05 March, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

They're coming for you next, W:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Today, the AP reports that, based on the legal principles the ICC used to arrest al-Bashir, former President George W. Bush could be next on the list:

David Crane, an international law professor at Syracuse University, said the principle of law used to issue an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir could extend to former US President Bush over claims officials from his Administration may have engaged in torture by using coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects.


Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch, said the al-Bashir ruling was likely to fuel discussion about investigations of possible crimes by Bush Administration officials.

I hardly need say I'm delighted, now, do I? It would warm my heart right down to the sub-cockles to see this rat bastard dragged in front of the Hague for war crimes.

News like that is a tough act to follow. So let's take a page from Monty Python and go for something completely different. Such as the ever-increasing right-wing hysteria over same-sex marriage:
On Tuesday, about 1,000 conservative activists stood on the lawn outside North Carolina's state legislature, demanding a statewide referendum on banning gay marriage. We heard plenty of the usual palaver about the destruction of Western civilization if two consenting adults get state recognition of their life-long relationship. Whatever.

But as Ron Chusid noted, one of the far-right activists raised an argument we haven't heard before.

David Gibbs III, a lawyer who in 2005 fought to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo on life support, told rally participants gay marriage would "open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina. "Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?" Gibbs asked. "Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots." [emphasis added]

The times they are a changin'. Rick Santorum warned us about "man-on-dog" relations; now we have David Gibbs raising the specter of man-on-robot action.

I think someone has been taking "Battlestar Galactica" a little too seriously.

Steve Benen takes it to the next hypothetical level. I wish I could say that Cons wouldn't follow his satirical lead, but you know how they are - we make a joke, they top us by seriously proposing something so insane we didn't even think we could get away with passing it off as a joke. Only a Con would think that allowing gays to marry logically leads to a whole new set of legal relations with pets and bots.

This, of course, is amusing enough, but what you really want when it comes to Grade-A entertainment is to watch a right-wing hack reduced to stammers as the shards of his argument rain merrily around him:

You have to wonder if Neil Cavuto is going to stop having Stuart Acuff of the AFL-CIO on anymore. Every time Acuff appears on his show, Cavuto's prefab talking points get blown to smithereens, and Cavuto winds up with egg on his face.

Yesterday Cavuto, trying to pitch the angle that the AFL-CIO's gathering in Miami is a big costly shindig for the wealthy, wound up looking like Elmer Fudd after Bugs has finished him off with a nice little exploding-cigar finale:

Cavuto: All I'm saying, Stuart, is the mixed message part. Right? You're at a great locale, I know that hotel very well, I know that beach very well. And I'm just wondering whether the appearance which you guys knocked, rightly so, when the financial guys were tripping over themselves having massages at a lagoon, to say, look, enough is enough, appearance matters, this matters.

Acuff: Appearance does matter. That's right, Neil. And that's why I'm on the program with you today. And that's why I'm explaining that we got a room rate for less than $200 a room, and that our staying here is the result of negotiations that happened three years ago that promotes an awful lot of good union jobs.

Cavuto: Wait a minute, wait a minute. The most expensive room is $200?

Acuff: Excuse me?

Cavuto: The most expensive room for your members attending is $200?

Acuff: Under $200.

Cavuto: Really. [Pause] All right, then everything's off. You did OK.

The punchline? Glenn Beck apparently didn't watch the segment. Then again, Faux News anchors have never minded much having their talking points destroyed - they go right on with them anyway, much like robots without a reset option.

This makes me wonder why Gibbs III is worried about robot marriage. It's already happening.

On the health care front, we have a rare Republican talking sense (how long before he's forced to froth is an open question). And we have one talking completely out his ass:

Today, President Obama is hosting a summit to discuss reforming the nation’s health care system with “about 150 elected officials and representatives of groups that have much at stake in the outcome.” In response, Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) went on MSNBC to explain his opposition to Obama’s stated goal of comprehensive health care reform, arguing that health care is “a privilege,” not a right:

WAMP: Listen, health care a privilege. […]

MSNBC: Well, it’s a privilege? Health care? I mean if you have cancer right now, do you see it as a privilege to get treatment?

WAMP: I was just about to say, for some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right.

Wamp went on to claim that many Americans are uninsured by choice because they “rejected” the insurance plan offered by their employers.

It's incoherent bullshit like this that have the vast majority of sane Americans running for the nearest exit whenever a Con heads their way. And they're most emphatically not listening to Cons on this one:

Republican talking points dictate that government having a role in the healthcare system is, by its very nature, horrifying. As President Obama kicks off a White House summit on healthcare today, it appears most Americans don't find the GOP's argument compelling at all.

Seventy-two percent of those questioned in recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor increasing the federal government's influence over the country's health care system in an attempt to lower costs and provide health care coverage to more Americans, with 27 percent opposing such a move. Other recent polls show six in 10 think the government should provide health insurance or take responsibility for providing health care to all Americans. [...]

72%. Damn. And 60% seem to be liking this idea of socialized medicine.

Now, rumor has it the GOP still wants to win elections. Can somebody tell me how the fuck they think they can manage this when they're so dramatically out of step with well over half the country?

Because I really don't think doubling down on the batshit insanity is going to help, although Rep. Bachmann seems to think it will:

Conservative talker Bill Bennett interviewed Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) on his radio show this morning. During the interview, Bennett asked, “Why [is Obama siding] with the liberal House Democrats rather than the more moderate [members]?” Answering his own question, Bennett continued, “The answer is because that may be where he is…the most liberal member of the Senate.”

Bachmann concurred, but added that she believes Republicans should “thwart” as much of Obama’s agenda as possible, specifically citing what she called “socialized medicine” and “the new tax on energy”:

BACHMANN: If you want to look at economic history over the last 100 years. I call it punctuated equilibrium. If you look at FDR, LBJ, and Barack Obama, this is really the final leap to socialism. … But we all know that we could turn this around and we can turn this around fairly quickly. We’re still a free country.

And as the Democrats are about to institutionalize cartels — that’s what they’re very good at — they’re trying to consolidate power, so we need to do everything we can to thwart them at every turn to make sure that they aren’t able to, for all time, secure a power base that for all time can never be defeated.

This may go over like a house on fire with the sad minority of supremely paranoid people who lock themselves inside with their hate radio, their canned food, and their truckloads of guns. Alas for the Con party, despite their best efforts, sane people still comprise a respectible majority in America.

If the Cons want to win in 2010, I'd suggest they get mental health treatment now.

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