horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bush kicks off New Year Stabbing voters in the back

Conspiring Against the Voters
President Bush has announced four nominees for the Federal Election Commission, choices that would keep the policing of campaign abuses firmly in the hands of party wheel horses. The timing of the announcement - the president waited until the Senate had gone home - is likely to allow the nominees to avoid the full hearing and confirmation process needed to evaluate them properly.

The most objectionable nominee is Hans von Spakovsky, a former Republican county chairman in Georgia and a political appointee at the Justice Department.

With Bush and Company the tools of the political trade aren't the smoke filled back rooms where cronies make deals and slap each other on the back, its the Friday and recess and appointments when Congress ( the people's representaives ) can't do any kind of oversight as Bush appoints more incompetent cronies like John Bolton and Micheal Brown. Bush supporters are quick to with the dubious claim that Bush is spreading democracy, well he might want to do less brush clearing and more democracy spreading here at home.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why I'm Not a neo-neocon

After reading this silliness coming out as a neocon , I first thought it was a parody , but unfortunately it is not. I decided to take her world view out for a test drive. After the tragedy of 9-11 the neo-neocon turned away from liberalism. Seeing as how neocons share some of the responsibility for 9-11...like ignoring memos that say Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US and that Saddam only retained his power with the help of neocons,
Last week we reported on Democracy Now! producer Jeremy Scahill's story "The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet" in which he showed that War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself met with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 1983 opening the way for US support even as the State Department and the United Nations released reports clearly showing that Iraq was using chemical weapons. Then on Sunday, The New York Times ran a front-page story called "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas."

So knowing the history of neocons and that they are no more pro American then the Taliban, I can't quite see my way to being a neo-neocon. Though in the spirit of change in the face of , terrible tragedy,
Estimated new cancer cases in the United States for the year 2002, according to the American Cancer Society (Year 2002 Surveillance Research from the American Cancer Society). It is estimated that about 555,500 Americans will die from cancer, corresponding to 1,500 deaths per day. Cancers of the lung and bronchus, prostate, and colon and rectum in men, and cancers of the lung and bronchus, breast, and colon and rectum in women continue to be the most common causes of cancer deaths. These four cancers account for more than half of the total cancer deaths among men and women. Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in women since 1987 and is expected to account for about 25 percent of all female cancer deaths in 2002.

Before 2002 I didn't care about cancer, I would sit around in a neo-something bubble with my friends, gluing my lips to pictures of conservative chicken-little asses that squaked about the few tragic deaths of 9-11, while terrible, in shear number they paled in comparison to the attacks on America by El-Cancer. So I have become a neo-neo-neoliberal. After all, part of being a rational patriot in the 21st century is to put your priorities in order. We have to get El-Cancer before they get us, you're either with us or for cancer.

Snarkiness aside, I sometimes try to imagine the utter horror of those that were murdered on 9-11 and their families. A terrible day for America and humanity perpetrated by religious and political fanatics that turned their backs on reason and compassion. The events of that day and the rationale behind it are inexcusable. Those that performed that act of terrorism and those behind it may have had their reasons, but they have no excuse. Even with neocon meddling in the middle-east and neocon dreams of some kind of global hegeonomy, America is not an unreasonable country. Now Bush, according to his own words, has killed a thousand Itaqs for every person killed on 9-11; clearly the neocons have stepped far outside the bounds of justice. Bin Laden is still running around in the mountains of Afghanistan, probably laughing at Bush's inability to act against the real threat and to do so in proportion to the wrongs that have been done. With the rolling up of Iraq with 9-11, torture, secret prisons, warrantless spying on Americans, cronyism, and corruption Bush and his neocon supporters dishonor those that died on 9-11 every day.

Why I Am Not a Conservative By Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek
Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments. But, though there is a need for a "brake on the vehicle of progress,"[3] I personally cannot be content with simply helping to apply the brake. What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move. In fact, he differs much more from the collectivist radical of today than does the conservative. While the last generally holds merely a mild and moderate version of the prejudices of his time, the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists.

Liberal Leap Second Plot Exposed


Leap Second Lovers are Traitors Says Bill O’Reilly
“Look, look, look, look. A leap second is a denial of everything American, of everything good, of everything moral. They’re saying we need this seconds because the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the earth, well this is the no spin zone. So we don’t need a leap second.

If you don't do irony skip this essay from Steve Martin.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

We were tricked, Rasmussen framed that poll. We want our constitutional rights.
Mark Kleiman writes on the recent poll and the way it was framed. Again the debate is not about spying on domestic suspects that may or may not be linked to Islamic radicals, the debate is about the president's claim yhat he has some "inherent" right to bypass FISA or any other laws that he feels is inconvient. The assertion that the president has unlimited and unrestrained powers is also the claim made by oppressive foreign regimes. In any conversation around the warehouse or water-cooler the average person would describe what tyranny is by describing the lack of respect for human rights and the law. What is it about the dangers of Bush's argument the right-blogtopians don't understand. Bush probably has abused his power already by using warrantless monitoring of Muslim community buildings. Unfettered power is just an invitation to abuse. Politicians have a history of such being given an inch and taking a yard when given the power to do so; recently as Mark writes,
The ability to spy on domestic conversations is obviously abusable. And we already know that Tom DeLay tricked the Department of Homeland Security into tracking the whereabouts of Texas Democratic legislators who had fled to Oklahoma to try to block a quorum for DeLay's redistricting scheme. And we know that DeLay got away with it. So if the question on the table is "Will the Republicans abuse domestic-security powers for political purposes?" we know that the answer is "Yes."

and Glenn Greenwald also takes a crack at this loaded poll.....Public opinion & Presidential law-breaking -- A few facts
Many have already noted the rather fundamental and painfully obvious flaw in the poll: it doesn’t ask whether people support eavesdropping in violation of the law and/or without obtaining search warrants from a court, which happens to be what the scandal is about. As everyone knows by now (except for the Rasmussen pollsters), the scandal is not about whether the Administration should be eavesdropping in order to fight terrorism but about whether the Administration has the right to violate criminal laws by eavesdropping on American citizens without the warrants required by law. Aren’t we well passed the point where it is necessary to point out that distinction?

Glenn also points to this poll...Poll: Iraq speeches, election don't help Bush
Nearly two-thirds said they are not willing to sacrifice civil liberties to prevent terrorism, as compared to 49 percent saying so in 2002. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for those questions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Being a southerner by birth and nature's serendipity, I guess I should be offended by Shakespeares Sister's Woe is We: More on Education
And perhaps more pointedly, anti-intellectualism has become inextricably linked with conservative fundamentalist Christianity. As the slightest bit of knowledge can undermine its teachings, many of it purveyors have realized it’s best to keep the flock ignorant. With white males comprising a significant part of the solid conservative base, it’s not remotely surprising that as anti-intellectualism takes further hold within the conservative ideology, its adherents would eschew higher education in greater numbers.

Its a small point and I suspect its because Sis is not a southern as far as I can tell, but the anti-intellectualism of southern white males, an admittedly large generalization, is nothing new. A phrase that one I've heard frequently over the course of a few decades now is, "he/she may be book smart, but they ain't got no common sense". This is usaully said by a person who has a job, pays taxes, hasn't been any closer to a bar fight since high school then an old John Wayne movie. They're the simple folks, they are both "good people" and at once destructive and self destructive. Many of them listen to and regurgatate right-wing AM shock jocks. Because of the work I've done, traveling and social gadflying I've lived and traveled much of the south and there has never been one of these folks that don't rely on the safety net and progressive labor laws to keep their own head above water or the well being of a relative. From overtime pay to medicare, from wokrman's compensation to Social Security, from the land rights to the right to sue the guy that sold them a lemon Oldsmobile, the good ol' boys and Nascar dads take it all for granted. There's a kind of dissconnect, they hear that the Republican guy running for office pro flag burning amendment state postion, but then his brain kind of shuts down when the same guy wants to make Medicare into corporate welfare for drug companies and deny him his day in court if Merck's new wonder drug kills his dad.
Southern white male is territorial and his wife and his truck belong to him and he should choose what's right for them, not some "book learn'n" bleeding environmentalists or feminists for God's sake. Joe Bob isn't inherently evil, he just wants a way of life that only ever existed through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. How do progressive liberals reach inside Joe Bob and Billie Jean's head and undo all the bad wiring that makes them vote for folks that do not have their best interests at heart and will never deliver that rosy nostalgia that never was ? Hell if I know. Greater minds then mine may have some of the answers........What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
Review
"Drunk on tax cuts, favors for corporations and above all else, their undying lust for the culture wars most of us lost interest in years ago, conservatives have driven Middle America into a ditch, Mr. Frank argues in this brilliant book. His examination of how the right has prolonged the battles over pop culture, abortion and religion (and meanwhile accrued great power and financial gain) will not single-handedly eject President Bush from the White House—but it does contain the kind of nuanced ideas that should be talking points for the Kerry campaign . . . Mr. Frank's willingness to scold his own side; his irreverence and his facility with language; his ability to make the connections that other writers fail to make—all of this puts What's the Matter with Kansas? in a different league from most of the political books that have come out in recent years. Even better, its understanding of the methodology that has given Republicans the Presidency and control of both houses of Congress makes it a road map for upending the G.O.P. Here's hoping somebody slips a copy to John Kerry."—Kevin Canfield, The New York Observer

ACS, The American Constitution Society Blog has a post up on Bush's abuse of the rule of law regarding domestic spying that even Power Lies would understand it..... Guest Blogger: Joseph Onek on Domestic Surveillance
First, the Department argues that Congress authorized the President’s surveillance program when it passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) shortly after the 9/11 attacks. But this argument flies in the face of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In FISA, Congress specifically addressed the possibility that in time of war special surveillance procedures might be required. Section 111 of FISA permits the President to authorize electronic surveillance without a court order for a period “not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.” Since the AUMF is at most the equivalent of a declaration of war, it could only provide authority for warrantless surveillance for fifteen days, not for four years and counting.

The legislative history of the fifteen-day provision could not be clearer. The House version of the FISA legislation would have given the President one year to conduct surveillance without court order. But the Conference Committee and then Congress insisted on the fifteen-day limitation. “The Conferees intend that this [fifteen-day] period will allow time for consideration of any amendment to this act that may be appropriate during a wartime emergency….The conferees expect that such amendment would be reported with recommendations within 7 days and that each House would vote on the amendment within 7 days thereafter.”

Incredibly, the Justice Department letter to the Intelligence Committees does not even mention the fifteen-day provision in FISA. This omission demonstrates an extraordinary disdain for the committees and for the ethical obligations of government lawyers.

It seems like our old friend, Mr. Administration Hubris has reared its ugly smirk again. They could have followed the law, yet choose not to.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

James Wolcott takes on the Headhunters

It is both funny and horrifically sad to read Headhunters , Wolcott gets right to the bare bloody pysche of the freeper/LGF crowd. In the sense of the way they think, their world view, though so far, not their actions, the far far right-wing nuts resemble that that they hate, Islamic-terrorists.
Civilized people were appalled, disgusted, and sobered by the vicious execution of Daniel Pearl, and the beheadings that followed. But many of the warbloggers are not civilized people. It is clear that despite their sincere protestations of horror, rage, and pity, the execution of Daniel Pearl aroused them on some primitive, subconscious level. They got off on it. It functioned as death porn to their seething, frustrated psyches. (Frustrated, because the war in Iraq simply hasn't gone the way they thought it would or should. They have been denied the glorious clearcut victory they craved.) The beheading ritual tapped into their sadistic impulses, and excited their own fantasies of torturing their foes.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Powell the Disappointer
Continuing his slide into disgrace and eventual irrelevance by chipping away at his own backbone out both sides of his mouth, Colin Powell has decided to come out as both sort of for and sort of against the administration’s secret spy program.

Maybe Hillary Clinton and Colin should hook up and form some kind of mush-mouth party. Though conservatives have mastered the art of hypocrisy and doublespeak, Hillary and Colin could add their blend of ready made satire. Comedians would be stumped making fun of them since the Senator and the general have done such a good job of turning most of what they say into self parody.

 
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