The ad campaign would feature Bill Cosby in the throes of a bizarre psychosexual rage, using the product to slaughter people in a variety of lurid and creative ways, his trademark impish grin frozen into a Joker-like rictus of doom.
As I understand it, the presidential primaries are supposed to be all about demonstrating to the voters of your party that you have the leadership qualities necessary to be President of the I-think-still-just-barely most powerful nation on Earth. We’ve heard all kinds of back and forth between the top three candidates about who can best effect Change.
Well, there’s this FISA vote coming up, wherein Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will attempt to ram through a bill granting telecom corporations retroactive immunity for turning their customer’s calls over to the Bush Administration without warrants. Reid intends to do this over Chris Dodd’s dead body, and will dispense with the courtesies that he granted to Republican opponents, such as honoring holds and not requiring actual reading-from-the-phone-book-until-you-keel-over filibusters. As if this were not bad enough, it appears that this is actually the outcome that the Senate Democrats want, and the only Democrats willing to stand with Dodd in support of a filibuster are Teddy Kennedy and Russ Feingold (of course).
The first time FISA almost came to a head, Hillary and Obama refused to tear themselves away from their campaigning, which was a non-response worthy of our current Ignorer-In-Chief. If Hillary and Obama really want to show voters, especially Democratic voters, that they have the mettle to lead our country, then they need to get their asses down to the Senate floor and help Dodd out. Vote against cloture, ask Dodd long rambling questions so he can take breaks, and perhaps most importantly of all, use the megaphone of your presidential campaigns to let the American people know that the Bush administration (with the active collusion of the Democratic leadership) is once again trying to chip away at the rule of law to let themselves and their corporate henchmen escape accountability.
If you want to show leadership, then lead, don’t hide. If you want to demonstrate your ability to effect change, then change something. If you want to show that you’re not beholden to corporations and lobbyists, then tell the telecoms who have been pelting you with money that you appreciate their support, but you have to follow your conscience and do the right thing.
Of course, even if you do all that, you’ll still be following Chris Dodd, who despite polling in the low single digits in his bid for the nomination, still managed to display more leadership in a week than either of you has shown in the entirety of your brief, cautious Senate careers. But at this point I have to take what I can get, and I’d rather have a fast follower for President than someone who hides under the desk every time Republicans shout “9/11.”
But what about Edwards, you ask? After all, he is the Officially Endorsed Candidate Of Multi Medium, is he not? He most certainly is – but what he is not is a sitting Senator. I would love to see him go down to DC in a show of support and solidarity, but Edwards can only affect the outcome indirectly, either by focusing the meager spotlight the media deign to give him onto the immunity issue, or by shaming Actual Sitting Senators Hillary and Obama into showing up so he can’t lord this over them for the rest of the campaign.
And as long as I’m on the subject of leadership, where the hell is ours in Congress? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is actively facilitating an enormous gift to the Bush administration, and Nancy “Impeachment Is Off The Table” Pelosi still refuses to call a vote to hold Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt, over six months after they blew off Congressional subpoenas to testify on the US Attorney firings. If covering for a lawless, out-of-control Republican President is the kind of “leadership” our Democratic Representatives and Senators actually want, then God help us all, and we need better Democrats. Much, much better Democrats.
UPDATE: I forgot to ask: Why can’t Reid just say, “Sorry, fellas – as much as I’d like to help you with the whole shielding-corporations-and-Bushies-from-accountability thing, my hands are tied as long as that mean ol’ Mr. Dodd persists with his hold. And since it doesn’t look like he’s going to change his mind anytime soon, you might as well just pass the version without telecom immunity. And, I might add, the absence of retroactive immunity for telecoms does not in any way impede our ability to catch terrorists, regardless of what the Bush administration may say.”?
Am I asking too much?
3 commentsJanuary 24th, 2008 at 07:46amPosted by Eli
o No, everyone is born Christian. Only later in life do people choose to stray from Jesus and worship satan instead. Atheists have the greatest “cover” of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.
o Gravity: Doesn’t exist. If items of mass had any impact of others, then mountains should have people orbiting them. Or the space shuttle in space should have the astronauts orbiting it. Of course, that’s just the tip of the gravity myth. Think about it. Scientists want us to believe that the sun has a gravitation pull strong enough to keep a planet like neptune or pluto in orbit, but then it’s not strong enough to keep the moon in orbit? Why is that? What I believe is going on here is this: These objects in space have yet to receive mans touch, and thus have no sin to weigh them down. This isn’t the case for earth, where we see the impact of transfered sin to material objects. The more sin, the heavier something is.
o I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don’t think he’s ready to date yet. What’s worse is that he’s sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!
o The word of God has been in heaven forever. The KJV has always been there. The so called Hebrew words like Alleluia are English words. The English did not borrow them from the Hebrew but rather the Hebrew borrowed them from the English. If the KJV has always been there and is the original word of God then there is no other conclusion. The same can be said for any so called Greek words that were borrowed from the Greek or transliterated. It is a matter of what bias you approach this particular subject.
o [Replying to ‘as for not seeing evolution it takes several million years… incase you missed that memo…’]
several million years for a monkey to turn into a man. oh wait thats right. monkeys dont live several million years.
o If u have sex before marriage then in Gods eyes u are married to that person if a man rapes a woman in Gods eyes they are married it sucks for the girl but what can we do lol
o How can anyone beleive we evolved from monkeys heres a few questions for people who beleive that
1.If we did evolve from monkeys then how come babies arent born monkeys
4.how come we cant speak monkey
o [Talking about an eleven year old girl who was raped and then buried alive]
god was sacrificing this child as a way to show others the light. much as he did his own child. what a beautiful gift he has given us.
o Make sure your answer uses Scripture, not logic.
o A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However he should not penetrate, sodomising the child is OK. If the man penetrates and damages the child then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however does not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl’s sister.
o To say the Bible was written by men and may contain inaccuracies completely contradicts the word of the Bible.
o Me and like-minded Christian students are trying to organize a mock stoning of openly gay students at our campus. We will be using crumpled up gray/brown construction paper to represent rocks, and will recite bible verses in opposition to their sinful nature. We will throw a volley or two of these “rocks” at every Gay person we happen to encounter that day.
o Apes are just creatures twisted by Satan to mock Jesus by giving EVILolition credibility. Further more they are naturally lust crazed for human women. Since they are not natural creatures they should be exterminated forthwith as the tools of evil they are.
o Everyone knows scientists insist on using complex terminology to make it harder for True Christians to refute their claims.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, for example… sounds impressive, right? But have you ever seen what happens if you put something in acid? It dissolves! If we had all this acid in our cells, we’d all dissolve! So much for the Theory of Evolution, Check MATE!
o Constants seldom are … pi changes depending upon the strength of the gravitational field involved.
o …I know that some of the times when I was right in the very act of looking at, not pornography, but lingerie ads or some of those things, my wife would run down the stairs because she had just had a dream where she’s being chased by Satan and she couldn’t find me in the dream to protect her. I really think that the effects of my sin were causing my protection to be taken off of her.
o all the evolutionists, tell me something. i know how the big bang “has happened, but tell me, wouldnt an explosion, especially one that size, take away life instead of allow it? think about it.
ex: the a-bomb, the h-bomb, grenades, cannon balls (when fired from a cannon of course), mines, rocket launchers, and anything and everything in between. they all have taken lives.
o What do the other human persons here think ?
No doubt someone will object, saying something obviously ridiculous like, but atheists are persons.
But clearly this is mistaken because anybody without a well developed belief in God is obviously not a full human person.
What could be more obvious than that ?
How many full human persons do you know without a well developed belief in God. Obviously none, because if they were full human person they would have a well developed belief in God.
Now some people might object to killing atheists for there (and obviously it is there and not thier as they are not whos but whats ) organs but think of all the full human persons that would benifit from the organs and the medical research that could be done on these non-persons.
How could anybody object, they are not human persons and if you think we should not kill them then that is just because of out dated ideas and because they must really just want people to suffer. For shame on you !
So what do people think ?
Should we kill these atheist human non-persons for the benifit of fully human persons ?
o so you think if no one believed in any religion there would be no wars or fighting? i think it would be worse. i know if i didn’t fear god’s judgement i would have killed many many times.
o All elements in the universe (periodic table) get their properties based on their combinations of 3 specific sub-atomic components. Protons, Neutrons, & Electrons. No element has the same combination. (ie…Gold has 79 protons, 118 neutrons, 79 electrons)Carbon (man) has 6 protons, 6 neutrons, 6 electrons. . This will be the number in which the Anti-Christ will be identified by. And because a clone does not have working sexual organs, this explains why a “cloned” Anti-Christ will not have need for a woman.
o I am 100% pro-life, unless we’re talking about capital punishment, in which case I am 100% pro-death.
o No one knows what’s happening until the flood comes (according to Matthew). And the flood is here – it refers to the apocalypse. There is a huge amount of supporting evidence on the site. For example, there is evidence for the wh0re of Babylon due to a 666 mile long penis in Mexico.
o I’m not talking about a simple power outage. I’m talking about enriched plutonium which comes from the conversion of uranium into WMD. It is considered the most dangerous substance known to man and absolutely will shut off the electricity present in planes. All any terrorist has to do is drop large quantities of plutonium from airplanes onto American soil and it will render electricity completely useless. And the chain reaction that will occur from the US shutting down will be global. We Americans have had the capacity to do that to our enemies for years. I had erroneoulsy thought that atheists knew that since they claim to know so much about our universe.
o Don’t you know that evolution is basically a racist concept? Some evolutionists still teach that white people evolved from “negroes” who evolved from apes– Meaning “white people are more evolved!”
o According to evolutionists, it’s a fact that aliens ruled the planet before the dinosaurs because that can’t be disproven.
We have deformed skulls to prove that these aliens once had ape-like foreheads, and some walked on 2 legs and others walked on 4 legs. And since there have been confirmed sightings of alien spacecraft, that proves that they have come back to check on how things are going on planet earth.
We don’t know who the first alien was, but from the few skulls and bones we have, we can tell that there were millions of them. Then when they had explored planet earth, they found it boring and decided to leave but not before some of them had died here which is why we still have their skulls and bones. From them, we can tell what they wore, what color eyes they had, and that they were covered in hair. These are what evolutionists call facts, so we’ve proven that aliens once ruled the planet earth.
o Masturbation can sometimes be wrong and it can sometimes not. If you masturbate thinking about how pretty the flowers are and how you want a puppy, essentially that’s not wrong. But most times, that is not the case. I believe that when one masturbates a high percentage of the time they are fantasizing about a sexual partner therefore making masturbation lust. Lust, as the Bible states, is a sin. But masturbation is something that people in general should stay away from because it’s hard not to lust whilst doing it.
And finally, I apologize for the length, but this was just too crazy to leave out (I have attempted to insert paragraphs to make it semi-readable):
Just imagine vast fields of our sisters in Christ — sisters brain damaged and comatosed, never to mentally return to this Earth full of sin — inserted into pods that are themselves connected to a myriad of wires and hydraulic tubes (I know, it sounds exactly like the Matrix, and I freely admit, although it’s certainly a very evil movie, some of the imagery is inspiring and inspired this post).
The pods will be the most comfortable places on Earth, playing soothing music like Bible hymns and Mozart, their insides like a massage chair and covered in silk. A few intruding wires and tubes will, of course, have to connect to the women inside the pods to monitor their temperature and overall health, as well as the babies’ of those that are pregnant.
And of course there will be one tube reserved for the insertion of a man’s seed whenever the women are at their most fertile. And only the best semen will be used.
I haven’t quite settled on a selection process yet, but I’m thinking some sort of Christian council could perhaps vote on the man who is honorable and moral enough to breed generations of these children. Perhaps one man won’t be enough, for a little bit of diversity is always good. We should, therefore, most likely have a multitude of different men, one of each race.
When the children are born, they can be sent off to special adoption centers, where they can be delivered to good Christian parents who are unable to themselves breed. Those that may be left over can be raised in God, brought up in Christian schools, where prayers are said thrice daily (at least), and in the summer, they can be sent to Jesus camp. If the schools are as good as I envision, then these children will make the perfect leaders for our future.
But not just leaders, for if this idea is near as good as I am thinking, we will breed enough of these children to one day make up a huge percentage of our population, such that they can elect only the most Christian of people to the government. So even those that are not the brightest and best can contribute to God in some way.
Wow. Just wow. I also like the commenters who think they’ve come up with a brilliant, conversation-ending counterargument, like the one about DNA being acid, or the one about the Big Bang being an explosion, or the one about monkeys not living for several million years. They run rings ’round us logically.
Okay, so Obama and Huckabee won, Edwards came in second, and Dodd showed so poorly that he dropped out. My thoughts:
o Not sure how significant this is, but the most charismatic candidates on each side won. This could be partially a function of the whole “retail politics” thing, where Huck & Obama had the opportunity to personally charm lots of voters on an individual basis.
o I’ll be curious to see whether the media ever suggests that Huckabee’s economic populism played into his victory at all, or if it’s all faith ‘n’ folksiness. My guess is that the establishment narrative will be reluctant to acknowledge that there’s a deep hunger for economic fairness. I was hoping that Edwards would win to really drive this point home (not that anyone would notice), but he did place a solid second despite being massively outspent.
o I was really hoping Dodd would do better. I thought he was the only presidential candidate to demonstrate Actual Leadership by taking a stand against telecom immunity when no-one else could be bothered. It’s shameful and depressing that his courage translated into zero support.
…Obama won because he did something many campaigns have claimed they would do in the past, but never until now had never actually accomplished: he turned out young voters and new voters in record-smashing numbers. This has long been the holy grail of progressive politics, and until now no one had been able to pull it off. Well, Obama pulled it off. That is a remarkable an historic accomplishment. That is why he won.
If he could deliver that same kind of energized youth and new voter turnout in November, then not only would he be almost certain to win the election, but he would also give a huge assist to other Democratic candidates on the state and local ballots.
…Obama hasn’t really embraced us. He’s gone his own way. And that explains why, in the end, the blogosphere broke heavily for John Edwards.
No, I don’t mean people turned their back on Obama because he didn’t pay the proper respect to the blogosphere. That isn’t what happened. Obama didn’t embrace our way of doing things. Worse, he began to use rhetoric we had spent energy to debunk. He went even further. He tossed aside one of our central insights…an insight won through hard experience: we cannot compromise with the Republican Party…we must smash them.
Perhaps because his wife is such an avid reader of blogs, Edwards’ campaign tapped right into our zeitgeist. He came out with our insight front and center. You want Edwards’ message? Here it is: ‘Fuck David Broder, fuck Joe Klein, fuck Chris Matthews, fuck FOX News, fuck Tim Russert, fuck Mitch McConnell, fuck Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Defense. We don’t need them. They won’t negotiate in good faith. They’re stacking the deck against us. And we can beat them by telling the truth and getting organized.’ That’s Edwards’ message, and that is the message we have internalized both through our successes and our failures.
What’s funny is that Obama is saying many of the same things, in his own way. The policy differences between Edwards and Obama are minimal. But Obama’s tone deaf to the blogosphere. And, as a result, the blogosphere didn’t trust him. Take Armando:
…we do not criticize Obama’s political style on aesthetic grounds; we criticize his style because we think it will not work to actually EFFECT CHANGE. We believe that despite his being touted as the change candidate, his political style is the one LEAST likely to achieve progressive policy change.
His ‘style’ will be ineffective. Why did so many of us conclude this? It’s because we have watched Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi try to negotiate with the Republicans (in the minority, the majority, no matter) and it does not work. We have watched the Dems talk tough and then back down time and time again. We’re done with conciliation and we don’t believe bipartisanship is possible without first crushing the Republican Party down to a stump.
…More than anything, I want Edwards’ style to be vindicated. I want partisanship and combativeness to be rewarded. And I want Clinton/Lieberman/Ford/Carper/Carville/Begala/Penn to lose.
What’s the value of a candidate who wins election handily, and then proceeds to be conciliatory and ineffectual as a president, even with a favorable Congress behind him? And what will that do to the Democratic “brand,” which is already pretty well tarred with the collaborator brush?
Also, bear in mind that a presidential campaign is just about the only time when the media will reliably report on what a Democrat is saying. I would much rather that that Democrat were the one making a powerful case against the status quo of economic equality and Republican corruption.
For what it’s worth, now that Dodd’s gone, I’m switching my endorsement to Edwards.
Digby has a great post titled “The Art Of The Hissy Fit,” about how the Republicans use transparently fake outrage to intimidate and emasculate Democrats, making the Democratic party look smaller and weaker every time they cave in, and they always cave in.
When you are attacked by a hypocrite, by someone accusing you of the very thing that they themselves are guilty of, it’s not enough to simply stand your ground. You have to counterattack. You have to call them on their hypocrisy, remind everyone that their offenses against civility and decency are far, far worse than yours. I recommend that the Democrats memorize and practice these three little words, which must be incorporated into every response to phony Republican outrage:
HOW. DARE. YOU.
Go ahead, try it. Who knows, you might even like it.
2 commentsOctober 24th, 2007 at 07:55pmPosted by Eli
In a startling new revelation, CREW has also learned through two confidential sources that the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has lost over five million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005. The White House counsel’s office was advised of these problems in 2005 and CREW has been told that the White House was given a plan of action to recover these emails, but to date nothing has been done to rectify this significant loss of records.
When I spoke to CREW’s Naomi Seligman Steiner, she could only say that the missing emails were generated over a period of “hundreds of days within that two year period.” Furthermore, it’s not clear whose emails they are, or why those emails are missing as opposed to others. “We’re dealing with people who are only willing to tell us so much,” she said.
In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked that the Justice Department retain all emails received or sent to a White House official’s RNC-issued email address.
…[T]here are some very tantalizing details concerning Karl Rove…
From the letter:
According to Mr. Kelner, the RNC had a policy, which the RNC called a “document retention” policy, that purged all e-mails from RNC e-mail accounts and the RNC server that were more than 30 days old. Mr. Kelner said that as a result of unspecified legal inquiries, a “hold” was placed on this e-mail destruction policy for the accounts of White House officials in August 2004. Mr. Kelner was uncertain whether the hold was consistently maintained from August 2004 to the present, but he asserted that for this period, the RNC does have a large volume of White House e-mails. According to Mr. Kelner, the hold would not have prevented individual White House officials from deleting their e-mail from the RNC server after August 2004.Mr. Kelner’s briefing raised particular concems about Karl Rove, who according to press reports used his RNC accountfor 95% of his communications. According to Mr. Kelner, although the hold started in August 2004, the RNC does not have any e-mails prior to 2005 for Mr. Rove. Mr. Kelner did not give any explanation for the e-mails missing from Mr. Rove’s account, but he did acknowledge that one possible explanation is that Mr. Rove personally deleted his e-mails from the RNC server.
Mr. Kelner also explained that starting in 2005, the RNC began to treat Mr. Rove’s emails in a special fashion. At some point in 2005, the RNC commenced an automatic archive policy for Mr. Rove, but not for any other White House officials. According to Mr. Kelner, this archive policy removed Mr. Rove’s ability to personally delete his e-mails from the RNC server. Mr. Kelner did not provide many details about why this special policy was adopted for Mr. Rove. But he did indicate that one factor was the presence of investigative or discovery requests or other legal concerns. It was unclear from Mr. Kelner’s briefing whether the special archiving policy for Mr. Rove was consistently in effect after 2005. [TPMmuck emphasis]
So, this gives us a timeframe from March 2003 to August 2004 where any incriminating e-mails of interest from White House staffers could easily be missing from both WH and RNC servers, with that “blackout” timeframe extended out to “some point in 2005” (October?) for Karl Rove. In fact, if all the WH staffers were industrious about deleting the most sensitive RNC-mails, this timeframe could effectively extend all the way to up to October 2005. Prior to this timeframe, it can be assumed that all WH e-mails should be available, and that all RNC-mails would be unavailable. After this timeframe, it can be assumed that all WH and Rove RNC-mails should be available, but there are absolutely no guarantees about the RNC-mails of any other staffers.
So, what does this timeframe cover? Just off the top of my head, it would cover the start of the Iraq war, the Plame leak and coverup, the 2004 election, most or all of the Abramoff and Cunningham investigations, and even Hurricane Katrina, if we assume that everyone was manually deleting their incriminating RNC-mails. On the positive side, this gap would not include any conversations about the Wilkes-Foggo investigation or the US Attorney firings – or any segue between them, i.e., any possible “We have to get rid of Lam before she takes down any more of our guys” e-mails, unless Rove stayed out of them.
Also on the positive side is the fact that there is absolutely no technical excuse not to produce any Rove e-mails from October 2005 on, so any directives or feedback he might have given about which USAs to fire and why should be available, whether he used WH or RNC e-mail systems. If the WH or RNC say they cannot produce them, then they are essentially admitting to a coverup.
On the other hand, if Rove was aware that his e-mails were being archived (it’s unclear whether he knew this, or if he was ineffectually deleting away, thinking he was untouchable – it’s hard to imagine the RNC wouldn’t warn him, though), there’s a good chance that he would save his most sensitive communications for the phone, or route them through a trusted aide (Jennings?) whose e-mails were not being archived.
My first thought was that Rove is so arrogant that he wouldn’t have taken such precautions until after the 2006 election proved “the math” wrong and ushered in The Age Of Oversight, but if that were the case he wouldn’t have been deleting all his e-mails in the first place. Bottom line: It’s entirely conceivable that there are simply no incriminating Rove e-mails available, and no way to bust him for circumventing even the off-the-books e-mail system… unless someone squeals.
Finally, here’s the question that keeps nagging at me: Let’s suppose, just hypothetically, that the Bush White House and the RNC are completely unethical. I know, I know, but bear with me. Now suppose that they hand over most of their e-mails in response to the subpoena, and claim that they’ve complied fully – would the Democrats be able to tell? I know a lot of them are former prosecutors, and I bet a lot of their staffers are, too (to say nothing of the Blogger Street Irregulars) – and Fitz has demonstrated just how much a good prosecutor can find out, even in the face of a coverup. Maybe they can spot the contour of an empty space where an e-mail chain should be, or a reference to a missing e-mail in another e-mail, or in someone’s testimony, and then… what? Who gets busted? Will they have a fall guy like Libby again, maybe some Regents grad willing to take one for Team Jesus?
I really want to believe that the truth will come out, but I know the Bushies can afford to let it. At the very least, I’m hoping that, like Nixon’s missing 18 minutes, the evidence of criminal obstruction will be so obvious and unspinnable that it makes the Republican Party radioactive for the next thirty years. But I’m sure that’s what we were saying in 1974, too. (Well, I was probably saying something like, “Ooo, pwetty truck!”, but you know what I mean.)
UPDATE:Just noticed this over at FDL. These are the kinds of things that don’t register on you when you’re not a prosecutor, and kinda brain-dead to boot:
[M]ay I just say for the record that if Mr. Rove knew that his e-mails were to be preserved due to a pending criminal investigation and deleted them anyway in an effort to keep them from being viewed in discovery under a valid request from, say, a certain tall special prosecutor whose name might be Fitzgerald – well, that could be construed in a whole lot of places as obstruction of justice.
Mwahahaha… This would, of course, also apply to any of his minions who might be deleting their e-mails as well.
6 commentsApril 12th, 2007 at 11:07pmPosted by Eli
(Before I get started, just so no-one gets alarmed, I do not hear voices. And even if I did, I would probably only pay attention to the ones that told me to slack off – killing people is waaaay too much hassle, and I’d rather just sleep in.)
This week’s NYT Magazine has an intriguing article about people who hear voices in their heads, but who aren’t necessarily psychotic or schizophrenic, and the ways in which they try to cope with them. The nature of the voices seems to vary widely from person to person: Some are companionable, some are adversarial. Some people view them as having potential insight to be heeded, some view them solely as tormentors. No-one really seems to know where they come from, or what cerebral mechanism creates them. I found one theory particularly intriguing:
In his 2003 book, “Madness Explained,” [psychology professor Richard] Bentall draws on the theory that auditory hallucinations may have their roots in what psychologists call “inner speech.” All of us, every day, produce a steady stream of silent, inward-directed speech: plans, thoughts, quotations, memories. People hear voices, Bentall argues, when they make faulty judgments about whether this inner speech is the product of their own consciousness or of something alien to their consciousness. Lapses in what researchers call “source monitoring” may occur for a number of reasons – because an individual is primed to expect a perception to occur, because the level of background noise makes it difficult to separate what is internal from what is external, because he or she is in a state of emotional arousal. But whatever the cause, Bentall writes, there is evidence to suggest that hallucinating “can be explained in terms of the same kinds of mental processes that affect normal perceptual judgments.”
This actually sounds pretty plausible to me – I can imagine my own internal monologue being rather alarming if I thought it was coming from someone else. It also reminds me of a mental version of this phenomenon, where people can actually lose track of their own body’s location, and perceive themselves as a ghost. I’m really talking out of my ass now, but I also wonder if in some cases it might be a milder variant of multiple personality disorder, where the extra personalities don’t have the strength to assume control, and can only howl at the primary personality through the bars of their cages.
This in turn reminded me of a fascinating science-fiction book by Greg Bear, titled Queen Of Angels. It’s primarily about the attempt to find the reasons for a famous writer’s psychotic break, during which he invited all of his students to his apartment and slit their throats one by one as they entered. What made this book so intriguing to me was its depiction of the way the mind works. Instead of being a single consciousness in charge of everything, the mind is split up into a complex hierarchy of subpersonalities and utility modules.
This conception really resonated for me, as it explained some quirks of my own mental functioning, aside from the obvious compartmentalization of personality, where I act differently depending on who I’m interacting with and where. My confidence in my abilities has always been rather shaky – people seem to think I’m good at stuff, and sometimes I’ll look back on papers or posts I’ve written or photos I’ve taken and think, “Hey, that was actually pretty good,” but most of the time when I sit down at the keyboard or pick up the camera, I don’t have high hopes.
I think the theory of mind in Queen Of Angels may actually explain this phenomenon, and it matches my internal perceptions perfectly: I have a central consciousness through which I perceive and interact with the world and maintain my internal narrative, and which is essentially “me,” but it can’t really do anything – it has no skills whatsoever. All of my skills and abilities are locked away in black-box modules which are only active when my central consciousness invokes them to carry out the task that they were designed for. The rest of the time, they’re tucked away and dormant. And since I can’t perceive anything outside my central consciousness when these modules are not active, I have a hard time believing that these skills really exist, and that I didn’t just get lucky somehow, or that they’ll be there the next time I call upon them.
Over time, my confidence has improved, simply because I have enough of a body of work that I’ve grown to trust in my abilities, even if I still can’t feel their presence. I’ve described this to other people, and for the most part I think I may be something of an extreme case – most people are more integrated and confident than I am, and feel their abilities more acutely, even when they’re not active. This is probably a good topic for audience participation: How do you perceive your mental interiors? Are all your talents right there in plain sight all the time, or do they just switch on when you need them, and then switch right back off again? Do you feel you have more or less confidence in yourself as a result? Inquiring subpersonalities want to know.
UPDATE: I should add, in case I don’t sound desperate-for-therapy enough already, that even when one of my various submodules is active, I still tend to perceive it as external to my central consciousness. Still within myself, certainly, but it’s coming from… somewhere else, feeding data into my somewhat-surprised central consciousness. My central consciousness is basically mask, narrator, and traffic cop.
The Edwards fiasco, and Glenn Greenwald’s recent echoing of my observation that the Republicans do not appear to be very serious about what they claim to be serious about both highlight something that I’m very frustrated about. What’s bugging me is that, with a few exceptions, the Democrats always take everything the Republicans say at face value, rather than as cynical political manipulation.
Bill Donohue accuses John Edwards’ new blogger hires of anti-catholic bigotry, and Edwards basically says, “Yeah, that kinda bothers me too” instead of pointing out that Donohue’s own long history of anti-semitism and homophobia disqualifies him from accusing anyone else of bigotry, or calling attention to the obscene and un-Christian rape and death threats that Bill Donohue’s and Michelle Malkin’s minions directed at his employees until they resigned.
Republicans and their pundits/operatives regularly accuse Democrats of being weak on terror, and Democrats respond by defensively trying to look tough instead of pointing out that the Republicans are the ones opposing enhanced port security and chem/nuke plant security. Republicans accuse Democrats of not supporting the troops, and the Democrats soft-pedal their war criticisms and back away from defunding the war, instead of pointing out that it’s the Republicans who are dragging their feet on giving the troops more/better armor and equipment, who are shortchanging them on their rotations home, who are forcing them to return to combat long after their service obligations should have expired, and who are treating veterans benefits as an afterthought or an unsustainable burden.
The problem is, the Democrats seem to have an operating assumption that Republicans are honest, or that they need to at least pretend to believe that Republicans are honest, in the interests of “civility”, or else risk offending the All-Powerful Swing Voter. They need to get over this, and fast. Yes, there will be times when a Republican makes an honest and sincere critique of Democratic policies, and the Democrats should respond on the merits. But they need to learn to distinguish between honest criticism and smears, then respond accordingly. Some common-sense tips on how to do that:
1) Consider the source. Do they have a long history of attacking Democrats with accusations that turned out to be false? Do they have a long history of doing the exact same thing they’re accusing you of? If so, make that the centerpiece of your response: They are not credible, and this is just another smear from a professional liar. NOTE: Some oppo research capabilities would be very useful here. At a bare minimum, you should have some web-savvy staffers looking for blog entries about the accuser(s). Most slime leaves a lengthy and pungent trail.
2) Trust your gut. If your immediate reaction is that the accusation is completely ridiculous, bordering on fantasy, chances are the accuser doesn’t even believe it themselves. Let your incredulity shine through in your response.
3) Don’t trust the media. Do not allow the media to confer legitimacy on bullshit: They are in on it. If they’re propagating right-wing memes that you know to be untrue, call them on it and question their journalistic integrity for reporting lies as fact, or even as “one side of the story.” Lies do not deserve to be reported on as anything other than lies.
4) Fuck civility. No, you probably shouldn’t actually swear, but neither should you worry about being likable or nice. Attack. Hit hard. Be outraged. Don’t apologize unless you’ve made a factual error. Don’t worry about alienating voters; if anything, their respect for you will grow if you aggressively defend yourself. Be more like Paul Hackett or Jim Webb. Look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say, “I said it, I meant it, I stand behind it” five times.
5) You are not above the fray. Unless it’s Gary Busey accusing you of conspiring with the Venusians to steal Earth’s greenhouse gases, never assume that it’s obvious that an attack is bogus. Respond, and quickly.
6) (UPDATE) Put your process-talking skills to use. Instead of talking about what other Democrats are doing, and how they “need to do a better job of talking about” religion/terrorism/Iraq/Mars, bitches, talk about what the Republicans are doing, how their entire strategy is based on dishonest attacks, spreading fear, and suppressing dissent. Make it clear that their fake outrage is a cynical tactic that cheapens our discourse and perverts our democracy.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot more, but that should be a good start.
To the casual observer, CSI: Miami appears to be utter and total crap. But to Seasoned Television Observers like myself and the shadowy and mysterious Codename V, it is plain to see that it is a Very Subtle And Clever Parody of the CSI franchise, crime shows in general, and, well, David Caruso.
Don’t believe me? Watch this video of Horatio Caine’s pithy pearls of wisdom, oftimes accompanied by the Dramatic Sunglasses Removal:
Be sure to watch all the way through; it finishes with the opening credits sequence from the episode where they go to Rio, and it is just… grandiosely awful. Sadly, the greatest Horatio Caine line of them all is inexplicably missing: “I’m the fiber king, Dave. The fiber king.”
Some additional proof, if you are not yet convinced that CSI: Miami is a comedy (Behold! Horatio is such a badass that not even his car blowing up fazes him!):
I was thinking about the success of the Democrats’ First 100 Hours Plan, and what it means, and how important it is to keep building on it as Democrats (hopefully) consolidate their control of the Senate and retake the White House.
For the third time in a row, the Republicans have run the country into the ground, and then challenged the Democrats to somehow make it all better. Generally speaking, Carter failed, and was replaced by an incompetent Republican. Clinton succeeded, but was nevertheless replaced by an even more incompetent Republican. What will happen this time?
The early signs are positive, as Congressional Democrats have begun to use their new powers to start fixing areas of neglect like minimum wage and homeland security (you heard me). Obviously, they need to continue to build on that over the next two years, and then work with a Democratic president to achieve even more comprehensive rollback and repair.
If they succeed, then not only will they pull the country back from the brink, but they can incorporate this into their brand and narrative to drive the Banana Republicans back to their holes: “The Republicans are the party that breaks the country, and the Democrats are the party that puts it back together again – who would you rather vote for?”
It would be a very compelling campaign message, but the Democrats really would have to put the country back together, which will be a daunting task to say the least. If they can’t pull it off, then the country will continue to alternate between Republican and Democratic control until the Democrats can demonstrate a consistent track record of cleaning up Republican messes. I believe that establishing that pattern is essential, and that if Carter had succeeded in fixing the economy (and if the Republicans hadn’t sabotaged him on the hostage crisis), Al Gore would have won easily in 2000.
One thing that I keep wondering about is what the Democrats will do with all the extraordinary powers that the Republicans have granted themselves as president and congressional majority. Will the Democrats graciously hand them back in the name of comity and Constitution, or will they use them to push through extreme measures that Republicans can’t stomach? Will the Gang Of 14 anti-filibuster compromise on judicial nominees still be operative? Would the Democrats invoke the nuclear option? I have mixed feelings on all this. While it would be very satisfying (not to mention expedient) to use the Republicans’ own weapons against them, ultimately the ends cannot justify the means. Ideally, I would like to see them broker a deal with the Republicans which makes such majority and presidential power grabs all but impossible in the future, and raises the bar for judicial approvals to a supermajority, with no presumption of presidential prerogative. I think the Republicans would jump all over such a deal – the trick would be figuring out how to prevent them from tearing it up the second they retake power (hopefully never). Oh, and as long as I’m pipedreaming, some election reform (paper trails, public campaign financing, nonpartisan election officials) would be nice, too…
But I digress. The bottom line is that the Democrats need to show visible progress over the next six years, in getting us out of Iraq, in improving our security and relations with the global community, in restoring and augmenting the safety net, in rebalancing the budget, in reining in corporate corruption and excesses, and in re-establishing the government as the servant of the people. If they can do that, and continue to remind the American people that they have done that, they should stay in control for a good long time – at least until a new generation comes of age that doesn’t remember how bad it was under the Republicans.
2 commentsJanuary 23rd, 2007 at 12:18pmPosted by Eli
I don’t mind bipartisanship up to a point; that point being “selling out to the Republicans to such a degree that you end up on the same side.” So far, it looks like the reverse is happening: Dubya and his vanity war have generated so much ill will and mistrust for the Republicans and their policies that most Americans really want the Democrats to take the wheel for a while. Even if they can’t steer us away from the cliff, they can at least kick the leaden Republican foot off of the accelerator.
Thanks to last November’s anti-Bush referendum, many Congressional Republicans are now beginning to recognize this shift, and are jockeying for seats on the anti-Bush, anti-war bandwagon. “Bipartisanship” now means Republicans opposing an unpopular president to save their own skins. This is especially true of those Republicans up for re-election next year – the prospect of facing the voters tends to concentrate the mind.
Where Edsall and his DLC, establishment, “Money Party” cronies come in is to push the narrative that Democrats need to push a mushy, cautious, centrist agenda to lure on-the-fence Republicans over. While this would certainly get a lot of legislation passed, most of it wouldn’t be worth the paper the lobbyists printed it on.
Edsall & Co’s mistake is to underestimate the extent of the shift, and to misread what America voted for last year. I believe they voted for an agenda of change, integrity, accountability, and opposition (CIAO), and will not be satisfied with half-measures. Instead of tacking and triangulating and trying to figure out what Republicans will vote for, Democrats need to push for what their constituents (their citizen constituents) want and need. The Republicans can either get on board with them or try to explain their opposition in 2008 or 2010.
The Democrats haven’t had an opportunity like this in 30 years – I don’t want to see them squander it with needless capitulation.
4 commentsJanuary 18th, 2007 at 12:15pmPosted by Eli
I have really enjoyed watching spocko’s message spread after ABC/Disney tried to shut him down, only to have it blow up in their face. First second- and third-tier liberal blogs took up the cause, then top-tier ones, then local media, and now national media, in the person of the still-somewhat-esteemed NY Times, which reported on the KSFO “Hate Hot Talk” hosts’ not-real-successful 3-hour on-air attempt to justify and explain (and very occasionally apologize for) the racist and violent comments spocko caught them red-handed with. And I’m betting that the story will jump to national broadcast media when Countdown airs tonight.
As d r i f t g l a s s points out, perhaps the most significant effect of all this is to put a spotlight on the hate speech that the “personalities” on the extremes of the right have been peddling for the past decade or so. More than that, I am desperately hoping that this will kickstart the long-overdue process of identifying the Limbaughs and Savages and Coulters and Becks as the fringe-dwelling right-wing kooks they are, rather than respected opinionmakers whose words should be taken seriously and nodded thoughtfully about.
Unfortunately, as long as the media is owned by enormous, pro-Republican corporations, this kind of sea change will be a tough sell, but it is possible. For as in-the-tank as the corporate media is, it only has value as long as it has credibility. If they realize that the vast majority of the American people are utterly repelled by these creatures, they will be forced to padlock them in the mad cellar.
In addition to the delicious prospect of never being presented with Coulter or Limbaugh as Serious People To Be Listened To, I am also tickled by the thought of being able to beat the Republican Party to deathinto submission into a pleasurable state of happy friendliness with their own hobnailed club fluffy pillow of civility. Because after this exposure, it’s going to be awfully hard for the right-wing to argue that it’s us dirty hippies who are shrill and full of hate. Not that that will stop them, of course…
Glenn Greenwald discusses an amazing audio commentary by archconservative Rod Dreher, in which he repudiates, if not conservatism itself, President Bush and the Republican party (emphasis Greenwald’s):
Dreher, 40, recounts that his “first real political memory” was the 1979 failed rescue effort of the U.S. hostages in Iran. He says he “hated” Jimmy Carter for “shaming America before our enemies with weakness and incompetence.” When Reagan was elected, he believed “America was saved.” Reagan was “strong and confident.” Democrats were “weak and depressed.”
In fairness, Dreher would have been about 12 at the time. But one of the hallmarks of true believer conservatives is that they never outgrow it.
In particular, Dreher recounts how much, during the 1980s, he “disliked hippies – the blame America first liberals who were so hung up on Vietnam, who surrendered to Communists back then just like they want to do now.” In short, Republicans were “winners.” Democrats were “defeatists.”
On 9/11, Dreher’s first thought was : “Thank God we have a Republican in the White House.” The rest of his essay:
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool’s errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.
But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.
In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.
The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government’s conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.
As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.
I had a heretical thought for a conservative – that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word – that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot – that they have to question authority.
On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn’t the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?
Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.
Dreher’s essay is extreme and intense but also increasingly commonplace and illustrative. The disaster of unparalleled magnitude that President Bush and his integrity-free and bloodthirsty administration and followers wrought on this country will have a profound impact not only on American strength and credibility for a long, long time to come, but also on the views of Americans towards their political leaders and, almost certainly, towards the Republican Party.
One of the very few potential benefits of the Iraq tragedy is that it may raise the level of doubt and cynicism with which Americans evaluate the claims of the Government when it tries — as Dreher put it — “to send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot.”
I hope Greenwald is right about where this is heading. I expect there were a whole bunch of bitterly disillusioned conservatives back in 1974 too, but they sure got over it pretty quick. I suspect that if the next Democratic president can’t undo the deep structural, psychic, and moral damage 8 years of Bush misrule have inflicted on our country, and if the Republicans field a candidate peddling a bogus message of sunny optimism, then the conservative true believers’ faith will be miraculously and instantly restored.
After all, Bush was an aberration; he wasn’t a real conservative, and they were all taken in by his wily, resolute ways. But the next time will be totally different, and they’ll follow Reagan II to the end of the Earth… until they get close enough to the edge to see the abyss below, at which point the cycle will repeat. Conservatives fall in love with Republicans, Republicans nearly destroy America, Conservatives fall out of love with Republicans, Democrats fail to usher in Golden Age Of America, Conservatives fall in love with Republicans again.
Thinking on it a bit more, I think a big part of the problem (or maybe just a symptom?) is standards. Conservatives simply hold Republicans and other conservatives to a much, much lower standard than they hold Democrats and progressives to. Look at how badly Bush had to fuck everything up before Dreher finally lost faith in him, as compared to him losing faith in Jimmy Carter over one failed rescue operation. Compare the relative standards for impeachment, or for congressional investigations, or even the very definitions of words like “popular” or “mandate.” I might try to blame the media for this, but the sad truth is that most of the media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the conservative movement.
But the bottom line is that the standard of success for a Republican president is somewhere in the vicinity of “Don’t get us into a depression or World War III”, whereas the standard of success for a Democratic president is “Fix everything the Republicans broke and make the world perfect.” So based on that, they can easily say, “Hey, I tried to give the Democrats the benefit of the doubt, but they had their chance and they failed miserably, so I’m going to start screaming my head off for impeachment like any reasonable, responsible citizen should.”
President Bush embraced a major tactical shift on Wednesday evening in the war in Iraq when he declared that the only way to quell sectarian violence there was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops into combat.
Yet in defying mounting pressure to begin troop withdrawals, the president reiterated his argument that the consequences of failure in Iraq were so high that the United States could not afford to lose.
Then why has he been so hell-bent on doing exactly the wrong thing, all the time? If this is The Most Important War Ever, why no draft? Why a call to malls instead of a call to arms? Why no strategy beyond throwing troops at Iraq and telling the Iraqis to play nice? Why no consultations with non-insane Middle East or Iraq experts before, during, or after the invasion? Why, if I didn’t know better, I might think that this is just empty rhetoric to make withdrawal sound like a bad thing.
In a speech to the nation, Mr. Bush conceded for the first time that there had not been enough American or Iraqi troops in Baghdad to halt the capital’s descent over the past year into chaos. [And they only just noticed this now?] In documents released just before the speech, the White House acknowledged that his previous strategy was based on fundamentally flawed assumptions about the power of the shaky Iraqi government. [The success of his new plan depends on this exact same government, mind you.]
Mr. Bush gave no indication that the troop increase would be short-lived, describing his new strategy as an effort to “change America’s course in Iraq,” and he said that “we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties” in the course of more intensive round-the-clock patrols in some of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods. [Oh good, more casualties – I’m loving the new plan already.]
But Mr. Bush rekindled his argument that a withdrawal would doom to failure the American experiment in Iraq, touch off chaos throughout the Middle East, provide a launching pad for attacks in the United States, and embolden Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
This… is a joke, right? The American “experiment” (damn, what a callous-yet-appropriate word choice that is) was doomed to failure from the beginning, it’s destabilizing the Middle East, and in case you hadn’t noticed, terrorists already have a “launching pad” – it’s called Afghanistan, which we have utterly failed to secure, and are now pulling troops out of to feed the surge. As for emboldening Iran, I’m sure they’re real intimidated by our brilliant move of committing almost our entire active-duty military to not-quite-prop-up two failed states.
He also offered his most direct acknowledgment of error in an American-led war that has lasted nearly four years and claimed more than 3,000 American lives. “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility lies with me,” he said.
That’s it? That’s the great big I’m-a-grownup mea culpa? That is not, “I’ve made some terrible mistakes and I am deeply sorry for all those Americans and Iraqis who suffered and died for my arrogance and blindness.” More like, “Yeah, some of the people working for me might have screwed up a few times, so I guess that kinda sorta makes it my fault, maybe.”
“For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said in repeating an argument that he has used for nearly four years — that a retreat from the country before a decisive victory is won would provide terrorists a place in which to conduct new attacks on the United States and American targets.
Argh. This just hurts my brain. Is there anyone outside the right-wing true believers who actually believes this? Even if there were any truth to it, Bush’s invasion is what created the possibility. It’s still a silly idea, especially when you consider that Iraq is going to be a Shi’ite theocracy, and the terrorist organization most likely to strike the U.S. is Sunni. It makes more sense for al-Qaeda to base itself in Afghanistan, which is majority Sunni, where we’re barely paying attention, and where the government is all but nonexistent outside Kabul.
As part of a campaign to market the new strategy, Mr. Bush’s aides insisted that the plan was largely created by the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!]
Yet Mr. Bush sounded less than certain of his support for the prime minister, who many in the White House and the military fear may be intending to extend Shiite power over the Sunnis, or could prove incapable of making good on his promises. “If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people,” Mr. Bush declared.
He put it far more bluntly when leaders of Congress visited the White House earlier on Wednesday. “I said to Maliki this has to work or you’re out,” the president told the Congressional leaders, according to two officials who were in the room. Pressed on why he thought this strategy would succeed where previous efforts had failed, Mr. Bush shot back: “Because it has to.”
I just love this paragraph – it simultaneously reveals the phoniness of Iraqi sovereignty, as well as the depth of the strategic and policy analysis that went into this latest Plan For Glorious Victory.
Until the summer, Mr. Bush had used the phrase “stay the course” to describe his approach in Iraq, and his decision to describe his new strategy as an effort to “change America’s course” appeared intended to distance himself from that old approach. An earlier plan unveiled in November 2005 had been titled “Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” but Mr. Bush used the word “victory” sparingly on Wednesday night, and then only to diminish expectations.
“The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success,” he said. “I believe that it will,” saying that if it is successful it would result in a “functioning democracy” that “fights terrorists instead of harboring them.”
So it won’t actually lead to success? It’ll what, slow down the pace of failure? Hell, I wouldn’t even bet on that.
In some of his sharpest words of warning to Iran, Mr. Bush accused the Iranian government of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” and vowed to “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies.”
He left deliberately vague the question of whether those operations would be limited to Iraq or conducted elsewhere, and said he had ordered the previously reported deployment of a new aircraft carrier strike group to the region, where it is in easy reach of Iranian territory.
Well, it’s good to see that Bush has learned his lesson about starting wars you can’t win…
His aides hinted that the administration had already come up with a “Plan B” in case the latest strategy failed, with one saying “there are other ways to achieve our objective.” But he would not describe that strategy, or say if it involved withdrawal, containment or the breakup of the country into sectarian entities.
Wait – I thought “Plan A” (hahahaha) was guaranteed to work “because it has to”? My guess on “Plan B”: Nuclear carpet-bombing = Reset button.
Yeah, I have a real warm fuzzy feeling about Stay The Course Plus: Now With More Casualties! This is going to work out great… for Supreme Ayatollah al-Sadr.
4 commentsJanuary 11th, 2007 at 12:18pmPosted by Eli
When President Bush goes before the American people tonight to outline his new strategy for Iraq, he will be doing something he has avoided since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003: ordering his top military brass to take action they initially resisted and advised against.
Bush talks frequently of his disdain for micromanaging the war effort and for second-guessing his commanders. “It’s important to trust the judgment of the military when they’re making military plans,” he told The Washington Post in an interview last month. “I’m a strict adherer to the command structure.”
But over the past two months, as the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated and U.S. public support for the war has dropped, Bush has pushed back against his top military advisers and the commanders in Iraq: He has fashioned a plan to add up to 20,000 troops to the 132,000 U.S. service members already on the ground. As Bush plans it, the military will soon be “surging” in Iraq two months after an election that many Democrats interpreted as a mandate to begin withdrawing troops.
It may… be a sign of increasing assertiveness from a commander in chief described by former aides as relatively passive about questioning the advice of his military advisers. In going for more troops, Bush is picking an option that seems to have little favor beyond the White House and a handful of hawks on Capitol Hill and in think tanks who have been promoting the idea almost since the time of the invasion.
There is little question that more troops for Iraq seemed far from the conventional wisdom in Washington after the beating Bush and the Republican Party took in the midterm elections Nov. 7….
Another problem for the administration was the Iraq Study Group, the prestigious bipartisan panel headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III, a Republican, and former congressman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.). Soon after Bush returned from Jordan, the group delivered its recommendations, including proposing a high-level dialogue with Iran and Syria to help stabilize Iraq and setting a goal of early 2008 for the removal of almost all U.S. combat troops.
Although the president was publicly polite, few of the key Baker-Hamilton recommendations appealed to the administration, which intensified its own deliberations over a new “way forward” in Iraq. How to look distinctive from the study group became a recurring theme.
As described by participants in the administration review, some staff members on the National Security Council became enamored of the idea of sending more troops to Iraq in part because it was not a key feature of Baker-Hamilton….
In the end, the White House favored the idea of more troops as one visible and dramatic step the administration could take. One senior White House official said this week the president concluded that more troops are not the only ingredient of a successful plan — but they are a precondition to providing the security the Iraqi government needs for political reconciliation and other reforms.
Tonight, this source said, the president will explain “that we have to go up before we go down.“
Fascinating stuff. the surge is nothing more than a combination of psychodrama and political theater. Surgio has apparently become completely obsessed with his grandiose self-image as the Bold, Resolute Decider Who Bucks The Overcautious Conventional Wisdom, With History His Only Judge (And He Doesn’t Even Care About History ‘Cuz We’ll All Be Dead. So now he can’t listen to anyone who doesn’t agree with him, not even 70-90% of the American people, because that would be weak. (Yes, only in BushWorld can ignoring dissent be viewed as courageous…)
In addition to demonstrating his Trumanesque independent spirit, Bush also wants to make it clear that he’s an original thinker. So not only are the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations too timid for his tastes, but they also have the fatal flaw that they’re not his. For Bush, the only thing worse than failure would be success with someone else’s plan.
So if you add the two imperatives of “Must Be Original” and “Must Be Biggest Possible Fuck-You To Stupid Wimpy Pacifist Voters” together, with a little “Run Out The Clock Until 2009 And Hope Something Good Happens” thrown into the mix, the surge is the inevitable result.
As for the surge itself, I think it’s possible, though not probable, that there was a window of time (now closed) where additional troops might have eased Iraq’s transition from secular dictatorship to Shi’ite theocracy (anyone who sincerely thought post-Saddam Iraq was ever headed anywhere else is naive or delusional), but the numbers would have had to be a lot bigger, in the ballpark of Shinseki’s 400,000, or even more. There would need to be enough troops to seriously inhibit insurgent activity, and they would need to be trained and disciplined enough not to create potential terrorist recruits every time they encounter live Iraqis. This megaforce would also have to include enough trainers to provide intensive training to Iraqi troops and police. Flyingmotorcycles would be good, too.
Of course, this is all hypothetical pie in the sky, as there would be no way to muster that many troops without a politically suicidal draft, and even then, everything would have to go just right, which is an impossibility under the current administration. The reality is that we’re coming up short by a hell of a lot more than 15-20%, and a small bump in troops isn’t going to mean squat.
2 commentsJanuary 10th, 2007 at 01:17pmPosted by Eli
This is another video that I thought was gone forever. A friend of mind had a bunch of brilliant short videos of mysterious origins at the end of an SCTV tape, which I was never able to determine the exact provenance of, much less obtain copies of. Until now.
NANCY PELOSI’S carefully crafted introduction to the American people last week seemed to reinforce some stereotypes of the so-called mommy party. On the day she made history as the first woman to be elected speaker, she appeared on the House floor, surrounded by children and bedecked in pearls.
But even as this nurturing image dominated the news, the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday was notable for another milestone in gender politics: the return of the Alpha Male Democrat.
The members of this new faction, which helped the Democrats expand into majority status, stand out not for their ideology or racial background but for their carefully cultivated masculinity.
“As much as the policy positions is the background and character of these Democrats,” says John Lapp, the former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who helped recruit this new breed of candidate. “So we went to C.I.A. agents, F.B.I. agents, N.F.L. quarterbacks, sheriffs, Iraq war vets. These are red-blooded Americans who are tough.”
Mr. Lapp even coined a term to describe these manly — and they are all men — pols: “the Macho Dems.”
The return of Democratic manliness was no accident; it was a carefully planned strategy. But now that the Macho Dems are walking the halls of Congress, it remains to be seen whether they will create as many problems for Democrats as they solved. After all, these new Democrats have heterodox political views that could complicate Democratic caucus politics, and their success may raise uncomfortable questions for those Democrats who don’t pass the new macho test.
Ick. And it just goes on and on like this, with Lizza gushing about how tough and manly the new Democrats are, like a star-struck Chris Matthews rhapsodizing over Action Flightsuit Dubya With Deciderer Grip. He’s completely bought into the Republican narrative that American voters prize manliness over all other qualities (like, say, honesty or competence). Oh, and get this: He says the Macho Dems are in the image of the brilliant wizard masterminds who are solely responsible for their victories, Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel. It is to laugh. Or cry.
And finally, one last little tidbit of wankery I wanted to point out:
In the Senate, Mr. Schumer’s tough-guy caucus includes Jon Tester, a husky Montana farmer with a buzz-cut, and Jim Webb, the former marine from Virginia who turned his son’s combat boots into an effective electoral prop. Upon arriving in Washington, he promptly picked a fight with President Bush at a White House reception.
Yes, that’s right, Webb cunningly lured Bush into his trap by avoiding him for the whole reception, and letting the word get out that Bush should not bring up his son who almost got killed, and then allowing Bush to get close enough to have this exchange:
“How’s your boy?” Bush asked, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”
“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President.”
The liberal perfidy, it burns! How could he be so mean to Nice Mr. President like that?
3 commentsJanuary 7th, 2007 at 04:04pmPosted by Eli
Capitalizing on their newfound political momentum, House Democrats are expected to submit a legislative package Friday that would bolster funding to regions at highest risk of terror attack like New York and provide more money for first responders.
Doing an end-run around the normal committee process, Democrats say they will force an up-or-down vote on the floor Tuesday, to fulfill their promise to pass the outstanding recommendations from the 9/11 Commission in their first 100 hours.
Among other things, the package sets timetables for more rigorous screening of air and ship cargo. It would also strengthen efforts to curb proliferation of materials that could be used to build nuclear weapons or “dirty” bombs, and would prohibit aid to countries that do not cooperate.
“Under Democratic leadership, the House is now taking long-overdue steps to close the dangerous air cargo security loophole that has left airline passengers and crew members vulnerable to another deadly terrorist attack,” said Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee. “We are also going to plug the wide open loophole through which thousands of containers are arriving in U.S. ports without first being screened overseas.”
So much for the bogus Republican narrative that Democrats are weak on terror. Hopefully the Democrats will do a good job of pointing out how they’re the ones taking real action while the Republicans just posture and take away civil liberties.
I dare the Republicans to try to shoot this down – there’s no bigger gift they could give the Democrats. I guess they could carp that it doesn’t go far enough, but what would that say about them that they didn’t go as far in six years as the Democrats went in six days?
More likely that they’ll try to hog all the credit for it, saying it just expands on the groundwork they laid down, and that they created the atmosphere for serious thinkage about such things, and that they would have proposed the exact same thing if they had retained control of Congress. I’m sure the media would willingly go along, and we’d see a whole bunch of tsk-tsk-y op-eds about how unseemly it is for the Democrats to take credit for riding on the Republicans’ bold and resolute coattails.
The story saves the best for last, though:
The Republican minority, meanwhile, is chafing at the Democrats’ attempt to bypass the normal committee process.
“To legislate all of this in one afternoon or one evening, when no one in the House will know the nuances, trivializes the importance of the issues,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and now its ranking Republican.
Yes, you heard that right – the Republicans are whining about anti-terror legislation being rammed through without giving anyone time to review it. Delicious.
President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans’ mail without a judge’s warrant, the Daily News has learned.
The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a “signing statement” that declared his right to open people’s mail under emergency conditions.
That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.
Bush’s move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.
“Despite the President’s statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people’s mail without a warrant,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.
Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.
“The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.
“The danger is they’re reading Americans’ mail,” she said.
“You have to be concerned,” agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush’s claim. “It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known.”
A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, “It’s something we’re going to look into.”
Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court’s approval.
Yet in his statement Bush said he will “construe” an exception, “which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent … with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”
Bush cited as examples the need to “protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”
White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore denied Bush was claiming any new authority.
“In certain circumstances – such as with the proverbial ‘ticking bomb’ – the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches,” she said.
Bush, however, cited “exigent circumstances” which could refer to an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency.
Critics point out the administration could quickly get a warrant from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to search targeted mail, and the Postal Service could block delivery in the meantime.
But the Bush White House appears to be taking no chances on a judge saying no while a terror attack is looming, national security experts agreed.
Martin said that Bush is “using the same legal reasoning to justify warrantless opening of domestic mail” as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.
Arrrgh. There they go again. Bush apparently can’t stand the thought that someone, somewhere might be saying something he doesn’t know about. And our descent towards police-state totalitarianism just gets steeper and creepier.
In my happy fantasy dream world, the president’s authority to make signing statements is repudiated by the Supreme Court, and the president is then impeached and convicted for his multiple violations of the laws he tried to exempt himself from. I’m also filthy rich, invulnerable, and irresistible to women.
o Snail mail seems a bit inconsistent with the “ticking time bomb” scenario, no? Not inconceivable, but pretty unlikely.
o I didn’t see any mention of the eavesdropping being limited to mail to or from a foreign country – indeed, all the references were to “domestic mail,” so the scope is a lot broader than what the administration claims to be doing with regard to wiretapping.
o As an NYT op-ed or LTE pointed out a while back, if there aren’t enough translators to handle the volume of mail and phone conversations to be spied on, then this is transparently not about preventing terrorism, unless the Bushies are stupid enough to think that Arab-speaking terrorists would talk to each other in English for our convenience (okay, I’ll concede that one).
o I would like to add the following to my happy fantasy dream world: A professional-quality 20-megapixel thought-controlled eye camera, with a zoom lens that can instantly go from ultra-wide fisheye to ultrasupermegazoom (so much for wearing glasses). Also, it would have to be wireless so I wouldn’t have to stick USB cables up my nose.
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