Friday, July 16, 2004

Tucker "Jacuzzi" Carlson

Kid Oakland over at Daily Kos has this post up called the Raise Hell Machine- Tucker Carlson. He suggests that bloggers use the power of Google to associate Tucker Carlson "to his noxious "jacuzzi" line." After reading Hunter's posts on the subject, which detail at least eight instances where Carlson used it over the last two years, I wholeheartedly agree.

Mr. Carlson apparently can't resist tickling his own sick, demented funny bone. Dogdamn, he must consider himself a clever wit, to use such a reference to describe the tragedy that almost took the life of Valerie Lakey.

I added a post Tuesday, and referred to Jacuzzi Tucker Carlson's "callous remark"(for some reason my settings change hasn't taken effect, and the link requires a scroll down--apologies). Kid Oakland was nice enough to include this with several others, including Caleb Hayes, who notes Carlson's reference (and points out that NO ONE ever questions the source of Bush or Cheney's wealth). Gone Mild has his take on Jacuzzi Tucker, asking if ANYONE " their child's intestines for $25 million dollars," and concluding with "People like John Edwards see situations like this and say why. Republicans see injured little children and say why not." Indeed.

Root Cellar notes that "Tucker Carlson has heard about the case" (more below). The Pragmatic Progressive correctly calls it a disemboweling and says Carlson "smugly dispatches the tragedy of a child whose guts were ripped out."

Hunter takes a particular exception to Carlson's absolutely crass insistance on using the jacuzzi line, even though he KNOWS the particulars of the case, which in a nutshell are:

Valerie Lakey, at the time five years old, was playing in a public swimming pool--a wading pool for children, in fact.
A defective drain sucked her down to the bottom of the pool. The force of the drain literally ripped her intestines out.
Almost miraculously, the young child survived. However, she will require special care for the rest of her life (read: 12 hours each evening attached to a feeding tube connected via a needle).
John Edwards, representing the family discovered 1) at least a dozen children had been seriously injured by the drain, 2) that what made it defective could be corrected by the addition of two screws, at a total cost of $1 per drain, and 3) that the company KNEW this, but took no steps to correct the flaw.

If you ask me, the executives that run the manufacturing company should be thrown in jail (if not disemboweled themselves). To Tucker Carlson though, it's just a way to play politics. I can't bring myself to say, for instance, that I wish something so vile would happen to Carlson's children, because it's no fault of theirs that their father is capable of being such an unbelievable asshole. But I can certainly say that I'd offer Carlson not so much as one whit of sympathy should he ever be greviously injured due to manufacturer neglience.

Because, as Hunter's second post points out, Carlson admits he's heard about the case. At a certain point, one would think simple decency would compel him to stop referring to such a tragedy in such an asinine way to score a cheap political point--in fact I hear he's not nearly the asshole that Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity is. But he certainly deserves to be googlebombed in this instance. Maybe, even though I doubt it, Carlson could be shamed into leaving this tragedy out of the picture and look for other dumb things to say.
While Wasting Time

Before becoming productive last evening, I spent time engaged in the consumption of mental junk food, i.e., watching a little TV. Whist so occupied, I came across an ad that I though was for a video game. Damn, was I mistaken.

It looks like the army is bumping up their recruitment drive with free videos like this one, which purport to demonstrate the excitement of being a playa' in the Special Forces. Well, not entirely free, if you think about it: you're required to supply all kinds of personal info to get your copy, including your birthdate--if I DID sign up, bells and whistles would go off in A LOT of places. You see, Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now wouldn't have anything on me, agewise.

Still, it was a pretty eerie ad. Like I said, at first it looked like nothing more than yet another "Blast the Camel Jockeys" video game, albeit with remarkably realistic graphics (although, as a non-gamer--or should I say 'non-gama'?--I have no idea as to the realism of modern computer games). The footage was undercut with a text scroll, which concluded with an odd message--something to the effect of "You're on assignment to follow the enemy from an undetected location. You've been given five days rations. It's now day twelve," blah, blah, blah, etc. etc., join the special forces, and here's a web page where you can get a free video...

So, the army is enticing folks with starvation rations?

Also--the footage was clearly designed to look a hell of a lot more like Afghanistan than Iraq--it was mountainous, rural terrain, i.e., not exactly Baghdad or Najaf. Now, sure, it's possible that they're looking only for "the best of the best," as it were, but something tells me most recruits will be learning how to counter urban guerrillas, not tribal warriors. Hmmm.

Oh, and slightly off topic, but: earlier this week, my copy of A Savage War of Peace, by Alistair Horne, arrived in the mail. I've only managed to get through a couple of chapters thus far, but I can already recommend it highly. A VERY thorough account (roughly 600 pages), it's not in print in the US, but the UK publisher not only took my $25 bucks or so, but shipped it on only about ten days--costing me barely three dollars. A stroke of luck, perhaps, because I have a real strong feeling that our Iraq misadventure has a precedent in recent history, and the precedent is Algeria. Maybe the particulars aren't QUITE the same, but the general picture is worth a look, if not a careful analysis. When I'm done with it, you can bet I'll have something to post--but, given the length of the volume, that might not be for a little while.
Little Saddam

Anyone stopping by this site has probably seen this already, but in case you haven't, here's the short version: Iyad Allawi is alleged to have allowed himself the Saddamian privilege of being judge, jury, and executioner for at least six suspects in detention, just days before he became the "interim, semi-autonomous president" of "semi-autonomous Iraq." To which I'll say, if this is true, then indeed, the speculation that Bush has been looking for Saddamism without Saddam is right on target. Henry Kissinger would be proud.

Thus far, the story has only appeared in Australian media, but it'll be interesting to see if one, it's true, and two, if it is, whether or not the rest of the media will pick it up. As far as Allawi is concerned, this type of behavior wouldn't surprise me in the slightest--after all, the guy worked for Hussein AND the CIA (for whom he apparently blew up schoolkids--how charming).
Left Coasting

Sorry for the slowpost yesterday. Work was busy enough, and I really needed to knock out some house chores. Also, considering the outdoor temps were the hottest in four years (according to the local forecast), sitting by the a/c at times wasn't such a bad idea. Hell, even my cat, who normally steps inside for food or sleep only, decided to beat the heat.

Anyway, my home PC is strategically placed close to said a/c, and I managed to get some reading in last night in between tasks. Somewhat late in the evening, I came across this post by pessimist over at The Left Coaster.

Pessimist cites six separate articles in making the claim that Bush either has no clue or doesn't give a shit about the damage he's causing. This one, an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times, is on its own enough to make the time spent reading worthwhile. Entitled "A Reckless Claim," it rips apart Bush's latest causus belli for the Iraq war, namely, that the mere possibility of Hussein becoming a threat was enough to justify immediate invasion. Now, we all know that Bush has, well, a certain contempt for history. That said, he might still want to consider the Treaty of Westphaila, which managed to end the Thirty Years War--interestingly, a conflict based in religion (ahem...). The central thesis of the treaty is the concept of sovereignty of nations--an idea which, as the St. Pete Times points out, Bush tosses into the ashcan like so much old vellum.

Pessimist goes on to note this from the Detroit News. It explains why I, for one, never really accepted the whole "Clinton's army sure did do a good job in Iraq" argument. The piece is an in-depth look at the weaknesses of Humvees, and the ways soldiers are dealing with them.

A Humvee apparently makes an excellent vehicle for a lightning offensive with a highly mechanized force. However, in an urban guerrilla environment, its canvas doors and roof turn it into a pretty easy target for RPG's. Soldiers are dealing with this in several ways, like tying sandbags to the exterior or retrofitting armor plating, the latter requiring some units to solicit donations from businesses. Still, this is a lot like the body armor debacle.

Our military budget is topping out at $400 billion dollars (not including the "supplementals" to cover the Iraq and Afghanistan wars). For the last twenty five years military spending has held steady as a percentage of GDP (and previous drops in spending simply reflected the wind-down from the Vietnam war), yet we aren't providing BASIC EQUIPMENT. Whether or not you support Operation Go Fuck Ourselves and its evil little brother in Afghanistan, this should be a cause for outrage. Where the hell is all the money going? (hint).

Pessimist goes on to cite this piece about Traumatic Brain Injury in The San Francisco Chronicle (which reports on a unique method the military is using to keep soldiers in the army), an Indianapolis Star article about Guard personnel no longer re-enlisting, and this from Intervention Magazine, which shows Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" in action--he's throwing a bone to the fiscal conservatives of his party by limiting spending on veterans' affairs. How charming. Send em off to war, stiff em when they get back.

Six articles is a lot to plow through; however, pessimist does a damn good job of pulling together separate sources to make a valid point, and one that needs to be considered in light of the upcoming election. We've got a chance to pull back from the brink of a disastrous experiment undertaken by Dubya, namely the reduction of the United States from world leader to basically a banana republic on steroids. He's got to be stopped--unless you think Texass is a model for the rest of the nation.

Thursday, July 15, 2004


Barbara Ehrenreich brings up the danger of groupthink in her New York Times op-ed:

Their faces long with disapproval, the anchors announced that the reason for the war had finally been uncovered by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and it was "groupthink," not to mention "collective groupthink." It sounds so kinky and un-American, like something that might go on in a North Korean stadium or in one of those sex clubs that Jack Ryan, the former Illinois Senate candidate, is accused of dragging his wife to. But supposedly intelligent, morally upstanding people had been indulging in it right in Langley, Va.

This is a surprise? Groupthink has become as American as apple pie and prisoner abuse; in fact, it's hard to find any thinking these days that doesn't qualify for the prefix "group." Our standardized-test-driven schools reward the right answer, not the unsettling question. Our corporate culture prides itself on individualism, but it's the "team player" with the fixed smile who gets to be employee of the month. In our political culture, the most crushing rebuke is to call someone "out of step with the American people." Zip your lips, is the universal message, and get with the program...

I trace the current outbreak of droidlike conformity to the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when groupthink became the official substitute for patriotism, and we began to run out of surfaces for affixing American flags. Bill Maher lost his job for pointing out that, whatever else they were, the 9/11 terrorists weren't cowards, prompting Ari Fleischer to warn (though he has since backed down) that Americans "need to watch what they say." Never mind that Sun Tzu says, somewhere in his oeuvre, that while it's soothing to underestimate the enemy, it's often fatal, too.

You know, I'd cite even more, but what's the point? The entire editorial is so worth reading that it's better just to add an extra link. By all means take a look if you have the time.
Philippines Tell Bush to--You Know

President Arroyo Cheneyed the Coalition-of-one-less-Willing according to this Bloomberg article. As a result, Angelo de la Cruz, the truck driver being held hostage by insurgents, will apparently be allowed to go home.

It won't surprise me if Team Bush spins this as bad news, i.e., Arroyo calling home a whopping 51-soldier contingent in order to save the life of one person--and, if they do spin it that way, perhaps we can talk about their lack of respect "for individual human life."

In related news, ten Filipino truck drivers, caught in an ambush while attempting to drive back to Saudi Arabia as part of a US supply convoy, have been repatriated to their country's Iraq embassy. It's expected they'll eventually return to Saudi Arabia, where they'd previously been employed.

While it's patently obvious that such a small number of soldiers has no bearing whatsoever on the ground situation, the withdrawal underscores the quandry Bush finds himself in: Iraq has become a black hole for the administration, sucking up resources at an astounding rate--with no prospect at all for any sort of meaningful return--while simultaneously ruining the reputation of the US as a leader with ANY sort of moral standing. A couple of days ago, Joe Wilson nicely summed up what Bush has bestowed upon the nation:

“Everything they have put into play since Sept. 11 has come up horse turds.” (link to Wilson's remarks via Today in Iraq).

On the bright side, however: Black Holes might not be "so terminally destructive after all," according to this article in Reuters.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

How the Hell did I Manage to Forget This?

CounterPunch wishes everyone Happy Bastille Day:

'We announce to the world the true principles of our actions. We wish an order of things where all low and cruel passions are enchained by the laws; all beneficent and generous feelings awakened; where distinctions arise only from equality itself; where the citizen is subject to the magistrate; the magistrate to the people, the people to justice. Where industry is an adornment to the liberty that ennobles it and commerce the source of public wealth, not simply of monstrous riches for a few families. We wish to substitute in our country morality for egoism, probity for a mere sense of honor, principle for habit, duty for etiquette, the empire of reason for the tyranny of custom, contempt for vice for contempt for misfortune; the grandeur of man for the triviality of grand society. We wish, in a word, to fulfill the course of nature, to absolve providence from the long reign of tyranny and crime.'

Maximilien Robespierre
Hit the Rewind Button

Thanks to Your Right Hand Thief, here's The Gadflyer's quote of the day.

"Dick Cheney is not a crook." - Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC)

For some reason, I read that and thought, "What ever happened to Bebe Rebozo?"
Illegal Procedure

Against the GOP. Five yard penalty. If the press would pick up this Tom Daschle quote, it might result in a loss of down, too:

I think you can only conclude, about the administration's priorities, that this constitutional debate [on denying marriage rights for gays] is more important than our national security or any other issue that is pending before the Senate right now.
-- Tom Daschle, news conference, 7/13/04

Source: Liberal Oasis, link via Timshel

And, via Team Atrios, here's a handy list of who's putting the phobe into homophobia. Note that neither of Louisiana's Senators made THAT list.

As for Edwards and Kerry not voting--I don't think it's much of a secret anymore that Frist is being an asswipe when it comes to scheduling Senate votes, either deliberately delaying the roll call or otherwise instructing GOP drones in the art of making either's vote an exercise in futility.

Still, it's a nice day when the Constitution of the United States still carries a little weight. Late last night I caught some of the debate on a C-Span replay, and watching clowns like Orrin Hatch try to justify adding a marriage amendment to the FREAKING US CONSTITUTION was not unlike seeing, say, a damn "Baby on Board" sign stuck to a Maserati. There are some things you just don't do, and this completely cynical attempt to try this stunt during an election cycle--to which Billmon once again goes home run derby on--speaks volumes as to the nature of the folks running the GOP these days.

Yesterday, I pointed out that Rove was apparently trying to drive at least a small wedge between African Americans--some of whom support the Marriage Amendment--and the Democratic Party. However, I doubt the vote will have much of an impact on the support of a large number of African American voters, who rightly see the GOP as the heir to the worst elements of the old Dixiecrat segregationists. Something tells me that one issue won't make for a forty year snub.

So, here's to celebrating a victory for us, and a defeat for them. Now, can we please move on to the REAL issues, like Daschle said? (god, I never thought I'd be citing Daschle with any degree of admiration).

Update: I didn't even think of this at first. While it would certainly be a most unlikely scenario, if Edwards and Kerry HAD gone to the Senate chamber--and then crossed party lines (were talking lotto odds here, but...)--the vote would have been 50-50, allowing for the new Senate rules Tom Burka wrote about to be put into play. By the way, check out Tom's main page--apparently the election was Bremered.
Inspect This, Mr. Bush

Swopa, at Needlenose, compares a Kevin Drum post to his something in his own archives regarding the whole WMD snipehunt.

Drum July 13, 04: Did the CIA screw up? Probably. Did it matter? No. George Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003 not because he was convinced Iraq had WMD, but because he was becoming scared that Iraq didn't have WMD and that further inspections would prove it beyond any doubt. Facts on the ground have never been allowed to interfere with George Bush's worldview, and he wasn't about to take the chance that they might interfere with his war.

Swopa Feb 01, 04 : Now, though, the truth is obvious -- the reason we couldn't let the inspections continue is that if they had, they would have found there was no threat at all. Which means there wouldn't have been a war -- and the Bushites couldn't afford to risk that.

Exactly. Of course, the whole point of the war was to shock and awe the Middle East into accepting US hegemony, while simultaneously providing Bush the Younger with some darn good footage for the '04 campaign. It sure didn't work out as planned though, eh?
Thinking Global and Local

For those interested in Gret Stet politics, Timshel provides a first hand account of the George W. Bush David Vitter rally in Lafayette yesterday. Mr. Prado applied his considerable writing skills in making the event sound a lot more interesting than it apparently was:

I overheard a young woman on a cell phone telling someone “That was the boringest thing I’ve ever stood for, and it was sooo hot.”

Check out the post.
Flying Below the Radar

Fahrenheit 9/11 is rightly drawing large crowds and getting rave (and raving) reviews. But if your budget and interests allow for more than one documentary a summer, don't miss Control Room, which, strangely enough, is playing in Baton Rouge this week.

Two of my closest friends gave me a strong recommendation to see this movie, and I'm very glad to say I took their advice. Now, unlike F9/11, the audience was about what you'd expect for a show that offers a different view of Operation Go Fuck Ourselves, formerly known as the invasion of Iraq. My presence accounted for twenty five percent of the 7:10 showing (actually 7:25 showing--I usually try to arrive a little late, if only to miss the onslaught of advertisements, previews, announcements, and other such movie house purgatory. And, damn if I didn't win the showtime lottery--as I walked in, the first opening credit was on the screen.

Control Room looks at the war through the eyes of Al Jazeera, which, if you believe the Bush administration, served tea to Saddam Hussein when not broadcasting his propaganda. Major parts of the movie are shot at Central Command Media Headquarters. Located on the outskirts of Doha, Qatar, the nondescript metal building looked remarkably like the desert studio on the old sci-fi flick Capricorn One, and I'll bet CentCom wished at the time that it would serve a similar function in pulling the wool over the eyes of the world.

Some moments that really stuck out for me were scenes where our pResident piously invoked the Geneva Convention in regards to the US prisoners captured and killed in the same firefight where Jessica Lynch was taken prisoner, and with Donald Rumsfeld lighting into Al Jazeera about their "lies," which breaks the irony scale. The mounting frustration over the sterile, distant media center is reflected when the deck of "Iraqi Most Wanted" cards is displayed--followed by the revelation that the media will not be allowed even a quick view as the deck appears to be the only one delivered to Doha. An apt metaphor for the scripted television show that Doha was.

Other poignant moments are the death of Tarek Ayoub, who is seen on camera minutes before a US airplane (I think an A-10, but I'm not certain), launches a missile strike against Al Jazeera's Baghdad Headquarters. Ayoub was killed in this strike. The images of death and destruction throughout the conflict generate debate between US military spokespersons (who come across suprisingly sympathetic) and Al Jazeera correspondents. Interestingly, a healthy friendship develops from the dialectic that exists between them.

Media bias is explored on both sides, as camera capture US correspondents cheering the toppling of Saddam's statue in Firdos Square, while Arab correspondents lament the fall of Baghdad (and offer a skeptical view of the unfolding events).

Finally, there are moments that you'd expect: a translator for the network can't hide his contempt for both a military spokesperson and our pResident, while Hassan Ibrahim chuckles about a street scene he saw on television. A US soldier heard children chanting something that included the word "Bush." The soldier thought the kids were singing his praises; Ibrahim, who of course speaks Arabic, said they were shouting "Goddamn Bush." Classic.

So, while Michael Moore is the lightning rod this summer, I encourage anyone who has the time to make sure to see this movie. Nothing like seeing things from the other side of the fence, as it were.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

About Your Day in Court...

Salon--day pass or subscription required--has an article covering the career of John Edwards, and the rather disingenuous attitude the Republicans have towards lawyers. It clock in a little long at five pages, but is worth a look. In particular, consider the plight of the family whom Edwards represented against the manufacturer of a faulty swimming pool drain, which Tucker Carlson callously referred to as a "jacuzzi accident:"

On a summer evening in 1993, David Lakey took his little girl swimming at a recreation center in Raleigh, N.C. Valerie Lakey was 5 years old, a good swimmer, and she and her friends liked to splash around in the children's wading pool that stayed open a little later than the big pool where they usually swam.

That's what Valerie was doing when a nearby mom heard her call out for help. Valerie was sitting on the bottom of the shallow pool, and the suction from the drain was holding her down. David Lakey raced to free his daughter but couldn't. Other parents jumped in the water to help, but they couldn't get Valerie loose. Valerie was scared, and she began to say that her stomach hurt.

Time passed, and somebody figured out how to turn off the pool's pump. The suction broke, and Valerie was released from its grip. But as David Lakey pulled his daughter from the water, blood and tissue filled the pool. Valerie's intestines had been sucked out.

David Lakey slumped to the ground on the side of the pool. He held his daughter on his chest, praying as they waited for an ambulance. Over and over, he told Valerie, "Daddy loves you. Daddy loves you. Daddy loves you."

Steve Gilliard also took time to comment on the Salon story. Also, Billmon has a post that doesn't focus on the Salon article, per se, but looks more generally at the attack on Kerry-Edwards that is well worth reading, like everything else he writes.

In particular, the article focuses on the nature of contingency fee representation--the practice of an attorney taking no money up front (and getting no money in the event of an adverse judgment) in exchange for a percentage of any damage award. Look for the attack dogs of the Right to accuse Edwards of somehow being less clean than their boys based on how he made his living. Furthermore, they'll imply that Edwards was being greedy when he took his cut.

To which I have three words: Halliburton, and Texas Rangers. Actually, if I really wanted to, I could up the ante a bit and add Arbusto and Harken Energy for good measure. As the article points out, no one has ever suggested that Bush and Cheney give back to the companies that gave so generously to them--in spite of the fact that they weren't exactly the brightest of stewards during their respective reigns.

But, most important, we should ALWAYS look askance at anyone who seeks to limit our rights as citizens to our day in court. THAT is the great equalizer in this society--that no one or thing is above the law to the extent that they can't be held accountable for the damage they do. Forget about the nonesense regarding outrageous tort claims (which are almost always dramatically reduced anyway). The very idea that organizations are lobbying to limit our ability to seek redress of grievences is outrageous. You don't see corporations voluntarily giving up THEIR rights--why should citizens be asked to do so?

Civil suits can and often are thrown out prima face, if the judge considers the suit to be frivilous. Juries can and do reject damage suits if the burden of proof isn't met. Damages, as noted, are often reduced. The only thing so called "tort reformers" want is to limit the rights of individuals--rights which have served us just fine for over two centuries and which are sometimes the only thing keeping corporations honest.

And, if you don't like what I said, sue me--but you better have a damn good reason, otherwise I'll have the judge throw the case out on its face.

Bush to Filipino Hostage: Go F**k Yourself

Reuters reports on the Coalition of it-looks-like-one-less Willing and Team Bush's attempt to keep the Phillipines 51 person troop contingent in Iraq.

Meanwhile, other news organizations are reporting that a Bulgarian hostage has been murdered by militants.

Just when the new, improved, Iraq model 2.0 was, according to The New York Times, flexing its muscles, along comes an unpleasant dose of reality.
Splendid Isolation

The Globe and Mail offers a peek into the Green Zone of Baghdad.
Self-Fulfilling Prophesy

Ben Tripp has several things to say about the recent announcements regarding terrorism and elections:

The Federal government is putting a plan in place to postpone the presidential election in November. Mind you, this is only to be implemented in the event of a terrorist attack on the nation at around that time. However it should be noted that "We assume an attack will happen leading up to the election," according to a Top Washington Official. So if you wanted to look really clever, you could put these two ideas together: We assume the presidential election will be postponed...

Having a plan to postpone the election is like the pilot of a commercial jet wearing a parachute onto the plane. It sends the wrong message...

What constitutes a terrorist action, who decides to postpone the election, and when do they get to decide it? "Hey boss, you're losing pretty bad in them swing states, and I hear there was a car wreck outside a polling place in Corn Cob, Alabama. You want I should cancel the proceedings?"...

Maybe I'm paranoid, like everybody says the minute I leave the room. But it seems like if I give the guy in power a button with 'postpone the election' written on it, and I tell him he should press the button if he hears any funny noises, and the guy in power starts losing, do you really imagine he's not going to find some excuse to push that button? There's a damn good reason we don't have an election-postponement system in place in this country: if we did, somebody would postpone the election.

Hmmm. In my last post, I suggested that Bush would shit on the Constitution in public if he thought it'd help him. Cancelling the elections would qualify in my book.

Proposal Number Three: "Marriage is a Union"

The New York Times is on the death watch in regards to the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage. As written, the measure will fortunately go down in flames--probably not even gathering enough votes to constitute a simple majority. Hence, the 11th hour attempt by the Republicans to rework the language in a desperate attempt to garner a few more "ayes." Senators, however, aren't quite as dumb as the Bushistas would like them to be, and can easily come up with justifications for a "no" vote that will fly with the consitituents back home.

There is ONE element to the debate which intrigued me, though. I took a little bit of time yesterday to watch C-Span's coverage of the interest groups supporting the measure. Prominently featured in the press conference were a several African American religious leaders, all eloquently pressing their case. I disagree with them on this issue, but I wonder if this isn't a cynical attempt by Rove to not so much appeal to people of color--after all, Bush snubbed the NAACP--but to at least try to drive a wedge between African Americans and Democrats. In other words, consider it a counter to the conservative folks who, for whatever reason, won't vote for Kerry, but can no longer abide Bush, and therefore will be staying at home come November.

Will it work? I don't think so--African Americans are intelligent voters who will cast ballots based on any number of issues for any number of reasons.

I think that most will see through this red herring of an issue, even if last spring John Edwards adopted what I can only describe as a shit-eating grin while he invoked the doctrine of states' rights when it comes to marriage legislation. At the same time, those of us on the left should be aware of such cynical manuevers, and be ready to aggressively counter with our own arguments when they arise. For example, Barbara Ehrenreich (have I mentioned how much I admire her work? Well, have I mentioned it today?), notes that Bush's zeal to prevent gay marriage is matched only by his eagerness in pushing the poor to the altar. Of course, as she writes, maybe Bush could urge corporate CEO's to marry receipents of TANF funds, but that usually doesn't happen. Instead, poor people who get married tend to marry other poor people. And, guess what? Two incomes alone don't necessarily get a family OUT of poverty these days.

And there's the problem--not whether, if the Straight Eye stereotypes do have a basis in reality, whether or not two male interior decorators tie the knot and aggressively promote the anti-American agenda of insuring the bathroom towels are coordinated with the wallpaper. Amendments to the Constitution should be carefully considered, and this is one that we have no need for. It's pure politics, and an indication of how venal Team Bush really is: they'd happily take a shit on the Constitution in public if they thought it would help their cause.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Proudly Raising the Level of Political Discourse, Part II

Link via Jerome Doolittle over at Bad Attitudes. jiveturky describes "the greatest event of [his] life:"

A friendly Kerry supporter named Mr. Shenk let us use his front yard to display our banners. Now comes the good part. After waiting around for about 45 minutes, the motorcade passed by us again. A few police cars, followed by a van or two, drove by. Then, a Bush/Cheney bus passed, followed by a second one going slower. At the front of this second bus was The W himself, waving cheerily at his supporters on the other side of the highway. Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger.

Read that last sentence again.
I got flipped off by George W. Bush.

A ponytailed man standing next to us confirmed the event, saying, "I do believe the President of the U.S. just gave you boys the finger." We laughed probably for the next half hour, and promptly told everyone we knew. Brendan actually snapped a picture of Bushy in action, but the glare and the tint of the bus windows make it difficult to see him at all. Nonetheless, it was the best possible reaction.

Dick's been teaching Dubya lessons in how to win friends and influence people, I guess.

When C-Students Hit the Campaign Trail

They end up saying stupid things. Reuters reports on pResident Bush's lame attempt to justify invading Iraq:

Faced with polls that show many believe the terror threat against them has increased due to the Iraq war, Bush argued that wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and al Qaeda have made them safer, as has diplomacy that led Libya to surrender its weapons of mass destruction programs.

"Today because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer," Bush told employees at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where components of Libya's nuclear program are being stored...

A Senate intelligence committee report last week said U.S. intelligence agencies overstated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, one of the White House's chief justifications for the war which removed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power. None was ever found.

"Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq," Bush said. "We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."

But if we're so much safer, why is the government making contingency plans to postpone elections? Why are Iraq and Afghanistan still war zones where death and destruction are a daily fact of life? As for "defeating" Libya--I don't think restoration of full economic ties to the west in exchange for giving up a pretty rudimentary nuclear and chemical weapons program is so much a victory as it is quid pro quo--a bribe.

Both the CIA and State Department have come under scrutiny for significant error in assessing the threat from Iraq and terrorists, respectively. US Soldiers continue to be killed or wounded on a daily basis. The number of Iraqi dead is beginning to rival Saddam in his heyday. Our credibility in the world has sunk to its lowest depth ever. Yet, Bush continues to act as if all is well.

I was considering this in light of something Mr. Bush often jokes about: his rather spotty academic record. Many times, he's alluded to his "C" grade point average as an example of how someone can succeed in spite of a lazy attitude towards school. And, if you think about it, Bush's record is entirely consistent with that of a C-Student. He doesn't so much delegate responsibility as shirk it. Significant errors in intelligence gathering and/or State Department reports are brushed aside without so much as even a statement of apology, much less any determined effort to find out what went wrong. Abuses of the Geneva convention, signed off on by those at the highest levels of his administration don't result in so much as a single resignation. Instead, Bush essentially winks and grins, as if all will eventually be ok--just like it's always been in his entirely below average existence. A friend of daddy's comes along to bail him out.

For almost any job Bush might consider taking, C-level work would be fine. It's not exactly fair, but such is life. However, the most important job in the world requires quite a bit more effort--and George W. Bush's record shows nothing of that kind. His misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, his handling of the economy, and his deeply undemocratic legislation like the Patriot Act look to me like nothing so much as a poorly written term paper, delivered past the due date, with end notes hastily added to offer the appearance of effort without the actual application.

I hope this country recognizes that while C students can be fine people, they aren't exactly the folks we should elect to the highest office in the land.