It must be the February blahs. Blogs all over the sphere are springing up with the periodic lament of a writer’s plight. Rejections, how meager our rewards are in relation to the quantity of our souls left on each page. It gets old, navel-gazing raised to the level of whining. Let’s refine the argument.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Here’s a short piece from the current issue of Salon, describing the new Republican ad pushing for passage of the Protect America Act, also known as The Fourth Amendment is for Pussies Act.
My reply, to the Republican National Committee:
I have just watched your new ad,
Where do you draw the line between freedom and acceptable risk? It appears Republicans see no acceptable trade-offs; all freedoms are worth sacrificing for any scintilla of perceived safety.
You claim to be such patriots, and students of the original intent of the Founding Fathers. How do you reconcile these claims with the words of Benjamin Franklin "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security?"
Shame on you all.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The Music Education Correspondent (Retired) has written to a local paper, advocating a change to the lyrics of the Maryland State song.
The Home Office’s reply is below.
She meets her sisters on the plain-
"Sic semper!" 'tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back amain,
Arise in majesty again.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
What struck me after about five minutes and a few first downs was that the pile, which had moved two-three-four yards in the first quarter, was now moving four-five-six yards each time. I know the announcers didn’t mention it; Burghers hated Curt Gowdy with a vengeance, certain Raiders’ owner Al Davis had him on the payroll. Nothing spectacular happened. Pittsburgh was content to grind it out, moving the chains every two or three plays.
This was memorable to me because winning this game put Pittsburgh in their first Super Bowl. What made it pivotal was my ability, for the first time, to look ahead and know that Pittsburgh had won the game. Ten minutes left, and a turnover or bad penalty could still blow it for them, but Oakland had lost the ability to win this game. It was Pittsburgh’s to lose. (They scored and won 24-13.)
Now replace “Pittsburgh” and “Steelers” with “Barack Obama,” and “Oakland” and “Raiders” with “Hillary Clinton.”
Friday, February 15, 2008
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not only didn’t bring the Senate’s version of the Protect America Act up for a vote before the House went on recess, she had the House cite two members of the Bush Administration – John Bolton and Harriet Miers – for contempt. (Republicans responded to this second action by storming out of the Capitol to denounce the Democrats’ “political theater” at a microphone-strewn podium serendipitously found on the building’s steps just in time for their “spontaneous” act..)
Bush responded, of course, by crying we’ll be dead by the time the House gets back if he doesn’t have the authority to listen to every phone call and read every email in the world, warrants be damned. Like the law has ever stopped him before. The Protect America Act is nothing more than a transparent attempt to legalize actions the Bush Administration has routinely taken for years. Immunity for the previously cooperating telecommunication companies – who would be the still cooperating telecommunications companies had their illegal collaboration not come to light – is amnesty by another name. Republicans are happy to grant amnesty to moneyed interests with the legal firepower to know they were violating not just laws, but the entire Fourth Amendment, but if your mother carried you across the Mexican border in her arms fifteen years ago, you’re SOL.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who sent to the House a bill complete with immunity and no amendments the White House didn’t sign off on, wrote to Bush, "I regret your reckless attempt to manufacture a crisis over the reauthorization of foreign surveillance laws. . . . Your suggestion that the law's expiration would prevent intelligence agents from listening to the conversations of terrorists is utterly false."
The most temperate response I can come up with is: Fuck you, Harry, and the horse you rode in on. Bush has rolled you over so many times you can join the Greek hookers’ union. You’re not from Texas, but “big hat, no cattle” was written with you in mind. You sold out Chris Dodd and Pat Leahy, so your big talk now, while Speaker Pelosi has to carry your weight, impresses no one. You want to claim to be a Democrat while acting as Bush’s mole in Congress, fine. Just don’t be upset when people call you on it, as just about everyone has started to do. Let’s hope Senate Democrats can find a few onions of their own and elect a majority leader next year who actually believes in the co-equal branches of government.
I haven’t written this in a while, but it’s time again. For all of you who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and see what has happened to Iraq, the deficit, the environment, the economy, and civil liberties, keep this in mind: It’s your fault.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Waterboarding is in the news again, now that Attorney General Mukasey has declared the Justice Department will not investigate individuals who followed DoJ directives, even if those directives were based on dubious or non-existent legal reasoning; nor can those who created, endorsed, or propagated these questionable rulings be held accountable. (To catch up on this week’s comedy, click here.)
First, no whining from any senators who voted for Mukasey; he said he was going to do this, and he has. No surprises. It’s your fault.
The United States of America (remember them?) prosecuted Japanese soldiers as war criminals for waterboarding American prisoners. The current administration’s position is that it might be illegal, unless some mid-level functionary in the Justice Department wants to make points with the White House and writes an opinion no one but Dick Cheney agrees with to say it’s legal. Then it’s legal. Honest to God.
I don’t understand how some employees can walk into the Department of Justice building and not get sick to their stomachs just reading the sign. DoJ has done little, if anything, for the cause of justice since Shrub took office. All departments of the Executive Branch serve the president; that doesn’t mean they’re his lackeys, toadying up to spread a see-through veneer of legality to whatever he wants. Torture? Warrantless searches? Renditions? Denial of habeas? Whatever Shrub and Darth Cheney want, someone at the Department of Injustice can be found to justify it.
This is not the
Witnesses for the prosecution:
- Ignored warnings in August of 2001 that al-Qaeda planned to fly planes into buildings.
with no evidence they had anything to do with 9/11, the UN (accurately) said they had no WMD program, and we had nothing resembling a plan for what to do when Saddam was gone. Iraq
’s reputation abroad with our “you’re either for us or a terrorist sympathizer” rhetoric. America
- Preached fiscal restraint while increasing the budget by over 63% since taking office. This does not include the cost of the wars in
and Iraq . Including those expected “emergency requests” would hike the increase to 74%. Afghanistan
- His brand of fiscal conservatism has increased the national debt 60% since he took over. This is impressive, considering we were running surpluses and paying down the debt when he took office.
- The disparity between the richest and poorest among us continues to grow to historic levels.
- Not even during the Red Scare and the height of McCarthyism have our civil liberties been so badly eroded.
- Torture is now condoned by the Executive Branch, as it feels necessary.
- Long-dismissed legal theories are trotted out as fact. (Unitary Executive, signing statements, ignorance of checks and balances.)
Yet well over half of all Republicans think he’s doing a hell of a job. Let’s see what they might point to:
- We haven’t been attacked in this country since 9/11. (Of course, we’ve now lost more killed and many times more wounded through our misguided responses than terrorists have ever killed here.)
- Their taxes are lower.
- He talks tough.
Shrub will leave office next year with this country improved in no way since he took over, other than relative incomes for those already in the top percentiles. For that, 61% of Republicans approve. A few conclusions can be drawn:
- They’re selfish. (I got mine, and I’m keeping it.)
- They’re cowards. (I don’t care what rights I sacrifice or who else has to die to make me 0.0001% safer.)
- They’re bullies. (Do it our way, or else.)
- They’re mouth-breathing, inbred idiots. (Self explanatory.)
- All of the above. (These are not mutually exclusive.)
If this pissed you off, I guess we know where you fall on the approval rankings. Suck it up.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Basketball coach Bob Knight retired yesterday with an NCAA record 902 victories. Knight has been controversial for virtually his entire 42-year career as the enfant terrible of college basketball.
Knight couldn’t be a fictional character; his gifts are to profound, his faults too dramatic. He’s always fascinated me for that reason, the embodiment of the best and the worst sports brings out in a person, wrapped in the same psyche.
There’s no point in summing up the dichotomy that is Bob Knight, when John Feinstein has done it so well in this article in today’s