Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your flight's canceled, but there's a seat open on the Bush bandwagon

And so, here we are on a dreary night before The Great Trudge across the nation for Thanksgiving travelers, who, by the looks of it, would be better off staying home rather than going "home" ...

The revelations in advance of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book, that he had been lied to when told that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were "not involved" in the outing of Valerie Plame, and that Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby and then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card "were involved" in feeding him these falsehoods, are yet another clarion bleat to the criminal endeavor of the Bush Administration, a nearly seven-year reign of lies, bloodshed, and intentional destruction of truth, democracy and the Constitution of the United States. Even certified water-carriers like McClellan are turning on the Bush- Cheney doctrine now, and there is even an outside chance that the two of them will actually have to, at the very least, own up to their crimes, if not be punished for them. Remember, this Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame-Robert Novak business isn't just a bunch of Washington "insiders" in a tiff about who let slip something about somebody's wife. This was an attempt by the Bush administration, and very likely Bush himself, to undermine an intelligence agency charged with pursuing information that ran counter to the lies that Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons wanted to use to build a case, in the 2003 State of the Union speech, for this useless and tragic war in Iraq. Certainly, though, if Libby can be pardoned, it's hard to imagine Bush or Cheney ever being forced to do more than deny any of this, if even that. Bush, of course, can't pardon himself, but there's no doubt that if Nixon can get some stumbling boob to set him running off scot free just days after he had been chased out of office, Bush should have nothing to worry about. Giuliani, if he gets in office, would pardon Bush in a New York minute, and anyone else who might be sitting in the White House in 15 months would be hearing from right-wing radio on a minute-by-minute basis about how their insistence on any sort of prosecution was tearing apart the country at precisely the time a president is "supposed to be bringing the country together."

But, nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the Bush administration keeps Congress from, at the very least, making an inquiry into what McClellan knew and when, and precisely what kind of obfuscation was performed by each of the five people he names as responsible for pumping him full of bullshit on this matter. This is what John Dean, no stranger to these sorts of maneuverings as Nixon's White House Counsel, believes will happen. He appeared this evening, as he frequently does, on Keith Olbermann's show, and as I hear his voice and all the trappings of the news surrounding this and other criminal behavior by the White House, I can't help but find my mind in the same frame as it is when I read about the Nixon years ... and specifically, Hunter S. Thompson's chroniclings, which followed the Nixon presidency closely from the 1972 re-election campaign all the way to his resignation and subsequent pardon, and dovetailed into Thompson's close stalking of Nixon's unceasing presence in public life until his death in 1995. I think, in many ways, Olbermann is the modern Thompson. Both are political newsmen who have, among other things, developed a kinship with Dean, both have a rabid interest and consistent involvement in sports journalism, both are anti- authoritarians at heart, and both have a runaway presidential administration that they have played an important role in not only documenting but -- with their knowledge, judgment, wit and stomach for fearless commentary -- reigning in as well. The similarity is particularly strong in Olbermann's more vitriolic passages, as during tonight's broadcast, when he lashed out at the Pentagon in response to their insistence that Jordan Fox, an Army soldier wounded in Iraq, was indebted to them for a nearly $3,000 portion of his enlistment bonus because he was unable to fulfill the final three months of his tour of duty there. "You jackasses are indebted to Jordan Fox and everyone else like him!" declared Olbermann.

Usually though, Olbermann is the near-opposite of Thompson in terms of outrageous behavior. Thompson was in large part defined by his wild and drug-aided exploits, while Olbermann is, at most times, the picture of dignified reserve. Their personalities are more similar than one might think, however -- driven, cantankerous and foul-mouthed in private but ultimately caring people with a great deal of compassion when it comes to the human spirit.

Speaking of the human spirit, it is with a twinge of uneasiness that I approach the story of the Collier County teachers, who are protesting believed inequities in their current contract negotiations (which call for a one-time bonus of one percent instead of a raise) by pledging to do exactly what their current contract states. Which is the opposite of a strike, the method by which most workers strike against tyrannical employers. What the teachers are saying is that they will limit themselves simply to working the hours to which they are contractually obliged, meaning that a good number of them, at least, regularly go above and beyond their standard workday of seven and a half hours. And for this kind of performance the Collier County school board wants to give them only a one percent raise? The very idea that educators are backed into a corner on a daily basis that it is a move of aggression simply to do only what is expected of them is a blatant signal not only to the people of Collier County, which has one of the most appalling gaps between its richest and poorest inhabitants in the nation, but to everywhere in this country where teachers are compensated in a similarly poor manner, which is just about everywhere, that the current system is unacceptable. These teachers should not even be working under such conditions. I once spoke with a teacher employed by neighboring Lee County when I was working as a journalist for The News-Press in Fort Myers. I was attempting to interview her for a simple story about a holiday off from school, but she declined to speak on the record, citing a clause in her contract that withheld her from speaking to any media. This, in itself, is not news to me -- such restrictions are de rigeur in terms of employment for educators and others across the country -- but the very idea that someone who dedicates their working hours to the benefit of society in the capacity of a public employee, and a teacher no less, should have their First Amendment rights abridged in such a manner is antithetical to the values incumbent to the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, it speaks to the kind of sacrifices teachers are forced to make and the culture of intimidation and resignation that is imbedded into our educational system. If teachers don't get a fair shake, what does this say to their students? A teacher who comes to the classroom cowed and fearful will deliver children who are the same. Is this what we want in America?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lest we forget ...

I must apologize for the unplanned break I've taken over the past couple of weeks. Combine a full-time job with a freelance assignment on the side with continuing to look for better employment with a string of unforeseen financial difficulties with illness and, well ... you won't have much free time, either. I'm not sure how I have the moment I have right now, and can only imagine I'm getting way behind on something else, but who cares? I'm here now, and that's what counts.

So what did we miss? Most notable, I believe, is the unholy alliance we now have between Rudy Giuliani and Pat Robertson. That's right. A corrupt, two-faced veteran of more marriages than even the Mormon guy he's running against in the primary has decided

Now let's have some fun with some Pat Robertson quotes, shall we? Firs, let's start with the biggie, the one with the greatest amount of irony here since Giuliani's campaign largely centers around the idea that it is Sept. 11, 2001 every day of every year, in perpetuity, or at least until he's elected president.

"We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, et cetera, to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a Court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said, 'We're going to legislate you out of the schools, we're going to take your Commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states, we're not going to let little children read the Commandments of God, we're not going to let the Bible be read -- no prayer in our schools.' We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say 'why does this happen?' Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting His protection from us." -- Robertson's own Sept. 2001 press release

Yes, well, now aren't we lucky that we have a candiddate like America's Mayor, out there protecting us from the nefarious, potent threat of Internet pornographers, homosexuals and anyone who has ever read the U.S. Constitution. These people are, indeed, terrorists who hate us for our freedom!

"Presbyterians are the spirit of the Antichrist." -- The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, p. 239

Really?! My mother will certainly be interested to know that she is the devil. If anything, I think this revelation will inspire her to modify her home decor so that it's more, you know, hell-like. Can't wait to see it, and I'll be having a lot of fun telling people I'll be going to hell for the holidays!

"[Homosexuals] want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers." The 700 Club, Jan. 18, 1995

Pat, those aren't homosexuals! Those are imaginary evil vampires you've created in your own fervent imagination! My advice is to stop renting Bela Lugosi flicks and lay off the Count Chocula for awhile, OK?

"I think 'one man, one vote,' just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights." (talking about apartheid in South Africa)" The 700 Club, March 18, 1992

Protection like, say, making every black count as three-fifths of a person? Now that's what I call a traditional American value! But, you know, I think what this means is, if Rudy is elected, we in America have an obligation invade America, in order to establish a free and democratic America, a nation what would become a beacon and a means by which we may spread democracy throughout the Middle West!

"The Antichrist is probably a Jew alive in Israel today." As quoted in "The Christian Paradox", Harper's Magazine (August 2005)

Wait a second, Pat, I thought you said the devil was Presbyterian! OK, I think I know what's going on here ... happens all the time ... Don't be fooled by my mother's semitic last name. She's a Christian, Pat. Been one all her life. At least until she became Satan.

“How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" The 700 Club, July 7, 2003, attacking George W. Bush for asking Liberian President Charles Taylor, who had recently been indicted on war-crime charges, to step down.

Ah, yes, that's actually rather lucid, Mr. Robertson. So where were you on Iraq? Oh, wait, I forgot ...

"We've won the war already, and for the Democrats to say we can't win it -- what kind of a statement is that? And furthermore, one of the fundamental principles we have in America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason. I know we have an opportunity to express our points of view, but there is a time when we're engaged in a combat situation that carping criticism against the commander in chief just doesn't cut it." The 700 Club, Dec. 7, 2005

What kind of statement is that indeed? Folks, you know, I'm not a psychologist, nor do I consider myself to be any more than an amateur diagnostician in this or any other medical field, but I think it's seriously time for all of us to consider that our dear Pat is ... bipolar. Which is OK. We're only now beginning to realize the scope and effects of this neurological disorder, and there's plenty of help, treatment, and qualified therapists out there for people like him. Pat, don't try to be a hero. Do the right thing for yourself. Accept your problem, come to grips with reality (I understand this may be particularly difficult for you) and then, and only then, you may begin to be healed!

“You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if [President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela] thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don’t think any oil shipments will stop. [...] We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.” The 700 Club, Aug. 22, 2005.

OK, this problem may be bigger than we thought. Is it wrong to suspect that Pat may soon list "Nation Builder" as one of his occupations? Or maybe "South American Rebellion Leader"?

Of course, lest we forget Pat's special hope for members of our own government ...

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up like Newt Gingrich wants to do," The 700 Club, June 2003

So there you have it. Rudy Giuliani in bed with a man who proposes the overthrow of America with a nuclear strike. This could be interesting come the general election.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Linkin' blogs

We're back with a few links, and a weightier post coming soon ...

I have to link to this story for a few reasons: because it is a strangely comical piece of its own merit, because the sports writer thought it germane to use the a quote from the cheerleading coach, because the item, as of about 1 a.m., had not been updated to include information that might be seen as significant like, say, the final score, and because I've met and spoken with Dunbar on multiple occasions, and am genuinely hoping he's OK.

Plus, this could be the indication of a new trend, given it took place on the heels of the infamous cheerleader- banner incident. Clearly, cheerleading- related unintentional violence is on the rise, folks.

So perhaps we should all be glad that the Writers Guild of America has not yet recruited the anarchist cheerleaders to join in its picket lines. I'm usually pro-labor, but it's hard to get behind any group that's led by a guy who comes up with gems like this, from a story on The New York Times Web site:

Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America East, is glad that his union brothers now include the staffs of two programs that have a visceral connection with their young, obsessed audiences.

“These two shows are a big source of news for a whole generation that was not around for the 1988 strike,” he said. “Losing Stewart and Colbert is something like losing Cronkite during the Vietnam War. ...”

And people wonder how Bush gets away with his shit. Say what you will about Cronkite, but at least he pretended to be serious.