Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summary Judgment

"If it's in some dump in Seattle, why would I draw attention to it?"

William Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights,explaining why he is selective in venting outrage at "blasphemous" art.

Seattle just doesn't cut it back east, I guess.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Gone to Young Men Everywhere

Another story to remember.


Danger Ahead

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is threatening to filibuster a supreme court nominee who is outside of what he calls the mainstream. this nation is truly fucked if it accepts Kyl's definition of mainstream. As a former constituent who watched Kyl rise from well-paid corporate lobbyist to representative and senator, I know him as one of the most partisan hardcore Republicans whose idea of the ideal state is one that produces the most profits for investors. That's why he is the number two Republican in the Senate.

But mainstream? Not even close.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Memorial Day is traditionally the day to remember the dead, but it is truly right and proper to remember the living. The Washington Post has an excellent story on one Iraq veteran's return. Remember too, that most living casualties of war are not Americans.

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Last week a friend, whose judgment and honesty I respect, said something like, “You know, I have to give credit to George Bush for his silence since leaving office. It shows some class.” I gag at the thought that anything about America’s Worst President ™ can be said to have class but I have certainly enjoyed his silence and near invisibility. He’s almost invisible as Cheney was in office. With Bush, maybe the best way he can show class is by disappearing. If only he could take the disasters of the past eight years with him.

Hearing Cheney barking into the news this week makes me think that Cheney, the very rare vice-president no to run for president, has a different plan, probably hatched well before 2000. Unelectable on his own, he serves as vice-president and chief Metternich for “a regular guy”, “have a beer with” president who has absolutely no intellect or curiosity and wholly believes that he embodies “true American values”. George W. Bush provided the perfect combination of arrogance and ignorance, a dangerous combination easily manipulated by the more clever Cheney and the neo-con vulcans. From his vice-presidential bunker at an undisclosed location, Cheney commanded the defense against the Ever Present Danger against which any and all oversight of the National Security State is suspect. George Bush did the Aw Shucks Shuffle for the public.
After eight years reconfiguring the US government into the service of large corporations and transferring immense wealth upward, the institutional pieces are in place and the American consciousness has been locked into fear mode, Private Citizen Cheney can now continue warn against an always dangerous world where strength and action are the only protection. He will a ready forum at the Committee for the Present Danger and Fox News. He long ago stole America’s patriotism to lock the nation into indefinite wars that will count on a certain support from Americans who believe that once committed, we must continue the fight to (choose one or more): protect America, bring democracy to the world, not waste our troops’ sacrifices, control the world’s resources in our own interests, other______.

Cheney doesn’t need to be president. He will do what he has always done. He simply dismisses last year’s electoral repudiation as just wrong-headed. Cheney has been an operator in and out of government for over thirty years. He has wrought a serious form of corporate-military-absolutist government that benefits him and his class. He is unlikely to want to see that arrangement damaged. Barak Obama may be president but Dick Cheney has connections, money and years more experience. He is not going away.

And George Bush no longer needs to do anything. No wonder he’s so quiet.

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Separate but Conjoined

As a long-time Virginia political junkie, I find it ironic that Virginia elections are now milestones in the national electoral cycle. The whole idea of separating state and national elections was to insulate the Commonwealth from pernicious influences that might endanger Byrd Organization control of state and local politics.

Things are different now. Virginia's off year election is a perfect opportunity to continue the never-ending political race. Consultants and functionaries can try out different strategies in a politically competitive state. Candidates benefit by the profile; they can appeal for funds in a year when demand is down and high-profile endorsements are readily available. Harry Byrd would not be pleased at the process. which is definitely too open and messy, not his style at all. He would gag at the size of the state government but he would probably be awed by the highway system.

Some things haven't changed. Virginia remains the least democratic states measured by the number of statewide offices open for election. Three. Governor, Lt Governor and Attorney General. Everyone else is appointed, another Harry Byrd legacy.