Sunday, November 04, 2007

It's Finally Sinking In

For some months, I've felt there was something peculiar about the upcoming primaries and election. Republicans seeming to accept the fact that Hilary Clinton would be succeeding their precious leader? Gradually, bits and pieces tumbled into place like a Tetris game. Now, I'm scared shitless because I'm becoming convinced that Hilary Clinton is the Bush familia candidate for 08.
The first sign was Bill Clinton cozying up with a family that really has reason to hate him for limiting Poppy to one failed term. And the Bushes had gone after Clinton hammer and tongs. He was slick Willie who couldn't be trusted at all. Now he's a good friend.
Then Hilary, whom Republicans had been taught to hate more than Bill, announces. She's the mommy of that godawful health care plan that put a sour taste in everyone's mouth, the one that would bloat the bureaucracy and require an advanced degree to figure out just how to access care. I thought the Republicans would like their chops at the hope of a woman they hated running for the Presidency.
Now they take her matter of factly. Her positions really aren't far from theirs; you have to look to John Edwards to get sold statements of difference across the board. I think the fix is in. With the Bush familia machine behind her, Hilary becomes President for four or eight years. At that point, Jeb is ready to run, and George P is getting ready in the wings.
Welcome to dynasty, folks. The only ways out are for you to seize power and nominate someone substantial who the republicans cant stand, like John Edwards. Or let George W. seize power "as an emergency measure" and incite a revolution. Otherwise, you may be stuck with the Bush Clinton dynasty for a long, long time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Just Forget It

Here we are again, coming up on September 11. Actually, though, we no longer come up on September 11; not in the United States. Now we come up on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. But I'm reminded of my childhood, when I had a bad scrape or a cut--something with a scab over it--and my mother used to tell me "Don't pick at the scab. Leave it alone and let it heal." As I got older and more self-conscious about my appearance, "The scar will be worse if you pick at it" got to be part of the package. And our annual sackcloth and ashes commemoration of the attacks of September 11 are picking at the scab.
Once a year, Osama bin Laden or one of his disciples releases a video around this time. The subtext is always the same: "We're still here and we're still relevant." There's just one problem with that. They're not relevant. For all of Bush's handwaving and new programs, the fact is that the United States is no safer than it was on September 8, 2001. The media have actually pointed out how terrorists could attack. Hell, a college kid put fake plastic explosive into the rest rooms on airplanes and no one noticed for weeks. What's to stop bin Laden's religious fanatic nutcakes from attacking the United States again? Nothing. Not one damn thing. As I wrote some time ago, suicide attacks can't be prevented because the attacker actually hopes to die in the attempt.
It occurred to me recently: One of the greatest dangers Americans face in air travel is the security gate. Just think what one of bin Laden's moronic fanatical shitheads could do in those crowds waiting to get through the enhanced security. And anywhere you put the security, you're going to have a bottleneck and crowds. I don't think bin Laden is an idiot (although I have to question the intelligence of anyone who would follow him), and I'm pretty sure that opportunities like an attack on a security gate are not lost on him. Likewise the crowded subway, and in Washington there's really no subway security that would stop someone with a bomb or concealed Uzi. I'll resist the temptation to do a few bars on the container ships sailing into U.S. harbors. Why haven't there been any attacks?
It's not George Bush. And it's probably not that al Quaeda doesn't want to. They really can't pull it together anymore. Maybe the prospective members decided that ski masks were damned uncomfortable in those desert training camps. Maybe they decided that an Islamic fundamentalist world might be where they wanted to live, but dying for it would pretty much rule that out. It might be that bin Laden can get to his assets any more. But there he goes again, this time looking all cleaned up but, underneath the Grecian Formulaed hair and the fake looking beard, he looks a lot like a sick old maniac who realizes, in his moments of clarity, that he's going to die, and he probably won't get a martyr's death, and his movement will die with him.
So I'll be opting out of the commemorations, thank you. I'll hope that those who lost loved ones in the attacks are healing, but I really think it's time for the country to stop picking at the scab. We've allowed George Bush to do that for almost six years now, and the scar is going to be ugly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Karl Rove, speaking of Afghanistan, says that the United States would never take action in a sovereign nation unless asked to do so. Oh yeah. Right, Karl. Like the U.S. didn't do that in Iraq? I shouldn't be surprised. It's just one more demonstration of the contempt that the Bush family and its retainers have for the rest of the world, and it's particularly disturbing that it comes as the Lord of Misrule drops to 29 percent in the approval ratings and as he approaches what should be the end of his power.
The Bushies show their contempt in more ways that I'd bother to include in one post. They have absolute contempt for democracy; they show that when they say that they don't pay attention to the will of the people as expressed in polls. They have contempt for law; they show that when they effectively get Scooter Libby off the hook with a slap on the wrist. (Okay, it's a $250,000 slap on the wrist--no jail time, no probation because he didn't do jail time, but it's a hell of a lot better than anyone not a Bush family servant could expect. And do you really think he paid the fine out of his personal funds?) They demonstrate contempt for the Constitution by violating it as often as possible. They demonstrate contempt for Congress by issuing signing statements that say, in essence, "I signed your bill, but I'll be damned if I'm going to enforce it, and you can't even override a signing statement to make me." And with statements like Rove's, they indicate contempt for the people, as if they believe that the people of the world cannot see the disconnect between words and actions.
Does that matter? Just ask yourself this: What would you do if you had no respect for anything except your own power and the power of your family? We'd better hope that they have some respect for January 20, 2009.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Coulter Redefines Vile

Ann Coulter's behavior toward John and Elizabeth Edwards is absolutely repulsive. It demonstrates that is a mean-spirited, ill-bred mindless body. It is unfortunate that she is permitted to earn a living in any legal way, and yes: as a teacher, I'm offended that someone as ignorant and inconsiderate as she is can earn far more money than I do by displaying how mean-spirited, ill-bred, ignorate, and inconsiderate she is. Now I also concede that conservatives love her, but they're pretty low on the food chain, too: What they like is that she is "strong" (which really means obnoxious) and "tells it like she sees it" (which means that she's out of touch with reality and therefore says things that no one with two functional brain cells could ever agree with.) And in her latest exchange with Elizabeth Edwards, she shows how low she is.
"Why isn't John Edwards making this call?" she asks at one point. If she were a woman who had any meaningful relationship with any other human being, she would probably realize that women respond quickly and sharply when anyone attacks someone they love. You know that stuff about females defending their children? After 31 years of marriage, I can tell you that my wife is equally fierce defending anyone she loves. There have been instances when I was working on setting aside an affront and she was furious. So Ann, if you actually had any relationships, you'd know that Elizabeth probably picked up the phone while John was shrugging it off with "It's Ann Coulter; she's a bitch anyhow."
Ann Coulter doesn't seem to realize that the conservative guys who like to fantasize about her and make her rich would love to keep her barefoot and pregnant if they were married to her. (Ann Coulter bearing children--there's a scary thought!) That's the conservative idea of how marriage should be, after all. But John and Elizabeth Edwards, being liberals, do not live in the eighteenth century. As far as I can tell, they've got an egalatarian marriage, and in an egalatarian marriage, the motto could easily be "Git 'er done." If there's something that needs doing and you can do it, do it.
She claims that John Edwards has a bumper sticker that says "Ask me about my dead child." Is there anything more inhuman than that? But Ann wouldn't realize that because--guess what--she has no children, perhaps because no man would want her to bear his children. I can think of only one thing that might allow a single woman to appreciate the loss of a child: gang rape.
And she equates John and Elizabeth raising money for his campaign to her selling books. Okay, Ann. Pay attention, now, because this is going to be hard for someone of limited intelligence to follow. John and Elizabeth Edwards are raising money for a presidential campaign because they honestly believe that John espouses positions that would serve the country well. For them, his victory, for which I hope and pray, would mean significant loss of income for at least four years. It would mean having to put up with people like Ann Coulter every day as well as being scheduled 24/7. For John, who faces the possibility of losing his wife to cancer in the next few years, it could mean bearing a terrible grief in public, with the world finding fault with his behavior no matter what he did.
This is not the same as selling books--a subject that I know something about having written a book and being at work on a second. There's really no downside. You write the book; you collect the royalties. Maybe you do some interviews, but it's up to you. Maybe, if you write best-seller stuff, you go on a promotional tour, but again, it's up to you, and it's over in a few weeks. And while John and Elizabeth Edwards articulate positive policies for the country, you, Ann Coulter, are unable to do anything more significant than bad mouth them, and these days it seems that you even bad mouth your own president.
Is it Ann Coulter's right to spew her idiocy? Of course it is, although I wish that her parents had raised her better. It's also her right to endure any unpleasant consequences that arise from her venom, and I hope that they will be immediate and severe. It's her right, but it isn't right. And those of you who call yourselves conservatives and Republicans? Pay attention, because she claims to be speaking for you. I hope for the day publishers and television networks return to pulling the plug on outrageous people instead of seeing them as profit leaders. And I hope for the day when conservatives can look at Ann Coulter's views, see their own views, and be sickened.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Shall We Try Fairness?

If Paris Hilton actually has fans, I'm not one of them. If she hadn't been featured doing her boyfriend in a video, she might well have remained pretty much anonymous. And she has played her notoriety for all it's worth, providing that maybe all you need is a publicist and you, too, can be famous for being famous. I confess to making jokes, when she was engaged to that guy, Paris What's-his-name, about how confused she'd get trying to have a conversation with him in which she used his name.
And then she got busted, convicted, and ordered to jail. Her stay was short, but she will actually be under home confinement for longer than the twenty-three days she was to spend in jail. She got credit for time served, as happens in many cases. And she walked out of jail to alternative confinement. Some people in the press are already writing their snarky columns about what a break she's getting. Maybe they're just upset because they were looking forward to twenty-three days of snarkiness about Paris in jail.
Let's be fair, though. Ms. Hilton walked into the jail late Sunday night with every expectation that she would serve every one of the twenty-three days she was ordered to serve. She didn't make a production out of beginning her sentence, although the press did. She had, in fact, shown up in the news only rarely between her conviction and reporting to the jail. Her statement sounded as if she might have matured somewhat.
The press is scoffing at the medical reasons for her change to alternative incarceration. It is not ours to question. Let's take what I believe they regard as the worst case: She was as one reporter said, "bent out of shape at being in prison." It's said that she cried a lot and didn't eat. That really sounds a lot like depression. Having suffered from serious depression myself on a couple of occasions, I can say with certainty that depression would interfere with any effort at rehabilitation, and if it's left untreated, it can become even worse. How much do you put someone through for traffic violations?
I've had a difficult teenager who narrowly escaped incarceration on a number of occasions. I've had a nephew who ended up doing a year as a habitual offender because he drove without a license repeatedly. Both have turned a corner, and I'm proud of them. And Paris Hilton may have, too. She showed courage and responsibility that I really didn't think she had. If she's trying to turn around, good for her. I may not be a fan, but if she's trying to be a better person, I'm willing to be a cheerleader for her.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Madness of King George

Message to George W. Bush: The United States is a representative democracy. That is, people elect other people to represent them in the legislative branch and to see that the laws are faithfully executed in the executive branch. I realize this is very difficult for you to understand because you were handed your office by the Supreme Court Justices your father appointed and would have lost in 2004 if your good friends at Diebold hadn't carried out their promise to get you reelected at any cost. Your family, with its dynastic aspirations, hates the idea of allowing people to control government. Nevertheless, representative democracy is the American way.

The election of 2006 was a real election. Daddy's money and connections couldn't deliver Congress, and new representatives came to town determined to do what they had been elected to do. In part, that meant ending the idiotic war that you started without provocation. They did something you couldn't stand: They sent a funding bill that had some accountability in it. They told you that they weren't going to sign any more blank checks for a moronic, cowardly traitor in the White House who has no strategy and no idea what victory would even look like. But they did vote the funding the troops needed.

And you vetoed the bill because you had to show them that you had a penis. You are a stupid, ignorant person with a tenuous grip on reality and far more money and power than you ever should have had. You are a threat to the United States. You need to understand democracy and live it. Americans expect it.

By the way, you have to leave office on January 20, 2009 unless you are impeached or forced to resign sooner. That is something that even Daddy, Mommy, and the idiots who still see some good in you cannot change.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

In this morning's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer "What can be said about the Virginia Tech massacre? Very little. What should be said? Even less." He goes on to complain that in the wake of the murder of 31 people by a student who had been identified as dangerous by classmates, teachers, and a psychiatrist, some are having the audacity to call for gun control and confinement of people whose mental diseases make them a threat to themselves or others. I have seldom agreed with Krauthammer; he seems to be convinced that in the course of earning degrees in both law and medicine, he learned all there is to know and he never makes any response to arguments with which he disagrees. He now reveals himself as utterly lacking in insight and compassion.
A friend of mine made a thought-provoking statement about gun control. Speaking of the Romanian faculty member who had survived the Holocaust, he pointed out that the Nazis, the embodiment of evil, could not kill the man, and the Communists, whom we were told were an evil empire, could not kill him, but Virginia's gun laws could. Gun controls are imperfect, but does Krauthammer really think that it's okay for someone who has been identified as an imminent danger by a psychiatrist to walk into a gun store and walk out with a gun?
I believe in civil liberties, but they are not absolute. When people drink and drive and are caught, they lose their licenses. If they persist, they go to jail. People are, of course, free to drink--but not if they endanger others by doing so. Shouldn't the same principle apply with the mentally ill?
And wouldn't you think that a psychiatrist familiar with the grief process would at least keep quiet if he couldn't show some compassion. Instead, he says to the families of the victims and to the survivors, "Shit happens. Get over it."
And Krauthammer, shortsighted, uncaring, egomaniac that he is, overlooks that we must talk about this tragedy. We must ask why. It seems to me that this society has become increasingly tolerant of outrageous speech. Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly spew their over-emotional, unsupported venom from the safety of the radio studio and this society says they are speaking courageously and we make them millionaires. We tolerate an administration that responds to what it takes as affronts with bluster. And it is not a long leap from speech to action. These outrageous people are valorized; they are, in effect, held up as examples. As they define the world in terms of friends and enemies and argue for the destruction of enemies, those who listen to them become less interested in getting along with other people. And when a madman defines the world as his enemy, when he is not restrained, when he is allowed to buy weapons, risk rises unnecessarily.
So Mr. Krauthammer, I will be writing to the Post and suggesting that they cancel your column. If you still appear on Inside Washington, I'll write to the producers and make the same suggestion. And frankly, I hope you'll have to make do with your savings for the rest of your life.