05 June, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

At last, someone's getting fired due to incompetence rather than competence:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top military and civilian leaders of the U.S. Air Force were forced out Thursday over the handling of nuclear weapons, the Defense Department secretary said.

Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne resigned over the department's concern over two incidents, including the August flight of a B-52 bomber that flew across the country with
nuclear weapons.

"Focus of the Air Force leadership has drifted" in terms of handling nuclear weapons and equipment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.


Critics also cite last month's news that the Air Force's 5th Bomb Wing failed a defense "nuclear surety" inspection -- despite having months to prepare and being under close scrutiny after the previous incidents. The inspection found deficiencies in the wing's ability to protect its part of the nation's nuclear stockpile.

Is anyone else a little outraged that it took this long to oust these idiots? Seems like it's just a little bit important to make sure that the people in charge of the safety and security of our nation's ginormous nuclear arsenal know what the fuck they're doing.

And that's bad enough - horrible, in fact - but I have an even bigger bombshell for you. It could possibly explain why competence and expertise have taken a back seat to complete fuckwittery. And it should lay to rest the doubts of anyone who's been wondering why Congress has gotten bugger-all done for years. Harry Reid, you see, has gotten his hot little hands on a memo that provides some very interesting reading indeed (pdf) (via TPM):

We are now, I believe, at 72 filibustersfor this Congress. There is one difference in this instance. We have actually been provided with a copy of a page from the Republican playbook and how they intend to thwart this body from acting on this important legislation. This was provided to us by a lobbyist involved in Republican strategy meetings. Let me read verbatim what this e-mail says. It is too bad the press galleries are bare because it is almost midnight:

The thinking now is to still use as much of the 30 hours post-cloture on the motion to proceed for debate on thematically-grouped amendments. The goal is for a theme (example: climate bill equals higher gas prices) each day, and the focus is much more on making political points than in amending the bill, changing the baseline text for any future debate or affecting policy.

Let me repeat the last sentence: The goal is for a theme (example: climate bill equals higher gas prices) each day, and the focus is much more on making political points than in amending the bill. . . .

That is what they say. So this Republican strategy memo could not be more clear. The Republican plan for dealing with the greatest challenge facing this world and this Nation is more about making political points than legislating. Those are not my words; that is what they say in their memo.

But there is more to this cynical strategy that is completely out of touch with this body’s obligations and the American people’s expectations. Continuing from a Republican strategy memo, I will quote:

GOP anticipates a struggle over which amendments are debated and eventually finger-pointing over blame for demise of the bill. In the GOP view, this will take at least the rest of this week, and hopefully into next week.

Mr. President, you could not make anything up more cynical. This is the truth and they say truth is stranger than fiction, and this certainly is. They go on to say:

At some point, Reid will have to move from the bill, and GOP plans to oppose UC and potentially force debate on debatable motions, and vote against cloture on any such motion. While Reid will eventually be able to circumvent by moving to a privileged vehicle or using some other parliamentary maneuver, the bottom line is that the GOP—

The Grand Old Party—I bet President Abraham Lincoln would be happy about this one—

very much wants to have this fight, engage in it for a prolonged period, and then make it as difficult as possible to move off the bill.

Again, as they say, they want to make political points. Anybody watching this debate will know the Republicans have fully executed this strategy. What did they do today to execute in making political points? That is some political point. It is routine here to not read the amendments, but they said ‘‘we object.’’ So we proceeded to have the amendment read. They executed this strategy and they have done it well, and they tried to make political points. I have no reason to doubt that they are prepared to go the final mile to stretch out the final consideration of this bill before finally killing it.

In case anybody needed more proof about their desire, I offered, with our staffs, several consents that would have stopped the obstruction we have witnessed in the past few days. My consents would have allowed the Senate to move forward to complete action. Isn’t that an interesting concept? A bill is offered—and I have been around here a long time, and some people have been here longer than I have, but I defy anyone to say they have ever laid down a perfect piece of legislation.

That is why we have the amendment process. A bill was laid down and we thought there should be an opportunity to try to make the bill better. That certainly wasn’t what they had in mind. In keeping with the strategy spelled out in this Republican memo, their response was that we are not going to allow this; we are going to object, object, and object. Their obstructionism is disappointing to me personally and, obviously, to the American people.


Do you know what the Republicans get glee out of doing? They are happy that our approval rating is about the same as the President’s.
Isn’t it wonderful that they are a part of this body, 49 of them, and there are 51 of us, and they are boasting about the fact that the people don’t think much of Congress. Why don’t they? Look at this Republican memo. That should give you some inclination as to why the American people feel the way they do.

Well, that gives us some inclination as to why sane American people feel the way they do. The GOP cheerleaders, of course, will do their level best to deny reality and twist this into some lame "it's all the Democrats' fault!" moaning.

But this is what the Republicon party has descended to: rather than governing, they do everything they can to ensure the nation is ungovernable. Rather than doing their jobs, they play selfish little games with important legislation. They're acting like spoiled little brats, dragging their feet and whining at the top of their lungs because they're not getting their way, snide little bullies hamming it up for their entourage of deluded hangers-on.

And the leaders of the gang make them look almost silly, infantile in their tactics and their obfuscation:

Here’s a quick primer. The Intelligence Committee began a comprehensive investigation nearly five years ago. Initially, the committee was prepared to release one authoritative document on the Iraq intelligence, what it said, and how it was handled. With the 2004 presidential election looming, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) split the report in two — one on how wrong the intelligence community and agencies were (released before the ‘04 election) and another on how the White House used/misused/abused the available information (to be released after the ‘04 election).

Roberts played fast and loose for years. First he said publicly that he’d “try” to have Phase II available to the public before the 2004 election. He didn’t. Roberts then gave his word, in writing, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would have a draft report on controversial “public statements” from administration officials by April 2006. That didn’t happen, either. Then he indicated that he wanted to give up on the second part of the investigation altogether. (In January, we learned that the investigation was impeded by the Vice President.)

Today, the wait is over. And you’ll never guess what investigators found.

A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

In a statement, Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) said, “There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.”

They lied us into war. They lied us into giving up constitutional freedoms in the name of national security. They lied about the extent of their illegal activities, and they lied about their lying, but we're finally at a point when the abcess is being lanced. This is only the beginning of the outpouring of poison Bush & Co have infected this country with.

I just hope the lancing can start healing this country.


Cujo359 said...

About all the Republicans have shown a talent for doing is blaming others for their screwups and delaying any meaningful change. Unfortunately, the Democrats don't seem to have even that much talent.

I've written about this more than I care to admit, given that nothing's changed. This is one of the more concise rants. Note that it's six months old, and the only thing that's changed is that the Republicans seem to have fallen off their breathtaking pace of (non-)filibusters.

Dana Hunter said...

Cujo, that was an excellent rant! I'm tempted to link it under "nearly current events." ;-)

I'm still waiting for conservatives - not neocons - to abandon the Republicon party. How much longer are they going to put up with this shit before they abandon ship and start a new party?

Woozle said...

"They [Republicans] use their time out of power to grow their movement and one of the main ways they do this is by obstructing anything positive the Democrats want to do." (from here via here via Cujo359's comment above)

Something clicked in my head this morning in relation to this.

I was reading a newspaper headline where the implication seemed clear that if you propose solutions, you're automatically a wild-eyed dreamer or at least something of an optimist (which is apparently a bad word now).

Furthermore, the "reality" is that there are no real solutions and that we all just have to grit our teeth and deal with things as they are. Admitting this makes you a gritty realist qualified to lead a country into "tough choices"; denying it makes you one of the aforementioned optimists, and not to be trusted.

And then it occurred to me that this is entirely consistent with the behavior shown by my ostrich: If government is bad, then it will always be bad (and indeed can only get worse, not better), and I'm "spending too much time on this" because there are no solutions.

When I commented on the headline, Harena suggested that conservatives see this philosophy as an acceptable way to get out of being personally responsible (personal responsibility being one of the basic tenets of American conservatism) for the mess we're in, much less for fixing it.

Indeed, if you express the belief that it can be fixed, then you're taking away the only excuse, the only refuge, of those who know deep down that they bear some culpability. They are therefore actively hostile to the idea of positive change, without being able to coherently explain why.

Any ideas on how to use this insight to get honest conservatives (if there are any) to stop sulking and grab a bucket?

PS: There's a theory that the "August flight of a B-52 bomber" might have been an abortive attempt to stage "another 9/11" to get people to line up behind attacking Iran (and further consolidation of governmental power etc.).