Monday, August 27, 2007
Gad, I hate to seem to mimic the style of the ”lovely and talented“ John Edwards’ campaign, but my reaction to this morning’s news that Alberto Gonzales is resigning (WSJ - subscription) was, roughly, “What took so long?”.
No shock, but he’s being run out of town on a rail. Not alone among those with an opinion on the matter, I only think it’s a shame that he’s being run out for all the wrong reasons. The US Attorney firings? Pfft. Not a big deal - he, and the White House, have been well within bounds on the firings themselves, as previously discussed. Severe missteps, such as the McNulty Memorandum, should be considered embarrassments to him and the department, but are just horrifically bad administration, not criminal acts. As also previously discussed, his timid, goofy, and cackhanded defense of his boss, his office, and himself has been so inept that it’s been embarrassing to watch.
Never one to favor viewing people humiliating themselves (and thus, my aversion to most forms of reality TV), it’s been a cringeworthy handful of months, and the ordeal will soon be over.
Based on the WSJ story linked above and other sources, it seems there’s a race to the bottom of the barrel in search of his replacement. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff? What an awful choice he’d be, and not just because he looks like a character who could have played alongside Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. He’s not obviously competent, and while that would make him a perfect stand-in for Gonzales, it would seem that now, in the last 17 months of the Bush administration, they ought to attempt to at least raise their game at the Justice Department.
Chertoff, far more so than the other choices mentioned in the WSJ article (Mueller, Johnson), strikes me a choice only slightly better than dragging Harriet Miers back out of mothballs and propping her up for yet another position beyond her scope.
Also odd, there were several names in the version of the WSJ story made available this morning (the link above is to a front-page version in tomorrow’s print edition, but earlier today it was the breaking news version). Louis Freeh and Ted Olson were both mentioned, and either of them strikes me as a potentially apt choice, so it comes as no shock to find them no longer on the list, as reported by the WSJ. The IHT version of the story, available here, retains mention of Olson, but also omits Freeh.
Like Rove’s resignation, the Democrats seem to have plans to continue their chase, harrying him as best they can in search of crimes not committed. Life would, I think, be far easier for the Dems if they just took what Bushies hand them on a silver platter (incompetence, ham-fistedness, PR stone-deafness) and ran with it, rather than inventing new crusades on which to wander. But that’s just me.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Fat Twin is Getting Married
Oops. Did I say that out loud?
I’m sorry, but I always thought of Jenna Bush as the fat twin, not the blond twin. I don’t know why, but I’ve only been able to remember how to tell the twins apart by their relative chunkiness to one another rather than by hair color. Of course, one day I noticed that one is weaselly-faced like her father and the other one has that weird wicked stepmother face where she’s seemingly friendly, but going to slit your throat. Oh. I guess I haven’t told you guys that white people kind of scare me sometimes because they look like reptiles. (I must have watched V on tv too much as a kid.) Mrs. Shrub distinctly lacks an upper lip which is what makes me think that about her. But I digress.
At any rate, the fat one is getting married to the scion of a prominent Virginia Republican family. Whoopdeedoo. Not sure why CNN is posting it as breaking news, but I do like the stupid haircut that boy has at a black tie affair. It’s awful and Karl Rove should have done something about it. I am sure SOMEONE at the White House could point that boy to a decent hairdresser of Pennsylvania Avenue. Shit, I know a few people who can do a bang up fade with a pair of clippers for free. As always, I’m glad to oblige with a weed wacker. As I once told another fat twin, “Moppy hair only looked good on the Beatles, now get a haircut.”
Entertainment • Partisan Politics • Perfidy Attacks • Permalink
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Q: Why Is the Ground Sticky in Europe?
A: Because the muslims just won’t stop coming!!!
So, check out this utterly entertaining tale from Britain’s Independent of one journalist’s voyage on the National Review’s recent reader cruise. Every sentence contains a new nugget of outrageousness that should have sprung from the pen of a young Tom Wolfe, or T. Coraghessen Boyle, or any other fiction writer whose stock in trade is wacky cruelty, not from a publication that despite its biases still must cling to some version of reality-as-lived.
The set-pieces are iconic: William Buckley, the founder of the magazine and grey eminence of American Conservatism, sulking shunned and mocked in his cabin as his movementarians flock around the spittle-flecked beard of Norman Podhoretz. The leggy blonde suntanner advocating gassing a few liberals to show them the consequences of treason, in the same distracted way as one might wonder if they could go for a nice mojito right about now. Mark Steyn at a table of admirers, holding forth on the brown tide threatening to subsume the white purity of Albion, and the rest of Europe too.
Go read this, and get a glimpse of a world in which George Bush is a steel-spined visionary hero, ululating hordes of sandaled beasts spit Betel nuts (or date pits… it’s so hard to know what these brown people chew… do they chew Betel nuts or is that hashish?) at the very feet of l’Arc de Triomphe, and American liberals wake every morning with their hearts rising toward Mecca, fresh for another day of materially supporting America’s sworn enemies.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Given even the slightest chance, the Bush administration has shown an amazing ability over the past several years to choose the worst of all possibilities presented to it in any given circumstance.
However, with last evening’s commutation of prison sentence for Scooter Libby, they appear finally to have gotten one right.
Libby’s head was hung on a pike for public political enjoyment (and no, I neither have time nor feel like going into the details), and his case has not reached even its first appeal. The happy dance so far engaged in by the judicial class in Washington DC has served to do nothing but continue the political theater and public shaming of Libby. The courts’ having ordered him to begin his jail term with his appeal in process, while not unheard of, is far outside the bounds of standard practice in these matters.
For anyone who might disagree with that characterization, I’ve got two words for you, words that in any rational comparative world would cause snickers and insistence that Libby receive full exoneration and the apologies of the government for its having hassled him: “Sandy Berger”. And the fact that they both have little-boy first names is only a coincidence.
Back to my point - Bush had several choices which would have made a hash of this matter, including doing nothing (wrong, not because it might have upset “the base”, but wrong because loyalty and fairness dictated action of some sort), and issuing a full pardon (wrong, because he was convicted, however potentially wrongly, and his appeals have not yet run their course).
Deft handling of the matter, via a focus on the one ragingly unfair portion of the story - the immediate incarceration, was as welcome to see as it was surprising. I’ve come to expect the Bush administration to regularly puke in its own lap, and this time, they didn’t.
The fine stays in place, along with the probation, all pending completion of the appeals process. If those appeals are unsuccessful, for the record, I’d react badly to an end-of-term full pardon, just so we’re clear on things. Based on what I’ve seen of the judicial process so far, however, I expect Libby to eventually clear his name in the courts. Allowing him to do so outside of the Graybar Hotel seems quite fair to me.
For the first time in quite a while, then, I’m in a position to compliment Bush for not fucking up something simple. Which is a blessing and a shame, now that I think about it.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Our Candidate Tests Well In All Key Demographics
Presented without comment, really good (or really bad) advice to America’s youth:
FakeBlogging • Entertainment • Partisan Politics • Permalink
I Was Having Such a Good Time, I Shit Myself
One gauge of a person’s moral fiber is how they treat animals.
Mitt Romney, for example, supports “extreme measures” for interrogators, and apparently thinks it’s fine to strap the family dog to the roof of the car and drive from Massachusetts to Ohio. The shit rolling down the back windshield? That’s doggy laughter.
Darwin Award Contender • FakeBlogging • Lead Pipe Cruelty • Partisan Politics • Perfidy Attacks • Permalink
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
One for the ages
My boy will say to me, one day in the not to distant future, “Daddy, what is your opinion of George Walker Bush’s presidency and the legacy he left for the nation and the Republican party?” And I’ll pick him up, dandle him on my knee (for he’ll be preternaturally articulate and world-aware, like some real life version of Dawson’s Creek), and say to him, “Son, it’s like Tim Dickinson wrote in Rolling Stone: He was ‘not much of a Republican at all â€“ more like a retarded Christian AA version of Woodrow Wilson. He spent like crazy and he got America involved in these crazy ‘letâ€™s export the wonderfulness of us’ adventures.”
And then we’ll both toast the good old days when the worst you could say about our President was that from time to time he mistook vaginas for humidors and had a tenuous relationship with the word “is.”
Friday, June 22, 2007
Don’t freeze the paintballs, that’s cruel
My personal college experience with larval Republicans was sub-optimal at best. I was constantly called upon to explain the tactless mouth breathing of my small school’s single fanatic Republican Kool-Aid drinker. Having to repeatedly agree with this idiot was painful - “Well, he’s right, it’s just that he said it in the worst conceivable way.” At least these young Republicans have something of a sense of humor. The Alexandria, Va YR’s are planning the first annual Dick Cheney Paintball Tourney, “named in honor of our Vice President and second amendment enthusiast Dick Cheney.” So, if you’re not busy, go shoot with, or shoot at, some young conservatives.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
But I like skinny, meandering, partisan, discriminatory, discontiguous congressional districts
Several of our Ministers have, on occasion, used this forum to express a rabid, unthinking and vicious hatred of the traditional and sacred art of gerrymandering congressional districts. Now, if they only knew how difficult it is to balance out all those competing interests, they’d make less fun of all the funny shapes. But wait! Now they can know how difficult it is, by playing the magical interweb gerrymandering game! How fun is that? Actually, more fun than you’d think, and rather tricky until you get to the sucker bit at the end where they try to foist redistricting reform on you. That part’s easy.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
But, Mr. Limpet does sound like Demosthenes
Sunday, June 03, 2007
The purity of essence of our precious category tags
Patton has accused me of being overly concerned about wasting a scarce natural resource. The category tag. In this, of course, he is completely wrong. Naturally, I could have argued that over-categorizing a post dilutes the utility of tags. And I would have been right. But that wasn’t the point. I was attacking him on aesthetic grounds, and just to stick a stick in his eye.
Just to prove that I am not some sort of homo-tree-hugging-enviro-commie, this post, which really is about everything, is tagged with every category we have. And, when I have a free moment, I’ll add some new categories, and add them to this post.
No Category • Crazy Foreigners • Darwin Award Contender • FakeBlogging • Entertainment • Filthy Lucre • Holy Shit! • It'll Be a Cold Day in Hell • Just So You Know • Lead Pipe Cruelty • NaNoWriMo • Music Wonkery • Partisan Politics • Perfidy • Perfidy Attacks • Perfidy Responds • That Buck Rogers Stuff • The Miracle of Science • Unmitigated Gall • War • Permalink
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Medi-Jacking: “Retail” Medical Pricing
Competition in the medical system is a Republican plank—the theory being that normal business competition takes place in the medical sector, yielding market forces that optimize across the board. I don’t think that medicine operates the same way as other areas—normal competitive forces require that the buyer have choices and knowledge of those choices, so better decisions can be made.
I recently had some blood tests done as part of a normal checkup—right down at the end of the hall, sir! Weeks later some handy information systems that my insurance company provides give insight into the costing side of the medical equation that I haven’t really had before. I was stunned to see the lab charges.
I wasn’t stunned by the amount that the insurance company had paid on my behalf, which was around $22. I was stunned by the “normal” fee for the service—over $125! In other words, if someone was stupid enough to go to the doctor and pay fee-for-service, they’d get hijacked (or medi-jacked, if you like) for $100 more!
There’s a trend right now for companies to offer their employees medical savings accounts; employees get a pool of money they can use to pay their medical expenses, with some assistance from the company. Leftover money can be rolled over into the next year, and some of it can be kept. The idea is to encourage employees to be smart buyers when it comes to medical expenses, but how can this work if there’s such a huge disparity between what’s charged to the insurance company and what a normal person must pay? With a medical savings account are those deep discounts still available? And for how long?
The biggest problem Republicans have with the current medical system is that there isn’t a liberal in sight they can blame its deficiencies and cruelties on. Republicans continue their efforts to raise simple fear amongst citizens—fear of drug tampering on medicines from other countries, likeâ€¦ooooâ€¦Canada, with its notoriously dangerous drug supply chain. It’s not like medicines in America can be sold to pharmacies by drug distributors dealing from the trunks of their cars. Oh waitâ€¦they can and do. Or it’s the scary ghost of medical futures that might involve the public sector! My god, its full of stars, and they’re fallingâ€¦
There is exactly one reason why Republicans (and Democrats not worthy of their offices) have been so protective of the current dysfunctional medical system in America. They have contributors who benefit enormously from the current system, and that applecart isn’t going to be overturned any time soon.
So smile, citizen, as you pay over twice as much for medical care that doesn’t even get you into the top ten outcomes, world-wide. You bought into it, and now you’re paying for it. And get ready to pay more—much more—if you continue to keep your heads in the sand. I can see the drug companies “researching” a miracle cure now: A drug that will let you keep your head in the sand! Miracles never cease.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Fred gets half
The Fred is doing very well in the online GOP straw poll run by, uh, GOP Straw Polls. As you can see if you follow the link, The Fred has been chosen as first choice by over fifty percent of all respondents. Romney and Guiliani are trailing significantly behind, both in the teens, and the ragged rabble of other GOP candidates languish in the single digits. Naturally, this is a self-selected group, and not a scientific poll like those run by the major news organizations. Nevertheless, that’s a hell of a lot of support from at least one group of people - and a group of people, moreover, that will have a large effect on the campaign if what we saw in 2004 is any indication of the growing importance of blogging on elections.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Fred has Feck
We continue our continuing series, “Meet the candidates”
The number of candidates gunning for the highest office in the land continues to grow. Governor Richardson has tossed his hat in, and there are rumors that even our first android-American candidate, Al Gore, is considering making a go of it as well. Of all the candidates, real and potential, only two interest me. One is Hillary Clinton, and the interest comes from a deep and soul-scarring fear. The other is Fred Thompson.
Over the last couple days, Iâ€™ve been talking with a new good friend, who â€“ thanks to his position deep in the bowels of politics â€“ shall remain unnamed. And weâ€™ve been talking about Fred.
Fred is different than the other candidates. Romney, Guiliani and their ilk are slick, often witty. They are polished, but polished to a particularly political sameness. Thompson feels different. To be sure, that feel is carefully crafted - the result of his experience as an actor and politician. But he has crafted a persona that looks like it is rooted in his actual character, and that character looks interesting. In that, I think, he’s a lot like Reagan - not that he looks or sounds or talks like Reagan - but that he is not trying to look like a “statesman” and as a result actually looks more like a statesman than anyone else on the political scene.
What he looks like is my grandfather - he even has the same cadences in his speech. Iâ€™ve watched two interweb videos of Fred recently. One was his response to Michael Mooreâ€™s debate challenge. Only 38 seconds long, this is a masterful bit of political jujitsu. Fredâ€™s got style, presence, and a good bit of humor; and manages to slam Moore without making an ass of himself â€“ something that most politicians have a very hard time doing. If this is any indication of how effective a Fred campaign would be, then the other candidates have much to be worried about.
I watched another video, an interview he had where he talked about not watching one of the Republican debates. I was struck by how he accurately communicated his ideas without using political catchphrases, tired metaphors - just clear communication laced with his sense of humor. Looks like he alone of the current crop actually absorbed the lessons of Orwellâ€™s “Politics and the English Language.”
Also alone of the candidates, I actually like listening to him. Listening to Bush makes me cringe, has since before he was elected. And that cringing has only gotten worse over the last seven years. Yet I voted for him, if only because the alternative was far worse. Based on what Iâ€™ve seen so far, I think Fred would have no real trouble cleaning up his Republican competition â€“ assuming of course that there are no skeletons hiding in his closets, and that he can put together a well-run campaign and pull in the contributions.
But Bush is the albatross that any Republican candidate will have to deal with in going up against the eventual Democratic candidate. And the albatross in chief has certainly not made it easy for anyone to follow him into the White House. Bushâ€™s stark inability to communicate, well, anything has left the impression that the Iraq war is an unmitigated disaster. It isnâ€™t, though problems and casualties have dominated the public perception since about a month after the libervasion began. Four years of not making a sound public case for the sacrifices of our soldiers is a large obstacle for anyone who wants to become the next Republican president.
As well, Bushâ€™s failures to get anything done on the domestic front will be a similar huge obstacle. For years, Bush had a Republican congress and yet was unable to make any progress on immigration, social security, or any number of other issues. Certainly any Democratic candidate will be able to make hay on that.
Who among the currently announced Republican candidates will be able to overcome a Democrat armed with all the weapons that Bush has inadvertently given them? Even the Republicans have grown weary of the feckless Republican leadership in the White House and the Congress. If Thompson could demonstrate that he has feck, (and his absence from elected office recently might actually help there) he stands a chance at retaining current support and winning over the independents. Independents often vote character more than issues anyway. My liberal mom would have voted McCain, for that reason.
Charisma isn’t everything - but if Fred puts together an efficient campaign, I could easily see him trouncing all comers on the Republican side. And the guy has style. Heâ€™s got charasma. Could he be the second coming of Reagan? I wonder, now. He’s got the instincts, it seems; and he’s got the gravitas - more than Reagan, even. He’s smart not to be jumping in too soon. And more than anyone else, he seems to get how new media (bloggers in particular) can help:
Since the â€˜04 Howard Dean campaign, the Internet has been seen as fertile ground for presidential candidates. But the advent of a possible candidacy by former Senator Fred Thompson could take online politics to a new level. In this exclusive article for Pajamas Media, Thompson reveals a respect for the â€˜net and its importance to democracy that could only come from a true web surfer. If the six-time weekly winner of the PJM Presidential Straw Poll is actually elected President, are we looking at â€¦ the First Blogger?
To PJM and Friends
By Fred Thompson
So, I hear you all have been talking about me.
It seems that I ought to respond, at least briefly, to all those who have expressed confidence in me â€” both here and in other forums. I do not take that confidence lightly.
The Pajamas Media poll is certainly good news, especially when, for a lot of politicians, encouragement to run from three relatives and an unemployed campaign consultant is considered an unstoppable groundswell. When people are saying nice things about me, I try to remember the proverb that compares flattery to a net at your feet. To be sure, the Pajamas poll results are very flattering, so let me return the favor and throw a net at your feet.
â€œSo, I hear you all have been talking about meâ€ Classic â€“ and, if the other videos I linked above, and for that matter his performances in everything from The Hunt for Red October to Law and Order, are indicative then I think heâ€™s a potential winner. If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, the only thing that is going to beat her is the kind of humor and common-sense persona that Reagan deployed to such great effect against Carter. I wonder what the â€œThere he goes againâ€ moment will be in this election.
And I’d dearly love to see him destroy Hillary in a debate. I dig the guy. Barring some horrific revelation about his past, or learning that he favors something I detest, I might actually be voting for someone in 2008. And as my friend said:
Itâ€™s all about the Feck. The f*ing Feck. Fred has Feck.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Speaking of head-hunting
(apropos previous story, below)
As previously covered here, I don’t see the firing of the US Attorneys, itself, as an affair worthy of even 10% of the coverage it’s received over the past several months.
That said, the fact that the Senate is working to craft and pass a “no confidence vote” on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ tenure in his present office strikes me as far less silly than does the World Bank’s dogged (and successful) pursuit of Paul Wolfowitz.
The initial response to the Democrats’ concern over the firing of political appointees for (gasp!) political reasons was completely mishandled. Obfuscation, bluster, and confusion were the order of the day. None of this was required, and instead the response should have been to tell the Democrats to get stuffed, as it is the president’s prerogative to fire any of his appointees, without regard for the sensitivities of Democrats looking to make political hay out of thin air.
However, once the AG’s office acted as though they needed to explain the events, bordering on covering up the facts, it seemed clear that the AG wasn’t qualified to handle his office. Subsequent events haven’t been kind to his position, because each has seemed to provide yet another opportunity for him to demonstrate his cackhandedness in office.
Among those subsequent events, the May 14 resignation of Paul McNulty, Deputy AG, and the testimony on Tuesday, May 15, of James Comey, describing the attempts by Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to get John Ashcroft, then in intensive care, to approve of an administration spying proposal.
Using only NPR as a signpost, have a look at the recent progression of this story:
- May 10, 2007 Despite Furor, Gonzales Likely to Stick Around
- May 11, 2007 Gonzales Gets Gentler Reception in House Visit
- May 14, 2007 Deputy U.S. Attorney General McNulty Resigns
- May 15, 2007 Gonzales: McNulty Played ‘Central’ Role in Firings
Gonzales himself has recently opined that it looked like he’d weathered the storm, even while, in a complete reversal of form for anyone in the Bush administration, he took responsibility for the firings, sort of, -ish.
I continue to believe that nothing wrong was done in the termination of the US Attorneys. Far more important, though, is the focus on how the aftermath-that-shouldn’t-have-been was handled, and Gonzales has repeatedly shown himself to be a tone deaf stumbler during his defense.
Such a set of skills seems ill-suited to the highest levels of the Justice Department, and the Democrats (plus either 6 or 11 Republicans, depending on how you count, so far) seem likely to get their vote of no confidence passed, symbolic as it might be. Better still to hope for Gonzales’ resignation as a result, though, as a friend pointed out to me yesterday, how hard might it be to get confirmation for a replacement?
[AlsÃ¸ wik] Specter indicates that the pressure may be working. For once, I hope Specter is right. He hasn’t been worth much since he created the Wall of Sound, and isn’t even competent to hire a decent combination of chauffeur/murder trial witness.