report on this. It suit you if I come out there now to talk to you, git your statement?"

DALE: "Aw, Shurff, I'm all tore up over it right now. Me and the boys is goin' out to git us some beers. Kin it wait 'til tomorry?"

SHERIFF: "Well, I reckon so. I'll see you t'morra about noon, if that suits you."

DALE: "Kin we make it three instead?"


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Freedom is untidy

See Desi.

Think of health care services as being a commodity, like, say, Manolos

Kevin Drum marvels at Bush, who's pushing tax-deductible HSA's as an alternative to traditional health insurance plans, trying to sell Americans on the notion that they're not paying enough for health care. Wouldn't it be marvelous, Bush is saying, if we all had the splendid opportunity to bargain shop for cheaper health care?

What kind of clueless, out-of-touch tool, I ask you, thinks that necessary health care services ought to be treated like boob jobs and botox injections? Say, maybe we can look forward to days of two-for-one gall bladder removals and coupon clipping for chemotherapy. This has particular resonance for me as my mother, who has advanced ovarian cancer, has been in the hospital for weeks. It's hard enough just making sure the nurses read and follow the doctors' orders - I can't imagine having to worry about bargain shopping on top of everything else. "Say, doc, maybe we could cut the morphine dose in half, to save some money. Let her writhe a little."

Grace sums this idiocy up in one sentence: "Really, how can someone not see the wisdom in choosing to tax-shelter money that you don't have in exchange for medical care that you do need?"

Oh dear God NO! NOOOOO!!!

MSNBC headline: "Kid Rock, Scott Stapp sex tape to hit stores."

Instant update: Phew. Just read the story - Kid Rock and Scott Stapp aren't having sex with each other, they're having sex with groupies on a tour bus. Which is nauseating enough . . .


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Do you all have any idea

what it was like to be away from a computer during the breaking story of President Cheney's bagging a lawyer in Texas?

This kind of thing is not entirely unheard of . . . there have been a couple of fanciful movies about it. But in the movies the prey is always a homeless guy or drifter, not a millionaire Republican lawyer. What'd they do, seed the field with thousand-dollar bills?

But I jest (tastelessly). Given Cheney's propensities the carnage could have been a lot worse. Or better, depending on your opinion of millionaire Republican lawyers.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wouldn't you want to know?

In response to a post by Kevin Drum, commenter tomeck says calls for the publication of "Bush's, Rove's and Delay's calls in the name of national security. After all, if they were talking to Al Qaeda, wouldn't you want to know about it?"

You bet I would! And on the same grounds I demand the release of the photos of Bush with felon Jack Abramoff. Because if al Qaeda is lurking in the background, maybe making devil horns over Bush's head, wouldn't you want to know about it? I sure would.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gee, this is comforting

Bush talks tough on national security. But there can no longer be any doubt that his administration puts political gain above national security:

By Warren P. Strobel
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON | State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties.

The reorganization of the department's arms control and international security bureaus was intended to help it better deal with 21st century threats. Instead, it's thrown the agency into turmoil and produced an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters, according to 11 current and former officials and documents obtained by Knight Ridder.

The reorganization was conducted largely in secret by a panel of four political appointees.


Much more than personnel disputes are at stake, said the officials who are critical of the changes. They said they were concerned that Rice, who announced the changes last July but apparently hasn't been deeply involved in their execution, will be deprived of expertise on weapons matters.

Among those who have left is the State Department's top authority on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the international push to curb the spread of nuclear arms.

"We had a great group of people. They are highly knowledgeable experts," said former Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf, who often clashed with Bolton. "To the extent they now are leaving State Department employ, or U.S. government employ, it's a real loss to State Department. It's a real loss to the government."

Half a dozen current department officials expressed the same view, but spoke on condition of anonymity because they said they feared retaliation.

(emphasis mine)

"Political appointees" were in charge of re-organizing the State Department's arms control and international security bureaus. One can only hope these appointees were a teeny bit more qualified than some of this administration's other picks.

Incidentally, the article's writer, Warren Strobel, is part of the Knight-Ridder team that was getting it right about Iraq when most other big media was getting it wrong.


Here James Wolcott makes up, almost, for the embarrassing butt-licking profile of the dessicated Don Imus in this month's Vanity Fair.

Monotheists run amok

Some of my favorite liberal bloggers have been a tad bit incoherent, in my opinion, or just plain wrong on the infamous Danish cartoons and the riots. It must just be the cultural bigot in me, but I'm always going to find it difficult to make excuses for violent rock-throwing mobs even they are the downtrodden "other" (and given the zeal with which some of them oppress women and girls, I'll never be able to see these bastards as being oppressed). By golly, if it's OK to make fun of Jesus and His followers (and it IS OK by me), then it's OK to make fun of the prophet Muhammed. And of those of his followers who see nothing wrong with blowing civilians to bits.

It's certainly predictable that many Muslims would be offended by a cartoon showing Muhammed with a turban made of bombs, but that could be seen as fair commentary on those who blow civilians up in the name of Allah, not as a dig at Islam itself. Just as Patriotboy's Republican Jesus makes fun of supply-side Christians, not Jesus.

I've read that the cartoons traffic in racist stereotypes, depicting hook-nosed swarthy Arabs (I've seen a clear reproduction of only one of the cartoons; I've just seen fuzzy low resolution versions of the others). If that's the case, in my opinion the Danish paper shouldn't have run them (though the mob violence is entirely unjustified in any event). Of course plenty of American editorial cartoonists routinely traffic in such racial stereotypes. I give you, for example, The State's Robert Ariail (prime example here). Not that, mind you, the fact that many editorial cartoonists do it makes it OK. Such cartoons should be condemned by decent people, and decent editors should refrain from running them. Decent people, and indecent ones as well, should be permitted to stage peaceable mass protests. But enough with the rock-throwing and the burning already!

Lest I descend deeper into incoherence myself, here's my position: What Josh Marshall said.

Update: Oh, for God's sake. Rice is now blaming the administration's evildoers du jour, Syria and Iran, for stoking the riots.

Update no. 2: Ah, here's a link to the cartoons, if you haven't already seen them. A couple of them are, in my opinion, borderline racist (though no more so than some of the cartoons that are shown routinely in the editorial pages of American newspapers). The others are, again in my humble opinion, relatively innocuous. But the newspaper ran them all at once, and I can see now how the effect of all of them together would look to many Muslims like a calculated affront. Still doesn't justify the violence that ensued, but it looks like it was really callous of the newspaper to print them all as it did. I'm afraid I've descended hopelessly into incoherence here (that will teach me to post more than two or three lines about anything). For the record, I still agree w/the Josh Marshall post cited above.

Hold my hand

A Daily Kos diarist thinks the Saudis had a hand in whipping up Muslim anger over those Danish cartoons.

It couldn't possibly have been the hand so snugly nestled into Dubya's.

(Juan Cole disagrees w/the Saudi theory)


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