November 23, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Hoping yours is a safe, warm, and wonderful holiday with family and friends. Gobble gobble...

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November 22, 2006

Don't miss...

...these two magnificent essays by Glenn Greenwald. Which leads me to wonder... Why don't thinkers like Mr. Greenwald hold more key government positions?

...Ken Grandlund's observations on the Bush legacy - otherwise known as How I Destroyed A Republic / The Backroom Genius Of George W. Bush - at Common Sense.

...via TomPaine.com, a demand for immediate changes to the egregious Military Commissions Act from author Aziz Huq. This one had better be a no-brainer for the 110th Congress.

...a quick shot from the New York Times, concerning defeated Senator George Allen's parting gift to America - a bill that would allow the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks. Because the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site has gotten so dangerous, I guess.

...and finally, courtesy of Crooks and Liars by way of atrios via Hullabaloo, this gem of a history lesson from MSNBC's invaluable Keith Olbermann. Leading reason to give thanks tomorrow? In response to Bush's moronic "We'll succeed unless we quit," Olbermann counters, "No, sir. We will succeed when you quit."

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Still tired...

Well, that's it. The heady feeling of optimism that literally sparkled in the air November 8th is long gone now. In its place, that exhausting sense of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach has come flooding back. Up is down. Black is white. On is off.

Think I'm kidding? How else to explain anti-Roe, anti-contraception, abstinence-only, religious crusading gynecologist Eric Keroack being annointe- er, appointed Chief of Family-Planning Programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Through the looking glass indeed...

So I've bid that fleeting burst of adrenaline a weary goodbye. Right now, more than anything, I'm tired.

I'm tired of the endless spin and misdirection and bias and obfuscation and falsehoods being casually fed to us by an Administration hopelessly adrift in its own private Neverland. Tired of a scheming, corrupt, and unrepentant Republican Party, whose primary mission seems to be retention of power and perqs, and the permanent division of the American people into two warring camps.

And I'm especially tired of a faithfully subservient battalion of print, radio, and TV pundits who continue to denigrate the sweeping Democratic victories of November 7th, and to paint the election as little more than a "comma" in the narrative of ongoing GOP dominance.

I'm tired of having to share my country with people who think like this woman from Kentucky:
"America won't win another war until the 1960s flower children are pushing up petunias.

"Radicalized, the flower children morphed into lefty loonies who now masquerade as social progressives. No matter what they rename themselves, however, their agenda hasn't changed...

"It's crucial that we come to terms with war questions because we will have war with Iran and North Korea. It will come down to their children or ours, their soldiers or ours, their countries or ours....

"In their heart of hearts, lefty loonies do want America to lose in Iraq and every military theater. They want outside enemies to accomplish quickly the demolition of American capitalism, using the violence the lefty loonies are too old, too scared and too well-invested to use."
Jesus! Where do these people come from?

I'm tired of hearing that Democrats "have no plan" for Iraq, a phrase repeated like some unquestionable religious mantra by the willfully ignorant. Seems to me that for several years now, I've heard viable Dem suggestions - all of which were summarily dismissed by the Ruling Party - including:
-strategic troop withdrawal and re-deployment...

-direct negotiations not only with internal warring factions, but also with Iraq's immediate neighbors...

-vigorous federal oversight to ensure that reconstruction efforts are less about war-profiteering and more about actual, well, reconstruction...

-properly equipping our troops with the basic tools and armor they need merely to survive, as long as the GOP has stranded them there to begin with...

-and objective investigation of the architects of this fiasco, not only to send a clear message that Executive excesses of this magnitude will not happen again, but also to simply do right by those who've been forced to sacrifice their lives for Bush's grand folly.
"Have no plan"?! You mean as opposed to the Republican plan of
"let's invade a weaker nation without provocation, reduce its infrastructure to rubble, invite (through our sheer unpreparedness) every terrorist organization on the planet to move in and set up shop, pull down a few statues, impose a few elections (no problem with 'deadlines' then, was there?), and watch the happy, grateful people share peppermint sweets under a beautiful gumdrop sky while masked men with IEDs kill our boys and girls there so they (shudder) won't do it here."
That plan, right? The one that'll "succeed unless we quit."

While we're at it, I'm tired of John McCain. Tired of John Kerry. And James Carville. And Bill O'Reilly. And if you even have to ask why, there's little point in telling you.

I'm tired of hearing Liberal lawmakers described as, "...one of the many Democrats who voted for the war..." For the last time, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq was described and packaged and promised by the Bush Administration to be a necessary bit of leverage only, designed primarily to intensify negotiation through United Nations' channels.

Most of those who signed the resolution did so based on their belief that the President of the United States would be honest in presenting relevant facts, trustworthy in his stated commitment to peace, and tireless in his pursuit of everything other than war as a solution to the Iraqi "threat."

Too bad that King George and his merry men were none of those things. The fact is that any given Liberal lawmaker would be more accurately described as "...one of the Democrats who was betrayed by this Administration's demonstrably calculated fairy tales in late 2002." That's the real story, America. And I'm tired of not hearing it put precisely that way.

Yes, Tim Russert, I'm talkin' to you.

In that same vein, I'm tired of Democratic civility and manners. Oh, I know we Liberals have already been accused for six years of being immoral, unpatriotic, and disrespectful. But the simple fact is that calling someone a "liar" isn't ill-mannered at all, when that individual is, in fact, a liar. And it can never compare to the relentless libeling of Democrats concerned solely with protecting civil rights, promoting peace, demanding accountability and simple honesty in government, as "traitors," "terrorist sympathizers," "defeatists," or "anti-Americans." [see Pot and Kettle]

So drop the polite veneer, Dems, and put on the gloves. You did win the midterms, after all. Call out those whose "policies" are based on half-truths, and expose them for what they are. Set the direction of the debate, no matter what the venue. Insist on being heard and interpreted correctly, and shout down those who would cut you off in mid sentence, or distort documented fact, or misrepresent the goals of your Party.

Not so long ago, Democratic leaders faced down fire hoses and attack dogs in Alabama. Don't tell me that today's crop can't even chastise Chris Matthews the next time he unthinkingly regurgitates an anti-Liberal myth.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I'm tired of the election being characterized by influential "news" analysts as a victory of "conservative" values, of "moderate" Democrats, of "moving to the center" - all of which seems to arise out of a continuing, biased aversion to uttering the word "Liberal." Good God, America, pull your collective head out of your collective rump, and denounce this insidious bit of misdirection, one obviously and ingeniously crafted to keep the term "conservative" a benign part of our everyday conversations - while tacitly portraying "liberal" as an unspeakably dirty word.

For the last six years, Conservatism has been enthusiastically molded to represent the worst in our society by its giddy disciples, and any attempt to re-define it now is utter propaganda. As I wrote on election day:
A Republican vote is a vote for aggression and imperialism. For fear and hatred. For incompetence and cronyism. For dishonesty, secrecy, and corruption. For torture, indefinite detention, and the denial of legal rights. For totalitarianism.

It is a vote for financial ruin. For class warfare. For disaster unpreparedness. For corporate monopolies. For state-controlled propaganda masquerading as news. For military control of space. For homophobia. For persecution against women. For laws written by oil barons and lobbyists and meth-using evangelists.

Supporting the current incarnation of the GOP is a vote for the slow death of the planet by poison. For war profiteering. For unsecured borders and ports. For increased global terrorism. For an assault on science and medical progress. For religious fundamentalism. And for the continued, needless slaughter of foreign civilians and our sons and daughters in uniform.
Speaking of which, I'm tired of the mindless slogan, "support the troops," one emblazoned forever into our collective consciousness in the shape, texture, color and size of a throwaway magnetic ribbon. Don't get me wrong here - and I'll bet many of you will take me to task on this one - but today's troops don't exactly live in an information vacuum like the grunts of the past (good Lord, half of them have blogs), so they can't have missed the mere handful of news items detailing the growing futility of their "mission."

Or the utter incompetence of their Commander in Chief.

And last time I checked, our men and women in uniform are still considered American citizens, first and foremost, with all the rights and civic responsibilities that title entails. Given that, at this point in time they share at least some of the collective blame for the perpetuation of Dubya's Iraq disaster by not opposing it more vigorously themselves.

I don't say that lightly. Many Iraq vets are speaking out. In fact, I have great sympathy for those in the initial wave, who were no less bamboozled by their President than were Congressional Democrats - or the average citizen. But the curtain's been pulled back for quite some time now on Bush's military adventure, and it's time to see more informed and unified opposition to the open-ended idiocy of America's current Iraq policy throughout the military rank and file.

I mean, it's their lives that are on the line, after all.

Howard Zinn writes in his brilliant and essential A People's History of the United States that one of the key elements which helped to end the Vietnam War was resistance among the troops themselves. He notes:
The capacity for independent judgement among ordinary Americans is probably best shown by the swift development of antiwar feeling among American GIs - volunteers and draftees who came mostly from lower income groups. There had been, earlier in American history, instances of soldiers' disaffection from a war...but Vietnam produced opposition by soldiers and veterans on a scale, and with a fervor, never seen before.
No, I'm not contending that exercising similar disaffection would be without risk. And yes, I understand the whole "orders" thing - you don't grow up in the house of a battle-hardened World War II 1st Sergeant with two Bronze Stars and escape that bit of information. But I'm tired of being expected to support the continued, lemming-like compliance of our troops, and their lack of visible objection to a situation that most should know by now has been a lie from the start.

Particularly those who've signed on during the last 18 months. What? Don't get a morning paper in your neck of the woods?

And then, sadly, there are those other little things for which our troops have become globally famous. You know, things like Abu Ghraib. Or the known rapes and murders of Iraqi citizens. A notorious friendly-fire incident and cover-up. Not to mention the completely under-reported pattern of sexual assault and coercion forced on American female soldiers with shocking regularity by our own good ol' boys in desert fatigues.

I know it's not everyone in uniform. It's not even a majority. But it's enough to keep me from slapping that meaningless totem on the back of my car.

So, of course, I'll cross my fingers that every soldier comes home in some way other than a wheelchair or a box. But until I see more of Zinn's "capacity for independent judgement" from our soldiers and their families, I'm not buying into the line that everyone in combat boots qualifies for the Pantheon of Heroes - or that any criticism of the troops is tantamount to treason.

I guess above all, I'm just tired of having nothing positive to say. The midterm results notwithstanding, I don't see enough signs that we're awakening from our state of collective shock over 9/11 - and finally seeing things for what they are. I don't have a sense that the nation has finally become better informed, or that we're interested as a culture in seeking out the truth. I don't feel reassured that we're being given facts, even now, by a reprehensible Fourth Estate more interested in ratings than civic education.

And I don't think anybody in Washington has learned anything at all.

Almost a year ago, I wrote:
I'm tired of the fact that even with constant revelations that clearly indicate this Administration's unworthiness to govern, there is still no serious discussion among our elected representatives of removing the entire Bush machine from office. Tired of reading and writing the same litany of White House misstatements, flip-flops, and outright lies, over and over and over, and seeing no resultant action being demanded or taken to hold the Bushies accountable for their calumny. Tired, and terrified, at the thought of three more years of ineptitude under the "guidance" of these same leaders, with no apparent recourse other than gripping the metaphorical ledge just a little tighter, and hoping not to fall into the abyss below.
One year later, and I'm still tired. Thank heavens that Turkey Day is just around the corner - at least then I'll have a happy reason to fall asleep in my recliner.

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November 20, 2006

Weblog Awards

Just a quick note that nominations for The 2006 Weblog Awards are open 'til November 24th. According to its home page, "The Weblog Awards is the world's largest blog competition, with over 1 million votes cast in the last three years for nearly 1,000 blogs." Actual voting is scheduled to begin in December.

Naturally, none of us in the blogosphere got into the game for fame and glory. We certainly don't do it for the money. But a little peer recognition is nice from time to time - in fact, it's oftentimes the only thing that spurs us on - and the level of intelligence, insight, and plain ol' good writing that's out there, languishing in undeserved obscurity, is simply staggering.

And definitely worth encouraging.

So use the sidebar link to lend some support to your favorite sites, and remember to come back in December and cast your vote. The mind you save may be your own...

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November 19, 2006

WTF?

You know, I tried. I really did. I had every intention to sit down today and write coherent, scholarly tomes on each of the issues that have sucked the life out of my post-election euphoria.

But I can't. I'm so depressed at the speed with which that afterglow has been erased, I'm reduced to a rambling collection of "WTF?!?!"s. For example:

- Bush re-nominates Ken Tomlinson for his old post at the CPB, attempts to ram John Bolton and illegal wiretapping through the lame-duck Congress, and scrambles to strong-arm several controversially conservative judges into federal posts? So much for giving a damn about the repudiation of his "governance" that was handed down 12 days ago. So much for a spirit of "bipartisanship."

Is there no way to stop this dictatorial madness?

- What is a lame duck session good for anyway? Here's a part of our political process that needs immediate alteration. If not obliteration. I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't vote on November 7th to postpone a change in governing policy by two months. I didn't vote to give the outgoing majority - whose legislative decisions have worked out sooooooo well so far - one last shot at ramming their idiotic and dangerous agenda up our collective ass.

I voted to put on the brakes. Turn the wheel in a different direction. Today, damn it! Allowing an overwhelmingly rejected Congress to remain in power for one additional day is the height of insanity - especially with one whose sole intent is to do as much damage as possible while the numbers are still in their favor.

- Send more troops to Iraq? A "last big push"? Are you f#%king kidding me?! I don't know who's worse - Bush or John McCain. At least Bush seems to be certifiably stupid. The Arizona Senator, on the other hand, can't make that claim.

And that makes his "recommendation" the lowest form of political posturing, positioning himself to be blameless come 2008 no matter how the Iraq mess plays out. As I pointed out the other day, government officials have known since 1999 that it would have taken troops levels of around 400,000 from the start to have even a chance of military success in Iraq. Any talk of sending 20,000 - or anything less than 10 times that amount - while uttering the word "victory" is criminal negligence masquerading as patriotic duty.

- Nukes for India - why not? Just let me get this straight. The President fears and loathes Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, because Tehran might be able to develop one nuclear bomb in the next 5 years. And never mind that Iran insists it simply has the intention - not to mention sovereign right - to develop civilian-controlled nuclear power. George Bush, who's been right about everything so far, knows better.

At the same time, he enthusiastically supports the sharing of nuclear technology with India, which still refuses to sign the NPT, a move which "will allow India to increase its annual bomb-production capacity from seven to over 40 bombs a year." And India maintains diplomatic, economic, and military ties with - you guessed it - Iran.

Remember this hypocrisy when the bombs start falling.

I suppose I could go on, but... well, I can't. Not right now. Like I said at the outset, I tried. Instead, I think I'll spend the day at my boys' soccer games, and immerse myself in something that still feels clean and right and good.

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Playing catch-up

Yes, I got surprisingly busy again, blah blah blah. So much to say, so little time. Let's start with this post from Bob Cesca at Friday's HuffPo. Expressing precisely the state of utter incredulity in which I've found myself for the last few days, Cesca rails:
"We'll succeed unless we quit," has to be one of the president's most ridiculous and dangerous statements about Iraq since, "Those weapons of mass destruction have to be around here somewhere." No wait. It was one of the most dangerous things he's said since, "It'll be just a comma." That's not it. Since, "Bring 'em on," maybe? Ah hell. There are so many stupid, dangerous and ridiculous things he's muttered with a smirk about this war, you could probably document them on enough paper to build a giant paper bridge from Washington to Baghdad allowing our soldiers to walk home...

Clearly what began as hubris served on a giant stick of crap is now disintegrating beyond incompetence to flagrant carelessness -- a reckless disregard for historical reality careening towards outright presidential insanity. Not just figurative presidential insanity. Full blown cuckoo's nest Mr. Martini-betting-a-dime batshit crazy.
Good God, if we accomplish nothing else, we must insist that the situation in Iraq no longer be discussed in terms of "victory" or "defeat" - and that anyone who does so, pundits or politicians, be immediately booed from the public stage.

What America has done to Iraq in the name of "self-defense" is something for which we'll spend the rest of our lives apologizing - and even that won't really be enough to cleanse the blood from our hands. If George Bush refuses to respond to the demand for change that voters expressed on November 7th - and instead continues to send hundreds more to die just to save his political face - then he must me forcibly removed from office.

Two years is simply too long to wait.

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