Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Happy New Year’s Eve, my darlings. If I wasn’t at work, we’d do something a little special for the last Happy Hour of 2008, but as it is, we’ll just have to content ourselves with the usual parade of idiocy.

For a change, let’s start out with a little Dem fucktardedness. And what could be more fucktarded than the replacement for Obama’s Senate seat playing the race card?

One can make a reasonable case that Roland Burris’ appointment to the Senate should go through, Rod Blagojevich’s scandal notwithstanding. But this is the wrong way to make the argument.

In an interview this morning on the CBS “Early Show,” Rep. Bobby Rush compared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to seat Roland Burris with the actions of leading segregationists from decades past, including George Wallace and Bull Connor.

Seriously, he did. Rush specifically said, “[T]he recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where school children — where you have officials standing in the doorway of school children. You know, I’m talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors and I’m sure that the U.S. Senate don’t want to see themselves placed in the same position.”

Burris himself appeared on NBC’s “Today” this morning, and raised the same point, though in a more passive way: “Is it racism that is taking place? That’s a question that someone may raise.”

This strategy is a mistake. Blagojevich almost certainly considered Burris’ race before making his announcement, but there’s no evidence at all that Senate Democrats or Barack Obama are basing their opposition on anything but the governor’s corruption allegations. The comparison of modern-day Senate Democrats to George Wallace and Bull Connor is baseless and irresponsible. For Burris to even raise the possibility that racism is a factor here isn’t much better.

You know, when Senate Dems said they weren’t going to seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich, they didn’t say, “Unless, of course, we’re accused of being racists.” And running around screaming racism doesn’t really fly when Obama himself is backing the Senate Dems. This is just spectacularly pathetic.

Burris may be qualified. But anyone who accepted a seat from a man who was trying to sell that seat calls his own integrity and motivations into question. And it really looks bad when the appointee has created a monument to himself. Seriously. Go look at it. Can anyone say “self-absorbed”?

For fuck’s sake.

Of course, that drumbeat of inanity is rather drowned out by the thunder of Con dumbassitude. As always. Where to begin? How about with the Bush appointee who was literally asleep at the helm at OSHA:

From The Rachel Maddow Show Dec. 29, 2008. Sadly as someone who has read Molly Ivins’ book Bushwhacked and after watching the debacle during Hurricane Katrina, nothing any Bush appointee does surprises me very much.

But first, it‘s time for a few underreported “holy mackerel” stories in today‘s news. The “Washington Post” front-pages a story today on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, the part of the federal government that deals with workplace safety. They provide information about workplace hazards. They regulate workplace conditions so that they are safer.

Of course, in the Bush administration, OSHA does a lot less of that. They do 86 percent less of that, if you want to be precise here. OSHA under President Bush issued 86 percent fewer significant workplace safety rules and regulations than OSHA under Bill Clinton. Now, that‘s not necessarily a big political surprise. Republicans are the pro-corporation, anti-regulation party even when they can‘t really agree on anything else.

But what is a surprise about OSHA under President Bush which we learned in today‘s “Washington Post” is—I‘m not actually sure that I can improve on the facts as they are presented in today‘s “Washington Post” article by the reporter, R. Jeffrey Smith.

Quote, “In 2006, Bush‘s first OSHA director, a former Monsanto employee was replaced by Edwin G. Foulke Jr., a South Carolina lawyer and former Bush fundraiser who spent years defending companies cited by OSHA for safety and health violations. Foulke quickly acquired a reputation inside the Labor Department as a man who literally fell asleep on the job.

Eyewitnesses said they saw him suddenly doze off at staff meetings, during teleconferences, in one-on-one briefings, at retreats involving senior deputies, on the dais at the conference, at an awards ceremony for a corporation, and during an interview with candidate for deputy regional administrator.

His top aides said they rustled papers, wore attention-getting garb, they pounded the table for emphasis or gently kicked his leg, all to keep him awake. But if these tactics failed, sometimes they just continued talking as if he were awake – ‘We‘ll be sitting there and things will fall out of his hands; people will go on talking like nothing ever happened,‘ said a career official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to a reporter.

In an interview, Foulke denied falling asleep at work, although he said he was often tired and sometimes listened with his eyes closed,” end quote.

Dear. Fucking. Gods. And people wonder why this country got so fucked up.

As for insight coming from these clowns, fuggedaboutit. Here’s Gonzo, feeling all sorry for hisself because people hate him and he just can’t understand why:

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left office in disgrace 16 months ago, and has kept a low profile since. His reputation has not improved in the interim — Gonzales has struggled to find a law firm willing to hire him — but at least he hasn’t said or done anything ridiculous since his departure from public life.

Gonzales, however, is apparently interested in some kind of comeback. The former A.G. is writing a book about his tenure in the Bush administration and chatted with the Wall Street Journal about how mean everyone has been to him.

“What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?” he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.

During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that “for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I con
sider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”

Is Gonzales really that confused about what he did that was “so fundamentally wrong”? I suppose he proved during multiple congressional hearings that his memory is similar to that of someone who’s suffered serious head trauma, but Gonzales’ list of scandals is hard to forget.

Just off the top of my head, there was the U.S. Attorney purge scandal, Gonzales signing torture memos, his conduct in John Ashcroft’s hospital room, his oversight of a Justice Department that was engaged in widespread employment discrimination, and his gutting of the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division. Gonzales was even investigated by the department’s Inspector General on allegations of perjury and obstruction.

Ah, well. At least the blogs are having fun reminding him just why he’s so universally despised. That’s something.

And here’s the WSJ, ending their year as they began, spewing conservative talking points and doing their best to convince everyone that the world will end in mayhem and ruin if the Dems do what Americans want them to do, like ensure people have proper health care:

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal took another shot at President elect Barack Obama’s health care proposal yesterday, warning readers that Obama’s appointed health care leaders — incoming Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes — “will ration your health care“:

People are policy. And now that President-elect Barack Obama has fielded his team of Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services and Melody Barnes as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, we can predict both the strategy and substance of the new administration’s health-care reform.

The prognosis is not good for patients, physicians or taxpayers…. Americans can expect a quick, hard push to build more federal bureaucracy, impose price controls, restrict medicines and technology, boost taxes, mandate the purchase of health insurance, and expand government health care.

The Journal’s ‘predictions’ are as predictable as they are erroneous. Conservatives have spouted the same-old tired arguments against reform since President Clinton’s failed 1994 effort, and the Wonk Room, along with some other progressive blogs, has been actively disputing their assertions.

And Norm Coleman ends the year firmly in denial:


Norm Coleman has done it again: He’s filed a lawsuit at the state Supreme Court.

This newest lawsuit is an attempt to force the inclusion of the 650 rejected absentee ballots that his campaign wants put into the count, which the local election officials from around Minnesota have not included in the lists of ballots that they say were thrown out because of clerical errors. In short, Coleman is suing to include ballots that the county officials say were thrown out properly — and which local media analyses say are from areas that Coleman swept in the election.

On a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken lawyer Marc Elias ridiculed the Coleman campaign for having throughout this whole recount dismissed the idea that there were any significant number of wrongly-rejected ballots, only to have a very sharp change of position now that they’re behind in the latest count by 49 votes.

“This is a campaign – the Coleman campaign, that is – is a campaign that is remarkably fond of do-overs,” Elias said. “Their strategy seems to be to first object to something, then when that something happens to fight it. Then when it’s clear that they’re not going to prevail, to start over again.”

Sounds like a typical Con. And I’m sure we’ll have plenty more to look forward to in the coming year. Some things never change.

I’ve Gots ‘Splaining To Do

Regulars to the cantina have probably noticed a rather abrupt falling off in volume lately. There’s a reason for that. I’ve just been too busy to ‘splain.

Writing fiction again, you see.

My Christmas tradition for these many years has been to shut out the rest of the world and put the extra day or two off to good advantage. I haven’t written fiction in months, didn’t even have scenes running through my mind, but that was no reason not to write. I’ve missed fiction. So, instead of world-building, instead of research, instead of those one-billion-and-one things I should be doing, I just started writing scenes for the sheer delight of wordsmithing. I skipped around here, there and everywhere within my universe, playing with a description here, a metaphor there, savoring each sentence. And it felt fantastic.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing and started reading instead. Last year, I wrote several chapters in a book I wasn’t even supposed to be working on because it comes so late in the sequence. But the scenes were there, demanding to be written. Total compulsion. I justified it by telling myself that I needed to get this stuff down while it was fresh in my mind, and the practice wouldn’t hurt. After all, the first book in the series needs to be outstanding. It’s going to take tremendous skill to pull off what I want to do. Skill is developed by practice. Ergo, use these scenes to practice.

As I was writing, it seemed as if things were inspired. Seemed like I could actually do a fair job of capturing this stuff.

Reading it now, I do not think I was wrong. I found plenty of rough edges – a writer worth their shit will always find flaws with their work. But I also found a lot to be excited about. I used to suck at the mushy-gushy stuff, for instance, which was unfortunate because so much hangs on the unique connections between certain of my characters, deeply emotional relationships beyond mere love and romantic entanglement. Those scenes are now starting to take on the transcendent quality they needed.

I’ve also had an enormously difficult time capturing grief, which was also vital to the story I wanted to tell. That’s getting far easier. And I think I’m avoiding the wanker trap – I’ve never wanted my grieving characters to turn into o-woe-is-me sniveling weenies. They’re stronger than that, despite crushing pain. And those scenes seem to be working too.

There’s an enormous amount of work to be done. As I’ve mentioned before, certain assumptions have to be rethought. There’s a vast amount of worldbuilding still unfinished. I have to go over everything from the beginning, decide what must stay and what can be safely discarded, strengthen the weak areas and figure out the science behind the fantasy. None of it will be easy, but it’s going to be worth doing.

That being so, this blog is likely to see a bit less posting than usual. Apologies in advance, my darlings. I’ll do my best.

(BTW, If anyone wins an insane amount of money in the lottery and wants to free me from my day job with a modest stipend, thus allowing me a full blogging schedule on top of my storytelling duties, I could be persuaded to accept such a thing. Just so’s you know.)

Pardon Me – Your Logical Fallacy is Flapping in the Wind

I don’t usually filch from PZ because I figure most of you have already been over to Pharyngula, but this little gem of a logical fallacy needs to be set like a solitaire. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Rep. Mark Souder:

I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design. I believe that if there wasn’t a purpose in designing you — regardless of who you view the designer as being — then, from my perspective, you can’t be fallen from that design. If you can’t be fallen from that design, there’s no point to evangelism.

You know what? He’s absolutely right. Spot-on. I agree with his last two sentences without reservation.

Never mind that it’s a big ol’ logical fallacy (looks like the ol’ appeal to consequences to me). Let’s just take him at his word: if there’s no design, you can’t be fallen from that design, ergo evangelism has no point.

Hmm. Evolution has rather put paid to the whole design idea….

Huzzah! Fundamentalist religion is dead. No point in evangelism anymore – let’s drink to it’s demise!


I love it when someone’s own logical fallacy works to our advantage. What a perfect way to start the New Year.

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Biting Israel’s Butt

You’d think that Bush’s Global War on Terror having turned in to the greatest single recruiting tool for al Qaeda would’ve given other world leaders a bit of a clue. Alas, stupidity knows no borders:

Benjamin Netanyahu was on CNN today saying “We’ll have to bring down the Hamas regime.”

And how’s that going, Ben?

The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel’s strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel.

Epic fucking fail.

Carnival of the Elitist Bastards VIII: To Boldly Go


The HMS Elitist Bastard leaves the high seas for deep space over at Submitted to a Candid World. Captain Ames helms the ship as we explore strange new worlds, seek out ignorance, and then blast it into oblivion with phasers set to “vaporize.” The only question remaining unanswered: how good is Ames at the Picard Maneuver?

Set a course for wisdom. Warp factor 9. Engage.

Postdated so as to leave no crew member behind.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

If there wasn’t so much Con stupidity happening today, I’d highlight Blagojevich’s supreme fucknuttery. As it is, should you want to have fun laughing at his expense, see here and here. I have some Con bottoms to spank.

Allow me to start with John Bolton, who is one of the most ridiculous chickenhawks on the face of the earth. It’s not enough for him that we’re already stuck in two useless wars – he wants us to go for a triple:


Yesterday, on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, Iran war hawk John Bolton said that Israel’s recent bombing campaign in Gaza is all the more reason for the United States to bomb Iran now. “So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict,” he said, adding that “we’re looking at potentially a multi-front war here.”

“You would strike Iran right now?” asked host Alan Colmes. “I would have done it before this,” Bolton responded. Colmes asked whether tensions and war across Middle East would escalate if the U.S. or Israel were to bomb Iran. Bolton said that the many Arab countries would secretly be cheering if Iran were attacked…

[snip]

It’s hard to believe that the Arab world would be pulling out the party hats if Iran were attacked. Thanks to the policies of President Bush, the U.S is immensely unpopular across the Middle East. Iran, on the other hand, enjoys unprecedented support in Iraq, which is supposed to be America’s greatest ally in the region.

The stupidity here is overwhelming in its scope. I have no idea what sort of fantasy world this man is living in, but apparently it involves hallucinogens. Lots and lots of hallucinogens.

Speaking of overwhelming stupidity, some Cons apparently think that sending out a CD with “Barack the Magic Negro” on it is a fine joke and not worth worrying over:


Indeed, taking this to the next logical step, some RNC members are saying that Duncan and Anuzis may have hurt themselves by criticizing Saltsman’s judgment. One RNC member told the Politico, “Those are two guys who just eliminated themselves from this race for jumping all over Chip on this. Mike Duncan is a nice guy, but he screwed up big time by pandering to the national press on this.” Several more have “expressed anger toward Duncan and Anuzis ‘for throwing a good Republican under the bus.’”

So, to summarize, a leading candidate to lead the Republican National Committee promoted a song calling the next president a “magic negro.” This has improved his chances of getting the job.

Only Cons could think that extraordinary racial insensitivity is a feature, not a bug, in a political leader.

And forget about Congress working quickly to rescue the economy from the catastrophe they let it become:

President-elect Obama has made it clear that one of his first priorities when he takes office will be an economic stimulus package that could reach around $800 billion. Top economists have said that such investment — in areas such as infrastructure, health care, energy, and education — is essential for boosting the economy. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has stated, the “risks of being too small are much bigger than the risks of being too big.”

Despite the urgency after eight years of the Bush administration doing nothing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now saying that he and his fellow conservatives are in no rush to provide this important economic relief and plan to put the brakes to attempts to quickly pass a package. From a statement he issued yesterday:


As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending, and I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it.

According to the Washington Post, McConnell has also “called for a weeklong cooling off period between when the bill is drafted and when it is voted on, allowing time to dissect it for signs of ‘fraud and waste.’” Conservatives have the power to filibuster the legislation if they oppose it.

Funny how they only worry about “fraud and waste” when they’re not the ones stuffing both hands in the cookie jar. After the last eight years of fraud, waste and fuckery, I really don’t think these assclowns have any credibility when it comes to watching out for taxpayers’ money.

And if I ever hear them howling over campaign finance improprieties again, I shall pee myself laughing:

For Republicans opposed to campaign finance regulations, it appears that enforcing the law is just so last year.

Bloomberg reports that the Federal Election Commission’s three GOP members all voted against fining the Chamber of Commerce for illegally spending money in 2004 on attacks against John Edwards, that year’s Democratic vice-presidential nominee. The 3-3 final vote tally meant the commission took the rare step of rejecting an FEC counsel recommendation to impose the fine.

The November Fund, a 527 group run by the Chamber, had been found to have broken campaign spending laws by using $3 million it received from the chamber to attack Edwards over his trial lawyer background. Bloomberg notes that 11 other 527s were accused of violating campaign spending laws, and all but the Chamber paid a fine.

I don’t even know what to say. Apparently, the Cons in the FEC believe that finance fuckery is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s Cons engaging in the fraud. Charming.

And, finally, reports of Bush’s passion for reading have been greatly exaggerated:

As part of its end-of-presidency wrap-up, Vanity Fair notes this interesting tidbit from Richard Clarke, the former chief White House counterterrorism adviser.

[snip]


“The contrast with having briefed his father and Clinton and Gore was so marked. And to be told, frankly, early in the administration, by Condi Rice and [her deputy] Steve Hadley, you know, Don’t give the president a lot of long memos, he’s not a big reader — well, shit. I mean, the president of the United States is not a big reader?”

Funny, just last week Karl Rove told us the president is a voracious reader, who reads dense texts “to relax and because he’s curious,” and for 35 years, George W. Bush has “always had a book nearby.”

I’m so sick of these lying morons I could scream. In fact, I think I’ll go outside and do that right now.

A Bloody, Horrible Mess

I’ve wanted to blog on Gaza, but it’s impossible to know where to begin. I have sympathies on both sides: I don’t expect Israel to just absorb missiles without responding, but I don’t expect Palestinians to blithely accept being starved, either. It’s one of those tragedies with no clear right or wrong, no spotless heroes, no irredeemable villains.

I’m going to let Phoenix Woman take over from here:

As we hear that the IDF is bombing universities and killing United Nations personnel in addition to the hundreds of Gazans already dead in the three days of the Israeli attack on Gaza, we will hear the inevitable cry “but Hamas has been lobbing rockets at Israelis for years from Gaza!”

Juan Cole tells us about these rockets, and provides some perspective:

Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.

But of course you won’t see this on your evening news, not unless you live outside of the US. You’re more likely to know about this if you live in Tel Aviv than if you live in Milwaukee.

There’s more in that article that might be helpful in conversations with those who love to proclaim that Israel can do no wrong.

It’s hard to find good in so many people dead. But it seems that Israel has taken things just one step too far. The carte blanche is being written on a rapidly-emptying bank account. And we can finally talk about Israel in more than simple black-and-white terms.

This was never that simple. It’s a good thing we’re no longer pretending it is.

J-Street has a petition ready to go (h/t):

At this moment of extreme crisis, J Street wants to demonstrate that, among those who care about Israel and its security, there is a constituency for sanity and moderation. There are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide and who know that closing it requires strong American engagement and leadership. Click Here

I support immediate and strong U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to urgently reinstate a meaningful ceasefire that ends all military operations, stops the rockets aimed at Israel and lifts the blockade of Gaza. This is in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinian people and the United States.

I’m going to leave you with what Hilzoy said yesterday, because she sums up my feelings on this rather better than I can:

One of the many things that makes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict so utterly dispiriting is that it’s impossible to think of anything good coming of any of this. Worse than that, it’s hard to imagine that even the people involved think anything good will come of it.

What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish? That the Israelis will look about them and say: Holy Moly, I had no idea this place was so dangerous!, and leave? Do the Israelis think: even though we’ve bombed the Palestinians a whole lot, and it’s never done much good before, maybe this time it will be different! Maybe Hamas will say: heavens, this is a pretty serious round of attacks; maybe we should just sue for peace — ? Or what?

I imagine what people on both sides are thinking is something more like: do you expect us to just sit here and take it? Do you expect us to do nothing? To which my answer is: no, I expect you to try to figure out what has some prospect of actually making things better. Killing people out of anger, frustration, and the sense that you have to do something is just wrong. For both sides.

Exactly.

Playing Into Terrorists’ Hands

I’ve had Thoughts over the past several years. I’d see some group do something outrageously evil, I’d watch leaders get all vengeance-minded on their asses, and I’d think, “That’s exactly what the terrorists wanted you to do, dumbshit.”

It appears I’m not the only person who’s been having such thoughts:

As Stirling pointed out earlier today, Terrorism works. The Mumbai attacks, targeted deliberately at both foreigners, and more importantly, India’s own elites, led to an entirely predictable response: India started seriously threatening Pakistan and demanding Pakistani leaders do things (like turn over Pakistanis to the Indian legal system) which no Pakistani politician could do and stay in power. Indeed, it’s unlikely they could do such a thing and stay alive.

So Pakistan moved its forces from the tribal areas to the border with India, in response to India’s threats, and the terrorists no longer have to deal with the Pakistani military. This is, clearly, what they wanted. Terrorism worked.

[snip]

Remember that 9/11 was also a great success, not just operationally, but strategically. It accomplished what bin Laden wanted—it got American troops in on the ground where they could be killed and the cost of the war put the American economy under great strain. It continues to pay dividends, as the US army, smarting from what it privately knows was a loss in Iraq (you don’t pay people to stop attacking you if you won the war) wants a do-over in Afghanistan, not because it makes sense strategically (it’s destabilizing Pakistan, a far more important place than Afghanistan) but becase their pride has been hurt.

Terrorism works. It works not because it can succeed operationally, but because elites play into the hands of terrorists and do strategically stupid and counterproductive things when terrorists prod them hard enough. Both the Mumbai attacks and 9/11 were aimed at people who mattered—wealthy and important people in both countries.

It’s incredibly hard not to go screaming for vengeance when a group of evil fucktards with bombs blow apart your citizenry, but governments are going to have to start learning to respond a little less predictably. The solution to terrorism isn’t more bombs, more invasions, and more vengeance. As hard as it is to put vengeance on the back burner, we need to do it. Send law enforcement after the fuckers, and work on creating a world where it’s harder for them to find desperate, disaffected people to recruit.

Some of our more bloodthirsty chickenhawks see a devastating military response as “education,” which is right up there among the dumbest things I’ve ever heard:

Commenting on Israel’s attack on Gaza, NRO’s Andy McCarthy wonders whether the strikes will “demonstrate that terrorism is a loser for those who vote for it.”

The question is whether the Palestinian people are educable. Which brings me back to the first point: the Palestinians voted to put in power — i.e., vest with the power of a quasi-sovereign government — a terrorist organization which thinks legitimate governing consists of bringing about the annihilation of its sovereign neighbor and, meantime, targeting the said neighbor’s civilian population with bombing attacks. When you do that, you make yourself a target.

It’s one thing to defend Israel’s disproportionate attacks as a legitimate attempt to destroy Hamas’ capacity to launch rockets into Israel, but it’s quite another to defend them as an attempt to “educate” the Palestinian people. The former is debatable, the latter is a forthright embrace of terrorism, the use of force against civilians to achieve a political goal.

McCarthy’s advocacy of violence against people who vote the wrong way raises an obvious question. Granting, for the moment, McCarthy’s simplistic interpretation of Hamas’ election, (which was more a vote against Fatah’s incompetence and corruption than it was for Israel’s destruction) if Palestinian civilians have made themselves targets by voting into power a party that advocates the destruction of Israel, have Israeli civilians made themselves targets by voting into power successive governments that have continued a military occupation while expropriating Palestinian land? Have Americans made themselves targets by voting in governments that support that occupation? According to McCarthy’s reasoning, the answer to both questions is yes.

Matt Duss points out that McCarthy’s reasoning is precisely the same as Osama bin Laden’s. The fact that one person is an American and the other a terrorist doesn’t change the equation one fucking bit.

Our desire to “teach terrorists a lesson” isn’t teaching them a damned thing other than how to manipulate our passions more adeptly. We teach them that their actions are justified, because we employ the same reasoning to justify attacking them. It gets us absolutely fucking nowhere, and more innocent people suffer and die.

At some point, we’re going to have to break the cycle. That’s going to take more self-control and insight than we’ve been capable of thus far, but it’s the only way to even come close to reducing terrorism to managable levels.

The Long View Myth Gets Smacked Down

I love Digby. She’s got a special gift for absolutely eviscerating stupid wingnut fantasies:

Condi Rice and Laura Bush are insisting that the administration will be vindicated by history for all the wonderful work it has done around the world. Rice, especially, is intent upon making the case that if the world gets better some time in the future, Bush will be given the credit for it. (This isn’t the first time she and Bush have made this stupid comment.)

This definition of success would mean that you have to reevaluate Tojo since Japan has since become a prosperous, first world country. After all, if it weren’t for him, the world wouldn’t be where it is today. Hell, where would Western Europe be if it weren’t for that bad man in the mustache — or Eastern Europe if it hadn’t been for Stalin? Hey, even Caligula can be seen to be a hero if you believe that the world is better off today than it was during Roman times.

It’s not that Bush is necessarily as bad as those examples, but the logic behind Rice’s view inexorably leads you to evaluate everyone in history through the lens of human progress — which means that none of the great villains can be held responsible for their deeds and nothing can ever be learned from bad decisions of the past. As long as the world goes on you can always make the case that things will probably turn out ok in the long run. And that’s hardly any comfort —as the old saying goes, in the long run we’ll all be dead.

That should rather put paid to the “Bush will be redeemed by history” myth. Not that it will, because these fuckwits are incapable of dealing with reality. But at least it’s a nice, succinct reply to those unthinking idiots who still love their bullshit straight up. It could help a few of them wake up and smell what they’ve been drinking.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Bush’s priorities:

In an effort to “prevent Palestinians from attacking towns in southern Israel” with rockets, Israel today undertook its third day of offensive military airstrikes in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, raising the death toll to more than 300. The Palestinian casualty numbers have been described as the highest over such a brief period since the 1967 Six-Day war. Scores of Israelis have been wounded — and at least one killed — by rocket attacks fired by Palestinians. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the situation “all out war.”

While Bush has been briefed on the situation by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, he has opted not to interrupt his final vacation as president to make a public statement on the crisis. For someone who has enjoyed the most vacation days as sitting president — including days spent relaxing in comfort during Hurricane Katrina and in the lead-up to 9/11 — it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Bush prioritizes vacationing over crisis management. ABC News reports:

Even an emerging crisis in the Middle East, one he pledged to resolve just 13 months ago, has not drawn President George W. Bush from his final vacation before leaving office. Despite his personal pledge at Annapolis last year to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians before 2009, this weekend Bush sent his spokesmen to comment in his stead. […]

Since departing Washington for Crawford on Friday, President Bush has made no attempt to be seen in public. In fact, he has yet to leave his ranch.

Today, in a press briefing delivered from the “Western White House” in Crawford, TX, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe was asked what is on Bush’s schedule today. In addition to receiving “updates on the ongoing situation,” Johndroe said, “I expect he’ll probably ride his bicycle today and spend time with Mrs. Bush.”

Because that’s exactly what the president of a superpower should do while the Middle East descends into chaos. And this is a man who thinks that history will be kind to him. I rather think not.

I suppose it won’t surprise any of you to discover that the Bush regime has made a complete hash of OSHA:


The Bush gang? Ignoring the public’s interests, politicizing a key federal agency, and advancing corporate interests above all else? You don’t say.

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day’s exposure at the agency’s permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country’s principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.

[snip]

Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.

[snip]

By all appearances, this administration barely wants OSHA to even exist, so I suppose it stands to reason that Bush political appointees would gut the agency and turn to lobbyists to help guide OSHA’s decision making. Indeed, it’s hard to count just how many regulatory agencies have, under this president, effectively been run by the business interests it was supposed to be regulating.

This administration will go down in history as one of the most inane, insane, and generally incompetent misadventures in American government since the Revolution. They’re banking on 9/11 to save them:

With President Bush’s time in office rapidly coming to an end, his loyal supporters are working overtime to spin his legacy positively. In an interview with the Telegraph, Bush’s former UN ambassador, John Bolton, claims that “in 100 years,” people won’t remember two of the biggest stains on Bush’s record, Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib:


“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he was strong and decisive and that was critical for both the country and for the Western world,” believes John Bolton. “In 100 years people aren’t going to remember Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib, they’re going to remember 9/11 and Bush’s reaction to it.”

Yes, they’ll remember his reaction to it. They’ll remember that he started two wars, one with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. They’ll remember that he authorized torture, thus ensuring terrorists had something to spice up their recruiting posters with. They’ll remember that al Qaeda in Iraq didn’t exist until Bush created the conditions that allowed them to flourish there.

People will remember plenty in 100 years. I doubt even the veils of history can put a shine on this pile of shit.

At least it seems there will be plenty of people to remember:

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but it appears that teenagers sometimes have sex, even if they “pledge” not to.

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have pre
marital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”

Got that? The difference between teens who make abstinence “pledges” and teens who don’t isn’t sexual conduct, it’s that those who make the “pledges” engage in more dangerous sexual conduct.

After a while, this just gets repetitious — the right insists that abstinence programs work, objective research shows they don’t. Conservatives, not satisfied, demand more objective research, which further proves abstinence programs don’t work. No evidence, no matter how overwhelming, seems to be enough.

But reality just won’t budge. The nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that abstinence programs do not affect teenager sexual behavior. A congressionally-mandated study, which was not only comprehensive but also included long-term follow-up, found the exact same thing. Researchers keep conducting studies, and the results are always the same.

I’ve been alive for over 30 years. I cannot remember another time in this country when our leaders were so overwhelmingly, relentlessly stupid.

Can we just let Bush stay in hiding on his pretend ranch and install the grownup in the White House now, please?