Archive for August 4th, 2008

Bonus Monday Media Blogging

ABBA + Mary Worth = AWESOME!!!

(h/t Comics Curmudgeon)

1 comment August 4th, 2008 at 11:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Monday Media Blogging

Bush Administration Objectively Pro-Rape

This is utterly disgusting, yet so true to form for the Bush administration.  Apparently “support our troops” only applies to male ones – or perhaps this is a passive-aggressive Republican strategy to get women out of the military:

There was quite a struggle in Congress this week. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to testify in Thursday’s hearing on sexual assault in the military. Rep. John Tierney, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, angrily dismissed Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez from the hearing when Dominguez said that he, the DoD chief of legislative affairs and the chief of public affairs, had ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley, chief of SAPRO, to refuse to honor the subpoena issued by the subcommittee for her appearance.

Full committee Chairman Henry Waxman called the DoD’s decision to prevent Whitley from testifying “ridiculous and indicating DoD is covering something up.” It could also place Whitley in contempt of Congress. Rep. Christopher Shays said the DoD’s decision was “foolish.”

One of the questions that would have been put to Whitley was why DoD had taken three years to name a 15-person civilian task force to look into allegations of sexual assault of military personnel. The panel was finally named early in 2008 but has yet to meet. She would have also been queried on the SAPRO program’s failure to require key information from the military in order to evaluate the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs.

(…)

Rep. Jane Harman cited Veterans Administration statistics that one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted. She said the prosecution rate of those accused of raping fellow military service members is abysmally low. Of the 2,212 reported rapes in the military in 2007, only 8 percent of the cases ended in court-martial of the perpetrator, while the rate of prosecution in civilian courts is 40 percent.

(…)

Rep. Shays said he had no confidence in DoD or the military services and their policies of prevention of sexual assault, and asked how recruiting will fare when young women learn that one in three women is sexually assaulted and when young men find out that one in 10 men is raped while in the military.

Recruitment of rapists would certainly improve…

VetVoice wants to know where Bob Gates is:

Now, granted, Gates is a busy man with competing priorities–and two ongoing wars.  So maybe this hasn’t crossed his desk yet.  Maybe this is an issue that hasn’t risen above the Undersecretary level yet.  But if it hasn’t, it needs to.

This type of conduct by the Defense Department is despicable, and it’s indicative of a Presidential administration that has no respect for the American people or their elected Representatives.  Congressmen Tierney and Waxman should not only hold Deputy Undersecretary Dominguez in contempt, but they should subpoena Secretary Gates on this one.  As Congressman Waxman said, this is “ridiculous.”

(…)

With three female troops having been murdered this year stateside, and with the long list of rapes and suspected murders in theater, it’s clear that something needs to be done.  And what the Defense Department is doing now is far worse than simply ignoring the problem: They’re actively attempting to obstruct Congress from investigating it.

Many of us have been pleased with the moderate (non-neo-con) stances Secretary Gates has taken since he assumed the role from Rumsfeld over a year and a half ago.  But now he must step up and show the leadership that the troops and their families expect of him.  He needs to rectify this situation.  And quickly.

If he doesn’t, he will show that the Defense Department has no respect for its female troops, and, more importantly, that he’s going to allow murderers and rapists to sully the name and reputation of America’s Armed Forces. And no one wants to join an organization like that.

Here’s what I said about Gates during his confirmation hearing:

The thing is, while yes, Rummy was incompetent and awful, most of what went wrong with Iraq was dictated from above. If we venture for a moment into Magical Sugarplum Fantasyland and imagine that The Donald was the smartest, most competent SecDef in the history of all the universes, and told Dubya that his plan was Teh Suck, and refused to invade without a better plan, our clueless leader would have immediately shitcanned him and replaced him with Harriet Miers, or Joe Lieberman, or Jeff “Bulldog” Gannon, or Ryan Seacrest DSV.

In other words, the Defense Secretary does not set the Iraq policy; he merely executes it (or tortures it, as the circumstances require). It really doesn’t matter whether Gates has a plan for Iraq or not. Bush will do What Bush Wants To Do, which will inevitably be the most foolhardy and disastrous course possible.

Replacing the SecDef is all well and good, but we won’t have any chance of a least-bad outcome until we replace his boss.

In other words, I’m not convinced that Gates is responsible for this disgraceful rape-and-murder-enabling coverup – I would not be at all surprised if he were just following orders from the most secretive and amoral administration in American history.  Still, Gates isn’t resigning in protest, so his hands are not exactly clean either.

9 comments August 4th, 2008 at 10:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Sexism,War

Call Their Bluff

Dean Baker has an excellent idea for putting the oil companies and drilling-everywhere-will-cut-gasoline-prices-in-half wankers on the spot:

Since the drilling advocates are telling us that increased drilling will bring down the price of gas, there is no reason not to take them at their word. Why not just give them the green light to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Florida Coast and other offshore protected areas, Mount Rushmore and anywhere else on the planet that they want.

However, open drilling season comes with a simple quid pro quo. The oil industry gets slapped with a windfall profits tax that takes away any revenue in excess of $3 a gallon. Since we know it takes time to search for oil and drill wells, we can even give the oil boys a six-month grace period before the windfall tax takes effect.

Based on what Senator McCain and the Republicans are telling us, this windfall profits tax shouldn’t be of any concern to the industry. After all, opening up these protected areas for drilling will lead to a huge gusher of new oil on the market. This increased supply should push the price of gas back below $2 a gallon. According to McCain and the Republicans, once we declare open season for drilling, $4-a-gallon gas will just be a bad memory of what happens when you let environmentalists run the country.

It would be interesting to see the response if Senator Obama or Democrats in Congress put forward this proposal. If McCain and the Republicans believe what they have been saying, then they should have no problem putting a windfall profits tax provision into their bill, since they know it will have no effect. On the other hand, if they believe what all the experts are saying – that additional drilling will have no noticeable impact on oil prices – then they will strongly oppose this bill, since it would be a huge tax on their friends in the oil industry.

In short, this compromise “drill anywhere” plan is a simple way to force Senator McCain and the Republicans to tell the country whether they really believe that drilling in protected areas will lower gas prices, or whether they are knowingly making false claims for political gain. The “drill anywhere” plan will make them tell the truth without waterboarding.

This is a lot like telling Bush, Cheney, and all the neocons that they can invade any country they want, any time they want, but since they would obviously never do so without it being both existentially important and eminently winnable, all of their combat-age children and/or grandchildren would be the first ones on the front lines, and they themselves would have to visit the invadee nation five years after the invasion… without military escort.

You know, I’m liking this as a general Democratic strategy: Whenever Republicans make extravagant and transparently false claims to justify their terrible ideas, offer them a “compromise” that includes a painful (and preferably ironic) penalty if said claims do not pan out.

Never happen, of course.  But fun to think about.

3 comments August 4th, 2008 at 08:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Energy,McCain,Politics,Republicans

Quote Of The Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8yN_6KIxxw

100 hairs make a man.

From an MLB.com story on Yankee first baseman/DH Jason Giambi’s newly-shaven mustache:

The American Mustache Institute, a St. Louis, Mo.-based organization, even pledged its support for Giambi, urging fans to place their [All-Star] votes based upon his “powerful lip fur.”

American Mustache Institute, I salute you.

3 comments August 4th, 2008 at 06:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging,Quotes,Sports

Monday Media Blogging

A stop-motion re-imagining of John Carpenter’s The Thing, using GI Joe action figures.

It’s really surprisingly creepy.

(h/t Coilhouse)

2 comments August 4th, 2008 at 11:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Victims Of Their Own Success

Greg Anrig explains why the Republican brand is falling apart:

McCain’s ongoing difficulties in exciting voters aren’t just a tactical problem; his woes stem largely from his long-standing adherence to a set of ideas that simply haven’t worked in practice. The belief system and finely crafted policy pitches that enabled the right to dominate the war of ideas for the past 30 years have produced a relentless succession of governing failures, from Iraq to Katrina to the economy to the environment.

(…)

The single theme that most animated the modern conservative movement was the conviction that government was the problem and market forces the solution. It was a simple, elegant, politically attractive idea, and the right applied it to virtually every major domestic challenge — retirement security, health care, education, jobs, the environment and so on. Whatever the issue, conservatives proposed substituting market forces for government — pushing the bureaucrats aside and letting private-sector competition work to everyone’s benefit.

So they advocated creating health savings accounts, handing out school vouchers, privatizing Social Security, shifting government functions to private contractors, and curtailing regulations on public health, safety, the environment and more. And, of course, they pushed to cut taxes to further weaken the public sector by “starving the beast.” President Bush has followed this playbook more closely than any previous president, including Reagan, notwithstanding today’s desperate efforts by the right to distance itself from the deeply unpopular chief executive.

But in practice, those ideas have all failed to deliver on the promises the conservatives made, and in many instances, the dogma has actually created new problems. Particularly after Hurricane Katrina, when Americans saw how hapless the Federal Emergency Management Agency was, the public has begun to realize that the right’s hostility toward government has produced only ineffective government.

One can see the results in recent headlines: a Justice Department where non-conservatives need not apply; tainted spinach, jalapeño peppers and pet food; dangerous imported toys; poorly enforced environmental laws and a warming planet; the regulatory failures that led to the subprime mortgage fiasco. Meanwhile, large tax cuts (as under Reagan) have weakened the country’s fiscal health without significantly improving the lot of the vast majority of citizens. And the right’s enthusiasm for Bush’s brand of “benevolent hegemony” in foreign policy, which insists on the U.S. right to wage preventive war and dismisses the United Nations as a band of meddlesome bureaucrats, has weakened our security — most notably through the unnecessary calamity in Iraq — by diluting our military capabilities and diverting their focus from genuine threats from al-Qaeda.

A lot of core conservative ideas sound pretty good in the abstract: Lower taxes, substitute dynamic, resourceful, efficient American entrepreneurial know-how for bureaucratic red-tape and waste, America as the baddest kid on the global block, and so on.  But once the Republicans successfully sold their Ponzi scheme to the American people, they proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that it doesn’t work worth a damn.

If I wrote a book about how to sculpt a perfect body without dieting or exercising, or about how to get rich without working, and I had hundreds or thousands of pundits singing its praises, I would sell millions of copies.  But it would very quickly become obvious that the books were a fraud, and everyone but the most gullible or desperate crackpots would stop buying them, and my credibility would be destroyed.

But I’d still make a lot of money.  And maybe one day, a new generation forgets what a scam my book was, and starts buying millions of copies again.

19 comments August 4th, 2008 at 07:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics,Republicans


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