Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bush vs. Borat

Maureen Dowd, in Jagshemash, Premier Bush, devotes her column to a comparison of George Bush and Borat Sagdiyev, a/k/a Sacha Baron Cohen. She explains:

Borat Sagdiyev, the Kazakh television reporter with the bushy mustache and cheap gray suit, showed up at the White House this week with an invitation for the man he calls the “mighty U.S. warlord.”

He wanted to invite “Premier George Walker Bush,” along with “other American dignitaries” . . . to a screening of his new documentary about his anti-Semitic, misogynistic, scatological trek across America, followed by a cocktail party/summit meeting . . . .

Borat, of course, is Sacha Baron Cohen, the successor to Peter Sellers, a wildly original and brainy Cambridge grad and observant Jew from a distinguished British family. His HBO characters, the rapper Ali G, the fashion reporter Bruno, and Borat, collide with reality, exposing prejudice and puncturing pomposity.

* * * *

Mr. Cohen is a genius at turning reality into farce, taking lowbrow humor to high places, but he has met his match in W.

With the publication of parts of the classified intelligence report showing that the Bush administration has expanded the terrorist threat, as well as the books “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, “Hubris” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, and “Fiasco” by Thomas Ricks, all detailing the bumbling and infighting of Bush officials on Iraq, it’s a tossup as to where we can find the most ludicrous, offensive and juvenile behavior — in the new Borat movie or the Bush White House.
For more Borat, see the video of the White House adventure thanks to Keith Olbermann of Countdown on Borat Goes To Washington. Blogger Eschaton also has some notes of the speech at Borat Speaks.

With the state of the world where it is, this is much better than the real thing.

And this post is dedicated to Julie, who loves Ali G.

(Dowd article also available at TENNESSEE GUERILLA WOMEN).

Cartoon of the Day

* John Sherffius

America: Last Gasp?

I rarely quote all of someone else's work. However, this particular post was so compelling and summarizes the state of our country so simply and precisely, that I could not stop at a snippet:

The House is ramming through legislation to legalize warrantless wiretapping.

Congress has approved a measure to let Bush arrest anyone he suspects of being "pro-terror". The measure allows such people to be tortured, denied legal protection, and held without charge indefinitely. It means that habeas corpus rights are disappearing.

The crushing of our Constitution looms.

Bush and Cheney are running secret prisons.

The Administration is sending suspected terrorists to countries that practice the most monstrous torments, whether those suspected "terrorists" actually did anything or not.

Most Democrats are afraid to speak up too loudly against these outrages for fear that our right wing media machine will label them as traitors, forgetting the machine will label them as traitors no matter what they do.

Iraq has descended into such a horrible nightmare of suffering that it's almost unbearable to read about it. Rival groups are routinely inflicting the most hideous tortures on each other in a demented wave of cruelty that makes A Clockwork Orange look like a children's book. Morgues in Baghdad are overflowing. Our soldiers and Marines are caught in the middle of this hell.

Religious radicals are screaming that anyone who opposes Bush should be tried for treason, including conservative Republicans who question him about anything. Children in "Jesus Camp" are being brainwashed to see Bush as a Christ figure.

The Republicans stand a reasonably good chance of retaining control of Congress. And most people won't even vote.

War with Iran, with all its dire consequences, is already being planned.

The economy is moving inexorably toward crisis, brought on by reckless spending and irresponsible tax cuts. Housing is already in crisis.

The America I knew is dying. And not many people seem to give a rat's ass.
From J. Miller Rampant!, Our Country is Dying.

Dancing to the Same Tune

Stephen Colbert discusses the compromise over the Geneva Conventions in The Word -- Opposition Party.

Colbert's skit brings to mind the George Meredith quote:

The well of true wit is truth itself.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* M.e. Cohen

God Has Spoken

Last Sunday, George Bush appeared on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" and said, among other things, this:

BLITZER: Let’s move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war–if not already a civil war–We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy. (emphasis added)

Video available at: Crooks & Liars.

So, what the f*&k was he talking about??? As The Carpetbagger Report said, "Even by Bush's already-low standards, it was a stunning comment. We're talking about a war that has claimed 2,700 American lives and seriously injured 20,000 more. It's a crisis that has, by any reasonable measure, made the threat of terrorism against Americans considerably worse. It's a misadventure that has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, to fight a war sold under false pretenses, and mismanaged with almost child-like incompetence." Right.

Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher thinks he discovered the answer with the help of a little research through Google. In Bush's 'Comma': Courtesy of Gracie Allen?, he explains:
This is it: He likely meant to finish it off by suggesting that, looking back, the Iraq war will be viewed as "just a comma, not a period."

Not surprisingly, this is rooted in current Christian teaching, often in reference to Jesus's death, or more generally as "Don't put a period where God puts a comma."

Where does this come from? Not directly from the scripture, apparently. A quote by comedienne Gracie Allen is cited on many religious Web sites: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."

* * * *
Of course, many of us of a certain age remember Gracie Allen, the actual and TV wife of the legendary George Burns. Memo to the president: She was the batty one who often talked nonsense.

Or as a minister at a United Church of Christ in Los Angeles recently put it, admiringly: "She would have said whatever came to her mind in a full voice, and lived out its conviction." Sound familiar?

* * * *
An article in the St. Petersburg Times in November 2005, described a new TV commercial by the UCC which featured a large comma. "Weighing in on the commercial," the article concluded, "evangelist Pat Robertson is said to have remarked, 'Never place a comma where God has placed a period. God has spoken!'"

And so has the president. Did he fail to finish his thought -- linking the comma to the period -- for fear of invoking his Christianity in discussing a murderous war? Or did he want to avoid being linked to Gracie Allen?

Bush's own legacy will also look like just a comma -- the perfect marriage of religion and comedy that defines George W. Bush.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent of The Horse's Mouth oberves a second usage of the "comma" line in another Bush speech, in BUSH AGAIN SAYS IRAQ WILL BE "JUST A COMMA." Apparently, the term is used mainly by the United Church of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination, and "appears to mean that God is in control, that even if humans want to control events, or say something conclusive about them, or have the last word about them, it won't matter, because God is 'still speaking.' "

Based upon the Comments, the UCC members don't appreciate that Bush may have appropriated the term as "Code" for his evangelical base. For more of the interesting and entertaining debate on the issue, see these posts at Language Log: The comma was really a dog whistle and If it's a whistle, the dogs aren't hearing it.

(E&P article via Dick Polman's American Debate and Picture thanks to All Hat No Cattle)

Torture is in the Eye of the Beholder

The Daily Show examines the torture debate. Jon Stewart provides his take on the issue, including the bill on detainee rights, which would legalize torture and permit the Bush Administration to define which detainee interrogation techniques are legal under the Common Article 3 of The Geneva Conventions.

Oh Tyranny, Thy Name is US

Under the newly passed Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress has given the Bush Administration the power to detain anyone indefinitely and decide what constitutes torture; it eliminates habeas corpus and judicial review, and it permits coerced evidence. Our country is at a precipice, if we have not already crossed it. I vacillate between anger, disgust and despair.

There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny -- one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent.
That is how Glenn Greewald, of Unclaimed Territory describes it, in the legalization of torture and permanent detention.

In Bush Rules, Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post calls it a "defining moment for this nation." He inquires:
How far from our historic and Constitutional values are we willing to stray? How mercilessly are we willing to treat those we suspect to be our enemies? How much raw, unchecked power are we willing to hand over to the executive?

The legislation before the Senate today would ban torture, but let Bush define it; would allow the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant; would suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus; would immunize retroactively those who may have engaged in torture. And that's just for starters.

It's a red-letter day for the country. It's also a telling day for our political system.

The people have lost confidence in their president. Despite that small recent uptick in the polls, Bush remains deeply unpopular with the American public, mistrusted by a majority, widely considered out of touch with the nation's real priorities.

But he's still got Congress wrapped around his little finger.

Today's vote will show more clearly than ever before that, when push comes to shove, the Republicans who control Congress are in lock step behind the president, and the Democrats -- who could block him, if they chose to do so -- are too afraid to put up a real fight.

For my earlier posts on this issue, see Shame, Shame, Shame and The Inquisitor. See also the NY Times Editorial, Rushing Off a Cliff.


So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

— Voltarine de Cleyre

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Ed Stein, The Rocky Mountain News

It's Part of the Strategic Plan

In A Platform of Bigotry, Bob Herbert of the NY Times discusses the "antics" of George Allen, who seems to have elevated his racial problems to an art form -- "Bigotry in Motion." Herbert also puts Allen's conduct in perspective, as it exists within the history of the Republican Party:

George Allen, the clownish, Confederate-flag-loving senator from Virginia, has apparently been scurrying around for many years, spreading his racially offensive garbage like a dog that should be curbed. With harsh new allegations emerging daily, it’s fair to ask:

Where are the voices of reason in the Republican Party — the nonbigoted voices? Why haven’t we heard from them on this matter?

* * * *

Beyond the obvious problems with the senator’s comments and his behavior is the fact that he so neatly fits into the pattern of racial bigotry, insensitivity and exploitation that has characterized the G.O.P. since it adopted its Southern strategy some decades ago. Once it was the Democrats who provided a comfortable home for public officials with attitudes and policies that were hostile to blacks and other minorities. Now the deed to that safe house has been signed over to the G.O.P.

Ronald Reagan may be revered by Republicans, but I can never forget that he opposed both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of the mid-1960’s, and that as a presidential candidate he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., which just happened to be where three civil rights workers — Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney — were savagely murdered in 1964.

During his appearance in Philadelphia, Reagan told a cheering crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

* * * *

You don’t hear President Bush or the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, or any other prominent Republicans blowing the whistle on the likes of George Allen and Conrad Burns because Republicans across the board, so-called moderates as well as conservatives, have benefited tremendously from the party’s bigotry. Allen and Burns may have been more blatant and buffoonish than is acceptable, but they have all been singing from the same racially offensive hymnal.

* * * *

It’s been working beautifully for the G.O.P. for decades. Why would the president or anyone else curtail a winning strategy now?

This is a theme I have discussed before, see Bill's a Bigot. For an earlier post on Allen, see, Powerful Words.

Now Slate takes a different perspective on the Allen matter altogether, noting:

George Allen has spent all summer with his foot in his mouth. On Sunday, Salon reported that a handful of the Virginia senator's former football teammates claim he repeatedly used the word nigger. . . . Last week, Allen accused a reporter who asked about his mother's Jewish background of "making aspersions about people."
As an antidote, Slate offers The George Allen Insult Generator:
We know what you're thinking: When's George Allen going to insult me? That's where Slate's George Allen Insult Generator comes in. Are you black? Fat? A stamp collector? Sen. Allen's got an insult—and a rationalization—waiting for you.
Try it, you'll like it.

(See also The Unknown Candidate for Herbert article).

All Power to the Party

"Remember that it is forever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again. Everything that you have undergone since you have been in our hands - all that will continue, and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests, the tortures, the executions, the disappearances will never cease. It will be a world of terror as much as a world of triumph.

The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant; the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism. Goldstein and his heresies will live forever. Every day, at every moment, they will be defeated, discredited, ridiculed, spat upon - and yet they will always survive. This drama that I have played out with you during seven years will be played out over and over again, generation after generation, always in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken-up, contemptible - and in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord.

That is the world that we are preparing, Winston. A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, become part of it,"

- O'Brien, the party operator, from George Orwell's "Nineteen-Eighty-Four."

Are we there yet?

(Via The Daily Dish, thanks to Suburban Guerrilla)

The Look Back

Keith Olbermann has an excellent Special Comment as a follow up to his piece on the Clinton interview on Fox. Responding to President Bush's non-response to Clinton's remarks, Olbermann says:

The political debate still raging over Mr. Clinton’s remarks in a Fox News interview Sunday has overshadowed the debate Mr. Clinton suggested the nation ought to have… a discussion of what steps the Bush administration took to get Osama bin Laden or destroy al Qaeda before September 11th.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush declined to address Mr. Clinton’s remarks, saying we’ve already had the "look-back this" and "look-back that."

But if we are to look forward with any clarity, it is important to know the facts about where we have been, and how we got where we are.
No wonder Bush does not want to look back. Because if you do, it is extremely damming. See Keith Olbermann takes a ” look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up till 9/11 for video and transcript.

See also At Least I Tried for Keith Olbermann's original Comment on the Clinton interview.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Steve Greenberg, Ventura County Star

At Least I Tried

And finally tonight, a Special Comment about President Clinton’s interview. The headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s "portable public chorus" has described his predecessor’s tone as "crazed."

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit. Nonetheless.

The headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years, has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by anyone, in these last five long years.
So spoke Keith Olbermann about President Bill Clinton.

I noted the Fox News interview with President Clinton at With a Vengeance. Crooks & Liars has the video of the Special Comment: Are YOURS the actions of a true American?, with the transcript as well.

And then, for the best summary of the Clinton/Wallace Fox interview, see this clip of the Daily Show, A Complex Question.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Jeff Stahler, Columbus Dispatch

Junior Warriors for Jesus

As a follow up to my post, God Save Us, on the new documentary "Jesus Saves," is a clip from Real Time, with Bill Maher and the panel, discussing the film.

John Amato of Crooks & Liars provides his reactions to the movie, in Jesus Camp: Mini Review. You can also see a of compilation of reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

George & Stephan Sitting on a Plane, K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Under the guise of ensuring airline security, the airlines have elevated bigotry and intolerance to a new level. Not only do you have to pass through onerous checkpoints and stay off the "no fly" list (without knowing the criteria for exclusion or inclusion), but now you have to pass the Mob Rule test.

In a recent Talk of the Town piece in the New Yorker, AIR KISS, Lauren Collins describes a gay couple on a return flight from Paris was told that their affectionate conduct would cause a diversion of the plane if not stopped. She wrote:

The purser asked the men to describe what they’d been doing, and she acknowledged that their behavior had not been inappropriate. . .

Contradicting what she’d told them before, she stiffly said, “Kissing is inappropriate behavior on an airplane. . . .”

Half an hour later, the purser returned, this time saying that some passengers had complained about Tsikhiseli and Varnier’s behavior earlier. The men asked more questions. Who had complained? (She couldn’t say.) Could they have the stewardess’s name, or employee number? (No.) Would the purser arrange for an American Airlines representative to meet them upon landing at J.F.K.? (Not possible.) Finally, the purser said that if they didn’t drop the matter the flight would be diverted.

* * * *
Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said that the stewardess’s injunction to the men was reasonable, and would have been made whether the couple was gay or straight. “Our passengers need to recognize that they are in an environment with all ages, backgrounds, creeds, and races. We have an obligation to make as many of them feel as comfortable as possible,” he said. (He added, “Our understanding is that the level of affection was more than a quick peck on the cheek.”) But a customer-service representative named Terri, reached last week on the telephone, offered the opinion that kissing on airplanes is indeed permissible. “Oh, yeah! Sure. I’ve seen couples who are on honeymoons,” she said. “They just don’t want you to go into the bathroom together.”
What does this have to do with terrorism? Who is the arbiter of appropriate airplane behavior? The pilot? The flight attendant? Or is it the Mob Rule Rules?

And where will it end? We now have the anti-Arab flight rule, see Are Armbands Next? and the no in-flight prayer rule for Hasidic Jews, see Flying While Jewish. What's next? Maybe we could do the Segregated Survivor in the Air and have different flights by race and religion.

(Via Truthdig, Has American Airlines Banned Gay Air-Kissing?)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Don't Miss Today's Comics

It's Sunday, so everyone wants to check out the comic pages.

Here's your virtual version of the The Sunday Funnies, featuring the Daily Show, the Late Late Show and the Tonight Show, thanks to OneGoodMove.

Tags: ,

With a Vengeance

President Bill Clinton is making the rounds to discuss his Global Initiative, which focuses on 4 subjects: global warming, alleviation of poverty, global health and religious and racial reconciliation. His interview on the Daily Show (above) is delightful. See also this NPR interview Clinton Weighs In on Detainees, Iraq and Iran.

However, his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox got sidetracked from the topic, when Wallace instead asked Clinton why he didn’t do more to capture or kill Osama bin Laden while he was in office. Clinton clearly thought that he had been set up and he did not hold back in telling Wallace just how he felt. See the Fox interview at OneGoodMove: Part I and Part II.

The Clinton /Fox News interview (including transcript) is also available at Crooks & Liars.

In a number of these interviews, Clinton has been asked about the difference between what can be done as President vs. being a former President. One big difference that he doesn't mention is that he feels free to speak his mind. You go, Bill!

I Don't Want to Talk About It

Last night, my husband Dave & I were having a rather heated political discussion (one might find it funny that we could do that, since our political views are very similar, but we do), and I finally decided to end it by saying -- I don't want to talk about it. His retort was to accuse me of being like George Bush, dismissing opinions that I don't agree with.

And in one of those strange but true coincidence's that makes life interesting (and weird), the first thing that popped up when I went on-line is this book title. Of course, now he's convinced that he was absolutely right and he won the argument.

Obviously, he missed the subtitle. After all, I always get the last word.

(From All Hat no Cattle, via The Satirical Political Report)


Cartoon of the Day

* Richard Crowson, The Witchita Eagle

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Immorality & Idiocy

From Bocotton Stormfield, Mark Twain on the Immorality of Imperialist Wars and the Idiocy of Staying the Course-- Circa, 1901., who notes that Mark Twain was "referring to the American conquest of the Phillipines at the turn of the last century, but his words ring as true today as they did then":

I pray you to pause and consider. Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object--robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick--a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: "Our Country, right or wrong!" An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor--none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?

For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant--merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the Country"? Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.

The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands. The stupid phrase needed help, and it got another one: "Even if the war be wrong we are in it and must fight it out: we cannot retire from it without dishonor." Why, not even a burglar could have said it better. We cannot withdraw from this sordid raid because to grant peace to those little people on their terms--independence--would dishonor us. You have flung away Adam's phrase--you should take it up and examine it again. He said, "An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war."

You have planted a seed, and it will grow.

Passage from "Glances at History" (supressed) by Mark Twain

(Via Crooks & Liars, who observed it's truthfulness today on the immorality of imperialist wars and the idiocy of 'staying the course’)

Cartoon of the Day

* Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

Friday, September 22, 2006

Where Are They Gone?

Dion live on the Smothers Brothers, singing his 1968 song memorializing Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby.

"Didn't you love the things that they stood for? Didn't they try to find some good for you and me? And we'll be free -- some day soon and it's a-gonna be one day ...."
This moving song fits my melancholy mood.

(Thanks to PA progressive)

Shame, Shame, Shame

That's just another way of saying, as did Will Bunch, that The GOP is morally bankrupt and the Democrats are idiots.

In The "scenic route" to torture, Glenn Greenwald posts in Salon's War Room, that:

Despite all the legalistic obscurities surrounding the torture "compromise" between President Bush and Republican senators there is one critical fact of overarching significance that is now crystal clear. This entire controversy arose because the U.S. has been using "interrogation techniques" -- such as induced hypothermia, "long standing," threats directed at detainees' families and waterboarding -- that are widely considered to be torture, and therefore in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The only thing the president wanted was to ensure that the CIA could continue to use these techniques, and that, unquestionably, is precisely the outcome of this "compromise."

If anything, these torture techniques will enjoy greater legal protection under the "compromise" legislation reached by the leaders of America's ruling party because a) authorization of these interrogation techniques will now be grounded in a statutory scheme duly enacted by Congress (rather than in the shadowy, secretive "interpretations" of the Geneva Conventions promulgated by the executive branch) and b) judicial review of any type (i.e., the ability to have courts adjudicate the compatibility of these practices with the mandates of the Conventions) will be barred entirely.

* * * *
The White House's Dan Bartlett put it best, and most accurately, when he said: "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there." Only the Bush administration could speak of taking a "scenic route" to torture.

* * * *
If this "compromise" legislation is enacted -- and it can now be stopped only by the invisible, impotent congressional Democrats -- the United States will be a country that has formally legalized torture, and the president's "interrogation program" will continue unimpeded, with firmer legal authorization than ever before. And the American people, through our representatives in Congress, will have embraced and approved of the use of torture. Far and away, it is the impact on our national character that will be the most significant and enduring result from this "compromise."
If you can bear it, you can read the details of the betrayal (of our values as a country) by Marty Lederman at Balkinization: Senators Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory: U.S. to be First Nation to Authorize Violations of Geneva and Three of the Most Significant Problems with the "Compromise"

And where is the opposition party? The party otherwise known as THE SILENT PARTY? Charles P. Pierce of Tapped calls out the Dems:
You worthless passel of cowards. They're laughing at you. You know that, right?

* * * *
And the Democratic Party was nowhere in this debate. It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives -- "Aggressive interrogation techniques" -- the Democratic Party had…no opinion. On the issue of allowing a demonstrably incompetent president as many of the de facto powers of a despot that you could wedge into a bill without having the Constitution spontaneously combust in the Archives, well, the Democratic Party was more pissed off at Hugo Chavez.

This was as tactically idiotic as it was morally blind. On the subject of what kind of a nation we are, and to what extent we will live up to the best of our ideals, the Democratic Party was as mute and neutral as a stone. Human rights no longer have a viable political constituency in the United States of America. (Emphasis added)
That's right -- the Republicans are laughing at you and your base is ashamed of you!

Digby of Hullabaloo explains it best in Punked. Read it all.

Cartoon of the Day

* Bill Shorr

God Save Us

The Bush crowd is always trying to use the Rule of Fear. They are correct, however, in that there are times when we should be afraid. This is one of them.

I was truly terrified after watching this Crooks & Liars video, Jesus Camp, about:

Jesus Camp is a new documentary about "Kids on Fire," a Bible camp for kids. The kids are being groomed to be soldiers in "God's army." They even worship to a cardboard cutout of the President.

This is an extreme Christian cult -- for those who believe that it is never too soon to begin to indoctrinate their children. These children certainly need God's help, all right.

This from a camp minister, Pastor Fisher: I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places.

Where is Children's services when you need them?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Tom Toles, The Washington Post

We Livin in a Police State

Chris Floyd, in The Experts Say: It's a Police State, writes:

Critics of the policies of George W. Bush are often greeted with this response: "Who are you to denounce the president? Don't you think he's privy to more information than you are? Don't you think he has all kinds of experts giving him the full picture, which you will never know?"

. . . [W]hat does the man who was George W. Bush's director of homeland defense on the National Security Council on September 11, 2001, think of the "war on terror" launched by George W. Bush after September 11, 2001?

He thinks Bush has exploited the attack to install a police state in America, that's what George W. Bush's director of homeland defense on September 11, 2001, thinks.
Citing an opinion piece in the Star Tribune, HAS OUR AIM BEEN TRUE?, by Tom Maertens (who served as National Security Council director for proliferation and homeland defense in the George W. Bush White House, and as deputy coordinator for counterterrorism in the State Department on 9/11), which states:
Five years after 9/11, it's clear that the Bush administration's costly War on Terror has failed on two counts. It has undermined our civil liberties and made the world more dangerous. The direct cost of the war in Iraq, according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel economist, has already exceeded $1 trillion, including long-term veterans' care and similar costs. Along with the war has come enormous destruction and loss of life, and major damage to our international standing. And there are more terrorists in the world than ever before, a fact the administration plays up to curtail our freedoms. In the aftermath of 9/11, the administration succeeded in passing an extreme version of an internal security law, called the USA Patriot Act. It permits secret arrests, sneak and peek searches, and obtaining bank, credit, library and Internet records, all without a warrant. The administration also instituted wiretaps and intercepts on millions of Americans' e-mail messages and phone calls without warrants, a program recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

In 2005, Bush quietly created the National Clandestine Service, which authorizes the CIA to operate within the United States -- despite past abuses such as Operation Chaos -- and reinstituted domestic spying by the military through the Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA), in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. He also created the National Security Service, putting elements of the FBI under his direct control, the closest we have had to a secret police agency in our 200-year history. The FBI now sends out 30,000 National Security Letters per year, demanding personal information without benefit of a warrant. It has imposed gag orders on every aspect of NSLs, making it illegal to reveal that one has been received. How does this differ from secret police tactics?

* * * *
Perhaps no event demonstrates more clearly the dangerous authoritarianism of the Bush crowd than the arrest of two American citizens, Jose Padilla and Yasir Hamdi, who were held for 3½ years in solitary confinement with no charges, no court appearance and no lawyer. The Bush administration declared them "enemy combatants" -- Enemies of the State -- and threw them in prison indefinitely, just like a Third World dictatorship.

Winston Churchill once said: "The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

How far can the Bush administration go? Steven Bradbury of the Justice Department recently suggested before a congressional committee that the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States.

Government assassination squads? In America?

… James Madison once warned: "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." The Bush administration has already exploited the war in Iraq and fears about terrorism to stampede the American people into accepting an astonishing curtailment of their freedoms and growing lawlessness by the government. If the administration chooses to engage in the neocons' endless, global War for Civilization, American democracy will ultimately be one of the casualties.
I think it's already wounded.

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Tom Toles, The Washington Post

Clarity on Torture

As a follow up to this post, The Inquisitor, Stephen Colbert explains that President Bush is just asking for some clarity on torture, and explains as gives us "The Word" -- Wiper Fluid.

And Don Davis of the Satirical Political Report, provides the latest information on Bush's plans on the terror front -- BUSH TO OFFER ‘BUYOUTS’ TO TERRORISTS:

Taking its cue from Ford, General Motors and other troubled corporations, the Bush Administration has decided to abandon its current war on terrorism, and instead offer lucrative buyouts to the terrorists.

Announcing this policy in front of a huge banner entitled “STRAY FROM THE COURSE,” President Bush conceded that it was “getting too expensive to keep fighting them over there, instead of just paying them off over here.”

* * * *
A spokeman for Al Qaeda stated that although the buy-outs would severely reduce the ranks of jihadi members, he believed that with new technology and other cost-efficiency measures, the organization would be more productive than ever, particularly in light of their growing export market.
Some market analysts, however, questioned this strategy. Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” said that “if Bush wanted a cheap way to reduce terrorism, he would’ve been better off just buying out Cheney and Rumsfeld.”

The Inquisitor

Like Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post, I "just can't get past this torture issue -- the fact that George W. Bush, the president of the United States of America, persists in demanding that Congress give him the right to torture anyone he considers a "high-value" terrorist suspect. The president of the United States. Interrogation by torture. This just can't be happening."

In Torture Is Torture, Robinson writes:

It's past time to stop mincing words. The Decider, or maybe we should now call him the Inquisitor, sticks to anodyne euphemisms. He speaks of "alternative" questioning techniques, and his umbrella term for the whole shop of horrors is "the program." Of course, he won't fully detail the methods that were used in the secret CIA prisons -- and who knows where else? -- but various sources have said they have included not just the infamous "waterboarding," which the administration apparently will reluctantly forswear, but also sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, bombardment with ear-splitting noise and other assaults that cause not just mental duress but physical agony. That is torture, and to call it anything else is a lie.

It is not possible for our elected representatives to hold any sort of honorable "debate" over torture. Bush says he is waging a "struggle for civilization," but civilized nations do not debate slavery or genocide, and they don't debate torture, either. This spectacle insults and dishonors every American. (Emphasis added).
And as if proof of this needed, it is provided by the example of Maher Arar, a computer engineer and Muslim Canadian citizen, who was wrongly believed to be a terrorist by U.S. authorities who then secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured. The Washington Post reports, in Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says:
Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released.
As the Post noted, a Canadian government commission investigated the case and issued a report that:
[F]ound that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda "watchlist," without justification, the report said. Arar was also listed as "an Islamic extremist individual" who was in the Washington area on Sept. 11. The report concluded that he had no involvement in Islamic extremism and was on business in San Diego that day . . . .
Glenn Greewald, in Here is the "moral authority" of the U.S. under the Bush administration, further adds that "when he sued for damages as a result of being wrongfully kidnapped and tortured by the U.S. Government, the Bush administration argued that "state secrets" compelled the court to dismiss the case, and the federal judge deferred to the President's wishes."

Greenwald inquires:
Do Americans want to be a country that kidnaps people without charges, tortures them, lies to its allies about it, and then, when it turns out they were completely innocent, blocks the Government officials who are responsible from being held accountable? That's the country we've become under this administration and its blindly loyal servants in Congress.
See also, Mr. Torture.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News

Quote of the Day

Getting a lawyer to admit they've made a mistake is like getting a movie star to admit they've had liposuction.

- Sophie Kinsella, from The Undomestic Goddess

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

Mr. Torture

The above video is a clip from Countdown, with Keith Olbermann discussing George Bush's efforts to legalize torture and eviscerate Article III of the Geneva Convention.

Paul Krugman also discusses "President Bush’s demand that Congress “clarify” the part of the Geneva Conventions that, in effect, outlaws the use of torture" in King of Pain. He asks the question:

But I haven’t seen much discussion of the underlying question: why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?

* * * *
To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

* * * *

Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he’s willing to do what’s necessary to protect America, and they aren’t. But the record says otherwise.

The fact is that for all his talk of being a “war president,” Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause — even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. . . .

Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.

See also this article by Marty Lederman at Balkinization, Getting with "The Program": Clarity Through Obfuscation, for a good discussion of the issues.

Finally, Jack Balkin provides The Top Ten Reasons President Bush Wants to Limit the War Crimes Act and the Geneva Conventions:

10. You see, I'm a war crimes President!
9. I'm hoping to try some "alternative sets of procedures" on Nancy Pelosi.
8. I need to keep Dick Cheney busy!
7. Americans are sick and tired of us outsourcing our torture jobs to other countries.
6. It'll come in real handy when we invade Iran.
5. Com'on, they use waterboards in Southern California, right?
4. A lot of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are really into S & M.
3. Did you know they speak French in Geneva?
2. John McCain, Colin Powell and Former head of Joint Chiefs of Staff John Vessey are just not serious about protecting the American people.
1. Too many people think my Presidency is an "outrage upon personal dignity."

(Krugman's article is also available at The Unknown Candidate)

AbZOOlutely Animalicious

From AbZOOlutelyCH

Yesterday afternoon, I had to run a few errands (and the day was so beautiful that I just had to get out & enjoy it, in my convertible with the top down, of course), so I headed to Chestnut Hill. I hadn't read about the AbZoolutely Chestnut Hill exhibit, see Kick-off AbZoolutely: Lion’s, Tigers, and Bears… Oh My! -- all up and down Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike, 50 fiberglass zoo animals that famous artists and architectural firms painted are displayed through the beginning of November. Luckily, I had my camera with me, so I stopped here and there along the way & took a few pictures. These are my favorites.

From AbZOOlutelyCH

See AbZOOlutely Chestnut Hill! for the Website on the art project.

Smile, You're on Candid Camera

I have written ad infinitum about the perils of domestic surveillance programs, see, e.g, A Wink, a Blink & a Nod and Peek-a-boo. And everytime a new Bush Administration spy program is revealed, I think that it just can't get worse than that. Wrong -- again.

There is nothing more to add to this article from the LA Times, Hidden Depths to U.S. Monitoring:

As Americans consider whether they are more safe or less five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, one thing is certain: They are being monitored by their own government in ways unforeseen before terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Within minutes of the strikes, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence-gathering authorities mobilized to find the culprits and prevent another attack.

They increased the tapping of Americans' phone calls and voice mails. They watched Internet traffic and e-mails as never before. They tailed greater numbers of people and into places previously deemed off-limits, such as mosques.

They clandestinely accessed bank and credit card transactions and school records. They monitored travel. And they entered homes without notice, looking for signs of terrorist activity and copying the contents of entire file cabinets and computer hard drives.

Authorities even tried to get inside people's heads, using supercomputers and "predictive" software to analyze enormous amounts of personal data about them and their associates in an effort to foretell who might become a terrorist, and when.

In the five years since the attacks, the scope of domestic surveillance has steadily increased, according to interviews with dozens of current and former U.S. officials and privacy experts.

* * * *

The NSA has improved its ability to monitor the entire spectrum of communications, including fiber-optic and wireless transmissions, instant messages, BlackBerry e-mails and voice conversations sent over the Internet, officials and experts say.

They add that the intelligence community may not be breaking any laws because these kinds of communication might not be covered under loosely worded federal laws that don't account for advances in technology.

Several congressional officials and privacy experts said they believed the NSA also tracked the movement of "persons of interest" by the electronic signals emitted by their cellphones and the Global Positioning Systems in the vehicles they drive.

The NSA had no comment on any aspect of its intelligence-gathering efforts.

The FBI has led the way on the low-tech surveillance front, using little-known powers given to it under the Patriot Act and other post-Sept. 11 policies.

Before Sept. 11, virtually all FBI surveillance was authorized by court-approved warrants and subpoenas issued through federal grand juries, which have some measure of oversight by citizen jurors and judges.

Since then, however, the FBI has sharply increased the use of so-called national security letters, which allow agents to obtain information on people they deem suspicious with little probable cause and without seeking judicial approval. Unlike with traditional search warrants, the target does not have to be notified.

Last year, federal agents issued 9,254 substantive national security letters to access financial transactions and personal data, interviews and government records indicate. Privacy experts and congressional staffers say these letters were rarely used before Sept. 11.

FBI agents are also using what are known as "sneak and peek" warrants on a wider scale, entering hundreds of homes clandestinely to gather intelligence and copy files and computer drives, again without notification. And they have conducted surveillance on antiwar, religious, civil rights and environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. (Emphasis added).
And we were worried about phone taps?

(Via Corrente )

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Steve Sack

Yoo Who

I've started to write about John Yoo on several occasions, but for one reason or another, I've not finished any of my entries. After reading about the latest justification for the "imperial presidency" of King George, I thought it was time to resurrect those pieces.

Yoo has an op-ed piece in the NY Times, How the Presidency Regained Its Balance, in which he tries to reasonably, earnestly explain why Bush needs to "reinvigorat[e] the presidency," and so Bush's recent actions on domestic surveillance and torture, when viewed in that light, are eminently justified. Citing the Constitutional right to "sidestep" the law, which was granted to the President by our Founding Fathers, Yoo explains:

Thus the administration has gone to war to pre-empt foreign threats. It has data-mined communications in the United States to root out terrorism. It has detained terrorists without formal charges, interrogating some harshly. And it has formed military tribunals modeled on those of past wars, as when we tried and executed a group of Nazi saboteurs found in the United States.

To his critics, Mr. Bush is a “King George” bent on an “imperial presidency.” But the inescapable fact is that war shifts power to the branch most responsible for its waging: the executive.

* * * *
The administration has also been energetic on the domestic front. It has re-classified national security information made public in earlier administrations and declined, citing executive privilege, to disclose information to Congress or the courts about its energy policy task force. The White House has declared that the Constitution allows the president to sidestep laws that invade his executive authority. That is why Mr. Bush has issued hundreds of signing statements — more than any previous president — reserving his right not to enforce unconstitutional laws.

A reinvigorated presidency enrages President Bush’s critics, who seem to believe that the Constitution created a system of judicial or congressional supremacy. . . But the founders intended that wrongheaded or obsolete legislation and judicial decisions would be checked by presidential action, just as executive overreaching is to be checked by the courts and Congress.
Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory gives the short verson, in John Yoo summarizes the last 5 years in two short sentences:
Bob Egelko has an interesting article in The San Francisco Chronicle today examining how U.S. law has changed over the last five years as a result of the 9/11 attack. He includes this truly revealing quote from John Yoo:

UC Berkeley law Professor John Yoo, who as a Justice Department lawyer was one of the Bush administration's chief legal theorists, summarized its view in his forthcoming book, "War by Other Means":

"We are used to a peacetime system in which Congress enacts the laws, the president enforces them, and the courts interpret them. In wartime, the gravity shifts to the executive branch.''

Actually, I'm pretty sure that it's always the case in America (or at least it used to be) that "Congress enacts the laws, the president enforces them, and the courts interpret them." That's pretty fundamental to how our country works. In fact, the whole structure of the Constitution is based on that system -- not just the "Peacetime Constitution" we have, but the actual Constitution itself.
The Carpetbagger Report also adds, in The un-American constitutionalism of John Yoo, that:
Given this worldview, Yoo's formulation of the distinction between wartime and peacetime constitutionalism breaks down and becomes one. If there is only war, there is only wartime constitutionalism. . . . [T]he shift of gravity to the executive branch, to the Oval Office, is total. The presidency rises above Congress and the courts, American constitutionalism is un-Americanized, and such quaint notions as the separation of powers and checks and balances go the way of the Geneva Conventions — they get in the way, and must therefore be abandoned.

In Bush's America, the America dreamed up by people like Yoo and Addington and implemented by people like Cheney and the Republican rubber-stampers in Congress, the president enacts laws, interprets laws, ignores law, and is essentially a law into himself (or herself).

Don't think this isn't possible. It's happening right now.
Yoo is one of the authors of the theory that justifies Bush's Imperial Presidency. These articles provide some insight into the man behind the throne. Scholar Stands by Post-9/11 Writings On Torture, Domestic Eavesdropping and a piece in PERRspectives Blog, Yoo Da Man.
From Abu Ghraib to NSA spying, President Bush's intellectual rationale comes from John Yoo:

On Torture. In August 2002, Yoo argued that physical torture "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." For Yoo, mental torture was limited only to psychological harm that must last "months or even years." In the wake of the Abu Ghraib revelations, Yoo took to the airwaves in May and June of 2004 in defense of the administration.

On Enemy Combatants and the Geneva Conventions. Over the protests of the State Department, Yoo persuaded President Bush in January 2002 to waive the Geneva Conventions and instead recognize Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners as "illegal enemy combatants" rather than prisoners of war. Three years later, Yoo argued that the President has the authority to hold the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely.

On Secret Detention of Suspects. Yoo has been a vigorous proponent of secret detention of terrorism suspects, both in the United States and abroad. Foreshadowing the uproar over the NSA program, Yoo defended secret detentions of suspected terrorism contacts in the U.S. so as to not allow Al Qaeda "to see the methods that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are using to catch them."

On the McCain Anti-Torture Bill. In recent weeks, Yoo, though no longer in the administration, has supported the White House effort to block passage of the McCain anti-torture amendment in the Senate. "While the impulse behind the McCain amendment is worthy", Yoo wrote in November, "McCain's only real effect would be to limit the interrogation of al-Qaeda terrorists."

On the NSA Domestic Surveillance Program. According to the New York Times, Yoo worked on "a classified legal opinion on the NSA's domestic eavesdropping program."
So now the guy that came up with this stuff is no longer in government, so is out there promoting the theory, as though it was always around, rather than a figment of his imagination (and pen). It like a little yo-yo -- that starts and ends with Yoo. Just call it: Yo-Yo Yoo.

For more information on Yoo, read this column from the NY Review of Books:
What Bush Wants to Hear and The New Yorker: Fact.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has a response to the Yoo op-ed, Shrill, hysterical lefty partisan blogger, that, as always, is well worth reading.

What the ????

For your Sunday morning smile, here's Jon Stewart exploring the use of the "question mark" in the media -- especially the cable news networks, CNN and Fox.

As Stewart says, "Fox has figured out that by simply putting a question mark at the end of something, you can say BLEEP anything. For instance:"

"The Question Mark: A Prophylactic Protecting Fox News from anything it might contract during its extensive GOP c***sucking."

Some questions, of course, are purely rhetorical. Such as:

Does anyone not know the answer to that one???

For the full story on that "question," see Is.An.Idiot.

UPDATE: J. Miller Rampant! raises a few questions of his own, in Har! Jon Stewart Brings the HAMMER Down on Fox, such as:

Is Karl Rove a severely repressed homosexual?

Is George W. Bush a drugged, alcoholic sociopath?

Does Dick Cheney suck the blood out of babies before setting out on a night of serial necrophilia?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Who Are We?

Bob Herbert, in The Stranger in the Mirror, reflects on 9/11 and Iraq:

What I thought was the greatest expression of the American character in my lifetime occurred in the immediate aftermath of those catastrophic attacks. The country came together in the kind of resolute unity that I imagined was similar to the feeling most Americans felt after Pearl Harbor. We soon knew who the enemy was, and there was remarkable agreement on what needed to be done. Americans were united and the world was with us.

For a brief moment.

The invasion of Iraq marked the beginning of the change in the American character. During the Cuban missile crisis, when the hawks were hot for bombing — or an invasion — Robert Kennedy counseled against a U.S. first strike. That’s not something the U.S. would do, he said.

Fast-forward 40 years or so and not only does the U.S. launch an unprovoked invasion and occupation of a small nation — Iraq — but it does so in response to an attack inside the U.S. that the small nation had nothing to do with.

Who are we?

Another example: There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we’re in an era in which the highest leaders in the land stoke — rather than attempt to allay — the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are equated with Nazi Germany. We’re told that we’re in a clash of civilizations.

If, as President Bush says, we’re engaged in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” why isn’t the entire nation mobilizing to meet this dire threat?

* * * *
The character of the U.S. has changed. We’re in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many “have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention.”

Even fewer care.

We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we’ve become.
If only we could have stayed in the moment.

(Full article available at Welcome to Pottersville)


Oh Nicole - You are WRONG.

I'm notta Nerd!

I am nerdier than 22% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Of course, my score says:

Not nerdy, but definitely not hip.

Cartoon of the Day

* David Sipress, The New Yorker

We Got Annie

There have been a number of quotable quips by Richards, but this AP article, Former Texas governor Ann Richards dies, has my favorite:

Asked what she might have done differently had she known she was going to be a one-term governor, Richards grinned.

"Oh, I would probably have raised more hell."
Having come up in the bad old days for career women (see here and here), Ann Richards was the kind of feisty role model that I admired and respected -- a sort of Helen Thomas in politics.

Judith Warner, who blogs at the NY Times, provides a fitting eulogy for those times and Ann Richards’s Big Life:
“A woman’s place is in the dome.”

The words today sound archaic, a tinny relic of a distant feminist past. But just 16 years ago, they had bite. They were fun. They triumphantly emblazoned a T-shirt with a picture of the Texas state capitol that Ann Richards held high on the day, in 1990, when she was elected governor.

It was a different time then. Feminism still felt alive. It produced “Backlash.” It gave us Anita Hill. And Hillary (yes – Hillary) and Bill, for that matter, and a whole climate of expectation and excitement and anticipation of change.

It was an era when Anna Quindlen could hear Richards give her famous “silver foot” speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention and come away feeling “proud as hell to be a woman.” Richards’s life trajectory – she was a former housewife and mother of four whose marriage had foundered when she entered politics – was the kind of story, then, that gave women a thrill. Many women of her generation had late-in-life careers. It felt real. Richards herself was real – as Quindlen put it in her “Life in the 30’s” column, “she was what men sometimes like to call a ‘real woman’ – pretty and dressed up and obviously good fun. And she was what women like to call a real woman, too – smart and not too perfect, a good ol’ girl, not an ice princess. The kind of woman who, just like you, keeps pantyhose with runs, to wear under slacks.”

Richards, looking back at the end of her single term in the governor’s office, talked about the lofty goals that had pushed her into politics, but also took pains to keep it all real. “I did not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house,’ ” she said.

It was an honest and clear-minded thought. An impolitic thought – much like Hillary Clinton’s 1992 admission that she wasn’t much for staying home and baking cookies. Yet, it was the kind of thought that virtually no one – politician or not – is likely to voice today. Not merely because of the immediate fallout that strikes anyone who does not sufficiently genuflect before the altar of Home. But because, I fear, in this generation, women have lost sight of certain simple truths: “a really clean house” (if you clean it yourself) is incompatible with a really big life.

* * * *
Ann Richards, Hillary Clinton – those women of that turbulent, transitional period of the 80’s into the 90’s – had it right. You can’t clean house and make it to “the dome” too. You can’t bake cookies and make it to the Senate. And that’s not just because there isn’t enough time. More profoundly, it’s because it just isn’t human to do all that. With all of our spouting off these days about the glorious variety of women’s Choice, there is one basic choice that we are not humanly able to make: we cannot choose what kind of people we are or what we are driven, drawn, destined to do. The best we can do is be ourselves – and stand up for what it takes to bring our self into being.

I hate to bake cookies. I will never have a neat house. And I am sick and tired of ruining my days – and my family’s for that matter – trying to be someone I am constitutionally incapable of being.

I want to be like Ann Richards, who in the later years of her life freed herself from the need to do things perfectly, relinquished the desire to be all things to all people, and focused, she said in a 2001 interview, on living a life filled with love, fun and work.
And as a final tribute to Ann Richards, a few excepts from Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:
You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.

You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.

You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.

You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.

You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.

You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher.

(Photo and Quotes via My Left Wing)

UPDATE: And don't miss Molly Ivins on Remembering Ann Richards.