Thursday, July 28, 2005

A New Contest!

It's called Spot the Subtle Irony!" Look at the picture of a medallion that was given to my son, and see if you can Spot the Subtle Irony!

The first 1,000 readers who correctly Spot the Subtle Irony! in the picture get to keep their sanity.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Just For The Sake of Argument...

Let's say you have a candidate for the Supreme Court, whose history and political leanings are largely unknown, but suspected to be somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan.

Let's say you've picked this guy specificaly because of his lack of a paper trail. You think you've got a Thomas or Scalia-style judge--not activist, maybe, but hopefully retroactivist.

Now, how to get him through the Senate unscathed?

What if you took one of your foam-flecked commentators to task for an anti-aborton slugline? What if you got some of your mouthpieces to spout off about how this guy is NOT serious enough about a hot-button issue like abortion?

Think about it...get a few of the pundits who've said for the past five years that they've sniffed the president's shit and by golly he's right it DOESNT stink to start bitching about how this guy's not conservative enough? How would that play? Especially when Democratic Senators start asking serious questions to this guy?

Do you think those pundits would then say something along the lines of "I don't know what these Dems want...this guy's not really a Conservative! He's far too left-leaning!" How would that play in the court of public opinion, where most of the jurors are only half listening anyhow?

Henry Kissenger once said about his time as Secretary of State: "This job's cured my paranoia--now I know people are out to get me."

Am I just being too burned-out and paranoid here?

Hey, I'm just asking. That's all.

Karl? Karl who?


Addendum: The ever-readable Molly Ivins has a most excellent column on Mr. Roberts, here

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Hey! There's A Nit! Let's Pick It!

Ok, let's review:

  • We're in a war for no other reason than the president of half a country wanted us there.
  • That president and his cronies at best manipulated the facts, at worst outright lied to get us there.
  • That president's advisors bulldozed any possible dissent, showing no reticence whatsoever in punishing severly anyone who dared stand up and disagree.
  • That president and his advisors had no real plan on what they would do once they took over that country, and showed no real desire to figure it out. They just wanted to see the American flag fly in Baghdad.
  • Now that we're there, there's no real idea of what we're to do next. There's no real timetable for withdrawal.
  • The minimum actual monthly cost of the war is $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) higher than the maximum estimated monthly cost of the war given before the invasion.
  • The minimum actual monthly cost of the war is $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) higher than the maximum estimated monthly cost of the war given before the invasion. (I know I put that in twice. I wanted it emphasized)
  • The troops and security forces we're training aren't nearly ready to do the job.
  • The Iraqis who want to do that job are getting blown up.
  • Baghdad has become a training ground for the very terrorists we said we were trying to defeat.
  • Because of the above uncountable hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians are dying.
Well hooooooooold on thar, Baba-Louie!

Here's a report that sez thatmany of those civilians being killed aren't being killed by Americans! For three internet pages, Rod Nordland goes on about how people who are trying to tally the cost in human life--human Iraqi life--are using poor statistics, worst-case (or best-case, depending on your point of view) scenarios, and guesstimates to come up with the numbers.

Well, personally, I don't give a flying fig if those people are dying because we're shooting them or someone else is killing them. The point is, they're dying because we're there. They're dying because Preznit Bush sent the cavalry charging in there, and left them hanging, without a real plan as to what to do next.

There's an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it." Well, Bush got his wish. Saddam's out of power. And, just like he said, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Only it happened the other way 'round.

So take us to task, Mr. Nordland, because some Americans are using inaccurate statistics to point out the number of Iraqis killed by Coalition Forces. I personally don't know of, or read, or use as a reason to decry this godawful war, any of the statistics that you've gone to great pains to dismiss.

Because in the end, it just doesn't matter.

My son, the Soldier/Cop, could tell you the exact name of the law that says if you're involved in a crime where a murder is committed, you are guilty of that murder, even if you didn't actually kill the person.

Those civilians are dying because we're there.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Who Is This Guy?

Why, he's John G. Roberts, Jr., and isn't he handsome? Isn't his family charming? Isn't his history confounding? Isn't he a little--I dunno-- inexperienced to be on the Nations' Highest court? Let's review his record on important cases:

Want to review it again?

The guy's had two years of judicial experience. Two years. My daughter's been handing down lunch orders longer than he's been handing down judgements, and she's seven.

So why him?

I keep thinking back to Clarence Thomas, and reading an op-ed piece about him when he was nominated to replace Thurgood Marshall. I wish I could remember who it was so I could give credit. He or she said: Thomas was certainly not the most qualified judge out there. He wasn't even the most qualified black judge. He was merely the most qualified black judge who fit a certain political viewpoint. Daddy Bush named him because he felt he needed an African-American, which left him precious few choices.

Baby Bush has shown that he's his own man, by picking a man to fill the seat vacated by a woman. So, because he was not following a 'gender-specific' nomination process, he could have picked anyone.

So, again, why him?

By all accounts, he's a good judge, but there are other good, judges out there. There are other good conservative judges out there, with much more experience.

And that's the problem. They have experience. They have backgrounds. They have handed down judgements. There are questions that can be asked about their decisions. They have a paper trail.

This guy's got nothing.

And that's why him. He's invisible. All that can be asked of him are hypotheticals, because there's little go to on. Just a likeable, smart guy.

So here's hoping that he is a smart guy. Here's hoping that he keeps his own counsel, and ajudicates with his head and his heart, without political loyalties. I know that dubya wants a man in the mold of Thomas. I hope he gets one in the mold of Souter.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

So Much for That Idea

Am I Wacky On The Junk, or didn't Fearless Leader at one point say that the reason we're fighting terrorists Over There--AKA Iraq, is so that we won't have to fight terrorists Over Here--AKA Good ol' Main Street, USA?

I don't have an exact quote, so I could be mistaken.

Because that was the thought that came to my muzzy little head when I read this exchange:

Judge J. Michael Luttig, who presided at the hearing, pressed [U.S. Solicitor General Paul] Clement on whether the government was suggesting that the battlefield in the war on terror now includes the U.S.

“I can say that. I can say it boldly,” Clement said.

So we're fighting the war over there, so we don't have to fight the war over here. But we're still fighting the war over here.

I see.

Well, it's a good thing there's no place for terrorists to train,, then.

Sorry Doc. Still doing that sarcasm thing.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Naming Names or Not

"There is a man who plays a game with a bat and a ball. He plays this game for money. He plays this game in the bay area of Northern California. He has been hitting home runs prodigiously for many many years. He's currently injured, but some say that he may or may not be involved in a process wherein he may or may not have been chemically aided in the game he plays.

"I've already said too much."

Now, is there anyone out there--even in other countries, Daniel--who does NOT know who and what I'm talking about?

Of that group, is there anyone who does NOT think that with a couple of quick internet searches, you COULD find out who and what I'm talking about?

Of THAT group, is there anyone who does NOT think that a veteran journalist at the top of his field, whose job is to investigate, and put pieces together, and ask questions and check sources and draw conclusions based on the evidence gathered, could find out who and what I was talking about?

Interestingly enough, there are people who could not figure out who I'm talking about, and don't think anyone else could either. Apparently they all work for Karl Rove.

My therapist says I need to stop using sarcasm. But goddam, it feels so good sometimes.


Friday, July 15, 2005

A SERE of all things wise

I can't resist a pun. Even when I'm talking about something deadly serious.

One of my favorite bloggers, The Cranky Yankee, made the following comment on my "SERE Sucker" post. I reprint it here with his permission:

"I went through AF SERE school. We called it Resistance training. I also did more training when I first went into Special Operations. Your friend's story of how his school ended is right on. For us they raised the flag and played the Star Spangled banner. I stood there at attention physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted with tears of pride streaming down my face. That is to this day one my most powerful memories.

I have always felt I made it thru that training with much honor and pride myself with having resisted successfully. My dog tags say Roman Catholic on them. I guess I had to put something.. Anyway during one of the interrogation sessions they tried to get me to lose my temper by ordering me to stand on the bible. I think they ended up more pissed then me when I happily complied. They acted like I had just pimped out my mother. They were supposed to be East Germans who captured us in a Red Storm Rising type scenario. My response was something to the effect of, " aren't you guys Lutherans?" I was roughly bound, gagged and thrown into a footlocker size box for a two hour nap. I ended up enduring more than the average amount punishment during that training mostly because of my temper and my smart mouth.

What makes me angry about the current situation is that having been through this I knew Americans wouldn't do it. In the academic portions of the school it was drilled into our heads that this type of abuse was illegal, immoral and would exact a great toll on those societies that allowed it. There was no moral relevance. We endured based on the belief that our enemies, by engaging in this type of abuse, were surely losing, that they resorted to torture as a last resort, a death throe if you will. It was playing dirty, cheating and revealed the true moral character of our enemy. The worse they treat us the more we believe we are just in our cause and right in our belief of ultimate victory. That is why the current situation breaks my heart. It is precisely the training I received from the U.S. Military that tells me this is wrong.

Thank you Cranky. You said it better than I ever could.


They Won't Stop Until We're All Stupid

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Need We Say More?


The only possible presidential speech fantasy in my wildest of daydreams, my oratorical castle in the air, is that one day, for just one measly speech, the president - the man of "mission accomplished," the man who was once asked at a press conference to discuss one of his mistakes and couldn't think of any, the man who is surely the sunniest looker-on-the-bright-side east of Drew Barrymore - would sit behind his Oval Office desk, stare into a TV camera and say: "My fellow Americans, good evening. As if that's possible."

He continues, "We are a divided people, but let us celebrate what we have in common. We don't all worship the same god. Some of us do not believe in a god at all. But the good news is that, thanks to me, we all now believe in the Apocalypse. You're welcome."

That's Sarah Vowel, one of the best reasons to listen to NPR, whose claim to fame so far has been the voice of Violet Parr in "The Incredibles." I especially liked the compare and contrast she's done with Bush vs. Carter, and the lesson learned: Tell the truth in Washington and die. Lie and survive.

Screw all those exoctic locations. The next in the series should be "Survivor: Beltway,"


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Problematic Mendacity Redux

Remember that pollysyllabic exhalation from last month:?

In it, I drew up the four ways bushies squirm to get themselves out of trouble. Well, it looks like Uncle Karl got into it big time over the Valerie Plame case. So, as a refresher, here are the four tactics generally trotted out in times of trouble. How many examples of these can you find in the media right now?

1) Don't dispute the facts, dispute the fact-finder. Paint the person, group or organization as unpatriotic.

2) Keep the attention somewhere else. Anywhere else. Keep moving, keep moving. Always have another initiative to drag out for the media. Always have a baby to hold.

3) Buy the media. Or, better yet, have someone who likes you buy it for you. Get bloviating blowhards to declare themselves 'regular Joes' and 'no-spin' commentators, and have them help you with #1, above.

4) Never, ever answer questions. If you get a question you don't like rephrase the question to your liking.

I'd love to offer a little contest for this. Perhaps the for the winner, I'll find out what the fifth word on the second page of the latest Harry Potter book is, since some kid in upstate NY got two pages into it before it's supposed to be relased.

Everyone else will get a picture of me in a pink dress.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

SERE Suckers

I could write about the biggest no-shit-sherlock story since Ellen Degeneris admitted she was gay, but instead, I wish to write about my friend G.

I have known, and been friends with G longer than anyone else outside my family, save one. We met in the 7th grade, and we've done a lot of fun things together. We've also done many stupid things together. It's not surprising that the mirthful and moronic activities often coincided. At least, that's what we were told when we came to.

But for all our closeness, our political distance is most likely greater than our physical one, and we live 2678 miles apart (thanks Yahoo Maps!).

You see, G. is your basic All-American, red-white-and-blue devoutly Christian Republican former Navy Pilot, and I'm your everday freak-flag-flying, authority questioning, spiritual-not-religious progressive former pot smoker.

So you can see where we may have our differences. One time G and I got into an argument about Reagan. Well, to be honest, I did all the arguing. I would go on about one thing or another, ending with my cogent point. He would consider what I said, and then say: "Not necessarily..."

Well, that would start me off again, even deeper and more defiant. More points were made. More facts were dredged. More anectdotes were...anecdoted. And G would listen, nod his head slightly, and then say "Not necessarily..."

He probably had about an hour and a half worth of fun with me this way before I finally caught on. And, to be honest, the only reason I did was because he just couldn't keep a straight face any longer. It was such a simple, sublime tactic that it awes me to this day.

I thought about G. the other day, when I read the blog entry linked above. (I actually tried to write something about it when the article first came out, but my blog ate my homework.) You see, back in the early '80's, before G. did his first tour on an aircraft carrier, he, like every other pilot, had to go through SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) 'School,' as he called it.

As he told it to me, G, was taken out into the woods with an enlisted man, and given only the items the would have with them after a successful ejection from a stricken fighter plane behind enemy lines. They would have to evade capture for as long as possible (which for G., wasn't very long), and then be treated like prisoners of war.

I don't remember if G told me how many days he was a 'prisoner,' or even if he knows himself how many days it was. I do remember him talking about the interrogation sessions. He was made to stand at attention with a blindingly bright light inches from his face, being asked unanswerable questions, in a sort of stilted, broken English. Unanswerable, in part, because they made no sense. Unanswerable, in part, because he couldn't understand the words being used.

When not being interrogated, he was made to sit on what was essentially a small coffee can, back straight, fingers clasped together behind his head. If he slouched or fell asleep, he was awoken by the guards banging on the cell walls and yelling at him.

After a number of days of this treatment, there was gunfire outside the camp, some explosions, and American soldiers came in, 'liberated' the prisoners, and with much hugging and crying, the group raised the American flag while the Star Spangled Banner was played over the PA.

I remember the deep emotion in G's voice as he said, "I've never been so proud to be an American as I was that day."

"G," I said softly to him, "It was Americans who were torturing you."

So what's my point? My point is these guys are good.

G's no backwater uneducated schmuck from a country without options. His father was an executive in a Fortune 100 company. He got a degree in engineering from one of the toughest universities in the country. He was a VP pulling down I'm guessing a mid-t0-upper six-figure salary before he decided to get a job that allowed him to spend more time with his family, and he's probably still making 5 times what I earn.

And yet the folks from SERE were able to make him forget that he was being tortured by Americans. The folks from SERE were able to--I'm sorry, I can't find a better word for it--brainwash him.

My point is that my point didn't sink in. The stuff they put him through was so awful, that it didn't matter that these were Americans doing it. All that mattered were the Americans who rescued him.

And this was a guy the Navy wanted to keep safe. There was a huge investment of time and money in G by the military. This was a guy who got the kid gloves treatment. No real physical abuse. No lasting psychological abuse--other than just enough to solidify his patriotism.

Now these guys are being used to train the interrogators for suspected terrorists. How hard do you think they're going to go at these guys? How much do you think they're going to care if the guy's innocent or not?

How much do you think they're going to enjoy it?


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ask Mister Reproductive Rights Person...

(with apologies to Dave Barry)
Well, kids, with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, we're about to start a fight on another front.

After her resignation, Dubya sed:
"The nation deserves and I will select a Supreme Court justice that Americans can be proud of.

"The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate, characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote," he said. "I will choose the nominee in a timely manner so that the hearing and the vote can be completed before the new Supreme Court term begins."

Which, of course, means: I get to pick who I want and don't give me any shit or I'll sic Karl on your sorry asses."

Let's take a brief view of the folks he's recently picked for crucial posts:
For Attorney General--the position that sets the prosecutorial tone for the entire country, he picks, a man who wrote papers in defense of America's torturing of prisoners.

For Ambassador to the United Nations: a man who doesn't believe in the United Nations.

For Ambassador to CANADA, for crissakes: A man who barely knows where it is. True story: His entire history and relationship with the country he's about to be America's representitive to is a vacation with his wife back in the 1970's.

So, a man with this kind of track record is asking for a 'dignified process' and a 'fair hearing.'

Well. I suppose I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but for some reason I doubt that the person Dub names as his nominee is gonna be a centrist. Not when he's pushed the government so far right that O'Connor is now VIEWED as a centrist.

In light of that, I thought I would ask Mister Reproductive Rights Person to appear on this blog to help you with a few of the hypothetical arguments you may encounter at the water cooler with the office wingnut when the topic of abortion rights comes up.
Let's warm up with an easy one:

Statement: "I believe abortions are a sin."

Response: Fine. Don't get one.

See how easy that is? Let's move on to a little bit harder one now:

Statement: "It's deplorable that people are using abortions as birth control."

Response: Then perhaps we should do a better job of sexual education in this country, including the promotion of the use of condoms.

Statement: "Abortions kill babies."

Response: No, a large percentage abortions are carried out in the early part of the first trimester, at an embryonic stage far removed from anything that resembles a 'baby.' The percentages of abortions at this stage would increase at the same time as the total number of abortions performed would decrease if, as stated earlier, we did a better job of sexual education in this country, including the promotion of the use of condoms.

Statement: "But life begins at conception. It doesn't matter when the abortion happens, because the concieved life..."

Response: Excuse me, but are you planning on picketing fertilization clinics anytime soon?

Statement: "Err..umm..what?"

Response: Fertilization clinics. You know--where couples who have trouble conceiving go through an in vitro process to get pregnant.

Statement: "I know what a fertilization clinic is. Why should I picket one? They're creating life, not killing babies!"

Response: Well, they're doing a little of both, actually. What do you think happens at these places? Do you think the doctor introduces Harry the Sperm with Sally the Unfertized Egg, leaves the two together in a room with candlelight and Barry White playing on the stereo, and lets the mood of the evening carry on? No, the doc puts Harry, along with Barry, Larry, Perry, Gary, and six or seven hundred thousand of their spermatozoon relations together with Sally and several dozen of her closest ovoid kin for a get-together of micro-bacchanalian proportions. It's an orgy in pyrex. And this takes place repeatedly over the months that the couple is trying to concieve. Once conception occurs, the clinic is now saddled with a hundred or so 'lives' for each couple. What do you think they're doing with those fertilized eggs? They're not enrolling them in preschool, that's for sure.


I could go on for a while longer, and eventually, I probably will. If you have any wing-nut statements you wish Mister Reproductive Rights Person to rebut, please send them along. Or, if you have any responses that Mr. RRP might find interesting, send those along as well.

But be aware that the forces on the right are NOT going to want this fight on the Senate floor. Believe it or not, the Senate is already starting to map out a strategy that says that the nominees position on the issues that he or she will be deciding is not important!

"While some focused on whom Bush's choice will be, others mapped out strategy for the period after he decides. Senate Republicans made plans to begin hearings as quickly as possible after the nomination, focused not on the candidate's positions on hot-button issues but on legal credentials.

A Republican planning document provided to The Washington Post described the need to avoid disclosing the nominee's 'personal political views or legal thinking on any issue.'"

Yes. Because there's no need to know what a Supreme Court Justice's legal thinking on an issue is. That would just get in the way, wouldn't it?