Tom Tancredo strikes again
June 10, 2008

If this whole thing about Karl Rove getting canned in a church is true, then it is, indeed, hilarious. But the money quote in this whole thing comes buried at the end of T-Rex’s post.

“To do what he did politically to us is unforgivable,” Rep. Tom Tancredo told Alexander. “It will take generations to recover. I don’t know how long; maybe never.”

To paraphrase: What’s truly unforgivable isn’t the corruption, bloodshed and pure insanity that Rove helped to foist upon this country but that he was unsuccessful in making it a permanent fixture of American politics.

Say cheese!
June 9, 2008

The ghost of Jack Abramoff* continues to haunt the corridors of the White House. The Waxmeister, head of the House Oversight Committee, has put out a report conclusively demonstrating the corrupt lobbyist extraordinaire’s involvement in setting White House policy. Among the highlights: “Abramoff was, in essence, human resources manager for the policy arm of the U.S. government on the [Marianaa] islands.”

Also: pics! Not even the desperate de-Facebook tagging of an embarrassed president could keep Waxman off the scent.

And best of all: Abramoff distributes “fruit” to White House staffers. “Fruit” in this case being concert and sports tickets. Abramoff’s logic here being, the more embarrassingly stupid the codeword being used to describe the bribes he handed out to White House staffers, the greater the lengths they would go to in order to cover those bribes up. At least, that’s my theory.

Thank god that this year’s Republican nominee is so incorruptible when it comes to lobbyists.

*Yes, I know he’s not dead. He’s only dead on the inside.

Echoing liberal talking points
June 1, 2008

You know, if I were a Republican shill right now, I would not want to continually point out how much mounting evidence vindicates what liberals have been saying for years. I guess there’s something to the idea that you can refute any argument by calling it “liberal talking points” and some people will reflexively respond “OH NO DAILY KKKOS SCARYBAD.” But how many mentally stable adults actually think like that?

Hypothetically, what would Steve Hayes do if George W. Bush tearfully confessed to all of the allegations about manufacturing a war with Iraq? I guess he’d say that reality was just mindlessly parroting liberal talking points.

The Scott we know and love
May 31, 2008

With Scott McClellan making the rounds with his book and trying desperately to repair his thoroughly obliterated credibility, now seems as good as ever to revisit some of his greatest hits as press secretary. Ben Craw, you’re up.

I guess now we know where that deer-in-headlights look came from and why it was so entertaining. It turns out that McClellan’s obvious discomfort on the podium was only mostly due to incompetence. The other big problem for him as press secretary was that he had a soul.

Does that make me feel a little guilty about the schadenfreude I got from watch his press conferences? No, not particularly – if he’s writing a tell-all now, that means that he knew how fucked-up everything going on around him was, and just rolled with it until they finally threw him under the bus. Just because he’s got a little bit of a conscience doesn’t mean he’s not a spineless toady. All that this shows is that he’s at least capable of feeling shame. An improvement over Ari Fleischer, Tony Snow and Dana Perino? Certainly. But if he’s capable of shame, then I hope he’s feeling quite a bit of it right now.

Pennsylvania Primary Day!
April 22, 2008

I totally forgot that was today until this morning’s newspaper kindly reminded me, giving me a strange mixture of relief and nausea. Relief, because it’s one more state I’m not going to have to read about for a solid month before their primary, and nausea because the Pennsylvania Primary is kind of like a bad hangover the morning after primary season would normally have ended. The whole “bitter” mess didn’t do a whole lot to detract from that perception.

In that spirit, here are two news items that you’re going to hear absolutely nothing about today:

The Bush administration has been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to manipulate the American media for years. The DC press corp, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to give a shit.

Speaking of hangovers, Guantanamo detainees are alleging that they were drugged as part of their interrogation. I’m torn here – disgusting intrusion on their human rights, small step up from being waterboarded, or both?*

Check out the special cameo in that article!

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of “mind-altering substances” on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or “profound” psychological damage. U.S. law “does not preclude any and all use of drugs,” Yoo wrote in the memo. He declined to comment for this article.

Well that’s okay. Maybe the Pentagon has another marionette WaPo could interview about this.

*Unless they were being drugged and waterboarded, which is likely. But think about how depressing it is that when this news broke, a reasonable reaction was, “Well, it’s not quite as bad as some of the other shit they’ve been doing over there.”

Cheney’s the cigarette smoking man!
April 18, 2008

It’s tempting to say that the White House’s lack of any sort of comprehensive plan for combating terrorism in Pakistan has something to do with the fact that instead of fighting terrorism where it actually exists, America decided to distract itself by inventing a terrorism crisis in a country (Iraq) where it previously hadn’t been a problem. Tempting, but probably inaccurate. Because if there’s one constant in the Bush administration’s foreign policy, it’s their inability to come up with a comprehensive plan for anything.

Did anyone else used to really love The X-Files? That show basically defined my late-elementary school and middle school years. Remember watching that show through its first half and being amazed at how meticulously well-constructed the show’s mythology was? Remember watching the second half and thinking, “Wait a minute, what the hell? They’re just making this shit up as they go along. And there’s no way this is going to get wrapped up in any coherent way.”

The Bush administration is the second half of The X-Files. Not only because everything sucks all of a sudden, and there’s clearly no actual rhyme or reason, but also because its existence validates a lot of that post-Watergate anti-government paranoia that used to get relegated to late-night talk radio.

Yoo don’t know shit
April 2, 2008

Kevin Drum on the recently declassified torture memo:

Basically, it says that criminal law doesn’t prohibit torture because it doesn’t apply to the military. Treaties don’t prohibit torture because they only apply to uniformed enemy soldiers. Ditto for the War Crimes Act. And federal statutes prohibiting torture don’t prohibit torture because they don’t apply to conduct on military bases.

I’ve got to hand it to Yoo, this does get pretty clever. There are some many legal prohibitions on torture worked into US federal law, the US Constitution and international law that you would need to be an Olympic-level mental gymnast in order to figure out any way to argue that somehow what the United States has been doing to enemy combatants is a-okay. Fortunately, the White House was blessed with John Yoo, esquire, who appears to have had the perfect solution: The presidency is magic!

Basically, the president can authorize any action at all as commander-in-chief in wartime. Congress can’t bind him, treaties can’t bind him, and the courts can’t bind him. The scope of power the memos suggest is, almost literally, absolute.

Nothing that we didn’t already know about the legal theory of the unitary executive (which is a real legal theory in the same way that phrenology is a real medical theory). But it bears repeating: the very existence of this memo is evidence of the Bush administration’s pathological aversion to separation of powers, civil liberties, the rule of law and pretty much everything that a functioning democracy is supposed to be built on.

GOP surrenders to terrorists
April 1, 2008

So let me get this straight. After all of the agonizing and fainting fits from the Republican Party about how even the slightest break away from their plans to further shred civilian privacy would plunge us all into mortal danger, now they’re ready to deal?

Weaklings! Cowards! Terrorist sympathizers! We don’t negotiate! We ram legislation through Congress with our powerful, all-American biceps!

Let this be a lesson to Democrats. If you have the temerity to fight House Republicans on national security, you’ll they’ll respond with a swift, brutal … meek suggestion that you guys sit down and try to work something out.

Of course, if recent history pans out, the Democratic idea of a compromise is probably going to be something along the lines of, “Let’s just pass your version of the bill but rearrange some commas so we can tell our base that we did what we promised.”

Dun. Dun. Dun. Another one bites the dust.
March 31, 2008

Jesus, being a Bush administration cabinet member gives you all the longevity of the slutty one in a teen slasher film. Just ask O’Neill, Ridge, Ashcroft, Powell, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Gonzalez and the dude from Scanners.

Yikes.

All in the game
March 26, 2008

In a New York Times op-ed today, Neal Gabler has an interesting explanation about why the press lusts after McCain so much.

What makes 2008 different — and why I think Mr. McCain can be called the first postmodernist presidential candidate — is his acknowledgment of the symbiosis between himself and the press and, more important, his willingness, even eagerness, to let the press in on his own machinations of them. On the bus, Mr. McCain openly talks about his press gambits. According to Mr. Lizza, Mr. McCain proudly brandished an index card with a “gotcha” quote from Mitt Romney that the senator had given Tim Russert of “Meet the Press,” a journalist few would expect to need help in finding candidates’ gaffes. In exposing his two-way relationship with the press this way, he reveals the absurdity of the political process as a big game. He also reveals his own gleeful cynicism about it.

This sort of disdain might be called a liberal view, if not politically then culturally. The notion that our system (in fact, life itself) is faintly imbecilic is a staple of “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “Real Time With Bill Maher” and other liberal exemplars, though they, of course, implicate the press in the idiocy.

The other big difference between McCain and political satirists is that they work with opposite intentions. Good satirists highlight absurdity not just to make people laugh but to also get to the truth, something that they care very deeply about. McCain, on the other hand, deliberately obfuscates but realizes he can get away with it by openly sharing his contempt for reality with the press corps. What McCain seems to share with various media bigwigs such as Tim Russert is this conviction that politics is a sport put together for their amusement and personal advancement, and fucking around with truth doesn’t have a whole lot of real-world consequences. Of course, if that were true, we wouldn’t be at war right now, would we?

As Gabler acknowledges, this isn’t the one key to unlocking the whole McCain-press circle jerk. But it’s a big factor, and one indicative of the larger problems we have with the fucked up attitude that the people who Atrios calls Villagers have towards the democratic process.

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