Big Surprise: A Snake That Acts Like A Snake

I’ve been kind of stunned in the last couple of days at the outcry resulting from Karl Rove’s recent remarks about September 11. Rove, in case you’ve been staying at the Hotel Gitmo and haven’t heard, accused liberals of responding to the attacks by offering therapy to the terrorists.

What surprises me is not that numerous people of all stripes have condemned what he said but rather the disbelief with which they have condemned him. It’s as if, up until now, they believed that Rove was a principled human being who operated with a conscience. But these recent statements represent exactly the kind of divisive, contempt-filled rhetoric upon which he has built his career. Rove clearly has not been worthy of the benefit of the doubt for decades.

My second level of surprise is that people have called for Rove’s resignation, expecting … what?

That he might exhibit some shame or remorse? It’s obvious that the man is so arrogant that he can’t be shamed. His stock in trade is his ability to be unembarrassable.

That resignation would change the political landscape? Considering that Rove is largely responsible for every successful campaign that W ever engaged in (notice I didn’t use the word “won” in there anywhere), the likelihood of Bush cutting off ties with Rove simply because Rove is no longer in an official position is nil.

That Rove would apologize? Dream on. The press secretary has already made it clear that no such apology is forthcoming.

Does that mean people who oppose this kind of vile spew should just sit back and take it? Absolutely not. We should be making as much noise as we possibly can. We need to continue to call attention to this outrageous behavior (and that of the other Bush cronies) so that more and more people are aware of it.

This administration is perfectly poised to collapse under the weight of its own bad karma. And I’ve got no problem helping karma out a little by attempting to spread the word.

Sense and Sensenbrenner

I fired this missive off to the good congressman today, in response to his bad behavior. (You can view the background information here.)

Congressman Sensenbrenner —

I hope you are ashamed of your behavior today in shutting down a duly-called committee hearing regarding the Patriot Act, although I fear from your brazenness that you may be incapable of shame. Your attempts to silence the voices that might hold opinions that differ from your lockstep party line subvert the democratic process in ways that I have never previously witnessed.

Your actions are those of a man who desperately fears that his party is losing its vice-grip on the nation, so you must resort to bullying. But your behavior also tells me that you’re not clever enough to figure out that such actions only serve to galvanize your opposition. Your strategy isn’t even very smart politically.

Worst of all, such blatantly partisan manipulation doesn’t serve the interests of the country, because if we can’t deal with situations fully and truthfully, how can legislation be crafted that genuinely serves our needs? Isn’t that what you were elected to do?

Family Second

The State Department announced today that president-whisperer Karen Hughes will be taking a post at State designed to change Islamic perceptions about America. How many different aspects of this announcement are there that are objectionable?

First of all, have our news media conveniently forgotten Karen Hughes’ ‘family first’ position of several months back? With a huge self-righteous fanfare, she left her post at the White House because her son supposedly came first and she claimed she wasn’t seeing enough of her family. It was time, she said, to return to Texas where they could spend time together.

But now all of a sudden it’s OK for her to travel extensively in the Middle East? Is it easier to get to Texas from Iraq than it is from D.C.? Have they perfected that ‘Beam-me-up-Scotty’ technology and I just didn’t hear about it yet?

Second, isn’t it more than a little disingenuous to attempt to control perceptions of the U.S. in the Islamic world? Isn’t this just a thinly vailed public relations campaign designed to make it possible for the U.S. to continue on exactly the same trajectory that it’s been on, without actually making any substantive changes in the way that the U.S. deals with the Muslim world? This is akin to the tobacco companies honking their own horns for their efforts to get people to stop smoking, while simultaneously racheting up their marketing efforts to sell more cigarettes.

Third, Karen Hughes? This is the administration’s idea of a diplomat? Karen Hughes’ professional life has been exclusively as a campaign professional and a television news reporter, most of it in Texas. What on earth on her resume would qualify her for a position at State? If she posted her resume on Monster.com, I bet she wouldn’t get a single inquiry for a diplomat job. And I’d also bet there are career diplomats all over the world who are screaming silently about this appointment.

No Right To Cry

The crying has begun in the red states, with the unveiling of Bush’s new federal budget. And, yes, it’s a disaster (or a collection of disasters) waiting to happen. There are plenty of things to hate about it, all of which are being discussed elsewhere, so I won’t bore you with the details. Basically, the budget boils down to taking money away from programs that benefit the poor and middle class (education, HUD, etc.) and giving more to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

The march-in-lockstep Bush apologists are already attempting to make a case in favor of this budget by saying, “Oh, this is a wartime budget and we all have to make sacrifices.” The hypocrisy of this, in case it already didn’t hit you in the head like a wrecking ball, is that the war in Iraq is a war of choice that Bush and his cronies got us into on totally false pretenses, and it’s now being used as the excuse for cutting social and education programs.

And, by the way, sorry, farmers. If you’re in a red state and you’re now complaining about the farm subsidies being cut, you’re not getting any sympathy from me. You had your chance. This is your guy doing this, not ours. You put this loser in office, not us.

Who’s Supporting George?

I keep reading stories about Bush not having strong support in various groups. He doesn’t have the young voters. He has only 6% of the black vote. The AARP crowd is pissed off at him because of prescription drugs. Gay people certainly hate him. Women’s groups seem to hate him. He doesn’t have the Hispanic vote (perhaps because he’s made such a point of proving that he can butcher the Spanish language as much as he can butcher English).

So who, exactly, is supporting this guy?

DeLay Gets Delayed

Three cheers for the Texas Democrats who had the fortitude to stand by their principles and not allow GOP big-wig and Bush lackey Tom DeLay force feed a redistricting plan on the Lone Star state that would have ensured Republican control for years to come.

This kind of tactic is so transparent — drawing artificial boundaries for districts so as to ensure percentages favorable to one party — that Democrats had to do something. Leaving the state not only was a novel approach to the situation but it also made it enough of a national issue that it shone light in the dark corners of Republican tactical politics.

Kudos!

Talking Turkey

Thinking about this war makes me think about the ulterior motives of some of the players in this epic international drama.

Let’s talk Turkey. So Turkey chose to lose out on $30 billion in payments from the U.S., all because they didn’t want to play host to America’s troops on the northeast border of Iraq. That also happens to be the region where the Kurds reside. The Iraqi’s, at Saddam Hussein’s request, used chemical weapons on those Kurds in that area. (These are the people who W. is referring to when he repeatedly says that Saddam Hussein ‘used chemical weapons on his own people.’)

The Turks claimed that they were afraid that these people — outcasts in both Turkey and Iraq — would demand their own state if U.S. troops created too much of a stronghold in that area.

American forces are now attempting to encircle Bagdhad, coming from all directions except the northeast. It’s the missing spoke. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that, if Saddam’s Republican Guard is facing imminent destruction (which we are all promised that they are), that they would attempt to make their escape from Bagdhad to the northeast, where resistance is likely to be the lightest, because of Turkey’s decision not to allow troops there? And wouldn’t it also stand to reason that, as one last desperate act of defiance, the Republican Guard and other forces loyal to Saddam would attempt to take out as many Kurds as they possibly could?

That scenario makes a tidy little package for Turkey. They miss out on a few aid dollars, but they get their neighbors to the south, the Iraqis, to do their dirty work of getting rid of that pesky Kurd problem.

This is not a good time be a Kurd. (Is it ever?)

Next ulterior motive: a divided Europe.

Adding Fuel

The gathering storm of war seems to be bringing out a gathering storm of foolishness, as well.

Peace advocates who shamelessly liken themselves to Ghandi are organizing a world-wide effort to get crowds of people to travel to Iraq, set themselves up in areas where Iraqi civilians live, as a way of preventing attacks on those areas.

Here’s where their logic completely breaks down. Many of these same folks have been criticizing George W. for being stupid since long before he was elected/selected President. In fact, many have claimed that he’s the stupidest president ever. And no one can dispute that his life experience shows that he is among the least worldly U.S. Presidents ever.

That narrow-focused and not-so-bright fellow is now facing some of the toughest decisions that any human being has ever had to face.

So what do these activists do? They orchestrate a situation that makes his decision-making even tougher. And all of this is done based on some collective magical thinking that these ego-centered folks are doing something helpful and humanitarian.

Let’s face it. None of us has enough information to make this kind of unilateral decision. By complicating the situation on the ground, they are just as likely to increase the number of civilian deaths as they are to decrease the number.

If our Commander-in-Chief decides to change plans to avoid hitting citizens of the U.S. and allied countries, the military objective of a “surgical strike” is impossible, thereby elevating the risk of civilian deaths.

If, on the other hand, the Prez says, “Go ahead, fry them anyway,” then what? The activists die, the Iraqi citizens die, and the U.S. is in a worse position on the world stage than ever before, increasing the likelihood of terrorism and the desertion of our allies.

Rumsfeld has come out and said that the use of human shields in this situation is considered a war crime. Maybe so. At the very least, it is very bad judgment that is unlikely to achieve the stated objectives of the advocates.

A little reality check, people. Please.

And now, for the weather …

There’s a chill wind blowing over Washington today. And I’m not talking about the record-setting blizzard.

The chill to which I’m referring is the feedback that Washington is getting as a result of the worldwide groundswell of peace protests this past weekend. One must admit that such protests are unprecedented, not so much in scope but in swiftness of response. The world is clearly against the impending invasion of Iraq. The protests in our own country bear out the surveys that have shown that even our own citizens aren’t convinced that there is any pressing need to invade immediately.

Nevertheless, Bush Administration big-wigs made the rounds of the talking-head shows yesterday, still trying to convince us that their way is the best.

An assumption might be made that the inner circle of the Bush Administration has highly sensitive information that leads them to believe that there is a critical reason to invade Iraq sooner rather than later (other than the line of reasoning that they have provided — that they don’t want our troops having to deal with the brutality of the hot desert sun in the middle of summer). The line of questioning that I have yet to hear from any journalist, directed at POTUS, VPOTUS or any Cabinet Member is this: Does such information exist and you just aren’t telling the American people or the world community? Or are you just speculating that there is an imminent threat to the U.S.?

If one of the Administration spokespersons (not Ari ‘Deadpan’ Fleischer, though) could look the American people in the eye with at least the amount of forthrightness that Bill Clinton used when he told us he didn’t have sex with ‘that woman,’ then their position might gain a little more credibility. But they haven’t done that.

And if they’re unable to provide us even that cursory reassurance, is there any reason on earth why we should put any stock in the line that they are feeding us?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The Bush administration has taken a firm stand opposing affirmative action in university admissions by weighing in on two cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. (This really should come as no surprise, since the White House was strangely silent when most of the rest of the U.S. finally came to its senses about Trent Lott.)

But, oddly, the Republican Party seems to be actively courting African Americans to join its ranks.

Something doesn’t add up. On the one hand, you have an organization that claims that no help is needed in achieving parity (in the cases of university admissions); on the other hand, there needs to be a concerted effort to increase numbers to achieve parity within its own ranks. Hmmm. Could this be a public relations ploy?

Most African Americans saw through this kind of hypocrisy in the 2000 election (those who were allowed to vote, that is). Only 8% of African Americans voted for Bush. With this kind of covert racism coursing through the veins of the Republican Party, one can only hope that that percentage will decrease in the next election.