The Ham Hock of Liberty

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In other news, Pandora blames the box

Bush to Iraq: This is your fault
In Washington, Bush sidestepped a question about whether the surge in sectarian violence would affect his administration's hopes to begin withdrawing U.S. troops.

"Obviously there are some who are trying to sow the seeds of sectarian violence," Bush said. "And now, the people of Iraq and their leaders must make a choice. The choice is chaos or unity, the choice is a free society, or a society dictated by evil people who would kill innocents."

You reap what you sow. Plenty of people anticipated this outcome, instead of rose petals...including the last President Bush. Telling the Sunnis and Shi'ites to just play nice with each other is about as foolish a thing as can be said on the state of affairs in Iraq.

You opened the box, Pandora. Good luck getting everything back in there.

...but it's not about racism.

Trudging through some wingnut blogs as I am wont to do, to keep tabs on what the other side is thinking - and, to be fair, to occasionally find a fact or two worth knowing - I came across this post on King County, Washington's resolution to "rename" itself to King County...just in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. They're also redoing the county logo.

At the time of this post, there were only 8 responses to this article, but take a guess as to how many were clucks of disapproval at this relatively benign action. Tough pop quiz, right?

Of course, the commenters were tripping over themselves to point out that it wasn't about anything as pedestrian as racism. Perish the thought. It was concern over the efficient use of government resources! Because, as we all know, the GOP these days is all about penny-pinching. Anyway, some of the other concerns included: the King family might charge the county for use of the likeness; and MLK didn't have as much "standing" and "relevance" as other notables the county could have honored.

And how concerned are the Freepers about the frivolous use of taxpayer dollars when used to honor someone a little more ideologically (and ethnically) correct? Not so much.

But's not about racism.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Deadeye Dick

OK, so by now we have been treated to three straight days of jokes revolving around the Vice President having shot an old man in the face. I assume that this was basically an accident. A serious accident, but an accident nonetheless. Not an actual scandal involving official misconduct...we already have plenty of those to go around, so take your pick.

The Vice President shooting a hunting buddy in the face is weird and great fodder for the late-night talk shows (unless the guy doesn't somehow recover), but that's about all it is.

HOWEVER, the part of this story that does tick me off is the administration's knee-jerk insistence on blaming the victim. If nothing else, for the sake of gun safety in general, Cheney should have just come out and said, "See, people, this is why we have to take gun safety seriously; I made a mistake and a good friend got hurt. I want him and his family to know I feel terrible about it and wish him the best. Remember, hunters: don't pull the trigger unless you're sure a person isn't in front of the barrel."

How do you lose politically saying that? Hell, I'd even give him a little grudging respect.

Instead, we're treated to the administration downplaying the whole thing ("this was just a pellet gun"), blaming the victim, and generally looking like they're trying to hide something. It's 7 year olds handling their public relations. And it's typical of the White House mentality - We're infallible. If something bad happens, it's someone else's fault. Stop asking questions. You don't need to know that.

Even when they probably don't have anything to gain from dodging and weaving, they do it anyway.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Today, wiretaps. Tomorrow, summary execution.

The administration's defense of its warrantless-wiretapping program has been basically two-fold:

First, Congress implicitly OK'ed this when it authorized the President to use force against Iraq (strict constructionists need not apply). This one pretty much fails the laugh test, for all sorts of reasons. Not the least of which is that Congress specifically rejected an -explicit- attempt to authorize warrantless wiretapping.

Second, and slightly more reality-based, is the argument that warrantless wiretapping (assuming it is limited in scope to what the White House has described - a dicey assumption at best) is part of the President's inherent "wartime" or national-security authority. Once again, strict constructionists need not apply. According to this argument, if Article II of the Constitution grants this inherent authority to the kingPresident, any infringement of that authority, a la FISA, is an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers.

Some shrill left-wing bloggers have wondered if the White House believes there are -any- limits on what it can do, as long as it claims to be acting to preserve "national security" during "wartime." Sober-minded pundits like to dismiss this speculation as wild-eyed slippery-slope speculation.

Except, apparently, it isn't.

Perhaps emboldened by their fun new interpretation of executive authority, some attorneys in the Justice Department have actually been considering whether the President can order summary executions of suspected terrorists. Not convicted terrorists, and not terrorists in the midst of committing an act of terrorism. But suspected terrorists.

I think that basically speaks for itself.

At the risk of sounding shrill, are we now officially a frog being boiled alive, who doesn't notice that it's being boiled, because the heat increases slowly and steadily?

Friday, February 03, 2006


Ann Altmouse unloads on me, double-barrel-style.

It hurts so good, though. Sure, sometimes lobbing my non-arguments at her may feel like trying to talk to a parrot, but I'm pretty sure it's sinking in on some level. Perhaps after another few years of trying, Phila and I will make some progress.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What the hell is this

OK, I -may- buy my car insurance from a gecko, but I am NOT taking a mortgage from a mutated, panting, pregnant wolf:

The first warning sign that you should NOT borrow several hundred thousand dollars from a company, is that they tempt you with freakish distended mammals. Common sense here, people.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Atrios posted about "dog-whistle" politics today, and the ensuing discussion about message versus policy got me thinking about how the parties dress up their respective ideas when selling them to the voters.

Wingnuts like pointing to the last several years of elections as proof that the GOP has "won the war of ideas," and paint the Democratic Party as intellectually bankrupt.

This is, of course, incorrect. The GOP has not won the "war of ideas." Their ideas, most thinking people realize, are regressive, short-sighted, and generally destructive. What the GOP has won, however, is the war of messages - they have managed to take their ideas, which appeal mostly to the id, the lizard brain, whatever you want to call it...and dress them up respectably enough to make otherwise average people find them palatable. When they vote GOP, they're satisfying their baser instincts, but convinced they're doing a nobler thing.

Of course, the GOP has an easier job of this, as their policies have a lot of appeal to peoples' uglier urges....greed, retribution, xenophobia, power, gluttony. Almost every deadly sin except lust, for that matter.

Progressive ideals, and legal equality, protection of the weak and disenfranchised, peace, civil liberty...these ideas don't sell as well to the lizard brain. They appeal to the superego. They require traits like empathy, sacrifice, self-reflection. And that's the problem, imo. The Democrats are trying to sell vegetables and fiber to a market that has been convinced that ice cream and cheetos are good nutrition. And that's what the GOP has done. The answer, Lieberman/Brazile/Shrum notwithstanding, is NOT to give in and start selling vegetable-flavored ice cream.

I'm not sure how to make a superego platform more palatable to the id. I've been hoping that the ruinous consequences of GOP policy would speak for themselves, and the voters might figure it out on their own, and to some extent, that's happening. But Democrats still need better marketing for their ideas. Not to sell out the ideas, as the DLC seems to think is necessary.