Dubya Finally Wins a Vote! (Just Not His Own …)

It’s official. Former Senator John Ashcroft has been sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. If you are gay, African-American, female, Democratic (or should I use the more inclusive ‘non-Republican’), atheist, non-Christian (or should I use the more exclusive ‘non-Right-Wing-Christian’), watch out.

The most interesting part, I think, is that Ashcroft had to take a drug test before he was sworn in. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that lab. Now, I wonder if he had to endure the same humiliation that typical drug testing subjects must face. For example, was he patted down or strip searched to make sure he didn’t have any hidden urine samples on him? Did he have someone in the stall with him watching him pee in the cup? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Ashcroft faced the most opposition votes ever cast for an Attorney General nominee; he was approved by a 58-42 vote. But at least this gives Dubya one legitimate majority.

Kiss Those Social Programs Goodbye …

Alright, students. Please take out your right-wing rhetoric glossaries and prepare to make a new entry: ‘Faith-based initiatives‘ (a/k/a ‘FBI’). That means taking your tax dollars and giving them directly to religious organizations. That means absolving the government of responsibility for social programs. That means inextricably linking church and state. That means the principle of separation of church and state is out the door. One of our most basic freedoms — indeed, the freedom that was the primary reason that our nation was established — is being seriously eroded.

And, kids, now what’s that giant sucking sound? It’s the sound of billions of dollars of your tax dollars being siphoned away from existing social programs where they should be going and into the hands of religious organizations.

How ironic that George W.’s assault comes on the same day that the bodies of Madeline Murray O’Hare and her two sons, missing for years, have reportedly been found in — where else — Texas. (O’Hare, of course, is the atheist who brought the successful challenge of the practice school prayer to the Supreme Court.) You probably won’t hear much about this, though, because of the right-leaning bias of our nation’s media. They’re too busy covering Robert Downey, Jr.’s drug trial.

(By the way, if anyone has suggestions for a more disparaging name for President Bush, please fill in the blanks with it. Somehow, Dubya doesn’t sound quite disdainful enough.)

Three cheers to Sen. Patrick Leahy for announcing today that he would be voting against the confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General. We’ll see how many others stand on their principles when the vote happens later this week or early next week.

The Puppetmaster Speaks

Did anyone see Dick ‘Puppetmaster’ Cheney backpedaling on the school voucher issue on Meet the Press today?  Suffice it to say that it was delicious.  He’s perhaps the most masterful spin-doctor the administration has trotted out so far.  He managed to do a 180 degree turn for the administration on the issue of school vouchers (which is essentially right-wing rhetoric for the government — your tax dollars — subsidizing religious schools).

A Divider, Not A Uniter

So much for being a ‘uniter and not a divider.’ All you have to do is read the record for this first business day in office to see what a pile of crap that campaign promise is. He’s preventing funding of international aid organizations that provide abortion counseling, he’s supporting ultra-right-wing cabinet nominations, he’s criticizing the accomplishments of the previous administration.

Enough said.

Inauguration for a Parallel Universe

I’ve formatted today’s photo in an appropriately somber manner.

Somehow I find Dubya’s parallel universe inauguration speech, as described in The Onion, much more plausible than the one he actually gave. (It’s more truthful and it makes a lot more sense.)

The poor lost soul. His speech was no more than a rehash of his empty-rhetoric-filled stump speech. And, in this writer’s estimation, he didn’t make a passing attempt to inspire the nation, to reconcile differences among the electorate, to acknowledge in any way the strange way in which he came to power, or even to recognize his inauguration as a moment in history.

But, then again, why should he? The truth is that he had things all sewn up with brother Jeb and the Supremes. So why should he feel any obligation to the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for him? He had his right-wing crony, ‘Justice’ Wm. Rehnquist, there to swear him in, so why bother? And shame on the press for failing to pick up on this irony.

At the inaugural balls tonight, I expect that First Lady Laura will show us tonight that she is to fashion what George W. is to politics. I suppose I shouldn’t slam her too badly; she at least claims to support a woman’s right to choose. Ah, what the heck, I’ll slam her anyway — she’s foolish enough to have married Mr. Roboto.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be in a less cantankerous mood. Or maybe after four years of conservative compassionism.

Don’t Freak Out. Speak Out!

At last, someone has had the opportunity, as well as the courage, to speak frankly and truthfully about John Ashcroft in front of the Senate committee charged with reviewing Ashcroft’s nomination to the post of Attorney General.

I’m referring to purposely-snubbed Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, who was prevented from attaining a federal judgeship because of Ashcroft’s manipulation.

What’s more, Justice White managed to raise the issues and maintain his personal dignity. He refused to call Ashcroft a racist, unlike myself. I would happily be undignified enough to refer to Ashcroft as both a racist and a homophobe. Of course, I admittedly use only the “looks-like-a-duck-quacks-like-a-duck” standard, where others might be held to a more legalistic approach.

Let’s hope when the committee members begin questioning of Ashcroft on this subject that they play hardball a little more than they did when questioning him about Ambassador Hormel.

Check out the full story on MSNBC or the Washington Post. Or read an interview regarding this topic from PBS.

Fusion of Church and State

Ahh, yes. America. We’re in the midst of hearings about John Ashcroft, who has used a distinctly partisan approach for his entire 25+ year political career, as Governor, State Attorney General, and Senator. And now, for some reason, we (through our senators) are being called upon to be non-partisan in approving him as Attorney General.

It’s so obvious that his nomination is payback for the millions of dollars that the right-wing Republicans dumped into Dubya’s campaign coffers. It’s also obvious that the nomination is not only an intentional slap in the face to Democrats who regained a Senate seat through Ashcroft’s loss in the Missouri race, but also a balm to assuage the humiliation career-politician Ashcroft felt in losing that race to a dead man.

So much for non-partisanship. Three cheers to Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Charles Schumer, among others, for being outspoken enough to challenge this ill-conceived nomination.

Countdown to Excrement

It’s only 5 days until America’s first illegitimate president gets inaugurated. It’s hard to believe it could actually come to this. I’m looking forward to the results of the joint effort of the New York Times and the Miami Herald in recounting the votes to see who was truly rightfully elected.

Of course, here’s what we can expect the right wing to say, if it turns out that Gore would have prevailed had the true vote count gone forward: “We have an electoral process and we followed it. A president is elected by that process, not by the New York Times.” Never mind that the process was subverted at every step of the way by an entrenched Republican machine in Florida, including the complete participation of the seemingly-inflappable Katherine Harris and the President-Select’s own brother. What makes it more heinous is that they’re completely unapologetic about it; they didn’t even make a passing attempt to avoid the appearance of evil. And most of America seems to be willing to go along with it. What’s wrong with this picture?

And while we’re on the subject of the inauguration, what’s the deal with Ricky Martin performing? As I see it, there are two possible scenarios. The first scenario is that he supports Bush and all that he stands for and is going ahead with his performance as an endorsement of that. The second scenario is that he is apathetic and apolitical and doesn’t have any convictions and therefore he doesn’t see anything wrong with performing.

(On some level, however, I am secretly looking forward to watching those Republicans try to groove to Ricky’s music. Are you old enough to recall Lee Atwater and Dubya’s father “gettin’ down” at daddy’s inauguration? I wish I had it on video. I’d keep it in my poison control kit for those times when first aid measures call for inducing vomiting.)

One last question about Laura Bush. Does She-Bang?