As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

...or maybe just a few days

Looks like I'm back up and running.

So's Karl Rove, incidentally.

NEW YORK - Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Someone mentioned that these latest public comments from the ultimate insider are interesting simply because they're coming from his mouth. Apparently there's such a shitstorm going down at sixteen-hundy Penn. Avenue that Rove has to get out there and do the slander himself. He can't rely on surrogates anymore.

Let's forget for a moment all the hue and cry that happens when a Democrat says something inflammatory. Wonder if pundit panels will immediately call on Republicans in swing states to defend Rove's remarks. Don't hold your breath; the GOP knows the art of working the refs a lot better.

Case in point: it's horrible for Amnesty International or Dick Durbin to call Guantanamo Bay a gulag, but if you're a conservative columnist talking about the Canadian health care system, "gulag" is just right.

Could somebody get a copy for me of the rulebook with the two different sets of rules for (D)s and (R)s so I know in advance, please?

...incidentally, Harry Reid and the boys know the scent of blood in the water:

"I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Bush White House would continue to use the national tragedy of September 11th to try and divide the country. The lesson our country learned on that terrible morning is that we are strongest when we unite together, that America's power is in its common spirit of democracy and freedom.

"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign. The lesson of September 11th is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates.  It is equally shared and was repeatedly demonstrated in the weeks and months following this tragedy as Americans of all backgrounds and their elected representatives rallied behind the victims and their families, united in our common determination to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible attacks.

I'm sure the pundits will just tut-tut that this is nothing but "red meat for the base" and that Democrats are exploiting the issue (as if we wrote Rove's remarks for him). So the rules, then: when a Democrat says something perceived to be outrageous he's an "angry Bush-hating liberal"; when a Republican does so, he's just serving up red meat for the base and liberals shouldn't exploit it.

The words "catch" and "22" leap to mind.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On a Lighter Note

A short film (comedy, apolitical) I co-wrote and directed, A Year in the Life, is now up on iFilm.

Also, a word about this blog: without reliable Internet access during the day, this has become more of a chore I try to squeeze into spare time rather than a pleasant workaday diversion. I feel like I'm rushing to put something up so I can check it off my to-do list rather than offer anything particularly insightful or in-depth. So I have to suspend daily updates for a while until things change. "A while" could mean a few days or a few weeks.



Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Alternative History

Digby has an amazing post up about the Big Lie Theory. Here's a precis of it if you're unaware:

In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility ... it would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

Digby goes on to document how, for two years, leading right up to the election, day after day, Bush continued to insist that we went to war because Saddam defied the UN Security Council by refusing to allow weapons inspectors back into the country, which is patently false. The Security Council didn't give any authorization to go to war; the coalition did not get a second resolution. The weapons inspectors were allowed back in. And yet Bush created this alternative history, unquestioned, for two years. History is written by the winners, indeed.

When the "Deep Throat" revelations came out recently, it amazed me that so many Republicans rushed to Nixon's defense, even some that didn't work for him. It didn't matter that the disclosure of Mark Felt was simply an addition to the historical record; these guys saw their chance to re-fight Watergate, screaming that the resignation of Nixon led to every murder in the whole of Southeast Asia during the 70s, and how dare these blood-on-their-hands librul haters take down this great President. I thought the public record and public opinion on Watergate was pretty well established. But that didn't matter.

It seems to me that most Democrats wouldn't go out of their way to defend Lyndon Johnson on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. I certainly wouldn't. The incident didn't happen, and the Johnson Administration trumped it up to reach their goals in Vietnam of deploying more troops and escalating the war. It was wrong, and it ended up bringing down his Presidency.

The point is that Republicans seem far more willing to compromise their ideals to defend other Republicans. They're willing to concoct these alternative histories, push forward Big Lies, and continue to do so even after all the evidence to the contrary is revealed. Such is the state we're in right now. It's really darn near impossible to argue with people who've swallowed the Big Lie, for the reasons stated above. It seems so preposterous that someone would lie that big, about something that important, that they cannot believe the evidence right in front of their faces. Take for example this brief flurry of right-wing blog activity about the Downing Street Memos being fakes, despite Tony Blair and George Bush acknowledging their authenticity at a press conference on June 7. The idea is to make up any kind of excuse, any kind of alternate explanation, to do anything not to accept the Big Lie.

The thing is, they don't even have to accept it. I still have this crazy notion that the majority of Americans, once they get all the facts, will make the right decision. Now that the facts are coming out through the haze, the believers in the Big Lie will have to accept at least one thing: defeat.


Recess Appointment

There's no doubt in my mind that John Bolton will now get a recess appointment to be the US Ambassador to the UN. I can't see any other reason that Bill Frist would call a cloture vote he knew was going to lose. It's designed to label Democrats obstructionists. Since practically the only thing in the way of an up-or-down vote in the Senate is the White House releasing NSA intercepts and other documents for Senators to view, I'd say that the Administration is being the obstructionists in this scenario. I wrote a while back about how this isn't about confirming Bolton, it's about the balance of power in the government, executive versus legislative:

I thought we learned during Watergate that no President is above the law. It is completely reasonable for the Senate to request and receive these documents. They may show that Bolton lied to the Foreign Relations Committee during his testimony. They may show that Bolton was surveilling people who didn't share his views. Or they might show nothing. The point is that the integrity of the legislative branch is at stake. This isn't partisan small potatoes; this is about what kind of government we'll have in this country; a rule by fiat from a small cabal in the White House, or three fully independent, co-equal branches. Consolidating power in the executive branch has been the MO of every President, Democratic or Republican, for many a year. It does the country no good.

Well, this executive branch has spoken, I believe, and given their options (withdrawing Bolton's name, giving up the documents, or making a temporary recess appointment), I'm almost sure they'll speak again by simply installing the guy. And then we'll get a round of speeches about how "The Democrats gave us no choice" and the like, and everyone will ignore this wanton disregard for checks and balances.


Monday, June 20, 2005

We're Not As Bad As The Nazis!

That seems to be the rallying cry for the Right these days. In response to the brouhaha over Dick Durbin's comments about the recently declassified FBI report about prisoner abuse at Guantanamo, all the torture apologists on the Right have got seems to be the plainly self-evident fact that "we're not as bad as Nazis! We're not as bad as terrorists! We're not as bad as Stalin!"

Yay. That makes me feel so much better about my country. Unfortunately, I reserve the right to hold my birthplace to a higher standard.

No shit we're not as bad as Nazis, morons. We shouldn't even be in the same sentence. But sadly, as much as you want to hide from reality, we are in the same sentence. If all that matters to allow you to rest your head against the pillow at night is that the US is living up to a human rights standard slightly above that of the most despicable, despotic regimes in history, you've lost your own humanity. We're clearly torturing prisoners. It's clearly Administration policy. It's not coincidence that the same techniques at Abu Ghraib are the same techniques at Bagram are the same techniques at Guantanamo.

Let's forget for one second how incredibly inaccurate any information gleaned from torture typically is. The problem isn't that we're the same as Nazi Germany or the gulag-era Soviet Union; the problem is that we're not different enough. I don't know about you, but I'd like to think that being an American means you don't torture anyone. Ever. Not just because you don't want your own soldiers tortured (although that's an element); not just because you inflame your enemies and lose your moral standing; but because it's totally fucking wrong. End of story. You're either for torture or you're against it. Among the many rationales for this adventure in Iraq were ominous references to Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms. Those now defending torture on US soil because they perceive we do it a little nicer have lost it. Even Andrew Sullivan can see this. Tell you what, there's an easy way out of these comparisons: stop torturing human beings. Especially stop torturing the ones on our side:

A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.

Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

Baker, a Gulf War veteran who reenlisted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was medically retired in April 2004. He said the assault left him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.

The Pentagon initially said that Baker's hospitalization following the training incident was not related to the beating. Later, officials conceded that he was treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas.

The drill took place in a prison isolation wing reserved for suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were disruptive or had attacked MPs.

Baker said he put on the jumpsuit and squeezed under a prison bunk after being told by a lieutenant that he would be portraying an unruly detainee. He said he was assured that MPs conducting the "extraction drill" knew it was a training exercise and that Baker was an American soldier.

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, "red," and shouted: "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

No one has been disciplined or punished for the assault, said Baker's lawyer, T. Bruce Simpson Jr.

These apologists on the Right that are "outraged at the outrage," as Sen. James Inhofe put it last year, make me sick. America is no place for such moral relativism. Either you're with us or you're with the torturers. I'll let you figure out where the "I (heart) Gitmo" T-shirt hawkers over at the "Blog of the Year" stand.