The Red State Rebel

Political insurgency with a smile since November 2004.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Want some cheese with that whine?

I can't help but be extremely amused with the right's incessant whining over the Shrub's pick of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

The righties were drooling over this pick for years. It was their political wet dream, a chance to put a Bork clone and a Roe-killer on the nation's high court.

And instead they get... the president's lawyer.

A nominee who has never served a day on the bench in her life. (This strikes me as not dissimilar to taking a kid off a Pop Warner squad and making him an NFL quarterback.)

A lawyer whose biggest qualification is apparently her observation that Bush is "the most brilliant man she had ever met." (Hopefully she was simply engaging in blatant ass-kissing there. It is quite frightening to think that someone who said something that disingenous with all seriousness will soon be one of nine jurists tasked with shaping constitutional law for at least a decade to come.)

Now, Miers may indeed turn into a Roe-killer. She may end up being a Thomas/Scalia clone.

Nobody really knows... not even the righties. And it's driving them nuts.

"Disappointed, depressed and demoralized," moans conservative patriarch Bill Kristol...

It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that President Bush flinched from a fight on constitutional philosophy. Miers is undoubtedly a decent and competent person. But her selection will unavoidably be judged as reflecting a combination of cronyism and capitulation on the part of the president.

Finally. At last... at long last... do you guys finally understand?

Did you actually believe Bush stood for grand conservative principles? That he came to office wanting to install a new political philosophy in the minds of the American people... to make into reality the vision the right has been carefully crafting for the last 40 years?

I thought you guys were misguided... but I didn't think you were stupid. Or naive. Perhaps I was mistaken.

George W. Bush and the Congressional GOP stand for one thing, and one thing only -- the aggregation, concentration and preservation of political and economic power for those within the circle of loyalty. And if it means wrecking the country in the process... well, fuck it. As long as the Republicans stay in power, it's all good!

But when your judicial wet dream, the moment you've been waiting for endlessly for the last five years, evaporates in an instant... suddenly the scales fall from your eyes.

You knew who Bush really was. And you went along for the ride anyway.

Reap the whirlwind.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Real Pat Tillman

I went to school with Pat Tillman.

That's really not saying a whole lot. While Pat and I were walking the hallowed halls of Arizona State, roughly 45,000 people were going to school there. And we weren't exactly drinking buddies or anything.

But I knew of Pat. Hell, anyone who went to ASU around then knew about him... the beach-bum surfer dude who kicked serious ass on the football field.

So it was a bit odd to watch the pro-war ultra-right transform Pat into an object of their worship following his death in Afghanistan in April 2004. Gruppenfuhrer Ann Coulter even branded him "virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be."

So the surfer-bum from ASU had just been transformed into an American ubermensch, martyred willingly, happily in Bush's holy crusade.

Now, I was always a wee bit skeptical of this. See, Pat was from the Bay Area... a notorious hotspot for pinko bleeding-heart liberals. He literally dressed like a beach-bum... T-shirt, long hair and sandals. And the guy used to climb up to the top of the light-towers overlooking Sun Devil Stadium to contemplate life.

As it turns out, Pat was still the same cool dude all along. If you want to know who Pat Tillman really was, take a look at this Sunday story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Turns out Pat felt a lot like the rest of us... gung-ho to kick the shit out of bin Laden in Afghanistan, but not so hot on the war in Iraq. A particularly telling account from Spc. Russell Baer, one of Pat's fellow soldiers...

“I can see it like a movie screen. We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

Way Coulter plays it up, you'd think Pat devoured the writings of guys like Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly. Nope. Turns out one of his favorite authors was none other than Noam Chomsky... and that he had arranged to meet Chomsky once his tour in Afghanistan was up.

"Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty."

Au contraire. Sounds just like the Pat Tillman ASU once knew.

I hope you'll take the time to read the Chronicle story... and get to know the real Pat Tillman, too. A guy that cool deserves to have his memory reclaimed from the political hacks and bullshit artists of the right.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Crushing the Bushies, one kitten at a time

Yes, loyal readers, it's been a month since I posted. Sorry. Had lots of important drinking to do.

But what brings me back to the blogosphere? Ah, yes... kittens.

Now see, I was building up quite the fountain of rage over the chickenhawks' treatment of Cindy Sheehan. Here we have everything that is most screwed up about America these days tied up in a neat little package... pro-war chickenshit chickenhawks flagellating a mom who lost her son in Iraq because she dared voice dissent against our High Holy Leader, King George II. (Chickenhawks who, of course, whose combat experience consists of seeing Saving Private Ryan on the big screen, and whose children define sacrifice as attending Stanford instead of Harvard.)

See, their concept of sacrifice can be best defined by a dipshit I saw the other day while commuting to work. Across the back of his shiny new Mercedes SUV was a magnetic ribbon stating that "Freedom isn't free."

And neither is securing a steady supply of oil for your tank, you flaming dickhead!

(Calm blue ocean... calm blue ocean...)

But why rage about these little bastards when you can mock them... with kittens!

This is about the most friggin' brilliant piece I've seen on the Internet in quite some time. Basically, the theory goes something like this:

1. Find a whole bunch of lunatic rantings about Cindy Sheehan. (About as difficult as finding a hooker in the French Quarter.)
2. Change "Cindy Sheehan" in the quote to "this kitten."
3. Juxtapose the new quote next to a picture of a cuddly kitten.
4. Watch it spread across the blogosphere like a virus.

My friends, it would be fucking cool (sorry, I broke my taboo about not using that word, but I'm excited) if the beginning of the end of the lunatic right was signaled by a bunch of cute kittens. Shit, instead of protesting, the hippies should have chucked kittens at LBJ. Vietnam would have been over before Tet.

So, in the spirit of this new dawn, I make my own contribution to bringing Bush's Quagmire to an end...

This kitten is demonizing our leaders and slandering our country. Little bastard.

(All right, so he's not a kitten. So sue me.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Brownshirt Caucus

If you want to piss off a Republican, nothing will do it quicker than calling the Bushies fascists or Nazis.

Rarely does their self-righteous rage run hotter. The neck and face instantly go beet red, the chest puffs out, and a table-pounding session will begin, usually with the words, "How dare you...."

As amusing as this spectacle is to watch, I'm usually not a big fan of calling Republicans Nazis. It is usually a gross oversimplification and exaggeration, one that tends to diminish the level of barbarity reached by the real article. And it demonstrates the same lack of imagination displayed by redneck GOPers who constantly compare liberals to Communists.

But these days... well, perhaps it isn't such a stretch after all. The establishment of a concentration camp at Gitmo and the acceptance of torture under the guise of military necessity were certainly big steps down that slippery slope.

And as we slip further, the words of some become downright chilling. It is one thing when a blowhard propagandist like Ann Coulter spews fascistic venom ... it is quite another when United States Congressmen start down that path.

Fascists, for example, believe it is appropriate... indeed, a necessity... to execute political opponents.

Exhibit A: Rep. Peter King, R-New York, appearing on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" last week...

SCARBOROUGH: The last thing you want to do at a time of war is reveal the identity of undercover CIA agents.

KING: No. Joe Wilson, she recommended-his wife recommended him for this. He said the vice president recommended him. To me, she took it off the table. Once she allowed him to go ahead and say that, write his op-ed in "The New York Times," to have Tim Russert give him a full hour on "Meet the Press," saying that he was sent there as a representative of the vice president, when she knew, she knew herself that she was the one that recommended him for it, she allowed that lie to go forward involving the vice president of the United States, the president of the United States, then to me she should be the last one in the world who has any right to complain.

And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove. [Emphasis added.]

Slip of the tongue? Maybe. But remember that a Freudian slip is not a pure accident... it is the accidental statement of something that the person is really thinking, but normally would not say publicly.

But let's move on...

Fascists believe that terror-bombing civilian populations and non-military targets is an appropriate and effective tool of war. The Nazis were particularly big believers in this, as anyone who lived in Rotterdam or London in 1940 can tell you. Fortunately, the Nazis never got their hands on nukes.

We, however, have more than enough nukes to go around... and some members of Congress are getting real itchy to use 'em.

Exhibit B: Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, appearing on an Orlando radio talk show. Host Pat Campbell has just asked how the United States should respond in the event of a nuclear terrorist attack on a U.S. city.

CAMPBELL: Worst-case scenario - if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that, what would our response be?

TANCREDO: What would be the response? (pause) Um, you know, there are things you could threaten to do before something like that happens and you may have to do afterwards (unintelligible) draconian.

CAMPBELL: Such as?

TANCREDO: Well, what if you said something like, "If this happens in the United States and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims." You could take out their holy sites.

CAMPBELL: You're talking about bombing Mecca?

Tancredo: Yeah. What if you said, "We recognize this is the ultimate threat to the United States, so this is the ultimate response." I'm just throwing out some ideas because you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine. [Emphasis added.]

Is this a slip of the tongue? Of course not. This is a United States Congressman, in a public forum, endorsing attack (presumably nuclear) on a city of no military significance, but one of enormous religious and cultural significance to one out of every six persons on the planet.

It is worth noting that Mecca is one of the largest cities of a U.S. ally. One of al-Qaeda's highest goals is the overthrow of the ruling government of this ally, the House of Saud. Tancredo apparently believes the appropriate response to an al-Qaeda attack is to destroy the most important city under the rule of the House of Saud.

Finally, lest we forget -- there are just under one million people living in the city of Mecca. Presumably 99.9 percent of them have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. But a nuclear device makes no such distinctions. If a nuclear device is detonated over Mecca, hundreds of thousands of civilians will die, regardless of how they feel about bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

There's a word for that: Genocide. And the fact that it would be a response to the mass murder of American civilians justifies it not one damn bit. Slaughtering innocents to retaliate for the slaughter of innocents is still genocide, and still evil.

But did Tancredo apologize? Nope. From the Denver Post:

I'm not suggesting we do it. I have nothing to apologize for in that respect. I'm simply saying to have a good discussion on this issue, a thorough discussion on what is perhaps the most serious kind of possible situation we could face as a civilization, that you cannot simply take things off the table because they are uncomfortable to talk about.

Like mass murder. That is a perfectly appropriate topic for discussion in Bush's America, apparently.

Here's a nickel's worth of free advice for the GOP. Don't like being called fascists? Stop talking like them.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Who the hell is "Goyal"?

Today the mantle of "shittiest job in the world" fell upon the deserving shoulders of White House Propaganda Minister... er, Press Secretary... Scott McClellan.

See, some moons ago Mr. McClellan went up on stage before the White House press corps and, when asked whether Karl Rove had anything to do with the public outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, flatly denied Rove discussed Plame with anybody. Then he claimed Bush would instantly shit-can anyone who had anything to do with the leak.

Today... oops... Rove's own attorney admitted ol' Karl discussed Plame with Time's Matthew Cooper.

Now, just in case you've never dealt with the press, here's a little insight...

Nothing pisses off a reporter worse than lying to their faces.

Spinning, wiggling, the error of omission... all that stuff is considered part of the game. But if you outright lie to them... well, imagine a big hornets' nest. Then imagine smacking it a couple of times with a two-by-four.

And then when you consider that a reporter is now cooling her heels in jail over the affair while a White House stooly (that would be Bob Novak, natch) runs free... well, I'd rather deal with pissed-off hornets.

Which brings us to today's press briefing. Now, I might be tempted to feel sorry for someone who must face this kind of interrogation in front of the world on live television.

But given that it's Propaganda Minister McClellan... a lying weasel who just got caught red-handed... BWAHAAAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?

Excuse me, but I wasn't actually talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the President said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak, to press of information. And I just want to know, is that still his position?

Scott, if I could -- if I could point out, contradictory to that statement, on September 29th, 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one who said, if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation is when the President made his comment that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, "We're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation"?

So could I just ask, when did you change your mind to say that it was okay to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?

Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?

Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this" -- do you stand by that statement?

Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

And so forth... 18 consecutive questions regarding Karl Rove and McClellan's earlier denials. Then it gets interesting...

Q Scott, there's a difference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Goyal.

Q Can I finish, please?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can come -- I'll come back to you in a minute. Go ahead, Goyal.

Q Scott, today also the President spoke about the war on terrorism and also, according to -- report, there was bombings in London and also bombings in India, and at both places, al Qaeda was involved. According to the India report and press reports, a Pakistani television said that Osama bin Laden is there alive and they have spoken with him, and his group is still -- as far as terrorism around the globe is concerned. So now the major bombings after 9/11 took place in London, and more are about to come, according to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. They are still -- and again, the President is doing a great job as far as fighting against terrorism is concerned. But where do we stand now, really? Where do we go from London, as far as terrorism is concerned? How far we can go after Osama bin Laden now to catch him? Because he's still in Pakistan.

Which leads us to our question of the day... who the hell is this "Goyal" who just pulled McClellan's nuts out of a vise with this softball? ("The President is doing a great job as far as fighting terrorism is concerned"???)

And you all thought guys like Jeff Gannon were history.

His name, in case you're curious, is Raghubir Goyal of the India Globe, better known amongst the White House press corps as "Goyal the Foil." ostensibly he's interested in covering news... typically that news which advances his theory that Pakistan sucks... but he's known for throwing such hard balls as these...

Scott, first of all, party was last night great, thanks to the President and First Lady. (Dec. 17, 2004)

Before my question, I must commend to the Secret Service agents at the Southwest gate yesterday. I had a problem with my key. I locked the key in my car, they were very helpful. (Dec. 14, 2004)

And my particular favorite...

(December 9, 2004:) On Afghanistan. This week there was a milestone, and also I'm sure the President must be feeling a dream come true that, like Vice President Cheney and also Secretary Rumsfeld called that this is the first time ever in 5,000 years of history of Afghanistan that there was a first ever elected free government. And millions of Afghans now enjoy freedom. My question is that how does the President feel? And also, are we seeing more like this in Iraq? And also, some woman in Afghanistan -- they were protesting here. I was speaking to some of the immigrants from Afghanistan in this area -- they are saying there is more to be done, and they are calling on the White House, one, they are saying that -- the White House and Americans -- but more to be done for women, and also to fight against terrorism from --

MR. McCLELLAN: Is there a question?

Christ, we're outsourcing EVERYTHING to the Indians now.... first IT and call center jobs, now designated White House ass-kisser jobs that used to be reserved for red-blooded American "journalists" who moonlit as $200-an-hour Internet gigolos.

Wake up, America! Free trade will be the death of us all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Compassionate conservatism

My apologies, faithful readers... all two of you, anyway. Yours truly has been engulfed with real-world concerns the last few weeks. Paying jobs can be terribly inconvenient, can't they?

So Richard Durbin's the latest to be flagellated and crucified by the One True Party for daring to voice his opinion that maybe, just maybe, it's inappropriate to ship people off to Gitmo, then subject them to mistreatment and indefinite imprisonment without trial. Last time I looked, that was exactly the kind of shit America went to war to defeat, not the kind of shit it promoted.

Could Durbin have phrased things a bit more politely and appropriately? Perhaps. The analogy is not exact... Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were responsible for the mass murder of millions. But defending yourself by saying that you're better than Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot is a pretty weak defense. Hell, Castro and Pinochet look good compared to those three... does that make them beacons of righteousness?

The fact that the right is getting so exercised over Durbin's words -- rather than the fact that a place like Gitmo exists, and that it is the United States that is operating it -- is another sign of the moral bankruptcy of those who now control the Republican Party.

I'll give you another example.

Today I was perusing the Wall Street Journal and came across an interesting opinion piece from two writers for the Economist, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge, who were doing their damnedest to convince the faithful that their modern strain of conservatism is in fact still in ascendancy. (Note: If they feel it necessary to write such a piece a mere seven months after the Shrub won re-election ... and while their boys remain in control of both the presidency and Congress... then they know they are in deep shit.)

Halfway into this piece, Messrs. Micklethwait and Woolridge make this observation:

Some 40 years after the Great Society, America still has no national health service; it asks students to pay as much as $40,000 a year for a university education; it gives mothers only a few weeks of maternity leave.

All true. And these assholes think that's a good thing.

This country, the wealthiest in human history, deprives tens of millions of basic health care.

It is quickly pricing a college education, one of the surest paths to economic advancement, out of the range of the lower and middle classes. (There is, of course, the college loan. But the indentured servitude created by servicing a $100,000-plus student loan tends to cancel out the economic advantage of that sheepskin.)

Rather than allowing women time to bond with their newborn children, this country seems to think their time would be better spent at work.

I repeat: These assholes think all of that is a good thing.

It never ceases to amaze me that a political group that professes such deep adherence to Judeo-Christian ethics never tires of dishonoring the core philosophy of Judaism and Christianity -- love your neighbor as yourself -- every single chance they get.

Enjoy your political victories while they last. For if you are indeed correct about Heaven and Hell, your eternity is really going to suck.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Biggest Dick in Texas

Remember former House Majority Leader Dick Armey? The guy who thought it was cute to refer to the nation's most prominent gay lawmaker with a homophobic slur?

Apparently retirement's rather boring for ol' Dick, and he's once again taken to shilling for his favorite pet project, the flat tax.

In the past ol' Dick and his disciples would pull out a very complicated but authoritative looking analysis showing how, gosh darn it, you ordinary folks are gonna save a shitload of money if we get rid of the IRS and start charging a flat rate of 17% on all income. (Most people become too entranced by this idea to consider that it is predicated on eliminating all tax deductions... including those for mortgage interest, educational expenses, state taxes and medical expenses... and that it's very likely your taxes will go up once you get rid of those.)

While I don't want to get into a long-winded analysis of why the flat tax sucks here... visit the Center for Tax Justice for more detailed analyses... suffice it to say that if you make less than $50 grand a year, you will be supremely f**ked, as your taxes will increase while Congress cuts the shit out of "entitlement" spending on such wasteful items as food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid. And if you're really rich, you'll make out like a bandit, as the highest tax bracket plunges from 35% to 17%, and taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends are eliminated. Which means some lazy-ass trust-fund baby who inherited a billion bucks will likely pay less in federal income tax than most lower-middle-class families struggling to make ends meet.

To counter such flaws, ol' Dick just starts making shit up. Like the following...

Every American will benefit under a flat tax system.

According to the CTJ, families making less than $50 grand a year -- in other words, a majority of Americans -- would see their taxes rise nearly $500 a year under a flat tax. Other than that, everyone benefits.

An increase in national income will increase charitable giving...

By eliminating the deduction for giving to charities. Great f**king idea, Dick.

(L)ower interest rates will more than offset the loss of the mortgage deduction in the current system...

Where the hell he got this from, I have no friggin' idea. Exactly why the hell would interest rates decline because you cannot deduct mortgage income any more? Let me guess... it's because banks wouldn't have to pay as much in interest to depositors because interest is now tax-free, and they would therefore pass on the savings directly to consumers.

That must be the same bank that's paying me less than 1% on my money-market fund while charging me in excess of 20% on my credit card line.

Jesus Christ, it still amazes me that people actually believe this shit.

(T)he income exemption will continue the tax code's progressive precedent,

Yes, charging someone who makes $10 grand a year another $800 a year in taxes -- while simultaneously cutting government assistance -- so that a dude making $200,000-plus a year can enjoy a $44,000 tax cut sounds terribly progressive to me.

(A)nd every taxpayer will see their tax rates reduced.

Let's see... income at the two lowest brackets is now taxed at the rates of 10% and 15%. Dick wants to raise that tax to 17%.

Other than that, everyone's taxes will be reduced.

Yes, Tom DeLay continues to plumb new lows in his ever-continuing struggle to hang onto power.

But Armey, once again, proves he still deserves the title of Texas's biggest Dick.