escapist reading about our “leaders”

an upsetting day. so, reading the news.

Farewell to the crown, farewell, the velvet gown, won’t you all come tumbling down? Goodbye to the crown! (Chumbawamba, “Farewell to the Crown”)

Nepal votes out their monarchy and institutes a republic. Gyanendra has to vacate the palace within two weeks or face eviction. Also, he had to start paying his own electric bills a while back. Ha ha, I love that. It is balm to my troubled soul. The palace building will be turned into a museum.

The NYT also reports that former Illinois governor George Ryan, with six years left on his prison term for racketeering and fraud, will seek executive clemency from Bush.

The lawyer, James R. Thompson (also a former Illinois governor), said any larger purpose in the conviction and sentence of Mr. Ryan, 74, had been served. “The man has gone from being the governor of the state of Illinois to being a prisoner in a federal penitentiary,” Mr. Thompson said, later adding: “His career is gone. His reputation is gone.”

Ah if only that were the standard for all prisoners. Anyway I will say that Ryan did a good thing by ordering a moratorium on the death penalty after learning of wrongful convictions.

And, finally, the NYT reports on McCain’s use of Bush for fundraising:

Despite the efforts by the McCain camp to keep at arm’s length a president with an approval rating stalled at 28 percent, it is worth remembering that that 28 percent can be fiercely loyal and often wealthy. … “He is very popular with high-dollar donors,” [conservative economist] Mr. Bartlett said of the president.

updated 5/29: Also this note on how the presidential fundraising travel expenses get billed:

By blending official events with party fundraising, Bush dramatically reduces the cost of presidential travel that’s charged to the political campaigns. Taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab.

bushwreck

an article about another bushwreck: how bush wrecked conservatism

and the ongoing bushwreck of the US government’s trustworthiness as a source of information, and its government policy on the environment, all in one: Washington Post on the bowdlerization of a speech about global climate change, transforming it, basically, into “yaay for the public health benefits of global warming!”

bushwreck“: my favorite new neologism which i just made up right now. succinct, self-explanatory, and redolent of other two-syllable words like “bullshit” and “tranwreck”.

some off-the-cuff remarks on the Bush Admin’s nominations
  1. I know other folks have observed this, but, really, isn’t it completely clear that Bush has implemented a religious test for office? Isn’t his pattern of practice completely obvious? Not just in his three Supreme Court nominees, but lower court nominees and executive appointments have all been filled with conservative Christians. Seriously, I challenge anyone to find me an avowed atheist, agnostic, or US minority faith member who has been appointed to any office that might draw the personal attention of the Bush Administration, Karl Rove, et al. Mormons don’t count as “minority faith members” (Buddhists and Hindus in the US will count as will pagans.) I’ll make a bet that every single one is not just Christian but identifiably “conservative”, “fundamentalist”, “evangelical”, or some variant thereof. Any Jews and Muslims will come up in specialty seats: liaisons to the Israel or Muslim countries, or councils on which interfaith dialog is necessary.

  2. The right-wing were fools to knock Harriet Meiers out on the abortion thing. I’m sure some few conservatives really believed that she was not sufficiently pro-life based on her stint with Girls, Inc. and her presentation in a debate of the various positions on abortion in their own terms. But surely most of them understood that she would have been a reliable anti-abortion vote. I personally suspect it would be very difficult to find any successful woman who has not been involved in women’s and girl’s organizations to some extent — women’s bar associations, Girl Scouts, whatever.

    My sense of the reactions to Meiers’ nomination was that only Concerned Women for America or similar overtly right-wing women’s organizations would have been acceptable to the right-wingers who were upset with her about the Girls Inc. activity. Which means, as far as I can tell, that they were unhappy with any organization that generally promotes women’s interests — even if it’s nonpolitical. The understated concern with Meiers’ marital status fits with my general sense that professional women are okay with the right, so long as they are very traditional and very overtly conservative in every respect. So I must conclude that sexism played a large role in the rightwing reaction to Meiers’ nomination. What a surprise … No, really, I’m a little surprised.

    Knocking Meiers out didn’t hurt the right-wing any, though, because there was no way Bush was going to appoint anybody who wasn’t anti-abortion. So I guess maybe the right-wingers weren’t fools so much as just really cocky. In every sense of the word.

  3. Sexism was also apparent in the over-the-top critiques about Meiers’ qualifications. Can anyone really imagine that a male practitioner would have been similarly disrespectfully critiqued? There would have been at least some praise for Bush thinking “outside the box”, bringing in real world perspectives, whatever. But not with Meiers who was roundly abused — and from both the left and the right, I’ll point out.

  4. Barring a big scandal (he’s gay! or he had an abortion!), Alito is in; he’s manifestly qualified and as I read it, he already has the votes. Democrats grandstanding for future political office, or with secure seats and points to pick up from the left, will vote no. But Republicans will all fall in line and so will the conservative Democrats and the ‘we just like qualified nominees’ Democrats. So he’s in.

    I annoyed some of my friends by holding that the left-wing fight against Roberts was a waste of recruiting time and energy and money. I’m not going to say it again with Alito, even though I still sort of think it, because a number of my friends have argued that there’s a lot of merit in fighting even a fight you know you’re going to lose. It’s on the record, it energizes the forces, etc. I grant the ‘on the record’ point. I’m less convinced about ‘energizing the team’. But infighting & criticizing your ideological allies’ tactics has always struck me as particularly unproductive. So if lefties, liberals, civil libertarians, etc. want to go all out and fight Alito, well, go for it. I’ll cheer a win.

  5. What is up with Bush’s nominations?

    For Roberts he went with Mr. Intelligentsia, the snarky conservative everyone hates in law school. A good solid pick, obviously made with a lot of advice from the Bush team.

    For Meiers he went with — well, someone he knew, and someone who was obviously conservative.

    The Meiers nomination showed me something scary: that Bush is actually personally involved in at least some aspects of the Bush Admin. Because who would have thought of her except for Bush himself? For years I haven’t known, and have largely resisted the temptation to ponder, what role George W. Bush plays in the Bush Administration: Is he merely a figurehead? or does he have some sort of actual decisionmaking role? These are the kinds of questions to which we mere subjects would rarely be privileged enough to learn answers, and since I peg him as morally culpable for his Administration’s actions in either case, I didn’t really care that much …. But Harriet Meiers? Qualifications aside, it’s obvious that Bush himself played some role in selecting and nominating his own attorney. This makes it harder for me to resist the speculations. Now I find myself wondering: Is Bush largely a hands-off figurehead who believes in his own authority but rarely puts it to the test because of his “delegation style”? If so, then when he chooses to exercise the authority, is it slightly shocking, and people don’t know what to do? Because he’s The President, and so we have to obey? A little flummoxed, they look around for someone else with authority who can speak up to him and tell him it’s a Very Bad Idea to tell that particular joke, give that official that nickname, or agree to have a press conference ….

    Can’t you imagine Cheney & Rice & other advisors in a meeting with Bush on the nomination:

    Bush: “Well, what about Harriet?”

    Confusion. “Harriet–?”

    Bush: “Harriet! Harriet Meiers, my attorney. She’s smart, she’s a woman, we know she’ll be solid on abortion.”

    Cheney, Rice, et al nod circumspectly. “Oh. … That’s an interesting idea, George. Umm … there might be some concern about cronyism, or …” (glancing at one another) “—Inexperience. You know, because she hasn’t got judicial experience.”

    Bush: “Well, that’s okay — it’ll liven that bunch up anyhow to have a bit of real-life experience. Heh-heh-heh.”

    And so on. Kinda scary, and now I just can’t help but go there.

    But Meiers’ nomination is torpedoed, and so Bush in frustration is like:

    “Well, what the fuck, we just can’t make anyone happy. Who else is on the list. They’re not happy with the lack of experience, so by god, let’s give them someone with experience. Who’s next on the list with a big judicial record that’s obviously pro-life. Okay, Alito. Is he any good? He’s the one we liked on Roe, right?” Nods. “Let’s get ‘im on the phone & talk to him, check him out.”

    And boom, the Admin pops in a new nominee. The new guy is smart and has a long record, obviously conservative.

    What do these three nominees have in common? Basically nothing, except their ideology. Since we already knew that Bush was going to nominate ideologically sympatico folks, one might wonder what his other criteria are. And the answer is … nothing. There are no other criteria. The whole process is completely, obviously, driven by political calculations (pleasing the right-wing Christians with more of their kind) and — shudder — Bush’s gut. Not good political calculations, necessarily, because of — shudder — Bush’s gut. But clearly not close reviews of, well, anything, and clearly, no particular standard. (Except for the religious test.)

    Doesn’t this obviously slap-dash process put paid to the notion that Bush is a good manager & delegator? That even if he doesn’t know how to do it himself, he’s a good MBA, and he can hire the right people? Especially in combination with the FEMA/Katrina fiasco? And especially if you look at how the attempts in the first administration to put in some qualified non-idealogues — Christie Todd Whitman @ EPA, Colin Powell at State, etc. — ended up with a lot of embarrassment and bad feeling all around? “Better to just have our people in,” you can just see them thinking. “Americans elected us, so, so what if we don’t reach out to every corner of the party? They’ll fall in line.”

    In fact if you look at Bush’s Legacy, what will it be? Conservative, without a doubt. Corrupt/Cronies. Incompetent. These are the three threads that run through so much of Bush’s White House management gig.

jonathan kozol on education & no child left behind

DS: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

JK: Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.

DS: Isn’t that why President Bush enacted No Child Left Behind, to narrow the achievement gap between white students and minorities?

JK: I would hesitate to try to navigate the thought processes of that sophisticated, well-educated product of Andover.

DS: Seriously, why would Republicans, who have traditionally opposed big government, encumber schools with the testing requirements attached to No Child Left Behind?

JK: The kind of testing we are doing today is sociopathic in its repetitive and punitive nature. Its driving motive is to highlight failure in inner-city schools as dramatically as possible in order to create a ground swell of support for private vouchers or other privatizing schemes.

“School Monitor: Questions for Jonathan Kozol”. Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON. NYT Magazine, 2005 Sept. 4.

yet more quotes & comments

some links, some quotes, some comments, all in one … I pulled various of these articles up several hours ago from various blogs, which I would like to link back to, but windows got closed, systems got rebooted, and to make a long story short I no longer know which link came from where.

  • Molly Ivins writes about SLAPPs and also reminds us of one of my favorite George W. Bush quotes: “There ought to be limits to freedom.” Uttered in response to a parody website. (which it seems is now on hiatus). [link from sideshow]
  • God, I loved this: famous same-sex swan couples: romeo & juliet, of boston’s Public Garden [link from plaid adder war journal 8/12]
  • This Swedish library is loaning lesbians. [Which reminds me of one of my favorite canvas bags/t-shirts seen around ALA: "Nobody knows I'm a librarian."] The library project is called “The Living Library” and allows you to check out various, err, types of people for 45 minutes. Now circulating, a lesbian, a Muslim, an animal rights activist, a gypsy, and some other folks. [link from librarian.net 8/17; see also sbs]
  • John Nichols, “Being Like Bernie” [Sanders], The Nation, 2005/8/15.

    At his best, Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems– discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering. That’s the genius of Sanders’s independent status. But it is also a source of frustration. While Sanders backers formed the Vermont Progressive Party, a third-party grouping that holds six seats in the State Legislature, he has never joined the party and has sometimes been slow to embrace its statewide campaigns. While the sense that Sanders is a genuinely free agent serves him well, it raises questions about whether Sanders will ever create not just an alternative candidacy but an alternative politics in his state. “He will not leave a party behind him. So what will be his legacy?” asks Freyne of Seven Days. “I don’t see a next Bernie on the horizon. I don’t see what comes after him. There’s a lot wrapped up in one man, and I don’t know where that gets you in the long run.”

    But Sanders makes no apologies for refusing to be a party man. Yes, of course, he’d like the Democratic Party to be more progressive and for third parties to develop the capacity to pull the political process to the left. But Sanders is not going to wait for the right political moment to arrive. What he’s done is create a model for how an individual candidate can push beyond the narrow boundaries of contemporary politics and connect with voters in the same sense that Progressives and Populists of a century ago–operating within the shells of the Democratic and Republican parties and sometimes outside them–did so successfully.

    ai-yi-yi. i must rant. why should sanders have to leave a party to leave a legacy? his unreconstructed individualism is charming. the man stands for himself. people like and appreciate that in almost anybody and especially in politicians. a party? what do parties stand for? mostly, their own ongoing existence. at any given moment, a party might have a general drift — towards theocracy, say, or corporate welfare. or a party might be a confusing morass of many different opinions and no center. evaluating a party by its platform tells you nothing: who could imagine, reading the RNC platform, that there would be such a group as Log Cabin Republicans? is evaluating a party by its inner circle power brokers any more useful in assessing what a party stands for? the value of political parties lies in certain advantages for their members in furthering their common agenda through pooling resources, power, etc. but once a party is too big to reflect any common agenda for all its members, and has significant disagreement on major policy points among its members, then its continued existence becomes just an exercise in maintaining its own power. so bernie sanders doesn’t do party politics, but manages to get things done, stick to and voice his opinions, and he’s wildly popular. hmm. i think there’s a lesson there.

  • Digby, Shameful Indifference, 2005/8/14:

    Memo to those on the right who say the Left supports Islamic fundamentalists: we’re the Godless Heathens, remember? We’re against the religious zealots running governments across the board. Of course, that includes your “base” here in the US too so you’ll have to pardon us for our consistency and ask yourselves why we find you incoherent on this matter.

    Such a useful point. Get rid of the rhetorical labels (“left”, “liberal”, “Republican”, “Islamist”, “Democrats”, and all the various pejorative quasi-puns that conservative blog commenters think are so funny, e.g., “Dims”) and look at specific positions. State control of the press. State control of individual’s sex lives. Specific state positions on individual’s sex lives: same-sex okay or not? Protection of natural resources: important or unimportant? up to the state or the private sector? … and so on. For instance, who’s opposed to non-marital sex, same-sex relations, immodesty in women, indecency on the airwaves; and supportive of patriarchal households, tending to form personality cults around strong authoritarian leaders, pro-military/violence, pro-government entanglements with religion. With so much in common, I guess I should be happy that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists don’t get along better. Hooray for doctrines & deities!

new yorker on bush on science

In The New Yorker, The Talk of the Town, posted 2005/8/15, Hendrik Hertzberg had this to say about Bush & his recent comments on intelligent design:

If the President’s musings on [intelligent design] were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they’re not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group—one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That’s why the White House—sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries—has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention. It has grossly misled the public on the number of stem-cell lines available for research. It has appointed unqualified ideologues to scientific advisory committees and has forced out scientists who persist in pointing out inconvenient facts. All this and more has been amply documented in reports from congressional Democrats and the Union of Concerned Scientists, in such leading scientific publications as Nature, Scientific American, Science, and The Lancet, and in a new book, “The Republican War on Science,” by the science journalist Chris Mooney.

linked from chris mooney 8/15

the protocols were followed

in the recent governmental panic attack about the cessna, White House Spokesperson Scott McClellan says that there was no need to notify Bush because “the protocols were followed”.

so … we get a glimpse into the fact that we don’t actually have a Glorious Leader. and it turns out that we don’t actually need a Glorious Leader, either — just “the protocols”, which were probably drafted by a functionary or perhaps a committee, and were carried out by “highly skilled professionals”.

derived from: editor & publisher 5/12 (hilarious) [linked from the light of reason] & sat a.m. news-in-bed with the semi-lawfully wedded

words sometimes fail

Army Pfc. Lynndie England cnn 5/2:

“I had a choice, but I chose to do what my friends wanted me to,” she said. … “They did it for their own amusement.”

Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of US human rights abuses. Investigations of numerous deaths while in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate forcefully that Abu Ghraib was not “exceptional” and that Lynndie England was not merely a “bad apple.” This level of abuse, torture, and death is a pattern.

Where is the accountability from this administration? What have they done? A very few show trials of the smallest number of people that could be blamed for participation in the most widely publicized incident; busting down Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski to Colonel; and laying a few reprimands & “unspecified administrative punishment” on five other officers. [cbs 5/5] Again, all focused only on Abu Ghraib, and, frankly, only on the most widely publicized incidents at Abu Ghraib. [And among other sorry aspects to this case I am forced to note the sexism in the media coverage of this case, which has turned England into the public face of the Abu Ghraib scandal.]

If this administration took seriously the concept of an “ownership” society it would have taken ownership and responsibility for the war crimes committed on its watch. But in the Bush administration the buck only goes as high as the most conveniently disciplined flunky.

judy bachrach excoriates bush & ‘prayer service’

quick reference: Judy Bachrach takes out Bush / Prayer Services [Fair And Balanced | Oliver Willis]

monster slash

No, it’s not fanfic about Bigfoot & Yeti, together at last. Bobby “Boris” Pickett remakes “Monster Mash” to point out Bush’s slash & burn environmental policies. See monsterslash.org

Lyrics:

We were hiking in the forest late one night
When our eyes beheld an eerie sight
Our president appeared and began to frown
Then he and his friends cut the forest down.
(he did the slash)
they did the forest slash
(he did the slash)
it was brutally brash
(he did the slash)
public opinion was mashed
(he did the slash)
they did it for the cash

The lobbyists were having fun,
The horror party had just begun
The guests include big timber, big oil
Mining magnates and their sons.
These visions haunt me and fill me with disgust
If we don’t stop them our environment will be lost
So come on now and join me; I’m glad to show you how;
Tell our president to save our forests now.

looking around, groundhoglike

Well, I’m starting to look around, groundhog-like. It looks like four more years of winter.

Small mercies: Thank the dark lords that Shrillblog keens on. After scraping the residue of election obsession from my life, I found all I had left were Jon Stewart & Shrillblog. And my Buffy DVDs.

bush loyalty oaths

good postings on the bush loyalty oaths:

bush campaign trips IP rights again

the bush campaign dropped the song “Still the One” after the songwriter protested & said the campaign hadn’t asked his permission. [y!]

ha. this follows the olympics brouhaha. [athens olympics blog 8/26] [ZNet Blogs 8/26]

who knew? bush is really a horror movie character. or two.

[T]those of us who argued that there was really no difference between Bush and Gore look pretty stupid now. None of that reflects especially well on Al Gore, by the way; it simply wasn’t evident at that early date that the then-Texas governor was the real-world version of Greg Stillson, the born-again, world-destroying future president in Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone.”

and later:

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes: Kerry is a lot better than Bush on the environment, abortion, civil liberties and judicial appointments. Again, it’s a comparison between that good-looking real estate guy who only gouged you a little and Chucky, the devil doll from the “Child’s Play” movies.

— Andrew O’Hehir, “Civic Avowal”, salon.com, 2004-10-28

hee-hee.

a history of the bush website

georgewbush.com: one website’s story

  • 1999-may-21, the bush campaign thinks “[t]here ought to be limits to freedom” (at least for website satirists gwbush.com) [but see georgewbush.org which bravely soldiers on]
  • in 2004, the bush website looks like it was designed of, by & for microsoft products
  • in 2004, the bush website put up the popular but short-lived bush-cheney sign generator ["the sloganator"], which was rapidly appropriated by the administration’s critics, even though the administration’s web team had cleverly thought to ban some potentially troublesome words (like “dumb, stupid, fascism, evil, lying, scum”. The campaign took down the sloganator but luckily a number of galleries & archives of signs were created and an offsite sloganator live on. So popular was the hacking of the sloganator that the anti-Kerry folks used the idea to develop a Kerry Sloganator.
  • in 2004, the bush website uses colin powell to demonstrate its “compassion”
  • 2004-10-26: the register and netcraft report that the bush campaign website has blocked international access. (The 51st state is apparently permitted access, although plans for conquest have not yet been publicized/finalized.) 10-28: the bbc reports that it was a DDOS that caused the security response.
disappeared information
The Gadflyer: Believe

another one for the scrapbook: Thomas F. Schaller, The Gadflyer: Believe

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“Bush’s Big Joke: A Video of Atrocities”

“Bush’s Big Joke” — A Video of Atrocities – A BuzzFlash Reader Contribution

hannah arendt & bush

do people ever quote hannah arendt when they are not making profound & deep observations? salon.com’s war room blog has these additional comments regarding the ron suskind nyt magazine piece on bush & the faith-based administration:

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no ambiguity

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

“Without A Doubt” by Ron Suskind, The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004