Friday, September 15, 2006
By Matthew Rothschild
September 2006 Issue - The Progressive
My personal favorite poll number is the President’s 2 percent approval rating among blacks. Which is within the margin of error. Which leads to all sorts of mind-boggling possibilities, scientifically: Is it possible that more black people hate the President than are actually alive today?
Do you think black ghosts are coming back to hate him?
Do you think they can read black sonograms at this point?
Are doctors saying, “We don’t know if this is a boy or a girl, but we know this baby hates George W. Bush”?
As written in the Chicago Tribune: "Reaching out to more moderate, churchgoing voters with misgivings about abortion, House Democrats plan to unveil legislation on Thursday that sets a public policy goal of reducing abortions in America."
Same article, Dem policy analyst: "From our perspective, it shows Democrats are changing the debate and making it a priority to reduce abortions in America while leaving personal liberties intact."
My points--first of all, the introductory paragraph suggests that the prior Democratic policy approach was "Abortions for all! Buy one, get one free!" The second is the notion that Democrats need to "reach out" to moderate churchgoers, (and implicitly, to fundamentally change the message to do so), as if the Pat-shake-drinking lunatic fringe had that group locked up (speaking as a not-too-far from moderate churchgoer).
And my second point is the Dem policy analysis who apparently seems to say "yup, that's right, we've been wrong," suggesting the need for change (and hinting at fear) rather than emphasizing
1) constitutional liberty
2) personal freedom and proper government roles
3) rationality--recognizing that faith-based initiatives+medieval attitudes toward sexuality=pregnant teenagers, and that abortion laws don't reduce abortions.
4) individual responsibility and educated choices
We're on the right side here. They aren't. Say so.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Two car bombs in Baghdad on Wednesday killed 28 people and wounded scores more as over 60 bodies were found. In the day's deadliest attack, 20 people died and 51 others were wounded in a car bomb attack against a police patrol in east Baghdad, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf told AFP (link).
Freedom's on the march, but it just keeps exploding for some reason.
"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."
Yeah, there's nothing like the re-dedication of the Temple and eight days of oil after a rebellion against the Seleucids to warm the cockles of a Wahhabist Muslim's heart.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Yale University, bachelor's degree, history
New Rule: Bad presidents happen to good people.
Amid all the 9/11 anniversary talk about what will keep us safe, let me suggest that, in a world turned hostile to America, the smartest message we can send to those beyond our shores is, "We're not with stupid."
Therefore, I maintain that ridiculing this president is now the most patriotic thing you can possibly do. Wait. Let the word go forth to our allies and our enemies alike. Let them know that there's a whole swath of Americans desperate to distance themselves from George Bush. And that's just Republicans running for re-election.
If I could - if I could explain one thing about George Bush to the rest of the world, it's this: we don't know what the fuck he's saying either! Trust me, there's nothing lost in translation! It's just as incoherent in the original English. George Bush just turned out to be one of those things that's very popular for a few years, and then almost overnight becomes completely embarrassing. Like leg-warmers or white people going, "Oh, no, you di-n't." Or invading
Honestly, maybe the reason they haven't attacked us again is they figure we're already suffering enough. No, it pains me to say these things because I know, deep down, George Bush has something extra. A chromosome. Wait, wait, wait. You see, wait. I did that on purpose. Was it cruel? Maybe. But it saved lives, dammit!
Because by doing the "extra chromosome" joke, I sent a message to a young Muslim somewhere in the world who is on a slow-burn about this country, and perhaps got him to think, "Huh, maybe the people of
So, while honoring the anniversary of September, 2001, we must also never forget January, 2000. That's when then governor George Bush said, "I know how hard it is to put food on your family." The world changed on 9/11. He didn't. That's why we owe it to ourselves and to our children to never stop pointing out that George W. Bush is a gruesome boob.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I belabor this to emphasize that, for me… this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft", or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here — is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante — and at worst, an idiot — whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.
Five years later… this is still… just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.
At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial — barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field, Mr. Lincoln said "we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.
Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground." So we won’t.
Instead they bicker and buck-pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they’re doing — instead of doing any job at all.
Five years later, Mr. Bush… we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir — on these 16 empty acres, the terrorists… are clearly, still winning.
And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.
And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation.
There is, its symbolism — of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.
The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it… was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.
Those who did not belong to his party — tabled that.
Those who doubted the mechanics of his election — ignored that.
Those who wondered of his qualifications — forgot that.
History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government, by its critics.
It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation’s wounds, but to take political advantage.
Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
The President — and those around him — did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the Vice President’s words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."
They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken… a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.
The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had ’something to do’ with 9/11, is "lying by implication."
The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."
Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space… and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.
Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.
Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible — for anything — in his own administration.
Yet what is happening this very night?
A mini-series, created, influenced — possibly financed by — the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.
The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.
How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death… after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections… how dare you or those around you… ever "spin" 9/11.
And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight.
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children, and the children yet unborn."
When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American…
When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
May this country forgive you.
When I read some of the letters to this paper I despair for the future of this country. A recent one indicated that terrorists have the right to confront their accusers, see the evidence against them and the right to a speedy trial all in accordance with the Constitution. What the writer fails to grasp is that those rights are guaranteed to all citizens, not suspected terrorists. So unless, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sneaks across the Mexican border, claims sanctuary in a Chicago church and that his mother is a U.S. citizen, he is entitled to none of the rights under our Constitution. It's sad when people are more concerned with the rights of terrorists than protecting this country from them. I suggest that Roger should take a look at his constitution. The 4th amendment search and seizure provisions apply to "people," not "citizens." The 5th amendment due process/self-incrimination guarantees refer to "persons" as well, again, not "citizens" and the 6th, concerning confronting witnesses and rights to counsel, applies to ALL criminal prosecutions. Similarly, with regard to state action, the 14th also applies to "persons," not "citizens."
Roger, one quick suggestion:
I was living in Poughkeepsie, NY that year, teaching some very over-pampered brats at Vassar College, and my girlfriend lived in Bloomfield, NJ, while doing an ER residency in Newark. That semester, I didn't have classes on Tuesday, and I had gone out to a movie the night before (The Others) and then crashed at her place, waiting for her to come home from work. The plan was that she would sleep a little while, and then we'd hang out that afternoon. Soon after she got home from work, I went out to the grocery store to get some food for breakfast. I turned on the car radio, which had been on ESPN the night before, and heard Tony Kornheiser talking about the attack on the Pentagon. It was somewhat garbled, and I didn't really get what he was talking about, so I turned on one of the news stations. They were talking about the planes that hit the World Trade Center. The towers had not yet collapsed, and I didn't really understand what was going on - someone was really confused, mixing up the Pentagon and the WTC - after all, both couldn't have been attacked at the same time, so I went into the store and shopped. No one was talking about what I'd heard on the radio, so I figured it must not have been that big of a story. Of course, what it really meant was that the news was too fresh for everyone to have gotten it.
Driving back in the car, I listened to the news some more, and got back in time to turn on the TV and see the first tower fall. I woke my girlfriend up, telling her what had happened. She thought I was kidding, since it was an absurdity, and I was just trying to prevent her from sleeping. Eventually, she came out to the living room and saw the TV, and immediately started getting ready to go back to work. The page to come in came minutes later, since everyone thought there would be lots and lots of injured, and the NYC hospitals would be overwhelmed, sending the overflow to New Jersey. No one knew that there wouldn't be injured. She left for work, and I got in my car to drive home.
I could see the smoke rising from lower Manhattan. The towers stood roughly 10 miles from Bloomfield, which seems far with traffic. It's less with smoke. I drove up to Poughkeepsie, listening to the radio, trying to process what had happened. By now, we knew of the fourth plane, but everything else was chaos. Once I got home, I couldn't stay home alone - this was something I needed to be around others for. Most people weren't in work that day - classes had been cancelled, and many of the people at Vassar had strong New York connections. So I went on the computer, and spent much of the day on a now-long gone message board by the name of Boufdot and on email, talking to everyone I could. The Red Cross started up websites for donations, and a friend of mine figured out how to grab the numbers from Amazon's page and output a graph of the total donations versus time. The generosity of the world was stunning that day, as was the unity that seemed to be everywhere - we had to reach out in all directions, because we all needed help. The next day in class, I was supposed to go over projectile motion, and I was using military examples - hitting targets wth missiles. Somehow that seemed wrong to me. Still does.
The fall of the Berlin Wall meant a major change in the world - for 40+ years, we'd lived under the threat, sometimes more real than at others, that those Russian bastards would nuke us in our beds. My students today know nothing of this, thinking (if at all) of nuclear war as something as ancient as Dr. Strangelove. The attacks on September 11 could have opened the door to a wonderful time, where we came together to attack the ills of society that lead to terrorism, rather than to start a war, where we focused on what connects us instead of what divides us. We have been led astray by fear and hate. By greed and lies. By the willingness to make others suffer so that a few could thrive. We sacrifice what makes us, in principle, a great country.
So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
Running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears, wish you were here. - Roger Waters
I did see one thing in passing that made my skin crawl, however. Granted, it is a Wiki thing, and as we all know, anyone can post to Wikipedia, but try this one on for size:
Patriot DayGood God. What's next? Carols?
In the United States, Patriot Day occurs on September 11 of each year, designated in memory of those who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, the name does not seem to have yet caught on in the American vernacular; most people still refer to the day as "September 11th", "9/11", or some variation thereof. U.S. House Joint Resolution 71 was approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001. It requested that the President designate September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day." President George W. Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89). It is a discretionary day of remembrance.....Some greeting card companies have released Patriot Day cards, causing controversy among some.
Happy holidays...happy holidays...may the merry bells be bringin' happy holidays to you!
–(noun) a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, developed in advance: battle plans; a specific project or definite purpose: plans for the future.
--(verb) to arrange a method or scheme beforehand for any work, enterprise, or proceeding; to formulate a scheme or program for the accomplishment, enactment, or attainment of: plan a campaign.
Iraq post-war plan muzzled
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, an early planner of the war, tells about challenges of invasion and rebuilding.
BY STEPHANIE HEINATZ
September 8, 2006 FORT EUSTIS -- Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday. In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.......
"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said."I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today."He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."
Sunday, September 10, 2006
It's not a big deal.
Now, I'm not here to defend the veracity or quality of this thing; that's impossible because I haven't seen it. I have only second- and third-hand recaps. That said, all those who are busy debunking it and protesting loudly are people I respect, and they have their hearts in the right place. I'm sure this "movie" would make Goebbels proud. I am willing to stipulate that it is a thuggish right-wing hatchet job, unfair, inaccurate, and, worst of all, disrespectful to the memory of the many who died that day. OK? OK.
But it doesn't really matter. Here's why.
- Not that many people are going to watch it. Far, far more people are going to watch Eli and Peyton Manning tonight, and even the lame games on ESPN tomorrow night will outrate this thing.
- Those who will watch it are a lost cause already. This is a classic exercise in preaching to the choir. Some of the 30% hardcore wingnut base will watch it (those who aren't watching football), but they've already anointed Chimpoleon king for life in their hearts, and have been using Clinton bumwipe for 10 years. And I've seen a lot of earnest handwringing about how the stupid/ignorant out there who don't read books or newspapers will watch it, and be swayed to the GOP. Putting the shameful elitism of that sentiment aside for a moment, does anyone really think the dimwit crowd hasn't already been buffaloed by these yahoos? How can this make it worse, in real terms, at the polls?
- It's bad. According to TV critics nationally, it's an amateurish pile of dung, and anyone who isn't drunk on kool-aid is likely to tune out after 30 minutes and not come back. Look, the presence of a talentless hack like Patricia Heaton is all you need to know. I can smell it from here. Conservatives have never been successful in the arts; try to name two. The most critical quality of an artist is empathy, some kind of understanding of the human condition. It follows trivially that Conservatives lack empathy and therefore cannot create good art. QED.
- I believe ABC/Disney does have First Amendment protection here. Pete asked who the first wingnut would be to bring this up; I guess I'm a wingnut now. I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I don't see where the First Amendment means you have to tell the truth. They can do this. Now, we can respond by boycotting Disney and all their properties (I've been looking for a good reason to quit watching "Lost"), and those who have standing can sue for defamation. From what I'm reading, Clinton and Albright might do exactly that. But I don't see where this violates the "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" test. Tacky, stupid, evil, bad? Yes. Illegal? Not in my America, thanks. The solution to bad free speech must ALWAYS be more free speech, not less. I'm kind of a hardliner on this one.
Normally, I'd just keep my yapper shut and move on, but I'm worried about all the energy being spent on this when the most important midterm election since the Depression is only 9 weeks away. People are taking their eye off the ball. This is going to be completely forgotten in 5 days.
One last thought on this is that this is nowhere near the worst abuse by a TV network in recent memory. I call to your attention the evening of the 2000 election, when Jack Welch, CEO of GE (the parent of NBC) and an outright bitch of Chimpoleon, called the news desk and demanded that they call Florida for Bush, shifting the momentum to Bush and the burden of proof to Al Gore. How'd that work out for us? Read Henry Waxman's op-ed in the LA Times on the matter.
I humbly submit that that single act was infinitely more damaging to the long term health of our Republic than the airing of a badly made, revisionist made-for-TV movie.
So if you think that 9/11 was only about what really happened on 9/11, and the source of extremist ideology was a secular nation that saw extremists as a threat to them......
"There was a book lying near Alice on the table, and while she sat watching the White King (for she was still a little anxious about him, and had the ink all ready to throw over :him, in case he fainted again), she turned over the leaves, to find some part that she could read," -- for it's all in some language I don't know, she said to herself--- [insert the above Bush-Speak here instead of Jabberwocky, although I think `'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe' read backwards makes more sense than George and Condi] She puzzled over this for some time, but at last a bright thought struck her. "Why, it's a looking-glass book of course! And if I hold it up to a glass, the words will all go the right way again!"
In a distinction previously undisclosed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said Friday that the United States is including in its tabulations of sectarian violence only deaths of individuals killed in drive-by shootings or by torture and execution. That has allowed U.S. officials to boast that the number of deaths from sectarian violence in Baghdad declined by more than 52 percent in August over July.
Remarkable. If you don't reality--re-define it.
"Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past."
Chief: "The hell with this, I'm taking that casino gig!"
(Local Fake Wires) Chief Illiniwek, embattled symbol of the University of Illinois, resigned unexpectedly Saturday afternoon. His departure, while expected at the end of the season due to NCAA pressure, was appararently prompted by the dismal performance of the team in Saturday's 33-0 loss. The chief stated, "you want me to dance in buckskins and bare feet in November when we can't even get the ball over midfield against [expletive deleted] Rutgers? RUTGERS? The hell with this, I'm taking that casino gig!"
Sources close to the chief report that he has agreed to a two-year contract to serve as a greeter at an undisclosed Native American casino in Wisconsin, and will offer a "Chief-ercize" dance class at the casino's hotel spa.
Chief Illiniwek, in Happier Times