Palin backs Obama's StimPak despite howls from Limbaugh and GOP Congress Critters united opposition.
I think this almost assures passage of the Stimulus Package despite filibuster threats and makes for interesting theater as Sarah and Rush vie for the hearts and minds of the Republican Party. New RNC Chair, Steele, already praised the House GOP for uniting against fixing the economy. I see a junior varsity version of Hillary vs. Barack when Palin and Steele inevitably lock horns. Good times.
By the way, Oliver, Pam ... lighten up.
With filibusters off the table, universal health care should be doable once Gregg accepts appointment to Commerce (and they finally swear in Franken), which will leave the Rump Republicans without their greatest obstruction tool. 60 votes by Spring! (Surely Gregg will vote against filibustering his own nomination.)
Oh yeah, Tom Daschle's bid for HHS is running into a snag due to tax problems. I know a lot of folks on the left are ready to hang Daschle out to dry, sick of millionaires not paying their fair share, but I'm a bit dumbfounded how one could be crucifying for not paying taxes on something you received for free. Free is free.
Yes, I guess the argument goes that he should have included the free use of a driver as personal income, but it's not like anyone sent him a 1099 form, did they. Someone paid this driver's salary, presumably paid his withholding and FICA, and paid for the car itself and probably wrote the thing off as a business expense or charitable gift or ... what? Wait, no? Wasn't a campaign contribution, right? If no one wrote it off, thenDaschle is supposed to pay taxes on something that was already taxed and paid by someone else. I call Shenanigans!
Geez, ya gotta marvel at the confiscatory nature of our tax system when accepting a free ride can cost you thousands, hundreds of thousands.
I think he could have fought this out with the IRS, but paid it instead to avoid any problems with his confirmation -- which of course in the Bizzaro World of Versailles on the Potomac had exactly the opposite effect.
But when Tom is confirmed, and in the collegial world of the US Senate where he's being sponsored by his old nemesis Bob Dole, he'll be confirmed -- which will give the wingnuts something to unite against for all the good it will do them.
Palin backs Obama's StimPak despite howls from Limbaugh and GOP Congress Critters united opposition.
When you get a message via G-Mail from someone on his CrackBerry leaving a message on Facebook that you need to take 15 minutes away from Twitter and tell the world stuff they don't know about you when you already did that on someone else's blog back in December, it's time pay homage to the gods of Web 2.0.
When I saw LisaRenee used to be a lead singer and guitar player in a band, I had to let her know that I was too in a former life. (That's #1). Next time we get together for a bloggers conference I'll be sure to bring my axe.
Roaching my voice at a sock hop (honest, it was 1977) singing KISS's God of Thunder, my mom's boyfriend suggested private voice lessons (#2) with someone he knew, a guy who happened to be the musical director of the Youngstown Playhouse. He talked me into auditioning for the roll of Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof and I caught the bug and ended up doing musical theater non-stop for three more years (#3).
I went to Ohio University because they sent me a $500 scholarship just on my ACT scores, accepting me without my even applying or ever sending them a transcript.(#4) But the main reason I went is because they had the best performing arts program in Ohio -- but instead of becoming a theater major I changed my mind on the day we signed up for classes and entered a pre-law program just to see if I could do it, and they kept passing me. (#5)
I met F.Lee Baily when I was eight years old, watching a murder trial through the crack in the door from the judges chambers my Grandmother worked for, so I guess the law was in my blood before the acting/singing thing.(#6) Mom's boyfriend was also a lawyer.
My last gig was when I MC'd karaoke on the weekends for about three years at our bar, and usually would bring the guitar and perform a few songs each night until about two years ago when the fad kinda died out round these parts. (That's 7). That and I got sick to death of hosting the world's worst drunken singers and pretending to be in awe of their "talent."
Knees actually do quake when you get nervous. I know that because it happened to me when giving a speech (#8). After years of performing before live audiences, the prospect of speaking my own words in public overcame my usual confidence and I felt tremors in my legs -- which of course makes you concentrate on your body more than what you are saying in a terrifying feedback loop.
I signed up for a second major in my senior year in college as a form of therapy, interpersonal communication (speech) (#9) and joined the Speech and Debate Team where I once "won" a contest for "Bad Oralization" by coming in 6th place (the best of the bad/worst of the good, whatever) of those who got trophies (#10).
I also competed in impromptu, extemporaneous, and prose where I reworked a Robin Williams routine you old folks might remember called A Meltdowner's Nightmare which was a Shakespearian homage to Three-Mile Island, then switched to a piece I adapted from Douglas Adams' Restaraunt At The End Of The Universe playing eight different parts in 5 minutes (#11).
My favorite was the poetry resitation venue where I found the key to avoiding the sing-songy rhyme schemes it's almost impossible to avoid is to recite a poem translated from another language. I used a French poem by Antonin Artaud called All Writing Is Garbage, which always raised eyebrows on the English majors who acted as judges on these things. Having conquered my fear of public speaking I decided not to compete at Nationals despite qualifying for six events. Our coach never spoke to me again (#12). I actually found a copy on the web here, half-way down the page at 4.3 -- an English translation on a German web site -- weird.
Envision a particularly angry recitation, sans the outrageous French accent.
All writing is garbage.
People who come out of nowhere to try to put into words any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs.
The whole literary scene is a pigpen, especially today.
All those who have points of reference in their minds, I mean on a certain side of their heads, in well-localized areas of their brains, all those who are masters of their language, all those for whom words have meanings, all those for whom there exist higher levels of the soul and currents of thought, those who represent the spirit of the times, and who have named these currents of thought. I am thinking of their meticulous industry and that mechanical creaking which their minds give off in all directions,
– are pigs.
I flunked typing in high school, the only class I ever failed. By the end of law school I was at about 80 words a minute, which is why I never could afford a secretary who could do anything more efficiently than I could do it myself (#13). That fact made me an early adopter of apple computers which helped me automate my private practice as much as possible -- yes I owned an Apple IIe and have been upgrading since 1983 (#14).
I pledged the Jewish fraternity AEPi even though I'm not Jewish. I decided not to join after a brief moonlit encounter with a delightful girl who never told me (honest) that she sas dating the vice-president of the frat. (#15). I got blackballed from another after I opined that their silly rituals were a bit lame. I got invited back the next year, and actually lived there for a while, but never actually joined because, well ... their silly rituals were lame (#16). In law school I did join and became an officer of a professional fraternity -- whose silly rituals were likewise lame but I kept that factoid to myself (#17).
I have a passport I never used (#18). I've been to every major city in every State east of the Mississippi except Alabama and Louisiana (#19).
I was a member of the Student Senate in law school (#20). I was also a Secretary General of the Cleveland National Model United Nations Conference as well as the assistant executive director of the non-profit corporation that ran it. The SecGen gig was a payoff for doing all the grunt work all year with none of the glory as well as getting fundings out of the Student Senate to pay for the thing (#21).
I told you that one to tell you this one. I met my wife at a wedding, the wedding of my boss the executive director in #21 (that's #22). Even though I already told @arubyan, maybe he didn't pass it on to Miss Julie. I went for three days after spending the 1st night with my (soon to be) wife not remembering her name (#23).
The bride and groom were on their honeymoon and no one else who knew me from the wedding saw who I left with -- yes I even called the groom's parents. She left me her number, but no name -- even though I gave her an entire Model UN pamphlet that had my number on it since I was the contact guy for the thing. I finally got a message from my roommate that "some girl" called who left her name -- but no number. I put 2 and 2 together and took my chances, calling the number I had and asking for the name "some girl" had left. That was the first time I heard my (soon to be) step son's voice, who shouted, "Mom!" It was also the first time I took a breath in those three days (#24).
There's a lot more to that story that's fun involving her misplaced car and my rush to get to a Browns game the day after we met, how hung-over we both were and the fact that she still won't let me forget calling her a "Ditz" because she couldn't remember where she parked the night before (#25 - you get no more outta me).
When hasn't Rush Limbaugh been the face of the GOP? Why is it so hard for the media to admit this simple fact? Rush speaks for the GOP. He speaks many of the impolitic fusillados that they all believe in, but would never say out loud although during the past eight years we have heard some pretty sick things coming out of the House Republicans...Legitimacy via democratic process has never been something conservatives concern themselves with when it inconveniently conflicts with their quest for power -- power for its own sake because they obviously have no interest in governing, solving problems, making life better for all of us.
When a duly elected member of Congress has to genuflect before Limbaugh lest he alienate his constituency, someone, somewhere ceded way too much influence to the drug-addled gasbag. However, within a significant element of our society, Limbaugh's influence comes from something much more intrinsic to the psyche -- not elected as so many discredited politicians are, but selected by what many instinctively feel is the natural order of things.
Rush has amassed considerable wealth, sits atop a wide-reaching network and has has the ear of millions who absorb his tortured world-view through osmosis even if his listeners by-and-large swear they don't agree with "everything" Rush spews from his golden microphone. He's a First Amendment bully, but for his crowd might makes right.
He's an authority figure for a constituency made up primarily of those who pedantically defer to authority, any authority. Conformists who cling to the thought that they are not alone as long as someone like Limbaugh is there thinking for them, making sense of a world they couldn't be bothered to understand.
If you are the type who values wealth and power above all else, he's your guy. However, if you have found alternate measures of self-fulfillment superior to the obsessive collection of material goods, I don't need to tell you what a disgusting embarrassment Rush Limbaugh is to the human race.
By Friday, he was sending short text messaged analysis of the RNC Chairman's election of Michael Steele live from the Hilton Ballroom to 1,500 followers world-wide -- "Tweeting" history as it unfolded before his eyes -- and catalogued the event in real time. His following will no doubt increase ten-fold in the very near future.
What a remarkable time we live in.
The House Republicans are "celebrating" their united, yet failed attempt to halt President Obama's stimulus plan at a posh Virginia resort.
Welcome to the fabulous Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, where the Republican leadership is gathering to plan their resurgence and enjoy the luxurious amenities like despicable despots of old.
Nothing says you're in tune with the Joe Six-pack than the Spa's Historic Journey Treatment:
This journey is filled with treatments that have been enjoyed since 1766: Swiss Shower, Jefferson Pool Salt Soak, Ginseng Body Wrap and 50-minute Swedish Massage.I dunno if I even want to know what a "Swiss Shower" is. Does a quartet of yodelers douse you in Riccola-scented chocolate-flavored edelweiss water? Think they'll throw in one of them there Passion Fruit Sugar Scrubs and the Pear Blossom Manicure and Pedicure if you offer a nice tip?
130 minutes - $315
And what the hell is "The Cure" that comes with the $420 "Cascades" experience? Let's just hope it will fix John Boehner's bronzing hue.
Quick update from a twittering hostage inside one of the meetings at this rather nice hotel:
Chuck Colson telling us that the financialYep, nothing says you're on the right track than sipping 40 year-old scotch, listening to a Watergate conspirator lecture you on financial responsibility, and getting a lobbyist pay for your 50-minute Swedish massage all in one day. Good Times. (HT: Roadkill Refugee's Tweets)
house of cards had to collapse because of the moral failure of
borrowing without responsibility.
"There is no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure.", Catching my fancy, as it should yours, were these:
- Scary question, terrifying answer: they got nothin' to keep the Blue Dogs in line. http://is.gd/hCu3
- Only 1 case of Voter fraud found in OH despite effort 2 crucify ACORN - & they weren't involved w/self-confessed dbl voter http://is.gd/hBXG
- Reading: "WTF?" How do they keep straight face - lectures from the same asshats WHO DROVE US INTO THIS DITCH? ( http://tinyurl.com/deemzj )
- Check out "The $4000 handmade rattle - Boing Boing" (HT @kristanite) ( http://tinyurl.com/c9u4xd )
- @roadkillrefugee Obama also dropped the grammatically correct "Democratic" (dropping "ic") today. Hoping for a different result.
We covered Dick Armey being a dick to Joan Walsh on Hardball, Jessica Alba proving Bill O'Reilly is a dick too, and of course, all things StimPak, wherein the GOP just doesn't get it.
As long as you avoid anything tagged with #TCOT (Top Conservatives On Twitter -- like my stalker Ken Blackwell) you'll be in little danger of brain hemorrage getting hip deep in the Twitterverse. Unlike Mememorandum, you don't need any greasemonkey scripts or special flash add-ons to identify Teh Stupid on Twitter.
ALL conservatives think they are a "Top." So they wear that little hashtag (#) "tcot" which is easy to avoid. Kinda like how you could tell the "okay" Germans on Hogan's Heros from the really evil Nazi types who always sported an swastika armband. The uniform thingy is an authoritarian trait, see.
TheHyperFix: Welcome to the home of The Fix's coverage of the daily White House press briefing. The festivities will start @1:30 pm.You can follow the action live via this Tweet Grid for real time updates.
At 12:38 p.m. this afternoon, the RNC attempted to post the Weekly Republican Address by Leader Boehner as a "video response" to President Obama's address on YouTube. More thanSmall wonder the lock-step authoritarians would go this route instead of building their own brand and starting their own YouTube Channel.
six hoursone day later, the GOP video response is still waiting to be "approved by" the President's Internet team.
Any teenager with a cameraphone can (and does) respond to anything and everything put on the web, but these idiots want permission? They want the White House stamp of approval on their stupidity, a rant designed to undermine every move the President makes? Puhleeze.
Did Obama ask Bush for permission to post video responses on YouTube to Bush's weekly radio address? I think not. He just started doing it.
In the past there was nowhere for this kind of sentiment to go. Now it collects, solidifies and expresses itself online. Bloggers tap into it to gain a following and serve demand. Journalists call this the “echo chamber,” which is their way of downgrading it as a reliable source. But what’s really happening is that the authority of the press to assume consensus, define deviance and set the terms for legitimate debate is weaker when people can connect horizontally around and about the news.Two things tend to mitigate Teh Awsum of the web in shifting the spheres of acceptable versus unacceptable political discourse and what is considered consensus thinking, or "what is a fact?" amongst the Villagers. It should surprise no one that both problems, in my humble view, lay firmly within the authoritarian echo chamber we call Reich Wing Blogistan. The problems are closed minds operating within a closed system.
Nothing is more damaging to the ideals of a free exchange of thoughts than the plethora of conservative bloggers who routinely purge their comment ques (in the rare case a conservative blogger allows comments at all). This results in a self-reinforcing feedback loop, coupled with a preponderance of authors and fans of these web pundits who display and alarming tendency to parrot the conservative party line, brooking no dissent as such apostasies are anathema to their authoritarian personalities.
I've seen some analysis of the linking behavior among the conservative blogosphere, and the degree to which it can be represented as a closed hierarchical system is not so much alarming as displaying a nascent institutionalization of a true barrier to open dialogues. I don't think we should dismiss lightly the stubborn resistance to change displayed in conservative Blogistan as dooming their endeavors, even though, "Hand in hand with the lack of liberalism and tolerance goes the lack of openness, constructiveness, democratic spirit and humor."
See, they may be small in numbers -- the few, the prideful, the inconsequential ninnys of negativism -- but they aren't going anywhere, completely content to hang on to one another for the next two or three decades until something doesn't work out right -- so they can blame Teh Clenis once again.
Professor Robert Ackland concluded, "there are significant differences in the behaviour of liberal and conservative bloggers, with the latter forming more dense patterns of linkages. We find broad support for this conclusion, and empirically assess the implications of differences in conservative/liberal linking behaviour for the online visibility of different political messages or ideologies."No doubt you've taken to heart the idea that elections have consequences, and rejoice in the fact that we won. Unfortunately that doesn't mean we can afford to ignore the conservatives -- because those that remain are increasingly united and like a cornered animal, dangerous. That which did not destroy them only makes them stronger.
Ignore them at your peril. I for one will continue to enjoy the sport of mocking, debunking, ridiculing and exposing the bankrupt followers of conservatism for their hypocrisy and illogical inconsistencies. What else would I write about, how cool it is that Mr. Cool lives in the White House? Boring. It's his job to fix things and make us proud. Us folks in the trenches gotta keep getting our hands dirty.
From now on, anything the Republicans say I am just going to have to assume is a lie, until proven otherwise.
Last year, he was advocating "blood in the streets" for the Democratic Party Conventionn as a result of his "operation chaos," the anti-democratic attempt to fix the primaries through cross-party voting. Now, after a grandiose convention and an inauguration attended by almost 2 million people with not a single arrest, here's his latest quest for the spotlight:
“I hope he fails.” — Rush LimbaughDoes the Obama administration have to create a new office specifically to counter the zombie lies that froth forth from this almost treasonous malcontent? To be sure, he's not the only one, but he is their leader, their godfather, the pied piper of intolerance and stupidity, the head of the snake. He desires the President of the United States, his government and his nation fail. Just like that.
John Lennon implying that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus threatened to destroy the band. Limbaugh wishes the country's downfall -- and actively seeks to bring it about -- and he beats out Britany Spears getting a song censored (Okay, maybe not, but you get the idea.) But Rush and the Fab Four survived bad media moments and even gin up more notariety from it.
So what do you do? Condemn him as did the Cairman of the DCCC, Chris Van Hollen....
"Rush Limbaugh's reprehensible remark that he ‘hopes' President Obama fails to meet the extraordinary economic challenges Americas face has no place in the public discourse.Or ignore him ...
"Mr. Limbaugh's comments politicize the economic struggle of millions of hard working Americans. With the unemployment rate over seven percent, today's news that 62,000 more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, and millions of Americans struggling to keep their health care and homes, all Americans, regardless of their ideology, hope that President Obama succeeds in getting people back to work and turning our
Obama tells GOP: Don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.:Oh yes he did!
You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
Have we (me included) fallen right into one of the most savvy media manipulators schemes to somehow stay relevant in a world that has rejected his ilk's abuse of power? Shouldn't he simply be ignored. Can he be ignored? After all, isn't that exactly what President Obama advises?
He has become, now more than ever, the defacto head of the Republican Party -- at least it's most conservative (and controlling) wing. No elected Republican official dare stand in his way. For all the wrath he directs at Democrats, he could and would utterly destroy any member of the GOP who stood up to him -- because nothing threatens his existence more than rejection by his own kind, his people, his audience.
Here's how this "calculated outrage" works.
Meaning, it was spewed by a clown in the media circus to kick a familiar sequence into motion: angry denunciation by bloggers, pundits and supporters of President Obama (the “he” whose failure is hoped), followed by Rush Limbaugh refusing to retract a word, a courageous truth teller who will not be moved. And, trailing behind, like the folks with brooms trail the elephants in the circus parade, Limbaugh’s devotees, complaining that their hero has been misquoted, misunderstood, or otherwise mistreated. “What Rush meant was ... yadda yadda yadda.”
A calculated outrage.
And knowing this, knowing how frequently and adroitly media are manipulated by self-promoting media clowns who defame conservatism by calling themselves conservative, one is tempted to let the statement pass, to make its way unimpeded to the dustbin like so many other manufactured controversies. But occasionally, it’s necessary to intercept one of
them and hold it up to the light.
This is one of those times. Not because what Limbaugh said on his radio program a few days before the inauguration was an outrage — outrage is the point, remember? — but rather, because of what the thing he said says about him and his fellow clowns.
So yes, I guess we do hold a candle up to this particular outrage, to examine this man who has never accomplished anything but his own self aggrandizement -- a man who cannot claim to ever "get things done" for this nation. Seriously, just what has Rush Limbaugh ever done to make your life better? Anybody's life better? Just what has he ever done constructive?
He hopes the duly elected, undisputed leader of this nation ... fails.
He's not merely issuing a warning out of love for his nation, No. Failure is his desired result and he's working and longing for our President, our nation, us, to fail.
Nothing would give him more pleasure to win his silly game, because that really is all it is to him. A game. America flourishes under an Obama regime -- catastrophe for Limbaugh. We fall into a depression, or we lose more innocents to terrorists, bonus! At least as far as Limbaugh is concerned. Right now, Limbaugh is losing his game, and along with it his fame.
Obama's advice is spot on. Ultimately that is what we need to do, ignore him. Eliminate his destructive quest for more fame by making him irrelevant. But right now it's a good thing to highlight this particular outrage -- to illustrate why.
As some of the nation's most successful comedy writers comiserated in the Post-Inaugalypse drought of easy POTUS one-liners, this gem surfaces from Minority Leader John
You know, I'm concerned about the size of the package, and I'm
concerned about some of the spending that's in there. How you can spend
hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives, how does that
stimulate the economy?
John Aravosis will swear that this picture of (finally) Ex-POTUS Bush leaving the Capitol via Executive One was purely coincidental.
|[+/-]|President Obama insists on signing a series of executive orders with his left hand, much to the annoyance of conservativeright-wing whack-jobs who just won't let it go.
We may not have Bush to kick around anymore, but there are still some gynormous A-holes that need to be culled from the herd, running around with neither direction or purpose.
Limbaugh led the way, and his disgusting display of ideologically driven and barly disguised racial hate must have shocked even die-hard ditto-heads. (Please tell me I'm right.) Hey Rush, I'm hoping YOU fail, dramatically.
Roy Edroso at the Village Voice documented the fist-clenching from several of the usual suspects in Right-Wing Blogistan. Malkinoid, the Corner, and the Red State Brigade were among the mouth-breathers gnashing their teeth as they watched a shining icon dash their dreams of the permanent GOP majority.
Gavin at SN! continues his journeyman's work of reading the likes of Ace of Spades, so you don't have to wonder if he went as "bugshit crazy" on inauguration day as he promised not to. (FAIL).
Pammy of course is the one who makes your head spin, not even trying to be sane.
The man is in office all of what, 48 hours? And what does he tackle? He unshackles the jihad, he closes Gitmo, freeing the worst America haters, jihadis and murderers in the jihad's war on the West. What does he tackle? Eliminating "torture" the most effective tool for extracting information. What's torture - sexual contact with female interrogators, sleep deprivation, waterboarding ........And what does she expend the most effort (and embolded type font) fumigating about? The order to review the case of Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, bad guy to be sure, but who's never been to Gitmo (or court), and whose detention as an "unlawful combatant" in the Charleston S.C. brig while being treated like a dog when it would seem there are ample criminal charges to bring against him defies logic. However, logic was never Pam's strong suit -- not when there's outrage to be had against anyone who prays in the direction of Mecca (or at least would if someone would tell them where east is in his windowless cell).
As Gavin's buddy Tintin noted, Pammy has zero tolerance for anyone who isn't a Christian or Jew, not even non-believers.
Obama said: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus–and non-believers. Did he say non-believers? It has always been Christians and Jews (Pammie’s orange highlighting in original.)So even if a guy was caught in the US, not an Afghan battlefield, and had enough phony credit card numbers on him and connections to terrorists that no jury anywhere would let him ever walk, we can't take any chances, right? Pammy thinks ist's just swell that he never gets a day in court -- just in case ... unless he repents and takes communion with a matza cracker I guess).
...Do unto others? ... Turn the other cheek? ... Much? Bitch?
Bleak picture indeed:
Nowhere is climate disruption more dramatically apparent than on the roof of the world – where some experts predict Himalayan glaciers may be gone in as few as 40 years.
The snows of the Himalayas feed the headwaters of the Yellow, Yangtze, Ganges and Mekong Rivers and provide drinking water for billions throughout Asia.
* * *
The Himalayas are the water towers of Asia. We all live in the same building and we have this big water tank on top of our house and when that water runs out we're all gonna suffer. It's not just gonna be the people who live near the mountains. Now when we're talking about one, well, one and a half billion people – it doesn't look very good. I mean, even now, if you look at the region, there's a lot of tensions between the nations, you know, especially between Pakistan and India. Now when people don't have access to fresh water, they may see access to fresh water on the other side of the border, so we're looking at maybe mass migration, you know, heightened conflict. And it's just a very, very bleak picture.
Western Mt. Everest.
Look close and note how much more green you see now where once there was snow packed glaciers. A more detailed examination of the melt as viewed from space can be seen in this photo essay. But even more dramatic is this short video from the ground, comparing panoramic pictures taken in 1921 and comparing them to what greets the intrepid climber today.
When I was my daughter's age, we were all supposed to "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute." Clean air and drinking water, a pristine environment were a moral imperative to pass on a hospitable planet to our children. Now it's a matter of survival.
Good to see someone remember they're Democrats.
I guess when you're riding a popularity wave as strong as this, it's time to hang ten. Beyond the fact that Obama's leadership rates as high as Bush's inflated numbers right after 9/11, the contrast with Bush now is stark as he has sunk to an all time low and has been there for a couple of years.
As the principle driver of Obama's legislative agenda, Pelosi is in a great position to stab at the heart of the conservative cabal that ran this country like a mafia fiefdom. She can take risks Obama won't, lest he lose his mandate -- which in turn will feed Pelosi's success. It's an interesting dance.
Bottom line though, the conservatives have "emboldened" their worst enemy, a liberal Congress with populist backing.
Obama is going to keep his Blackberry, but won't by IMing you anymore. I've no doubt my joining the Facebook group petitioning that they allow him to keep his little toy tipped the scales. I'm narcissistic like that.
Ironic that a new President and a staff who rode the tsunami of social networking to build a campaign, a movement that exploited new media with a level of sophistication usually expected of teenagers and not crusty political veterans now have to stop IMing each other, and no doubt will have to leave all their FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter pals behind once they get in the bubble.
Somehow it just seems counterproductive when citizen journalists using iPhones and Twitter hit the net with pictures and reactions of things like planes landing in the Hudson River a half hour before the TV networks can uplink from the scene -- right in the heart of America's professional media enclave -- the White House staff is deliberately disconnecting from World Wide Web for legal and security reasons.
We go from an administration that writes and shreds it's own laws, and pretty much blackmailed the major telecom companies into cooperating with its illegal schemes to capture and collate everything communicated by everyone, to one which is giving up the tools that got them where they are out of fear they might be held to account for what they text to friends, family and each other. Gimme a break.
These folks make the damn rules, and are sitting on a budget that would make King Midas jealous. They can't spring for some way-cool encryption software and palm it off in the recesses of NSA's "black" budget? Come on. Worried about embarrassing notes, worse than anything they'd email each other? Puhleeze. I'm not buying the trepidation that legal disclosure and historical archiving would necessarily lead to completely banning the practice. No.
This must be more about message discipline and control than counter-espionage or fear of creating discoverable e-paper trails a frisky Congress or Special Prosecutor might subpoena. That, or just lazy institutionalized thinking already working its magic to destroy creativity like all bureaucracies do.
What made you finally decide he was right all along -- or at least better than Nixon?
6 percent of the Rasmussen respondents said Bush was one of the five best presidents ever.Did his single-minded focus on his legacy show you that he's a reformed man, a man who learned from his utter failure to focus on daily intel briefings warning of terrorist attacks, reports of levee breaking storm surges, legal principles prohibiting torture and warrentless wiretapping, or the lack of any real evidence justifying a war he just had to wage? Has your sympathy for this pitiful figure softened your lust to see him frog-marched to the Hague?
No? Still think he's a pathetic cretin who deserves the book thrown at him, that justice ignored is no justice at all, that he needs to pay for his misdeeds lest his antics be repeated by future megalomaniac?
Now if you do have a Mac running Leopard (OSX 10.5) try this, or if not, and you're running Adobe Flash version 10 go here. Otherewise,"F" around with your favorite image editor and you too can be one of the cool kids.
It seems we can’t [prosecute Gitmo inmate Muhammed al-Qahtani for terrorism-related crimes] since he was tortured, ruining the evidence:Next time you hear some bloviating asshat mocking the bleeding hearts on the left who they claim want to invite terrorists over for slumber parties (yes I'm talking about you Joe Scarborough), remind yourself that it was Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Yoo and their fellow cretins who made the conscious decision that the information they thought they would get through torture was worth the risk of eventually tainting any evidence they received to the point where the prisoners might go free and their own freedom would be at risk for authorizing felonies and war crimes.***
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.
If Crawford thinks Qahtani can’t be prosecuted because he was tortured, then it stands to reason that there’s someone who can be prosecuted for the torturing.
So be it, decisions like that cannot be without consequences. Let the other shoe drop -- or be thrown, whatever. The jails are filled with people who don't think they did anything wrong, and quite a few who insist that they'd do the same thing that landed them in the slammer again under similar circumstances. No regrets, no contrition, no absolution -- but there is justice.
Bush has got a week to issue the pardons his lieutenants have been counting on for years. As cowardly as it will seem when/if he does issue get-out-of-jail-free cards, far more cowardly would be to walk away from this, shirking responsibility as usual and letting those most loyal to a POTUS who valued loyalty above all else swing for his own crimes.
UPDATE: The Talking Dog noted that Mohammed al-Qahtani was the so-called "20th highjacker." That Crawford, a "Cheney/Addington protege" also said that "the buck stops in the Oval Office." "And Mr. Rumsfeld himself was personally briefed on the ongoing progress of al-Qahtani's tortures."
So, thanks to Teh Awsum leadership of The Decider Guy, the C+ Augustus wants us to remember:
- No more American cities have drowned since Katrina.
- Battlestar Galactica will (finally) return on his watch.
- Madonna is single again, and available.
- The Earth is still spinning on its axis and revolving around the sun.
- No New Texas.
- "Misunderestimate" is now a real word.
- Google disarmed the Miserable Failure Google Bomb.
- Smart is finally cool.
- The Daleks and Cybermen did not exterminate us.
- February Second will come and go this year without a time/space portal opening up and making us relive the last eight years over and over.
- Mars Bitches!
- O.J., finally locked up.
- New CAFE standards reduced VP Cheney's warm virgin blood requirement to a quart a month.
- Twitter.com gives Anna Marie Cox something to do between jobs.
- Paved the way for bloggers to bring the hate to Sarah Palin.
- The lost city of Atlantis has finally returned to Earth from the Pegasus Galaxy.
- Full employment for Israeli and Palestinian arms suppliers.
- Helen Thomas had time to write up a whole lotta questions for the next POTUS, and knit a sweater.
- Friday Cat Blogging to kill time waiting for Friday Document Dumps.
- TARP! It's not just for covering furniture anymore.
- Now any hack can do science.
- Twilight sequel appears just in time to grab Harry Potter fan base.
- SNL found the funny again.
- I Can Haz Failblog!
- We now give a damn when Paul Krugman gets wonkish.
- Joe Scarborough fully outed as a sociopath.
- Stepford 1st Lady will be back home in Texas by the time the Final Cylon is revealed, so we got that going for us.
- Pulitzer Prize worthy scandals to write about.
- "Truthiness" not just a new word, but a way of life.
- Paris Hilton's wisdom and maturity finally appreciated.
- Ozone Layer still intact, mostly.
- Got one Bush Twin married off ... one to go.
- Dumbledore Avenged! Snape lies dead. (oops, spoiler alert.)
- Avian flu pandemic from China averted, exchanged for tainted toothpaste and dog food.
- Missile shield going ahead as planned, even though it still doesn't work.
- Wii: new epicentercenter of domestic violence outbreaks for the holidays.
- Rachel Maddow now Queen of all Media.
- Black hole did not eat the entire planet when they turned on the Giant Haydron Collider -- yet.
- Virtual Bubble Wrap.
- Budweiser now a fine Belgian lager instead of cheap American swill.
- Blackberry rip offs of the iPhone interface still not as cool as iPhone.
- Gas cheap again -- jawboning Saudis musta worked.
- Money found to be an excellent mattress padding.
This final press conference was truly remarkable, especially when you think back on his previous performances. I remember semi-live-blogging one such event which spurred none other than Bill Kristol to remark that Bush lacked leadership. It was the one where he ducked every other question and refused to admit any mistakes cuz it wasn't a written question given to him in advance, linked 9/11 to Iraq, commanders on the ground ... 9/11 ... terrorism ... war footing ... 9/11 ... WMDs ... 9/11 -- you know the drill.
What? It doesn't ring any bells and sounds like all his other press conferences? Yeah, me too. That's why I gave up live-blogging Bush's press conferences. That's not to say there weren't interesting snippets here and there when an unscripted POTUS was in front of old "Stretch" and the gang -- like the time he admitted he could "speak more truthfully" right after the '06 election and canning Rummy -- not that he ever did. He'd first have to be truthful with himself, and that'll never happen.
But today was different, not just for the historical significance. Bush was resigned to his fate, his guard down, no agenda to push, no lies to sell. Nevertheless, lies he did tell as Rachel Maddow documents so very well in these two segments (just click the links, I hate the way MSNBC does their embeds):
Video: Special Report: Gitmo
Jan. 12: Lame Duck Special Report: During his last press conference as president, Bush blamed other countries for problems related to Guantanamo Bay and disagreed that abuses at the prison have damaged America’s moral standing in the world. Rachel Maddow is joined by lead defense counsel Major David J.R. Frakt, who represents some prisoners. (MSNBC)
Video: Special Report: Katrina
Jan. 12: Lame Duck Special Report: At President Bush’s last press conference as president, he defended the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Not only that, President Bush left out the National Guard and FEMA when talking about the federal response. Rachel Maddow is joined by former Times-Picayune city editor Jed Horne (MSNBC)
The Katrina piece is especially poignant yet compelling, a point-by-point time-line of debunkature. Keith Olbermann does his normally excellent job and sets the record straight despite Shrub's best attempts to rewrite history -- predictably failing as usual.
Watching the presser live, it will come to no surprise to friends, family and anyone who reads my blog on a semi-regular basis that I found myself, again, yelling at my TV. I was pretty incensed at Bush's take on the Katrina debacle which Olbermann aptly described as deflecting criticism to his decision on where to hold the photo-op being his most important contribution.
Classic Bush, knocking down strawmen. It was reminiscent of deflecting a question years ago about being greeted as liberators, oil revenue paying for the war and not finding WMDs with the non-sequitur: "First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it." No acknowlegement to this day that people were stranded at the Superdome with no food or water for days -- and no way out. No talk of "lessons learned" about levies and infrastructure, coordination of emergency response or rebuilding efforts.
No one has ever sugested that the Coast Guard and Navy were anything short of remarkable in their heroic efforts to airlift rooftop refugees. When you concentrate the lion's share of a society's resources to the military, you should expect no less. The lack of civilian agency competence with comparable merit is equally predictable.
My final memory of this final press appearance was Bush's rebuke of the idea that the Presidency is a burden, the loneliest job on the planet. Not the way Bush handled it. Arrogant, uncaring of consequences or criticism, belligerent and ignorant -- all the while logging over a year's worth of "vacation" time (more than any previous White House occupant) and never receiving an intelligence briefing on Sunday. I'd think the job was a piece of cake too if I kept those hours, and didn't give a damn whether anything I did mattered.
Good riddance you piece of shit.
OBAMA: We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering (up).Greenwald is unimpressed, likewise Digby. Mind you, they are looking at things from an admittedly ideological/partisan lens, but their conclusion that even looking for a compromised centric position on blatant violations of Constitutional and International Law principles -- running from the left as all Democratic leaders instinctively do -- is that Obama's approach is fundamentally flawed. But if America wanted assurances that all corporatists, constitution shredders and torturers would be put up against the wall, we'd have elected Dennis Kucinich or at least John Edwards.
Elections have consequences, but even the victors have to acknowledge at the end of the day that Obama is Pat Buchanan and Tom DeLay's president too.
From a partisan perspective, it is a losing cause to think that by acting "reasonable" (read: accepting Right wing framing) you will win over conservatives to support, or at least not thwart your agenda. I'm not just talking about the Hannitys and Limbaughs or even "Cigar Dave" who insists that B. Hussein Osama [sic] will invite al Queada to tea at the White House -- but also to think that the Village Courtiers in Washington will blythely go along with anything that smacks of liberalism without being persuaded the alternative presents a moral imperitive on a par with their insistence that terror suspects are fair game for torture.
However, it is not a partisan issue whether we investigate and prosecute members of the Bush administration for their crimes. Not really. It is a political decision to be sure, but not a right/left issue. Just as any prosecutor in this country is invested with nearly unfettered discretion on their decision whether or not to bring charges against a suspect -- and under what circumstances and at what time -- what the Obama administration does is about whether they are willing to invest his enormous political capital into transformative change or engage in retribution. The political calculus may require that he cannot do both, at least for now -- at least that's the decision the smoke-signals from Camp Obama seem to indicate he's made.
That doesn't mean that members of both the right and the left won't reenact the Sturm and Drang we always do over this -- and all of us will be convinced that Obama isn't one of us no matter what he does. Maybe that's a consequence of leadership of a nation this diverse and as vocal as we all are about it. Bush was disavowed by the true-believers on the right some years ago, crystalizing the moment he thought about appointing Harriet Meirs to the Supreme Court and didn't round up anyone with a Mexican accent lacking a green card.
Note how "concerned" the right is with protection of (at least) American lives as they defend what can be argued are crimes against humanity. Beyond the elitist view of American exceptionalism this betrays, it also highlights the bullying nature of the conservative mindset. Just as their anti-abortion/abstinence-only stance has the fringe benefit of saving innocent lives while perpetuating male domination of women (that's the feature, not the bug), environmental and consumer protections, food and drug regulation, occupational safety as well as anti-discrimination laws all protect American lives everywhere. The reason they scoff at such measures yet champion torture and war in the name of shielding us all from danger is that it gives them a chance to show just how tough they are.
One thing that would do immeasurable damage to their chest-thumping culture would be to set an example at the highest level that their kind of ends-justifying-means, Jack Bauer approach to national security is punishable by law. But that's the whole point, isn't it?
You show me the people who control the money, the land, and the weapons, and I'll show you the people in charge.~George Carlin, "Brain Droppings"
Kinda like a deal-breaker for me. Buried at the end of The Hill's article everyone is citing on the Conyers vs. Gupta vs. Moore skirmish over the trial balloon set up to test reaction of a proposed nomination of the CNN correspondent/brain surgeon as Surgeon General is a one sentence shoe-flinging message of mass distraction:
"Conyers contends that Gupta is against universal healthcare coverage."This tidbit was also something thrown away at the end of an interview with Rep. Conyers (D-MI) on the Bill Press Show, (mp3 link).
There's a lot to say in favor of the Gupta appointment -- the ability to translate complicated medical/political issues to the public in an engaging and informative manner ranks right near the top. Gupta has that skill set in spades. As deserving as Howard Dean is of a plum position like this, Gupta is a better communicator -- if he's communicating the right message.
Jane Hamsher notes that Dean himself (via Sam Stein) says Gupta is already performing much of the same tasks the Surgeon General is required -- "explaining medical issues of public concern in a manner that the public could understand."
Until I heard that Gupta was not in favor of universal health care (my number one issues since Bush The Elder's administration) I just chalked this kerfluffle up to circular firing squad between members of a Michigan Militia (Gupta is a UofM allum, Moore a UofM drop-out and Conyers is from Detroit). Now I think it matters, big time.
If we had a better media, the question would have already be asked of Doctor Gupta. As it is, in our celebrity obsessed, gossip/conflict centric media, a fundamental question like his support of the PEOTUS's policy agenda has been lost in the shuffle of fluff.
So, is Conyers just talking through his hat, making stuff up or drawing conclusions from Gupta's bone-headed challenge of Moore's movie Sicko (for which Gupta later apologized); or has even a preliminary inquisition been made of the celebrity doctor by the Obama transition team?
Does Doctor Sanjay Gupta support universal health care? It's a simple question. It should have been the very first thing anybody asked.
Hey, even if he wasn't a big supporter of Obama's plan to reinvent the medical industry, as long as he pledges to get behind the President Elect's plan now he's a way better pick than Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura. I'm just saying.
[cross posted at E Pluribus Unum]
Most inaugural addresses have a pretty short shelf life. They don't endure past the first few days after they are delivered. Honestly, can you remember anything from the inaugural addresses of the last five presidents?
[Note: you get bonus points if you can, you know, name the last five presidents.]
Fact is, there really are only a handful of addresses that have endured through the decades of American history. Lincoln's second address ("With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds..."), FDR's first ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself") come to mind.
If you can think of any others, feel free to leave a comment to that effect.
On the other hand, if you want an inaugural address that is as inspiring today as it was the day it was delivered, if you want one that is compelling from start to finish, JFK's address in January of 1961 is at the top of the list.
You think you remember it, right? "Ask not what your country can do for you..." But there is so much more to it than that.
So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
I'm old enough to remember watching that address (I remember most vividly the TV pictures of the dazzling sunlight reflecting off the snow covered streets of Washington). Looking back on it now as an adult, I'm struck by the timeless quality of the message and the vigor of the young president in delivering it.
Watch the whole thing (it's barely 15 minutes long) and read the text, too. It's worth your time.
Here's the transcript. Read it. You'll be glad you did.
With al Sadr rousing the rabble in Iraq to retaliate against US forces and now Lebanon's Hezbollah joining the Hamas mess by launching missiles into Galilee, this crap could get completely out of hand by the time Barack gets sworn in -- cuz the C+ Augustus ain't doing a damn thing about this. That's a prediction I feel confident in. "aWol" will remain inept, incompetent and impotent.
In what could be a major escalation in the current crisis, Lebanon has fired 3 [4 -- no
fivesix ...] rockets into Israel, hitting west Galilee; several injured. [and Israel is returning fire...]
~via BNO News from their Twitter Tweets.
It's on life-support now, lots of wires coming out of various slots as I perform a transfusion of data into an external drive while the patient sits upside-down with its guts exposed.
I'm thinking superglue as a substitute for wiggling the power connection when/if I can get it back together and running.
Panneta: I like the pick. He was one of the few folks remaining in the room after guys like George Tenant left the situation room and actually had to decide what to do with 'slam dunk" intel. However, we either should be alarmed or accept the new post-partisanship when Larry 'Whitey Tape" Johnson is "pleasantly surprised" about the nomination and these stooges endorse it, watch your ass.
Burriss: This guy is a goofball of the first order, and Illinois deserves him after putting so many crooks in their governor's mansion. Just spare me the race-baiting bull. Congrats Senator, try not to embarrass yourself and leave the circus to the professional clowns...
Speaking of Senator Franken: Next time your thinking about subjecting anyone to a 'clever" Stuart Smally-ism ("He's good enough, He's smart enough ...yadda, yadda"), keep this in mind lest you too reveal that you're either irony challenged or addicted to anti-addiction therapy:
"You don't know what you're doing. They're gonna cancel the show [column/blog/internet access/Playboy subscription]. You're gonna die homeless and penniless and twenty pounds overweight."Krugman is wrong about Sanjay Gupta, but he's been wrong before -- at least according to this nimrod who staked his now defunct reputation on the complete economic disintegration of China, that the [never happened] collapse of their biggest banks would bring down their communist government -- a theme he's been harping on all decade.
No, the trouble with Gupta is not that he was on the wrong side of a pissing match with Michael Moore. It's that Sanjay's a Michigan allum. Last thing this nation needs is more self-important losers donning Wolverine jackets -- that goes for Moore too.
Finally, on the tax-cut heavy stimulus package. [Let the guy with the Nobel medal be your guide.] I'm starting to understand that the hope/change post-partisanship era we have entered means that Obama will give everyone something to bitch about.
[cross posted at E Pluribus Unum]
I was born in the Middle East and I still have family there -- on both sides of the expanded conflict.
I've written about this in a couple of diaries over the years. Here's one. Here's another.
Long story short, you'll find no greater defender of Israel than I. Which is why it pains me to say that the latest incursion into Gaza is making Israel weaker, not stronger, by repeating the mistakes of the Lebanon incursion of 2006.
Bottom line: it's time for Israel to try something new because the application of military force will not solve Israel's problems in the long run.
I'd like to sketch out an alternate scenario. But first, a recap...
Where We Stand Today
The Israelis have three explicit and implicit objectives which they hope to achieve going in to Gaza:
These were the same objectives that the Israelis had in striking back at Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon war. And while Gaza is a smaller military objective and the application of Israeli force is greater (and with smarter more talented people running it), they're still faced with the historical fact that in 4th generation warfare, the smaller force wins by not losing and the larger force loses by not winning.
Yes, Olmert can stop the rocket attacks for a time (although that hasn't happened quite yet). Yes, the Israeli Defense Forces can destroy the tunnels and other supply lines into northern Gaza (until they are established again elsewhere).
But as for toppling Hamas (not an explicit objective but a real one just the same), for every Hamas leader killed, there will be 10 Gazans who will revere his memory and vow to seek revenge against the Israelis. It's not rational; it just is what it is.
Hatred is fungible; destroying its supply-lines by force is impossible.
Is There An Alternative?
Yes, but it requires both sides to admit that their counterparts are in the region to stay -- for good. The people of Israel and the people of Gaza (and the West Bank for that matter) must come to terms with the idea that they will be living next to each other for a long, long time to come. Neither side is going to go away. Israel will not be pushed into the sea and the Palestinians will not be going away either.
In other words, if you think this is a fight to the death -- of either Israel or of Hamas (or whoever is the next terrorist organization to spring up in their place) -- then it would be a good idea to start looking around for more alternatives.
Middle Eastern Treaty Organization
For starters, I think the US should promote a Middle East Treaty Organization (METO , like NATO) made up of Israel, the US, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. If the Saudis want to join, fine. All of these parties would be at least receptive to the idea that they could balance the power of an ascendant Iran (and its pawns, Hezbollah and Hamas).
For example, I strongly believe that Iran has no interest in nuking Israel. If they're going to nuke anyone, it's the Saudis. The Saudis have all the rest of the oil not already controlled by Iran; and they have Mecca as well; and lastly, they are Sunnis. Israel and the Saudis have a common foe. Why not ally themselves against it?
Middle East Free Trade Association
Not only that: I think the same parties should also get going with a Middle East Free Trade Association (MEFTA, like NAFTA) made up of the same parties -- Israel, the US, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Why not? Those parties must know that if the Arabs and the Jews got together they'd take over the world -- they'd have all the brains AND all the oil.
Seriously, both sides are going to have to put aside past grievances to get to a place where they can entertain these alternatives. There's nothing to be gained by the Israelis in pointing out, yet again, the inherent antisemitism in the European reaction to the latest war. And there's nothing to be gained by the Palestinians in accusing Israel, yet again, of being a colonialist subjugator of their Arab neighbors. Enough. None of this is news and none of it helps them achieve their common objective which is to live side-by-side in some semblance mutual cooperation.
The solutions have to be big and bold. And the US has to be engaged in seeing to it that both sides give a little to get a lot in return. The sooner that happens, the better off we'll all be.
"Yes, Bush's policies failed utterly," said Allawi, describing the U.S. administration that once backed him. "Utter failure. Failure of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, including fighting terrorism and economic policy." ~Reuters
- Saturday: 4 Iraqis Killed, 11 Wounded
- Friday: 35 Iraqis Killed, 123 Wounded
- Thursday: 13 Iraqis Killed, 10 Wounded
- Wednesday: 2 US Soldiers, 14 Iraqis Killed; 70 Iraqis Wounded
That's just since New Years Eve.
[Bush is] America's mean ex-husband and the country can't wait to sign the final divorce decree.
Just as I am emotionally withdrawn from the abortion issue -- being male and all -- not being Jewish or being of Middle Eastern decent and having no desire to visit the area in this lifetime, the consequences of the carnage seem removed. The absurdity of perpetual war in the name of peaceful religious traditions I'm long past subscribing to makes the entire situation almost surreal -- except for the fact that I'm not a true sociopath and do admit compassion for the people who live under such insane conditions.
So, in a way I don't really have a dog in the hunt. I have views, sure. But I'd hardly consider them core principles I feel all that passionate about. So from a purely analytical perspective I found Glenn Greenwald's observation on American attitudes towards I/P most interesting. Noting that public opinion is almost evenly split on the issue, with Democratic voters opposing the Israeli offensive and Republicans supporting it by a greater margin, the GOP leadership reflects this and represents their constituency accurately -- but the Democrat's elected leaders do not share their own supporters opinions.
None I can think of.
Much more notable is the fact that Democratic Party leaders -- including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- are just as lockstep in their blind, uncritical support for the Israeli attack, in their absolute refusal to utter a word of criticism of, or even reservations about, Israeli actions. While some Democratic politicians who are marginalized by the party's leadership are willing to express the views which Democratic voters overwhelmingly embrace, the suffocating, fully bipartisan orthodoxy which typically predominates in America when it comes to Israel -- thou shalt not speak ill of Israel, thou shalt support all actions it takes -- is in full force with this latest conflict.
Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice? More notably still, is there any other position, besides Israel, where (a) a party's voters overwhelmingly embrace one position (Israel should not have attacked Gaza) but (b) that party's leadership unanimously embraces the exact opposite position (Israel was absolutely right to attack Gaza and the U.S. must support Israel unequivocally)? Does that happen with any other issue?
Now I've heard again and again this week that as long as the US continues to support Israel's incursion, it will not end. We give the green light and only we can tell the Israelis to stop. It is our weapons they use and our UN Veto that protects them. Along with this is the breathless punditocracy in serious tones speculating how Obama will handle this when he takes over in three weeks -- yet another serious crisis for the President-Elect to clean up.
My guess is that the "crisis" aspect of the situation will be over by January 20, that this is just another flare-up that we've seen countless times since the Six-Day-War -- which had Israel fighting and beating the entire Arab world and only took, you know, 6 days. By then things will return from suck to merely shitty.
But if what conventional wisdom demands we believe is true, that the United States is ultimately responsible for solving this mess, how can things possible change (and by that I mean change for the better -- which for me means a lot less death and destruction) if our leaders feel no reason whatsoever to be responsive to their supporters opinions?
As I said, how the Israel/Palestine conflict is resolved is not one of my top priorities, but liberals and progressives being taken seriously is. If we are marginalized on this issue, ignored with impunity by the folks who count on us to raise money, knock on doors and vote for them, what incentive does the right have to negotiate with us on any issue in good faith when they figure the Democratic Party will just sell us out in the end anyway?
I know this is a slippery-slope argument, but when the majority of Americans have waited in vain for universal health care since the Eighties -- not just the left -- are we really just as deluded and naive as the conservatives insist we are to think anything is going to really change? Our policy towards Israel isn't.