Shootin’ Thru The ‘Tubes

With all the news and views that clog the Intertubes, sometimes it’™s good to flush the system.

Commentary By: The Xsociate

Another lazy Sunday and here’™s what’™s Shootin’™ Thru The ‘Tubes:

Looks as though The Big G is out for the ’08 race. No not Gore, Gingrich. Satirists, cartoonists and Democrats are saddened by the loss.

Those still left in, however, are ripe for snarkification. I mean seriously, it’™s almost as if they want to make it easy for us. John McCain says that the US Constitution established a Christian nation and questions whether a Muslim is fit to be president. But I don’™t think Crazy Train should be positing about whether or not a person of a certain religiosity is worthy of office given his seeming inability to pick one himself.

Then there’™s Rescue Rudy, who now fancies himself a modern day Jesus because of how his personal life is scrutinized. The ironies in his allusion are so rich as to cause diabetic coma. And again with the 9/11, this time explaining his reason for taking a call from his wife at a function where he was already well over his 9/11 quotient for the day. Seems Rudy didn’™t get the memo that we’™re all outta 9/11 F.U.’™s.

Update: Is Rudy’™s pandering not playing with the pious populace?

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Sunday, September 30th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Mullah Omar – The Boys are Back in Town

As George Bush’™s days in office (hopefully) wind down, negotiating with terrorists is becoming a cottage industry. Today, Afghan president Kabul mayor Hamid Karzai offered to meet with Mullah Omar (remember him?), and potentially give the Taliban a role in government. At this point, I’™m not sure that Karzai has much of a choice.

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As Atrios notes today, it’™s almost amazing how everything that happened in (or to) America between Sept. 11, 2001 and March, 2003, seems to have fallen down the legacy media memory hole.

When I read the following AP story, I nearly choked:

KABUL, Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai offered Saturday to meet personally with Taliban leader Mullah Omar for peace talks and give the militants a high position in a government ministry as a way to end the rising insurgency in Afghanistan.

Reiterating a call for negotiations he has made with increasing frequency over the last several weeks, Karzai also said he was willing to meet with factional warlord leader and former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’¦

Now, wait a second. Isn’™t Mullah Omar the guy who was harboring Osama bin-Laden prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan?

Why yes, yes he was.

And hasn’™t the Taliban (according to press reports, anyway) been the organization behind acts such as blowing up a bus today in Kabul, killing around 30 people?

Why yes, yes it has been.

And haven’™t the NATO forces [read: U.S. military] in Afghanistan been slaughtering Taliban supporters and fighters at a pretty healthy clip?

Why yes, yes they have been.

For a couple of years now, I’™ve been saying that the Taliban and warlords control the country. Karzi is, in effect, little more than the mayor of Kabul. His government controls a few square blocks of Kabul, and the NATO / U.S. military forces control 50 feet to either side of any road that an armed convoy happens to be traveling. The Taliban and warlords pretty much have the run of the rest of the country. And there are no lack of recruits for Mullah Omar’™s special brand of fundamentalism.

Winter is approaching quickly around the Khyber Pass, and with the change of season, any opportunity to mount an offensive on the Afghan front of the Bush regime’™s endless war on whatever. Speaking of which, I’™m wondering how the U.S. government is going to respond to the mayor of Kabul’™s offer.

How is the mess that Bush created ever going to be cleaned up?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Redeploying the Phony Brigade

Dems: Should they charge or hold fast?

Commentary By: The Xsociate

A surprising thing happened on day two of ‘œRush to Condemn Rush’. The Democrats, whose response to such incidents can usually measured at a glacial pace, moved rather quickly to scold Rush for his jab at soldiers favoring withdrawal. Word has it there will even be a House resolution introduced Monday to formally condemn his statements ala the MoveOn.org amendment. But as deserving as the Dittohead-in-chief is of condemnation, I wonder how much of this fracas is merely to get back at the GOP for forcing a response to the MoveOn Maelstrom. If that is the case, I don’™t think a resolution is warranted (for the record, I didn’™t think MoveOn should have been censured either). Issue a press release or hold a press conference, sure. But for the most part Congress should avoid these tit-for-tat resolutions.

And really the Dems should know better than to play this game, because the rules are always pliable when it comes to the GOP. As much as it might feel good, this is exactly the sort of thing the GOPers want. Because I’™d bet good money that should a resolution come to the floor condemning Limbaugh, the GOPers will scold the Democrats for wasting the Congress’™ precious time on frivolous trivialities. I know it doesn’™t make much sense given the apoplexy over the importance to condemn MoveOn but when has anything the GOP done made sense?

Allowing any resolution that seeks to condemn free speech, even that which many find contemptible, only further illustrates the misplaced priorities of the Congress. And it shows how petty and sophomoric our political discourse has become. We already get enough of that from Rush, we don’™t need it from Congress as well.

Update: Upon further reflection, I find myself of two minds about whether ‘™tis wise for the Democrats to put forth a Rush resolution. On the one hand, as I note above, the GOP will surely bemoan the meaninglessness of the whole affair. But I am also sympathetic to the argument that bringing such a resolution to vote is designed to highlight that hypocrisy. Still further, the argument could be made that not seizing on this gifted opportunity could be a sign of weakness. The GOPers may harp on the fact that despite their widespread condemnations, the Dems won’™t follow through on their convictions. They have already locked themselves onto that course and were they to back off now, like a shark catching his first wisp of blood, the GOP will go into frenzy mode. Such are the tribulations of these vicious cycles of escalation and counter-escalation. All the more reason they should be avoided.

Sadly given the current partisan rancor that exists on both sides, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Saturday, September 29th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Top GOPers Skip Black Debate

Empty podiums or empty heads?

Commentary By: The Xsociate

The top tier GOP candidates bailed on the debate last night at a predominately black college because of what were said to be ‘œscheduling conflicts’. Here now are some other excuses that may have been considered:

1. Worried they might slip up and mention how ‘œsurprised‘ they were that a black moderated debate was just like every other debate and no one was shouting ‘œM-Fer, I have a question.’

2. Were concerned about how they would act around all those ‘œstocky black guys‘œ.

3. Would rather attend the symposium by Michael Medved discussing how slavery wasn’™t such a bad thing.

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Matthew Shepard Act Passes, Republicans Threaten Veto

A few Republicans supported the Matthew Shepard Act, which protects gay and lesbian citizens from hate crimes, but Republicans like Lindsey Graham (suspected of being gay) say Bush will veto the bill. Larry Craig, of course, who is not gay, voted against the bill.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The matching legislation in the House of Representatives passed by a good margin, though the Matthew Shepard Act only passed cloture by a bit in the Senate. But it isn’™t surprising here tht Bush is going to veto the bill, nor that, in his first official vote since returning to the Senate, Larry Craig, who is not gay, voted against the bill, thus evidently proving he’™s either not gay or just stupid. It may not be homophobia that drives the Republicans, anymore, but fear of the religious right. You gotta believe there’™s going to be divine retribution from the Radical Religious Right against those Republicans who voted for the Matthew Shepard Act. In Larry Craig’™s case, his motive appears to be a fear of losing power, or access to free travel and thus opportunities to visit restrooms all over the country.

The Democratic-led Senate on Thursday voted to let federal law enforcement help states prosecute attacks on gays, attaching the provision to a massive spending bill for the Iraq war and daring President Bush to veto the whole package.

The White House wasn’™t commenting on the prospects for a veto of the underlying defense authorization bill. But some Republicans warned that’™s just what would happen after the Senate voted by voice to accept the hate crimes amendment.

‘œThe president is not going to agree to this social legislation on the defense authorization bill,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. ‘œThis bill will get vetoed.’

Still, the hate crimes provision attracted significant support from the president’™s party. Nine Republicans were among the 60 senators who voted to halt any filibusters and bring the matter to the final voice vote.

What’™s encouraging here is that some Republicans appear to have made a different calculation than that the religious right Bloc will punish them for such a vote. And I’™m wondering what they think is in their political interest in voting for legal protection for gay and lesbian citizens. Nine Republicans in the Senate crossed the aisle for this bill, and I don’™t find that insignificant. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, whose opponent next year will likely be Al Franken, voted for the bill, evidently thinking his constituency would support the cause. Coleman evidently made the political calculation that citizens support legal protections for the gay and lesbian community. Others who crossed, such as Lugar, Snowe, Specter, Gregg, Voinovich and Warner, are all from states where they need not worry about the Radical Religious Right overmuch. Perhaps there’™s no especial Republican discovery of moral values here. IT’™s almost always a political calculation for them.

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Charge of the Phony Brigade

Dittoheads Unite!

Commentary By: The Xsociate

I don’™t know why everyone is so worked up over Rush Limbaugh’™s claim that those soldiers who support withdrawing from Iraq are ‘œphony‘œ. These sorts of ‘œfoot-in-mouth’ episodes are par for the course when it comes to Rush. That he always seems to slink by with nary a follicle out of place (sans the ones lost to a rapidly receding hairline) is a testament to how powerful the right wing media machine has become.

But I want to examine Rush’™s claim that soldiers who don’™t support the war in Iraq are ‘œphony’. If they are ‘œphony’ shouldn’™t we be doing something about it? I mean, if it’™s demoralizing to have gays openly serving in the armed forces, it must be equally demoralizing to have soldiers serving who don’™t support the war efforts 110%. Why not institute a ‘œDo Ask, Do Tell’ policy and any soldier found to be in favor of withdrawal be jettisoned before they are able to infect the rest of their units with similar sentiment. You know, like the gays do.

I am of course being facetious. Rush on the other hand is not and should be denounced for his comments. That his Oxy-Contin addled brain doesn’™t get that those soldiers who he derides as ‘œphony’ have fought and died so that he could speak his mind just shows who the real ‘œphony’ is in this debate.

More from Tim Grieve.

Update: Greg Sargent has another great catch. According to Rush, it’™s ‘œnot possible intellectually to follow’ those people who favor withdrawal because their basic argument thus far has been ‘œIt’™s gonna bring our troops home. Save the troops. Keep the troops safe. Or whatever.’

Greg boils it down:

The point here is that for Limbaugh, Boehner and other war supporters, the lives of the troops simply aren’™t part of the equation in any meaningful sense, and once in a while, this dirty secret slips out.

Defenders of the Bush administration often say that in order to really support the troops you must support the war. They are unable to differentiate the Cause (the war) from those fighting it (the soldiers). To them they are one in the same and Rush’™s commentary points to that inability to separate the two. People like Limbaugh just can not fathom the idea that each soldier is an individual with his or her own opinion. So when soldiers who choose to voice that opinion speak up, they are labeled ‘œphony’ to help preserve the integrity of this believed indistinguishableness.

To guys like Rush, the soldiers are just pawns to be moved about the chessboard of war. And should they fall, the collective reaction from righties is always the same.

Whatever.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

“Rush” To Judgment: Can You Identify The Phony?

Limbaugh’™s reflections have long been directed at the unwitting’¦and with this latest assault upon soldiers who serve their country honorably’¦he has once again chosen to wield his haughty hammer like a crazed carpenter in a glass house.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Well that didn’™t take long. In the aftermath of the demand to condemn the questionable MoveOn.org advertisement singling out General Petraeus’™ for his role in supporting the Bush administration policy in Iraq, it seemed likely that one of the many Bush apologists would soon step into some deep doodoo. As fortune would have it, the winner turns out to be none other than Rush Limbaugh.

From Media Matters:

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq ‘œphony soldiers.’ He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, ‘œMike from Chicago,’ who said he ‘œused to be military,’ and ‘œbelieve[s] that we should pull out of Iraq.’ Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as ‘œMike, this one from Olympia, Washington,’ that ‘œ[t]here’™s a lot’ that people who favor U.S. withdrawal ‘œdon’™t understand’ and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, ‘ ‘Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.’™ ‘¦ ‘Save the ‘” keeps the troops safe’™ or whatever,’ adding, ‘œ[I]t’™s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.’ ‘œMike’ from Olympia replied, ‘œNo, it’™s not, and what’™s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.’ Limbaugh interjected, ‘œThe phony soldiers.’ The caller, who had earlier said, ‘œI am a serving American military, in the Army,’ agreed, replying, ‘œThe phony soldiers.’

As Media Matters for America has documented, Limbaugh denounced as ‘œcontemptible’ and ‘œindecent’ MoveOn.org’™s much-discussed advertisement ‘” titled ‘œGeneral Petraeus or General Betray Us?’ ‘” critical of Gen. David Petraeus, but has repeatedly attacked the patriotism of those with whom he disagrees. For instance, on the January 25 broadcast of his radio show, he told his audience that he had a new name for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam veteran: ‘œSenator Betrayus.’

Limbaugh has been pushing the envelope for years’¦frequently jumping up and down on the line but seemingly succeeding in not crossing the threshold of no return. With the timing of his latest remarks’¦so close on the heels of the MoveOn.org fiasco’¦Rush may have finally failed to sneak one by.

The man who fashions himself to be a skillful tactician’¦on the order of an Olympic diver’¦able to jump into an issue head first, speak his piece, and leave behind insufficient evidence of his obtuse and offensive persona’¦may have finally committed the proverbial belly flop; leaving behind enough proof to warrant his disqualification.

Limbaugh’™s reflections have long been directed at the unwitting’¦and with this latest assault upon soldiers who serve their country honorably’¦he has once again chosen to wield his haughty hammer like a crazed carpenter in a glass house. Fortunately, the self-absorbed oxy-gen receptacle (code for pill popping windbag) may have misjudged his swing and shattered his own house of smoke and mirrors.

If it isn’™t obvious, I’™ll not lose any sleep while his actions are probed’¦in ways that he’™ll hopefully find to be reminiscent of a visit to the one fingered physician. All I can say is, ‘œEnjoy the examination, Rush!’

rushisphony.jpg

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Mitt Romney: Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

From a political strategy standpoint, Romney’™s efforts to engage the values voters may complicate the GOP equation. If he forces the other front-runner candidates to the right, it may hurt the appeal of a Rudi Giuliani with moderate and independent voters.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

In a moment of karmic irony, Mitt Romney’™s seemingly limitless desire to court the religious right, through his unabashed demonstrations of opposition to gays, may only be matched by the christian’™s displeasure with his Mormonism. Call me evil, but I love when one ‘œfundie flock’ has the potential to cancel out another.

Leading the way on an issue almost certain to be resurrected during the general election, Mitt Romney issued a statement this morning condemning the Democratic candidates for their refusal at last night’™s debate to rule out teaching about gay issues to second-graders.

Romney said that the answers proved ‘œhow out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people.’

‘œNot one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade,’ Romney notes. ‘œThis is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers.’

This is not the first time Romney has seized on teaching about gay issues to young children. In July, he took Obama to task after the Illinois senator told a Planned Parenthood conference that ‘œit’™s the right thing to do to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools.’ A rival to Romney pointed out that the former governor himself had supported ‘œage-appropriate’ sex ed in his 2002 gubernatorial bid.

While I have no particular axe to grind with Romney, I can’™t help but view his sudden ‘œdo-over demagoguery’ as a demonstration of his zeal for power and an important measure of his integrity quotient. I know’¦he wants us to believe that he has simply changed his mind on abortion and gay rights’¦and I’™m suddenly dating women’¦yea, right!

The problem the Romney strategy presents for the Democrats is that his insistence on carrying the values torch for the GOP will likely force his primary opponents to jump on the values bandwagon in an effort to prove their christian credentials. The fact that he instantly seized upon remarks made at last evenings Democratic debate support my concerns.

Fortunately (for those opposed to Mitt), Romney has an obstacle which may well prevent him from being anointed as the bastion for bible beaters. You see, they believe he suffers from the ailment of Mormonism’¦a belief system which many christians contend is unacceptable and nullifies his presidential pedigree. A new survey suggests Romney’™s religion may be a formidable obstacle.

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 26 /Christian Newswire/ ‘” ChristiaNet.com, the world’™s largest Christian portal with twelve million monthly page loads, recently asked, ‘œWould you elect a Mormon for president?’ President of ChristiaNet, Bill Cooper, responds, ‘œAn overwhelming majority of Christians have spoken on the issue, they won’™t vote for a Mormon.’

Out of 2,000 Christians surveyed, 59% claimed they would not vote to elect a Mormon for president. Most comments resulted from the belief that Mormonism is a cult, ‘œThe church of Mormonism is a cult and I would never vote for a cult leader.’ Most in this category also felt that Mormons were not Christians, ‘œA Mormon is not a Christian, and they don’™t follow the Bible like Christians do.’ In fact, almost all responses in this category suggested that a Mormon’™s belief in Christ and God were contrary to a Christian’™s belief. ‘œThey believe in a different Jesus and a different God,’ is an example of one such comment.

I’™m not certain how reliable this survey data may be, but one would be naive to think that Romney’™s faith will have no bearing on the votes cast by the religious right. From a political strategy standpoint, Romney’™s efforts to engage the values voters may complicate the GOP equation. If he forces the other front-runner candidates to the right, it may hurt the appeal of a Rudi Giuliani with moderate and independent voters.

Whatever happens, the GOP race is bound to be a fascinating look at a party attempting to craft a winning identity in the aftermath of the 2006 election. While I have no dog in the show, I suspect Romney may be barking up the wrong tree.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Blackwater: “We’re an Extension of the Military”

Someone tell me what’™s going on – and if the government is supporting Blackwater’™s assertion that the company is ‘œan extension of the military’?

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What? WHAT??

The families of the four killed contractors filed suit against the company in January 2005, saying that Blackwater’™s cost-cutting measures led to the deaths. That lawsuit is still pending as a federal judge tries to determine whether it should be heard in arbitration or in open court.

Blackwater has argued in court that it is immune to such a lawsuit because the company operates as an extension of the military and cannot be responsible for deaths in a war zone.

Yep. The neocons have set up their own private army, answerable to no one but government contract officials, apparently.

I wonder what the General Petraeus has to say about Blackwater’™s assertion?

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Marcel Marceau: 03/22/23 to 09/22/07

If death is the silencing of a loved one, what are we to conclude about the passing of a silent one? I’m not sure I can answer my question…but it crossed my mind to wonder if he who spoke less leaves more?


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

While we live in a fully visual world, it is often dominated by what is spoken. Rarely do we communicate without words…and when we do, it can frequently demonstrate the most poignant expression of our humanity…be it a smile, a tear, or two people holding hands. Meaningful moments of silence are rare…and with the passing of Marcel Marceau, they become even more infrequent.

My first memories of Marceau date back to my childhood. I can recall the first time I saw Marcel Marceau perform on television…and I remember being mesmerized by the silent images. Today, as an adult, it seems clear that his appeal to me and all children is as it should be.

Children first learn to understand the world through visual observations. As such, the world is a limitless source of fascination. In seeing Marceau perform, the visual world was suddenly transformed into a cognitive experience…a morphing of the obvious into the sublime.

In a world where words have become pedestrian, pantomime remains an art of refinement…an effort to simplify and exemplify…yet clearly an equation whereby less becomes more. If death is the silencing of a loved one, what are we to conclude about the passing of a silent one? I’m not sure I can answer my question…but it crossed my mind to wonder if he who spoke less leaves more?

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007 by Daniel DiRito |