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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fireworks 

With the July 4 weekend fast approaching, I'm wondering if anyone else shares my utter and complete disinterest in fireworks displays. I don't really get the appeal, yet fireworks displays seem to mesmerize most people in a way that turns usually discriminating adults into something resembling a toddler staring up at a mobile from his or her crib. "Look at the perty colors." I simply don't get it.

Not that I have a problem with pyrotechnic displays or disdain individuals who enjoy such displays (well, at least not a big problem with it). Merely, I just don't understand. Anyone with me? Against me? Neutral?
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

End of World Upon Us 

This was recently written by a well-known and respected writer on a well-known and respected web site and was not intended as a joke:
[T]he Bengals have depth and success at the quarterback position.
However, the number of writers picking the Bengals as a sleeper is making me very nervous. In fact, this sort of press is the last thing the Bengals players need to hear. I'm predicting a 5-11 record. I hope I'm wrong.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Please Don't Level With Us (plus a preview of exciting news) 

I did not see Bush's speech, as I am stuck at work. However, I am tired of liberals demanding that Bush "level" with us about Iraq, and by "leveling" with us, they always seem to mean that the President should tell us how terribly everything is going.

I'm sorry, but this is just dumb. I agree that Bush should call for more sacrifice on behalf of the American people. I agree that Bush should absolutely stop making continued references to September 11 in speeches about Iraq - history will not look kindly on this. I agree that Bush should clearly explain why it is important that we stay in Iraq. However, I do not think it would be good for our soldiers there or for our image abroad if the President suddenly said, "we are really, really fucked in Iraq. We are getting our asses kicked. There is no hope. Have a nice day soldiers and families of soldiers!"

I'm sure a lot of people criticized this as a "pep rally," and to the extent that it was a GOP-love fest they are correct. But to the extent the President is trying to rally soldiers and people around the cause of winning in Iraq, then it's a good thing since we're there and we have to win, whatever winning entails. Of course, since this is an address to the American people, and since Bush has requested nothing of the American people (except the military) in the War on Terror other than continued shopping, budget deficits and tax cuts, it's not entirely clear what he is rallying the American people to do.


In other exciting news, I would not be surprised to see the Guthrie portion of Goldberg and Guthrie issue an official endorsement for the 2008 primaries in the next week or so. I know this doesn't make that much sense, but I think it might, and I think the answer might surprise some of you. (Or maybe it's someone you expect and I'm just telling you that I'll surprise you so you'll, in fact, be surprised.) Stay tuned.
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Monday, June 27, 2005

Batman Begins Sucking Only Slightly Less Than Before 

WARNING, POST FULL OF BATMAN BEGINS SPOILERS

After positive reviews, including one from my co-blogger, I was more than a little excited to see Batman Begins. I haven't been as disappointed and frustrated by a movie since, well, Batman Forever. To be sure, this movie was not as bad as Batman Forever, and neither was as bad as the abomination and permanent stain on humanity that was Batman and Robin, but given Nolan's involvement, the excellent cast, the positive "buzz" and the word that this was a return to a darker, more realistic Batman, I have to say this movie was nearly as disappointing as the Schumacher debacles.

I loved Tim Burton's first Batman. I enjoyed the classic Batman comics of the late 1980s and early 1990s - including A Death in the Family, The Killing Joke, Batman: Year One (which should have been this movie) and, of course, The Dark Knight Returns. So, to be fair, I may have a specific version of what I think Batman should be in my head, and it may be that a movie that doesn't match that will fail. Having said that, I have the following complaints:

(1) There are too many villains. God fucking damn it, this annoys this shit out of me. Why can't there be one villain who is attempting to commit a crime or a series of crimes? Then the movie could focus on two characters - Batman, and said villain. They could fight for two hours, it could be cool, Batman could stare darkly at something, have a flashback or two about his parents' death, stop the villain from committing the crime, save Gotham and we could all go home and talk about how dark it was. There are at least three villains in the movie - the crime lord (played well by Tom Wilkinson), Scarecrow (totally wasted - why do they always turn the best villains into henchmen?) and Raz a Gobba Doo Wad or whatever his name was (played by Liam Neeson).

(2) Despite the clear attempt to return to a more "realistic" Batman, the movie's main villain (Raz a Fondu or whatever) still had a ludicrous and totally pointless plan to "destroy Gotham." I don't particularly care if a comic book movie is realistic as long as it's interesting. This was just another lunatic trying to destroy a city by putting poison in the water supply. Simply adding a few lines about how they are crime fighters and changing the poison to fear gas made from a blue flower found in Asia doesn't change the fact that this was the exact plot of the first Batman movie - except that in that movie we were able to witness the Joker's slow descent into insanity and could sort of understand where he was coming from.

(3) Batman clearly killed a bunch of people. This might have annoyed me the most. I always thought one of the coolest things about Batman was his refusal to kill anyone - a code of honor that he follows in the comics to an almost insane degree - most notably in his refusal to kill the Joker even after the Joker killed Robin. Of course, there are versions of Batman where he doesn't have qualms about killing people - and that's fine. You could still tell a good story. (I'm not sure, but I believe Batman killed people in the first Tim Burton movie.) Also, if you are planning a series of movies, you could have some event in one of the later movies trigger a promise never to kill. But the Batman in this movie said numerous times that he was not going to kill people; starting, I think, after he almost shot the guy who killed his parents. But if you're going to set this up, you can't have Batman blowing up a house on a mountain with 100 people in it and only trying to save one person. You can't have Batman racing his car through the city and causing cop cars to flip over and blow up. I know Alfred said something about nobody being killed, but that didn't really fit in visually with what I'd just seen on the screen. Batman has to be extra clever and resourceful when he fights crime due to his solemn oath not to take life; too bad the lazy makers of this movie couldn't do the same.

Then, in the end, Batman says to Ra Fiddy Doo Doo (or whatever) that "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you." The shit? I would say that a promise not to kill people does, in fact, entail a promise to act when you can easily prevent someone from being killed, even if that someone is a sworn enemy. In fact, that is exactly what the Batman of the comics does time and time again. But the writers and artists behind the comics obviously take their character more seriously, and make him either keep his promise or deal with consequences when he does not.

(4) The fight scenes were just terrible. I mean, hold the god damn camera still so we can see the fight. Please.

(5) This might grow on me if I were to see it again, but I don't think it's necessary to spend 10% of the movie explaining where Batman's gadgets come from. I mean, if you have to do it, you may as well have Morgan Freeman explaining them. But I always just sort of assumed that Bruce Wayne used his money to acquire the latest in crime-fighting gear, and not having this explained to me never really interfered with my enjoyment of a good Batman story.

(6) It's really quite a coincidence that the first thing Bruce Wayne/Batman does after he puts on the suit is bust up a drug shipment that just happens to be connected to an evil plan being perpetrated by the very league of shadows he just tried to destroy. I would have liked to have seen Batman break up a few street crimes/violent crimes and then become involved in taking down drug shipments. I don't really understand why the public already has opinions on Batman when all he does is stop some cocaine from coming into Gotham - like, why does the kid say "Batman will save us" when all Batman has really done is beat up some drug dealers. Wouldn't people assume or at least think that he just worked for a rival gang? It's hard for me to explain, but there was just something weird and "off" about all of this.

(7) That little kid was really annoying and profoundly unnecessary.

(8) Katie Holmes was really annoying and profoundly unnecessary.

(9) The killer of Batman's parents was revealed. This is something that also bothered me about the Burton version, and it's really a matter of personal taste. In the comics (or, in the comics I was reading), Bruce Wayne's parents are killed by an unknown mugger. It's just a random street crime. Batman's obsession is created by the desire for revenge coupled with the knowledge that he will never have revenge. I like the idea that every time Batman punches a villain, at some level he thinks he might be punching the guy who killed his parents. This movie sort of ruins that - and goes a step further by making their death a result of their continued quest to save Gotham.


I actually thought the first hour or so was really good, and I also thought Michael Caine was perfect as Alfred. Garry Oldman was decent as well. I was sad to see the whole thing sort of devolve into a boring, stupid, "now if you'll excuse me, I have a city to destroy", Schumacher-like mess.

As for calling this one of, if not the, best comic book movies ever, I mean, this might be another of those issues (like the Flag Burning amendment) that I just can't debate. Just off the top of my head it's clear that Superman, Superman II, Spiderman, Spiderman II, Batman, Batman Returns and X2: X-Men United are all vastly superior.

I wrote a little too much about this, didn't I?
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Batman 

I'm sick of politics, so here's a movie post. Go see Batman. It was awesome. Maybe the best superhero/comic book movie I've ever seen. Plus, there are shots of the buildings that both Guth and I work in.
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Flag Burning 

It looks like it might pass.

Oh, and a Congressman said this:
“Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center,” said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif. “Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment.”
Congratulations, Republicans. You must be very proud to have this patriot in your party.

Also, the minute this amendment passes is the minute the American Flag ceases to have any meaning to me. It will stop being a symbol of anything special or important and will instead become a piece of cloth.

As I have said before, this isn't an issue that can be debated. I think everyone understands the issue. And if you support this amendment, you just don't get it, and there's no point in discussing it with you. You don't appreciate the freedom that thousands have died to protect. I don't so much disagree with you as I feel sorry for you. Not as sorry as I feel for our country, though.
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A Nomination for the Distinguished Service Cross 

I hereby nominate Lt. William Calley for the Distinguished Service Cross, as what he did was not something you'd expect to see in Pol Pot's Cambodia, or Stalin's Russia, or Hitler's Germany, but in the United States of America. Hugh Thompson, Jr. should be tarred and feathered for not supporting the troops.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More on Durbin 

Well, this apology he gave is truly upsetting to me. I don't remember feeling this upset about politics since the election, and before that, when Abu Ghraib first was exposed. Now, I don't usually waste time on this blog talking about right-wing idiotic arguments. Pandagon and World O'Crap and Sadly No! are where to go for that stuff. But, read the following from Andrew Sullivan's blog:
Here's another point aginst my argument:
"A soldier sat in his barracks, shining his shoes. So go ahead: answer his implied question. If you had been told that soldiers had been found in this state in one of Saddam's or Stalin's barracks, would you have believed it? Of course, you would." This is the fundamental problem with Durbin's analogy. The are many things that are "encompassed" in the behavior of those regimes. However, we remember those regimes for the worst of their behavior not the behavior slightly below the median. You know this, dude. Don't play dumb.
I'm not playing dumb. Shining shoes is not the same thing as treating prisoners as animals. It's not the same thing as smearing them with fake menstrual blood, or tying someone to the ceiling (as in Afghanistan) and beating their legs to a pulp while they scream for mercy until they die. It's not the same thing as an emailed memo from a military intelligence officer in 2003, saying: "The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken."
I think Sully's words speak for themselves, and I endorse them. But, what does this emailer really thing? That we can't differentiate between morally neutral actions that all people do and morally reprehensible actions that morally reprehensible people and societies do? Did you know that Stalin ate 3 square a day? He did! Therefore, we better not. Did you know that Hitler liked wearing flip-flops? He did! Therefore, we better throw out our rainbows! Seriously, that individual is a moral idiot.

Now, all societies have people who do bad things. American soldiers have committed atrocities in all wars, including World War II and including this one. However, only now are these atrocities held up by a certain segment of our population as the RIGHT way to wage war and the right way to act as a society. Only now do we see part of our country saying "Yes, that's the America I know and love" instead of, as Dick Durbin once had the courage to say, "No, that sounds more like something out of Pol Pot's Cambodia than the United States of America. The sounds more like something out of Stalin's Russia than the United States of America."

At least last year the wingers were saying this was just a "few bad apples" and not defending the entire system of abuse. Not anymore.
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Durbin 

Apparently, he just apologized, tearfully, on the Senate floor. I've not seen any news reports of it, yet, but this is one of the more disheartening things I've seen in a while. [UPDATE: yahoo story here] He was right. He shouldn't have apologized. See the Star-Tribune, via Atrios:
The comments that were criticized came late in a long, thoughtful speech on the Senate floor in which Durbin reflected on the United States' obligation to be better than reprehensible regimes of the past. He talked at some length about mistakes American presidents made in previous wars (repealing habeas corpus during the Civil War, interning Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, taking over the steel industry during the Korean War), and he urged President Bush to recognize and rectify his mistake in prisoner treatment during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Durbin's entire speech is too long to reprint, but lengthy excerpts can be found on the page opposite.

Durbin was spot on in his assessment of Guantanamo. That's why he was so roundly attacked. He told the truth. And his message is of vital importance; the United States is better than this.

The issue of whether Durbin's rhetoric crossed a line is small potatoes compared with the undeniable truth that American treatment of its prisoners has crossed many, many lines -- of morality, of international law, of practical benefit.

But instead of discussing what goes on at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other prison camps, the right would prefer to get into a senseless argument about whether "we" are better than the Nazis or Saddam Hussein or the Soviets or Pol Pot or whomever a critic of Guantanamo might raise as a comparison. It's a tactic the group running Washington now has used again and again: They're quite deliberately changing the subject -- from Guantanamo to words spoken on the Senate floor.

It's not too late, as Durbin said of Bush in his speech: The senator should stop apologizing and keep up the criticism of the hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo. He has no reason to be defensive; he's telling the truth. It's a truth Americans need to hear, and its tellers must resist intimidation.
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Jesse Jackson, Jr., I am ready to vote for you 

I've always thought that with our mayor, the good outweighed the bad, at least enough for me to not really care if he isn't ever held accountable for anything. Not anymore:
CHICAGO Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says Senator Dick Durbin should apologize for comments comparing American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis.

Daley says Durbin -- a fellow Democrat -- is a good friend. But he says it's wrong to evoke comparisons to the horrors of the Holocaust or the millions of people killed in Russia under Stalin or in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

And Daley says it's a disgrace to accuse military men and women of such conduct.

Last Friday, Durbin said he regretted any misunderstandings caused by his comments earlier in the week.

He made the comparison after reading an F-B-I agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.
As Israeli historian Avi Schlaim has said, "The issue isn't whether or not we are the same as the Nazis, the issue is that we aren't different enough." See Andrew Sullivan for more sanity on this issue. And Mayor Daley? I'm ready to support Jesse Jr. when he runs against you.
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Monday, June 20, 2005

O'Reilly on Coerced Confessions 

Well, this just happened.

Tired of the spin I was getting from mainstream newscasts, I decided to flip to The O'Reilly Factor during commercials on The Daily Show. During the first segment, O'Reilly was "interviewing" a guest about Durbin's comments - when I say "interview", I of course mean that O'Reilly was ranting and raving about how Durbin's comments hurt America's image abroad and endanger our troops.

When I flipped back, O'Reilly was doing an interview with Judge Napolitano about the murder in Aruba. It was actually a fairly rational discussion about criminal procedure under the Aruban system, and differences between that system and our system. Now, I may have accidentally switched back to The Daily Show, but I'm pretty sure the following exchange took place (paraphrased by me, of course, until I can find a transcript):
O'Reilly: Now, tell me... how long can they detain these suspects for?

Judge: Well, now, they can detain them a long time without filing charges, and that's something that's not just different than America, it's anti-American.

O'Reilly: Why do they do that?

Judge: That's how they do it in many European countries. They do it to break them down. Sure, they have a right to remain silent, but if they're in jail long enough, they'll eventually just tell the police what they think they want to here.

O'Reilly: But that confession would be coereced!

Judge: We'll see.
Yeah, convicting people on the basis of confessions that are coerced is pretty bad, something we'd expect to be "done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings."
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People = Terrible 

So, I haven't blogged much, if at all, during the past month. I apologize to our loyal readers, but I haven't had anything to say as politics just sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

Take this article about the anti-gay marriage movement in the New York Times. It ends with this little vignette:
When I met Polyak [a pro gay marriage activist], she told me how, when she first testified before a legislative committee, an anti-gay-marriage activist, a woman, confronted her with bitter language, asking her why she was ''doing this'' to the woman's children and grandchildren. Polyak said the encounter left her shaken. A few days later, as I sat in [anti gay-marriage crazy person] Evalena Gray's Christmas-lighted basement office, she told me a story of how during the same testimony she approached a blond lesbian and talked to her about the effect that gay marriage would have on her grandchildren. ''Then I hugged her neck,'' she said, ''and I said, 'We love you.' I was kind of consoling her to some extent, out of compassion.''

I realized I was hearing about the same encounter from both sides. What was expressed as love was received as something close to hate. That's a hard gap to bridge.
That's right, the problem is that both sides don't understand each other. Oh, except that's not the problem at all. The problem exists only on one side of the "debate," and the problem is that all people on that side of the debate are fucking morons. They hate people who are different than them and they view gay marriage the same way a racist white family views a black family moving into their neighborhood - as a threat to their way of life.

Also, fuck the New York Times for presenting this story in this way. A crazy person walks up to a gay person on the other side of a debate, tells them that by gaily loving their partner in a public way they are hurting America's children and then grabs their neck and says "I love you." The only gap that needs to be bridged here is the gap that divides the normal, sane world and abnormal, insane Evalena Gray.

Earlier in the piece, one of our anti-gay activist friends says this:
Not long after this period in which she came to feel a new sense of purpose, Laura read about the pro-gay-marriage action in Massachusetts, and she found herself e-mailing news articles about it to friends. She looked at the development not as an effort by members of a minority to win rights that others have long enjoyed but as an attack on society's most basic institution by forces bent on creating an amoral, anything-goes culture. ''The gay activists are trying to redefine what marriage has been basically since the beginning of time and on every continent,'' she said. ''My concern is for the children -- for the future.''

She believed that what happened in Massachusetts could happen in Maryland. ''My first reaction was frustration,'' she said, ''knowing that this is a legislative issue and the court in Massachusetts had overstepped their bounds.'' Laura had never been an activist before, but now she wanted to get involved, so she contacted the national headquarters of the Family Research Council, and they put her in touch with a local group called the Family Protection Lobby, which has monitored state legislation from a conservative Christian perspective since 1980. She talked with Doug Stiegler, a retired plumbing contractor turned Christian missionary, who has been head of the Family Protection Lobby since 1993. Stiegler began to initiate her into the ways of the state government.
Seriously, you have to be dumber than fucking dirt to believe this shit. You live in this world, with all of its problems, and the first thing that makes you want to get involved with politics is that fact that some gay people are getting married in Massachusetts? What in the name of holy fuck is wrong with people?

Well, that's how I feel anyway, and I can't see why anyone would want to read such rants, apart from their comedic value. Despite reader RD's comment of a month or so ago, I don't think I pepper my posts on this blog with the self-loathing that is the basis of most of my humor (in "real" life) and was the basis for most of the artistic endeavors I engaged in back in "the day". Because who wants to read that shit, you know? Not me, for one. And sometimes I just get disgusted with the political debates of the day, and that disgust perhaps borders on rage. While I actually think this is healthy it makes for boring blogging and it's pretty self-indulgent. (One thing I always hate is when art becomes therapy. I guess the same can be said of political blogging.) Also, I'm lazy as shit. But in this case, I actually typed several posts but ended up deleting them because they didn't make sense and I don't know what to say.

Also, I know it's wrong to feel this way about people. And it doesn't make any political sense. I incomparably close by citing the Daily Howler.
Howard Dean just "hates" Republicans. Dr. King always asserted the dignity of Sheriff Bull Connor. And one more thing - Dr. King won.
That's a powerful, complicated point. And of course the Daily Howler is right, and I say this as one of Howard Dean's biggest fans.
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Friday, June 17, 2005

Unpretentious? Or Idiotic? 

From The Plain Dealer:
Unpretentious:

Former Tribe third baseman Travis Fryman called the Indians ticket office recently and purchased 50 tickets so his Mount Olive church group from Pensacola, Fla., could attend a game at Jacobs Field this homestand.

Fryman could have reached out to the PR department and had the club pick up the tab. That Fryman paid his own way didn't surprise anyone in the organization.

When he retired, Fryman returned his guaranteed $625,000 buyout to the Indians.
I mean, yeah, it's nice he paid for the tickets, but why the hell would he return $625,000 to the club. If I were his agent I'd have smacked him.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

You and Whose Army? (Ghost Horses) 

Over at the newly minted TMP Cafe, someone who goes by name "The Duke" wrote the following piece of shit:
Public opinion is mounting against Bush's Iraq policy, and some Administration critics are calling for outright withdrawal. Before Bush critics rush for the exits, we should recall that what is happening in Iraq today is exactly the outcome we predicted for a hasty invasion with shallow international support and fuzzy objectives. Is a hasty withdrawal with shallow international support and fuzzy objectives any more likely to be in America's national security interest? Of course not.

The Duke argued before the war that the United States should build a strong international coalition with clearly defined objectives and the resources necessary to achieve them. That's still the right approach. But Democrats are beginning to sound a lot like Trent Lott and Tom Delay criticizing Clinton's policy in the Balkans, driven more by politics than by our national interest.

Our national interest lies with the Iraqi leaders who are now struggling to write a constitution. Tom Friedman offers a note of caution:
Maybe it is too late, but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground and redouble the diplomatic effort to bring in those Sunnis who want to be part of the process and fight to the death those who don't.
Doubling American boots on the ground might be political suicide now, but a stronger coalition force would help stabilize a fragile situation and make Americans on the ground safer.

The great tragedy of Bush's Iraq policy is that he squandered America's willingness to sacrifice too early in the game. By failing to work with our allies as true partners (as Clinton did in the Balkans, and as Bush I did in 1990-91), our allies don't "own" the problem and they and finding it easier to walk away. The result is that Americans are paying most of the price, and it shows in the polls. My hope is that it is not too late to build support at home and abroad for a long-term solution that honors the lives already lost.
Idiocy of this magnitude required a response, so I wrote the following as a comment over at that site: Double the boots on the ground? With what army?!!?! Good God, you read too much Friedman and listen to too much Biden. Your generalities are well and good ("clearly defined objectives" and whatnot), but (a) your objectives are, well, ill-defined ("stabilize a fragile situation"? how? by turning the rest of Iraq into Fallujah?) and (b) as stated above, we don't have 10 more divisions to send to Iraq. They don't exist. You want a draft, then advocate for one. Otherwise, please blame those who put us in this situation and not Democrats who have the gall to criticize the Iraq War.
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Thank God for Bob Sommerby 

Today's Howler goes ballistic over the WaPo's idiocy in claiming that the Downing Street Memo(s) are old news. The editorial in question states, basically that, well, they really did think there were WMDs. Of course, that's not the point. The point is that there were asinine claims about aluminum tubes, nuclear weapons and unmanned arial vehicles that were not supported by intelligence, yet were hyped by the Administration anyway. And, as you'll see below, we need Democrats to make this point--yet they seem unable to do so. Why? Sommerby:
ONE MORE PATHETIC POINT: Let’s note one more pathetic point from the material quoted above. Did "U.S. and British intelligence agencies genuinely believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction?" The record suggests that they more-or-less did, although the Admin exaggerated their state of certainty. (Much more on that all next week.) But that is not what is really at stake when we say Bush "fixed" the intel. What kind of "fixing" is really at issue? In August 2002, the Bush Admin began making wild, scary claims about Saddam’s nuclear program; these claims went well beyond the state of the intel, and constitute the most important "fixing" of same (again, much more next week). When informed critics say that Bush and Cheney and Rice fixed the intel, they refer to specific claims like these—to Rice’s claim that those aluminum tubes could only be used for nuclear weapons, for example. In these claims, the Bush Admion went well beyond the state of the intel. And of course, their claims were just wrong. There’s a simple word for what Bush and Rice did; simply put, Rice was just lying.

Yes, that is what informed critics mean when they say Bush fixed the intel. Sadly, trhough, the people who run our Dem/liberal firmament are rarely this well-informed. Over and over, leading liberals go on TV and offer the silly "but Bush said there were WMD" argument. This is an automatic loser, as Howard Dean showed on Meet the Press last month in this laughable, hopeless exchange:
DEAN (5/22/05): Some of the things that the president said on our way into Iraq, they just weren't true, and I don't think that's right. So—

RUSSERT: Such as?

DEAN: Such as the weapons of mass destruction, which we have all known about, but the—

RUSSERT: Well, you said there were weapons of mass destruction!

DEAN: I said I wasn't sure, but I said I thought there probably were.
Hopeless! Dean himself had said there were WMD ("probably"), and he looked silly when Russert called him on it. Indeed, many major Dems, including Bill Clinton and Al Gore, had said there were WMD; most leading figures did seem to believe this. But neither Dean, nor anyone else, made those fake, phony claims about Saddam’s nukes—the claims which drive the debate from August 02 through the fall (much more on these claims next week). Sadly, though, today’s Dems and liberals are simply too stupid to organize even the simplest points. They’ve been slaughtered this way on TV for years—and that’s why the Post can offer this cheap escape now. You might want to recall this ineptitude when you get more brilliant messaging from your inspired liberal leaders.
What if Dean would have said, "well, I thought they had chemical weapons, probably, but Bush and Co. were running around scaring the pants off everyone by making shit up UAVs and aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs. And that's why the American people, at the time, more-or-less supported the war--because Bush lied and said Saddam was a direct threat to the American people"? Would that be so hard to say?
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Corruption Roundup 

I'm quite busy at work and I've also come down with a low-grade fever and other flu-like symptoms (in June? wtf?), but here are links to three stories of what certainly seem to be simply abject corruption on the part Republicans:
  1. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham sells his home to a defense contractor for $1.675M; Said defense contractor flips the house for...$975,000. The Duke makes out with $700k. Josh Marshall has been all over this. Read his site for much more info.
  2. Ted Stevens, Republican senator from Alaska, invests $50,000 with a developer in 1997. Last year, Stevens is bought out for $872,000. During this time period, Stevens helped the developer land a $450M deal to build housing on an Air Force base. Kevin Drum has the info and further links.
  3. The AP reports that a "former White House official and one-time oil industry lobbyist whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said Tuesday." Again, from Kevin Drum, we have the timeline, which is basically (1) Exxon Mobil lobbies against Kyoto; (2) Philip Cooney, a White House official, edits a government report "in ways that play down links between [greenhouse gas] emissions and global warming"; (3) Cooney resigns from the White House; (4) Cooney returns to work for Exxon Mobil.

The moral values of the GOP, for all to see. Plain as day.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

I have a list. I have a list of 12 people... 

No, I don't, actually, have such a list. But, apparently there are 12 Senators who refused to sign on the anti-lynching law resolution (basically, an official apology for not passing such a law decades ago). Besides the fact that Bush's judicial appointments believe such a law would be unconstitutional, this is asinine, and John at Americablog is right--we should have that list, and we should be able to wave it around like Joe McCarthy*:
Over a dozen US Senators refuse to sign on to anti-lynching resolution
by John in DC - 6/13/2005 06:57:00 PM

I just heard this on ABC News. They're apparently holding the vote late tonight so they won't have to have a real roll-call vote (i.e., individual Senators won't have to vote up or down). The reason? So they can hide the 12 or so Senators who apparently think it's bad politics back home to sign onto a resolution that apologizes for not passing anti-lynching legislation sooner. Apparently, southern Senators fillibustered efforts to pass such legislation for years.

I don't care if they're Democrats or Republicans, I want to know who isn't supporting this legislation. We have a right to know, and to know why anybody in either party would permit the basically-secret vote to take place this evening in order to his who these bigots really are.
I'm sure the anonymous commenter in the post below would tell us these 12 are probably Democrats, but I'd be willing to bet all 12 are Republicans (and if not, they better get the fuck out of my party).


*of course, Joe's list was bullshit and his issue was fundamentally unamerican.

UPDATE: Kos:
Here are the 20 Senators who 1) refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution passed yesterday, and 2) refused a roll-call vote so they'd have to put their name on the resolution.
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
19 Republicans and 1 Democrat, a real wall of shame
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Friday, June 10, 2005

Jesse Helms--dinosaur, or part and parcel of today's GOP? 

Ok, ok. We here at G&G world HQ have been getting a lot of nasty calls and emails telling us that, well, maybe Jesse Helms is a racist, bigoted bastard, but he's no longer apart of today's mainstream GOP. Like clockwork, we're hearing that it was the Democratic Party that filibustered the Civil Rights Act, that racists like Pat Buchanan have been expelled from the GOP and, hey, Robert Byrd was in the KKK.

So, let's see...are Jesse Helms's virulently racist views an integral part of today's GOP or not? In many ways, asking the questions answers it, but let's look at it a bit further.

Do you know who Tony Perkins is? Not the guy who played the pyscho in Psycho, but this guy. So, he runs one of the most influential interest groups within the GOP's tent (the Family Research Council is the lobbying arm of James Dobson's Focus on the Family). Is he a racist? Oh, good lord yes. Americablog has the details, quoting a piece in The Nation:
Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.
Ok, but now I haven't even finished this post and I'm already getting complaints telling me that this Perkins guy isn't even an elected official. He's not, but he's actually more important than that: he's the guy who, when he says jump, gets Bill Frist to say "how high?" From that same Nation article:
In the wake of his defeat, with Dobson's blessing, Perkins moved to Washington to head the Family Research Council. In a closed meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York City during the Republican National Convention in August 2004, an alliance drawing in Frist was sealed. Perkins's associates at the CNP presented the Senate majority leader with its "Thomas Jefferson Award." The grateful Frist declared, "The destiny of the nation is on the shoulders of the conservative movement."
And, just for fun, here's a nice picture of David Duke-supporting racist Tony Perkins and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TennColorado Springs):

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Jesse Helms 

Racist:
Helms is steadfast, though, about his views on race. He was one of North Carolina's leading voices of segregation as a TV commentator in Raleigh in the 1960s. He opposed nearly every civil rights bill while in the Senate and often made black political leaders the focus of his campaigns.

Unlike other prominent segregationists of the era, such as Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Helms has never said his views on race were wrong. And he has never said that segregation was wrong.

Instead, he suggests in the book that he favored voluntary racial integration that would have come about without pressure from the federal government, or from civil rights protests -- which he said only sharpened racial antagonisms.

"I did not advocate segregation, and I did not advocate aggravation," Helms writes. "By that I mean that I thought it was wrong for people who did not know, and who did not care, about the relationships between neighbors and friends to force their ideas about how communities should work on the people who had built those communities in the first place. I believed right would prevail as people followed their own consciences."

He added: "We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance. We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust. We do know that too many lives were lost, businesses were destroyed, millions of dollars were diverted from books and teachers to support the cost of buses and gasoline. We do know that turning our public schools into social laboratories almost destroyed them."
Of course, calling Jesse Helms racist is like calling the sky blue, but still.

UPDATE BY GUTHRIE:

I was a little more offended by another part of the same article:
[Helms]admits to being wrong about the AIDS epidemic. Helms was the subject of strong criticism from the gay community because of his outspoken opposition to laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination, to funding for AIDS research and to other related issues.

But in his final years in the Senate, Helms said his views evolved because of old friends such as North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham and new ones such as rock singer Bono, both of whom got him involved in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

"Until then," Helms writes, "it had been my feeling that AIDS was a disease largely spread by reckless and voluntary sexual and drug-abusing behavior, and that it would probably be confined to those in high risk populations. I was wrong."
Translation: I used to think only gay people died from AIDS, so I didn't care. Once Bono taught me that straight people can also get AIDS, I decided that it mattered.
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