Saturday, January 31, 2009

Brain Tumor? Chemical Imbalance? Andy Card Brings The Crazy

Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is disappointed because Obama doesn't show the same respect for the Office of the President that George W. Bush, his Dad, and Ronald Reagan did.

They showed their respect by wearing jackets and ties, he says.

So let's get this straight:

It's okay to launch illegal wars, authorize torture, spy on Americans, and reveal the identities of undercover agents as retaliation for unflattering press coverage (plus lots, lots more), as long as you're dressed for dinner.

Is that it, Andy Card?

Am I the one who's crazy? I think showing respect for the Presidency is tied inextricably to protecting and defending the Constitution, honoring the separation of powers, and a host of other things that can be done, as far as I remember, with or without a jacket and tie.

Let me hear you, friends. I'm in need of a reality-based check-in.

I guess this will continue to happen until W. and his gang of thugs are properly shamed and disgraced.

One thing is for sure, if we have to wait for the Democrats to do the right thing, we'll be waiting a Very. Long. Time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fast Times

Those who are saying Obama can't rapidly change our country for the better should ask themselves this:

How rapidly did George W. Bush change our country for the worse?

In my recollection, it happened almost instantaneously.

He performed the coup de grace on our doddering electoral system on the way into office.

He then stood stunned and impotent as cities went down in flames and flood, and ruined our chances of catching Osama Bin Laden with trumped-up war in Iraq and endless deployments. He goaded our financial system as it ran amok, wrecked the American system of checks and balances, gutted the Bill of Rights, and all but annihilated our international reputation for human rights and justice.

And that was only in his first term.

So there's a precedent for swift action. Now we'll see if it works as well for good government as for bad.

It's a good thing W. is a lazy man, or it could have been a lot worse. Just think, these and many other innovations (signing statements, abstinence-only family planning, vice-presidential secession from the executive branch) occurred despite W.'s record-setting presidential vacations: while Rome and Baghdad burned, the man spent one day out of four on vacation. Two full years' worth. "Working vacations," he explained.

It's hard work dismantling a society.

But then came January 20th. Now, in one day, Obama has reversed course on some of the worst policies ever promulgated by any politician anywhere, and though it's uphill from here and there are many nigh-unsolvable problems down the road, today we can feel like the nation finally got a good day's work out of its chief executive.

GOP Follies: Mighty Whitey Brings The Stupid

"So it's historical because of his skin tone? Isn't that a racist idea?"
- Tom Hoefling, of America's Revival

"Obama is a cult."
- Rush Limbaugh

"When he's inaugurated and the lame don't walk and the blind don't see, there's going to be some gravely disappointed Starbucks baristas out there."
- Tucker Carlson

Oh, where to begin?!

The rage on the Right over their wholesale drubbing in the last election is almost - not quite, but almost - overshadowed by the utter stupidity of their rhetoric. Or perhaps even more so by their ignorance and prejudice about the American people. Or their sheer nastiness and hatred of the new President and those who elected him. Or by their selective amnesia.

Take your pick, America.

Ever since the "referendum on Socialism" - you know, the presidential election - the fever pitch of the anger on the losing side has been approaching health-threatening decibel levels. Ulcers abound. Medicine cabinets are disgorging their palliatives, their headache remedies, their sleep aids, all across Red America.

In these new days of hope, the dysfunction on the Right presents an embarrassment of riches to the alert observer. But since our retirement accounts are gone, our investments aren't worth the paper upon which they're printed, and our basic necessities are costing more and more every day, these may be the only riches we see for awhile. Unfortunately, you can't eat schadenfreude.

But let's continue.

The stupidest and most inane of the above statements, although they are all infinitely and therefore equally stupid, might be from Tucker Carlson.

Carlson is a famous celebrity, a multi-millionaire with glamorous friends, access to the best tables in the finest restaurants in the world, and every luxury and every convenience money can buy at his fingertips. But he's not an elite. The thirty-year old coffee pourer down at Starbucks, struggling to make ends meet on ten bucks an hour, is. This ridiculous meme once held magic, and Joe the Plumber had a grand old time hating a coffee shop worker instead of the robber-barons who bled his country dry.

Fine. No latte for you, Joe Six-Pack. Have another Bud Lite. And by the way, they come in thirty-packs now. No need to gas up the Hummer.

The idea that Democrats and Liberals are elites while jackasses like Tucker Carlson, Billionaire cigar connoisseur Rush Limbaugh, and Ivy-League blue-blood George W. Bush are the Salt of the Earth is so factually wrong, so entirely stupid, that only a dyed-in-the-wool True Believer could buy it. Shame on us that it worked for so long.

But it doesn't now, and somebody forgot to tell poor old Tucker and his ego-bruised cohort.

Fifty-two percent of voters chose Obama. They came from all walks of life, all races, women, men, the young, the old. Soldiers, housewives, teachers, minimum-wage factory workers.

It's true that John "Bomb Iran" McCain locked up the votes of less-educated, white, evangelical, rural blue-collar Americans. Does the Right really hope that someday this constituency -of which they are not remotely a part - will hold the keys to the economy, the nuclear launch codes, the Courts, the very Constitution?

The truth is, Tucker and Rush and Ann and Glenn and Michelle - and W. - hate their constituents as much or more than the "elites" they scream about whenever someone points a camera at them. What coal mine does Tucker Carlson work in, what oil rig does he wrangle? What welding school educated him? What Baptist tent-revival preacher saved his soul? What God-fearing man does Michelle Malkin subordinate herself to?

Nah. All high-grade, nitrogen-rich, fertilizer-ready bullshit. Tucker Carlson, George W. Bush, and every last Republican leader are in fact the elite of the elites, the winners at the top of a very tall ladder of privilege. Harvard, Yale, The Wharton School. Show me a Right-wing power broker who went to Oral Roberts University, Ole Miss, DeVry Tech, or any public college anywhere, and I'll show you... hell, just show me one. 'Cause I don't think there are any.

I want our leaders to be smart. Very, very smart, and to know the world well, not just our little corner of it. I want our leaders to be readers, and thinkers, and consumers of culture. I want them to know their history and literature, their poetry. They should be well-traveled, and able to entertain many worldviews at once. They should know fine wines and how to handle salad forks and speak French and do all the things diplomats do, not because these things are intrinsically important, but because world leaders value civility and aesthetic depth.

Can you imagine Joe the Plumber or Sarah Palin trying to hold his own at a State dinner?

To myself: Breathe, big guy. Breathe. We won this thing, remember?

Feel my love, America. Even those of you "Red" folks who, for whatever reason, punish yourself by reading this blog.

Many thanks to Slate for providing the above quotations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

GOP Human Rights Watch:: Haven't The Torturers Suffered Enough?

The party that gave us Extraordinary Rendition, Enhanced Interrogation, and Total Information Awareness has now become the protector of our nation's delicate and ladylike feelings.

Compassionate Conservatism suddenly abounds. Or rebounds. Read on.

The leaders of our ethically retarded Party-in-Disgrace are holding up the confirmation of Eric Holder as Attorney General because he won't agree to let torture slide.

Satchel Paige once famously declared, "never look back. They might be gaining on you." The Right is running scared, and is determined to rip off all the rear-view mirrors as they careen into the dustbin of history.

And the world is definitely gaining on them, stirring up the shallow graves of the Bush administration and its victims. The claim of Republicans, and sad to say, many Democrats, seems to be, "sure, the president ordered the torture of captives, held them without charges or access to lawyers, had our hapless enlisted grunts set upon them with dogs and electrical shocks to the genitals, with stress positions, freezing cells, nudity, forced homosexual acts, and probably worse. And sure, these are war crimes when anyone but Americans commit them.

Look they say: We did these things. We broke our captives like Humpty Dumpties, and no one will ever put them back together again. But our intentions were good, and that's got to count for something, and it's much more important to move forward than to seek justice and clean our own house. It's not as if these are the Japs or the Germans who waterboarded anyone. It's us. And do we really need to do the right thing here?

This is a new one to the GTL: To Hell with the victims. Haven't the criminals suffered enough?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

End of an Error

George Orwell
1903 - 1950
2000 - 2008

It's not often we get to lay a famous figure to rest twice. Today it's our pleasure to let poor old Eric Arthur Blair, known to the world as George Orwell, lay back down in his grave for what we hope will be a more eternal rest that the first fifty years' afforded him.

When George W. Bush was installed in the presidency by the Supreme Court in 2000, I responded with two acts: First, I joined the NAACP, figuring that minorities, African Americans in particular, were in for a tough time and could use all expressions of support that well-wishing white Americans could afford. And boy, I was right: as I watched the pasty, angry, pale moon-faced crowd screaming for Sarah Palin and her sore-headed "real" American followers at the 2008 Republican Convention, there were no blacks to be found anywhere. Where had they gone?

The other act I engaged in in response to Bush's imperial coronation was to dust off my copy of 1984 and read it thoroughly.

It read like a blueprint for the Bush/Cheney war on language.

War Is Peace.
Freedom Is Slavery.
Ignorance Is Strength.

Big Brother Is Watching You.

These are the big-print deviant ideas we received from Orwell in his warning against a totalitarian future masquerading as democracy. There were many, many more, from the use of a daily "two minutes' hate" rally to keep the anger and fear at fever pitch, to the Memory Hole, where inconvenient facts are spun away and destroyed.

So today Orwell lies once again in the cold bosom of the Earth. When President Obama's pick for Attorney General, Eric Holder, was questioned by Congress and asked his opinion on water-boarding, he responded clearly, and in a very un-Bush, un-Orwell way:

Yes, water-boarding is torture. No, the president cannot make it legal with a stroke of a pen. No one is above the law, international treaties are in fact the law of the land, and human rights do matter, no matter what.

The way ahead will be bumpy, and painful, and not a Utopian ride by any means, but at least we can say this:

The "war on terror" may continue, but in the War on Truth, and the War on Plain Language, the forces of clarity and transparency appear to have held the field. Americans once again.

And that, my friends, is what, in the Hell of war, is known as VICTORY.

Those Americans marginalized by the Bush/Cheney cabal, left out of the boardrooms where real power lay, are pouring back into public view - jubilant, loud, forceful, and unapologetic. Recognized as the "real" Americans they are, and always were.

Good day, America, and remember, no matter what happens, the Gun-Toting Liberal loves you.

And bye bye Bush. Maybe we'll meet again some time, hopefully at the Hague.