17 December, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

It's late. I can 'splain. I just spent over a damned hour trying to get home. It is snowing in the northern 'burbs of Seattle, and this city has no idea what a plow looks like. Total fucking insanity. I counted at least three buses stuck, not to mention all of the optimistic folks who've never tried to drive in three inches of fresh, slick snow before but thought they'd make it.

A tremendous shout-out to the folks on the 522 overpass to the 405 who were pushing cars up the slope, mine among them, between the stuck bus and the stuck cars. Without them, I'd be spending my night waiting for a tow. I don't know who they were, but I love them dearly.

And yes, I'm ecstatic to be home. I do not plan on moving from this spot until spring - but I'm sure work will persuade me to come in once the roads have cleared, since they'll be dangling money my way.

Right, then. On to Happy Hour.

Goode didn't get good news from his recount:

It's official: Rep. Virgil Goode, the Virginia Republican best known for denouncing the election of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) as the first Muslim member of Congress, has conceded defeat against Democratic Rep.-Elect Tom Perriello.


The interesting thing here is that Goode was an absolutely safe occupant of this seat until this cycle -- to most people it didn't even seem possible that he could lose this year until the final week or two of the campaign. One has to wonder if his angry remarks against Ellison made the difference, turning him from a secure incumbent into a cartoon character.

I guess according to the official Republicon spin, that means all the momentum has swung back to the Democratic party. Heh. Goodbye and goodriddance, Former Rep. Goode.

More recount joy comes from the Coleman-Franken battle royale. The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to throw a lifeline to the drowning man:

The Minnesota Supreme Court just finished hearing arguments on Norm Coleman's lawsuit to stop the counting of ballots that are found to have been rejected due to clerical errors, and here's the deal: It didn't look great for Coleman.

Things started off on the wrong foot for Coleman's attorney Roger Magnuson right when he opened with political sloganeering, saying that the state canvassing board had "accepted an invitation to Florida in 2008." He was immediately interrupted by justices telling him that this is not Florida, and they don't need to be told about Florida. Things only went downhill from there.

Deary, deary me. Some folks in black robes don't sound too impressed. If things continue like this, we may end up with another Dem in the Senate. Note to Con lawyers: it's probably not a good idea to spew your talking points at judges. They're not exactly Ma and Pa Kettle, and they'll probably resent the insult to their intelligence.

Oh, wait. Never mind. These are Cons - they won't take reality-based advice because, well, they're no longer on speaking terms with Mr. Reality.

We turn now to the waning days of the Bush regime, which cannot now and never has heard a single damned word Mr. Reality's ever said. Their delusions grow ever more extreme. Take, for instance, Condi Rice's latest attempt at spin:

During a press conference yesterday in New York, a reporter asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “look philosophically” at the state of diplomacy after eight years of the Bush administration and to think of “lessons we can draw out.” Rice then took the opportunity to polish up her boss’s record with the United Nations:

RICE: I think that the United States, under President Bush, has actually used the mechanisms and the councils of the United Nations more than they’ve been used maybe ever, whether it is insisting that Security Council resolutions that have been passed be respected, [or] whether it is seeking to deal with human rights and tyranny cases like Zimbabwe or Burma.

Condi, my dear, I know the fucktards you sucked up to all these years rather got the impression that they could redefine history, but with so many examples to the contrary at our fingertips and the raw nekkid fear of 9/11 receeding, I think it's going to be a rather hard sell. For instance, when you say that the United States has "used" the UN, I know you intend that to mean they've been used in a positive way. Whereas we look at the record:

The Bush administration’s complete disregard of the U.N.’s will during the run-up to the Iraq war is the obvious example. The administration completely ignored the work of the U.N.’s weapons inspectors (UNMOVIC) at that time and instead attacked Iraq on false WMD pretenses before they could finish the job. Moreover, in 2004, then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called the U.S.-led invasion illegal and “not in conformity with the U.N. charter.”

In 2004, the Bush administration also tried (and failed) to remove Mohamed El-Baradei as head of the IAEA — the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog — for being too soft on Iran.

But to top it all off, in 2005, President Bush installed U.N. hater and fervent war hawk John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the world body. Bush wanted Bolton so badly, he “resorted to the 17-month recess appointment to circumvent” opposition to Bolton in the Senate. Bolton famously said “there is no such thing as the United Nations” and if the U.N. building in New York “lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

Bush even found space to criticize the U.N. in his final address to the general assembly, saying the organization “only pass[es] resolutions decrying terrorist attacks after they occur” instead of doing something to prevent them “in the first place.”

... and that record rather leads us to the conclusion that what you really should have said was that the United States has "used, abused, insulted, and otherwise fucked the UN over in a variety of creative ways. We used the UN like a cheap tissue and then shat on the remains." That would be more plausible than this sad attempt to claim Bush has always wuved the UN.

But wait. It's the Bush regime. Of course it gets worse:

The Bush White House is in full-throttle spin mode, attempting to repair the President’s badly tarnished legacy. This afternoon, Fox News lent a hand in the effort to revise history. In an interview with White House press spokesman Tony Fratto, Fox anchor Jon Scott claimed that, prior to 9/11, “nobody was thinking” that terrorists could fly planes into buildings as an act of terrorism. Fratto agreed:

SCOTT: Back to the 9/11 attacks, which happened after all pretty early in this president’s first term, I mean nobody was thinking that there’d be terrorists flying 767s into buildings at that point.

FRATTO: That’s true. I mean, no one could have anticipated that kind of attack — or very few people.

Very few people. Riiight. So I suppose this counts as "very few people," does it?

In fact, intelligence analysts had been warning for some time that terrorists could hijack planes. On December 4, 1998, for example, the Clinton administration received a President’s Daily Brief entitled “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks.” The Clinton administration responded by convening its top counterterrorism experts and heightening security at airports around the nation.

On August 6, 2001, the Bush administration received a President’s Daily Brief entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.” The memo warned:

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a —- service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Moreover, the Federal Aviation Administration “had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon,” and in 2001 it distributed a CD-ROM presentation to airlines and airports that cited the possibility of a suicide hijacking.

From where I'm sitting, that looks like a fuck of a lot of people. That was a huge number of federal agencies all screaming the same warning, but Bush was too busy clearing brush to hear.

"No one could have anticipated" - except they did. So shut the fuck up about how nobody could've known. Stop fucking lying.

Oh, wait. I'm sorry - their lying is a pathology, not a preference, isn't it?

Speaking of pathology, it appears the RNC is trying to perform a biopsy of the Republicon party and trying to come up with ways to save the dying patient:

I've argued a few times since the election that the Republican Party's intellectual bankruptcy compounds its electoral problems. The race to be the "party of ideas" is over; the GOP lost. When one of the top House Republican leaders wrote about the policy vision for the party's future, and listed three failed ideas from the '90s, it only helped reinforce the point this is a party lacking in substance and policy direction.

It appears that the party is at least aware of the problem (and admitting you have a problem is the first step). Ben Smith reports that the Republican National Committee is "building a new, in-house think tank aimed at reviving the party's policy heft."

The think tank will be called the Center for Republican Renewal, and it has been mentioned as part of RNC Chairman Mike Duncan's platform for reelection, but was begun shortly after the election as a new RNC office, separate from the campaign, a Republican official said.

Though Washington has many conservative think tanks, many inside the party and the conservative movement viewed November's failures as, in part, a product of stale ideas, and like the Democrats after 2000, some in the GOP have called for a revival of the conservative intellectual infrastructure.

This does not, at first blush, sound ridiculous. The party has gone years without a policy agenda, spending the last two campaign cycles in particular telling voters that they essentially just want to stop Democratic ideas. If the Center for Republican Renewal wants to craft a few ideas, and engage in a substantive policy discussion, it'd be a step in the right direction.

But I'd argue that this is a two-step process for the GOP: 1) decide that policy matters; and 2) actually come up with some policies that make sense and that voters might like. Republicans have, apparently, started to slowly come to terms with the prior -- as opposed to, say, bashing policy experts as pointy-headed elitists to be ignored -- but the latter is likely to be very difficult for them.

Why? Because their ideology puts them in a box.


To be fair, I think the party does have some genuine policy goals in key areas, but they're burdened by the fact that no one actually likes them.

Yeah, that could pose a bit of a problem, couldn't it?

But it like this: from everything they've done so far, it looks very much like they're aware their party's dying, they're desperate to save it, and so they're turning to what they believe is the cutting edge in medical science: leeches and prayer. Something tells me it's not going to work out too well.

My best friend and I were hoping that this election would make political comedians actually work for their pay. Alas, it looks as though the low-hanging fruit still abounds.


Simon Read said...

Damn . . . you're blogging a lot, my joy!

I sent you an e-mail . . . Time to catch up!


RBH said...

The thing I like about the Minnesota Supreme Court is that one of its members is Alan Page, former defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One snippet from his Wikipedia bio:

Upon his retirement from the bench, Justice Page hopes to become a public school teacher, so that he might make an even more personal impact on the children [his] Foundation has served for the past 20 years.

A public school teacher!

george.w said...

Do I even need to tell you how much i enjoy reading your smackdowns, Dana? 'Cause I do; it's a bright spot in my day. I feel silly clicking damn near every post on Google Shared Notes but there it is anyway.

Why is it that the Bushies all say; "Nobody could have predicted X", where X is whatever calamity they failed to prevent or mitigate when it was their frakkin' job to do so?

9/11 airplane attacks on buildings? Hell, I thought of it, and I'm just some dipstick somewhere. You have to know government strategists thought of it too.

Katrina/New Orleans? Yeah, hard to predict. Unless you read National Geographic, Scientific American, Science News,, or even the New Orleans Times Picayune, all of which predicted it in separate articles with chilling detail years before it happened.

Stock market crash? I didn't see it coming, but many financial analysts did.

I guess it's hard to foresee anything with your your eyes shut, fingers in your ears, singing "Don't worry, be happy", the unofficial theme song of the Reagan administration.