Hog is dead--long live Hog!


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[Middle East, Politics]

From Out of My Spider Hole, to Explain the Obvious.

I'm still on sabbatical, and doing rather well at it. I could go weeks without writing the word "Bush" and suffer very little. However, the righties are behaving more indecently--by an order of magnitude--and I just can't take it anymore. Let's cue Andrew Sullivan, though the numbers are legion:
But I just read the last three pages of posts on the main site, and there's only one even vaguely alluding to the crisis with Hezbollah. That's just plain weird. I know we're not supposed to notice silence on blogs - people are free to ignore all sorts of stories. But the silence can be instructive (hey, I studied with a Straussian).... This would make sense if there were no connections between Hezbollah and Iran and Iraq. Are lefties unable to grapple with complex regional wars? Nah. They're just wimping out.
To recap: the righties, who used 9/11 as an excuse to practice a little masturbatory fantasy and invade Iraq, now criticize the left for being silent on the obvious--and predicted--results of this steaming pile of arrogance and stupidity. The implication is obvious: lefty haters of America love to see Muslim terrorists blow up Jews, particularly when it makes Bush's invasion look like a steaming pile of lies, arrogance, and stupidity. Due to our love of radical terrorism and our hate of America, we can't really bring ourselves to sell out our terrorist champions.

Yeah? Well fuck you and the Hummer you rode in on. No one on the left celebrates the loss of life. We just can't as easily inure ourselves to the deaths of Lebanese innocents and find moral clarity in all of this. The terrorists of Hezbollah are despicable. Nothing excuses their actions, yet reasonable people understand them. The Israeli carpet-bombing of Beirut is despicable. Nothing excuses their actions, yet reasonable people understand them.

Lefties watch, aghast, as events play out. We are mute because, having been sidelined for so long, we are in no position to offer clarifying advice now. Would it have been nice if Pinhead George had called Ehud Olmert and, as his father once did, ask that Israel keep its powder dry while the world came to quick and consensual agreement? Yes. Would it have been nice if George had been engaged in Israel over the past five years? Would we have loved to see a robustly rehabilitated Afghanistan, not a decimated Iraq, form the democratic bulwark upon which peace in the Muslim world might possibly have risen? Would we have appreciated a White House that engaged Iran, rather than call it names and set up a homicidal nut to become President? Yes, yes, yes. But we weren't consulted. We were told that anything short of full agreement with the lies, arrogance, and stupidity of the Bush administration were tantamount to treason.

So to anyone who asserts that our silence amounts to nothing more than further proof of our treason, you can kiss my sweet liberal ass. You're the rat bastards who got us here, you tell us how you're gonna get us out of it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

[Meta]

Blogging Sabbatical.

The interns have gotten very lazy. The news is dull, the politicians dull-witted. As a spirit-refresher, we're all going on an extended break here at Hog HQ. Probably back sometime in late August. July is beer month in Oregon, so I'll put some energy into Beervana, and will also be posting regularly at BlueOregon.

So, until then, cheers--

Friday, July 07, 2006

[Meta]

Waning.

My energy seems to wax and wane with respect to Hog content. Yesterday, much waxing; today, waning. It mirrors my love/hate relationship with politics as the dog days of summer create a fallow period before things really get shaking for the midterms.

So, I think most of my rebellious energy today is going into something a little lighter.

Arrgh.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

[Politics, Rebellion Week]

Party Discipline.

George Bush once famously joked that, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." He's right. Tyranny tends to streamline government--you silence your enemies, find a bunch of toadies to pass your laws and voila!--easy governing.

Well, apropos of my post below, this is effectively what the GOP has done. It has remained in lockstep (rhetorically, anyway) for so long that the appearance of agreement has now become the frame in which all debates are judged. The first team to squabble loses. (And the GOP rarely loses. If the squabble is too great, legislation doesn't come to a vote. And if it passes, it is always with the express imprimatur of the White House. Never has Bush had to veto a bill, and rarely does he even threaten a veto.)

This is a great frame for the Republicans--who are, after all, in power--but a pretty crappy one for the country. Having maintained their hold on government through this exercise of party discipline (and select rules changes, rigged elections, and corrupt money laundering), the Republicans naturally want every issue to be decided on levels of agreement.

But why on earth would the media play along? Their sole raison d'etre is to get the story, which means challenging power. Republican party discipline may make it difficult for the media to extract much juice in a discussion format, but that shouldn't mean they accept the rules of the RNC and play along.

Democracies, unlike dictatorships, are messy collections of competing voices. You have to compromise and bring people to the table. Democrats should be kicking ideas around. God forbid our leaders should have an open debate about war and peace. The game of gotcha, wherein exposing a party as having more than one view is the goal, serves no purpose but to strengthen the hand of those seeking to consolidate power.
[Politics, Rebellion Week]

Media Collusion With the GOP.

In the real world, the Republicans, in sole power for the past six years, and in majority power for most of the past dozen, have botched pretty much everything they've touched. In bizarro world, it's the Democrats who are in disarray, though, because some of them disagree with each other. For the past several months, I have observed this dynamic as it plays out on cable TV and the news shows:
Moderator: So, Mr. Republican, you said three years ago that Iraq had nukes, that sanctions weren't working, and that Saddam was Satan. Two years ago, you said that the war was a success and we'd be out of Iraq in two weeks. So what went wrong.

Mr. Republican: Well, Moderator, we were mostly right, as you know. Saddam was Satan, and in 1983, he did have a bathtub full of bio weapons he later used on his own people. So the President was right to invade. And there have been elections and a democracy is in place and we have never strayed from our rhetoric in backing up the President.

Moderator: Yes, now about that, Mr. Democrat. Last week in the Senate, you slow-witted surrender monkeys really tore at each other in a traitorous manner. Why is it that you so fail to be unified like the Republicans? Are you really as clueless as I'm suggesting? Is it true that you really lack a plan, as the RNC spokesman keeps telling us?
You think I jest, but have a look at Andrea Mitchell's performance on Meet the Press on Sunday (she was standing in--ably, you'll see--for Tim Russert):
MS. MITCHELL: Well, let’s talk about real solutions, Senator, because Democrats are sharply divided over Iraq. Two weeks ago, only 13 Senate Democrats supported the Kerry-Feingold amendment by Senators Kerry and Feingold calling for an immediate withdrawal. You were not one of them.

SEN. SCHUMER: Correct.

MS. MITCHELL: But as the party’s campaign chairman for the Senate campaign, doesn’t that amendment make Democrats look weak?

SEN. SCHUMER: Not at all. You know what our job is? Look, the president is commander in chief. The president, by the Constitution and everything else, is in charge of Iraq. He got us in there, he’s got to figure a way out. Our job, our job is oversight, our job is holding people accountable. So...

MS. MITCHELL: Wait a second, you’re going to the election...

SEN. SCHUMER: Right.

MS. MITCHELL: --to, to the voters in November. Don’t you also have the job as campaign chairman for Democrats of presenting an alternative?

SEN. SCHUMER: Let me say this. I think what the American people want is for the Congress to hold the president’s feet to the fire....[etc.]
Later, despite an unambiguous statement from Schumer, she browbeat him about Lieberman--another topic of enormous interest to the media:

MS. MITCHELL: OK, as campaign chairman, will you now, today, commit to supporting whoever wins that Democratic primary in Connecticut where he is now facing that tough challenge?
SEN. SCHUMER: Well, let me say this, Andrea. Harry Reid, myself, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, in this primary, are supporting Joe Lieberman. And we’re doing everything we can to help him. I’m not going to speculate on what happens after the primary, because we believe Joe Lieberman is going to win, and it—I’m not going to undermine my candidate by speculating about what might happen afterwards. We think he’s going to win and we’re supporting him in the primaries.

MS. MITCHELL: You’re supporting him even though his position on the war is completely contrary to most, most Democrats?

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, again, the Democratic Party is united in holding the president’s feet to the fire on oversight, but--

MS. MITCHELL: But why won’t you commit today to supporting Joe Lieberman, the former vice presidential nominee?

SEN. SCHUMER: Because--

MS. MITCHELL: You’re basically saying that you will support the Democrat, whoever wins?

SEN. SCHUMER: I am saying that we are supporting Joe Lieberman in the primary--

MS. MITCHELL: But only for the primary.

SEN. SCHUMER: ---and we’re not going to speculate about things afterwards because that undermines your candidate. We’re supporting Joe. He’s going to win.

MS. MITCHELL: Are you suggesting that you might not support the Democratic winner?
This isn't the end of it--she continues to accuse him of being a lowdown traitor to, alternately, Lieberman or the Dems. It segues into questions to McConnell about ... what rat bastards the Dems are for not backing Lieberman. It was literally tag-team debating.

Now, all of this might arguably--arguably--be just hard-nosed (if idiotic) journalism. But we'd expect the same dogged attacks on the Republic McConnell, whom, she notes:
....said during the first month of the war back in April of 2003. “American success in Iraq showed that ‘arm-chair generals and New York Times reporters’ were wrong in their assessments of how difficult the war would be. ... Rebuilding Iraq will be much easier than rebuilding Afghanistan, he said, because Iraq has a well-educated population and the oil to finance reconstruction. ‘Iraq has the potential to be a jewel in the Middle East.’” Was that a miscalculation on your part, reflecting what the administration’s miscalculation was?
He drones sloppily on about how we haven't been attacked since 9/11 (revelancy?) which proves that it was "fundamentally correct" to invade (I kid you not). And how many interruptions and follow-ups does Mitchell respond with? Zippo.

Nine times she followed up on Schumer's loyalty over Lieberman, and not once on how the GOP have handled the war. That's GOP complicity and it's obscene.
[Tyranny]

In the Pentagon's Dungeon

Just a quickie, since it's on-topic. A committee of the House today issued a subpoena to Don Rumsfeld (subscription only) for documents related to the Pentagon's retaliation against the soldier that outed the US on Abu Ghraib.
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, said officials had provided most of what the committee requested and would provide more on Friday— although, he suggested, not necessarily everything the panel seeks.
A military that commits, then hides, war crimes, and punishes those who try to hold it to legal norms. Yup, tyrannical.
[Rebellion Week]

A Creeping Tyranny
tyranny [n] - oppressive power [every form of tyranny over the mind of man -- Thomas Jefferson]; especially : oppressive power exerted by government [the tyranny of a police state].
I'm a little slow off the blocks this week, but I'd like to talk about tyranny and rebellion. I've been marinating in the Declaration of Independence's juice for a couple days, and I have become convinced that the GOP is engaged in an overt coup on American democracy. There is no way to to look at the facts and conclude otherwise. As to their intention, that's a more difficult question--but the effect has been to slowly dismantle rule by the people and place power in the hands of Republican apparatchiks.

Very briefly (we'll get into more later), they have:
I don't actually imagine it's the intention of the GOP to seize absolute power. Rather, I think they are lulled by the robust strength of the Constitutional checks and balances--in their indolent greed, they figure they can seize a little power, line their pockets off the fat of their enemies, and cruise along until the inevitable tide sweeps them out of office. And on that score, I think they're right. At the end of the day, this is a pretty half-witted lot, and it's hard to imagine them having either the energy to mount a serious coup or the perspicacity to execute it.

But that doesn't mean they haven't done a lot of damage. So, taking the cue from our founders, who also confronted a lazy tyranny, I'll spend a week making my own, untidy declarations.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

[GOP Corruption]

Grover's Narcissism.

The less interesting details of a story from The Hill involve a McCain-produced report that says Grover Norquist is knee deep in Abramoff's sludge:
McCain staffers said the 373-page report, the culmination of a two-year investigation, is a neutral, factual account of Abramoff’s movements. E-mails from Abramoff cited in the report indicate that the disgraced lobbyist used [Norquist's PAC] ATR — for a fee — as a conduit for moving money from the Mississippi Choctaw American Indian tribe to anti-gambling grassroots activists who would have been uncomfortable receiving money from gambling profits.
What's far more interesting is Norquist's narcissism about the report, something I've noticed during the GOP ascent:

“He has exhibited personal animus toward me,” Norquist said. “McCain, who’s running for president and is ostensibly the front-runner, takes time and effort to throw a punch at me and Ralph Reed. Why? He has told people we stopped him in the presidential election last time, and he thinks we might do it again. He is delusional. George W. Bush Beat him in South Carolina. But that’s high praise of the taxpayer movement that he has told so many people this.”
Bizarre.
[Independence Day]

The Wrongs of King George.

This is a day late, but forgive me--I would still like to issue a broadside at the Bush regime. On July four we celebrate, foremost among all elements, rebellion--its irreverence, audacity, and provocation. The drafters of the Declaration were flying a punky middle finger to King George III's arrogant exercise of power, and they drafted up a seriously inflammatory document to express their displeasure. Given the cravenly mealy-mouthed rhetoric in which nearly every national politician indulges, it's worth tipping a hat to the language of our founders:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
It is almost too easy, but given who sits in the White House (and who runs the Senate, and who runs the House, and who dictates reality on cable TV) , I have to do it. There is some interesting resonance in some of that 230-year old language that really popped when I listened to it, as usual, on NPR (transcript from the National Archives):

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good....

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power....

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury....

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation....

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us....
So, okay, most of the items bear no exact parallel, but the pattern is striking. In 1776, the founders were rebelling against a colonizing power, whereas the greivances of 2006 are against an elected President, ensconsed in the highest seat of democracy. And yet the parallels to the kinds of crimes is unavoidable.

To select a phrase at random: " He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people." So Bush hasn't actually dissolved statehouses--the circumstances are different--but he does oppose the "invasions on the rights of the people." The framers make a specific case against King George III, and one that's now 230 years old, so the transference sufferes a little. But the crimes they cite are not so different, in kind if not magnitude.

Yes, liberals must surely hate the country for pointing out that a half-witted petty tyrant has gracelessly tried to seize power. We are impudent, irreverant, and audacious. And we oppose King George. I sleep all right at night.

Happy birthday rebellion, let your spirit ever keep this country out of the hands of the tyrants.

Monday, July 03, 2006

[Politics, Meta]

Kick Joe, Not Me.

Joe Lieberman, in the midst of a primary race to keep his Senate seat, announced today that he'll start collecting signatures to get on the ballot as an independent. He pretty much has to, to ensure that he'll get on the ballot should Ned Lamont beat him in the Democratic primary--the due date for signatures is the day after the election. But here's the weird part:
Even should he lose in August -- and the most recent public poll shows him leading Lamont by 15 percentage points among likely primary voters -- Lieberman would retain his status as a registered Democrat. His name would not, however, appear on the ballot line with other Democrats.
He's far more likely to win the general than the primary--and he's way in front in the primary--because conservatives and registered Republicans like him. So Ned is pretty much screwed: Lieberman's gonna hold onto his seat one way or another, and when he does, he'll still be a Dem.

I offer this mainly as misdirection to cover up the fact that I'm taking a break from blogging through the fourth. That's just the kind of patriot I am.